Archive for the Tips Category

Someone Just Tried To Phish Me To Get My Email Credentials….. So I Went Down The Rabbit Hole To See What Their Scheme Was

Posted in Tips with tags on February 9, 2021 by itnerd

I was having a busy morning that had just calmed down when I got an email that looked like this:

Now I redacted some info as it seems that James Hayes appears to be a real person and I don’t want to embarrass him as it appears that his email has either been pwned by hackers or has been taken over by hackers. Likely the latter as I will illustrate in a second. But the fact is that this to me looks like a classic phishing email. I verified that by using the “Quick Look” function:

Again, I’ve redacted some info to protect the real James Hayes.

The quality of the English (or more accurately the lack of quality) reinforces my opinion that this is a phishing email. I assumed that if I emailed James Hayes to inform him that his email was hacked, he would take action. However, I got an almost instant response from him…. Or more accurately someone pretending to be him:

This further reinforces the fact that this is a phishing email as the English isn’t any better and it wants my “valid EMAIL” to view whatever “document” he sent me. But in the interest of science, I went down the rabbit hole. Opening the link in Chrome brought me to the page that I saw in Quick Look. Clicking on “REVIEW DOCUMENT” took me to this page:

Now this isn’t a web page that belongs to Microsoft as evidenced by the URL above. It is a page that is clearly intended to fool you into thinking that this is a web page that belongs to Microsoft so that the miscreants behind this phishing attack can grab your email credentials. To further go down this rabbit hole, I used an throwaway email address that I have specifically for testing out stuff like this. But it’s tied to the Microsoft Authenticator app which enables multi factor authentication. What that means is that if this is a legitimate Microsoft page, which I already know it isn’t, Microsoft Authenticator on my iOS device should immediately alert me to enter my second factor to let me access this document that I supposedly have to review. If it doesn’t do that, then I know it is a phishing attack. The thing is that the scumbags behind this attack still won’t be able to get in and I can just change the password later because I have Microsoft Authenticator. So I did that, first with an incorrect password and here’s the result:

The first interesting thing is that the word invalid is spelled “inValid” which further supports that this is a phishing page. The second thing is that it somehow knew that I had entered a incorrect password. That was interesting. So I entered my actual password and sure enough, Chrome served this up to me.

Proof positive that this is a phishing site. My guess is that they were after my email account to launch more involved email attacks. Like trying to scam money for example as attacks on Office 365 accounts to do that among other things are a trend at the moment. But they won’t be able to use my throwaway account due to the fact that I’ve used multi factor authentication to stop that from happening. Plus I have changed the password. Now because I have Microsoft Authenticator installed, I can see what the miscreants do and what IP address they come from so that maybe I can figure out who they are. I’ll keep you posted on what I find out. But if you get an email like the one I got, don’t click on anything. Simply delete it and move on with your day as that is the best way to protect yourself from something like this.

Should I Get 8GB Or 16GB On My New M1 Mac? And What About The Storage And GPU Options?

Posted in Tips with tags on November 25, 2020 by itnerd

My inbox got flooded with questions about the M1 Mac starting moments after I posted this review on the MacBook Air with the M1 processor. The main question being if one should get 8GB or 16GB of RAM.

Here’s the short answer: If you can afford it get 16GB of RAM.

Here’s the detailed answer: The Apple M1 processor is a SOC or system on a chip which is similar to what they do with the iPhone. Meaning everything is integrated on the chip. CPU, RAM, GPU (graphics processing unit), everything. That means you get whatever is on the chip and you can’t upgrade it later. That makes deciding on how much RAM you need a big decision. Here’s the thing, Macs last a long time. I am typing this article on a 2015 15″ MacBook Pro which is still is able to run the latest operating systems, and it still gets security updates, and doesn’t feel slow (by Intel standards) despite being five years old. It’s not unusual to get as many as six or even seven years out of a Mac. Thus by going to 16GB regardless of what you are doing, you are truly future proofing things and avoiding the possibility that you may need to buy a whole new computer should your needs evolve.

Now, here’s the only caveat that I will point out. If you’re using these M1 Macs as a bridge to get a quick speed increase while waiting for the Apple Silicon Mac of your dreams, then you might have an argument to only get 8GB. But the flip side of that is that this is dependent on your workflow. If your workflow is RAM intensive, photo or video editing is a great example of this, then you’re going 16GB regardless.

