Friday, November 30, 2012

Mac Security...

Many of my clients ask, "What kind of anti-virus software do you use?". They are inevitably surprised when I say, "I don't use any". This does not mean I don't take precautions to protect myself online, on the road and at home. I back up 3 ways: Time Machine, a cloned back up and with an online back up service.

Here is an excellent article on TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog) on the subject by T J Luoma:

Securing Your Mac - A Guide for Reasonable People, Version 1.0

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mail offline problem, continued...

As a follow up to my post about Mail going offline, you can try the following.
Go to System Preferences>Network, select your WiFi in the left column, then click on Advanced in the lower right hand corner. Then highlight each of the wireless networks you have joined, and remove them by selecting the minus sign under the list of network names. Then turn WiFi off. Then go into keychain access and remove all of the keychain entries for each of those networks. Then turn WiFi back on, and rejoin your network from scratch. 

This has worked for me, although the results for this have been mixed among users.

Logitech Alert Commander now available for Mac

Mac users have had ways to use their macs as video surveillance for awhile. Earlier in this blog, I reviewed Orbicle's WITNESS, which turns your Mac's iSight camera into a home alarm system. I have had this installed on my last two systems, and it works really well. But my Logitech Alert outdoor surveillance system required Windows for set up and management. So I installed a Windows partition just to manage my front and rear camera. 

But today, Engadget announced that Logitech has a Mac version of the Alert software. I didn't even finish reading the announcement before I hopped into the App Store and downloaded it. It works like a charm! So now I can leave my Windows partition until I need to update my kid's government FAFSA forms (a whole NOTHER story).

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Mail Keeps Going Offline

Many users are experiencing problems with Apple Mail since installing Mountain Lion (I noticed it on my Mac since installing the 10.8.2 update.). The problem often appears upon waking, after your Mac has been asleep (of course, when else would it wake up?!) All of your IMAP mail accounts will be offline, with the dreaded circle of evil, as I call it. Although I cannot be sure that it is an IMAP issue, my Comcast account, which is POP, is not having the same issue.

The quickest solution for now is to quit Mail, and re-open it. Then all of the connections are reset, and your email is back to normal. This seems to be a bonified bug. Here is a discussion about it:

I'll let you know when there is a fix...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Got gmail? Got tsuris?

Some gmail users are reporting problems getting their mail on their iOS devices; iPhones and iPads, getting the message, "mail service is not responding". According to All Things D, Google is working on a fix.

Google says, "We're aware of a problem where Apple Mail IMAP users are unable to sync with their Gmail account and are seeing a username and password error. We have found that a vast majority of users are exceeding IMAP bandwidth limits and are continuing to investigate."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Features of Mountain Lion has put together a list of 10 secret features in Mountain Lion. Take a look:

Top Ten Secret Features of Mountain Lion

Should you upgrade?

Many of you have asked me if you should upgrade to Mountain Lion. I have been using it for almost a week now, and like it.  But, compatibility with older apps is an issue with all upgrades, so here is s a link to a table of apps and their compatibility:

This table is like Wikipedia, it depends on reader contributions, so it's not 100% reliable, but I have found to be a pretty good source.

If you don't see any reported problems with things you count on, I would say it's a go. Note the somewhat murky reports of Photoshop CS4.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The new cat, OSX 10.8

Well I downloaded Mountain Lion. I am not one to safely wait for initial problems to surface and be solved in OS updates. Sometimes I pay dearly for that, but often I an pleased with the new updated, slick interface. This is one of those cases. I'm very happy with the new calendar interface, and even Address Book, now called Contacts. Obviously I have yet to play with all of the new features in this operating system, but right now I am writing this blog using the speech dictation function. Which is awesome! And yes, this OS seems much faster. Obviously, I will write more later. Or should I say I will talk more later.

But for now, here is a link to:

80 Mountain Lion Tips and Tricks from MacLife

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mountain Lion Launches (July 25)

Apple's CEO TIm Cook made the announcement today, Mountain Lion, OSX 10.8 will officially launch tomorrow, and be available for $19.99 from the Mac App Store.

