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Going into Airplane Mode: Flying with Technology

Since 2013, we’ve been able to use handheld electronic devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and Kindle at pretty much all times during airplane flights, including takeoff and landing. That was a big change from previous FAA policy, which banned the use of personal electronic devices below 10,000 feet, forcing passengers to occupy themselves with books and magazines at the start and end of flights.

But now flight attendants ask us to put our devices into “airplane mode.” You probably know how to do this on your iOS device, but if not, here’s how. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up Control Center, and tap the Airplane Mode button at the top left. Or open the Settings app and enable the Airplane Mode switch that’s the very first option. When you land, use the same controls to turn it off again.

What does airplane mode do? It disables the wireless features of your device to comply with airline regulations. Specifically, it turns off the cellular voice and data features of your iPhone or iPad, and on all iOS devices it turns off both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. However, only the cellular features are important to your airline—you can re-enable both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth at any time. That might be useful if you want to use the airplane’s Wi-Fi network for Internet access (usually for a fee) or Bluetooth to play music over wireless headphones.

To turn these wireless features back on, tap the grayed-out Wi-Fi and Bluetooth buttons in Control Center, or flip their switches in Settings > Wi-Fi and Settings > Bluetooth. Don’t bother turning them on unless you’re going to use them, though, since you’ll save a little battery life by leaving them off for the duration of a long flight.

Why do the airlines care about cellular? It has little to do with airplane safety; the prohibition on their use comes from the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, not the Federal Aviation Administration. The reason is that fast-moving cell phones used high in the air may light up many cell towers at once, which can confuse the mobile phone network.

The technical solution is akin to what the airlines do to provide Internet access now; a device called a “picocell” would be installed on the airplane to provide connectivity with the phone network, and cell phones on the plane would communicate with it instead of individual cell towers on the ground below. Will it happen, though?

The FCC has proposed that it would allow cell phone use on properly equipped planes; however, the thought of fellow passengers having phone conversations during flight fills many people with dread. Many lawmakers in the United States oppose allowing passengers to make and receive phone calls during flight, citing concerns about cabin safety, a worry echoed by the flight attendants union. Even FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has acknowledged this, saying “I get it. I don’t want the person in the seat next to me yapping at 35,000 feet any more than anyone else.” So don’t expect that rule to change.

If you’re allowed to use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, why do the airlines make you stow your MacBook Air during takeoff and landing? It has nothing to do with the technology—the airlines ban laptops during times when there could be an emergency landing because they could, like carry-on luggage or lowered tray tables, impede evacuation.


I got my start in using computers with CPM operating system and keyboard shortcuts were present there. I used them all the time so they come as second nature to me. But as I go out and talk with customers and help them with their Macs, I am surprised by the number of people that do not know that most of the things you can do with your mouse by clicking on a menu item can be done faster with keyboard shortcuts.

The first thing to learn about shortcuts are the symbols that are used to show these keys.

Command ⌘
Shift ⇧
Option ⌥
Control ⌃
Caps Lock ⇪

These work for your Mac Keyboard but if you are using a keyboard made for a Windows machine you need to substitute the Windows logo for the Command key and the Alt key for the option key. When you look at a menu in almost any application you will find the common commands for all these symbols next to them to indicate the keyboard shortcut. Here are some common ones:

Command-X Cut Remove the selected item
Command-C Copy the selected item
Command-V Paste the contents
Command-Z Undo the previous command
Command-A Select all items
Command-F Find open a Find window
Command-G Find Again Find the next occurrence of the item previously found
Command-H Hide the windows of the front app.
Command-M Minimize the front window to the dock
Command-M New Open a new document or window
Command-P Print the current document

Command-Space bar Spotlight show or hide the spotlight search field
Command-Tab Switch apps switch to the next most recently used app
Command-shift-3 Screenshot take a screenshot of the entire screen

As you can see, there are endless keyboard shortcuts to use, and these are only a small fraction of what you can do with keyboard shortcuts. So the next time you find yourself wondering what you can do if your mouse suddenly stops working or if your just looking for a more efficient way to do something, keyboard shortcuts might just be what your looking for!

You have a password for the online banking, one for your Apple ID, one to log into your retirement amount. Your password for your bank has to have have at least one numeric number, but can’t start with a number and it can’t have any more than two of the same characters found in your username. Your retirement account must include at least 3 numbers and one special character but they can’t be consecutive.

Does this sound familiar? In the perfect world we would only need one password, but unfortunately for security purposes and as hackers get better at what they do password strength has become critical and part of our everyday lives. The hassle with this is that most sites have their own sets of rules for password strength leaving many of us to peck away at our keyboards or devices in a sometimes endless game of “remember how you manipulated your favorite password 16 different ways and can’t remember if your banking site used the password with the capitalization or the one with the ampersand”.

