Mac Power Users #374: iPad Sensei - Federico Viticci - Relay FM

This week on Mac Power Users, David and I catch up with Federico Viticci to discuss how he became an "iPad Guy", some of his favorite tips, tricks, and workflows on iOS, where there's still room for improvement, the future of iOS and more.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • Jamf Now: Manage your Apple devices from anywhere. Get your first three devices free!
  • The Omni Group We're passionate about productivity for Mac, iPhone and iPad. 
  • Fujitsu ScanSnap ScanSnap Helps You Live a More Productive, Efficient, Paperless Life. 
  • Gazelle Sell your iPhone for cash at Gazelle!

Review: NewerTech NuPower 60W USB-C Power Adapter (Updated)

Update April 22, 2017: Please see the important note below regarding a possible safety concern raised with this power supply.

For years I’ve had a second power adapter (or two) to use with my notebooks. The move to USB-C meant I needed to buy all new power adapters for my MacBook Pro, which came with some pros and cons. Apple sells a 61W USB-C Power Adapter for my 2016 13" MacBook Pro for $69.00. However, if you want all the features that came with previous Apple adapters you’ll have to add on a USB-C Charge Cable at a cost of $19.00 and a Power Adapter Extension Cable for another $19.00. This seems more than a little excessive.

Thankfully with the move to USB-C, third party options are now available. I found the NewerTech NuPower 60W USB-C Power Adapter available from Other World Computing. The NuPower adapter provides up to 60W of power to charge the USB-C hardware and has a USB-A port with up to 12W for charging. This means I can charge my MacBook Pro and an iPhone or iPad simultaneously.

Even better, the NuPower adapter includes a 0.5 m (18 in) USB Type-C to Type-C cable and has a 1.8 m (6 ft) two-prong power cable which practically eliminates the needs for the two $20 accessories that Apple requires. All this for less than Apple charges for their power brick. the NuPower adapter retails for $59 but currently can be bought from OWC for $49.

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There are a few disadvantages to the NuPower adapter, but I’ve found them to be minor. First, the NuPower adapter provides only 60 watts of power. Apple’s charger provides 61 watts. This difference is negligible when charging a 13“ MacBook Pro. However, if you also are charging an iPhone are iPad that device will take priority and can draw up to 12W and thus will result in longer charge times for a 13” MacBook Pro. Although the NuPower adapter will work with a 15" MacBook Pro, it’s probably not a great option as that machine requires 87W. Glenn Fleishman wrote a review for Macworld where he dives into more detail.

Overall, the price point, USB-C and USB-A charging capacity and included cables made the NuPower a good fit as my second power adapter. For now, the Apple power adapter that shipped with my MacBook Pro stays plugged in at my desk while the NuPower is in my travel bag.

Update April 22, 2017: Since posting this review Thomas Wong on twitter has pointed me to this YouTube video posted by Nathan K which raises concerns that the NuPower 60W USB-C adapter may be unsafe. As of this update, OWC is still selling the product. They responded to the YouTube Video stating "We take this type of issue very seriously and have gone back to re-test 100% of this product. Customer safety and reliability are our top priorities..." OWC in a follow-up comment claims "We have tested 100% of the products and confirmed that this products [sic] is safe and reliable."

Since I wrote and posted this original review I have had one instance where the NuPower 60W USB-C Power adapter had issues charging my 13" MacBook Pro unless I "fiddled" with the connections. At the time I attributed it up to a poor connection with the outlet I was using. After viewing Nathan's video, it's possible my issue could have been a short in the connector.

I'm going to reach out to OWC regarding this issue and my own adapter and will follow-up if additional information becomes available. I've always had great experiences with OWC for their customer support and quality products. I hope if there are issues with this product they will do the right thing. For now, I encourage you all to do your own due diligence before purchase and will withhold any recommendation.

This article first appeared in the March, 2017 Issue of ScreencastsOnline Monthly Magazine. ScreenCastsOnline monthly magazine is packed with hints, tips, articles and links to streamable versions of ScreenCastsOnline tutorials and delivered monthly. Find our more at https://www.screencastsonline.com/membership_benefits

Mac Power Users #373: Home Tech Support - Relay FM

A lot of Mac Power Users find themselves transformed into the job of IT manager for friends, family, and even co-workers. This week on Mac Power Users, David and I dive deep on the best IT management tools how to get (and get out) of that job.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • Marketcircle We help small business grow with great Mac, iPhone and iPad apps including Daylight and Billings Pro.
  • TextExpander from Smile Type more with less effort! Expand short abbreviations into longer bits of text, even fill-ins, with TextExpander from Smile.
  • 1Password Have you ever forgotten a password? Now you don't have to worry about that anymore. 
  • Sanebox Stop drowning in email!

Security Check-up

Macs are fairly secure out of the box, but there are a couple of important security settings that every user should enable for a more secure computing experience.

