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#909: Sleep vs. Standby Modes on Mac Laptops, Internet Privacy, or Lack Thereof, Monument Valley for iOS


Before working at Small Dog, I had never been surrounded by so many Apple computers. Sure, growing up I played Lode Runner on my family’s Apple IIc, and my middle school had its share of turquoise iMac G3s, but I had always considered myself a PC guy, proud of my custom towers that I built with my dad.

It really wasn’t until I unpackaged my first iPhone that I was converted to an Apple fanboy. For many, the iPhone has been a gateway product into the world of iOS and then OS X, and before you know it, your house is filled with AirPort Extremes and Thunderbolt Displays.

I really can’t complain. Having hardware and software that’s designed to communicate with one another has made life easier. With upcoming product launches, Apple is looking to improve the seamlessness of their computers and devices more than ever. I really can’t wait.

At times like these, I start shifting my attention towards Apple news sites like MacRumors to keep up on what may or may not be in the development pipelines. Sure, they are rumors and sometimes they prove to be false, but I can’t help but get excited over the next big item from Apple.

Stay tuned for a lesson on your Mac’s sleep mode and an article on your privacy and how to stay anonymous on the web.

- Mike D

  Sleep vs. Standby Modes on Mac Laptops  

Customers occasionally ask why sometimes when they go back to their Mac laptop after a break it wakes right up, but sometimes it takes much longer.

Mac laptops have two energy saving modes: Sleep and Standby. Sleep mode can be adjusted (such as how long before going into it) by the computer user in System Preferences under Energy Saver. It is a light energy-saving mode and does the following:

(On both laptops and iMacs both:)

  • The microprocessor goes into a low-power mode
  • Video output is turned off, and a connected display may turn off or enter its own idle state
  • Apple-supplied hard disks spin down; third-party hard disks may spin down

(On laptops:)

  • The Ethernet port turns off, if applicable (see note below)
  • Expansion card slots turn off
  • The built-in modem, if present, turns off (see note below)
  • An AirPort card, if present, turns off (see note below)
  • The USB ports only responds to the power key on an external keyboard (see below)
  • The optical media drive, if present, spins down
  • Audio input and output turns off
  • Keyboard illumination, if a feature of your portable computer, turns off

The “Sleeping” device is easily awakened by tapping any key on the keyboard (except external keyboards which require tapping the power button on the keyboard) or opening the lid on laptops.

Standby is a more complete energy saving mode. The time the computer waits to go into it isn’t adjustable (at least through the User Interface) by users. Standby was introduced in 2012 Mac laptop models (except on MacBook Airs it was introduced in 2010) and is not available on iMacs. For 2012 to some 2013 models, the machine goes into Standby mode after a little over an hour in standard Sleep mode. In 2013 and later models, this was changed to three hours because of technological improvements that extended battery life overall.

To enter Standby, a laptop must be:

  • Running on battery power (if it is a Mac laptop computer)
  • Have no USB devices attached
  • Have no Thunderbolt devices attached
  • Have no SD card inserted
  • Have no external display attached

A laptop can run up to thirty days in Standby before it needs to shut down. In Standby, the following additional components are powered down:

  • The CPU
  • RAM (after being copied to the hard drive)

Standby mode is more like being powered completely off than Sleep and therefore takes longer to “wake up.” So if you’ve been gone a few hours and it takes longer than usual to wake up, it’s because it’s gone into Standby mode.

  Internet Privacy, or Lack Thereof  

Something that has been in the news lately (or at least the online news articles) is the topic of privacy on the internet with regard to how government agencies and other commercial entities are trying to keep tabs on people’s browsing habits.

Complete anonymity online is nearly impossible, as you are tagged by the address assigned to you by your internet service provider (ISP). Your browser is also being tracked by where you go, what sites you visit, and this information is being logged and sent to companies that track consumer habits to better advertise to those particular consumers. All of this paints a disturbing picture where just about everything you do online is being watched by someone and logged for analysis.

