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Remind Me Again

Apple designed the built-in Reminders app as a list-keeping assistant for both macOS and iOS. You can add reminders of any sort to the default Reminders list, or you can create custom lists, like Groceries or Movies to Watch. Plus, if you’ve set up Family Sharing, you also have a shared family list that everyone in your family can access. I can see that being handy if you have kids but I am gonna hide that from Grace because she will fill up my list!

Making reminders is easy enough, but they can be easy to lose track of, and you may have to hunt through a number of lists to find any given one. How can you be certain that you won’t forget a particular to-do item? One technique that works well is to add a time trigger to the reminder. Time triggers cause your Apple devices to alert you to the reminder, and as an added benefit, they make it easier to find associated reminders.

Say you want to remind yourself to buy tickets to Halestorm’s next concert. To include a trigger in your reminder, you can get Siri’s assistance by mentioning a time in your request: “Remind me to get tickets at 10 AM tomorrow.” Or, when you add the reminder manually, pick a day and time. After creating the reminder, hover over it or tap it, tap the i button that appears, and the option to be reminded on a day. Then, on a Mac, click the preset day and time to adjust them. In iOS, tap Alarm and set a day and time. Unless the specific time matters, pick a general time that’s early in the day, like 10 AM.

Because your reminder includes a time, it appears not only in the list where you added it but also in the special Scheduled list. That’s important!

Now imagine that it’s first thing tomorrow morning and you’re trying to plan your day. You can either check the Scheduled list in Reminders or ask Siri: “Show me my reminders for today.” Once you see your day’s reminders, you can just do the easy ones, plan them into your day, or reschedule them for another day.

Of course, since you’ve assigned a time-based trigger to these reminders, Apple’s Notifications feature comes into play. At the appropriate time, your Apple devices can display an alert that you must dismiss, show a banner that disappears quickly, or play a sound.

Reminders can make it easy to remember important tasks, but try these tips if you need help:

  • For reminders created on one device to trigger notifications on another, set up your iCloud account on both devices must have Reminders on. Do this on the Mac in System Preferences > iCloud. In iOS, tap Settings > Your Apple ID Name > iCloud (if your copy of iOS isn’t up-to-date, tap Settings > iCloud). Plus, the reminders must be on a list that’s stored in iCloud.
  • If you use Siri to make reminders, specify the list where those reminders will be added if you don’t speak its name. On the Mac, choose Reminders > Default List. In iOS, go to Settings > Reminders > Default List.
    Configure Mac notifications in System Preferences > Notifications. At the left, select Reminders and then make your choices at the right. The Alerts alert style is the easiest to notice. Set up iOS notifications in Settings > Notifications > Reminders. Turn on the Allow Notifications switch. For best results, turn on Show on Lock Screen and select Alerts under “Alert Style When Unlocked.”

  • On your iPhone, to see a different Reminders list, tap the “stack” of lists at the bottom of the screen.

Remind me again why I need those reminders? Well, since I always have a device handy (literally in the case of the Apple Watch!) it is easy to keep track of my “Honey Dos” and the important stuff, too!

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Capture Perfect Photos With Burst Mode

Have you struggled with getting the perfect photo? How many times have we all struggled with a group photo you have to take multiple times because someone blinked, someone yawned or that toddler in front just wouldn’t stay still? Taking photos of animals like dogs and horses can be equally frustrating. One moment it’s the perfect shot, the next they moved or you just keep snapping that photo at the wrong time.

The more an object for your photo is moving the harder it is to get the perfect shot. Images get blurry, you capture just half of the body or any number of other factors that take your photo memory from frame worthy to trash can bound. I’ve long considered myself an average photographer. I’ve purchased a few high end cameras over the years but I never practiced or used the cameras long enough to understand what the settings really do and why. Thanks to the iPhone I really do look like a better photographer than I really am!

Professional photographers shooting sports or even wildlife have been using burst mode features on their cameras to take photos in quick succession for decades, but it typically meant this feature also went along with a very expensive camera set up. Film cameras required a motor to advance the film quickly enough, but now everything is digital. A burst mode simply needs enough processing power and storage space to record frame after frame. Your iPhone or iPad has this capability and is incredibly easy to activate burst mode.

The secret hidden trick to using burst mode on your iPhone or iPad is less hidden than you might realize and it’s likely you activated the feature a times without even realizing it. Rather than pressing the shutter button once, just hold it. The longer you hold it down, the more burst photos you will get. You’ll hear a distinctive and continuous sound of the shutter quickly taking photos.