While I’m here, I’ll also help you with your storage requirements. All of the M1 Macs that Apple has released come with 256GB of storage. Will that work for you or do you need more? Here’s my rule of thumb for that:

  • If you currently have a computer with 256GB of storage, get 512GB.
  • If you currently have a computer with 512GB of storage, get 1TB.
  • If you currently have a computer with 1TB of storage, get 2TB.

The reason being that storage creep is a thing. As in you slowly tend to run out of storage as you use your computer because you save more music, more movies, more pictures and the like as you use it. Thus getting more storage than you need now will save you headaches later.

There’s one final thing. When it comes to the MacBook Air specifically, the base model comes with 7 GPU cores and the more upscale model comes with 8. Neither the 13″ MacBook Pro or the Mac Mini with the M1 processor have this option. Does it matter? Given my experience with a base MacBook Air with 7 GPU cores, I would say no. The computer was so insanely fast that I suspect that the 8th core would only give you marginal gains unless you were using your MacBook Air to edit 4K video or something like that. The flip side to that is that if you’re really interested in editing 4K video on a regular basis, you should really be looking at the the 13″ MacBook Pro with the M1 processor as that comes with cooling fans that will give you a bit better performance on top of the fact that it comes out of the box with 8 GPU cores.

Hopefully that helps you to configure the right M1 based Mac for your needs. If you still have questions, email me and I will help you as best as I can.

Hyundai Canada & Kia Canada Owners…. You Can Get Updates For Your Infotainment System For FREE

Posted in Tips with tags , , on October 1, 2020 by itnerd

Long time readers know that I have been covering Hyundai Canada’s struggles to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to their fleet of cars. They eventually did get there in terms of newly purchased cars and the ability to upgrade some of their existing cars. And they did that for free for a while. But that program ended some time ago.

Now As of this year, numerous KIA and Hyundai models in Canada have access to map updates for free. And if you don’t presently have Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, you can get that for free as well. Here’s how you do it:

  • First, you need to have a 32GB class 10 SD card handy. If you don’t have one, they’re cheap enough to source on Amazon or on B&H Photo.
  • Next, surf to the Mapnsoft website and choose your brand.
  • If you don’t have an account create one. Otherwise log in with your account details.
  • Pick your country, model year, and model.

This will (hopefully) take you to a screen like this:

You can view the instructions in terms of updating it as well as read about the features that you can get with this update. While you can order it for $30 and have it shipped to you on an SD card (Which is way cheaper than it has been in the past). But you really want to click “download it to free” to go that route.

Now I won’t walk through the entire process to update your infotainment system as that’s very well documented. But here’s the highlights. It takes a while to do as you have to download software for your PC or Mac to download, which will in turn download the software for your infotainment system and put it on your SD card. But having done this myself, I started this at 7PM. By 7:20PM it had downloaded the update and started the process of putting out on the SD card. But by 10PM it still wasn’t done. I left it overnight and when I woke up to it having completed the process. So I don’t know how long it actually takes, but it wasn’t quick. Then you take the SD card to your car and use it to update your infotainment system. That takes about 45 minutes and you need the engine running to do it. My suggestion would be to take a drive until it is done. But this part is completely in line with other updates that I have done.

Gripes? The Mac version of this software isn’t notarized by Apple. Which means you have to hop through a few hoops to get this to run as it sets off Gatekeeper because it thinks its a virus. Mapnsoft should really fix that as those hoops won’t be able to be bypassed.

This is a very good development for Hyundai and Kia owners in Canada as those owners can keep their maps and infotainment systems up to day. If you’ve held off on updating your infotainment system, you don’t need to hold off anymore as you can update your infotainment system with your only investment being time.

What To Look For In A Case That Will Protect Your Smartphone As Much As Possible

Posted in Tips on October 7, 2019 by itnerd

Many people who read this blog ask me for advice in terms of a case to protect their smartphone. Most of the time they’re looking for a specific brand or a specific case that I would recommend. The thing is that there’s no one size fits all solution for a case as we all have different needs when it comes to cases. Thus what I’m going to do today is to walk you through what I look for when I review a case. That way you can take that info and find the case that’s right for you.

