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El Capitan

As I mentioned I have been using the beta version of Mac OS X 10.11 for some weeks and I thought, now that the public beta is released, that it might be a good time to review what’s new in El Capitan. I am going to do this by highlighting a few of the features that I already use and have become such a part of my Mac experience that they don’t seem new anymore.

Shut up!

What is more annoying than following a link to a web site and suddenly being bombarded with some automatically started video blasting audio? If you are like me, you may have several tabs open in Safari and finding that annoying one has been a pain. Well with El Capitan it is simple. When one of those tabs has audio, the tab shows the audio button and you can click on it to mute the audio. The address bar also has an audio icon where you can mute all or select which audio stream to mute or listen to.


The Notes app is so improved that I am actually using it more extensively now. Most importantly, a note I create on my iPhone is available on my Mac or iPad. Not only that but the things I can put into my notes are actually useful. I can add a photo, a URL, a map location or even a video to a note and it is on all my devices. Checklists, websites, ideas for the next Kibbles & Bytes and directions can all be saved. As I am planning my trip out west and find interesting places to go or places to spend the night, I can add them to my “Sturgis” note and easily use Maps to guide me to them. I think you are going to love the new Notes app.


Spotlight is just better. Who needs Google when you have Spotlight? Whether you are searching for a file on your drive, baseball statistics, transit information, weather, stocks or just some obscure trivia to settle a bet Spotlight is there for you and now you can ask that question in you own words. Like, “find that Note I wrote about Sturgis” and boom, there it is. Here’s a list of all the places you can search with Spotlight in El Capitan. You can turn these on and off as needed:

Bing Web Searches
Bookmarks and History
Events & Reminders
Mail & Messages
PDF Documents
Spotlight Suggestions
System Preferences

Shake that Thing

I use a dual monitor set up. I have an Apple 27-inch display and a stand for my MacBook Air that makes for one large extended desktop. Sometimes, I lose my cursor and that sometimes leads to inadvertent clicks. I never thought I would say that I would find this trick useful but with El Capitan if you jiggle your mouse or trackpad your cursor grows bigger and becomes apparent so you can get back on track.

I’ll cover more of the new features in Kibbles & Bytes as we head towards the official release of El Capitan.

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Getting Ready for El Capitan

Downloading the latest Mac OS this next week is the easy part. Unless you start the download when another 2 million people are doing the same thing, Apple makes the upgrade process very painless. And of course, it is free, too! There are some steps you should consider as you prepare for El Capitan to make it a smooth process.

Yes, I am shouting! Back up your data all the time but especially whenever you are updating your operating system. We have talked endlessly about how fabulous Time Machine is as a tool to back up your data. DO IT NOW. Upgrading to El Capitan is a great excuse to make a fresh back up of your priceless data.

Do you know who you are?

Do you know your Apple ID and the password? You are going to need that to upgrade. It will be asked for when you start the download and you will also be asked for it during the El Capitan and iCould setup. If you wrote it down on that little scrap of paper that is somewhere in your wallet, now would be a good time to find it.

How Old is Your Mac?

Sorry, that old SE 30 will not support El Capitan so you should make sure that you know if your Mac will support the new operating system. Here’s a list of the supported machines:

iMac (mid-2007 or newer)
MacBook (late 2008 Aluminum, or early 2009 or newer)
MacBook Air (late 2008 or newer)
MacBook Pro (mid- to late 2007 or newer)
Mac Mini (early 2009 or newer)
Mac Pro (early 2008 or newer)

If you do not know your model you can go under the Apple menu and select About This Mac and if you are running Yosemite you will see something like this screen shot that will show you the vintage of your Mac.

RAM and Storage

The two mostly commonly confused terms in technology. Well, you need enough of both memory and storage. In the case of memory, Apple recommends a minimum of 2GB, however; Small Dog Electronics would set that minimum at 4GB. I think you will find your experience with El Capitan to suffer with only 2GB. If your Mac’s memory can be upgraded, now might be a good time!

Storage is also important. We always recommend that you have at least 10-15% of your hard drive or SSD drive free just for cases like this. The installation of a new operating system creates a lot of temporary files that need space to live before they are ultimately deleted by the installation. Apple says that El Capitan takes about 6GB and that you should have 8GB free. That is cutting it pretty close. I would recommend that you have a minimum of 10GB free and pay close attention to the 10-15% free space. Now would be an excellent time to purge some files and old stuff that you really don’t need – like that downloaded copy of the Sopranos last season.

Are you up-to-date?

Is there a number in the icon of the App store? Have you done all your updates for the operating system and apps? Developers have been optimizing their Apps for El Capitan for several months so doing all those updates before you upgrade to El Capitan may make things go easier for you, too!

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More Thoughts on the Apple Event from the Small Dog Staff

Erich Sullivan – South Burlington Service Writer

The new Apple TV is what really has my attention, I’m already sold on the $200.00 64GB version.
I don’t know what has me most sold, Siri? The App Store and what that will mean? I know that anything we’re thinking today will be dramatically upset with what will come from it. A simple unified search that lets me know if it’s in showtime, HBO, netflix or Hulu or in iTunes is going to be unreal. No more painfully typing in on that arcade style grid keyboard several times to find out no one has it. More time watching TV, less time struggling with an interface and search limitations.