Your iPhone can capture 10 frames per second, so just 2.5 seconds of photos can turn into 25 in burst mode. Sometimes the only challenge to burst mode is sorting through all of the photos and selecting the ones that you want. Do note that Photos appear stacked when your looking at them. When you select the photos you will want to then look for the word “select” so that Photos will then display all of the images caught during your burst.

Once you have hit “select” and start to look through all the photos you will see the typical circle image in the bottom right hand corner. As your going through the images simply tap on the circle for any photo you want to keep, it will then display in blue. Once you hit the Done button you will then be asked if you want to keep just the favorites you selected or if you want to keep everything. I normally keep just the ones that I have selected as my favorites.

One warning. If you use iCloud Photo Library or My Photo Stream to sync photos between devices it might take some times for all the photos in the burst shots to move from iPhone to Mac. Whoops, one more! If you are using My Photo Stream to transfer photos to your Mac only those photos that you’ve marked as a favorite will transfer. To set it so entire bursts transfer automatically, open Settings > Photos & Camera and enable upload photo bursts.

Give bursts a try this summer, you never know what unexpected photo moments you might end up discovering.

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It's A Mesh

Most of you probably have a single Wi-Fi router that might be an Apple Airport Base station or the DSL or Cable modem provided by your internet provider. Your router might be in one corner of your house, or like me down in the cellar. By the time your Wi-Fi signal finds its way up to the other corner of the house you may find that the speed is slow and your signal is not particularly reliable.

The solution to this has been to add an extender or something like the Apple Airport Express to extend the network. That works but it can be a bit complex to set it up so that you have reliable signal. With Apple apparently exiting the wireless network router business (the Airport Extreme was last upgraded in 2013) it is time for a new paradigm in home networking.

Enter mesh networking. A mesh network could solve most, if not all, of your Wi-Fi problems. It’s basically a system of multiple Wi-Fi stations that work together to blanket every corner of your home with a strong, reliable Wi-Fi connection.

Unlike your cable modem router or Airport Extreme that loses signal the farther you are from it, mesh nodes piggyback on one another to create a continuous wireless link throughout your home, making dead zones rare.

Mesh networking has these advantages:

  • Using fewer wires means it costs less to set up a network, particularly for large areas of coverage.
  • The more nodes you install, the bigger and faster your wireless network becomes.
  • They rely on the same WiFi standards (802.11a, b and g) already in place for most wireless networks.
  • They are convenient where Ethernet wall connections are lacking
  • They are useful for Non-Line-of-Sight (NLoS) network configurations where wireless signals are intermittently blocked.
  • Mesh networks are “self configuring;” the network automatically incorporates a new node into the existing structure without needing any adjustments by a network administrator.
  • Mesh networks are “self healing,” since the network automatically finds the fastest and most reliable paths to send data, even if nodes are blocked or lose their signal.
  • Wireless mesh configurations allow local networks to run faster, because local packets don’t have to travel back to a central server.
  • Wireless mesh nodes are easy to install and uninstall, making the network extremely adaptable and expandable as more or less coverage is needed.

How does a a mesh system work? First, you connect a primary base station to your broadband modem via ethernet cable from the modem to the primary base station. Then, you connect satellite stations or nodes in areas where you might get weak coverage. These nodes can be connected to ethernet if you have your house wired for ethernet but who does that anymore? Otherwise, they plug into the wall for power and gain their signal wirelessly.

Let’s say your primary base station is downstairs in the kitchen, and you have a satellite station in the upstairs bedroom. When you are in the bedroom and watching Netflix on your MacBook, the primary base station retrieves the streaming data and bounces it to the satellite station, which then beams it to your Mac in the bedroom in what’s known as a hop.

Importantly, in addition to expanding your Wi-Fi range, a mesh system helps your device automatically connect to the strongest station as you move around in the house. When you’re in the kitchen, your iPhone will automatically get its signal from the station there; when you move to the bedroom, your iPhone will seamlessly switch to the station there.

We sell the Eero mesh network and there are also similar systems from Google, DLink and others. Eero is very easy to set up with their iPhone app which will walk you through setting up an account and adding nodes around the house. The app monitors your network so you can see what’s happening, check device usage, diagnose and fix issues and even set up parental controls to limit usage, say in your teen’s room. With parental controls you can create an “internet pause” or just shut the whole thing down. Just like with the AirPort Extreme you can also set up a guest network.

