view in plain text or web browser  
Tech Tails | Apple news straight from the Tech Room | | 800-511-MACS
#795: Lion and FileVault 2, Lion's Recovery Partition, AirPlay Mirroring, TotW: Cold Weather Care, Garage Sale


Happy Tuesday,

Our three retail stores saw record traffic last Friday and through the weekend, just as expected. saw heavy traffic as well, and many of you took advantage of some pretty excellent specials. The iPad, Hammerhead cases and Chill Pill Mobile Speakers were customer favorites, and MacBook Air continues to sell quickly as a very compelling product.

The severe and prolonged flooding in Thailand is putting strong upward pressure on hard drive prices. We were lucky enough to anticipate this early on, and bought all the drives we could get our hands on. As we were able to buy early, we can pass on favorable pricing to you. It’s always the perfect time to start backing up, and you’ll find two specials at the end of this newsletter that can help you get started.

Happy holidays, thanks for reading, and keep in touch.


  Lion and FileVault 2  

With the release of Lion, Apple made significant changes to FileVault. From its debut in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, FileVault encrypted only users’ home folders. This was adequate for many, but it left the rest of a hard drive unencrypted. In Lion, the whole drive is encrypted instead of individual user accounts. FileVault and its preferences are again in System Preferences, under Security and Privacy. By clicking on the FileVault tab, you will be able to enable or disable this security option.

Now that FileVault uses full-disk encryption, it is necessary to enable users who can unlock the machine. Enabling FileVault without adding other users to the list of of users who can unlock the machine will leave the unit in a state where it’s unusable by all accounts except the users who can unlock the drive.

FileVault 2 acts at the firmware level, under Intel’s Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI), and when the machine is first booted, you come to the login window before the system loads. After entering the password of the user you’d like to log in under, the Apple symbol will appear and the unit will fully boot to the account you specified.

If you’re upgrading from a previous version of Mac OS X to Lion, the old FileVault scheme will remain intact. As a legacy FileVault user, Lion will ask you if you want to turn it off. You can continue to use the legacy version in Lion, but you will not be able to use the legacy version for any new users added to the machine.

With FileVault 2, Apple has proceeded to offer a recovery key should you forget your password. The key must be copied externally and stored safely; if you forget your password, you will not be able to access the system should you need to. You also have the option of storing the key with Apple. With a series of three questions and exact answers, your machine’s serial number and other information, you will be able to contact AppleCare for your recovery key. After entering the key and unlocking the system, you will be prompted to change your password.

  Thoughts on Lion's Recovery Partition  

We’ve seen some issues with Lion installations, particularly regarding the creation of the recovery partition. If you use a non-standard disk format (such as case-sensitive HFS+), have multiple partitions, or even Boot Camp, you’ll have issues installing Lion. In most cases, you’ll have to delete the Boot Camp partition from your machine so that Lion can repartition your drive. Only then can the recovery partition be created. If you have a Boot Camp partition, odds are you’ll need to remove it in order for the Lion installer to create the recovery partition.

The recovery partition, installed with Lion, can be accessed by holding down the Option key immediately after powering on your computer. The boot manager will be visible, and you can click on the item clearly marked “Recovery Partition.” Alternatively, you can turn on your computer while holding down the Command and R keys. For more information on the recovery partition, see Apple’s documentation.

  iOS AirPlay Mirroring: A Game Changer  

With the release of iOS 5, Apple has raised the bar in digital entertainment once again. iOS 5 supports a feature called AirPlay Mirroring. AirPlay Mirroring allows you to wirelessly mirror your iOS device onto your television via Apple TV. This is an amazing new way to interact with the iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, as it allows you to take advantage of a big screen using a small mobile device. All you need to do to activate it is double-tap your home button, swipe to the right to access the multitasking bar, tap on the AirPlay icon, select your Apple TV and flip the switch to mirroring. After that, what you see on your iDevice’s screen will be on your TV as well.

One of the major benefits of AirPlay Mirroring is gaming. The iOS game market is one of the largest mobile gaming markets due to the fact that there are so many people who own the devices. With the ability to share to a larger screen wirelessly, what is going to change is that more people are going to start to use their TVs as the screen for their gaming on iOS devices. This allows for developers to start making the apps work as a controller, while everything is done on the big screen. Some apps already support this, such as Real Racing 2 HD.

As someone who is into mobile gaming on iPad, I know I like this new feature very much. It works great for all kinds of uses. My Apple TV is hooked up to a 27” ViewSonic HD display and my stereo. Streaming wirelessly to the Apple TV, I get full HD versions of games right on the screen.

This has many more uses than just gaming though: it allows you to stream whatever you are doing wirelessly. Say you are working on an important file for work and want to see it on a big screen instead of working on the iPad screen directly. Before AirPlay Mirroring this meant you needed to connect your iPad to the television with an HDMI cable in order to mirror anything. Now mirroring is all wireless and available at the double-tap of the home button.

This new feature is one of the many reasons that iOS 5 is the world’s best mobile operating system. Apple is always striving to be the best, and with this and all the other amazing new features of iOS 5, it seems as if they have done it with this release.

  Tip of the Week: Cold Weather Care  

During the colder months, it’s important keep in mind that cold objects entering a warm, moist environment (like your home or workplace) will become damp with condensation. As liquid exposure of any type can void your warranty and result in costly repair, and as Apple now installs liquid exposure indicators inside each of its products, it’s vital that you keep your electronic gear safe.

If at all possible, do not keep your notebook, iPod, iPhone or other electronic gear in the car overnight in the cold. We’re beginning to see a few victims of condensation come through the shop, and it’s easy to avoid. If you find yourself with a moisture-covered device, the first thing to do is turn it off and remove the battery. iPod and iPhone users can only shut down and wait, as the batteries in these devices are not removable.

Legendary data recovery firm (and Small Dog data recovery partner) Drive Savers notes that this exposure to hard drives is particularly serious: “Cold weather can wreak havoc on temperature-sensitive hard drives used in computers, game consoles, MP3 players and video recorders. Condensation buildup on the drive platters and frozen components can lead to drive failure and data loss.”

  Garage Sale Starts Today!  

Our famous Garage Sale—Winter 2011 edition—kicks off today starting at 10 a.m. EST.

We’ve been combing the Small Dog warehouse for deals to include in the sale and think you’ll be excited about some of the fun things we discovered in there!

The full list of garage sale items is available at Orders will be taken online only via our website, and there are no phone orders permitted. Garage Sale items generally ship within a week of when orders are placed.

These deals won’t last long, so don’t miss out!

  TT Specials | 11/29/11 - 12/6/11  
   $50 off MacBook 2.1GHz 1GB/120/Superdrive/AP/BT (Used) + FREE Hammerhead Sleeve!
   Buy Apple TV + AppleCare and Get a 6' HDMI Cable FREE! While supplies last.
   Apple 30in Cinema HD Display with defective USB port--Save $100 while supplies last!
   LaCie Neil Poulton 1TB USB 2.0 Hard Drive--Save $15!
   Apple Time Capsule 2TB Dualband (Summer 2011)--Save $10!
   Black 32GB iPod touch + Black Chill Pill Mobile Speakers--Save $20!