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#937: Travel back in Time; Better Authentication; Moms, Dads and Grads

 
     
 

Dear Friends,

Strawberries are getting ripe and the farm stands here have the sweet berry ready. While we have our own little garden, the Prickly Mountain micro-climate tends to be about a month behind everyone else so we stop at farm stands for spinach, lettuce and now strawberries, too. It is always a good excuse for a ride in the twisty mountain roads to hit up the veggie stands for great organic food.

I have been playing around with El Capitan, Mac OS X 10.11 beta and while the first developer version is buggy I have been very impressed with both the compatibility with current software and some of the new features. Notes is one app that has been greatly improved. I have used Notes in the past, mostly to record expenses or well, to make notes. It was pretty much just a place to jot down some text. With the new Mac operating system coming this fall, Notes has been upgraded to be a lot more useful. In addition to text, you can now store photos, map locations, documents, PDFs, links and even videos. You can create folders and with iCloud you can keep your Notes synced between your Mac, iPhone & iPad.

It has been a month since I first received my Apple Watch and even though I haven’t worn a watch since I was 12, I do not leave home without my Apple Watch. I am still learning all that it can do for me but ApplePay is one of the most “wow” features. I went over to the local Shaw’s supermarket to grab some lunch and I didn’t even think to bring my wallet. A couple of clicks on the watch button and my Apple Watch was ready to pay. After the clerk commented on my watch and gave me my receipt, I was done. I am definitely not looking at my iPhone as much and Siri is so good that I am almost never misunderstood. If you have been waiting for a watch, Apple finally has them in their retail stores and the on-line wait times are short.

With all the devices that you have you can never have too many chargers. This week’s Kibbles & Bytes exclusive features our in-house brand Hammerhead (featuring a shark but named after my bull dog) USB chargers and MFI lightning cables. We are going to bundle one of our Hammerhead 2-port USB chargers that can charge both an iPad and iPhone simultaneously with a Hammerhead 2-Port USB Car charger which also can charge both an iPad and iPhone in your car. To complete the bundle we will be adding 2 Hammerhead Apple-licensed MFI Lightning braided cables. So you get a wall charger, car charger and 2 lightning cables in this bundle which normally sells for $72.96 for only $49! Click Here to claim your Hammerhead Charging Bundle.

 
     
  Go Back in Time  
   
 

Backing up your data is something we talk about with customers all the time but I am still amazed at the number of people that do not have backups of their critical data, photos and music. Hard drives fail. It is a simple fact that a mechanical device that may be spinning at 10,000 rpm has a number of failure modes that could cause data loss. Even if you have a solid state drive without spinning components your drive can fail. SSD drives still have components that fail such as transistors and capacitors. Wear and tear also occurs with SSD drives. The processor must read, modify, erase and write data and eventually even memory cells wear out. Your SSD drive is not an excuse to skip back-ups!

Apple makes backing up easy and automatic with Time Machine. It keeps a copy of all your files and remembers just what it looked like on any given day so you can go back in time and grab that picture you accidentally deleted. Grabbing a single file or folder is one use but Time Machine saved my bacon once when my Mac was stolen out of my hotel room while on vacation. The hotel compensated me for my loss but I would have lost all my precious data if I hadn’t had a Time Machine backup. Fortunately, I had learned that lesson the hard way years ago, so I got my replacement Mac, connected it to my Time Machine backup and I was back in business and only lost a couple photos from that vacation.

You can use Time Machine with an external drive connected to your USB, FireWire or Thunderbolt port on your Mac, with an external drive connected to the USB port of an AirPort Extreme or with an AirPort Time Capsule. Do not, as one customer was doing, use the same drive as your boot drive to store your backups!

Time Machine will keep hourly backups for the past day, daily backups for the past month and weekly backups. The oldest backups are deleted as your backup drive becomes full. With the low price of terabyte drives, get a big one! Setting up a fresh new hard drive for use with Time Machine is really simple. Plug it in. Really, that is pretty much all you have to do as Mac OS X will ask you when in senses a new drive whether you want to use that drive for Time Machine backup. You will have the option to encrypt the backup disk if you wish. If you select this option you will need to remember your password for sure!

If you are using an Apple Time Capsule or a drive connected to your AirPort Extreme you will open the Time Machine System Preference and specify that disk for backups. The Time Machine preference screen will also allow you to select the option to “Show Time Machine in menu bar”. If you select this you will have easy access to Time Machine status of your backups. The “Options” button will allow you to exclude items from backup if you are concerned about space. It also will toggle whether your Mac will backup while on battery power and notifications when backups are deleted as your drive fills.