The App Store intends to turn the Apple TV into a casual gaming console, and the new remote gives it a change of being a decent experience.The new remote is exciting, the lightning connector for charging has me pondering things. They could have made it charge through micro USB, or run off batteries, or inductively charge on the top of the Apple TV box, but they went with lighting. It comes with the Lightning Cable to charge your remote, or your other Apple devices with a lightning port.

Another interesting decision was the USB type C on the back of the new Apple TV for restores. Very forward thinking, and just another display that Apple is really pushing for USB type C to be the next ubiquitous connector.

I have said many more things about the new Apple TV, but in short, I’m already sold.

Morgan Aldridge – Waitsfield IT

I wasn’t all that thrilled about the  Watch additions (I’m still on the fence as to how useful I’d find the watch to be), but the iPad Pro announcement was cool. I know a lot of customers have been eagerly awaiting a larger iPad and—as a heavy iPad user myself—I know how useful they can be for work & play, so with iOS 9’s side-by-side apps support, it’ll be great. It’ll be especially useful for artists with the  Pencil (which itself is a great improvement since stylus support is pretty poor on the iPad) and may turn out to be a strong competitor to the expensive Wacom Cintiq line of drawing tablets with built-in displays. And, can I say one thing about the four speakers on the iPad Pro… FINALLY!

The new  TV looks great & fun, but doesn’t seem entirely groundbreaking, just exactly what the next step of its evolution needed to be. That’s not to say I don’t want one, it definitely looks like a great product, just that it’s what I’d expect a new  TV to be. The remote looks very useful and fun for games, and I think that supporting iPhones & iPod touches as additional controllers is an absolutely brilliant idea.

As usual, the iPhone 6S & 6S+ look like excellent upgrades to an already great phone. Bringing Force Touch to the iPhone will be a nice addition and I can’t help but geeking out about how they implemented it (Apple is really becoming quite ingenious on their technical solutions to difficult problems which actually make a bigger difference than most people think). And, they just keep making an excellent camera even better (the Live Photos are neat, esp. if they really don’t increase the photo size by much).

Jim Overman – Waitsfield Phone Sales

Siri On The Apple TV!

There are many new exciting features to the Apple TV which make me think that it is time for an upgrade, but my favorite has to be the addition of Siri. In fact, the whole remote is pretty darn cool. It features a new glass touch surface remote that allows for easy maneuvering around the screen, just like an an iPhone or iPad. Back to Siri though, Siri is now able to do universal searches across iTunes, Netflix, Hulu and more for you favorite actor, director or genre. My very favorite part though is that if you ask Siri ‘What did they say?’, the Apple TV will automatically scroll back fifteen seconds and turn on closed captioning. I am particulary excited because when I watch Doctor Who I am doing this manually myself at least six or seven times per episode. No joke. It will be nice to just be able to ‘ask and receive’ as they say. The new Apple TV will actually come with two sizes of built-in storage, there will be a 32GB model for $149.99 and a 64GB for $199.99. Apple plans to start shipping in late October. I would say it is going to be on my holiday wish list but I am not sure I can I hold out that long!

Joe Lytton – Key West Store Manager

Just as we expected, Apple announced the next versions of its best-selling smartphones, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus at its annual launch event in San Francisco. Also as we expected, the iPhone 6S looks identical to last year’s 4.7-inch iPhone 6S, reserving its most important changes for the hardware interior.
True, there is a new color now, called rose gold (it basically looks like a blush pink, same as the new Apple Watch color option that the company announced). But as far as looks go, this extra shade is the extent of the the changes you’ll be able to visually detect between this year’s and last year’s phones.

Apple says that its phone may look the same as last year’s model, but its iPhone 6S duo has achieved more inner strength. This time it uses a different grade of aluminum for its chassis, one that’s also used in the aerospace industry. They call it Series 7,000, and it’s the same aluminum alloy Apple puts into its Apple Watch Sport.
A new type of chemically strengthened glass also tops the iPhone 6S, though the company hasn’t confirmed if this is cover material from Corning’s Gorilla Glass line or not.

Apple has included a variation of Force Touch, which you find in different capacities on the Apple Watch and on some Mac trackpads. Called 3D Touch here, the iPhone 6S phones will adopt the same pressure-sensitive capability that calls up secondary menus and actions when you press and hold the screen. Press down and you can pull up context-sensitive menus, switch apps, or examine photos. But it’s a subtle riff on what already exists on iPhones: tapping and holding. Another use is to access shortcuts from the home screen for your most frequent actions, say messaging a friend. And if you’re in your email inbox, applying fingertip pressure to an element in the message will surface more information, like maybe the flight number on an emailed travel itinerary, for instance. (Apple called this concept “peeking in” during the live demo.) Pressing harder on an app will likewise generate more options, like viewing all the photos of a contact’s Instagram photo stream. In the context of a game, pressing harder could zoom you in to get closer to the action.

