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#942: FileVault Explained; Terminal Tidbits; Quicken Data Transfer


Hello Fellow Tech Enthusiasts,

It is finally cold here in Vermont. After an unusually warm December, we have been hit with an arctic blast that has dropped the temperature to single digits and even below zero in some places. While heat is a major killer of electronics, cold can do a number on them too. The iPhone 6 specifications, for example, indicate that the phone should not be operated below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or stored while powered down below negative 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

I tend to leave my phone everywhere (but always eventually find it thanks to Find My iPhone!) including in my car, but I try to be especially careful not to do this when the weather is cold, and if I do, to retrieve it as soon as I remember. Please also note that quickly warming a device up can cause condensation to form, which leads to another major killer of electronics, water damage, so I always give my phone plenty of time to adjust if it gets left out accidentally.

REMEMBER: Take your kids, your pets, AND your electronic devices in from the cold and they will all thank you!

Happy New Year 2016! For those who prefer hexadecimal, Happy 7E0!


  Understanding FileVault Encryption  

There are several different types of passwords in Mac OS X. Today we will be discussing user account passwords and FileVault passwords. User account passwords are not considered to be secure by tech-savvy people. A user account password can be changed without knowing the original password in less than ten minutes by an individual with knowledge of the inner workings of Mac OS X. User account passwords are generally useful to keep your computer safe from snooping family members or roommates, but they are nearly useless against a knowledgeable hacker.

FileVault passwords, on the other hand, will stop anyone without millions of dollars of hardware and several years to dedicate to cracking the password. Enabling FileVault on your computer will make it virtually impossible for the data to be accessed by unauthorized individuals, but the downside is that no one, not even Apple themselves, will be able to recover your data in the event that you forget your password. This is because FileVault encrypts the entire hard drive.

I like to use an analogy to explain how FileVault works: Imagine you have a room full of books, with no windows and only one door. You want to prevent the books from being read by anyone you have not authorized, so you install a lock on the door; this is analogous to a user account password. This will keep out most people, but it is still possible for someone to break the door down and get into the room. If you really want to prevent the books from being read, you can use a secret code to translate each word of every book into gibberish. Now, even if someone manages to break the door down, the books are still useless to them unless they have the secret code, which only you know.

FileVault is a very powerful tool to keep your information private, but use it with caution. As a repair technician, I have seen far more people forget their FileVault password than I have seen people use FileVault to its full potential.

See this article for more information about FileVault

  Terminal Tidbits: ifconfig  

One of the most important skills to have as a so-called “power user” is knowledge of Terminal. Located in your Applications > Utilities folder, Terminal is a program that allows you to use a command line interface on your Mac. You basically type in commands to achieve the goals you want rather than using the menus and shortcuts of the graphical user interface (GUI). In this article I will be going over the ifconfig command.

The ifconfig command comes in handy when you are trying to troubleshoot network issues, such as “why do I have no internet?” to “why won’t this file transfer?”. When you go and open Terminal, you get your user name, some symbols and a blinking cursor. From here you potentially have all the power in the world to accomplish a variety of tasks without the hassle of a GUI. (editor’s note: send a note to Steve Jobs and let him know this whole GUI thing was a mistake…computer users want black screens and blinking cursors)

After Terminal opens, type in the command ifconfig and what shows up may look like a jumble of text and numbers, but trust me all that means something. From here you can see network interfaces, network address (IPv4 andIPv6), MAC address, MTU size, and see what interface is active. Now there are a lot more network commands, but all network troubleshooting and configuration usually starts with ifconfig.

See this article for details regarding ifconfig

  Quicken from PC to Mac  

One of the things I love about my job is the constant challenges I get to overcome. This past week I had a consultation where the customer wanted to transfer Quicken files from a Windows PC to her new MacBook Air.

The process for transferring the files can be a bit complex. In this case, we had to first export the company file we wanted to transfer from the PC and then run it through a converter on the PC. The software to convert is fortunately easily downloadable from Intuit directly and is free. Once the conversion process was complete, we were able to transfer the file to the Mac in a format that the current Mac version of Quicken could read.

This is just one example. Intuit has used a variety of file types over the years, especially once you include their flagship product QuickBooks, so it is recommended to upgrade to current versions sooner rather than later. Had we not had the original computer, in this case it would have been far more difficult to get this data to the new Mac.

See this link for more details about this conversion process

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