For a very long time I will admit my method of keeping track of my usernames and passwords was the stickies program on my Mac, much to the dismay of our IT manager! While stickies are easily accessed they are not secure and I do not recommend this method. Where you should keep them is in your keychain. You can access your keychain through applications and then utilities. Once you are in your keychain you can manually add preferred sites, accounts and passwords you wish to store. Another huge benefit is secure notes. Secure notes allow you store additional confidential information. Keychain is safe and secure because in order to view any of the passwords stored there you need to enter your administrator password. Within keychain you can make sure to safely and securely keep your passwords, and when you forget if you needed that capitalization or ampersand in your password you can simply open keychain and enter into the search field the website for which you need to confirm the password.

Now what if you don’t have a mac? The loss of passwords, and most often your Apple ID password is a huge concern with users of iOS devices only. Luckily there is an easy solution for that, iCloud and iCloud keychain. Simply go to settings, iCloud and then select keychain. Your iOS device will begin to store your logins and websites. Additionally you can add specific websites and passwords manually to your phone or iPad under safari and then selecting passwords. This is also where you would look if you can’t remember login information.

Recording safely your logins and passwords is an often overlooked step, especially when users of iOS devices accidentally have the device damaged or lost. Saving your passwords safely and using iCloud keychain can avert your being logged out of accounts.

When a customer buys a new Mac, there’s often a question of what to do about the old data. All that old data is all that stuff that made your old machine yours: it’s the settings, the pictures, saved web page bookmarks, documents, spreadsheets…all that stuff.

Frequently a Mac-to-Mac data transfer can be done without any special equipment or advanced knowledge. The easiest way is to use Apple’s Migration Assistant which is a program built into OS X, and is on every new Mac. When setting up a new Mac (or any Mac that’s been reset to factory settings, generally from the disk being wiped and the OS being reinstalled) it’ll prompt you to make a decision.

The top option is to transfer data from a start up disk or Time Machine backup. If you’re already doing a Time Machine backup to an external HDD this is the best option, just make sure your backup is completely up to date. If it’s behind, any changes you’ve made won’t show up on your new machine when the transfer completes. Once you’ve identified the drive you want the data to come from it goes through and calculates the sizes of everything on that older drive. You’ve got a little control of what comes over, like whether or not you want the entire Applications folder, but nothing more specific than that. It’ll also tell you how much available space will be left over, or if there’s more data on the source drive than the destination.

I recommend using a Time Machine backup drive (any external HDD that has a Time Machine backup on it) because it’ll be useful for backups on the new machine. It’ll even see that it’s a new machine that has all the same data and ask if you want to keep using the same Time Machine backup; this is call inheriting.

Alternatively, you can put the source machine into Target Disk Mode by pressing the T key when the machine is booting and having it connected to the destination machine through Thunderbolt or FireWire. Target disk mode only works through Thunderbolt and FireWire, don’t bother trying anything else. I’ve wasted enough time for us all: it’s not supported. If you’re transferring data from a machine with FireWire but no Thunderbolt to a new Mac that only has Thunderbolt you can get a Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter, but that’ll run you $30 and you might not have another use for it after the data migration. You could also use a Thunderbolt cable, but that’ll also run you at least $30, and again, you might not have another use for it, that’s why I recommend an external HDD. If you’re not doing a backup, it’s worth the peace of mind, and simplifies data transfers.

If the sadness and shock of the terrorist attacks in Paris were not enough, I was in shock this week as Islamaphobia and fear overwhelmed politicians and citizens. Some politicians were tripping over themselves to stoke the flames of fear by turning on the Syrian refugees. I don’t know about you but if I lived in Syria and there was a war in my neighborhood with madmen from both sides going berserk, I’d be a refugee, too. Oh, by the way, did you know that Steve Jobs father was a Syrian refugee?

This was seemingly fueled by what turns out to be a very sketchy report that one of the terrorists posed as a refugee. That has since been discredited but the conclusion jumping was already in full swing. Some politicians tried even to separate their distain for refugees by religion but there is no religion that makes terrorism its creed and there have been terrorist from many religions. It is when hypocritical fanatics of any religion feel that they can impose their will upon others that conflicts arise.

Way back when the USA was young, our friends in France sent us a gift. The Statue of Liberty proudly stands by our shores with the inscription that defines who we are as a nation:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to be free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

When we succumb to the fear the terrorists win. When we change who we are, the terrorists have won. When we let prejudice trump common sense, the terrorists have won. We must lead by example and the example of shunning refugees is the wrong one. In the height of the worst terror since WWII, President Hollande of France recommitted to taking Syrian refugees saying “We have to reinforce our borders while remaining true to our values.”

We cannot change who we are – unless you are a native American, you are a descendant of refugees and immigrants. This anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, anti-refugee wave of fear is unAmerican and is born of ignorance and hate.

How do you feel about this trend towards exclusion of refugees and immigrants? Share your opinion at our blog –

End Soapbox


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