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The Heat is On!!

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Summer is definitely here, foggy mornings, hot days, cooler nights, golden hills - all the beauty that is life here in Sonoma county. Amazing that we get to live here. Lucky aren't we? In late July I spent a weekend up in Clear Lake for my birthday - the picture to the right is a Great Heron on the dock at about 7am as the lake was waking up - early morning is my favorite time of day. This month I'll be taking some hard earned vacation time. When someone mentions vacation the first question everyone asks is "where are you going?" In my case this year will be another 'staycation' in Northern California with my sister. Not a bad thing considering how many thousands of dollars people spend to travel here for vacation. 

After several major releases from Apple in June, July has been pretty quiet on the Apple front. Rumor has it that Apple is gearing up for something special - possibly a radically redesigned iPhone 8 -  as they celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. We will have to see. See below for thoughts about Apple this year. 

CONTACTING TECHNOLOGY SIMPLIFIED

Email:

support@technologysimplified.net

 is handled by Jillian and is the perfect way to reach her directly. It is also the email to reach Rob or John but the turn around for your questions to either tech could be delayed by a few days.

Ronnie@technologysimplified.net is Ronnie's direct email - keep in mind it may take me a few days to get back to you since I receive a high volume of email.

Phone: 707-573-9649 is the main office line. Jillian manages the phones and scheduling between 9 am and 1 pm - Monday - Friday. Ronnie and Jillian monitor the phones between 1 and 5 - Monday - Friday. We try to get back to everyone within 24 hours (excluding weekends and holidays). We do our best to respond to emergency request ASAP during business hours. 


APPLE HAPPENINGS

Ten years ago on June 29, 2007 Apple released the first iPhone and once again changed the way we use technology in our everyday lives. This fall they are expected to release a completely redesigned iPhone 8 alongside more minor updates to the regular iPhone in the form of a 7S and 7S+. IF you are curious about an iPhone 8 here is what the rumor mill has to say. 

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Of course each time Apple releases a new iPhone they also release a major update to the iOS system. Currently iPhone and iPad's run iOS 10.3.3. The next system will be iOS 11. iOS 11 is currently in Beta testing but here is list of new features.  Of course when iOS 11 is first released we will let you know when we feel it is stable enough for most devices. Remember you do not have to be the first person on the block to install new technology!

We are also expecting a new Mac OS - High Sierra - it is looking like a very impressive upgrade - here is more info.  


What do all these updates mean for you? 

That it is time to get your computers, iPhone and iPads ready for new software later this year. IF your computer isn't already running Mac OS 10.12 - Sierra I am advising upgrading sooner rather than later. IF your iPhone or iPad is not already running iOS 10.3.3 you should also upgrade as soon as possible. 

As always we can help you with any or all of these upgrades. Be sure you backup before upgrading any of your devices.


DO YOU NEED A PERSONAL ASSISTANT?

by John Wentworth

Over the last couple of years, several of the big tech companies have released products called "smart speakers." These devices are designed to respond to your voice, allowing you to ask questions, set timers, play music and more - all without typing!

Smart speakers listen for what's called a wake word. In the case of Amazon's Echo device, the word can be "Alexa," "Echo," "Amazon," or "Computer". (for you Star Trek fans out there!) When the speaker hears the wake word, it knows to start listening for your next command. In my home, that means I say "Computer, what happened in the Warriors game?" and it knows to tell me that Golden State won last night (again).

If this sounds like what you can do today with "Hey Siri" on your iPhone or iPad, you're right! "Hey Siri" is the wake word for those devices. So, what's the benefit of using a smart speaker? The microphones in smart speakers are designed to hear you from across the room, or even in other rooms! In my case, a single Amazon Echo can hear commands given to it anywhere in my home's second floor.

A concern that many people have is "does this mean that smart speakers are recording everything I say?" No, they are designed to only start listening when you say the wake word. 

