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#930: Understanding Your Internet Connection iOS 8 Tips, iOS History, Backup for What?

  Summer is here  

Summer has officially started and I must say it’s been a wet one so far! I am starting to feel like it’s been raining more days than it’s been sunny here in Vermont. While it has done wonders for the grass and other green foliage, it seems to be creating a bit of an issue with my lawn. The poor soil is so water logged I am starting to slush my way to the horse barn in the mornings! I have two great big oak trees in my yard which several years back began to loose their luster and many branches died off. We became concerned about the tree and called in our local arborist to offer advice on the condition of our trees, he determined that our lawn was too wet in many places and that the kind of trees we had preferred less moisture. We improved our ditches and drainage around the property and now 4 or 5 years later we are seeing amazing regrowth in the trees, crossing my fingers this wet summer doesn’t set my trees back again.

Too much moisture isn’t good for my yard and it’s certainly not good for electronics either. Liquid damage is probably the second most common repair in our service department next to failed hard drives (though with SSD drives becoming the new standard, this is happening less and less) and is one of the most frustrating for customers. Often times liquid finds it’s way into computers without the user realizing it, there is little that we can do to offer ways to prevent this, but what we can offer is a great accidental damage insurance policy from Safeware for $99 when you buy a new or factory refurbished computer with Applecare. Safeware gives you the peace of mind should your computer have liquid accidentally spilled on it, you can get your computer repaired easily and economically.

Thank you for reading!

  Understanding Your Internet Connection  

Having a good Internet connection is vital to being able to use your Mac for its intended purpose. Most people know how to connect to their home WiFi, but a lot of times that is as far as they can go. In this article I will explain what the various WiFi symbols mean. Please see the picture below.

Garage Sale

  • The top right image means you’re connected to a WiFi network and have network access. The bars will appear black, and the more you have lit up, the better the connection is.
  • The top left symbol indicates that you may be connected to a network, but not the Internet, or that the network requires a password to activate.
  • The bottom left symbol indicates that WiFi is turned off. This symbol also appears when you are using a wired ethernet connection instead of WiFi.
  • The bottom right symbol means that there is no airport hardware detected. This is usually not good and a visit to Small Dog may be in order.

All these symbols mean something different so understanding each of them is important. The top right and bottom left symbols are what you want to see for a healthy network. If you want to select a different WiFi network instead of the one you are currently on, just click on the WiFi symbol, select the network you want, and—if it has a lock—enter the password. If there is no lock next to it, simply selecting it will connect you. It is important to always have a password protected WiFi network to avoid any unwanted users connecting without your permission.

  3 More Tips and Tricks for iOS  

iOS 8 has many levels of complexity and I have enjoyed exploring it over the last year. As part of my series of tips and tricks for iOS, I have three more for you:

1. Ever have difficulty reading the small text on your iPhone? Well don’t worry, all you need to do is go to Display & Brightness in Settings. From there, tap on Text Size and adjust to your liking. This will make reading those work emails on the go a lot easier.

2. Do you like listen to music to fall asleep, but don’t want your device on all night? From the Clock app you can set a timer to stop your music from playing all night.

3. Ever hear a song and need to know what it is? All you need to do is hold the home button and ask, “Siri, what is this song?”

  iOS History  

Apple makes some really awesome products, and I use a lot of them every day, but hands down the most valuable gizmo that Apple makes that I use every day is running iOS. iOS used to be called iPhone OS back in 2009 before iOS 4, when it was just the iPhones and iPod touches that ran Apple’s touch screen mobile device operating system.

An iPod touch was my first real Apple product. It gave me a ton of flexibility and freedom at an affordable cost that didn’t require me to sign a contract with a cellular company. I still have that iPod touch and it’s still cranking along to this day. One of the things I’m most impressed about with Apple is the major software updates we get every year. When I purchased the device I got everything I was hoping for and more, but there were some shortcomings. If I wanted to switch from one app to another, I had to press the home button, return to the home screen, find the icon for the app I wanted to switch to, tap on that icon to launch the app, wait for the app to load, and navigate back to where I needed to be within that app. If I wanted to switch back to the last app, wash-rinse-repeat. When I was doing that regularly it would become tedious. There were some other things I couldn’t do in the old iPhone OS 3 of 2009. Skype was one of my favorite apps because it allowed me to call friends on the telephone, not tie up the home landline, talk for hours on the cheap, and not use any of my expensive pay-as-you-go mobile minutes. If I was talking on Skype though, I couldn’t do anything else on my iPod touch or the call would disconnect. If I was waiting for a call, the app needed to be open and I couldn’t be doing anything else on the device. If I wanted to listen to music through Pandora, I couldn’t do anything else; leaving the app would stop the music. I could listen to music through Apple’s music app (called the iPod app, complete with a picture of the iPod classic in the app icon) while doing other things, but that required me to sync the music through iTunes. For some of us that just feels like a bit of a process.

Apple announced iOS 4, changing the name from iPhone OS, to be more inline with the range of devices it would be running on: the iPhone, iPod touch, and the new (this was back in 2010) iPad. There were many features, and to date, what a lot of enthusiasts regard as some of the most significant hardware updates. What I remember with no difficulty is the announcement of the iPad, where the biggest frustration of the iPhone and iPod touch, (as well as their biggest asset) of their size was addressed. With a much larger device, expanding the user interface from a 3.5” screen to a 9.7” screen, a more comfortable user experience resulted. I could spend hours in an app before feeling claustrophobic and limited by the size of the screen. The retina display on the iPhone was a huge deal. The clarity was beyond anything else available in a digital handheld device. FaceTime was also announced (Apple’s video chat). That reminds me how far into the future I live. All this was great, but the biggest thing missing was multi tasking. Those frustrations I described above where I had to leave an app, go back to the home screen, were going to be far behind me. All I had to do was double tap the home button and the screen would slide up to reveal a drawer with all the recently opened apps in there. I could tap any one of them and be sent to that app, generally right back to where I was. I could leave Skype running in the background if I was on a call and still play around with other apps, like checking facts or movie show times in Safari, or taking a note in the notes app. I could have pandora playing in the background while I poked around on Facebook, or any other app that I might want to use. It was a big deal. It was like Christmas. I can’t even remember anything I got in the 2010 holiday season, but I remember iOS 4 and multitasking.

Every year there’s been huge updates that have made me even more impressed with these devices Apple makes. This has been a brief walk down memory lane for me and I have so much more to say, but we’ll continue on all that later.

  Back-up for what?  

Now I know as Mac user you run into the mentality that Macs “don’t get viruses” or “Macs rarely have issues”. Both of those statements are false. As a technician, I have seen viruses, adware and other forms of malware. I have also seen hard drives fail time and time again. This is not to discourage people from buying Macs. I’ve seen more malevolent malware and catastrophic failure when I was a PC tech, but these unfortunate events do happen in the Mac world. This is why backups are important, even on Macs. Luckily for Mac users, doing backups is so much easier thanks to Time Machine.

Introduced back in the Leopard days, Time Machine is Apple’s backup software and it is pretty darn good at doing its job of keeping your family photos, music, and even software from being completely lost in the void of corrupted bits and bytes.

With Time Machine you can store backups on your Mac’s hard drive, but I would recommend using a external hard drive. “What? I just spent a lot of money on this computer and now I have to buy something else?” That’s sometimes what I hear in response to my recommendation, but with data recovery costs ranging from $250 to thousands of dollars, $80 and twenty minutes of your time is far cheaper and simpler.

Check out the Wikipedia article on Time Machine.

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