  1. Drop protection is a must: I don’t care how careful you are with your smartphone. At some point you will drop it and if it lands the wrong way, it will get expensive. Thus the first thing that I look for in a case is an explicit statement of drop protection. Ideally you want to see that it was tested by a third party and meets a certain standard such as MIL-STD-810. That way you know that whatever claims that the company behind the case is making is based in fact.
  2. Look for an edge that is raised above the screen: The next thing that I look for is that the edge of the case is raised above the screen. That way it provides a bit more protection for a screen from events where the phone is placed or falls screen first onto a surface as the screen never touches the surface in question. My ideal scenario is that this is true with a screen protector. That way your phone has more substantive protection inside a case.
  3. The case must provide as much protection around the edge of the phone as possible: While it isn’t possible to 100% cover the edge of whatever smartphone you use, you want to find a case that covers as much as possible. For example, some cases will expose the bottom of the phone. That in my mind is a #fail as that’s where scratches and dents will occur. And that affects resale value. Thus you want to find a case that avoids that.
  4. Wireless charging compatibility is a must: It’s 2019 and wireless charging is a thing. But a lot of case manufacturers don’t see it that way and make cases that don’t work with wireless chargers. Thus you should look for an explicit reference that the case that you are considering is wireless charger compatible whether you actually use a wireless charger or not. Because if you don’t presently, you will in the future.
  5. Contactless payment compatibility is a must: People pay for all sorts of things with their phones simply by tapping their phone onto a payment terminal. Thus much like with wireless charging, you should look for an explicit reference to being compatible with contactless payments (aka Google Pay, Samsung Pay, or Apple Pay). That way you don’t have to remove your phone from your case to pay for coffee.

If the case that you’re considering checks those boxes, then you can look at things like style, color, etc. Because at that point, you’re going to end up with a case that is going to functionally suit your needs.

So, did I miss anything that is important when considering a case for your smartphone? If I did, leave a comment and share your thoughts on this.

TIP: How To Ensure That Users Are Fully Signed Out Of Windows 10

Posted in Tips with tags on August 5, 2019 by itnerd

Something that has been bugging me since the Fall Creators Update of 2017 is that I’ve noticed that users are no longer automatically signed out when I shut down or restart my PC. I could tell that because applications that were open when I shut down automatically came back on the next startup. Since I only use my PC intermittently, specifically for Zwift indoor cycling sessions, I never invested any time to look at it. But a day or so ago, I got a bit ticked at this behavior that I decided to invest some time to figure out why this was happening. Twenty minutes later, I had figured it out:

  • Open the Settings app
  • Go to Accounts
  • Go to Sign-in Options
  • Scroll to the bottom until you reach the Privacy section and UNSELECT the option to “Use my sign-in info to automatically finish setting up my device after an update or restart.” Do this for EVERY account on your PC.

I can only conclude that Microsoft did this for some sort of ease of use or convenience reason. I say that because I cannot find this change documented anywhere. But whatever the reason, I’m not a fan. But I hope that this helps someone else who has this issue.


So I Just Bought A New iPhone XS/XS Max/XR… What Accessories Do I Need?

Posted in Tips with tags on November 2, 2018 by itnerd

If you’ve dropped the cash (and to be frank, it’s a lot of cash) on the new iPhones from Apple like I did, you might be wondering what accessories you need. I’ve gotten a few emails asking me that question, so I thought it would be a good idea to put my thoughts down on paper so to speak.

