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#919: Budgeting in 2015 With Your iPhone, Mac OS X History, OS X Your Way


Happy Winter, Friends!

We’re now in the negatives (Celsius and Fahrenheit…but thankfully not Kelvin) with a light dusting of snow intermittently white-washing our roads and houses. It is cold outside, so do not leave anything with a battery in your car overnight, or the cold can kill the battery, or significantly harm it. I keep having to run back to my car in negative temperatures to rescue something I had left behind. I would much rather have remembered to bring it inside in the first place and keep enjoying my warm tea indoors.

The holiday season has seen a significant increase in repairs, and things were already pretty busy! However, we have added some wonderful new members to our service department, and we expect to be in much better shape in the upcoming month or two.

I hope your holiday stresses have drifted away like wind-blown snow. Welcome to 2015! It’s great to be here with you!


  Budgeting in 2015 With Your iPhone  

This is more of a “life hack” suggestion than a tale of tech, but I think it applies to those of you looking to get more out of your iPhone…

Let’s face it, a lot of us feel troubled while trying to keep track of our budgets. A lot of people, myself included, spend from the same account that their income goes into.

Google has a service that’s been out for a while called Google Wallet. This isn’t news, and some of you probably use it already, but I’ve started carrying it in lieu of cash. Google Wallet is basically a debit account that can be used at any credit card location and ATM. There are no fees attached, and it can be loaded from your checking account.

The best part of this service, for myself and others I know, is the fantastic app for both iOS and Android. The app allows you to track your spending and use, and load money from your bank account at any time. Also, unlike other services, the transfer is practically instant, taking 30 seconds to put more money on the card, versus some similar services which take up to a week or more to complete a transfer.

This card has become my spending money card. I load it with a specific budget for spending cash each Monday, and reload it back to the amount I’ve set for myself each week. In addition, it also gives you your current balance and recent spending activity on the main page of the app.

The app itself can be secured by Touch ID, which is why I even suggest it. My pocket cash is now on plastic and behind Touch ID and PIN verification, and is tracked easily throughout the week. It’s helped me get a handle on my spending and I’d recommend others try it if they find themselves in a similar situation!

You can download the Wallet app on the iOS App Store, and set it all up with a few simple steps right from your phone.

Editor’s Note: This service requires a Google account and your basic checking account number and routing information.

  Mac OS X History  

I’m a somewhat recent convert to the Apple world. My first Mac was a hand-me-down from a friend: a first-generation white MacBook from 2006. I got that machine in the winter of 2011. It had Mac OS 10.6 (AKA Snow Leopard) on it when I got it, and that is where my personal experiences with Mac OS X began.

We’ll start with Mac OS 10.5 (AKA Leopard) which is no longer supported by Apple. It was the first Mac OS to include Time Machine, Apple’s fantastic backup utility. It was also the first Mac OS to include Dashboard, where you can have widgets that can be really useful, or just fun (although there are a few that leave me wondering why they exist).

Mac OS 10.6 (AKA Snow Leopard), as the nickname reflects, isn’t a major overhaul, so much as a refinement of Leopard. Most of the changes were under the hood and were designed to use less system resources and run more smoothly. Steve Jobs felt like the features could wait while the code was tightened up. Many users reported that it felt like they got a new machine after this OS upgrade. This was the last version of Mac OS to be sold on an physical disc – a DVD in this case.

Snow Leopard is a gold standard of sorts. It’s recommended for older machines that might be capable of running a later version, but users will likely experience the best performance on 10.6. A very important feature/aspect of 10.6 is that it is the last Mac OS to include support for Rosetta, the software that allowed the Intel processor in post-2005 Macs to run software coded for the PowerPC processor. If you have old apps that you can’t afford to upgrade, or if you don’t want to deal with changes, you should really stick with 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Mac OS 10.7 (AKA Lion) is a whole different cat, and a significant evolutionary development. This version of the Mac OS was the first to be only available as a download. There was no physical medium and at no point was there ever a physical disc that you could buy from Apple with Lion on it. For $30, the lowest upgrade cost ever, you could get Lion. It was very forward thinking, and really was looking into the future. There was a crossover of features between iOS and Mac OS, gestures for one, so now that fabulous Magic Trackpad (the only trackpad I’ve ever loved, I used to be a ThinkPad fanboy and the TrackPoint was bar none for pointing, in my far from humble opinion). All of the OS updates and software were downloaded through the Mac App Store. This makes for a really clean and easy spot to do all of your system updates and many program updates. One of the strangest features of Lion was Launchpad, a very iOS like grid of apps that looked just like the iOS home screen, and behaved similarly. Many folks have been confused by this and don’t really understand the utility. Another very important thing to be noted for Lion is that they dropped Rosetta support. If you have old PowerPC programs, they will no longer work on Lion.

We’ll continue this adventure down memory lane in a future Tech Tails. I know this has been by no means completely exhaustive, and I’m sure there are many significant features and developments I’ve left out. What is above is what I remember as the most significant bits that really stuck out for me. Until next time…

  OS X Your Way  

Apple has a knack for layout and design that is unparalleled across the industry and has been widely regarded as the best in the business when it comes to systems that are straightforward and useful right out of the box. However, there’s an obvious sense in the newer versions of OS X that some things are missing, and a LOT of things sure are different. Having talked to a number of frustrated customers, I’ve come up with a list of common tweaks that might help both personalize and optimize your system. Though I really have mostly been impressed by the new developments, Apple may have overstepped the line between functionality and beauty in a few places in Yosemite. That’s not to say the same functionality isn’t present, it’s actually readily available, but in my day I see plenty of users who do not know where to look for themselves.

I’ve noticed that with each upgrade of OS X, the sidebar in Finder has changed in it’s focus. In the past, things were based on a hierarchical system that began with Macintosh HD, followed sub-folders, and left space for Smart Folders and other links below. In Yosemite, Apple approaches file management in a revolutionary yet sometimes confusing way. You can easily revert to the tried-and-true sidebar or customize it exactly to your specifications within Finder’s preferences – just look for the sidebar tab and you can pick and choose a layout that works for you! There are similar settings for almost all of the built-in apps on your Mac…

  • Don’t like the dock on the bottom of your screen? Switch it up! A lot of customers prefer to have their Dock auto-hide or display on the left side of their screen: System Preferences > Dock
  • You can get fancy and organize your desktop by a wide range of sorting options in the View Options menu: Command-J
  • Try setting up some Automator workflows for common tasks every day! You can even use voice commands to trigger a script. See this great article on Automator for more information.
  • Color code your files and folders! Pull up a contextual menu (by right- or Control-clicking on any item) in Finder and you’ll see the Label section available. It’s a great way to differentiate between projects that have multiple directories or as a progress indicator.
  • Remember that you can easily create Smart Folders in Finder to automatically run filter searches on your directories: File > New Smart Folder
  • You can hold the Command key and drag around menu items in multiple applications, as well as the system menu bar (right side only).

Remember – it’s YOUR Mac. YOU are the one who uses it every day. Why not make it work with your own style? There’s so much customization at your fingertips. You don’t need to just settle for the default. Explore your Mac and have fun with it!

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