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#906: Searching for Service, General Security Tips, Hinge Care for Portables, Celebrate Those Dads & Grads!

 
     
 

It’s an exciting time to be an Apple fan as their Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off next Tuesday in San Francisco. Last year, just some of the announcements included OS X and iOS upgrades, 10.9 Mavericks and iOS 7, respectively, fantastic battery life and flash storage improvements to the MacBook Air, and new online features such as iTunes Radio and iWork for iCloud. But what will we be hearing about this year? A bigger and better iPhone 6? How about an upgraded Mac mini? And where the heck is my iWatch?

No matter what you think they’re going to announce and despite all those blurry pictures of a 12-inch iPad that you saw on some Chinese website, we really never know what they’re going to announce at these things, and that’s part of the fun. So place your bets with your friends and tune into the keynote speech starting at 10am Pacific Time on Apple’s website.

Moving on to our writers, our first contributor is surely hoping for more user control in iOS 8 as his article touches on the data settings for your iPhone. We’ll also go over security tips to keep your Mac safe and how to avoid a costly display replacement.

- Mike
miked@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  Searching for Service  
   
 

iPhones have always given some flexibility regarding how one can control cellular and data usage, either by disabling cellular data entirely or limiting the phone to a slower network. But why would someone do this?

Sometimes carriers don’t offer the latest generation of service in an area. For example, when the phone can’t find 4G-LTE, it will continue to search, as it assumes this is your top priority. All of that searching makes the battery circle the proverbial drain of wireless antennae. For this reason, it’s advisable to disable this faster connectivity method.

iPhones from 5 and onward have supported 4G-LTE service. At that time, the carrier parameters were changed, and the phone’s disable 3G switch (which would limit one to 2G-Edge) was replaced with a switch to disable 4G-LTE. How does this affect iPhone users? Let’s use Burlington, Vermont, as an example, where T-Mobile doesn’t offer service. T-Mobile’s network here is limited to Voice/SMS/2G-Edge. Herein lies the problem — even with 4G-LTE disabled, the phone still continually searches for 3G service.

With no option to disable 3G, the battery drains much more rapidly than in other areas. There’s nothing one can do about this, aside from jail-breaking the device to regain control over the wireless protocols. Apple has had years to remedy this and seemingly won’t…as such, the option that remains is to disable cellular service when on Wi-Fi to help preserve some battery power.

 
   
     
  General Security Tips  
   
 

This is an overview of some general security tips for Macs:

  • Occasionally check for updates by checking “Software Updates” under the Apple menu. Apple releases updates regularly. You should check this at least once a week if you don’t have Auto Updates enabled. Keeping your OS updated is the best way to protect against security vulnerabilities.
  • When you see an update “pop up” from Adobe or your web browser (both of these especially), install the updates as soon as possible, but go to their websites for the updates. It’s good practice to avoid clicking links for updates; it’s often a ruse to install third party software. When installing updates, always click the “Advanced” install (if available) so that you can see everything that’s scheduled to install and preferences being set (e.g. web toolbars, changing your default search engine and such).
  • Don’t use a general account with administrative privileges for everyday work. Keep one administrative account. If you need to install updates, it will ask you for an administrative password, which is extremely straightforward and easy to do. This reduces the likelihood of rogue programs running on your machine, which is unlikely in the first place, but another step for security. It also ensures that no other users accessing your computer can install anything they might be misguided about.
  • Avoid third party security solutions for anti-virus. Macs very, very rarely are susceptible to viruses and AV software from many vendors can cause more problems than it may ever solve.
  • Avoid third party tune-ups or cleaners advertised for free or pay (e.g. MacKeeper, TuneUpMyMac, etc.) Macs DO NOT NEED them and our customers frequently have problems created by them that require them to pay us to repair.
  • If you are running Windows on a Mac, either from BootCamp or Parallels (or other virtual machine software), yes, you should install anti-virus software on Windows. There are several commendable free versions — AVG Free and Avast are the two I recommend most to friends. Just like your Mac, update those regularly!
 
   
     
  Hinge Care for Portables  
   
 

As I write this, I’m sitting on the Greyhound bus, and my display is shaking ever so slightly with the bumps in the road. I had also placed my iPhone on the windowsill (albeit precariously) before it fell onto the edge of my MacBook Pro and then landed on the floor, making a noise loud enough to wake my neighbor across the aisle (sorry!).

Some slight shaking of the screen is normal under those circumstances, but the continuous motion and those like it will eventually wear the hinge down to a point where the display flops back and forth like a fish. Sometimes, with much labor involved, this looseness can be remedied with a thread-locking compound on the hinge screws. However, this doesn’t always resolve it, and the hinges themselves can be separated from the display assembly housing. The only complete fix for that would be a new display assembly, which can range from $450-750 or more. (…or one could live with the floppy-fish-like display.)

Fortunately, I have some advice to avoid this altogether. Being aware of these simple rules can keep your display hinge stiff and reliable.

  1. Never lift your computer by the display. I know it’s tempting, and I’ve done it many times myself. But this will be the most torque you could possible place on it.
  2. Avoid using cases that might add extra weight to the display assembly. It takes a lot of force to keep that much weight aloft, and adding more exacerbates the situation.
  3. Avoid using the computer against your legs in bed with the display at a wide angle (pushed far back) is a particularly precarious position and puts a lot of pressure on the hinges. If you do this, you may have noticed the display is sometimes far too eager to close.

The newer MacBook Air and MacBook Pro (Retina) models do have lighter displays, which have helped a great deal, but for those of us with the older, more ubiquitous unibody models, and even for owners of newer machines, following these tips can save your display and keep it lasting for years to come.

 
   
     
  Celebrate Those Dads & Grads!  
   
 

This is an exciting time of year; for many of us, it means that grass is finally turning green and flowers are blooming everywhere you look. And for our readers farther south, this time of year brings a little bit of peace and quiet to your days as many of the snow birds have gone home (at least until the next round of dreary cold weather makes its inevitable return)!

But no matter where you are reading this, Spring means more than just a change of scenery. It’s the beginning of some very big leaps in life and for many, it’s graduation season — and we want to celebrate it big! We wanted to send a special issue to you to preview what we’ve got going on for the Dads, Grads (and Moms) in your lives!

From May 19th to June 30th, we’re celebrating with savings on everything from Macs and iPads to the accessories that make the package complete. Not sure exactly what your high school grad needs for school in the fall? No problem! Our retail staff can help you find the computer that’s the right fit — everything from software to often-forgotten necessities like backup drives.

This year we are offering $100 off any Mac purchase with AppleCare, and a free Hammerhead sleeve. We have Canon printers (MX522 and MG5420 models) for $50 when purchased with the computer bundle (in total, save up to $180 on a Mac bundle). We are also offering $30 off all iPads — and you’ll save even more if you buy a case (up to $75 off). Plus, we’re offering 0% financing for qualified buyers with no minimum purchase!

See all these specials and more on our Dads & Grads page!

Wishing everyone a healthy and safe graduation season!

 
   
     
  D&G Special | Save up to $30 on Seagate Backup Plus Slim Drives  
   
 

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