MacBook Air

MacBook Air

Rumors about the demise of the MacBook Air, which debuted 10 years ago, continue to appear in various articles. I've owned two Airs, and thoroughly enjoyed them. Just this week my wife bought a new MacBook Air, after going to the Apple store and looking over all the laptops. Why would she buy an older model that may be discontinued? Because she had an Air that had died, liked it and wanted another one.

What will take the place of the Air if it is discontinued? John Gruber, a noted tech writer, has some thoughts which he expresses here: 

Jason Snell, former editor of MacWorld Magazine, has some opinions as well, which he expresses in  this article:

In the world of computers, technology continues to march on. What we like today may be replaced by something else tomorrow. All things considered, that's not such a bad thing.

Jim Hamm

MacBook Air Price Cut

Zagg Bluetooth Keyboard

        "If there's any 'iPaders' in our azapple group, the following comments are for you," says Jim Hamm.  He continues, " I've owned an iPad for a long time, but had never used a separate keyboard with it previously. Then my wife got a Zagg bluetooth keyboard for her iPad, and really liked it. So, not to be left behind, I bought one from Amazon for my iPad. What a difference this keyboard makes. Really nice.

        "If you've already moved to a  bluetooth keyboard for your iPad, read no further. For the rest of you, I recommend you try one." 
        Jim explains, "I didn't realize how much easier, and nicer, it is to type on a keyboard instead of tapping on the screen with my finger. And the best thing I like about it is no more -- to correct a mistake -- a finger on the screen, with the bubble, trying to move the cursor around. Now I just use the up/down/back/forward arrows on the keyboard to move the cursor and correct a misspelling. I like this.
        "We're presently on an RV caravan tour and I haven't even used my MacBook Air once since we left. I find it so convenient and handy just to use my iPad with the Zagg keyboard. Plus, since I've got a cellular data package for my iPad, I don't have to worry if we don't have wifi in the campground. Like right now -- no wifi but a good LTE signal.
        "There are other brands of keyboards available for the iPad, but the Zagg is the only one I've tried. There were over a thousand reviews on Amazon for the Zagg keyboard for my particular iPad, with most of them favorable."
        And Jim concludes, "I'm not pushing Zagg -- only the use of a bluetooth keyboard for your iPad.  Just a thought for your consideration."

Which Mac Laptop to Buy?

        "If you are possibly be in the market for a new Mac laptop, should you consider Apple's new, 12-inch MacBook?" asks Jim Hamm.  " Here is an article with a very good review of Apple's new offering, and the author's opinion of the strengths and weaknesses of it.
        "And here is another article with some comments about the 12-inch MacBook, the MacBook Air, and the MacBook Pro. The author mentions that the MacBook laptop line is getting a bit crowded, what with three, somewhat similar, MacBooks.
        "Ah, which one to buy, you ask? A good question, and the articles may help you decide, based on how you plan to use the MacBook, and how much power you might need. I don't think one can go wrong with any of the three." 
        Jim closes with, "I'm very well pleased with my MacBook Air, so I'm not in the market -- at least right now. But it's always interesting to see what Apple is offering next."

We Need Better Batteries

        Jim Hamm asks an interesting question: "Although Apple's new MacBook is really thin and small, the big hangup now is the battery -- how to get it smaller? 
        "Look at the inside of the new MacBook and see how small the computing stuff is (especially after getting rid of a spinning hard drive and optical drive), and all the room left for a battery. Although the running hours before recharging have improved by about 50% for a computer battery, the improvement isn't as impressive as for all the electronic stuff." 
        And Jim declares, "Way down the road, Graphene may be the answer for a significant improvement in batteries."  Take a look at the link he sends:

Save on MacBook Air Now

       "I love my MacBook Air," announces Prez Art Gorski.  He then gives the good news,  "And just this week Apple announced new models with slightly different processors that don’t make a big difference in performance. But they dropped the price $100. Everyone selling the older, practically just as good, models are scrambling to unload them at reduced prices. 
        "This article is a great resource for locating the best deal if you’re in the market right now: 

        Art's final advice, "Want to save even more? Go to the on-line Apple Store and take a look at the Refurbished older models available. They’re even cheaper!"

14 Mac Tips

      " Here's an article with some helpful tips (they refer to them as 'hacks') for your Mac," Jim Hamm introduces his latest email to us.   "You may already be knowledgeable of these tips, but a new one (to me) I just tried was the terminal command 'purge' to free up memory. I'm not sure what it exactly did, but the command definitely freed up memory on my MacBook Air and my apps and music kept right on running. 

