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#676: Your Mac Is Not Compromised, Remote Consulting with Mac HelpMate, OS X Server Resource


Happy Tuesday,

We are making final preparations for Saturday, August 12th, the date of this year’s Vermont sales tax holiday. There are mountains of pre-orders in our Waitsfield and South Burlington locations ready for pickup, and the orders just keep streaming in. If you’re in the market for new gear, this is the best time to buy it, as you’ll be saving up to 7% on all purchases under $2,000. If you’re reading from out of state, note that all orders shipped to you are tax free every day! Ed’s article below has all of the details on Tax Free Day.

These are busy times for the Small Dog technicians. With the back-to-school rush, tons of upgrades, and a resurgence of Leopard upgrades, there hasn’t been time to spare. Despite the busy times, our repair turnaround time remains 3-5 business days – some of the fastest service in the industry.

This has been a very wet and cool summer, so the past two weeks of warm temperatures and constant sunshine have been more than welcome around here. I hope you’re enjoying your summer, wherever you’re reading from.

As always, keep in touch.

  Your Computer Is Not Compromised  

Every so often, a call comes through to our tech support department about a pop-up window saying that the computer is infected with a virus or some other malware. A larger and larger chunk of the Mac community is recent Switchers, those who’ve made the switch from Windows to Mac. If you have a computer running any variant of Windows and you see that message, there is cause for alarm in most cases, especially if you click through the link. But, if you have a Mac, there is absolutely nothing to worry about! There are no known viruses or malware for Macs running any variant of OS X. There were a handful of viruses for the classic MacOS, but because that operating system hasn’t been updated in about ten years there is little cause for alarm there.

Search engines do a reasonably good job at filtering out “scareware” web sites, but if you’re a frequent user of the Internet you should expect to see one of these messages at some time or another.

It should be noted that Macs running Windows through Boot Camp or emulation software like Parallels and VMWare will need virus protection on the Windows side. If your boot camp partition or virtual machine becomes infected with a virus, your Mac will not be affected. Small Dog offers Symantec AntiVirus for Windows, which is widely recognized as the best AntiVirus protection available for Windows. It’s a necessary add-on for any Windows or Parallels purchase.

  Remote Consulting with Mac HelpMate  

Consulting in Vermont means a lot of driving! To cut down on driving time and increase the services that we can offer to our customers we’ve been offering remote consults which has proven to be a great way to help troubleshoot issues and offer training without physically being with the client. We use a system that allows us to control our customer’s machine while we speak with them over the phone about their issues. As long as the client has a working internet connection we can provide remote consulting services. We could not have done this without Mac HelpMate !

While there are many different applications out there to remotely control a Mac, few are as seamless as Mac Helpmate. What sets Mac HelpMate apart from most programs is that it offers zero configuration making it easy for us to quickly set up a consult without the client needing to do more than making one click. Most Virtual Network Computing (VNC) applications require a bit of finagling the first time they’re set up. While I’m a big fan of free apps like Chicken of the VNC and even robust applications like Remote Desktop, it can be difficult to get them working past firewalls and certain router configurations. Considering many of our consulting clients are looking for easy solutions without a huge hassle, these applications just weren’t a good fit for us.

Mac HelpMate allows us to email our client a link to an auto-setup file that downloads the Mac Helpmate application, installs it and immediately opens it up for a sharing session. The application quickly navigates it’s way around router configurations and Firewalls and in just a few minutes the client’s computer sends a code to the Mac Helpmate server that I can then see in my version of Mac Helpmate which allows me to connect to their computer. From there, the interface is a straight-up VNC program that lets me graphically access the client’s machine. Once the session is over I can no longer control or view their computer, so there are no long-term security issues.

Mac HelpMate even allows clients to email out consulting team when they’re having a problem and they can attach a full or partial system profile to the email which helps us better pin-point the issue. We can then schedule a remote session with the client and go from there! Oh, and the makers of Mac Helpmate also make Win Helpmate for our PC friends; this also allows for cross-platform support.

Mac HelpMate has really opened up our consulting possibilities. I’ve had the pleasure of helping clients as far away as The Netherlands and on a variety of internet connections including Satellite and 3G (though I wouldn’t personally try it over dial-up). Give it a try! We offer remote consults for $54.99 per half-hour. Call in the next two weeks, mention you saw this article in Tech Tails and get the first remote session for only $39. Give us a ring at 802-496-7171 ×512 or email to set up an appointment.

