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

Siri and Your Alarm

Have you ever used Siri to set the alarm clock on your iPhone or iPad for a wake up call in the morning? Well, I hadn't either. No particular reason except I just never think of using Siri -- I just do it manually. After reading the following blog from the Kibbles & Bytes Newsletter #1049, I decided to give it a try, and it worked! 

As the article mentions, every time you do this a new alarm setting will be added to the list. To keep these from building up, swipe the alarm from right to left and tap delete. Pretty slick. Give it a try.

Jim Hamm


"y iPhone is the best alarm clock that I have ever had. I don’t have to hit a button 37 times to get to the right minutes in the hour I want an alarm to go off. I can have multiple alarm times set, I can program weekday alarms, weekend alarms and everything in between. One of my favorite features is that I can set any sound I want for my alarm. I prefer to wake up to music over a buzzing sound. Even my Sonos speaker can be programmed to turn on via an alarm! OK, so you get it now, my iPhone is quite possibly the handiest gadget I have ever owned. A few taps and my alarm is ready, but does it get even easier than that? It sure does!


Siri can actually set your alarms for you in one quick step. Sorry old alarm clock but I don’t see a space for you ever opening up again on my night stand. Plus, you can use alarms like you might reminders or calendar events. Consider setting an alarm to remind you about meeting someone for lunch or perhaps that extra motivation to remind you you should be exercising. Here are some tips for using Siri to set your alarms.

You can say, “Hey Siri, set an alarm for 7 AM” or even “Hey Siri, wake me up tomorrow at 8:45 AM.” When you do that, though, Siri creates a new alarm each time with whatever sound you last chose. Make a habit of that command, and you’ll end up with hundreds of alarms in Clock > Alarm, all of which will have been used only once. (Delete one by swiping over it from right to left and then tapping Delete.) There’s a better way—follow these steps:

  1. In Clock > Alarm, tap the + button in the upper-right corner to create a new alarm.
  2. Tap Label, and enter a name for your alarm, like Wake Me Up or Morning Walk. Avoid words like alarm or clock in the name, since they tend to confuse Siri.
  3. Tap Sound and pick your desired sound, and enable the Snooze button if you wish.
  4. Tap Save in the upper-right corner.

Notice in these steps I didn’t bother to set a time, that is because you’re going to have Siri do that for you. Now all you need to say to set your alarm, say the one to wake you up with, “Hey Siri, change wake me up to 8 am.”

If you said things correctly and clearly you should hear Siri respond with a confirmation like “ok, I changed your wake me up alarm to 8 am” or you can go into Clock > Alarm and you should see the change there. "


We all use passwords for security purposes. How should they be composed? Following is an article that recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal. If you read it, then you can decide if you should or want to change your passwords. 

I volunteer at the Prescott Library helping people with questions/issues with their Apple products, and password problems (forgotten, mostly) account, I bet, for over half the problems people are having.

Jim Hamm


Never Mind Old Password Rules…   Wall Street Journal 8/8/17 p. A-1   Expert who touted mixing letters, digits, symbols now regrets it


“The man who wrote the book on password management [now says]: He blew it…   Back in 2003, as a midlevel manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Bill Burr was the author of ‘NIST Special Publication 800-63. Appendix A.’ The 8 page primer advised people to protect their accounts by inventing… new words… with obscure characters, capital letters and numbers— and to change them regularly. The document became… the go-to guide for federal agencies, universities and large companies looking for a set of password-setting rules to follow…  

“The problem is the advice ended up largely incorrect, Mr. Burr says. Change your password every 90 days? Most people make minor changes that are easy to guess…   Also off the mark: demanding a letter, number, uppercase letter and special character such as an exclamation point or question mark…   ‘Much of what I did I now regret,’ said Mr. Burr, 72 years old, who is now retired…. In June, Special Publication 800-63 got a thorough rewrite, jettisoning the worst of these password commandments…   The new guidelines… drop the password- expiration advice and the requirement for special characters…   Long, easy-to-remember phrases [are now recommended] over crazy characters, and users should be forced to change passwords only if there is a sign they may have been stolen, says NIST, the federal agency that helps set industrial standards in the U.S….”

“Academics who have studied passwords say using a series of four words can be harder for hackers to crack than a shorter hodgepodge of strange characters…   In a widely circulated piece, [it was] calculated it would take 550 years to crack the password ‘correct horse battery staple,’ all written as one word. The password Tr0ub4dor& 3—a typical example of a password using Mr. Burr’s old rules—could be cracked in three days, according to… calculations, which have been verified by computer-security specialists…”

Public Wifi

If you occasionally use public wifi, you realize your computer is subject to possible hacking -- someone being able to 'see' what you're doing. If you should have an interest in reading three articles about how to protect your computer, read here and here and here.

One of the ways to protect yourself on public wifi is never enter anything on your computer you wouldn't want the world to see. A better way, though, is to protect yourself by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network), as the last article mentions. The article mentions two free VPN's that are available to be used: Hotspot Shield and CyberGhost. 