Remember, some older machines will not be compatible. In order to download the app, your machine must meet these requirements:

Mountain Lion OS Requirements
  • OS X v10.6.8 or later
  • 2GB of memory
  • 8GB of available space
  • Some features require an Apple ID; terms apply
  • Some features require a compatible Internet service provider; fees may apply
See my post from July 11 to see compatible machines.

Will you upgrade? I will...

Friday, July 13, 2012

List of hacked email accounts.

While Yahoo claims to have fixed the security flaw that allowed hackers to steal more than 450,000 usernames and passwords, the hacker group D33Ds published these passwords and email addresses. Curious if your email address is one?

For a list of accounts, click here:


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hackers post Yahoo log-in info.

Meant as a warning, a group of hackers who call themselves, " the D33Ds company" published log on information for over 453,000 Yahoo service accounts. 

“We hope that the parties responsible for managing the security of this subdomain will take this as a wake-up call, and not as a threat,” the hackers said. “There have been many security holes exploited in webservers belonging to Yahoo! Inc. that have caused far greater damage than our disclosure. Please do not take them lightly.”

This group claims to have hacked into the database by exploiting an SQL injection vulnerability found on a Yahoo subdomain. These credentials don't only include email addresses, but also those from other public and private email providers, like GMAIL, HOTMAIL and AOL.

What can you do? Change your passwords as soon as possible, and read more at Macworld, here:

Hackers publish emails, passwords from Yahoo service

and CNET here:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mountain Lion

Speaking of upgrades, the new cat is around the corner. The release Apple's Mountain Lion, OSX 10.8 is imminent and many Mac users will want to upgrade (I know I will). Do you have what it takes? You must be running OSX 10.7 (Lion) or the most recent version of Snow Leopard (OSX 10.6.8) to download Mountain Lion from the app store. And some older machines will not be compatible. Here is the official list of compatible macs:

  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)
Assuming you have the requirements necessary, here's a good article from Macworld explaining how to get your machine(s) ready:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Not gone...

Apologies for being away from my post, I will spare you the typical excuses. BUT, onward. 
I had a chance to look at the new Retina MacBook Pro. Yes, it's lovely, and if I was in the market for a new machine I would get one. But my 1 year old MBP is still zippy, and I mostly use my Air anyway. My idea of a perfect set up, spare no funds? Still an iMac and an Air.  But many customers ask, when to upgrade?


The old saying, , “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, unfortunately does not apply to computers. Of course, the idea of spending over $1000 every 3 years does not sit well with most of us, so here are some guidelines for when to upgrade. There are two elements to upgrading your system: hardware and software. Let’s talk about software first.

About every year or so, Apple upgrades it’s operating system. An operating system is software that manages hardware resources as well as other system software. So for example, if your system up to date, and is running the most current version of Lion, which is Mac OSX (which stands for Operating System 10) 10.7.4, this is your computer’s operating system. For example, the OS provides services for the drivers that allow your printer to communicate with your machine and Microsoft Word to work with your printer. So it acts as an intermediary between applications and the computer. When software companies come out with new versions of their products, they have to make sure that current operating systems will be compatible. In order to do that, they often remove compatibility with older systems. If your OS is too old, your software will become outdated, and no longer supported. In some cases, like in the case of Eudora (an email program), the company that created it no longer exists.

And now about hardware: To compound the compatibility problem, Apple upgrades it’s internal hardware, too, and when that happens, some older software will no longer work on new machines. There was a big bang in the Apple orchard in 2005 when Apple announced plans to use Intel microprocessors (called “chips”) in all of their machines, replacing the PowerPC chip. So these days, all of Apples products have Intel inside. This means that not only will software written for the Intel chip often not work with older machines, but also software written for the earlier chip will not always work on the new machines. This is most likely why your printer does not work. Many printers do not have drivers for machines with operating systems earlier than OSX 10.5.

