Archive for the Tips Category

Which Apple Watch Should You Buy? Deciding Between The Series 3, SE, or Series 7.

Posted in Tips with tags on October 13, 2021 by itnerd

This Friday marks the release of the Apple Watch Series 7. That has sparked a number of inquiries into my inbox as to which Apple Watch that one should get. Hopefully this article can help you in deciding which one you should get.

Let’s start at the top. Apple has three Apple Watches on offer: 

  • The Apple Watch Series 7
  • The Apple Watch SE
  • The Apple Watch Series 3

Buying the Apple Watch Series 3 is a complete waste of your money if you are in the market for an Apple Watch. Why you ask? Here’s the reasons why I would avoid it like it is radioactive:

  • It has an S3 processor which is a 32-bit processor. It’s also the last 32-bit processor that Apple supports. Which means it’s not long for this world. It is entirely likely that in the next year or two that Apple will drop support for it. After all, they dropped support for anything below the Series 3 in watchOS 7. 
  • Not only that, the Series 3 is not all that fast. Though I will admit that if you have never had an Apple Watch, you won’t know what you’re missing.
  • The Series 3 doesn’t support Apple’s Family Sharing feature. That’s the feature that allows you to activate and manage an Apple Watch without the person on the receiving end of that Apple Watch needing an iPhone. As long as the Apple Watch in question is a cellular model.
  • The Series 3 lacks ECG functionality and fall detection functionality that is found in the SE and Series 7, and the blood oxygen monitoring that is exclusive to the Series 7.

For those reasons, I’d avoid the Series 3. That leaves the SE and Series 7. Here’s what I think of those two options:

  • If you’re price sensitive and you don’t care about the always on display and you don’t care about blood oxygen monitoring, the SE is for you.
  • The SE is also a great choice to give a child or a parent or grandparent an Apple Watch as you can leverage the Family Sharing feature at a lower price point.
  • If however you want “the new hotness” of the most recent Apple Watch, or you want the option of getting a titanium or stainless steel case which the SE does not offer, or the 20% bigger screen versus the SE interests you, then the Apple Watch Series 7 is for you. Not to mention that the Series 7 is also noticeably faster than the SE.

You can’t really go wrong either way as both options will be supported for Apple for years to come. It’s just a matter of deciding what features you want and how much you’re willing to spend to get them.

Hopefully that helps you to decide what Apple Watch to get. But if you’re still having a hard time deciding, drop me a note or leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out.

If You’re Not Receiving Mail Notification Sounds On Your iPhone/iPad After Upgrading To iOS 15, Here’s The “Fix”

Posted in Tips with tags on October 1, 2021 by itnerd

After installing iOS 15, the emails that come through on my phone were silent even though I have sounds associated with him either default or custom sounds. I went through the usual troubleshooting which was as follows:

  • I have power cycled my iPhone 12 Pro no change.
  • I did a hard reset. No change.
  • I changed the sound but there’s still no sound notification when emails come in.

I started to dig around and it appears that Apple made a change that isn’t inherently clear to users who were used to the behavior in iOS 15. If you go Settings –> Mail –> Notifications –> Customize Notifications, you’ll see this:

Note the Customize Notifications option. If you click on that, and choose an email account on the next screen, you then see this:

Chances are, this is turned off, turn on alerts and make sure that a sound is selected. In other words, it should look like this:

Now if you have an Apple Watch, you need to do some extra work. Specifically:

  • Go to the Watch App on your iPhone
  • Go to Mail
  • Change “Mirror my iPhone” to “Custom”
  • Select “Send to Notification Centre”

That way, unless it’s a VIP I won’t get a notification on my Apple Watch.

By doing all of this, it roughly approximates the behavior that was present in iOS 14 and earlier. I say approximates because this does not fully fix this problem which I am certain is a bug. One that I hope will be fixed in a future iOS update.

Has this helped you? I would appreciate it if you could provide some feedback and let me know.