  Helpful Resource for OS X Server Users  

If you manage Mac OS X based servers, did you know about and their great OS X Server-related newsletters? If not, you should definitely check them out. features free software tools for enhancing Apple’s Mac OS X Server, step-by-step tutorials, and a FAQ section that answers many common questions about OS X Server. In addition to being an important resource for the open source community, server administrators can also turn to the site’s developers for consulting services.

Apple’s OS X Server is a powerful tool for businesses of any size. OS X Server puts UNIX into the reach of non-UNIX experts. helps many non-UNIX experts make the most of OS X Server, offering tools and information for beginners and seasoned professionals that extend the stock functionality of Apple’s Server software.

One of the site’s most popular consulting options is the Mail Server Checkup. For a flat rate of $50, the site’s developers will run a full diagnostic of a mail server, report on its status, and make recommendations for improvements. Readers of Tech Tails, Kibbles & Bytes, and Small Dog’s blog Barkings will benefit from a 50% discount on the Mail Server Check or a 15% discount on standard consulting fees until Sep 15th 2009.

  Tip of the Week: Get More Out of Faces in iPhoto 09  

When iPhoto ’09 was introduced as part of iLife ’09 back in January, its facial recognition feature “Faces” received a lot of attention. With Faces, you simply put a name to a face in just a few photos, and iPhoto will then suggest a set of possible matches you can confirm with a click. iPhoto then uses the information to sift through your library and find even more potential matches. This makes it easy to find photos of specific people.

Back when Faces was introduced, I checked it out, played with it for a bit, then promptly forgot about it. However, a few incremental updates to iPhoto have made Faces faster and easier to use, as well as more reliable. Also, I’ve realized that Faces can be a very useful tool—especially when you have a giant iPhoto library.

For example, I’ve known that you could flip a snapshot in iPhoto and add a person’s last name and Facebook ID. However, I just learned that when you tag a person’s face with Faces, then publish that photo to Facebook, the person will automatically be tagged on Facebook. Even cooler, if your published photo of the person is tagged on Facebook, then the photo in iPhoto will automatically be updated (pending your approval to protect your iPhoto library).

Faces makes it incredibly easy to create people-based Smart Albums, which will automatically stay up to date with pictures of family and friends. From the Faces cork board, drag one or more snapshots to the Source list, and iPhoto will generate a Smart Album that automatically updates every time you name and confirm more photos of those people.

Want to quickly navigate your iPhoto library to tag Faces? Browse photo to photo with the left and right keys. Switch between recognized photos with the tab key.
And as long as the person’s name has been previously entered in iPhoto, all you have to do is press enter on the correct name in the drop-down list.

Macworld has an excellent article with 7 tips for getting more from Faces. If you’re interested in Faces, it’s a must read. Click here to see this.

Meanwhile, Apple has a posted some useful iPhoto Keyboard Shortcuts

Don’t have iPhoto ’09? Get it for 10% off as part of Life ’09 buy clicking here.

  Vermont Tax Holiday - This Weekend!  

If you live in Vermont, did you know we’re about to have a sales tax holiday coming up this Saturday, August 22? There will be no sales tax on items that cost $2,000 or less. You could buy five high-end MacBook Pros for $1999.99 and not pay sales tax on a single one of them. The savings can add up, as sales tax in Vermont is 6%, and even 7% in a couple of towns (South Burlington, Williston).

We’re having a party to celebrate with special offers, extended hours in our Vermont retail stores, in our call center, and in our warehouse, where our shippers will be processing orders all day.

Click here to read our Vermont Sales Tax Holiday FAQ.

Note that we never charge sales tax for orders that ship out of Vermont. Shipping on 99% of the products we sell over $200 is free!

  SPECIALS | 08/18/09 - 08/25/09  
   Home iH9 Alarm Clock Radio for iPod, Black, Perfect for any Dorm Room or Office - Just $69.99!
   Save 20% - Apple MobileMe Individual Package, 1yr Subscription or Renewal with free shipping!
   Save 10%, PLUS get $30 back by mail on iWork 09! Final cost is $39.99. Must be purchased with a Mac
   Save 10% - Mac Box Set Family Pack (iWork '09, iLife '09, 10.5 Leopard) just $179.99 w/ free shippi
   Save 10% - Apple Aperture v2.1.1 - just $179 with free shipping!
   MacBook 2.0GHz, 4GB RAM, 160GB HD, Free Sleeve, Free Shipping!
   MacBook 2.13GHz 4GB RAM, 160GB HD, White (mid-2009), AppleCare, Free Sleeve, Free Shipping!
   MacBook Air 1.86GHz 2GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Snow Leopard DVD, Apple USB SuperDrive, Free Shipping!