Barkings! | The Small Dog Apple Blog

A blog about our business, our industry, and our lives. You'll find posts from everyone at Small Dog and if the dogs could blog, they'd be here, too!

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Great Values on Configure to Order 21-inch iMacs!

We have only a handful of these configure-to-order 21-inch iMacs available. There are two configurations in stock and ready for immediate shipping.

The first takes the stock 500MB hard drive and doubles it to 1 TB. This unit has the Intel 1.4GHz processor and 8GB of RAM, too. It is $1149 but if you couple that with AppleCare not only will you save $30 off the normal price of AppleCare, but you will also qualify for our Dads & Grads promotion and get a $50 Small Dog Gift card which you can use to add other peripherals to your order. I might suggest adding SafeWare Protection plan at $99 which, as an add-on to AppleCare, will protect your iMac from accidental damage for a period of 3-years.

This iMac is $1149.99, AppleCare is $169.99 but you get $30 off so that is $139.99 so the total for this 21-inch iMac is $1289.99 and you get a $50 Small Dog Gift Card, too! Only 2 of these are available.

Buy it here

Maybe you need even more power and RAM? We have a couple of the 21-inch models of this iMac with 2.7 GHz processor, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB drive for $1499.99. Same deal applies, buy AppleCare and we will cut $30 off the AppleCare price and you get a $50 Small Dog Gift Card. Total for this deal is $1589.99!

Buy it here

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Electronic Signing Made Easy

I was at a customer’s office the other day helping to set up their new Mac system. It was a busy construction company and they needed help getting wireless scanning operational. I noticed that they were using Adobe Reader for their PDF files, so I introduced them to Preview. Once I set the Finder to open PDF files with Preview instead of Reader, I showed them how to access the scanner to scan documents right from Preview.

As I had them practice this, I noticed that much of their scanning needs were for documents that they would print out, sign, scan and then email to clients. When I showed them how to use the “signature” function in Preview they immediately saw the value and time saved. So, I know many of you already know how to use this tool, but I thought I would go over it so you too can use your electronic signature.

Preview is used to view and edit PDFs and images, import images from a camera, import documents and images from a scanner, add pages to a PDF and also to take screen shots. When you have a PDF that needs your signature, the old way of doing this would be to print out the PDF, sign it, scan it and send it back. With Preview you can skip some of that work. You can capture your signature using your trackpad or better yet, using your camera on your Mac.

To create your signature you can simply click on the Sign button on the Markup Toolbar, select Manage Signatures to create a new signature. Or you can go to Tools > Annotate > Signature > Manage Signatures. When you select Create Signature you have a choice of trackpad or camera. While signing on your trackpad is okay, I prefer the camera method. Here you take a white piece of paper and sign it. Then click on Camera as the means of capturing your signature and hold up that piece of paper to the camera on your Mac. Once you align the signature on the blue line you can hit Done and your signature is stored. If you don’t like the first try, click Clear and do over.

To add your signature to a PDF document click on the Sign button or use the path Tools > Annotate > Signature to select the signature. Once it has been placed on the document you can drag it to where you want it, then use the handles to adjust its size. Save the document and you can include it in an email with your signature. Remember that the Save As command is sort of hidden now but to get to it simply hold down the Option key when you select File.

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The Safety and Security of your Personal Information

With all the headlines these days about data breaches, hackers, and spyware it is understandable that the safety of your information in cyberspace is on everyone’s mind these days. When we hear about companies such as TJ Maxx, Target and, most recently, TurboTax (hmm…companies that begin with the letter “t”…) getting hacked and potentially losing critical customer information, it can make consumers hesitant to use a lot of this brilliant new technology.

Here are a few ways Apple ensures the safety of your information and a few tips on how to protect your information:

Passwords, passwords, passwords…they can be the bane of our existence and are so hard to remember: “What password did I use for this site?? Is it case sensitive?? Did I use letters or numbers?? Holy cow that’s a lot to remember. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!?!? That’s the same combination I have on my luggage!!!”

The strength of your password goes a long way towards protecting your information. As you might imagine, a password like “password1234” is not a very strong password. As time goes by, the requirements for passwords have become stricter and stricter as criminals devise more and more ingenious ways to steal your information. I personally recommend using a name and a year to begin with. This ensures its an easy password to remember, but not easy for someone to guess. Make certain it’s at least 8 characters. Add a capital letter and a special character to your password to make it even stronger! For example “Jenny5309!” is an example of a strong password. It has more than 8 characters, a combination of letters and numbers, a capital letter and a special character. It would be difficult for anyone to guess (unless they happen to have a family member named Jenny who was born in September of 1953.) It’s easy for you to remember because you do!

Oh and FYI, nobody at Apple, or Small Dog Electronics has access to your passwords. If anyone ever calls or emails and asks you to give them your passwords, please feel free to refuse that information to ANYONE. That goes for any other password you use, whether it be for your email or your bank account.

Ahh, the iCloud, is it up in the sky? Where exactly IS this cloud and will it follow me around dropping rain on me wherever I go??

Here’s a great source of information on iCloud.