So, what is HomePod? HomePod is Apple's entry into this space, coming in December. It's more focused on the "speaker" end of things, with sound that Apple says will be significantly better than the others. It'll also be more expensive than the competition, in most cases.

Is a smart speaker right for you? It depends on how you'll use it. For answering questions, checking the weather, getting the news of the day, and things of that nature, smart speakers can be easier than typing into Google. I can ask my Echo what appointments I have today, and it will list who of you I'll be coming to visit! I also have "smart lighting" set up in my house, so I can ask the Echo to dim the lights in a given room, or turn on my porch lights from upstairs. Very handy, but that'll require changing out your lightbulbs for "smart" versions.

As always, Technology Simplified is happy to answer your smart speaker questions one-on-one, and discuss what they can do for you... and of course if you decide to purchase one, we can set it up and show you how to use it in your life. 


WOW! IT'S HOT OUT THERE!

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We have been having one of the hottest summers on record and the long range forecast calls for the heat to continue. Heat and technology do not mix well. Just like animals - any laptop, iPhone (cell phone), iPad or Apple Watch should never be left in a hot car, especially if they are exposed to the hot sun. IF you must leave your electronics in a car be sure they are powered down and put in the shade, i.e. under a seat - BUT be aware even when off - extreme heat can shorten the life of any electronic. This article is laptop specific but well written and easy to follow.

So are your electronics safe in your home? IF your home has air conditioning, static electricity from dry air is a bigger worry than heat. However IF you do not have air conditioning you need to use some basic guidelines. IF your home gets up to around 80 degrees you may find the fans on your computer coming on high (loudly) or the computer may slow down. Both of these are signs that you should probably shut your computer down and find somewhere to keep cool yourself. Small electronics fair a bit better when it's hot inside but can still suffer the ill effects of heat if you are not careful. Any exposure to extremes of heat can shorten the life of your electronics, especially batteries and hard drives. Play it safe and keep your electronics running longer. 


UPCOMING CLASS

iPad Mastery in Windsor

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Wednesday, September 20th and Wednesday, September 27th
10:00am - 11:30am

Now that you know how to get around your iPad and use some of the built in Apps you are ready for more!! Topics covered will include an in depth look at customizing your iPad, tips and tricks for making your iPad easier to use. Take control of understanding iCloud and how it works with your Apple ID. See how Safari works as you learn to surf the web and find what you need. Learn how to take and share photos. We will also look at some favorite third party Apps that help in the kitchen, with travel, and more. This class will be taught in a lecture format as well as hands-on; participants are required to bring their own iPads to class. This class assumes a working knowledge of navigating your iPad, sending Mail, etc. Class content can be adjusted to the skill level of the attendees, based upon what works for the majority.

INSTRUCTIONS TO SIGN UP FOR THE CLASS

  1. Click on this link
  2. Select "Senior Programs" from choices on the left
  3. Scroll Down the list of Course Categories on the Right to: 

    "Senior Computer - iPad", click "Show Courses"

  4. This page will have all the information you need to sign up.

Apple's Big Announcements!

June has swept in with glorious weather and a bit of green remains on our golden hills. Local schools let out last week and traffic is already lighter - hurray!! June is the month the world seems to melt into summer mode - a slower pace, longer days and permission to be lazy. All of which I classify as a good thing in this crazy, hectic world today. I'm doing my best to comply which is often easier said than done.

This newsletter is a bit late because I elected to send it AFTER Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) which kicked off this week. Jillian has some highlights of the WWDC keynote below, and there will be more information and news in our July Newsletter. The tech world of course never seems to slow down which is a good thing. I always feel that the benefits of technology outweigh the drawbacks. My personal love is teaching technology to my clients - helping people learn to use and enjoy their technology is fun! With all this new tech I'm thinking business looks good.


