Mac Malware Getting Serious

While some of our members do not have anti-virus software to protect their Macs, below is a link to an article that identifies the increase in threats on the Mac, and what to do about those threats. While the article has been sponsored by an AV software company, that does not reduce the threat. This can provide more information, and let you take the necessary steps to reduce the threat if they feel the need.

Frank Croft

https://www.macworld.com/article/3253252/macs/mac-malware-getting-serious-security-no-longer-optional.html?idg_eid=1b312b3c0065bf5e76ab46a3564f0441&email_SHA1_lc=9ff332797cb2efd63c49060f6dada67f462d8c64&cid=mw_nlt_mw_macweek_html_2018-02-07&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MacWeek 2018-02-07&utm_term=mw_macweek_html

Hotspot Shield VPN

Here's an interesting (to me, anyway) bit of trivia about the use of the Hotspot Shield VPN, which I just experienced. Typically when one uses a VPN for security purposes over a public wifi network, the download speed usually drops -- for several reasons. This is expected, and is just part of the price one pays for additional security and to prevent hackers from 'sniffing' your computer or tablet.

I'm presently on a secure wifi network in our condo and don't need to use a VPN. But from time to time I like to check out various VPNs to see how they perform. Using Cox Cable I just now got a download speed of 28 Mbps, which is perfectly usable for normal computer use. I then opened the Hotspot Shield VPN, selected a server in the U.S., and after a few moments it got connected. I don't know where the server was located in the U.S., just that it was connected.

I did the download test again and got 42 Mbps -- a significant improvement and a nice surprise. I did this same test earlier this morning and got similar, favorable, results. Hotspot Shield VPN is available for a Mac, PC, iOS and Android. They offer both a free and paid version.

https://www.hotspotshield.com/vpn/vpn-for-mac/       https://www.hotspotshield.com/vpn/vpn-for-windows/

So, if you occasionally use public wifi, I suggest that you use a VPN, whether it be this one or another.

Jim Hamm

Apple's 1st Quarter Financial Results

Here is a blog (from Smalldog.com) about Apple's financial results for the last quarter. Amazing at the $ rolling in. Plus, take a look at the repatriation of cash they had deposited overseas. That will infuse $38 billion of taxes into the federal coffers. My wife and I have done our share to help Apple out -- we each bought the new iPhone X this last quarter. Ouch!

Jim Hamm

I caught a news story about how archaeologists have used new laser technology to discover a huge Mayan settlement in Guatemala. A huge city with elevated streets, canals, etc. Elevate became the word to describe Apple’s 1st quarter financial results. The newswire was full of stories about how Apple was not going to hit their numbers, that no one was buying iPhones and then, boom, the facts are released.

Apple posted the best-ever quarter in the company’s history with sales of $88.3 billion and a profit of $20 billion on those sales. At a profit of $3.89 per diluted share both revenue and earnings were a record. Keep in mind that this year was a 13 week quarter vs. a 14 week quarter a year ago when Apple posted revenue of about $10 billion less and $0.50 less earnings per share.

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Apple sold 77.3 million iPhones in the three months and their installed base of devices is up to some 1.3 billion units. Tim Cook said that the iPhone X, which everyone had been trying to say was a failure, has been the top-selling iPhone every week since it shipped.

Apple Watch was also up significantly. Although Apple does not report unit sales of Watch they did indicate that this was the best quarter ever for the Watch with Apple Watch Series 3 sales up more that 100% over Series 2 sales last year. This is our first year of selling the Apple Watch, and I have been amazed at just how strong the demand is for the Apple Watch.

This was also the third consecutive quarter of revenue growth for the iPad, with an astonishing 13.2 million iPads sold. Mac sales slumped a bit with sales down about 4.8% with 5.1 million Macs sold. We are seeing more and more customers that are finding that the iPad meets all their computing needs so increasing iPad sales and declining Mac sales are not that surprising.

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Apple services revenue was up by 18% year over year at around $8.5 billion and other products which include Apple Watch, Apple TV, Beats, iPod and a few others was up 36% at $5.49 billion.

Apple guidance for the next quarter (ending in March) was a bit below what some prognosticators are pulling out of their ears. Apple projects revenue of between $60 to $62 billion which is still about 12% higher than last year’s numbers.

Apple also indicated in the follow-up call that they will be re-patriating their cash horde and paying $38 billion in taxes to do so. With about $163 billion (net of debt) in that stockpile, Apple indicated that their goal was to get to net zero on the stockpile of cash and will be updating their capital return program and M & A activity.

Congratulations to the entire Apple team for a job well done and an amazing record-smashing quarter. Apple is one of the world’s largest companies and owns some of the world’s most important social responsibilities because of its huge impact upon society. I am pleased to see Tim Cook recognize that when he said business can be a force for good in the world.

New Take Control Books

Hello from Joe Kissell of Take Control Books!

Seems like every time I turn around, there’s another news report about a big company being hacked, a gigantic list of passwords being stolen, or some other security vulnerability being exposed. Every time this happens, huge numbers of people suffer—sometimes in small ways (like having to jump through hoops to prove their identity or recover an account) but, all too often, in large ways (like identity theft that leads to major financial losses).