Our main concern here is the security of your information. The iCloud uses a minimum of 128-bit encryption and as much as 256-bit to safeguard your information. What is encryption you ask? In the simplest of terms, your computer uses your password like a key to unlock your information. In the case of 128-bit encryption, your computer has THE single key to unlock ONE lock out of a possibility of 6 trillion locks. That’s trillion with a T! As you can imagine, that is a great number of locks to try to pick. Major financial institutions, the government and the military also use between 128 and 256-bit encryption.

One of the major benefits of owning an Apple computer rather than a PC has always been they are less susceptible to viruses, trojans, malware, and other nasty bugs out there. This is still true, however some still slip through. These programs can wreak havoc on your system and cause general headaches all around.

“Lets be careful out there.” This applies to the internet as well as the mean streets. Use strong privacy settings on social media sites. Use caution when entering financial information online. Look for a tiny picture of a padlock in the bottom right hand corner of the page you are on. Another way to tell if a site is secure is the web address. Sites with a web address that begins with https let you know the site is secure. Make sure your operating system stays up to date and your firewall is active.

If you start to get pop ups, advertisements, and other annoyances don’t fret; there is an easy fix. Follow these steps to rid your computer of theses hooligans by following these steps to the letter.

Woof, arf, woof! (Don’t forget to have fun!)

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Keeping Tabs on Friends & Family

Sometimes it’s important for loved ones and friends to know your location. Whether it is for safety reasons or just because you just like knowing where they might be while running errands, iOS 8 and your iPhone make it super-simple. There are two ways to let your friends know where you are at any given time with iOS 8 and an app you use every day: Messages.

Simply launch the Messages app on your iPhone and tap into a conversation or create a new one. Once there, tap on the Details button in the upper right. Once you’re on the Details screen, you can send or share your location with the two blue buttons.

  • Send your location immediately:

Tapping “send my current location” will immediately send a map image with your location pinpointed by a red pin. The location will show up on your friend’s iPhone right away, just like any other photo message.

  • Share your location details with people over a prescribed amount of time:

If you’d like to give your friend rights to see your location over a select period of time, choose “Share My Location”. You’ll be prompted to select from the following options: Share…

1.) for One Hour
2.) Until End of Day
3.) Indefinitely

Once chosen, your friend will have permission to see where you are for that period of time. Now you’ll be able to “bump” into your best friend while out and about. I use this feature when traveling long distances so my hosts know when to expect me without having to send a text saying “be there in 5 min”. Super-easy and no more effort than using your Messages app. Hooray for not needing to install another app!

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Keychain Access, an Essential Tool

I have been doing more onsite installations and lessons down here in Key West. So many times as I start to help a customer we run into the password roadblock. I was at a customer’s home yesterday and needed to set up her email and iCloud account. I asked for the administrator password for her Mac and she went to a little pile of sticky notes and tried to find the right one and the scene was repeated for each password we needed. I then proceeded to show her Keychain Access and I could see the light bulb hovering above her head as she understood the value of this app from Apple.

Mac OS X supports what are known as keychains: secure storage lockers for certificates, passwords, or any small bits of information to be kept private. The primary purpose of a keychain is to remember passwords for various applications and accounts such as mail and ftp servers, web sites, or encrypted disk images. The basic idea is that a single password, the keychain password, is used to unlock access to all passwords stored in that keychain.

I keep Keychain Access in my dock and use it all the time to find passwords, banking information, or secure notes. To find Keychain Access you follow this path: Finder > Applications > Utilities > Keychain Access. I do recommend that once you find it that you drag it to your dock, because once you start using it, you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

With the advent of iCloud and OS X 10.9 Mavericks, Apple made Keychain even more valuable as iCloud Keychain lets you share your Keychain in the iCloud so you can access it from all of your devices. I wish there was an app like Keychain Access on your iOS devices but still, it is awful handy to have your device automatically remember your password for websites, etc.

When you launch Keychain Access you will see that the window is divided into three panes. The top-left pane lists keychains accessible to you. Below this is the Category pane. Here you can choose to view specific kinds of things stored in the keychain: passwords, secure notes, certificates associated with your account, encryption keys, and certificates used by your Mac. The largest pane, to the right, displays the contents of selected category items—for example, all of the items that have a password associated with them. Except in the case of certificates, you can double-click on one of these items to open a window where you can view the item’s attributes: name, kind, associated account, location (a website or network address), as well as its access control.

Keychain Access can do a lot of useful things. For example, if you’ve forgotten a password and would like to recover it, Keychain Access is the place to go. To learn the identity of a password, select All Items or Passwords in the Category pane, then find the the item you want the password for and double-click it. In the resulting window, enable the Show Password option. You will be prompted for the password for the login keychain which is either your login password or the administrator password (which will be the same if you are an admin user on your machine). Enter that and click Allow, and the password will be revealed in the Password field.

I have just scratched the surface of this great utility, perhaps we will go into some more technical detail in our sister eNewsletter, Tech Tails or in a future issue of Kibbles & Bytes. But if you are not using Keychain to its full potential, I suggest dragging it to your dock and checking it out!


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