System Upgrades, Computer Updates, and Tech Tips

Wow!! It is so green outside!! I LOVE IT!!! 

Now that I am well on my way to getting my mobility back (still in process but better everyday,) I am loving the beautiful green hills that are Sonoma county at this time of year. When I look around and see the green hills, the daffodils and yellow mustard weed I just get happy - don't you? It must be the Irish in me. The amount of rain this winter has pretty much banished the drought in most parts of California but I sincerely hope everyone remembers that water conservation should still be a priority in this changing world of ours. 

It has become apparent to me over the last month, while we have been doing a lot of security audits, that many folks are still confused or unsure about the upgrade cycle of their computer(s) in relation to both hardware and software. Below is an article that helps you understand the reasoning behind and the process of keeping your computers upgraded. 

We are now looking towards Apple's spring announcements - a March event where we are expecting to see new / refreshed iPads and possibly iMacs and laptops is the rumor. I will keep you posted as more information (not rumors) is available.


*NEW* classes at Shutterbug Camera in Santa Rosa


Wednesday, March 29th from 2pm - 5pm
Monday, April 17th from 10am - 1pm

  • Do you want to know how to work with your photos on iPhone or iPad? How to shoot, import, acquire, organize, share, and edit.
  • Having photos on your iPhone/iPad is great fun, but...
  • How do you delete the ones you don't want?
  • How do you share with friends and family?
  • What about organizing...Can it be done?
  • What is the difference between your iPhone/iPad camera and the photos app?
  • Can you print from your iPhone or iPad?
  • How do you print iPhone/iPad photos using Shutterbug's printing services?

This class will answer these questions and show you how to set up your iPhone/iPad so you are ready to have fun with your iOS.

#30094  Min. 6 Max.10
Cost -   $69.00

**Registration is not yet open. I will e-mail you when it does.


I am currently recommending very strongly that anyone running ANY OS earlier than and including 10.9.5 to upgrade to either El Capitan - 10.11.5 (you will need help to acquire this) OR Sierra 10.12.3. IF you are running Mac OS 10.10.5 Yosemite, you will want to plan to upgrade before the end of this year. 

You can check the compatibility of your non-Apple software apps here at RoaringApps and the hardware requirements here. Please know you can contact us for an evaluation and help with this. 


First a basic term clarification: 

  • Upgrade refers to a major system (software) or hardware change. 
  • Updates are the ongoing patches, versions, security updates, etc. That are offered throughout the year for all your software. 

Many people consider buying a new computer a pretty large financial outlay and expect their purchase to last a long time. 

The reality is the average lifespan of a desktop computer is about three to five years. Laptops slightly less if they are used as designed and truly mobile - if your laptop sits at your home/office most of the time then the three to five year rule applies. There are many variables that can reduce the life span though, such as how much you use it and how hard you push it, environmental heat and humidity and dust. So while you might have had, or know someone who has, a computer that has been working longer, this is the exception not the rule. For most of us, two things drive the need to replace a computer - it fails in some way and repair does not make financial sense OR more often we need new software or hardware to be able to do what we want/need to do.

Hardware is pretty basic.

If you treat your computer well by keeping it and the plugs and the area around it dust free, having the hardware work for more than three years is pretty typical. IF however you allow dust (enemy number one) to build up, your computer will slow down and potentially fail sooner. If your environment is unusually hot, cold or very damp you will also see issues with a computer before the four to five year mark. Hard drives (where your files are stored) - can fail or can get full but this is often a repair that is worth the few hundred dollars it costs. However this upgrade is much harder and often not an option for the newest Apple computers. Most computers can have the RAM - memory upgraded after a few years for a reasonable cost - BUT this too has changed with Apple's latest product releases. IF you are buying new, be sure to check and buy as much RAM and storage as you can afford because many new machines cannot be upgraded later. 

A note about hard drives: Also it is important to note that all iMacs today offer a choice of a standard HDD (spinning) hard drive, a Fusion drive (combines standard and SSD drive) or an SSD (solid state, doesn't spin) drive. The newest laptops only offer SSD drives. Why do you care? Simply put: SSD is faster. HDD (spinning drive) is bigger and "may" fail sooner because is spins. Fusion Drive uses both, and gives you a mix of speed and size. Apple's current OS's all run much better on an SSD drive BUT SSD drives are still quite expensive so if you need a lot of storage and still want speed go with a Fusion drive. 

Software is more of a moving target with every developer, including Apple, having different requirements.  

Mac OS - Apple releases a new operating system about once every 12-14 months. Once they release a new OS they typically drop support for an older OS - i.e. Last year Apple stopped releasing Security updates for Mac OS 10.9.5. This means that web browsers and email in 10.9.5 or earlier are now vulnerable to all that nasty stuff out there. We fully expect Apple to drop support for Mac OS 10.10 within the next few months.

Until the last few years this also meant the the newer OS's would require the newer hardware. This changed way back with 10.8 (Mt. Lion). Since Mt. Lion was released in July of 2012 Apple has not really changed the hardware requirements UNTIL the current OS release Sierra. BUT this does not mean you should install 10.12 - Sierra or even 10.11 - on a five +  year old machine. In fact attempting to can cause all kinds of issues, none of which are easy to fix. 

Third Party Software.

As you would expect, third party software ranges from software that runs on many generations of hardware and versions of the Mac OS - think Microsoft Office, Firefox, Flash, Adobe Reader to software that often requires a relatively new computer OR at least the latest Mac OS - most often this is financial software / web sites or the Adobe Creative Suite type software.

So how to think long term?

