ScreenCastsOnline Monthly Magazine: Disaster Preparedness

This month’s issue of ScreenCasts Online Monthly Magazine is now available in ScreenCasts Online Magazine App. In the October issue you’ll find an article from me about disaster preparedness.

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 Sparks, Katie Floyd, Allison Sheridan, Wally & Wendy Cherwinski, Mike Schmitz, Frank Petrie and more.

The ScreenCastsOnline Monthly Magazine is available on the iTunes App Store, and is available for individual purchase or as part of a subscription which includes a free trial period. Find more info at


Mac Power Users #397: More on iOS 11 and High Sierra

This week on Mac Power Users, David and I continue to explain the new iOS 11 and High Sierra features along with their experiences and recommendations following their use of the beta versions of these new operating systems.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code MPU at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.
  • 1Password Have you ever forgotten a password? Now you don't have to worry about that anymore. 
  • Fujitsu ScanSnap ScanSnap Helps You Live a More Productive, Efficient, Paperless Life. 
  • Fracture Bring your photos to life.

5 Home Additions Under $50

Recently, I’ve written about technology in my new home. I typically write about fairly significant (and expensive) additions or systems to integrate into your home. For a change of pace, I thought I’d take a look 5 less expensive additions that all cost under $50 that can make a real difference.

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1) USB Outlets - For now, most of our devices charge via USB. That means we can have unsightly “wall warts” and cables laying around anytime we want to grab a quick charge. I’ve strategically installed a few USB outlets around my house for quick and convenient charging. My current favorite is theTopgreener TU21548A Smart Dual USB Charger Outlet. This outlet will support 4.8-amps charging across two USB ports which means it will charge two iPads at full speed. Topgreener also makes a similar outlet with one USB-C port and One USB-A port if you want to future-proof your setup. While these outlets will occasionally go on sale, they typically range between $23 - $30.

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2) Retractable Charging Cables - Since I’m trying to keep ugly power bricks out of sight I want to minimize cable clutter as well. I’ve picked up a few retractable Lighting cables. These cables will quickly retract to a compact size and can be tucked away in a drawer. Neat and easy. The Amazon Basics brand has a retractable cable that runs about $13.


3) Cord Hider - Perhaps you’re noticing a theme, I don’t like looking at cords. Whenever possible I try to hide them behind furniture, run them through drywall or otherwise minimize their appearance. However, sometimes a run of cable cannot be avoided. When that happens, I try to hide as much of the cable as possible. For that, I like Wiremold Cord Organizer. This thin plastic tubing will cover unsightly cables and has a peel and stick backing. I typically run my cable along baseboards where it simply blends in as if it were a piece of trim. If necessary the cord organizer can also be stuck to walls and painted. It’s a lot more appealing than an unseemly wire. Depending on size, they typically run $15 per pack.

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4) Occupancy Sensor - There are a few rooms in my home I always want the lights to turn on when I enter, and off shortly thereafter. Two examples include my laundry room and my walk-in closet. These are places where I typically only spend short periods of time but turning on and off the lights is a hassle because my hands are usually full. For these rooms, I’ve installed occupancy sensors. Occupancy sensors replace the light switch and will sense motion in the room and activate the light for several seconds or several minutes depending on their programming. With occupancy sensors installed I never have to worry about entering a dark room or leaving the light on. Sensors range from $15 - $30 depending on features.


5) SnapPower Guidelights - Adding lighting to a home can be very expensive. The SnapPower Guidelight is an easy way to add a little extra ambient light to a room at night by adding three LED lights to a standard outlet cover. A sensor on the light automatically activates the LEDs when it’s dark. I’ve found these lights a great alternative to ugly night lights. I use them to add light to a dark bathroom or hallway at night. Because the SnapPower draws power from the existing screw terminals on your outlets so they install in just a few seconds. Individual covers are $20 with multi-packs available.

*This article first appeared in the July 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 out more at

Downgrade Your QuickBooks Online Plan

On a previous episode of Mac Power Users when we discussed my Mac Based Small Business, I lamented that QuickBooks online did not let you downgrade once you signed up for their service. I encouraged new business owners to start with the smallest plan they could and only upgrade when they needed to.

(QuickBooks customer service offered a way to “downgrade” but it involved downloading the data file and a PC version of the software and starting a new plan and re-importing the data. I was warned this may result in data loss.)

