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#923: iMessage: A Brief Summary, It Wasn't Me It Was The One-Armed Robot, Troubleshooting your Mac, March Mayhem

 
     
 

Happy Tuesday Everybody,

This weekend I stopped into my mother’s home in Brattleboro, VT. As is typical for any parent of a tech-savvy son or daughter, my mother needed computer help from me. She had installed adware on her MacBook Pro and did not know how to remove it. Fortunately, Adware Medic is a wonderful donation-supported piece of software for Mac that cleans almost all known Mac adware/malware issues with merely a couple clicks. It could not have been easier for me to clean up her Mac. I would highly recommend this app to anyone who needs to clean up adware on their machine (and it may not be clear which apps are adware, so running this as a preventative measure might be a good idea).


It was an exciting day yesterday, with Apple’s March media event being aired. We witnessed Apple release of what could (almost) objectively be stated to be the best notebook made so far. Thinner than the 11” MacBook Air, the new addition to the previously discontinued MacBook line fills every bit of internal space with battery capacity, and also introduces a brand new key design, a brand new trackpad design, and fanless technology. We are all very excited to get our hands inside these!

Warm regards,
-Mikhael
mikhael@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  iMessage: A Brief Summary  
   
 

Text messages sent via SMS are limited to 160 characters. This is because in 1985 wireless bandwidth was in extremely short supply, and characters had to be limited to a smaller number than ideal. One of the people on the team building the SMS standard found that commonly sent messages were well under 160.

Apple’s iMessage has changed the times, and changed with the times. It allows longer messages with more freeform text. It allows all fonts and characters, and a diverse emoji collection. This has changed how we speak to each other, and what we can say. But the biggest way it has changed communication between people day-to-day is in how it utilizes the data network. Not only are messages sent faster most of the time, but in addition media can be sent. Not just the low-resolution photos on cheap phones, but real, high definition several-megabyte images and tens of megabytes in video (iMessage videos cap at around 3.5 minutes).

Also, moving over the data network, these messages are much less susceptible to third-party eavesdropping on communication. Text messages are essentially in the open and accessible by any telephone company. iMessages, on the other hand, are stored only on devices and Apple’s own servers, which Tim Cook has publicly stated nobody else has access to (not that taking this with a grain of salt isn’t advised).

iMessage doesn’t even require a phone number, merely an Apple ID. One can iMessage friends to and from any Apple ID. However, one can opt to use the phone number as the identifier, and it’s bound to the user’s Apple ID. I personally use iMessage with solely my phone number.

iMessage also allows “Read receipts”, which can be sent to the sender on the other end, enabling them to know the message has been read by their recipient. This is a feature many users value, although it would be wonderful if Apple made it possible to select who does and doesn’t receive these read receipts. Currently the only way to do it is by installing unauthorized software via jailbreaking.

iMessage is available on all iOS devices. A couple of other fantastic features are the third-party keyboard options available to users and Siri dictation, both wonderful aspects of the iOS 8 interface.

One other company had an iMessage-like service, using data instead of the cellular network. Blackberry Messenger is still used by people today, but not much. It lacks iMessage’s popularity and robustness. My apologies to any die-hard BBM users I offend!

Learn more about iMessage here.

 
   
     
  It Wasn't Me, It Was The One-Armed Robot  
   
 

Now I know this is a little off the subject of Apple tech, but if you are a tech enthusiast, then you too probably think robots are cool. I think robots are cool.

The Curiosity Rover launched in 2011 from Cape Canaveral, FL and landed on Mars in 2012 (now that is some serious flyer miles right there). Ever since it has been the coolest over-sized RC car to inhabit another planet. In fact, Mars is the only planet to be only inhabited by man-made robots (COOL!). The rover’s task is to explore the Martian soil and study it’s climate, in preparation for future human exploration.

But Houston we have a problem…it seems that our robot is sick. NASA stopped maintenance on the rover after a short circuit disabled one of it’s arms. Now, from a technician’s point of view, I can say it is sometimes very difficult to troubleshoot computer issues remotely. I can NOT even imagine how much of a pain it is to troubleshoot a failure on a whole other planet! Coffee consumption must be at an all time high at the NASA labs as diagnosing and testing is expected to take several days.
Hopefully NASA’s techs will get the car-sized RC car rocking again, so we may continue to explore and, maybe, one day occupy Mars.

Learn more here.

 
   
     
  Troubleshooting your Mac: A Guide to Narrowing it Down  
   
 

As a tech, I have a unique perspective on the Apple world and the underlying factors that contribute to faults in our technology. It seems to me that the majority of issues that I handle day-to-day are often quite straightforward fixes, and yet it becomes difficult to translate that experiential knowledge into relatable and useful information that customers can use to build their own troubleshooting skills. Therefore, I am reaching out in this article to try and explain some common issues that find their way onto my bench, and how they might be diagnosed properly. A customer who is informed about the inner-workings of their machine will always experience more straightforward and reliable service from repair depots, and find that being armed with the right amount of experience makes resolving issues far less painstaking. This workflow reflects many of the steps I follow in order to track down points of failure in the event of malfunction.