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Stay Up to Date

Some people are wary of automatically updating their software. The idea being if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. However, software updates provide many advantages including bug fixes and patches for security vulnerabilities. Generally, benefits of keeping software updated far outweighs the risks. It also saves you hours of time if software update are installed as they’re available rather than having to do them all at once.

To check for Mac software updates, open the App Store app on your Mac, then click Updates in the toolbar. If updates are available, click the Update buttons to download and install them.

You can also have your Mac automatically download and prepare updates to install in the background. Here’s how:

  1. Go to  Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”
  2. Go to the “App Store” panel
  3. Check the boxes for “Automatically check for updates” and “Download newly available updates in the background” – these two features must be enabled to allow for the “Install OS X Updates” option to be available
  4. Check the box next to “Install OS X updates” to enable that, then close out of System Preferences as usual (or hit “Check Now” at the bottom to see if anything is waiting at the moment)

Turn on FileVault

FileVault (version 2 - let’s not speak of the original FileVault) is available in OS X Lion or later and it’s a feature that I recommend most users activate immediately. FileVault offers full-disk encryption. When enabled, the entire contents of your computer’s startup drive are encrypted. This means that when your computer is powered off, the drive’s data is useless without a password.

With FileVault enabled you can also use Apple’s Find My Mac feature to remotely wipe your drive in a matter of seconds if your computer should fall into the wrong hands.

Because the contents of your drive are encrypted at rest, your Mac always requires that you log in with your account password, another good security feature. However, a word of caution - If you lose or forget both your account password and your FileVault recovery key, you won’t be able to log in to your Mac or access the data on your startup disk.

Here’s how you enable FileVault:

  1. Choose Apple menu () > System Preferences, then click Security & Privacy.
  2. Click the FileVault tab.
  3. Click the Lock Locked button, then enter an administrator name and password.

When you first enable FileVault, your Mac will restart and encryption of your startup disk occurs in the background as you use your Mac. This takes time, but it only occurs once. You can check progress in the FileVault section of Security & Privacy preferences.

Lock Your Mac

We all step away from our screens from time to time. Maybe to grab a cup of coffee or pop into a meeting. Unfortunately, if your computer is sitting open and logged on in your desk it can be ripe for someone to access your personal and confidential information. Make it a practice to lock your Mac when you step away, or if you forget – require a password to wake your Mac from sleep or when a screensaver starts and set the duration from a short time to limit your exposure.

To configure your Mac to require a password after sleep or a screensaver you’ll need to make a setting change:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General.
  2. Check the box next to “Require Password” and set an interval that meets your workflow. If you want the highest level of security, set it to “immediately.” If you find yourself accidentally locking your screen, set it to 5 seconds
  3. Once configured you’ll now have to enter your account password upon waking your machine from sleep or a screen saver.

To quickly lock your Mac’s screen while the system continues to run in the background, press the following key combination: Control + Shift + Eject. If you have a newer Mac that doesn’t have an eject key on the keyboard, you’ll press Control + Shift + Power.

Another method of quickly locking your Mac is to activate the screen saver using a hot corner. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Desktop & Screen Saver System Preferences panel
  2. Activate the Screen Saver tab, and click the Hot Corners button.
  3. Decide which corner of your screen you’d like to use, then click the corresponding pop-up menu and select Start Screen Saver.
  4. Now when it’s time to walk away, just fling your mouse into that corner of the screen, and you’ll trigger the screen saver.

As a backup – in case you forget to lock your Mac when you step away for a moment and then find yourself delayed, I suggest that you configure your screen saver to automatically start after a relatively short interval of inactivity, say 5 or 10 minutes. This will mean that once your Mac has sat idle the screen saver will activate and your Mac will lock. To do this:

  1. Open the Desktop & Screen Saver System Preferences panel
  2. At the bottom of the screen select the interval to start the screen saver

Use A Password Manager

Even if you’ve done everything right to secure the data on your Mac, so much of our data is stored or transmitted through cloud-based services and ripe to be compromised. As individuals, the single best thing we can do to protect ourselves is to use good password practices and to require those that use our services (our employees, clients, etc.) to do the same. This includes:

  1. Using strong passwords. (Fluffy99 is not a strong password)
  2. Using unique passwords across every service (no more using the same password or variations of the same password across multiple sites and services)
  3. Use two-factor authentication where it’s available

For those getting started or who don’t want to use third-party software, Apple offers iCloud Keychain to keep your Safari website usernames and passwords, credit card information, and Wi-Fi network information up to date across all your approved devices that are using iOS 7.0.3 or later or OS X Mavericks 10.9 or later. iCloud keychain will suggest strong passwords, store them and then auto-fill the passwords across Mac and iOS devices.

iCloud Keychain is a start, but is limited in features. While it might work for an individual user who has a few passwords and only uses a Mac and iOS devices it is not particularly robust and not appropriate to use in a team setting. For these reasons, I recommend a dedicated password management application such as 1Password (available at 1Password.com) and LastPass (available at lastpass.com)

Password managers have many features, which vary from service-to-service, but typically include:

