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#922: The Safety and Security of your Personal Information, Apple TV, Internal vs. External Thunderbolt


Hello Fellow Technologists,

We interrupt the usual Tech Tails introduction for a special announcement!

Apple has finally announced a repair extension program for graphics processors in the 2011 MacBook Pro 15” and 17”. In addition, this repair extension program also covers GPU issues in the MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2012), and MacBook Pro (Retina, 15 inch, Early 2013).

Excerpt from Apple article:

An affected MacBook Pro may display one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen
  • No video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on
  • Computer restarts unexpectedly

Apple has also stated that they are contacting customers who paid to resolve this issue with themselves or an AASP (like Small Dog Electronics) to refund for cost of repair. (Please note: Apple is the company refunding for prior repairs of these issues, and not Small Dog Electronics).

A direct link to the article:

In other news, it’s cold out! I hope you’re all reading this from the comfort of your cozy fireplace with a cup of hot tea. While doing so, I would really recommend backing up your data to an external drive and save the pain of losing data when that hot tea gets spilled into the keyboard. It only takes a minute of one’s time to back up 10 years of photos. It takes merely a second to spill tea into a computer and lose 10 years of photos.

Warm regards,

  The Safety and Security of your Personal Information  

With all the headlines these days about data breaches, hackers, and spyware it is understandable that the safety of your information in cyberspace is on everyone’s mind these days. When we hear about companies such as TJ Maxx, Target and, most recently, TurboTax (hmm…companies that begin with the letter “t”…) getting hacked and potentially losing critical customer information, it can make consumers hesitant to use a lot of this brilliant new technology.

Here are a few ways Apple ensures the safety of your information and a few tips on how to protect your information:

Passwords, passwords, passwords…they can be the bane of our existence and are so hard to remember: “What password did I use for this site?? Is it case sensitive?? Did I use letters or numbers?? Holy cow that’s a lot to remember. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!?!? That’s the same combination I have on my luggage!!!”

The strength of your password goes a long way towards protecting your information. As you might imagine, a password like “password1234” is not a very strong password. As time goes by, the requirements for passwords have become stricter and stricter as criminals devise more and more ingenious ways to steal your information. I personally recommend using a name and a year to begin with. This ensures its an easy password to remember, but not easy for someone to guess. Make certain it’s at least 8 characters. Add a capital letter and a special character to your password to make it even stronger! For example “Jenny5309!” is an example of a strong password. It has more than 8 characters, a combination of letters and numbers, a capital letter and a special character. It would be difficult for anyone to guess (unless they happen to have a family member named Jenny who was born in September of 1953.) It’s easy for you to remember because you do!

Oh and FYI, nobody at Apple, or Small Dog Electronics has access to your passwords. If anyone ever calls or emails and asks you to give them your passwords, please feel free to refuse that information to ANYONE. That goes for any other password you use, whether it be for your email or your bank account.

Ahh, the iCloud, is it up in the sky? Where exactly IS this cloud and will it follow me around dropping rain on me wherever I go??

Here’s a great source of information on iCloud.

Our main concern here is the security of your information. The iCloud uses a minimum of 128-bit encryption and as much as 256-bit to safeguard your information. What is encryption you ask? In the simplest of terms, your computer uses your password like a key to unlock your information. In the case of 128-bit encryption, your computer has THE single key to unlock ONE lock out of a possibility of 6 trillion locks. That’s trillion with a T! As you can imagine, that is a great number of locks to try to pick. Major financial institutions, the government and the military also use between 128 and 256-bit encryption.

One of the major benefits of owning an Apple computer rather than a PC has always been they are less susceptible to viruses, trojans, malware, and other nasty bugs out there. This is still true, however some still slip through. These programs can wreak havoc on your system and cause general headaches all around.

“Lets be careful out there.” This applies to the internet as well as the mean streets. Use strong privacy settings on social media sites. Use caution when entering financial information online. Look for a tiny picture of a padlock in the bottom right hand corner of the page you are on. Another way to tell if a site is secure is the web address. Sites with a web address that begins with https let you know the site is secure. Make sure your operating system stays up to date and your firewall is active.

If you start to get pop ups, advertisements, and other annoyances don’t fret; there is an easy fix. Follow these steps to rid your computer of theses hooligans by following these steps to the letter.

Woof, arf, woof! (Don’t forget to have fun!)