        "My 'Air' only has 4GB of memory, and free memory tends to disappear after using my Air for awhile, so this tip is helpful and quick to use. The article refers to a video wherein the author mentions a free App from the App Store titled 'FreeMemory,' which purportedly does the same thing. The app gets good ratings in the App Store."  
        (And if you come to PMUG on Saturday you can chat with Jim. He's the speaker this month.) 

iOS 7 and 10.8.5 Update

       John Carter reports on his experience with updates. "I updated my iPad 4, my iPhone 5, and Jackie's iPhone 4S.

        "No problems with my stuff. It took a long time, but everything came up normally.
        "Jackie's 4S was a different story. I did that one last.
        "The short story is that Verizon was overloaded with updates, and they couldn't keep up. Apple was also inundated, and they couldn't keep up. Hence, during the update process for the 4S, Apple had a hiccup and the 4S was crippled during the update. Not to worry. A fresh start made everything right — almost.
        "One thing that happened with the 4S that did not happen with the iPad 4 or the iPhone 5 was right after the iOS7 update completed. I got a notice that a new update was available for the carrier on the 4S. I did that, too.
        "When I finally got to use the 4S, it would not connect to Verizon. Getting on the Internet was no problem — but no phone service. A call to Verizon revealed that many people were having the same problem. The fix was to do a complete reset of the phone (wiping all data off) and restore the phone from a backup through iTunes. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention this - MAKE SURE YOU BACKUP YOUR DEVICES BEFORE YOU START THE UPDATE!
        "After the 4S was restored (the second time), I was able to validate the connection to Verizon and everything worked."
                                  Take a deep breath, John has more info to share! 
        "So what's really new with iOS7? I mean, really new? Not just in appearances, but in functionality. The calendar had the biggest surprise. The familiar interface is not only gone, but one of the features is hidden. In order to see your calendar entries as a list, you have to tap on the Search icon. To see the calendar in the month mode, you tap on the name of the month. Then the year shows up where the name of the month was, and tapping on that shows you the whole year. Actually, this is far easier to navigate than it sounds, and I quickly got used to it.
        "I tried to take a snapshot of the screen, but the snapshot does not show everything that you can see. So the image below is a screenshot showing both what the calendar looks like (left side) and what you get when you take a screenshot (right side). (Yes, it was tricky getting this shot.)
        To enlarge the illustration click on it, then click to go back to the post.
        "So what does Jackie think about the update? She was very angry that the phone didn't work, and she had to leave before I got it working again. As for everything else, she's flexible enough to not worry about the changes. Besides, she has me to fall back on.
        "I very much like the new Compass. Apple has added a secondary feature to it - a bubble level. Very neat, especially for me when I need to level my telescope mount."
                                      Here's John's report on the OS X update:
        "So what about the Mac update to 10.5.8. Quite painless on the Mac Mini, the MacBook Air, and my two MacBook Pros. But one thing happened with Mail that I am not very happy about.
        "I have several mailbox aliases below the Toolbar (boxed in red in the image below.) This gives me quick access to my most frequently used mailboxes. 
        "They were all greyed out. No access. I quickly discovered that I had to remove them and add the aliases back in.
        "Then I discovered that NONE of my Rules were active. I had to go through each of my several dozen Rules and reference the action back to the original mailbox that the message was supposed to be moved to (see red circle in image below). The weird part was that when I reset one, that same mailbox showed up as the default location for the next one that I needed to fix."
        "I'm quite sure that many people will have a serious problem with this, and I'm very surprised that it didn't show up in the Beta testing."
                        Here's John's recommendations: 
        "Do I recommend getting the updates right away? To this I always say, why not? How long do you think you will have to wait before you can know for a fact that  you won't have any problems with the update? Can you live without the update? Certainly! But eventually you will be faced with having to update when one or more of your apps are no longer supported with your old operating system— just like when Classic 9 became unusable. And if you trade your device in, you will get the latest operating system anyway.
        "To update the iPhone, you have to have your computer to get the update. I recommend updating the computer first.
        "One last thing. The iTunes update (11.1) modifies the iTunes library. So if you have more than one computer using the same iTunes library, you're forced to update iTunes on every computer. Besides that, if you are accessing the same iTunes library (or iPhoto library) from different computers, you have to shut down iTunes/iPhoto on one computer before launching iTunes/iPhoto on any other computer. This is such a rare situation that it probably isn't even worth mentioning. But if you have, say, a MacBook Air with a small hard drive and a Mac Mini with a large hard drive, it won't be long before you realize that you should have bought a bigger hard drive for the MacBook Air. This cannot be remedied except by sharing files with another computer or by adding an external hard drive to the MacBook Air - and that uses up one of the only two USB ports on the MacBook Air. And you can't run an external hard drive off of a USB port expander along with any other device, even if the USB expander is powered (or so my experience tells me).
        "For the most part, the updates do not change how any non-Apple app looks or behaves. As vendors start providing updates for their apps, this will undoubtedly change.
        "For the iPhone, just take a deep breath and get the updates in a week or so when things have settled down at Apple and Verizon.
        "For the Mac, get it now."   