APPLE'S BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS

By Jillian Dorman

At their annual Worldwide Developers Conference on June 6, the opening keynote was full of exciting news! It was the biggest display of product advances that I can remember in a long time! Apple announced new operating systems for both computers and mobile devices that will power new and more advanced iMacs, Mac Book Pros and iPads/iPhones. There was also fresh information about the Watch, Apple TV, and a robust new iMac Pro.  Also, the HomePod, a totally new and exciting device was introduced. Below you will find just a few highlights of the products announced and we will offer more details soon to come. The HomePod, Apple's home smart speaker with Siri, warrants an article of its own, so look for an article from our tech John Wentworth next month!

MAC OS 11

MAC OS 11 will be the force that takes Apple into the augmented reality work of the future. But there are improvements we will enjoy now in the aptly named follower of Sierra, High Sierra. One of the most welcome updates will be the addition of a side bar in Photos for greater ease of use. There are changes to Safari that will help with ad spam, and a more efficient way to store video data, just to list a few.

For our mobile iPads and iPhones, iOS 11 will similarly be full of improvements in cluding a new capabilities for the "dock," a redesign of the Control Center, and a brand new App Store that should make searching for or learning about apps a cinch, and finally, I know many of you will welcome the ability to organize and store files in a spiffy new app. You will use it like files and folders on your computer. This article tells you more about the tips and tricks coming your way. 

Both iOS 11 and MAC OS 11 are now in beta test. Apple is predicting a fall release for both, but we'll keep you posted as they near availability, with our usual recommendations on upgrading.

iMAC

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The new version of the iMac will benefit from more powerful processors (Intel 7th generation), better built-in graphics, the ability to expand RAM (21" to 32GB, 27" to 64 GB) and 27" displays up to an impressive, brighter, 5K resolution with up to a billion colors. These machines will have outstanding performance and will smoothly run High Sierra. These new computers are built for the imminent work ahead in virtual and augmented reality. It is exciting to know the machines are available for order now. You can learn more here. The MacBook and MacBook Pro line received similar improvements.

iPAD

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Have you been waiting to get a new iPad? The 10.25 iPad Pro looks amazing. A great size, it can double as a note pad because the ability to write with the pencil is very much like the real thing. In fact, the on-screen keyboard is the size of a conventional keyboard. It is powered by the same chip as the larger iPad Pro. It is faster that previous iPads in processing and graphics, has four speaker audio, 4K video recording, and optical image stabilization to improve your photos. Ronnie has already ordered hers and she will provide a complete review in the months to come. 

Again, this is just a brief of some of the announcements from a very big collection of news. If you'd like to read more comprehensive information about everything, here is more information if you want to look it over. Check out this article, too. 

Finally, although a full compliment of changes were announced across almost the full line of Apple products, there was not a peep about an new iPhone. Apple traditionally announces iPhones in the fall, so we'll have to wait and see about the iPhone 8.


TECH TIPS

I am using this email from our local bank, Redwood Credit Union, for this month's tips-- both computer and iOS. We are still getting several calls weekly about folks who have been compromised. The indicators are these attempts to cause havoc in our computing life is only going to increase. The is a great article with easy to follow steps. 

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Improve your online security with a digital spring cleaning!
Spring is here, which means it's time to clean up those digital dust bunnies and keep your information safe online. Here are some helpful online security tips:

Change your passwords
Update your login information for sites you use frequently. Long, complex passwords that use a combination of letters, numbers, and other characters are best. Don't use your kids' names, birthdays, or any information that can be readily found on social media. Read more tips on creating a strong password

Declutter your device
Review your apps and delete the ones you don't use. Then review the privacy settings of the apps you do use to ensure you're only sharing the information you choose.

Purge your digital files
Take stock of your online files, including those in the cloud. Delete documents you no longer need that could contain private information.

Tidy your privacy settings on social media
Assume anyone can see your social media posts. Remember, your personal information can help hackers uncover your passwords, so you may want to limit sharing to friends and family.