There are ways to protect yourself and make it difficult (but not impossible) to track your online travels — however, those methods are now being watched. If you even research how to protect your identity online you get flagged for monitoring 
(article from The Independent who re-ran this article

 from WIRED, and the Herald).

Once I started reading about how transparent everyone’s online journeys were to the people with the right equipment, I began researching about how to have a smaller online footprint. Yes, this probably got me flagged — but since I don’t partake in illegal online behavior, I’m not too concerned.

There are several ways to try and protect your identity. One would be using Proxy servers or Virtual Private Networks. Using Proxy servers is risky unless you know/trust the server owner and the latter usually requires some form of payment method. If you have access to a VPN, then whoever provides this service would most likely be the one to be flagged for the watch list. Your web traffic would likely get bundled into the provider’s internet access as well.

Another method is what’s called the TOR browser. TOR stands for The Onion Router, which is a service originally created by the US Navy, and is now privately maintained (though it still receives funding from the government). The TOR browser bundle includes software that allows you to connect to the TOR network. When your computer is connected to a node on this network, it gets bounced all across the world while encrypting your traffic every step of the way until you come out at your destination.

Say you want to visit; normally, your computer would connect by the shortest distance between your ISP and our ISP, making as few ‘hops’ as possible. The TOR browser makes your computer travel all over the world to protect your source and destination, as well as the travel paths of the nodes along the way.

In the past, TOR has been a safe way to browse the internet anonymously, but it recently has become the target of government agencies across the world because, as we all know, information is power. Russia has even offered a reward to the Russian researcher who is able to crack the TOR network and allow it to be monitored.

 This reward is only available to Russians within their borders in order to protect what is discovered from outside government agencies.

There have been a lot of articles about the NSA watching the traffic of average Americans, but that is for another article. For the time being, I have been thinking about how to reduce my footprint online and the biggest hurdle is social networking. Everything you post to a social network — be it Facebook or LinkedIn — is stored on some server somewhere forever,* even if you delete it from the social network it was on. There are no takebacks when it comes to posting online. Somewhere, everything that has hit the wire has been saved somewhere else. So whatever you post online, you should probably be okay with a total stranger looking at it because nothing is ever completely safe.

Knowledge is power, so guard it well!

*Editor’s Note: “Forever” may not be literal when it comes the internet, but we also know that it has a very long memory…better to be safe than sorry.

  Monument Valley for iOS  

Monument Valley is a beautiful puzzle/adventure game for iOS created by the international game studio and multimedia firm ustwo. Monument Valley is a great puzzle game because it is just as captivating visually as it is engaging mentally. However, where Monument Valley truly excels is through subverting your expectations and forcing you to alter your perspective and the world around you in order to succeed.

Story: Monument Valley follows Ida, a notorious thief who is on a journey for forgiveness after stealing the sacred geometry from the Monument Valley. The story itself is cryptic and players only receive snippets of information from exposition dialogue and the environment that they must piece together to have a better understanding.

Gameplay: The gameplay of Monument valley is simple, yet perplexing and innovative. The basic goal of each environment is to get to the end of the level and to pedestal that once held a piece of the sacred geometry in order to return it. However there are enemies, structures, and gaps preventing you from proceeding. However, Ida can move platforms and even twist the environment around her to change the perspective to create new paths to traverse.

Visuals: The visuals of Monument Valley are where the game really begins to shine. The pastel colors along with the beautiful environments give it a breathtaking style similar to that of Journey on the Playstation 3. While the environments are simplistic, they remain extremely visually engaging.

There are many architectural styles showcased throughout the many levels of Monument Valley ranging from Indian to Turkish-inspired architecture. This unique architectural style as well as the mind-bending way you can alter your perspective to form seemingly impossible architectural feats makes Monument Valley essentially into a living MC Escher painting.

Developer: ustwo
Length: 2-3 hours
Price: $3.99
Rating: 8/10
Download on iTunes

Overall Monument Valley has engaging puzzles and a stunning visual style but its hefty price tag along with low ‘replayability’ factor will make it a hard sell for some people.

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Conditions apply; note that required Minimum Monthly Payments may or may not pay off purchase before the end of promotional period. See store for details and to apply.

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