Garage Sale

Your first backup will take a while because it is copying everything. If you are using a Time Capsule, I do recommend that you connect an ethernet cable from the Time Capsule to your Mac to speed up that first backup. Once your first backup is complete, Time Machine automatically backs up only files that have changed since the last backup.

To find that homework you deleted just enter Time Machine from the Finder and go back in time to find the file. You can use the timeline on the right side of the window to reach a certain time. If you don’t know exactly when you deleted it you can use the back arrow to go back in time to show you when that folder last changed. You can search for a file using the Finder window in Time Machine, too. That is why it is always important to enter Time Machine from the Finder, not from an app or other location.

Garage Sale

To restore a file you select the file from way back when and simply hit the “restore” button. If you run into a problem like mine where you need to restore your entire Mac you can use the Migration Assistant to specify a restore from a Time Machine backup.

 
     
  More Secure Authentication  
   
 

It seems like almost weekly we hear new reports about some cloud-based service being compromised by hackers. Credit card numbers are stolen and compromised on an almost daily basis. Phishing email scams trick people into compromising their own passwords and accounts. All the while the same solutions are trotted out. Make sure you’re visiting sites that protect your information with SSL (like Small Dog does). Make sure you’re using complex and unique passwords (i.e. don’t use the same password for every single site and service). Verify that an email is valid before clicking on any links.

Despite all these solutions, people still use bad passwords and accounts are still compromised. Fortunately, there is a solution: two-factor authentication. Never heard of two-factor authentication before? I can almost guarantee you already use it without even knowing. Say you need some cash. You go to your bank’s ATM and swipe your debit card in the slot and enter your PIN. Boom. That’s two-factor authentication. Basically two-factor authentication is any authentication scheme that uses two distinct elements to authenticate you: something you know (like a PIN or password) and something you have (like a debit card or a token). If one of those things is compromised, your account is still safe. I can’t simply steal your debit card and go on a trip to Vegas. I also can’t trick you into giving me your PIN and go on a trip to Vegas. I have to have both.

Debit cards have pretty much used two-factor authentication from day one, so how come we don’t see this much more secure authentication scheme in use elsewhere? To be honest, I’m not sure. Probably one of the biggest things holding widespread implementation back was the physical token aspect. A debit card is the physical token in that authentication system. If you wanted to use two-factor authentication to log into your Apple account, or your Gmail, what are they going to use for a physical token there? A company called EMC supplies a very popular RSA two-factor authentication system to large companies and organizations that can afford it. Their token is a small key fob that has a little LCD display with a number on it that changes periodically. Apple and Google aren’t going to buy and send out millions of those little things though.

If you’re using Apple’s cloud services or Google though, chances are very high that you have a smart phone or a tablet. There you go. That’s your physical token. All you need is an app that can generate time-based numeric strings or be able to receive text messages with those numeric strings. In Gmail, enabling two-factor authentication is easy. Just log in, click on your username in the upper right, and select “My Account”. Under “Sign-in & Security” look for the “Password & sign-in method”. This will walk you through setting up two factor authentication. Once it’s set up, when you log into google, you’ll have to provide your normal password, but then you’ll be prompted to enter the token string. Depending on how you set up two-factor authentication, this will come from either an app (I use OTP Auth) on your phone, or via text message. Enter that token and you’ll be logged in. Now even if someone manages to steal your password, they still won’t be able to log into your Google account. Apple’s cloud-based services have a similar two-factor authentication system that can be enabled by visiting appleid.apple.com.

The only thing you need to be aware of is that two-factor authentication is serious business and you need to make sure you have a valid recovery email/phone number and/or emergency recovery tokens. Google, for example, lets you print out 10 recovery tokens that can be used if you lose your phone and need to get into your account. It’s a good idea to print these out and keep in a safe box or other secure place.

Happy authenticating!

 
     
   
   
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Moms, Dads and Grads | Free $50 Gift Card with purchase of new MacBook Air w/ AppleCare

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Moms, Dads and Grads | Free $50 Gift Card with purchase of new MacBook Pro w/ AppleCare

Moms, Dads and Grads | Free $50 Gift Card with purchase of new MacBook Pro w/ AppleCare


     
   
   
Moms, Dads and Grads | Free $50 Gift Card with purchase of new iMac w/ AppleCare

Moms, Dads and Grads | Free $50 Gift Card with purchase of new iMac w/ AppleCare


 

Looks like it will be sunny for our day trip over to Laconia, NH on Saturday. Now that the Golden State Warriors have won the NBA title and the Chicago Blackhawks (dynasty!) have won the Stanley Cup it is back to Cubs and binge watching when we are not riding or enjoying the Vermont summer.

Thank you for reading this issue of Kibbles & Bytes!

Your Kibbles & Bytes Team,

Don, Dean, Scott & Bronson