While you are awaiting Apple’s HomePod, if you are like me you have Amazon Echo. Eero will also work with Alexa where you can ask Alexa to pause the internet or find your iPhone.

Mesh networking is the way to go if you are updating your network, having problems with coverage or installing a new network. It is probably overkill if you live in a studio apartment but you could still buy just a single unit to take advantage of the ease of set-up and tools for managing your Wi-Fi.

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Summertime Advisories

Summertime is just around the corner, and when Mother Nature decides to cooperate, those hot summer days spent basking in the sunshine are not far off. Living in the information age, naturally we love to take our portable devices with us everywhere we go. How else are your friends going to know you spent your day on the beach sipping margaritas in the sunshine if you don’t bring your phone or tablet and snap of few photos of the occasion?

With this in mind, it’s crucial to be conscious of the effects direct sunlight and excessively high temperatures can have on your electronic devices. iPhones for example are designed to run from 32-95 degrees Fahrenheit. However, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can raise the temperature to critical levels if left unattended and unprotected for too long. This can cause a number of issues in both the long and short term. Issues ranging from a sharp decrease in overall battery life to permanently damaging the display.

However, if you happen to notice your device is hot to the touch here are some steps you may consider to prevent long term damage:

  • Remove your device from any protective cases
  • Close out of applications you don’t need running
  • Turn off Bluetooth/Wifi
  • Keep it out of excessively warm environments
  • Do NOT put your device in the refrigerator or freezer to counterbalance the temperature issue.

Lets keep those devices cool and dry this summer!

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Where Do I Find My Photos?

Have you ever spent what feels like hours looking for a specific photo? You might remember some foggy details about the photo like where it was taken or who was in the photo, but perhaps you don’t remember when you took that photo. I have definitely logged hours in the last year trying to find a photo I remember partial details of, but can’t locate the actual photo within Photos. I would love to say that I am the super organized photographer, but I am far from that. I do not create albums unless I need to create one for a specific event. I don’t even delete the bad photos on a regular basis. This leaves me to scrolling through literally thousands of photos looking for just the right one. Honestly I’ve just never taken the time to really organize my photos. Thankfully, in some regards there is no need to have an extensive organizational program with a few simple built-in features within Photos. With basic information like who is in the photo, where the photo was taken or even how the photo was taken, you can quickly narrow down your search.

People

By default most photos are simply organized by date. This is helpful for a quick search through photos, but it’s not terribly specific. You might find dates associated with some photos are simply the date it was downloaded to Photos, it might not actually be the date it was taken. Photos has a surprisingly accurate system for facial recognition. It’s located under albums and simply called People. Without having to specifically tag individuals within my Photos I had default faces generically categorized. I also found it interesting that as I looked at the pictures of my kids, they were actually separated by age. Both my kids had a few different sets of photos depending on their age, kind of neat! However it’s not efficient to have multiple categories for one person, so I simply renamed each group according to whomever was featured in the photos and merged to a single group per person. You can easily ‘tag’ people in specific photos by selecting the photo by double clicking, then select the ‘i’ with the circle around it to tag a face. The photo will now be easily found under people and the individual’s name.

Places

For this feature to work you do need to have location services turned on within the camera app on your phone. You can make sure this feature is turned on by going into Settings > Privacy > Location Services. If you select the ‘places’ option under albums a map shows up. The map shows the number of photos in a generic location. For example in my album it showed 483 photos taken in the Florida area. I simply double clicked near the photo in the Florida section of the map and it begins to break down the locations, I ultimately double clicked the state of Florida 3 times and it showed a how many photos and where photos were taken when I was in Florida this winter. Double clicking on the little bubble above a photo with a number it will open all of the photos taken. This is very handy if you know you want to look back for a specific photo taken in a location. Even better, I didn’t have to do anything other than make sure location services were turned on.

Depth Effect, Slow-Mo and More

Another built in organizational feature that requires nothing on your part to organize is how you took the photo. I take a lot of depth-effect photos, so if I want to only look at those pictures I just have to scroll down to Depth Effect under albums. Instantly I can see all of the photos that were taken using this effect. The same goes for Panoramic, Slow-Mo and Selfies. I know I rarely remember how I specifically took a photo or when I might have used an effect such as Slow-Mo, so it’s fun and easy to look up some of these images.

Taking advantage of some already built in organizational features within Photos can really reduce your time and headaches when looking for a specific photo. Even better, you don’t have to spend extended periods of time setting up some more in depth and basic organizational options. A few simple clicks can make your life significantly easier and even better makes you look a lot more organized than you perhaps are.

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