Give your software a safety makeover
Software updates are critical because they fix flaws that make your devices susceptible to hackers. This applies to not only your computer's operating system, but also popular browsers and media players. 

Following these steps will help ensure your online privacy and keep your accounts safe! For more security tips, visit redwoodcu.org/security.

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The New MacBook Pro!!

NEW MACBOOK PRO

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Apple's hugely hyped product announcement on October 27th gave us a mixed bag of good and bad. The bad first: If you have been waiting for updates to iMacs, MacPro's, MacMini's and/or iPads you will be disappointed. Apple did not update any of these products. What doesn't disappoint however is the brand spanking new, cutting edge MacBook Pro's that Apple announced. 

Touch Bar
Apple has completely revamped their flagship laptops - removing the function keys and giving them a "Touch Bar" that interacts with the screen, allowing Touch ID and direct interaction with on screen software that can take advantage of the technology. It's Apple's belief that most folks don't use the function keys as designed anyway!

Hardware and Connectivity
These new laptops also sport a much lighter, thinner form factor, wider gamut retina display, and a substantial overall boost in the hardware that affects speed and performance. Apple once again leads the "let's change the connections" charge - they have removed all ports except 4 USB-C and one headphone jack. This will require the purchase of adapters IF you plug in current hardware such as an external mouse, hard drive, display or keyboard. But USB-C allows for charging, display output, fast data transfer of connected drives, and connecting just about anything else with the right adapter(s).

Price
And one more thing... all this comes with a hefty price increase - the starting point for a 13" MacBook Pro is $1799 and $2399 for the 15" - Wow!! Since my current laptop is over 6 years old, I will most likely be ordering one of these laptops before the end of the year but for now here is a great article from CNET about the new machines.


UPGRADES: YES OR NO?

Mac OS Sierra - DO NOT INSTALL
It is currently a "hold off, please do not install" - why?? Sierra is shaping up to be a very good OS upgrade BUT as always until it has been out awhile, we recommend holding off on installing it so the third party peripheral and software manufacturers can catch up. Right now there are documented issues with ScanSnap products, some Quicken versions, Adobe CC, and so forth. This is normal and not unexpected. We fully expect to be giving a green light on Sierra before the end of the year. Apple's Photos 2.0 (only available in Sierra) is great and I too am anxious to get working with it. Patience will serve us well. 

 

iOS 10  
I am giving iOS 10.0.2 a 'GO' for installing. This update has some fun new features which John mentions below and a complete list is available here. As always be sure you backup your iPhone completely before you upgrade. 

ALSO - be sure your iOS device can run iOS 10 and remember IF your device is more than a year or two old, any new OS will run slower. Apple increases the hardware requirements every time they release a major update. 


TECH TIPS
 

iPhone / iPad - iOS

Did you know that every time you open an App on your iPhone/iPad it stays open and running in the background until you quit it? All these running programs take up battery life and processor time so quit them often!

Here's how:

  • Double-click the Home button. This will bring up the Multitasking Screen showing you all the applications that are currently running (see screen shot to the left).
  • Swipe Up on the page icon for any open App and slide it off the screen to close it completely. 
  • You can swipe across your screen to see all your open Apps or quickly switch to a different App by tapping its page icon.

 

 

 

 

macOS - Yosemite (10.10.5 and later)

If you have heard me speak about the Mac over the last few years, you will know I have an issue with Apple's interface redesign that hides buttons until you mouse over them.

When Apple released Yosemite, they removed the button that gave us access to the address book / contacts for emails... Grrrrrrr.... But lo and behold what I didn't discover until much later is that the access to your Contacts is still there - it's just hidden until you place your cursor on the To:, Cc:, or Bcc: line as if you were going to type. If you look to the far right of this line, you will see a tiny blue + sign (see screen shot to the right). When you click it, you will see your Contacts list like this - you can access your groups and contacts from here. Click on a name and the screen slides down slightly and you can click on the email address to add it as a recipient.