Here are the basics:

  • Write down your symptoms, in the CORRECT ORDER. When does the issue occur? What steps does the machine complete successfully? Make a checklist from power-on to full OS boot, and figure out specifically where the issue begins to show itself. This is key in identifying whether a problem is software or hardware based.

  • Ensure the machine is backed up completely, ideally with Time Machine or a disk cloning or sparse image software. If the machine is not able to boot and you do not have a backup, it is imperative that you have the technicians recover the drive information before any repairs are done to your machine. Creating a copy of those files as quickly as possible can make the difference between losing your data or saving priceless information.
  • Isolate Software-based issues. Once your data is securely backed up, attempt to resolve the issue by reinstalling your operating system via Recovery Disk, USB installer, or Retail OS X DVD. If you are not comfortable with this process, we are happy to provide the service for $45.
  • Once you have completed an OS refresh, if the issue persists, your machine may have hardware trouble. In this situation it would be best to have it examined by a trained Macintosh technician who is certified to disassemble and perform repairs on your model of Macintosh (that’s where small dog comes in!). Be sure to include as much detail about the issue as possible, including pertinent environmental details: How many other devices are connected to this machine? Have you experienced power-related issues such as a brownout or power surge in your home’s grid? Are there other sensitive electronic devices in the area that may be causing interference?

These are important factors in tracking down suspected issues. To ensure that your machine is diagnosed and repaired in the smoothest and most effective way possible, making sure that you are aware of risk factors as well as the possibility of unexpected repair costs will allow your repair to move quickly through our queue and diagnostic process and get back in your hands sooner!

 
   
     
  MARCH MAYHEM  
   
 

St. Patrick’s Day
Lots of basketball
SPRING ….finally!

We are embracing the mayhem all month long with specials on monitors, speakers, fitness trackers, backup batteries, cases, headphones and much more! The first half of the month is dedicated to you sports fans out there, while the second half will have you thinking about spring weather and spring cleaning.

Finance SONOS speaker for 24 Months

Take advantage of our 24-month financing option and get the home theater of your dreams with SONOS Hi-Fi speakers. Feel like you are at the game, from your own living room, while playing music in the kitchen, and control it all from your smartphone. With SONOS you can work your way up to a full system one speaker at a time. Start with any speaker and expand your system to other rooms over time. Visit any of our retail stores for details!


Samsung 26 inch LED LCD Monitor

Enjoy the perfect viewing experience with a horizontal and vertical viewing angle of 178 degrees which means you see a clear picture from almost anywhere in the room whether you’re seated (wondering what the next pass will be), standing (cheering on your team), or lying down (because you got tied of standing up and sitting down).


Portable USB Power Pack for iPod, iPhone and iPad

This backup battery will go wherever you are, whether it be the bar, a buddies house, or maybe you are lucky enough to attend the game. Keep tabs on your bracket and never go without a charge.

Check out all the specials at: smalldog.com/marchmayhem

Please note specials will change March 18th, so if you see something you like.. better grab it before it’s gone! New specials will be added March 18th for our customers who are coming down with spring fever…stay tuned!!!

 
   
     
  SPECIAL | Save $40 on G-Technology G-DRIVE - 2TB  
   
 

TT Exclusive | Save $40 on G-Technology G-Drive 2TB

159.99

G-DRIVE is a high performance storage solution featuring screaming fast USB 3.0 and FireWire interfaces. Available in storage capacities up to 4TB, G-DRIVE is perfect for storage-intensive applications like audio/video editing, digital photography, music libraries, and high-speed data backup. G-DRIVE is plug and play on Mac OS X and ready to use with Time Machine. An all-aluminum enclosure with an integrated heat-sync system keeps G-DRIVE running cool and quiet.

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  SPECIAL | ChugPlug External Battery Pack for MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13"  
   
 

TT EXCLUSIVE | New Product ChugPlug External Battery Pack

129.99

NEW PRODUCT: The Lenmar ChugPlug is a patented external power pack that seamlessly integrates with Apple’s MagSafe Power Adapter to power and charge your MacBook anywhere. The ChugPlug is compatible with every MacBook that uses the 45W or 60W MAgSafe adapter which includes all models of the MacBook Air and the 13 inch MacBook Pro. This battery adds up to 4 hours of additional battery life to the MacBook Air and up to 3 additional hours to the MacBook Pro. Bring it with you to the airport, the office, or use the portable device in the comfort of your own home.

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