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#800: Setting Up an External Drive with Time Machine, Apple Email Scam, 1Password


Happy Tuesday,

The solar installation at Small Dog’s Waitsfield, VT headquarters is complete and functioning after a very quick and efficient installation. I wandered to the electric meter the other day, with the panels covered in snow, and was amazed to watch the meter spin backwards—quickly! It’s very cool to look out the window one moment, and then again an hour later, to see the panels have moved to focus their productive surfaces towards the sun as the day goes on.

After more than four months, the last stretch of highway destroyed by Irene is finally open again. Route 107 was particularly hard-hit, and much work remains to be done, but local residents and commercial traffic is undoubtedly thrilled to get closer to the way things were. I hadn’t driven south of Warren on Route 100 since the storm, so the drive home for Christmas on that road was an eye opener. There are still houses lifted from their foundations here and there in the floodplains, a terrible reminder of just how bad things were, and still are, for so many affected by the storm.

Happy new year from all of us at Small Dog Electronics. Here’s to a great year!

As always, thanks for reading, and keep in touch.


  Time Machine for New Users  

A lot of people are will be getting new Macs this year, and I’m hoping all of them will also be buying external hard drives for backups. The most common failure we see in our service centers are failed or failing hard drives. I’d say that perhaps half of all people who come in with these bad drives don’t have backups or haven’t backed up in months.

If you’re new to the Mac or new to Leopard (10.5), Snow Leopard (10.6) or the current Mac OS, Lion (10.7), there is backup software called Time Machine built right in. It’s easy to format an external drive to work with your Mac and Time Machine.

To do so, you’ll need to use Disk Utility to properly partition your drive. To find Disk Utility, either navigate to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility go to Spotlight (the magnifying glass icon) in the top righthand corner of your screen. Type “Disk Utility” in the search box dropdown, and then select it from the list.

Once in Disk Utility, you’ll see your external hard drive listed on the lefthand side of the window. (Unless you haven’t unboxed it and/or plugged it in yet—if you haven’t, I’ll wait. Ready? OK.)

Click on your hard drive’s icon and you’ll see a tab for Partition on the righthand side of that window. Click it. Choose one partition from Partition Layout. Name it what you want under Partition Information. Make sure the Format is “Mac OS Extended (Journaled).” Then click Apply. Give it a bit to process and you’re done.

To view and set up the drive in Time Machine, go to the Apple in the top left corner of the screen and choose System Preferences > Time Machine. On the righthand side of the window, there is a button that says “Select Disk.” Click that and choose your hard drive from the list. Make sure Time Machine is on and your computer will handle it form there. As long as that drive is plugged in and mounted, you’ll get hourly backups.

If you’re running on a laptop and don’t want the drive always connected, Time Machine will pick up where it left off the next time you plug it in, though it may not start immediately. You can force backups by going to the Time Machine icon on the top right of your screen and clicking “Back Up Now.”

Some tips for first time users: 1) Don’t interrupt your first backup, and 2) Expect it to take awhile if you have a large amount of data. (My first 500+GB backup took about 8 hours!)

This is something we mention a lot in Tech Tails, but I’m going to do it again: If you’re not backing up, please make it your new year’s resolution to do so. If you lose your data to a failing drive, it is extremely expensive to recover that data. A backup drive may cost you under $200; data recovery can cost you over $1,000.

  Beware, the Scammers Are At It Again  

Two new phishing letters are making the rounds, in an attempt to fool people who may be using their first Mac after the holidays. The first one tries to steal your iCloud account. The email claims to be from Apple, saying something similar to: “A DGTFX Virus has been detected in your MobileMe folders. Your email account has to be upgraded to our new Secured DGTFX anti-virus 2011 version to prevent damages to our web mail log and to your important files. Click your reply tab, Fill the columns below and send back to us or your email account will be terminated to avoid spread of the virus.”

First, there is no such thing as a DGTFX Virus. Second, there is no “Secured DGTFX anti-virus 2011.” Third, if the MobileMe server really did get hit with something that could cause damage to their “web mail log” and your important files, the server admins would simply fix the problem, which would not require your login and password.

This “phishing” attack is not new. In the past year, it has targeted Yahoo and Hotmail subscribers. Now, it’s trying to fool iCloud subscribers in an attempt to steal their accounts. The email is fake—don’t reply to it; just delete it.

Another one that’s been spotted tries to trick you into updating your billing information by telling you to click on a link from the Apple Store. As usual, the link takes you to some other website, which looks like it’s Apple, but isn’t. The site will steal your login and password, as well as your credit card information.

When in doubt, hover your mouse over the link. Most email programs will show you where the link actually goes; in this case, it doesn’t go to Apple at all, so don’t be fooled!

  1Password Voted Best iPhone Utility by TUAW  

The Unofficial Apple Weblog reported their Best of 2011, and Agile Bits Solutions’ 1Password took the prize for Best iPhone App. Easily beating out the competition by taking 49.7% of the votes, 1Password is an invaluable utility for anyone who surfs the web on their Mac or iOS device.

Back in 2006 when I switched from an Alienware PC to a MacBook Pro, I scoured the Googlewebs to replace all my favorite Windows utilities with OS X versions. I used to rely heavily on a password storage program called RoboForm; when I checked around for a replacement, the majority of recommendations were for 1Password. I’ve never regretted that investment.

We’ve all had this happen: you go to a web site, which wants you to log in. Three weeks later, you go back to that site, and can’t remember the password you chose. Not only is this one of dozens of sites you frequent, but they all require secure passwords, which means the password can’t be fewer than 14 characters, it must include capitals, lower case, numbers, at least 4 of the characters have to be one of those symbols on the number keys, no two characters can be the same, and it can in no way resemble any word found in the dictionary. How is any normal human supposed to keep track of them all?

The answer is 1Password. It tracks the website you’re on, and recognizes login and password fields. When you enter that data and hit Submit, it prompts you to save this information for the next time. When you later return to that site, 1Password will fill in that data for you. All you have to remember is (wait for it) one password—a master password that unlocks the rest of them.

1Password can also keep track of multiple identities, so if you use a laptop for home and work, you can switch locations so as not to confuse your personal links with corporate ones.

1Password for Mac can wirelessly sync with 1Password for iPhone, so you can still stay productive when you’re not at your desk. It is definitely worth a try.

Download the 1Password app for your needs:

1Password for Mac, $49.99: Agile Bits’ website or the Mac App Store

1Password for iPhone, $9.99: iTunes link
1Password Pro for iPhone, $14.99: iTunes link

1Password for iPad, $9.99: iTunes link
1Password Pro for iPad, $14.99: iTunes link

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