  Apple TV  

Are you tired of rising prices, poor customer service, and ever more frequent blackouts over fee disputes with your local cable provider? Many consumers yearn for a way out of the grip of their cable TV subscription. A solution is out here in this vast world of technology in the form of the Apple TV. The Apple TV is tightly integrated into the Apple ecosystem and gives you access to content from iTunes as well as the ability to stream content from any compatible iOS device or Mac on the Apple TV. However, if you are hoping to sever all ties with your cable provider, that’s not going to be an option in many regional markets, as you’ll still need them for the high-speed Internet service that makes the Apple TV work. But the cost savings of dropping the TV package can be substantial. Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Apple TV device with remote included ($99.99)
  • A high-definition TV (HDTV) that can display 720p or 1080p video
  • An HDMI cable to connect Apple TV (3rd generation) to your TV
  • An optical digital audio cable (*optional)
  • An 802.11a, b, g, or n Wi-Fi wireless network (wireless video streaming requires 802.11a, g, or n), or 10/100Base-T Ethernet network
  • A broadband Internet connection (DSL, cable, or LAN)
  • Your wireless network name and password (if you use one)

Want to start enjoying the benefits of streaming movies, TV shows, music, podcasts, and photos wirelessly to a TV? Streaming audio and video content from iTunes libraries on a network using Home Sharing? Streaming photos from an iPhoto library or a designated folder on a computer? Streaming content from Netflix or Hulu with a Netflix or Hulu account? Here’s what you’ll need to begin enjoying the many benefits of streaming content from any iOS device or PC on the Apple TV.

  • iTunes 10.5 or later
  • An Apple ID to rent movies or purchase TV shows from the iTunes store, and to use Home Sharing to stream content from a Mac or PC
  • A Netflix account to stream content. Other accounts may be required for full access to some internet content.

With all investments make sure to never forget the 2 years of Apple Care ($29.99). If you are in an Apple-centric household and want to add the customary “Designed in Cupertino” fit and finish, there’s much to like with Apple TV. A solution is out here in this vast technical world and Apple TV may just the solution you have been looking for.

  Internal vs. External Thunderbolt  

iMacs are difficult to open and swap hard disks in. They always have been (except the first generations of G5 iMacs, with an easy-open back panel/stand), and they continue to be. There is a high risk of breaking glass, LCD panels, display cables, and logic boards.

On top of these obstacles, the iMac 2011 and later rely on proprietary firmware on the system drive to manage internal temperature. Swapping the drive with an aftermarket drive will result in loud fan noise, as the iMac runs its hard disk fan at maximum to avoid failure because of missing temperature readings from the hard disk. Software can fix this, but it’s just one issue added to the pile of reasons not to swap the original drive.

One of the most common desires of iMac owners we meet is replacing their internal system disk with a solid state drive. Firstly, by Apple’s policy, we cannot void any in-warranty system. Secondly, the costs to have a shop install a solid state drive and the limit of flexibility once it’s installed and costs associated with changing the setup again are extremely prohibitive.

For this reason, let’s take a look at our Thunderbolt ports. That port with a little Thunderbolt icon is a direct line to your computer’s PCI bus which is something laptops and iMacs have not had, and one of the biggest reasons people who needed expandability stuck with towers. However, after 2011 all Macs have come with Thunderbolt ports and this gives us a 10 Gbps connection to work with (for perspective, the fastest SSD you buy for an internal drive is going to cap at 6 Gbps).

For this reason, I believe the best option for 2011 (or newer) iMac owners, and owners of the 2014 Mac mini, is to utilize a Thunderbolt SSD as their system drive if they want to upgrade. Not only is this easily replaceable, but it can be portable, placed in a secure location, or moved to a different computer as the system drive with virtually no effort required. The cost of any Thunderbolt SSD drive is far below the costs to acquire one of Apple’s “blade” SSDs, and a wholly more useful solution.

Here are two drives we sell that I would recommend. Please note that both of these product are on special this week for our loyal Tech Tails readers.

LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt SSD Drive – 256GB
LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt SSD Drive – 500GB

  SPECIAL | External Thunderbolt  

Move at the Speed of Lightning.

Deadlines rule our world. When digital storage is critical for your project, it had better be as fast and reliable as you are. From the desktop to the badlands, it has to connect to any computer, deliver more than enough speed for the most demanding applications, and protect data against any threat. Enter the LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt Series.

Select from 250GB or 500GB of storage and save!

   TT SPECIAL | Save $30 on LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt USB 3.0 - 250GB
   TT SPECIAL | Save $50 on LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt USB 3.0 - 500GB
  SPECIAL | Internal Thunderbolt  

The choice between speed and capacity is over. Choose both.

Traditionally, SSDs have offered powerful speeds and extra features, but at a high cost per gigabyte. Enter the Crucial MX100 SSD. Leveraging years of R&D and the latest NAND technology, the Crucial MX100 offers a low cost per GB, combined with unrelenting performance and one of the most complete feature sets available.

Select from 256GB or 512GB of storage and save!

   TT SPECIAL | Save $15 on Crucial MX100 2.5-inch Internal SSD - 256GB
   TT SPECIAL | Save $20 Crucial MX100 2.5-inch Internal SSD - 512GB
  SPECIAL | SAVE $300 Presidents' Bundle  

Presidents' Day Bundle | Purchase Refurbished Computer With AppleCare Get Canon AirPrint Printer

Receive savings of up to $300 when you purchase an Apple Certified Refurbished Mac Bundle. Purchase a refurbished MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, with AppleCare (which extends your Apple Warranty to 3 years) and receive a Free Canon AirPrint Printer.

Limited quantity available so grab this awesome deal before it is gone! Sale ends Saturday February 28th.