One of the biggest problems with waiting too long to upgrade, either the OS or the computer, is that the learning curve to jump from 10.4 to the current one today, 10.7 is pretty high. And this can be very frustrating, as you indicated in letter. Along with upgrading the OS, you may have to upgrade some of the software on your machine to retain compatibility. Most software companies keep up with the changes, but some are notorious for lack of backward compatibility. So unfortunately, the spending does not stop with the purchase of a machine. Like a car, maintenance costs continue through your ownership. So the general rule of thumb is this: keep your operating system current, and when your computer can no longer run the current OS, get a new computer.

Friday, March 23, 2012

iPhone 5, Fall Launch?

According to iMore, the next iPhone will be released this fall. Although there have been rumors of a larger (4 Inch) screen, sources seem to indicate that Apple will stick with the current size, 3.5 inches.  This is not to say that they are not considering a larger one, and we all know that rumors about Apple's pre-released products can be all over the board.

You can read the full article here:

iMore iPhone 5 

In summary, they claim the new iPhone will have:

  • Similar if not same sized screen (currently 3.5-inch but not set in stone)
  • 4G LTE radio
  • New “micro dock” connector
  • Fall/October 2012 release

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


A customer writes to me:

Dear Macmama,
I am an author, and have been using Microsoft Word to write my memoirs. I thought it would be easier than just using a typewriter, but I still have scraps of paper all over my desk, as well as photos I want to add. I thought writing on the computer would simplify this task, but I find myself having a hard time being organized.  Is there a better way? Daniel F., Oakland

Dear Daniel,
While Microsoft Word is a powerful word processor, and has features that most of us never use, it can be frustrating to writers who need a solution to not only document a narrative, but also organize timelines, photos, clippings, text snippets and research. And the outlining features are a bit clumsy. For outlines and project organization, I use Omni Outliner Pro, which I’ll talk about another time. 

But for writers who need to gather ideas as well as make outlines, I prefer a different solution. Enter Scrivener, a writing application that according the makers at Literature &Latte (I love that!) allows you to, “Outline. Edit. Storyboard. Write.” 

I have been reviewing Scrivener for about a week now, and I have to say I love it, and wish that I had the great American novel waiting to burst from my fingers. While the learning curve is a bit steep, the benefits are many. In this one application, you can gather and organize your research, make an outline, organize characters, photos, websites, text clippings and media files. One of the small features that I love is the “composition mode”. Like the old days, when you type, the “paper” moves, not the cursor. So you are always looking at the middle of the screen when you type. You can turn this feature off if you are more comfortable with the current word processing cursor behavior. Another feature, which is also available in Word 2011, is full screen mode, so you can remove the distractions that live on our desktops. One of the UC Berkeley professors that first told me about Scrivener loves the fact that he can still write on virtual index cards.
Scrivener comes with extensive tutorials, both interactive and video, and the user forums on the web are helpful and thorough. The developer is also very responsive when you have questions or issues, and according to user reviews, usually answers emails within a few hours. This application has been designed beautifully and thoroughly. As I said, it takes some work and study to learn, but the payoff of mastering an extensive authoring tool is worth it.

Scrivener is $45 to buy, free to try and can be found here:

Friday, March 16, 2012


Yes, today on launch day, I bought an iPad. 
I did not pre-order.
I did not stand in line before 8am (in the pouring rain).
I didn't rush into the Apple store as soon as I woke up.

I worked all day, and on the way home decided to stop at the Apple store on 4th Street in Berkeley, CA, where I live, just to see what this 3rd iPad in 2 years looks like. As I entered the store around 4PM, I asked the greeter (did they learn that from Walmart?) if they were sold out of iPads. "That depends on which one you want", he answered. How about the 32 GB WiFi model in white, I asked?
"Yes, we have those in stock". 
I love those words. Although I was not planning on buying one today, when I saw what an improvement the display is over that of the 1st generation (which I own), I thought  I kind of might like to maybe have that, like now.

So my new pal Wayne brought one over to me, and a nice tall employee fetched me a pink cover from high up on the wall, and home I trotted to set up my new iPad. In about 20 minutes, it was all done, all of my apps, movies, photos, etc. were transferred from a back up of my older iPad. Seamless and trouble free. I did have to re-add a password for one of my email accounts.

