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We Don't Need No Stinking Badges

But stickers are sorta cool. iOS 10 brought stickers to Messages. With your iPhone or your iPad you can embed stickers in a thread, adjust their size, rotate them or peel and place stickers on top of bubbles or photos in your conversations. I found some animated stickers that look a bit like my dog, Jezebel but there are lots of stickers out there to buy at the somewhat hidden App store for stickers.

Apple is great about helping you create your own stickers without any coding experience. Stickers are created with image files in PNG, JPEG or GIF format. They can also be animated in APNG or GIF format. You can learn about creating your own sticker packs at Apple’s Creating Stickers for iMessage page.

Okay, where is this sorta hidden sticker store? First off, you can’t find it on your Mac. This is an iOS thing. The stickers will display in Messages on your Mac but you cannot send them. So, here’s how to find the sticker store on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch:

  1. Open Messages on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and tap a conversation in the list or create a new one. You need to have a conversation going to find the store.
  2. Tap the Apps button (it resembles an App Store icon) to the left of the text entry field to access the Messages app drawer.
  3. Push the App Shelf button in the bottom left corner (it is four dots in a grid).
  4. Tap the Store button.
  5. The Messages App Store appears in an overlay, allowing you to:

    • Browse featured sticker packs

    • Browsing sticker packs by category

    • See all sticker packs in the App Store

    • Find specific sticker packs

  6. Buy by category or individual pack

To make sure you have this newly purchased sticker pack available be sure to set the toggle Automatically Add Apps under the Messages App Store’s Manage tab to the ON position. If you prefer, of course, you can individually manage each sticker pack to turn it on and off.

Now you have spent your $0.99 with ApplePay for that great sticker pack. How do you use them in a conversation? Easy peasy…

  1. Open Messages on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and start a conversation or pick an old one.
  2. Tap the Apps button to the left of the text entry field to reveal the Messages app drawer at the bottom of the interface.
  3. Now you can either pick a previously used sticker from Recents or choose a specific sticker from one of your installed sticker packs.

Then you just tap on that sticker to add it to the conversation. You can add some text to the sticker and hit send.

You can peel a sticker and stick in anywhere in a chat bubble. You just tap and hold the sticker and then drag it over your selected chat bubble. You can do the same thing with photos that you have sent in chat. Just tap and hold a sticker and drag it onto the photo in the conversation and let it go.

Rotate your sticker using two fingers. Tap and hold the sticker you wish to rotate and then tap and hold with another finger and swipe up or down to rotate the sticker. You can make it bigger, too, by swiping left or right.

There are a lot of stickers to choose from and while it does get boring after a bit at least for me it is a great way to spice up a conversation!

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Terminal Tidbits

Disk Usage Command

There might be a time when you need to know how much space is available on your hard drive and you need to do it without a GUI. When trying to do diagnostics to find issues, it’s good to know if your hard drive is simply at capacity. Hard drives filled to their limits can display some scary signs, making one think that they have serious issues. When your drive is just stuffed more then your family’s thanksgiving turkey you can run into some pretty troubling and difficult issues.

By opening Terminal and going into the Command line you can find out quickly what youR disk space is looking like. Within terminal enter the command, that is simply “df”.

Once you run “df” you are going to get a weird confusing result. There will be many blocks, so to help your sanity us the -h (human readable) flag so that the overall syntax is “df -h”. This will give the result of used space and available space in gigabytes instead of blocks.

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Teleporting Web Links Between Devices

Many of us use multiple Apple devices throughout the day and I am most definitely one of those people. I had one sad little tear this morning when I arrived at the office as I realized I left my iPad on my nightstand and had to actually take my MacBook Air into my morning meeting. I’ve grown very accustomed to preparing for meetings on my MacBook Air and then just grabbing my iPad or iPhone to bring the necessary notes and files while on the move around the office. I’ve talked a lot about sharing of files from device to device, but what about web pages? Many users rely on bookmarks and that works smoothly, but there are other options as well.

With the release of Yosemite Apple introduced hand off. For some users it might have been something utilized all the time and then fell off their habits list, but it’s super handy! If you’re researching an issue on your Mac and after digging through several forums you need to need leave for an appointment but you want to keep the research going, in comes handoff.

Handoff allows you to immediately move a webpage ( and other Apps like Mail ) instantly to another Mac or iOS device. On your Mac, to the very left of your dock if you have Safari open you will see a Safari icon with a shadow image of an iOS device. You can simply click on that and boom, the webpage that was on your iPad or iPhone is now on your Mac screen. If you’re going from your Mac to your iOS device you will see the Safari icon in your lock screen and you simply swipe up. You can also double press your home button as well to access the information.

Another cool feature that you might have found by accident is via tabs in safari on either you Mac or iOS device. When you open a page in Safari a tab opens. You can see this easily on your Mac in the Tab Bar ( select View > Tab Bar if you don’t see it). It gets just a little bit cooler when you view all the open tabs on all your Apple devices. You can do this by tapping or clicking the tabs button. This button is a double square image on the top right of your Safari tab bar or the lower right corner on your iOS device. In this view you will see first all the tabs from the device that you are using. Beneath them as you scroll down you will see the tabs from your other Apple devices.