How Long Will SSD Drives Last?

        "Here's an interesting article speculating on a 'bleak' future for SSD drives. The article assumes that SSD cells will continue to shrink in size, from the present 25nm to perhaps 6.5nm in 2024, with an inherent increase in errors.  There's some interesting comments following the article you might also take a look at."  
        After pointing us to this article, Jim Hamm goes on to give some personal information and opinion.  "I've got two laptops with SSD drives (a MacBook Air and a ThinkPad), and I certainly like them -- not necessarily because they're faster than a spinning drive -- but because I don't have to worry about 'jiggling' the computers when moving them around, and SSDs make for good traveling computers.
        "I've never had a problem with a spinning drive on any of the computers I've owned, and I think they're fine. In fact, I recently bought a nine-year-old iMac G4, which has seen a lot of use, and still works well, albeit slower, with a spinning drive.  Why did I do this? I like the looks of the iMac G4, and compare the idea to someone buying a '57 Chevy. May not make practical sense, but conceptually/emotionally satisfying."

Hacking Incident Warns Us About Passwords

        The latest on this situation is updated 8-5.  Read the whole thing.         Jim Hamm sent this link about a horrible hacking of a man's iCloud account.  This evening John Carter sent a further warning of the need to establish strong passwords to avoid such a terrible thing.         Here's the first from Jim:  "Here is a scary tale of woe: Mr Honan's iCloud account was hacked. What's even scarier, the hacker was then able to remotely wipe Mr Honan's iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air! Yes, all dead. If you happen to use a Gmail account, a two-step verification process is available to prevent hacking. As far as I know, this feature isn't available for iCloud. So, one should have a very strong password for your iCloud account. Yes, I know, it's probably remote that your iCloud account will be hacked. Mr Honan thought so, too."           But Jim, can that really be true?  He wrote back with two other sites on the issue.  Here and here.          John Carter went into more detail on what we should do about our own passwords.  ". . . if your passwords are short and simple, be prepared to be hijacked and potentially lose all the money in your bank or all the files on your computer.          "A strong password contains a mix of letters and numbers with at least one uppercase letter, and the password should be at least 8 characters long. A very secure password will be 10 or more characters long. The password should never contain a word that can be found in the dictionary or letters or numbers in a sequence or that repeat.          "Some of my clients do not even have a password to login to their computer, and this is a grave mistake because it makes all your other passwords in the Keychain Access application accessible to anyone that manages to hack into your computer.

        "Do yourself a favor and use passwords that are complete garbage. Write them down where you know you can access them quickly. Protecting yourself will save me a trip to help recover your files — if that's even possible. Smile when you have to type in that long gibberish because you know you're being protected. After a few times of typing it in, it will become second nature. 
        "One approach is to alternating case, intermix numbers with letters, and where allowed, toss in a symbol. For your different passwords, you only need to make one letter or number different or add one letter or number."  
        So, consider yourself warned, thanks to Jim and John.          Now, Jim Hamm brings us the update of 8-5. "Here's update three from the guy who was hacked via iCloud and had his iPhone, MacBook Air and iPad wiped clean:         "Update Three: I know how it was done now. Confirmed with both the hacker and Apple. It wasn’t password related. They got in via Apple tech support and some clever social engineering that let them bypass  security questions. Apple has my Macbook and is trying to recover the data. I’m back in all my accounts that I know I was locked out of. Still trying to figure out where else they were."           And here's Jim's final comment -- at least for now!  "The hacker sure must have been one smooth talker to convince Apple's tech support to let him into Honan's iCloud account, which wasn't his. So much for strong passwords. It seems they can be circumvented.  According to another report, the hacker then used  Apple's 'Find My Phone' service to remotely wipe the three devices."