Do I love it? Not sure, but it is awfully pretty. My last model was a 32 GB WIFI+3G. I only used the 3G once, while we were moving across country, and had no ISP for a few weeks. But I have an iPhone, and did not want to shell out the extra $129 for 3G. More later!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quicken for Mac 2007 now compatible with Lion, $14.99

Intuit has finally released a Lion compatible Quicken 2007 for Mac. According to Intuit:

Quicken Mac 2005 – 2007 data files will automatically convert into the Lion compatible version. If you're currently running Quicken Essentials for Mac on OS X 10.7 Lion, and have previously converted from Quicken 2005, 2006 or 2007 for Mac, you'll be able to migrate your Quicken Essentials transaction data to Quicken Mac 2007 OS X Lion compatible.

Many Mac customers, frustrated that Quicken would no longer work on Lion moved to other financial software solutions (I moved to iBank). It is not clear whether Intuit is planning to offer an updated, more full featured version of Quicken for the future. According to

Quicken 2007 was a popular personal financial management application for Mac, but instead of building upon the popular application Intuit elected to rebuild the application as a stripped-down Quicken Essentials for Mac. The new version was widely panned by reviewers for its considerable loss of functionality compared to Quicken 2007. 

Here is a link to Intuit's Quicken for Mac OSX Lion  page.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Leaking Apple Pie...iPad 3!

Rumor has it that an announcement will be made on March 7 about the iPad 3, and that it will run on Verizon and AT&T's 4G network. According to The Wall Street Journal:

Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. will sell a version of the coming iPad that runs on their newest fourth-generation wireless networks, according to people familiar with the matter, as the battle to cash in on big investments in mobile broadband heats up. Apple Inc. appears to be planning to announce the latest version of its tablet computer in the first week of March, according to another person briefed on the matter.  Whether other carriers will also sell the device couldn't be learned.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

iPad 3?

Rumors have been flying that there will be an iPad 3 soon. So if you are thinking of buying an iPad, maybe wait a few weeks. According to John PaczKowski of AllThingsD, which has an accurate record predicting Apple's product releases, there will be a media event in the first week of March announcing the latest model. The iPad 2 was announced last year on March 2. If things run as usual, it should be available to the first round of buyers about a week after launch. According to the sources, it will have a "much faster chip", improved graphics capabilities, and a high-resolution display. 

Grrr. Just when I was learning how to control my digi-bling habit.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

1Password woes

1Password is my favorite password keeper/generator, but one of my clients experienced a bug. He regularly uses Safari's private browsing feature, as well as to log into various sites. He noticed that he was having trouble with the Safari extension for 1password, getting the message: DATA NOT AVAILABLE. We contacted agilebits (the makers of 1Password) and found this out:

The "Data Not Available" error normally happens when the data from 1Password has not been synced to the Safari extension yet. To allow this to happen, please follow these steps:
  1. Quit Safari
  2. Open the 1Password app, unlock it, then wait 10-20 seconds
  3. Reopen Safari and, if need be, unlock the extension
You should be good to go.
Safari's Private Browsing feature can also cause these errors because of a bug that we are working with Apple to resolve. To fix the problem, please disable Private Browsing and reinstall the extension with these instructions:
  1. Uninstall the 1Password Safari extension: Go to Safari > Preferences > Extensions, select the 1Password extension, and press the Uninstall button on the right
  2. Turn off Private Browsing: Go to the Safari app menu and uncheck Private Browsing
  3. Quit Safari:
    • On Snow Leopard: choose Safari > Quit or press Command-Q
    • On Lion: Hold the Option key and choose Safari > Quit and Close All Windows or press Command-Option-Q
  4. Update 1Password: in the 1Password app, go to 1Password > Check for Updates and if a new version is found, please update
  5. Reinstall the 1Password extension: go to 1Password > Preferences > Browsers and click the "Install Safari Extension" button. This should automatically launch Safari and you can now go back about your business.