The time to make a decision about how long to keep a computer is when you buy a new  one. When I help a client decide what computer to buy, I ask many questions  about how they use the computer, how long they like/plan to keep a computer and what is on their wish list of how they might use the computer in the future. Then we look at options, factoring in budget, total storage, RAM (memory), and processor (speed) and I make the best recommendation. However, I always say that planning for a three to five year life is the best - think ahead like this and you will avoid many issues that crop up when using an older computer and have the budget in place to replace your computer in a timely fashion. A bonus? Moving from a three to five year-old computer running a relatively current OS is MUCH, MUCH easier and LESS EXPENSIVE than moving from a five + year old computer that has never been upgraded.

Another way to ensure the longevity of your computer is good maintenance -- We are once again offering out Spring Tune Up Special! (Read on for details.) 

During your tuneup we can offer advice on how to get your computers running Mac OS 10.11 (El Capitan) or 10.12 (Sierra) or advise on a new purchase. 



Your Spring Tune-Up includes:  

  • Basic verification and repair (as possible) of your Mac OS operating system and hard drive. Updates to the same.
  • Updating any third-party software you run. Removal of any questionable / outdated software.
  • Verification andconsultation about your backups.
  • Verification of syncing your iOS devices.
  • Each appointment includes approximately 30 - 45 minutes of time for questions and/or training.

Call Today

to book an appointment with
Rob or John, our Design Solutions Tech/Trainers. 

* Offer does not apply to troubleshooting / diagnostics or major Mac OS upgrades. Appointments must be booked by 3/10/2017 and completed by 4/30/2017. Limited to the first 20 appointments.


iPhone - Saving Photos from Messages

If you take a photo using the camera icon within Messages (texting), it isn't automatically saved to your iPhone. If you take a photo you really like, you'll want to manually save it. It's nice that iPhone doesn't automatically save those photos so that you aren't accidentally taking up too much space or saving private photos meant only for the conversation. But if you send a photo you like, here's how to save it to the Photos app.  NOTE: you can use this same process to save an image someone sends you via Messages. 

- Once you send your photo touch and hold on the image in the Messages window for that conversation and you will see these options - choose Save


Mac OS - Stopping Automatic Audio in Safari

In Safari the default settings allow for some video to start playing as soon as a web page fully loads. This can be nice for some content BUT really annoying when you want to read an article and the video content is an ad. You can quickly stop the audio portion of the content by going to the address bar in Safari and touching on the blue speaker icon.

It is possible to completely disable any video from playing automatically in Safari - however - this will make is more complicated for you to get the video you do want and for most folks I do not recommend it. 

Update on MacBook Pro Review


Early last month my new MacBook Pro arrived - hurray!! It replaced my aging 2010 MacBook Pro and the timing was perfect. I love this new laptop. Apple has really thought out the design. While not massively different from earlier laptops at first glance, there are definitely major changes some of which are great, others not so much. I am not typically a fan of the 'first' generation or major revision of anything but I do think Apple has done a great job with this one. 

What I don't love

First let's get the "not liking so much" out of the way. Apple removed ALL the connector ports except the headphone jack and replaced them with USB C (Thunderbolt 3) ports. These ports are for everything from charging your laptop to connecting external devices (hard drives, monitors, projectors, etc.). This means that I had to buy all new adapters and of course add adapters where none were needed (i.e., to connect my Time Machine backup drive). Pretty much the pain in the neck it sounds like. But as more manufacturers begin to build USB C devices this will change.

My other big complaint is the price jump these devices took!!! Several hundred dollars - again, once we get past the first generation I'm sure we will see the price drop. 

What I love

What I love - the Touch Bar!!!! Wow!!! at first I was a bit skeptical that Apple was giving us a bar at the top of the keyboard instead of a touch screen but having used PC's with touch screens and now this Touch Bar, I'm in love. It makes so much sense to be able to type and simply reach a finger up to the Touch Bar to correct the spelling of a word, insert a smiley, adjust my volume up/down, send an email and so much more. I am still learning all the uses for the Touch Bar. Right now it is primarily only Apple Apps that use this technology but as more Apps are developed to take advantage of the Touch Bar, I believe it will become indispensable. Even better, it incorporates Touch ID so I can unlock my laptop or pay with Apple Pay using just my fingerprint. Slick! 

The keyboard is great but a tad noisy. I love the easy touch of the keys and find I am typing faster and with fewer errors (I am a very good typist). They do make a tapping sound as you type but it's not that bad. The trackpad is huge - I thought is would be real pain with errors caused by inadvertent touches but this is not happening at all. The extra "real estate" of the trackpad is great for using gestures when needed but honestly I'm using the Touch Bar more often. 

So to sum it up I think the new MacBook Pro is a great new laptop for Apple and definitely a buy IF you need one right now. However, if it is not critical that you replace or buy a laptop right now, I would wait for the next generation and hopefully lower prices. 


iOS 10 - Magnifier Short Cut

How often do you find yourself wishing that the text, numbers, or an item you are looking at was a bit larger? Especially the 'fine print' or customer service number on a card! This tip turns your iPhone into an easy-to-use magnifier. I love this and use it all the time.

Here's how:

  • On your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch open Settings > General > Accessibility. 
  • Scroll all the way to the bottom of Accessibility and tap on Accessibility Shortcut and choose Magnifier.
  • Now when you triple-click the Home button on your device, the Magnifier will appear.
  • Just point your camera at whatever you want to see better!


Mac OS Sierra - Searching Photos

In Mac OS Sierra, Photos got a substantial upgrade including a very robust method of searching by description, i.e., I can search my Photos library for beaches and almost all my photos of beaches show up - very impressive and somewhat scary in its accuracy.  You can try searching for pie, flowers, birds and so on. Whatever objects you think might be in your library. This expanded search is available due to what they are calling "Computer Vision" which is a fancy term for artificial intelligence or AI.