iOS 11

The subject OS upgrade for the iPhone and iPad has been released, and you've probably already installed it. If you'd like to learn more about the new features offered in this release, read the following two articles:

The second article above was written before iOS 11 was released, so it's possible some of the features mentioned didn't make it into the final release. Anyway, you may be overwhelmed by all the new features, and how to use them. I'm slowly working my way through them, and I'm overwhelmed.

Jim Hamm

Internet Security

At a computer club meeting a few days ago we were discussing how to stay safe on the internet, receiving emails, etc. Of course there are AV and malware programs one can run, which help, but it was the consensus opinion that the biggest deterrent to getting a virus or malware is us and common sense.

One of the items discussed was the use of shortened URL links, and how they possibly could contain malware, or direct one to a malicious website. It's possible for one's email address to be hijacked and emails sent out under your name and which contain a malicious link. For example, you might receive something like this: "take a look at oogle news here". Although it says "Google News" you don't know where clicking that shortened URL will take you. Before clicking it you should put the cursor on the link and at the bottom of the screen it will show you where the link actually goes.

Another approach is to simply use almost the full URL like this:

ctually, here is the full URL:  ne can simply delete all the verbage starting with the ? mark and to the right. This will simplify a long URL.

Just something to think about if you receive emails with shortened URLs. And be cautious of what you click, either on a website on in an email.

Jim Hamm

WPA2 Protocol Flaw

A flaw in the WPA2 protocol can leave traffic open to eavesdropping according to the following article:

And if you should be using an Android device with a VPN (Virtual Private Network) app, you should read this article.

Jim Hamm

Improve iPhone Battery Life

Here is a helpful article explaining how to improve the battery life on your iPhone and iPad.

I found two apps that were a drain on my iPhone battery because they were turned on all the time: My Radar Pro and Around Me. I didn't need them checking my location all the time so I set them to only check my location when I'm actually using the app. If you check you may find apps that are on all the time, and which you only need turned on when you are actually using the app. 

Another feature mentioned in the article is Smart Invert Colors, which, when turned on, inverts the background color from white to black. Black uses less power. I tried this and didn't like the black background, so I turned white back on. I'll sacrifice a bit of battery drain to have a white background.

It's worthwhile to check your settings as mentioned in the article. This may help to improve the battery life of your iPhone or iPad.

Jim Hamm

Selling iPhone or iPad?

If you plan to sell or give away your iPhone or iPad, here is an article that explains how to do it safely and securely.

I have never heard of, or used, the program iMazing, which is used in the article, and costs $40 for a single license. If you don't want to purchase and use iMazing (and I probably won't), then do a backup to iCloud and follow the rest of the tips in the article, which are quite helpful. 

If you browse through the iMazing website there are many other functions available from this program. 

Here is a link that will take you to an FAQ website that explains a lot more about this program, should you have an interest.

Jim Hamm

OneDrive and MS Office

Did you know that you do not need to have MS Office on your computer?

There’s a FREE version ONLINE with your Microsoft account. You only need to have a Microsoft account (a email address) and have installed OneDrive on your Mac (free). If you don’t have a Microsoft account, you can create one at the time that you download the OneDrive app. 

With OneDrive you get 15GB of free storage space online. That’s 10GB more than iCloud. You can add the OneDrive app to your iOS devices. You are not limited to just documents in OneDrive. Anything is allowed. You can share a link to a file or folder with anyone. Do you have a short video you want to share on Facebook? That and more can be done.

All the documents that you have in OneDrive (presuming that they are MS Office or compatible documents) can be accessed with the online version of MS Office.

Here’s how:

  1. On your Mac, click on the OneDrive icon in the Menu Bar. You’ll find it on the right side.  
  2. Then click on the gear in the upper left of the drop down window.
  3. In the new drop down window, click on “View online”
  4. Safari (or your default browser) opens a window with all your OneDrive documents showing.
  5. Double-click on the document you want to open. It will open with Word or Excel or PowerPoint as appropriate.

So if you already have a Mac version of MS Office and you are asked to pay for an update to MS Word, you really don’t need to. In fact, you can delete the MS Office apps without fear of losing anything - as long as you have OneDrive.

There is a downside - or course. The online version of Word and Excel do not have *all* the features of the paid for version. You probably won’t even miss them.

There’s a *free* app that you can install on your Mac that does everything that MS Office does - almost. I’m sure you have heard of it: OpenOffice. You can save your OpenOffice documents ( the default extensions are .odt for Writer and .ods for Calc) as MS Office documents (the defaults are .docx for Word and .xlsx for Excel) and they will open up with the online version of Word and Excel. One word of caution here: not all features of MS Office are available in OpenOffice, and some formatting and styles may change in the conversion.

But anyway, with the online version of MS Office, I really can’t see why anyone would need anything else. You can unlock more features of the online version of MS Office by paying a nominal monthly fee. You need to be a real power user to need to do that.

John Carter

Apple News

For your possible interest, here is one writer's summary of questions asked and answered regarding Apple's recent announcement of the iPhone and more.

It's interesting to note that the new iWatch 3 has cellular capability, but it's probable the carriers will want to charge for this capability.

Jim Hamm

Dropbox Dropping Support for Older Operating Systems

If you, like me, are a big fan and user of Dropbox, be aware they are dropping support for older operating systems. For more information read this article from the TidBITS email newsletter. 

I can certainly understand, and agree, with this concept. Time and technology marches on, and programs like Dropbox can only keep looking backwards so long, then they must focus attention and resources on the present and future operating systems.

Jim Hamm

Pancreatic Cancer App

Here is an article about a smartphone app and program that may, after more testing, be used as an early screen for pancreatic cancer. As the article mentions, by the time one usually finds out one has pancreatic cancer, it's too late to do much in treatment. Research indicates we have about a 1.6 % chance of getting pancreatic cancer, and with an estimated 64,000 living with it in the U.S.

A good use of a smartphone app, it seems to me. Hope further testing confirms early results.

Jim Hamm

Connecting to a VPN

I came across the following diagram on how a VPN (Virtual Private Network) functions, and
thought it might be of interest if you perhaps would want to use a VPN on public wifi networks:


You'll notice your request (message) is encrypted between you and the VPN server, and
may even be encrypted from the VPN server to the internet if you're using a "https" connection,
like with a bank or merchant where use of a credit card is required.

Where it says "VPN Client", that is the specific VPN program you are using. Since the use of
VPNs is becoming more popular, especially if one uses public wifi frequently, there are many
good ones available. Several even offer 'free' VPN programs with limited usage. The intent
here is to get you 'hooked' so you'll want to upgrade to their paid version. A Google search
will get you many results for VPNs. The Opera browser even has a free, built-in VPN. 

Since I use public wifi often when we travel, I've become a fan of using one. Is it necessary,
one might ask? My answer is to ask: 'is using an Antivirus program necessary?' Possibly not,
but both give me increased peace of mind, with little or no downside.

Jim Hamm