I have both of these installed and use one or the other when I'm on public wifi. Is it necessary to use a VPN, you might ask? It depends on you and how secure you want to be. Both these programs are easy to install and use, and they're free (although paid versions are available, of course). What's not to like about this scenario? Free protection.

When you first open CyberGhost you'll get a notice that you can't use the free version right away as there are people in line waiting to use it. In my experience it only takes about a minute or two and your turn will come up. Now, why are these VPN's providing a 'free' service? They obviously can't stay in business doing this for everyone. They have advertising on the free versions, and they hope you will eventually upgrade to the paid version, which I've done.

Just some thoughts for your protection on public wifi.

Jim Hamm

Wireless Charging

One of these days we may be able to charge our devices without plugging them in. At least that's a possibility David Pogue is discussing in this article. A startup company, called Ossia, has developed a technology to do this, and presumably the next step is to get FCC approval. Ossia then plans to license this technology to other companies.

Will be interesting to see how this all turns out.

Jim Hamm 

A Lesson Learned

If you use a VPN, my experience may save you a future problem. I bought a new 10.5" iPad Pro recently, and when I got it home I couldn't connect to the internet. I could pick up the wifi signal but couldn't get on the internet. 

After 40 frustrating minutes, including a discussion with an Apple tech, I noticed something: a VPN  app was trying to connect to the internet and blocking everything else until it was connected. A VPN will do this as a protection so we don't get on the internet until the VPN is connected. I quickly turned the VPN off and got connected to the internet right away.

I had forgotten I had this VPN turned on on my iPad, and it was trying to do its job. I use a VPN on my computers and will get a dialog box informing me that the internet is blocked until the VPN is connected. Apps such as Dropbox and my antivirus program are clamoring to get on the internet when I fire up my computer, but they can't until the VPN settles in. 

Jim Hamm


Kaspersky Free AV

For your possible interest, Kaspersky has just announced a free version of their antivirus program. Comments from Eugene Kaspersky can be read here. If you want to try it, the free download is here. It is available for both a PC and Mac.

I've downloaded it, but haven't installed it yet, but probably will soon. Over the years Kaspersky has gotten good reviews as being an effective AV program. For example, read here. And you've probably read recently about whether Kaspersky could be spying for Russia. Eugene, of course, soundly denies this allegation and has offered to make his program code available for review.

Being on the curious side I'll give Kaspersky AV a try for both my Mac and PC. Will be interesting to see what I think about it. Presently I run both Avast AV and Avira AV, and have been pleased with both. I do get a popup ad occasionally wanting me to upgrade to their paid version. Can't blame them for that.

Jim Hamm

Flash Player

Adobe is ending support for Flash at the end of 2020. Article here. This should help in cutting down on the number of malware and virus attempts through this program.

The article expressed some concern about the great number of early-days legacy programs using Flash, and which are still available. The author wonders if we will lose access to these?.

Jim Hamm

Mac Malware

There have been several articles recently about a type of malware on the Mac that apparently has been around for some time. Here is one article describing the malware, titled by some as FruitFly. Another article I read said that Apple has released an update to prevent future infections.

Malwarebytes anti-malware for the Mac  (here) will detect and presumably remove the malware. A 'techy' article for the nerdy can be read here. Although there have been no reports of damage done by this malware, you could scan your Mac with Malwarebytes to see if you've been infected.

Jim Hamm

Charger Safety

You may have read about the recent tragic electrocution of a young girl while she apparently was handling a phone while in her bathtub. Here is an article by a noted RV electrician on the safety aspects of chargers and phones. I encourage you to read it. More articles from this gentleman can be read here.

The following statement from the article really caught my attention:  "all phone chargers will energize the metal of your phone with around ½ of the line voltage, albeit at an extremely low current." 

Frequently chargers for your electric device -- whether it be a phone, tablet, or computer -- can be purchased at flea markets at a very cheap price. This is especially true for Apple devices. My recommendation is don't ever buy these imitation copies. They probably are cheaply-built and dangerous. Pay a bit more and buy these from Apple or a reputable dealer.

Jim Hamm  

Acronis True Image 2017

Newegg has the Acronis True Image 2017 backup program on sale for $9.99 after a $30 mail-in rebate. See here. It is for one device, and works for a Mac, PC, or iOS device. 

I've used Acronis to backup my PC for a long time, and it seems to work well (in theory, anyway), because, thankfully, I've never had to use it to recover from a failed disk. I've not used Acronis on a Mac, but I'm sure it would work just fine, as Acronis has a good reputation.

Just FYI, be aware that probably next month Acronis will come out with their 2018 edition. This won't negate the effectiveness of the 2017 version. Whether you use Acronis or another backup program, I highly recommend that you do a clone or image of your hard drive just in case you might have a hard drive failure.

Is this likely? No. Is a fire on your house likely? No, but you carry insurance just in case, don't you? That's why I'm a big believer in a full, bootable backup for my hard drive. If your hard drive failed, could you easily live with this, or would this cause you considerable anguish.

Jim Hamm