  1. AppleCare: The number one thing to do with these phones is to buy AppleCare. These phones are expensive and the cost of repairing them in or out of warranty (in the case of accidental damage) is sky high. AppleCare mitigates that by keeping the cost of repair from accidental damage low and extending the warranty to two years from the factory standard of one. Consider this a must buy.
  2. Buy a case: A case is the next thing on the list. But not just any case. Look for one with some form of drop protection as it’s a matter of when not if you drop your iPhone. I reviewed two examples of such cases recently but there are many others out there. Look around and see if you can find something that fits your use case.
  3. Buy a screen protector: The screens on these new iPhones, or any iPhone for that matter are not cheap. So a screen protector is a must. My go to for the last few years is this one by Belkin. It’s saved screens on my iPhone at least twice. So I have no problem recommending it. Plus it will be professionally installed at your local Apple Store. That’s hard to beat.
  4. Consider wireless headphones: There’s no headphone jack on these iPhones. Thus unless you feel like living the dongle life as Apple for reasons only they understand no longer include the 3.5mm to Lightning adapter in the box with a new iPhone, a set of wireless headphones are in your future. Besides the headphones that do come in the box aren’t that great and should never be used. I’ve been rocking out using these headphones for a while now and I highly recommend them. They’re at a great price point and have great audio. Plus the link above has a discount code that can save you a few bucks.
  5. Consider a wireless charger: I used to be indifferent about wireless charging. That is until I got one and I have to admit that it sure is convenient to just drop your phone on the charger and have it charge. The new iPhones are compatible with any Qi standard charger but you should look for one with two or more coils on it. That way it guarantees that your iPhone will charge regardless of how it is physically placed on the charging surface. Also look for one that will do 7.5W as that’s what will charge the iPhone the fastest. I’m currently using this one which also charges my Apple Watch, but there’s a ton of them out there from a variety of companies.
  6. Keep it clean: Who knows what your new iPhone picks up during the day? Thus keeping it clean is a must. My go to product for keeping any of my iDevices clean is IKear which comes with a microfibre cloth if you buy the right package. I highly recommend it for keeping your gear clean.

Are there other accessories that you would recommend for a new iPhone XS/XS Max/XR user? If you have something in mind, please leave a comment and share your wisdom.

iOS Users Can Now Store Messages In iCloud. Here’s How You Turn It On.

Posted in Tips with tags on May 30, 2018 by itnerd

If you upgraded to iOS 11.4 yesterday, you got a really useful feature that allows you to store messages in iCloud. What that means is that if you receive a message on one device, it shows up everywhere for that account. If you delete a message on one device, it goes away on (almost) every device.

Here’s how you enable it:

  1. Update your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to iOS 11.4 or later
  2. Open Settings
  3. Tap [Your Name] or Sign in to iCloud
  4. Tap iCloud
  5. Check that Messages is toggled on. It should look like this:


This feature is also going to be on macOS 10.13.5 whenever that ships. It’s not on Apple Watch 4.3.1, At least not yet.

UPDATE: This feature is now available in macOS 10.13.5. Here’s how you turn it on.

What’s In The IT Nerd’s Bag When He Travels? The 2017 Edition.

Posted in Tips with tags on November 20, 2017 by itnerd

Since I came out with this look and this look at what gear I travel with, I have made some significant changes to what I carry on the road. Thus I felt that while I was traveling in India, I do an update on what’s in my laptop bag when I travel.


The majority of my gear is stored in a ProCase Universal Electronics Accessories Bag that I got from Amazon. It is thin and organizes the gear that’s in it via two dual sided compartments.


In this part of the case from left to right, I have VGA to Display Port, DVI to Display Port, and an Ethernet to Thunderbolt adapter for my MacBook Pro. All of these are from Apple. Next is a Nomad Universal Cable that has Mini USB, USB-C, and Lightning connectors on it. Besides that is a Thunderbolt cable.


In another compartment, I have a Microsoft travel mouse. I also have several USB drives. One has macOS High Sierra and another has Diskwarrior… Not that the latter works with High Serra. There’s also a 16GB USB drive that’s blank in case I need it. Finally, theres a SD card reader in case I need it.


From the left starting at the top, I have a EZOPower 6 Foot Braided Sleeve Mini USB cable. Below that is a flat Ethernet cable. And below that is a Native Union Lightning cable. To the right is a Kensington USB hub and below it are two USB to USB-C adapters.


From the left starting with the top, I have a charge cable for my Apple Watch, and I have this Orico drive enclosure that has a Samsung 850 EVO SSD in it. To the right is my  Olixar Travel Adapter With 4 USB Ports with associated adapters which charges my iPhone 7 Plus, Apple Watch Series 2, or any other device that can be charged with a USB port.


This is the full Apple World Travel Adapter Kit which allows me to plug my MacBook Pro in to power it anywhere in the world.


The Apple World Travel Adapter Kit along with the Olixar Travel Adapter With 4 USB Ports fits inside this Herschel Supply Company Bag.



Speaking of the laptop bag, it’s a Tucano Figura Medium. It’s old, as in a decade old. But it’s so durable you could never tell and it’s never failed me. Though if I had to replace it I’d have problem as the company no longer sells this model. It provides a good amount of protection as well as easily accessible pockets for things like airline tickets and other documents. Not to mention the ability to hold my MacBook Pro related items. Plus I can slide the case through the handle of my carry on bag so that I have nothing on my shoulder. It’s also easy to pull out the notebook at TSA checkpoints. Given how much I travel, all of that is important to me.