Another client complained that 1Password seems to "forget" her logins. According the agilebits support, this sometimes happens when a site is changed enough for password to have trouble with the autofill function. To fix this:

Website Login Issues
If you have found that one of your Logins that used to work just fine has recently stopped working, here are some things to look out for and a simple way to fix the problem.
How to re-save your Login
If you have a saved Login that is not working, it may need to be re-saved. Often this is because 1Password stores a lot of information about the login form, but if a website owner redesigns the site or changes the form enough, it may mess with 1Password’s ability to fill the form.
To fix the problem, you can re-save your Login with the following steps:
  1. First, log out of the site
  2. Open 1Password and find the relevant Login
  3. Copy the Login’s password to your clipboard, then delete it (don’t worry, 1Password has a trash in case you need to reference or recover this Login)
  4. As if you were logging in for the first time, open the site in your browser: type your username, paste your password from the clipboard, and press Return or click the site’s login button
  5. 1Password should prompt you to create a new Login. Please do
  6. Log out of the site and try to log back in with your fresh new Login.
Even with these issues, I think 1Passoword is a fantastic application that can help you manage an create the many passwords we use to navigate our relationship with the digital universe.
And a few more tips with login issues:

Various things that can cause trouble for 1Password
Some technology used on the web can make it difficult for 1Password to fill in forms. These issues are rare, but they still appear from time to time so we figured we’d try to summarize a couple of them here.
JavaScript Interference
If after creating a new Login the site still does not work, it is possible that the web site is using some JavaScript “tricks” when the login is submitted. Sometimes this code can interfere with the AutoSubmit feature and cause it to fail.
To see if this is the cause, try disabling AutoSubmit (deselect the AutoSubmit checkbox on the 1Password toolbar menu) and logging in again using 1Password. If AutoSubmit was indeed the cause, you can re-enable AutoSubmit and disable it just for this item by editing it in the main 1Password application and changing its AutoSubmit setting to Never.
Adobe Flash
1Password is unable to save and restore Logins for sites that use Adobe Flash. As far as we know, no browser password manager anywhere supports Flash-based sites because Flash is a proprietary solution. At this time, Adobe does not offer interface tools for developers to plug into Flash in the way that 1Password and other form fillers require.
After working with a Flash consultant and reviewing the latest APIs provided by Adobe we found it is still not possible unless websites modify their code to allow it.
Most websites realize the problems with using Flash and provide a standard HTML login page as well. If you cannot find one, the only workaround is to save the username and password in 1Password, then open the 1Password extension when you visit the site, click the right arrow, and copy and paste your password.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Zappos and 6PM customer accounts hacked.

I got an email today from and Zappos (yes, I know I have shoe issue,I'm working on it!) to reset my password, because their database which contains my, as well as millions of others customer information was hacked. Is it legit? Seems like it, I also read it on the New York Observer site as well as Huffington Post.

What to do? Go the the Zappos and/or website, and you will see a CHANGE PASSWORD link. Sign in with your old one and they will email a link to the password change page to the email address on your account.

Here is the email I received from 6PM:

First, the bad news:
We are writing to let you know that there may have been illegal and unauthorized access to some of your customer account information on, including one or more of the following: your name, e-mail address, billing and shipping addresses, phone number, the last four digits of your credit card number (the standard information you find on receipts), and/or your cryptographically scrambled password (but not your actual password).
The database that stores your critical credit card and other payment data was NOT affected or accessed.
For your protection and to prevent unauthorized access, we have expired and reset your password so you can create a new password. Please follow the instructions below to create a new password.
We also recommend that you change your password on any other web site where you use the same or a similar password. As always, please remember that will never ask you for personal or account information in an e-mail. Please exercise caution if you receive any emails or phone calls that ask for personal information or direct you to a web site where you are asked to provide personal information.
We have expired and reset your password so you can create a new password. Please create a new password by visiting and clicking on the "Create a New Password" link in the upper right corner of the web site and follow the steps from there.
We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. If you have any additional questions about this process, please email us at

Thursday, January 12, 2012

WTF Daddy?

This was an email I got from a customer who manages and creates websites. He had a real frisky time with GoDaddy, a domain and web host device, but resolved it after some real bronc riding. He tried to transfer a domain and pay for one year, and they (oops!) accidentally signed him up for two years and then initially refused to correct their own mistake.