Lastly, you can designate a site as a reading list. Safari can store a list of pages that you want to read later in the reading list. This is great for longer articles or just tagging an interesting recipe you found at lunch. To add the current page to your reading list on the Mac choose Bookmarks > Add to Reading List. On your iPhone or iPad, tap the share button and them tap Add to Reading List. To later access your reading list on your Mac choose View > Show Reading List Sidebar. In Safari on your iOS device, tap the book icon and then tap on the eyeglasses icon.

In order for these features to work seamlessly on your Mac and iOS devices there’s a few important tips. First you need to be running 10.10 Yosemite or newer and at least iOS 8 on your iPad or iPhone. Lastly all of your devices need to be logged into iCloud. It’s also important that you have Bluetooth turned on as well, since handoff uses that specifically.

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Back To The Roots

We are living in a century unlike any other. There are countless examples of modern tech that have reimagined and rebuilt the way we create, calculate, share and store information, stay connected to countless types of electrical current (both wired and wireless), precisely and efficiently measure/record, organize and shape materials and even automate processes in our daily lives and on larger scales. With such rapid and diverse expansion in the power and capabilities of our machines and the evolution of the industry of mass-produced highly-integrated systems that are more powerful every year, how can we be expected to stay connected to our natural world?

Many have tried to argue that technology is natural, and in some sense of the word that’s very true; all equipment is made from natural resources after all. That said, there is quite a lot of processing and refining that occurs between the mining of precious minerals, oil fracking and harvesting of legitimately natural resources in the creation of new hardware. How many people and machines alike have contributed to the long production line to enable this amount of complexity in what should be very simple devices. My point is that we cannot consider ourselves sustainable as a species if we are this dependent on highly refined and proprietary tech. I hope for a world where we don’t have ports, there are no operating systems and we have no need for software updates or integrated hardware replacement. It’s fully unrealistic to even hope for a full return to our natural roots, so I won’t recommend that. Instead, can we find a compromise? How about tech that integrates more seamlessly with nature, using trees and their leaves for solar power, storing data and power in resources like water or some kind of abundant and universally-occurring source?

I am very excited about our GoalZero Solar power devices as well as the OutdoorTech lineup has some great rechargeable products. Apple is doing what they can to simplify computer use and they’ve made huge leaps and bounds in the past 10 years alone, the question really is – where do we go from here?

Never forget that technically all we need to survive is shelter, food and water. Entertainment, creative expression and social connection are of course hallmarks of a good life, and use of technology to help make our lives more enjoyable, efficient and fulfilling is only natural. We must always ask ourselves – is our technology living up to those goals? Come in and let’s philosophize about it. We are living in the future and we have the power to change the world and support a truly sustainable lifestyle. I know it’s possible to integrate nature and tech in ways that we cannot even fully conceptualize yet, so if you’re an explorer like me, let’s work together to rethink the way we connect with electronics.

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Beware Of Counterfeit Cables

Earlier this week I had a customer asking me about an inexpensive cable for their Mac. Their current charging cable had finally stopped worked and they were looking for a replacement. I honestly can’t tell you how many times over the years I have had to answer the question about what other option besides the Apple branded charging cable for their Mac, iPhone or iPad. The short answer is there are very few. When it comes to your MagSafe charger the answer is pretty straight forward. You absolutely want to buy the Apple charger. If your shopping on the internet or walk into a store and find a killer deal on a charger it’s very likely it’s a knock off and there are legitimate dangers with these too-good-to-be-true chargers.

I’ve seen in our service department over the years a handful of Apple lookalike MagSafe chargers. It’s usually a minor detail in the manufacturing that tips us off it’s not authentic. The real problem with these chargers and iOS chargers is the risk of fire. Eventually many of us will end up with cables that need replacing. With both your computer’s MagSafe and your iOS charging cable a common failure is the wires becoming frayed and exposed. Once the wires become exposed you do want to replace them rather than trying to repair or just cover them with electrical tape. The electrical tape trick can work for a little bit, but you’re still at risk for a short and in extreme cases you can end up damaging your charging port or even worse cause the device to catch fire.

When you are looking to replace your cables, there are alternatives besides the Apple Lightning or 30pin charger, but you want to make sure you can identify a counterfeit or uncertified cable before making the purchase. Another tip for purchasing a non-Apple cable for your iOS device is to stick with a manufacturer you have heard of like Belkin or Griffin.

Lastly you can do a few things to try and extend the life of your cables as long as you can. Proper cable management is often not discussed. Some of us prefer to keep cables neat and tidy, others just throw them in a drawer and when we find a place to plug them in just make sure the device can reach the port. It’s very important to make sure that you don’t wrap your cables too tight and force tension right at the connector. I’m forever reminding my kids not to use their devices while charging in a manner that the wire right at the lighting cable is bent at a 90 degree angle. This will surely cause the cable to bend and fray in no time. It’s also important to disconnect the cable by grabbing it right at the plug verses just grabbing it from any old spot and tugging.

Follow these quick tips and steps and you’ll be sure to continue safely charging your devices. Our charging cables go through a lot in a lifetime and they are ultimately fragile accessories.

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