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#934: Freeing Space on Your Mac, iOS 9 and iPhone 4S, Viruses on Macs

  What happened to all my space?  

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me here in the Green Mountains. I have spent a lot of time this summer being away on the weekend with various summer activities. It’s been great for my summer bucket list but I can’t say the same for my garden. I have never been much of a gardener and I give amazing praise to those who grow a bounty year after year. I thought I had it down by the end of last summer. I grew a garden just big enough to produce only what we could eat in a few days and only had to spend a few hours a week managing weeds. I even managed to make some amazing dilly beans and pickles. Well this year not even the zucchini grew. The weeds took over despite my utilizing filter fabric, and my tomatoes grew but they fell to blight. Next year I decided to grow just a few things and whatever I can’t grow I will just pick up at the local farmers market. Perhaps I am better off sticking with things I know and gardening is not one of them.

Gardening was not my only struggle this summer. I also found myself in a bit of a bind with my Mac Mini. Recently I discovered that my Mac Mini was utilizing almost 250GB of space. Not a big deal except for the fact that I thought I had transferred over pictures and music when I recently upgraded from a 2007 MacBook to the new mini. Like many of us, when I get any new Mac I simply use migration assistant. As many of us know migration assistant has made our lives incredibly simple but sometimes can also cause a bit of a headache. I downloaded Disk Inventory X which I have used several times over the years. I like this program a lot. It really helps when you discover that your hard disk space is being utilized but it’s just not clear what is taking up the space. In my case I somehow had a 90GB textedit file! I searched and dug but could not find the file anywhere. I also did some basic disk repairs (even though there was no issue with the drive) and several other tricks, including a fresh restore from my recent Time Machine back up to try and free up this phantom space. Ultimately I ended up erasing my drive all together, reinstalling 10.10 and manually migrated the files I wanted from my Time Machine back up verses using migration assistant. Sometimes the easiest option is not always the most efficient!

I hope you are checking off many of your summer bucket list items and as always, thank you for reading.

Emily Dolloff

  iOS 9 Public, iPhone 4s and Battery Life  

The iOS 9 public beta came out several weeks ago and I’ve been running it on my iPhone 4S. iOS 9 is really attractive to me (even while using my older phone) because of the under-the-hood refinements. I was hoping those refinements would mean things would be more zippy on this old phone. Many of those improvements don’t really trickle down to me on this hardware that’s three generations behind the current hardware, but it seems features like control center and notification center are more responsive to their gestures.

There are a few things I’ve noticed that have changed in the day to day operations. The keyboard is different. It now has lower case letters on the keyboard. The keys don’t pop up like they used to by default, but that is a simple flick of a switch in settings.┬áSiri looks dramatically different with really cool and has multi colored waves.

There is now an iCloud app, but for that to appear on the home screen it needs to be enabled in settings. I like the app. It lets me see what I’ve got in there and allows me access to everything, just like many other cloud services’ iPhone apps let me do. There is a battery section in settings. While this is really cool, it gave me some information that I’m still processing and reeling in shock and disbelief of. Under the battery section of settings there’s a really cool and useful low power mode. It not as aggressive as just putting the phone in airplane mode. The battery usage section is what has me so worked up. It gives a breakdown of what apps are using battery power and a percentage. In that breakdown there were apps that I hadn’t even launched in 6 months that had been doing stuff in the background and gobbling up battery power and processor cycles. It used to be that installing apps wouldn’t bog down the device, but apparently that’s not true. Another experience that further confirms that to me is how often my phone was freezing up after years of installing apps and downloading many many gigabytes of data into every app. I restored it to factory settings, meaning all data that’s not the OS was removed. I then reinstalled all my critical apps, but nothing else. My phone has been a little more reliable, stable and faster since I removed all that stuff. Another detail that I’ve been working with most regularly is the 6 (that’s SIX, as in 2 more than 4) digit security passcode. A four digit passcode never seemed like enough for me, now I’ve got a little more security, without much inconvenience.

iOS devices are really becoming more and more like full fledged desktops and I’m excited about iOS 9 and wonder how long until the next update to the beta will be released.

  Yes, Mac User, Viruses Do Exist!  
  malware virus trojan

There is really big MYTH that Macs don’t get viruses. We know today that this is false. Apple malware has existed for Mac since 1987 with the appearance of the nVIR virus, which started with the sharing of floppy disks (remember those) that were infected. This is when the first anti-virus tools began to appear.

Fast forward to 1998 when the AutoStart 9805 spread very rapidly in the desktop publishing community, once again using removable media. With the release of OS X just around the corner the bad guys would have to go back to the drawing board with their attacks. When OS X was released, the first malware script Renepo worm, also known as Opener was unleashed. This was a nasty one. It would disable your firewall then download the hacker’s dream software tools including but not limited to, password sniffers and crackers. This would give hackers admin-level access to your machine. The latest baddy was BlackHole RAT in 2011. This was a Trojan, and a lot like Renepo, it allowed unauthorized users to take control of your Mac.

The most common malware I see is fake anti-virus or system maintenance software that boast they will speed up your mac or clean your mac. When it runs it finds all types of “problems” with instructions to call a number to get a resolution for problems that don’t actually exist. Enter the heroes of this story: the anti-virus software. This tech has two recommendations. The first one is Sophos. Sophos stands out from the crowd with its light weight and updated virus definitions. It also looks for Windows based virus so you don’t inadvertently send something nasty to your DOS-based buddies. The next is ClamXav which is basically the same thing as Sophos, but it does not have the virus definitions update like Sophos.

The biggest thing you to protect yourself from this is user education on what is going on with your Mac. I recommend you read this article from lifehacker. Surf safe, friends!

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