As you can see, BUYER BEWARE!!

My client's email to me, posted with his permission.

A friend of mine passed away. Since I managed her website and the domain name was set to expire in February, 2012 with Godaddy, I called Godaddy to move her account into mine and renew it for one year at my expense. I stated specifically that I needed to:

1) Move the account into mine
2) Renew the domain for one year
2) Consolidate it with my other domain names, which means that they would all then be set to renew March 2013

The representative at Godaddy asked for my credit card number, and confirmed that it was valid and matched the one on file, then said the charge would be ca. $24. I asked why it was double the normal yearly fee of $12.17. The representative informed me that he had entered a period of two years. I immediately said, no, I only wanted one year.

It was too late. The rep at Godaddy told us me I would have to either:

1) Cancel the domain name and start over, causing the website to be disabled for several days, or
2) Accept the two year registration, in spite of the mistake made by Godaddy

It was difficult to convince Godaddy that I should not be penalized for an unauthorized credit card charge from their side, as this is, in fact what it was.

Following hours of phone calls and rejections I threatened to call the Better Business Bureau, and only then was issued a refund for the extraneous year. To Godaddy's credit, I received the refund for one year, while the registration of the domain name will remain intact for two years. In fact, I didn't want the domain name to run for longer than year, but considered it an acceptable solution. Godaddy's reasoning as to why they couldn't change the length of the domain name term was that they are not the owners of the .com and .net domains, but rather only the registrar of it and an independent company owns these, and therefore Godaddy cannot change registrations once they are completed. I didn't research why this was so or whether it was actually correct.

Moral of story:

1) Charges made by phone must be reviewed before being finalized
2) Charges made without authorization must be refunded in full with no penalty
3) It IS possible to refund charges without a lapse in service if the billing department uses its resources to the full
4) Although the technical support at Godaddy is usually first rate, their billing department is behind the times in terms of customer service.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Today I got an email from a hired assassin, who told me he( or she) was paid $15,000 to kill me, but if I contacted him, I could pay a FIRST installment of $5,000 and I would get a tape that would identify the person who hired him. Now I checked out the name on the email address ( , Ayinde Bukola, a Nigerian that I found on Facebook as well as a few eDate sites. Seems like a nice kid, likes music, looking for a serious relationship, maybe marriage. It's very likely that his name has been used and his email hacked.

This kind of "Pay us or we'll kill you" spam has been around for at least about 5 years, most of them originating from Russia. So what do you do if you get this? If they don't address you by name, or know any personal stuff about you, just delete it. If the email contains any info, like your name, address, phone, etc, you should report it to the Police, and the

Here is a snopes article about these types of "hit man" scams:

Or you could call:

Here is the email, complete with the logo and pictures of weapons included:
Am very sorry for you my friend, is a pity that this is how your life is going to end as
 soon as you don't comply.
As you can see there is no need of introducing myself to you because I don't have
any business with you,
my duty as I am mailing you now is just to KILL/ASSASSINATE you and I have to
do it as I have already been paid for that.
Someone you call a friend wants you Dead by all means, and the person have spent
a lot of money on this,
 the person also came to us and told me that he want you dead and he provided us
with your name ,picture and other necessary information's we needed about you.
So I sent my boys to track you down
and they have carried out the necessary investigation needed for the operation on you,
and they have done that but I told them not to kill you that I will like to contact you and see if your life is
 Important to you or not since their findings shows that you are innocent.

I called my client back and ask him of you email address which I didn't tell him what I wanted to do
with it and he gave it to me and I am using it to contact you now.
As I am writing to you now my men
are monitoring you and they are telling me everything about you.

Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE? As someone has paid us the sum of $15,000usd to
kill you and we  are willing to tell you that you have to pay us the
sum of $5,000usd for the first payment so we can
legit your attention so we can forward the tape to you we
 shall send it through DHl or FedEx for you
to view the video and discussion between both of us okay.
Get back to me now if you are ready to
pay some fees to spare your life,
If you are not ready for my help, then I will carry on with my job straight-up.