Week in Review: October 4, 2015

OS X 10.11 El Capitan was released this week and Apple announced (again) that this year’s first weekend of iPhone sales and pre-orders were record setting. Here are some links of interest for the week ending October 4, 2015

  • Writing for Macworld, Jason Snell reviews OS X El Capitan, he says it’s solid as a rock. Also from Jason this week, over at Six Colors he talks about What’s new in Photos for Mac 1.1, along with the El Capitan update Apple has some nice improvements for its Photos.app
  • NPR sat down with Apple CEO Tim Cook who argues that ‘Privacy is a Fundamental Human Right’ and discussed Apple’s policies on sharing data and encryption. (Note: full interview is about 6 minutes and player requires flash - ugh!)
  • Horace Dediu writing on his site Asymco authored a piece on What it means to be great in the context of the iPhone 6S. It’s a great read.
  • A new feature in iOS 9 is Wi-Fi assist which uses acellular data to boost browsing speed and performance when an iPhone is connected to a poor quality wireless network. However, some users are complaining that this feature is burning through data. I’ve seen a lot of buzz building about this online, but not many actual examples of it happening to people. Personally, I haven’t noticed any increase in my data use or the data use on any of the devices of my friends and family that I monitor. It may be that there’s more buzz over this issue than actual substance. Something to keep an eye on and be aware of.
  • This week saw several updates to some of my favorite Mac and iOS Apps. TweetBot 4 was finally released. Chris Gonzales writing for the Sweet Setup says it’s a huge update to their favorite Twitter App. Federico Viticci at MacStories also has a review.
  • Fantastical 2.1 was released for Mac. Glenn Fleishman writing for Macworld calls it an even better calendar replacement, I agree.
  • Bartender 2, the App that brings order to a menu bar of chaos was released. David Sparks has a writeup. The release brings full El Capitan compatibility as well as keyboard commands and more.
  • Finally this week, The Truth Is Still Out There. One of my favorite series of all time, the X-Files is coming back to Fox on January 24th. Here’s the preview: 

Screencasts Online Monthly Magazine: My Education Workflows

This month’s issue of ScreenCasts Online Monthly Magazine is now available in Apple’s Newsstand App. In the October issue you’ll find an article from me about my workflows for managing my school work on Mac and iOS. 

The monthly magazine is packed with streamable versions of Don’s excellent video tutorials as well as articles, reviews and tips from authors including David SparksAllison SheridanWally Cherwinski and more. The magazine is free for ScreenCasts online Premium Members or available as a separate subscription or you can pickup individual issues. You can download it in the AppStore or find more info at http://www.screencastsonline.com/magazine/

Quick Tips for Getting Ready for El Capitan Tomorrow

This week on Mac Power Users David and I discussed Apple’s new Operating System El Capitan as well as our tips for making the upgrade. These days, my default recommendation is that most people just use the default upgrade offered through the Mac App store. However, you still should take a few precautions if you’re planning to upgrade tomorrow or in the near future.

  1. If you use your Mac to make your living or for any mission-critical tasks you may want to consider waiting a bit before a major system upgrade to make sure all the kinks are worked out of the system. Let all of us crazy early adopters take that hit for you.
  2. If you plan to upgrade, do your research and make sure that your applications and devices are ready to go. This is especially true if you're using older versions of software. Roaring Apps does a fairly good job of keeping a list of apps compatible with the new operating systems. However, it’s always a good bet to check with your software and hardware developers directly.
  3. Make sure that your Mac and all your devices are fully backed up immediately before you upgrade. In fact, when doing a major OS update, I recommend making one additional clone backup of you computer that I call the “shelf backup.” This is a backup that you can keep on a shelf (or a drawer, whatever) for several weeks or a month while you use the new operating system. This way if you find a mission-critical problem later down the line, you know you have a good backup you can revert back to.
  4. Especially if you’re upgrading multiple Macs, in order to save the time and bandwidth, consider making your own flash installer for use on multiple machines or for ease of installing.
  5. While it’s probably not necessary these days, if you decide to take this opportunity to completely erase and rebuild your Mac form scratch, I have a guide for that too.

