April 16, 2015

Link: End of an Era ☍

Casey Liss adds his two cents on John Siracusa’s “retirement” from OS X reviews:

I mourn, in a way, for the loss of this incredible resource. While I know that John will be talking to Marco and me about the new OS X at length on our podcast, I will still deeply miss his reviews. The time and care that John put into his reviews is beyond measure. Marco and I know, perhaps better than most, how carefully considered every word in his reviews are. How much joy he gets from sprinkling in pop culture references, and how much pain he goes through taking the same batch of screenshots with each new beta.

Selfishly, and for the community, I’m really sad to know that we’ve reached the end. I am also deeply grateful for all the time and effort John has put in. These reviews are a tremendous resource, and are truly a gift to the community.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Link: OS X Reviewed ☍

John Siracusa:

Nearly 15 years ago, I wrote my first review of Mac OS X for a nascent “PC enthusiast’s” website called Ars Technica. Nearly 15 years later, I wrote my last. Though Apple will presumably announce the next major version of OS X at WWDC this coming June, I won’t be reviewing it for Ars Technica or any other publication, including the website you’re reading now.

I always enjoyed John’s reviews, even if they were a bit more detailed than most people would need. It’ll be a bit weird with the inevitable next version of OS X and not going through the new features with a lengthy review handy. With Apple moving to yearly release cycles a few years ago, writing a large review for each release is just untenable. Thanks, John, and enjoy having a bit more free time this summer!

April 15, 2015

Review: Moshi iVisor AG

Moshi iVisorScreen protectors are a common accessory for iOS devices, due to their mobile nature, constant contact with your fingers, and higher risk of damage. However, the people over at Moshi think that your portable Mac could use one, too. Is this a crazy idea, a money-grab from paranoid customers, or cheap insurance? The $35-$39 iVisor AG hopes to provide additional protection and reduce glare for the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro…

April 13, 2015

Link: Apple Explains How to Remove Adware ☍

Not only has Apple acknowledged an issue that’s been going on for awhile, but they included steps to remove most issues:

Ad-injection software is advertising-supported software that can come from third-party download sites. Software that you download from such sites may have been customized to install both the software you want and the ad-injection software. If your Mac has ad-injection software installed, you might see pop-up windows, ads, and graphics while surfing the web, even if “Block pop-up windows” is selected in Safari preferences. Ad-injection software might also change your homepage and preferred search engine.

Until they have a more automatic way to prevent and uninstall adware, I still recommend AdwareMedic by Thomas Reed. Still, this is a good first-step for something that has started happening a lot more over the past few months.

April 11, 2015

Link: Preauthorizing Apple Pay in iOS 8.3 ☍

As pointed out by ‘tmiw’ on the MacRumors Forums:

Apparently if you have one of your Apple Pay cards open in Passbook and put your thumb on the Home button, the iPhone will start reading your thumbprint and then show “Hold Near Reader To Pay”. This seems to happen even when the phone isn’t anywhere near an NFC reader. I don’t remember this being in previous versions of iOS (though I could be wrong).

In any case this should save significant time at checkout as the Touch ID verification can be done while the clerk’s still ringing you up.

I haven’t used this yet, but I have tried it by opening Passbook. This could be good if the NFC reader is in an odd place, as it seems to hold this for about a minute before requiring a new fingerprint. Unfortunately, this may also encourage merchants to be lazy about reader placement and people wanting to take your phone.

Link: Yosemite Recovery Update 1.0 Issues ☍

Although I’m the weirdo with a USB drive with bootable OS X Yosemite and Mavericks installers on it, Thomas Reed found an issue where you might end up with a flashing question mark icon if you try to fix your Mac and it has a Firmware password and FileVault enabled. Fortunately, Apple has a simple solution:

  1. Start up your Mac and press Command-R after you hear the startup sound to start your Mac from OS X Recovery.
  2. Enter your firmware password when prompted.
  3. After the Recovery window appears, choose Startup Disk from the Apple menu.
  4. Select your normal startup disk (like "Macintosh HD") in the Startup Disk window.
  5. Because the startup disk is encrypted with FileVault, you need to unlock it to select it for startup. Click the Unlock button in the lower right corner of the Startup Disk window .
  6. Enter a user account password to unlock the drive. You can use any user account password that normally logs into this Mac at startup.
  7. The Unlock button then changes to say Restart. Click this Restart button.
  8. A prompt will appear asking “Are you sure you want to restart…” . When the prompt appears, click the Restart button that appears in this prompt.
  9. After your Mac restarts, log in when prompted.

You shouldn't need to repeat these steps every time you start your Mac. After performing these steps once, you should be prompted at startup for a login password when your Mac has FileVault enabled or a firmware password set.

Link: Using the USB-C Port and Adapters on Your MacBook ☍

Apple has posted a rather exhaustive document highlighting USB-C’s role on the new MacBook. It’s fascinating some of the odd little nuances:

  • You can also use the USB-C Charge Cable to transfer data between your MacBook and other USB-C devices at USB 2.0 speeds.
  • Your MacBook will charge from USB-C power adapters not manufactured by Apple if they adhere to the USB Power Delivery specification.
  • The USB-C to USB Adapter supports data transfer at up to 5 Gbps (USB 3.1 Gen 1). […] This adapter requires no power to operate. However, devices that you plug into it might draw power from your MacBook, so you should disconnect it when you’re not using it.
  • This [Multiport] adapter will draw power from your MacBook even when the MacBook is asleep. Be sure to unplug the adapter to avoid draining your battery if your computer isn’t connected to AC power.
  • These drives aren’t compatible with the Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter or USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter: G-Tech G-DRIVE mobile USB 3.0 Hard Drive, Apple USB SuperDrive manufactured before Fall 2010. See Apple USB SuperDrive compatibility for more information.
  • To enable Target Disk Mode, hold down the T button on your keyboard while starting your MacBook. Then connect the USB-C cable. Use a full-featured USB-C to USB-C cable to connect to another MacBook, or a full-featured USB-A to USB-C cable to connect to a Mac with standard USB-A ports.

It’s odd, a bit fussy for now, but will be simpler later on as more adapters and products come onto the market. If Macs are trucks, the MacBook is some sort of weird El Camino/Subaru Brat-type product. This is going to be fun to see this product mature.

April 9, 2015

Link: Jason Snell Reviews the New MacBook ☍

Jason Snell writing for his old employer:

Using a computer that feels like it fell through a time warp from the future is fun, but if that computer drops through the wormhole without any compatible accessories then there’s going to be some aggravation, too.

The new MacBook is one of those Apple products. It feels like it came from the future, and didn’t bring its ecosystem with it. With its single USB-C port for both charging and peripherals, it’s unlike any Mac previously made. It’s the smallest, lightest Mac laptop ever, offers a Retina display, and yet it boasts all-day battery life. Using it alone will be a pleasure, but trying to plug it in to all your existing technology will be a pain.

If you want more information, Snell also has a great grab bag piece on his own site:

After writing 3500 words about a laptop, you wouldn’t think there’d be much left on the cutting-room floor. Oh, but you’d be wrong! Here are a few brief hands-on notes about the MacBook that I’ve saved just for Six Colors readers…