I’m pleased to report after numerous customer complaints QuickBooks has finally offered customers a way to downgrade, but they don’t make it easy. You have to log into your QuickBooks Online account through the web and navigate to the “change plan” screen. I never could find this screen so the easiest way is to just change the URL so the last portion ends in /changeplan

From there you are presented with this image:

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For weeks I tried to change my plan and it failed.  A series of DMs with QuickBooks Support on Twitter revealed that they are still having trouble with the system and their engineers are “working on it” and they would add me to a list of impacted users. I never received any follow-up but tried again this week and was able to downgrade my plan and am now happily saving $35 a month

Hopefully this helps someone else.

Mac Power Users #396: Apple Announcements and iOS 11 on the iPad

This week on Mac Power Users, David and I run down Apple's September 12th announcements including the Apple Watch Series 3, Apple TV 4K, iPhone 8 and iPhone X. We also begin our discussion of iOS 11 starting with the best features for iPad users.

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.
  • Sanebox Stop drowning in email!
  • Pixelmator Powerful image editing that gives you everything you need to create, edit and enhance your images, now on iPad and Mac.
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Thoughts on the Apple Event

It’s been an odd week, thanks, Irma. However, I was extremely fortunate to have power and Internet restored in time to watch Apple’s Special Event on September 12th. David and I recorded a special episode of MPU that will be in your feeds Sunday evening. Until then, I wanted to share a few quick thoughts. In no particular order:

  • I was glad to finally see Angela Ahrendts on stage, but disappointed that after her appearance Apple seemed to revert back to its same staple of presenters.
  • I’m buying an Apple Watch Series 3, but am not entirely sold on the LTE features. I skipped the Series 2 watch last year and feel I could benefit from the power boost offered by a newer watch. (Please make Siri better!) I also have someone who is anxiously awaiting my old Series 0 watch. However, if you upgraded to the Series 2 last year, and aren’t interested in LTE I’m not sure this is a must-buy.
  • The Heart Study that can potentially detect atrial fibrillation is amazing. I have several family members who suffer from a-fib and can go in and out (very dangerously) without knowing it. If an Apple Watch in the future could tell you if you were in a-fib it would be lifesaving.
  • LTE coming to the watch is the next step. Having the ability to leave your phone behind can be very liberating. But the $10 per month added monthly cost would probably be hard for most of us to justify. I wish Apple could have found a way to work with the carriers to make this more aggressive. Another disappointment is that the Stainless Steel watches (which I prefer for their looks) are only available in the LTE model. So I’ll be paying more for a feature I’ll likely never activate.
  • Beware - the battery life for the watch when using LTE will take a significant hit.
  • Apple just keeps swinging and missing when it comes to the Apple TV. If you don’t have a TV or data source capable of taking advantage of 4K content, the 4K Apple TV probably not worth the cost. Everything else will come via software update. The price is also disappointing considering all the other set top boxes are significantly less expensive than Apple’s offering.
  • Two bright spots - free upgrades to 4K content for iTunes purchases and the 4K Apple TV brings back the Gigabit Ethernet Port. But the USB service port is conspicuously missing.
  • The iPhone 8 looks like a nice upgrade, especially if you’re coming from a 6 or 6s. I love the glass front and back (better get AppleCare or a good case) and appreciate that Apple has finally jumped up to 64 MB of base storage. If you can’t justify spending $1000 on the iPhone X or are looking for a phone for family members who don’t have to have the latest and greatest, the iPhone 8 is a great phone.
  • But, no one reading this website is going to buy an iPhone 8 for themselves. It’s all about the “One More Thing” that was the iPhone X. While I’m not sure the screen size, Face ID and the dreaded Animoji are worth a $300 premium over the iPhone 8, it is the future of the iPhone and thus the iPhone all the geeks want. Yeah, I’m probably going to buy one. I’ll probably go rogue and opt for Silver.
  • Wireless charging felt like a “check the box” feature. Wireless charging is slower and often less convenient than plugging in. I liked that the iPhone X will support fast charging via USB-C, but am disappointed that given the price tag you’ll have to buy another $75 worth of accessories to take advantage.
  • Did you notice that AppleCare prices took a jump? Apple knows that with the double glass these phones are more likely to break and they will be more expensive to fix.

Mac Power Users #395: MPU+: It's Called Hermes

In this episode of Mac Power Users David and I cover listener questions, must-have iOS utilities, tagging, automation, and more feedback. Finally, we discuss the Apple iPhone event scheduled for September 12.


This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • Gazelle Sell your iPhone for cash at Gazelle!
  • The Omni Group Celebrating 25 years of making outstanding productivity apps for Mac, iPhone, and iPad. 
  • 1Password Have you ever forgotten a password? Now you don't have to worry about that anymore. 
  • Fracture Bring your photos to life.