  • The ability to encrypt your sensitive information behind one “Master Password” which you remember
  • The ability to store passwords, credit card information, secure notes, and more
  • The ability to sync password information across multiple devices, platforms, and services
  • The ability to generate strong and secure passwords
  • The ability to automatically fill passwords using browser plug-ins
  • The ability to securely share passwords with other family members or colleagues
  • The ability to manage passwords and access across a team

Mac Power Users #372: Workflows with Dr. Drang - Relay FM

This week on Mac Power Users, favorite snowman returns! We discuss the evolving definition of "pro" and "power user" as well as new workflows for managing text, creative uses for Keyboard maestro, managing Apple Mail and the Doc dives into the iPad.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • 1Password Have you ever forgotten a password? Now you don't have to worry about that anymore. Save up to 20% using this link.
  • The Omni Group We're passionate about productivity for Mac, iPhone and iPad. 
  • MindNode MindNode makes mind mapping easy.
  • Eero: Blanket your home in fast, reliable WiFi.

Managing Packages

This was the first holiday season that did all of my shopping online. It was wonderful. Except for one thing, managing the onslaught of packages that were to be delivered. I had a steady stream of packages coming to my door from Thanksgiving until mid-December. By the time some of the packages arrived I had completely forgotten what I ordered.

Thankfully, there are technology solutions to this problem. Here are a few of the tools I use for managing package.

Deliveries App

The Deliveries.app by Junecloud is an old favorite. There are applications available for Mac, iOS, and the web. Adding packages is easy. It will detect a tracking number from your clipboard or you can scan a tracking label. Perhaps my favorite way to set up a JuneCloud account which will allow you to forward shipment notifications to a private email address and Junecloud will detect the tracking information and automatically add the package tracking details.

The App offers push notifications (although in my experience they don’t always fire timely) so you can stay up to date of your package’s status. The interface is sleek and clean. Information will sync across multiple devices using the Junecloud sync service (which I prefer) or iCloud.

Deliveries.app is a must for staying on top of all my packages.

UPS My Choice and FedEx Delivery Manager

UPS My Choice and FedEx Delivery Manager are similar services offered by competing companies. Once you register your home address with the service you will receive email notifications anytime a package is set to be delivered to your home.

Because the notification is generated from the carrier, meaning that you receive the notification as soon as a package is entered into their system and regardless of whether the shipper chooses to send you a shipment notice. I’ve found that I’ll regularly receive shipment notifications from FedEx and UPS with tracking information and estimated delivery dates earlier than the shipper sends me confirmation of shipment. This is especially handy when tracking shipments from Apple - who has been known to delay tracking information for popular devices.

My Choice and Delivery manager will optionally send you notifications when a package is delivered. So you’ll know when you have a package waiting at your door. I always enter my home from the garage so it’s possible an unexpected package could be dropped at my door and sit unnoticed for days. UPS and FedEx send me a notification within minutes of the package being dropped. (Also helpful when the delivery driver chooses to drop and run.)

Finally, as a My Choice or Delivery Manager subscriber, you’ll have the option to customize your deliveries. You can choose to hold deliveries if you’ll be on vacation or ask that deliveries be held at FedEx or UPS shipping locations if you won’t be home to sign for them. The basic service is free. If you choose to pay, additional features become available including restricted delivery windows, the ability to reschedule deliveries and more.

Video Doorbell

A couple of years ago there was a rash of package thefts in my neighborhood around the holidays. Since then, I installed a Ring Video Doorbell. I’ll receive an alert on my phone when someone rings the bell. Because delivery drivers are notorious for dropping and running, the Ring can also be set to notify when it senses motion.

You can optionally connect the doorbell to Ring’s cloud video service for $30 a year and Ring will save video any time it detects motion or a ring. If anyone tries to swipe a package from the door, I’ll be able to see who they are.

Most importantly, I’ve found owning a video doorbell to be a great deterrent. Since owning the Ring I’ve noticed fewer sales soliciting and no one has swiped a package from my door. The Ring includes a sticker in the box notifying guests the premises is under video surveillance and I have mine prominently displayed.

*This article first appeared in the January, 2017 Issue of ScreencastsOnline Monthly Magazine. ScreenCastsOnline monthly magazine is packed with hints, tips, articles and links to streamable versions of ScreenCastsOnline tutorials and delivered monthly. Find our more at https://www.screencastsonline.com/membership_benefits

Mac Power Users #371: MPU+: A Smoking Presentation

This week on Mac Power Users we feature listener feedback including your questions, more on tin foil hats, calendar tips, maps, feedback, and how Katie's last presentation was smoking hot.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • PDFpen from Smile With powerful PDF editing tools, available for Mac, iPad, and iPhone, PDFpen from Smile makes you a Mac Power User.
  • 1Password Have you ever forgotten a password? Now you don't have to worry about that anymore. 
  • Casper: Because everyone deserves a great night sleep. Get $50 off with the code ‘MPU’
  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code MPU at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.