Week in Review: September 27, 2015

The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are out this week and the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Watch OS2 also released a bit late this week. Here’s a list of notable reads around the web for the week ending September 27, 2015.

  • The big news this week was the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus started shipping which means the reviews are out. Among my favorites, Jason Snell wrote a First Look for Macworld and John Gruber’s at Daring Fireball. My pals David Sparks and Stephen Hackett have also posted their initial thoughts. The reviews all seem to agree that 3D touch is a game-changer for the user experience. I did not upgrade to the iPhone 6S this year as I’m still in a 2-year contract with my 6. Though with carriers doing away with contracts I suspect starting next year I may start becoming a yearly upgrader.
  • Speaking of which, Shawn Blanc put together some Thoughts on Annual iPhone Upgrades. According to Shawn’s piece, when you crunch the numbers, if you’re holding on for an iPhone (like me) for 2 years you’re really not saving that much money over an annual upgrade compared to just buying a new model and selling your old phone each year. I guess I’ll need to pull out my bill and a spreadsheet.
  • If you’re upgrading to a new iPhone and you also have an Apple Watch you’ll want to make sure that you go through the proper sequence to make sure that you preserve your health and activity data. Serenity Caldwell writing for iMore has a post that explains How to pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone 6s or 6s Plus.
  • Better late than never, watchOS 2 released this week. Writing for 9to5 Mac, Zach Hall has a walkthrough of all the new features now available on Apple Watch. We’re still waiting for many developers to update their apps but so far I’m really enjoying the OmniFocus update to include a new complication. Serenity Caldwell at iMore has given us her list of the best third-party Apple Watch complications and the the 10 watchOS 2 features she’s still using.
  • On the subject of the Apple Watch, have you ever wished you could use it as sleep tracker? David Smith released a new App Sleep++ that allows you to do just that. It uses the motion tracking capabilities of your Apple Watch to monitor how well you’re sleeping at night. But, the problem is if you wear your watch at night it might not have the battery life to make it through the day. Well - David has a strategy for that too. While it may not work for everyone, David has written a post explaining How to wear your Apple Watch 24/7. I tend to end my day with about 40% or more battery life left, so this technique may work for me.
  • Last week in the Week in Review post I mentioned the Xcode Ghost Malware. Apple has now posted an official xCodeGhost Q&A on their site that includes a list of apps that were compromised and what users and developers need to do now.
  • Most of my readers and listeners know that I’m a heavy user of Evernote, but the App does still have quite a bit of room for growth. This week Evernote published a blog post on The Future of Writing in Evernote and invited customers to join their beta program. Among a few nuggets dropped was that Markdown support is in the works. I can only hope this is one step closer to solving my biggest complaint about Evernote, that it’s very easy to get information in, but no so easy to get information out. Now if only we could do something about Work Chat.
  • Finally, several listeners have sent me the video of this VR tour of the Enterprise-D that is Oculus Rift ready. While it’s not quite a Holodeck, it may be the closet we get in my lifetime. 

Amazon Prime for $67 - Today Only

Today only, Amazon is offering it’s Prime Membership for $67 (normally $99) for the first year of membership. The offer is valid until 11:59pm Pacific on Friday, September 25th and appears to only be offered to US Residents and for new customers. If you're logged in with an account on prime you won't see the offer. (Follow the link and click the banner at the top of the screen promoting the offer).

I’ve been a Prime member for a couple of years now and it’s one of the few subscription services I renew year-after-year. In addition to the free two-day shipping on most items sold by Amazon I’m a big fan of the growing catalog of Prime TV shows and movies available for streaming. While the catalog isn’t as massive as Netflix, I’m generally always able to find something to watch and as a cord-cutter it’s been a great supplement to my over-the-air antenna. Amazon Prime also includes music streaming, photo storage, access to a lending library of kindle e-book and other benefits.