Most of this suffering is preventable, and the first step is handling your passwords properly. If you use the same password on a bunch of different sites, or if any of your passwords are short, easy-to-guess strings (like password1 or letmein or qwerty), I’m sorry to say you’re very likely to be a future victim of a password hack. But having unique, strong, hack-resistant passwords doesn’t mean going through a lot of hassle. You can have great passwords and convenience too!

I’m happy to announce brand new editions of two books that address different aspects of dealing with passwords: Take Control of Your Passwords and Take Control of 1Password. If you don’t already have a bulletproof password plan, I hope you’ll consider one or both of these books as a way to help you achieve password bliss. (And, you can buy both books together for a special low price.) 

For more information, see the PMUG Take Control Page

Laptop Battery Charging

After I posted the article by Kim Komando on smart phone charging, a friend read Kim's suggestions and posted his comments that it's OK to leave one's laptop plugged in all the time. This was contrary to Kim's suggestion.  After reading hi comments I did some research, and found this article which describes more about whether one should leave their laptop plugged in all the time or not: 

https://www.howtogeek.com/124715/should-i-leave-my-laptop-plugged-in-all-the-time/

Here is a quote from the article discussing whether one should leave a laptop plugged in all the time:

"Ultimately, it’s not clear which is worse for a battery. Leaving the battery at 100% capacity will decrease its lifespan, but running it through repeated discharge and recharge cycles will also decrease its lifespan. Basically, whatever you do, your battery will wear down and lose capacity. That’s just how batteries work. The real question is what makes it die more slowly.

Laptop manufacturers are all over the place on this. Apple used to advise against leaving MacBooks plugged in all the time, but their battery advice page no longer has this piece of advice on it. Some PC manufacturers say leaving a laptop plugged in all the time is fine, while others recommend against it with no apparent reason."

Here is the link to Apple's battery advice page: https://www.apple.com/batteries/maximizing-performance/

Opinions vary on this question, so you'll need to decide which you prefer. As for me, I plan not to leave my laptop plugged in all the time. Laptops were designed to be portable and operate off their battery, then recharged when the battery gets low. For me, this is more convenient.

Jim Hamm

Intel Chip Bug

Here is an article you will want to read about a bug flaw in an Intel chip that does affect all Mac and iOS devices:
<https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/4/16852016/apple-confirms-mac-ios-affected-spectre-meltdown-chipocalypse>

here are no known exploits yet, and Apple, Microsoft, Intel and Google (for the Chrome browser)  will be issuing patches soon. In order for this exploit to affect a device, an app has to be downloaded and installed. So, until this bug is cleaned up, be very careful with what you install on your device.

Jim Hamm 

Apple 2017 Review

If you are a user of Apple products, you may be interested to know how the company did in 2017. The following article discusses this, and the author gives his opinion:

https://9to5mac.com/2017/12/28/apple-2017-report-card/#more-513552

There are a few issues I'll comment on. You have no doubt read about how Apple slowed down older iPhones as their batteries got weak. I think Apple's intentions were good, but they should have told people what they were doing and given them the option to do this or not. Apple received a lot of bad press due to this poor decision.

The other issue I just read about is that in China they are finding some issues with facial recognition on the new iPhone X. It seems a son could unlock his mother's iPhone X with his face. Apple is investigating this issue, and we'll probably read more about this.

Jim Hamm

Chrome Blocking Ads

No doubt you're read that starting February 15, 2018, Google's Chrome Browser will start blocking certain ads -- and this from a company whose revenue stream is income from ads?

Well, there's a lot more to this change, as the following article so clearly points out:

https://www.howtogeek.com/336952/google-the-worlds-biggest-advertising-company-will-block-ads-soon.-is-that-good/

On balance, for me as a user of Chrome, I'll welcome this change. It will be interesting to see if I notice any real change, though.

Jim Hamm 

Apple Watch

Apparently the Apple watch has been a success, but not all are thrilled with its features. In the following article Kirk McElhearn -- a noted blogger and writer about Apple products -- has one and doesn't care for it. He doesn't hate it, but doesn't find it useful or comfortable to wear, as he explains in the article.

https://www.kirkville.com/10-days-with-the-apple-watch-or-what-ya-gonna-do-when-the-novelty-has-gone/

As with anything in life, opinions vary. Kirk has his, and explained it well in his article.

Jim Hamm

Who Sent the Email?

Here's a tip that might be helpful occasionally. If you receive an email that, for some reason, looks a bit suspicious, or has an attachment (a possible source of a virus) you can find out who it's really from by clicking "show original" per the instructions in the following link: http://www.isipp.com/resources/email-headers/

The instructions vary, depending on which email client you use. I checked this out in Gmail, and it works. This could save you from getting a virus from opening an attachment in a suspicious email.

Jim Hamm

Closing Apps in iOS?

If you're using an iPhone or iPad running the iOS operating system, should you close an app after using it, or periodically close all apps that you've opened during the day? Here are two articles that say no:

https://www.komando.com/happening-now/409554/one-mistake-you-should-never-make-with-your-apps-when-trying-to-save-battery-power

https://daringfireball.net/2017/07/you_should_not_force_quit_apps

Prior to reading the above I had thought that apps, once used, remained running in the background and consumed a slight bit of operating memory. Apparently this is no longer true. Background apps, it seems, are 'frozen' and no longer consume operating memory.

This is good to know, and I'll not worry about closing background apps.

Jim Hamm