Finally, this MacBook Pro with Retina Display is in my laptop bag as it has always been a reliable traveller as it has proven to be rugged and durable.

As you can see, I travel with a fair amount of stuff. But trust me, it doesn’t take up a lot of space nor does it add that much weight. And it’s all come in handy at one time or another. Hopefully, I’ve helped someone travel smarter, but if you have a tip or a suggestion, feel free to leave me a comment below.

Should You Format Your Mac Hard Drive To Be Case Sensitive Or Not Case Sensitive?

Posted in Tips with tags on November 17, 2017 by itnerd

Recently I had to fix an issue with my wife’s MacBook Pro by backing up her data, formatting her drive, and restoring her data. But that resulted in several people e-mailing me to ask a question. When I format the drive using Disk Utility, should one use case sensitive or not?

Now this is a good question as Apple doesn’t make this clear. Let me begin to answer this question by explaining the difference between the two as that is more than you think it is. Case sensitive formatting allows files of the same name but some difference in letter case to be in the same directory (or folder in macOS terms). Now that sounds like an advantage, but it isn’t. I say that because the standard drive formatting that comes on any computer from Apple is not case sensitive. And software companies design their software to the Apple standard. Which means that if you format a drive using case sensitive formatting, you run the risk of having your software not work. Examples of this off the top of my head are the Steam client and Adobe products which are known not to play nice with case sensitive formatting. There are likely others as well, which means the safe route in terms of formatting a Mac hard drive is to go with a non case sensitive format.

In closing, I’d like to point you towards this Apple support document that talks about how to format a drive. It hasn’t been updated for High Sierra for whatever reason, but it is very detailed and worth a read.

“Underallocation Detected On Main Device” On macOS High Sierra…. What Is This Error?

Posted in Tips with tags on November 2, 2017 by itnerd

The main reason I ended up replacing my the SSD in my wife’s MacBook Pro, which then led me to replace the battery as it was swelling and potentially dangerous was that after she upgraded to macOS High Sierra, she got this error message when disk utility was run on her MacBook Pro:


The error in question is “Underallocation Detected on Main device.” Now doing a Google search didn’t turn up any results in terms of what that error means. Though I did find a few reports of people having the same error. But if I had to take a guess, I would guess that when the High Sierra installer made the conversion from the old HFS+ filesystem to the new APFS filesystem, something went wrong and it didn’t properly allocate the space on the SSD. Now I may be wrong about that so if someone knows for sure what this error is, please reach out to me and let me know.

In the meantime, I needed to fix this. Since Disk Utility which is part of macOS High Sierra couldn’t fix this, and to my knowledge there are no other APFS compatible disk utilities out there at the moment, my plan of action was to:

  • Take a Samsung 850 EVO Pro 512GB SSD that I had lying around, place it inside this drive dock and connect it to the MacBook Pro via USB 3
  • Format the 850 EVO Pro for APFS without encryption
  • Use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the drive inside the MacBook Pro to that drive,
  • Shut down the MacBook Pro upon completion of the cloning process and then swap the drive.
  • Fire it up to test that things worked fine hardware wise.
  • Run Disk Utility to confirm that the issues that sparked this were gone.
  • Check to see if TRIM was enabled for the drive (It was. But if it wasn’t I could use these instructions to enable it)
  • Reactivate Microsoft Office, rename the new SSD to “Macintosh HD” from “Untitled” and fix the Carbon Copy Cloner backup tasks that were still referencing the old drive.
  • Encrypt the drive

Now all of the above went to plan with the exception of the swelling battery. Had that not happened, it would have taken 2.5 hours to do everything but the encryption (which took about 14 hours to do by the way). But this is a pretty extreme way to solve this problem which I cannot imagine that the average user would do or could do. Plus, the only reason that I discovered this was that I ran Disk Utility a few days after the install to ensure that everything was fine, which in this case it wasn’t. Thus I have to wonder what would have happened if this was left unchecked. So I am wondering via this blog post if there was a different path I could have taken to address this? If anyone has any ideas, please leave a comment and let me know.