A 12-megapixel camera is a huge jump for Apple, which has been holding onto its 8-megapixel sensors in its iPhone for years. Autofocus will pick up the pace, according to Apple, and color accuracy is a point of pride.

The 5-megapixel front-facing camera now brings the iPhone 6S on par with a lot of today’s competing handsets. Of course, it includes the company’s proprietary voice chat feature, FaceTime video. Here’s something wildly different, though. Instead of including a dedicated flash for the front-facing camera, which only a few phones do, Apple is using the home screen to light up instead. This is meant to increase the brightness of those selfies even in low-light situations.

A new feature you’ll see in the camera, Live Photos is a default mode that turns stills into a video or GIF, basically, images that move. It’s an automatic thing; all you have to do is take the picture like normal. When we took some shots, it seamlessly added Live Photo motion and sound. The Live Photo motion came out more like stop-motion or time lapse, however, than true video. It’s also important to note that one Live Photo is about twice the file size as a regular photo. Couple that with the 4K video capabilities (more on that later), and you’ll definitely need more storage space to accommodate.

Apple also announced 4K video recording, at 3,840×2,160-pixel resolution. You’ll be able to take 8-megapixel camera photos while recording at this ultrahigh resolution. (The immediate benefit of shooting 4K video would be watching them later on a 4K TV.) Just like last year’s phones, the iPhone 6S Plus is the only model here with optical image stabilization, which helps correct blur from shaking hands.

Under the hood, we have an upgraded, proprietary A9 processor that continues Apple’s theme of mystery when it comes to exactly what’s going on in there. Though it’s impossible to appreciate during our quick demo, what we do know is that this is Apple’s third-generation 64-bit chip. Apple claims that the A9 is 70 percent faster than last year’s A8 when it comes to the usual computing tasks (like opening an app, for example), and 90 percent faster at graphical tasks, like gaming.

Apple says it’ll have the fastest forms of LTE Advanced, if that’s supported where you live, and will also include support for the latest, greatest Wi-Fi networks.

The two new iPhones will run on iOS 9, mining all of those software enhancements, like a smarter Siri and up to three hours longer battery life, plus a new Low Power Mode. The updated operating system, which is currently in public beta, will arrive for phones on September 16.

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Zoom and Voiceover in iOS

Working at the Service Check-in Counter, I often have customers asking me how to get out of Zoom and/or Voiceover on their iOS devices. While most people have Zoom and Voiceover disabled, it still shows up now and again.

If you have used Zoom, the image to the right may seem familiar. If this happens, you can try to enter your passcode and navigate to Settings to turn off Zoom but this can be difficult. An easier way out is a simple 3 finger tap twice which will Zoom you back out.

If you have seen the image above, then you also must have experienced Voiceover. Instead of using your finger to select individual apps, the screen is sectioned into rectangles, and you select that shape as whole. It is very hard to navigate, and the whole time a voice is instructing your movement. Voiceover is helpful for the visually impaired, but can be a hinderance if turned on. You must navigate back to Settings > Accessibility and turn Voiceover off if you do not wish to use it. If you have the shortcut enabled, you can try triple clicking the home button. This will turn off Voiceover. I would recommend turning off both Zoom and Voiceover, unless of course you need them and are familiar with their commands.

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Cut Across Shorty, Cut Across

Keyboard shortcuts are handy ways of using simple keyboard commands to handle tasks that might require multiple clicks of your mouse or trackpad. Sometimes using these shortcuts can save time and make your work flow easier. As an example, from time to time I grab screen shots to include in Kibbles or to send to customers. I can launch the Grab app to capture these screen shots but I can also hit ⇧⌘3 (shift/command/3) to capture the screen. Easier yet, if I frequently use that key combination I can customize the keys I use or make one of my function keys do the screen grab. Here’s how you would do that:

  1. Choose System Preferences -> Keyboard->Shortcuts
  2. You will see a bunch of shortcuts that are already there
  3. Select Screen Shots
  4. Pick the one you want – i.e. Save Picture of screen as a file and select it
  5. Click on the existing key combination until it is highlighted
  6. Enter your new key combination

You will get a warning triangle if you choose a key combination (or function key) that is already in use.

You can also add key combination shortcuts that are specific to an App. Selecting the App Shortcuts will take you there. Unless you have already set up some shortcuts, you will see only the key combination for “Show Help Menu” for all applications. To add a new shortcut to your favorite application you hit the + sign and a dialog box will pop up to allow you to select an app. From there you can set up the new shortcut:

  1. Choose your App – or select all Apps if you want to set the key combination for the same menu command that appears in many Apps.
  2. Type in the menu command for which you want to create a shortcut. VERY IMPORTANT – You must type the command exactly as it appears in the Application menu, including ellipses and any other punctuation. To type an ellipse, use three periods without spaces.
  3. Click in the Keyboard Shortcut box and type the key combination or function key you wish to use and click “Add”.
  4. Quit and restart any Apps that are open for the new keyboard command to take effect.

If you assign a shortcut that already exists for another command or another App, your new shortcut will not work and you will have to find the menu command that is using that shortcut and change it.

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