How To Fix Some Of The “Quirks” Of iOS/iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, And Safari 15

Posted in Tips with tags on September 22, 2021 by itnerd

On Monday, Apple released a ton of software to the world. And that as is typical for me caused my phone to ring and my inbox to fill up from people who had minor “quirks” in terms of how the software looked and functioned that annoyed them. I’ve collected the common “quirks” into this article along with how to fix them. I’ll start with Safari 15. It has a feature that colors the Tab Bar. If that annoys you, here’s how to turn it off:

  1. Go to the “Safari” menu, then “Preferences”
  2. Go to “Tabs”
  3. Uncheck “Show color in tab bar”

Now this same feature exists in iOS/iPadOS 15. Here’s how you disable this same feature in those OSes:

  1. Go to “Settings” then “Safari”
  2. Under the “Tabs” section turn off “Website Tinting”. Note: On iPadOS the option is called “Show Color in Tab Bar”

Safari on iOS and iPadOS 15 also moved the address bar to the bottom of the screen by default. Based on what my clients are saying, it’s not a popular change. But you can change it back to the top easily:

  1. Go to “Settings” then “Safari”
  2. Under the “Tabs” section, select “Single Tab”

watchOS 8 removed the dedicated bed icon for activating sleep mode. That caused a few calls from clients of mine who used Apple’s sleep tracking feature. In watchOS 7, you simply had to swipe up from the bottom and click on the bed icon to activate sleep mode. Now in watchOS 8, it’s tied to the new Focus Mode feature which Apple defines as “A powerful new set of tools gives you more control over how you prioritize your time and attention. So you can find balance and stay focused on whatever you’re doing in the moment.” The problem is that this change is confusing lots of users. To save you stress of figuring it out when you’re going to bed, here’s how you activate sleep mode:

  1. Swipe up from the bottom to display Control Center.

2. Find the moon icon, press and hold it to get the menu pictured below.

3. Choose Sleep.

Finally, some of you might have issues with iOS 15 where you might have problems with Bluetooth devices (Bluetooth headsets specifically) and WiFi. The solution could be classified as a “nuclear option.” But it seems to fix most things that have been reported to me.

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to General
  3. Go to Transfer or Reset iPhone
  4. Go To Reset
  5. Click on Reset Network Settings

The reason why I call this the “nuclear option” is that you will have to re-join any WiFi networks that the phone was paired with after you do this. Which by extension means that you will need to know the passwords of said networks before you go down this path. It also seems to reset some cellular options like roaming preferences and WiFi calling. But it seems to clear up strange Bluetooth and WiFi issues. Thus it’s worth trying.

Do you have an “quirks” in watchOS 8, iOS/iPadOS 15 and Safari 15 that you’ve come across and fixed? Please leave a comment below and share your wisdom. Alternately, if you have a “quirk” that you need help with, leave a comment below and I will try and assist you.

UPDATE: Someone emailed me asking where Private Browsing Mode was in Safari on iOS/iPad OS 15. I am not sure why Apple did this, but it is buried in the tab menu:

If you click on it, you’ll be given the Private option:

Click on it and you’ll be in Private Browsing Mode.

Choose done. To get out of Private Browsing Mode, simply follow these steps and choose “x Tabs” where “x” is the number of tabs that you have open.

Microsoft Teams Comes To Apple CarPlay… Here’s What You Can Do With That

Posted in Tips with tags on September 10, 2021 by itnerd

Yesterday I went to run a quick errand in the car and I noticed this in CarPlay:

In my CarPlay interface, I noticed a Microsoft Teams icon. I had not noticed that before, so I checked to see when it was last updated and in my case, it was updated on September 2nd. So I am guessing that that update brought this CarPlay support. I then went about experimenting to see what it was capable of. That amounted to two things.

The first was that you could call someone on Teams using Siri. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Click on the Teams icon in CarPlay.
  2. Siri will then appear. At that point you could say something like “Call John Smith on Teams” or if you wanted to call multiple people, you could say “Call Jack Smith and Jane Smith on Teams”

The second thing that you can do is join a Teams meeting. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Click on the Teams icon in CarPlay.
  2. Siri will then appear. At that point you could say something like “Call next meeting using Teams”. That assumes that your next meeting in your Teams calendar. If it’s not, that command will not work. But assuming you do, it will connect you to your meeting (Assuming you arrive no more than 15 minutes before the meeting starts and as late as five minutes after the meeting starts). All the controls will be look and act like a regular phone call.

I should note that you can only use Teams audio for obvious reasons. And I should also note that when you join a meeting, your mic is muted. Again for obvious reasons.

One thing that I should point out is that all of this assumes that Siri is not blocked by your IT admin. So if any of this doesn’t work for you, you might want to read the document that I just linked to.

Hopefully this will be the start to further support of Teams in Apple CarPlay as the pandemic has required all of us to work from anywhere. If you’ve found anything else of note, drop a comment below and share what you’ve found.

