Archive for the Tips Category

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.

#PSA: Stop iOS Apps From Asking You To Do A Review In iOS 11

Posted in Tips with tags on September 28, 2017 by itnerd

Something that has annoyed me for a very long time is apps prompting me to review them. Sure I can click the option to not ask me again every time the prompt appears. But that becomes tiresome after a while. But you can stop apps from asking you for reviews in iOS 11 by doing the following:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to iTunes & App Store and look for this option


The In-App Ratings & Reviews was turned on in my case. I turned it off and I stopped getting prompted for reviews. At least thus far. Give it a try and see if it works for you. If it does, please leave a comment and let me know.

Here’s Some Driving Related Features In iOS 11

Posted in Tips with tags on September 22, 2017 by itnerd

There are three new features in iOS 11 that are focused around drivers. One that everyone around the world can use to be safer while driving. The other two will be of interest to US, UK, and Chinese readers of this blog, but hopefully will impact drivers in other parts of the world eventually.

The first feature is called Do Not Disturb While Driving. It’s designed to block incoming calls, texts, and notifications while you’re driving. The idea is that if you don’t see notifications and the like, you’re not going to be one of those distracted drivers. Here’s how to enable it:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Do Not Disturb.
  3. Scroll down to “Do Not Disturb While Driving.”
  4. Tap on “Activate” to choose how you want Do Not Disturb While Driving to be turned on.

Now here’s where you have to make a decision. There’s three settings that you can choose from:

  • Manual basically gives you the option of turning it off and on when you feel the need to do so.
  • When connected to car Bluetooth will only activate it when it connects via Bluetooth to your car.
  • Automatically activates this feature whenever motion is detected. This can be inconvenient if you’re a passenger, so you’ll need to turn it off and the quickest way to do that is by tapping the persistent Do Not Disturb While Driving popup at the top of the display to let the iPhone know you’re a passenger. Plus this activated for me when I was out on a bike ride. The thing is, I tend to want to hear alerts while out for a ride just in case I need to respond to something.

Personally, I would set it to only activate when the iPhone is connected via Bluetooth.

One final point before I move on. If you use Apple CarPlay in your vehicle, none of this applies to you because CarPlay suppresses app notifications and handles texts and phone calls in a way that is less distracting. Now if you want to learn more about this feature, Apple has a very good support document which includes a couple of other handy tips that might interest you. Including how to use this with the teen driver in your home.

Now there are two other driving related features that appeared in iOS 11, but for now are only usable by people in the US, UK and China. The first being Lane Guidance. With this feature Apple Maps will always let you know what lane you should be in at a turn, exit, or a junction point. That way you don’t go the wrong way by being in the wrong way. However the only people who can leverage this feature at present are people in the US and China. But I hope that it comes to other places soon as this is a feature that Apple Maps desperately needs.

The second is Speed Limits. This feature puts a speed limit sign on the top left corner of your Apple Maps display to let you know how fast you should be going. This is handy in the US where you can get a ticket in some places in the US for being just a couple of mile per hour over the speed limit. But this feature is limited to the US and UK for now. As this is another feature that Apple Maps desperately needs, I hope Apple quickly brings this to other countries soon.