Mac Buyer's Guide

        Do you know when to buy a Mac, iPod, or iPhone?  Here's help from Prez Art Gorski.  He leads off with, "Don't you just hate it when you buy an Apple product and then they release a new, better version right after?  The MacBuyer's Guide keeps track of Apple hardware updates and is a great guide to when you should buy a new Apple product."
         So we look here and find info with recommendations such as "Don't buy: updates soon"  — "Buy only if you need it: approaching the end of a cycle" — or "Buy now!  Product just updated."  You also notice the links to their categories of blogs and forums.  Take a look, you may want to bookmark this.

Apple's Six Best Decisions

        "Here's an interesting article and observation by Ted Landau of Apple's six best decisions — and why they make Apple the company it is today."  Jim Hamm goes on to elaborate,  "My only quibble with Ted is that the iPad should be included in the list. But he goes in detail explaining why he left this device out of his nominees. Possibly many of us — well, me, anyway — tend to think of Apple as a Mac, or computer, company. Not so much anymore. Here is a quote from the article: 'Apple’s success depended upon moving away from its focus on the Mac.' Hence, the dropping of 'computer' from the company name a while back."

MacBook Air -- Where?!!

"The middle of the Amazon Rainforest is probably the last place you’d expect to see a brand new MacBook Air, but that’s exactly what Chief Almir of the Surui people is using in his fight to protect the Amazon. The internet, a partnership with Google, and Apple’s flagship ultraportable MacBook Air, have enabled the chief to track the tribes territory and report illegal logging of their homelands . . . "  so exclaims an August 31 article by OS X Daily.  Thanks to Jim Hamm for finding this fascinating info and photos. Speaks well of the MacBook Air, doesn't it!

Will iOS 5 Affect Mac Computer Sales?

        Jim Hamm considers how iOS 5 will affect notebook sales. "Here’s a video with a summary of iOS 5. Lots of new features for mobile devices. The most important, in my opinion, is now the iPad, iPhone and iPod no longer need to have a computer to connect to. They can be free-standing devices. A nice step. On the flip side, possibly this might have a deleterious effect on notebook sales. On the other hand, though, I don’t think I’d just want to have only a mobile device and not have my Mac. I think each has its strong points. Time will tell how this all shakes out."
        Here's a thought-provoking article from Jim that speculates about the future of Mac.

MacBook Air Report

        Art Gorski reports: I recently visited an Apple Store and got some hands-on time with the new MacBook Air. I thought that the smaller 11" model might be too small, but was pleasantly surprised by how usable it was. It has the same full-size keyboard of any Mac laptop, and the screen is high resolution and doesn't seem too small to read.
        "The real shocker was how good the performance is. The 11" model uses only a 1.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, while my 4.5 year old MacBook uses a 1.83 GHz Core Duo processor, so I wasn't expecting much. However, the use of a Solid State Drive (SSD) instead of a conventional hard drive makes all the difference in the world. Launching iPhoto on my old MacBook takes about 7 Dock 'bounces' and about 15 seconds until the library of photos is finally loaded. Of course, the MacBook Air in the store did not have a large library of photos on it, but iPhoto launched with a single bounce and was ready to go in only a second or so!
        "I wouldn't recommend a MacBook Air as your only computer, unless your computing needs are light and you purchase the optional external DVD drive to load software. But in my case, where I have a Mac desktop computer and use a MacBook for travel and meetings away from the house, the MacBook Air is perfect and will be my first choice when it's time to replace my old MacBook."

MBA Getting Good Reviews

        "What do you think of the new MacBook Air?"  was the question posed to Jim Hamm.  He's the only one in PMUG with the MBA. He writes back, "The new model is better than the one I have, and mine can't be upgraded to solid drive. As to more features, no, I'm pleased with what the MBA has. I like the light weight, crisp screen and great portability. I may end up getting the new solid state 13" MBA. It is getting great reviews.
        "Zee really enjoys her iPad, and I enjoy my MBA. I probably won't get an iPad, but may get the new MBA. I'm using my MBA as I type this. Both the iPad and MBA have their strong and weak points, It's a matter of personal preference, I think."  Jim goes on to refer us to the report, "MacBook Air Has the Feel of an iPad in a Laptop."
        "One negative review of the new version is the keyboard is no longer backlit.  Bummer.  I suppose Apple did this to conserve battery power.  There is some question whether an SSD (solid state drive) will continue to perform well over time, or tend to clog up.  Time will tell, I guess," Jim concludes.