UPDATE: I have also found that Teams chat messages will show up in CarPlay and be read to you. However there does not seem to be any way that you can respond to them.

A Pop Up Based Tech Support #Scam Catches Out A Pair Of Seniors…. Here’s What I Found When I Investigated It…. And What You Can Do To Protect Yourself

Posted in Tips with tags on August 6, 2021 by itnerd

Last Monday I got a panic call from a client of mine who’s parents were apparently sucked into a tech support scam of some sort. Even though it was a holiday in Canada,I dropped what I was doing and went over there to investigate.

When I arrived the computer was unplugged. This was a good move because leaving the computer on and connected to the Internet allows the scammers to do whatever they were going to do would have been a bad move as I discovered later. I then powered on the computer and disconnected it from the Internet to see what the scammers did while interviewing the victims to understand what happened.

Apparently, the couple were browsing for recipes and a pop up appeared that they couldn’t get rid of claiming that their computer was infected with malware, and they had to immediately call a number to remove it. So that’s what they did. The first thing that the scammers did is that they used GoToAssist to gain remote access to the computer as I found evidence in the browser history that the couple went to the GoToAssist website. To be safe, I found the remnants of GoToAssist and deleted them. Then the scammers tried to talk the couple into buying an anti-virus application. I found that they installed that anti-virus package on their computer which I promptly deleted. But what they also did was install a piece of software called UltraViewer. It’s a piece of remote access software made by a software company in Vietnam. From the looks of it, the scammers planned to make a return visit to this computer to perhaps steal data. This too was removed. I then ran an anti-virus scan which came up clean. I also deleted the cache and browsing history of the browser to make sure that there was nothing else hanging around.

The final thing that I did was to check the browser for any add ons that were added (there were none) and the computer’s network settings for any changes (there were no changes). That way I was sure that the scammers didn’t leave anything that might be a problem later.

All told, this wasn’t so bad and it could have been worse. But this scam was shut down quickly. I will follow up with them a couple of times to make sure that all is good.

Fake pop ups tell users that there is a security threat or technical problem with their computer. They instruct users to call a telephone number specified on the pop-up in order to pay for technical support to resolve this threat. Some of these pop ups will even tell you that bad things will happen if you close the pop up. Or closing the pop up brings up another one. These pop up scams are evil.

Scammers use these pop-up scams to make money. They prey on concerned users who want to ensure their computer is secure, extorting money from them to fix problems and resolve threats that do not exist. But here’s some tips on how to deal these scams:

  1. Look for spelling mistakes and unprofessional images: To identify a fake pop-up, look closely at the information being displayed in the pop-up. Are there any spelling mistakes? Do the images look professional? Poor spelling and grammar and unprofessional imagery often suggest that a pop-up is fake.
  2. Try to close your browser: Fake pop-ups may cause your browser to switch to full screen mode. If your browser is on full screen mode and you see a suspicious pop-up, try to minimize or close your browser. If you are unable to minimize or close your browser, it is likely that the pop-up you are seeing is a scam. Be careful when trying to close or minimize the pop up itself: the minimize and close buttons usually aren’t real. They’re just images of real buttons on a button and by clicking on them you are responding to the pop-up. And if all else fails, you can try using Task Manager in Windows or the Force Quit option on Mac to force your browser to quit. If for some reason that won’t work, call a professional for help.
  3. Clear the browser history and cache: Sometimes, these pop ups will return even if you quit the browser. So your next step is to clear the browser history and cache to stop that from happening. Here are instructions to do this for every major browser. This is also a good thing to do even if the pop ups don’t return as this is a good safety measure.
  4. Run a virus scan: While unlikely, it is a possibility that the scammers might have dropped something onto the computer via a pop up. I have seen browser add ons being added. But it is possible that a virus could enter the system via a pop up. Thus it is a good step to make sure that the system is clean by running an anti-virus scan to make sure that the system is clean.

If you’re unsure if your computer is clean, or you aren’t comfortable doing the above steps, shut down the computer and call a professional for help.

And if there’s one thing that I can leave you with, let it be this:

  • While your internet security provider may offer technical support over the phone, they will not demand that you call them. Especially not via a pop-up.
  • Your anti-virus or internet security software does not require you to call anyone in order to work. Threats are normally resolved within the software itself.
  • If a pop-up is demanding that you call a number in order to resolve a security threat or fix a technical issue, it is likely to be a pop-up scam.

If you keep those in mind, you can browse the Internet safely. And more importantly, not become a victim of a pop up scam.

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 date. 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.