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#952: Safe Surfing; Email Providers; Premium Cables; Other Space?

 
     
 

Hello Fellow Technophiles,

On the internet, anyone can claim to be anyone. People employ many different methods of deception in order to trick you into signing up for a service you don’t need, joining a mailing list, or providing the routing number to your bank account. For example, you may be surprised to hear this, but I do not actually have a handlebar mustache, horn-rimmed glasses, and a fur coat despite the image to the left. This image has been doctored using old school Photoshop: stickers. The fur coat is real (not real fur, of course, but real as in it exists and I am actually wearing it) but belongs to one of my coworkers, and though I look super awesome in it, it is unfortunately a touch small for me.

Given that there are many pop-up messages that are legitimate, it can be hard to tell what is real. The easiest thing to do is to not trust any of them. Instead of clicking that link in an email or pop-up, navigate to that place yourself. If it is a software update pop-up, for example, close it and open the App Store app and see if there is in fact a pending software update. If it is an email about your bank account, then navigate to the bank’s website yourself, or even better call them using a known good phone number (the one on the back of your debit card is a good option); if it is truly urgent this will be the best way for you to be sure that you are actually talking to your bank and also makes it easier for your bank to verify that you are actually who you say you are.

Another good tip for staying safe on the internet is make sure that full URLs are displayed in the address bar in Safari. In the newer operating systems, a shortened form of the URL displays by default, and this can make it easier for scammers to make it look like you are on a different site than the one you think you are on. To turn this off, go to Safari > Preferences > Advanced and check the box that says “Show full website address.”

Safe surfing everyone!

Mike
michaeld@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  Email Providers  
   
 

Over the last two years I have noticed that many of our customers have email accounts from their internet providers. To me this is concerning…what happens when you change providers? You lose your email account after a time, or in some cases immediately, as they are no longer your provider and you are no longer paying for their services, which includes that email account. Unlike the myriad of free email providers, your internet provider gives you an account as part of your service package, rather than as a stand-alone service.

There are a number of great free email providers including Gmail, iCloud, and Yahoo. I personally use Gmail because of the number of other services included. Gmail accounts come with 15 GB of free cloud storage. The other major feature is the apps you can access through Google Drive. Google Drive apps include a word processing app, a spreadsheet app, presentation app, and many more.

iCloud email provides many of the same features as Gmail and is also connected to your Apple ID. Some of the included services that can be accessed via your Apple ID are contacts, iCloud drive (cloud storage), calendar, look for missing Apple devices using Find my iPhone, and iCloud Photo Library.

When you are looking for a new email provider I highly suggest looking at free email providers not your internet provider. If you are concerned about missing emails, most providers allow you to set up forwarding so that emails to your old address get forwarded automatically to the new one. If you need any help getting this set up (email routing can get confusing, especially when multiple devices are involved), please email us at consulting@smalldog.com or give us a call at 1-800-511-MACS and dial extension 515 for consulting.

 
   
     
  Premium HDMI cables  
   
 

Choosing the right cables for your computer or home theater setup can be a challenge. Not only do you need to make sure the connection types on the cables are compatible with your devices, but what if you buy a low-quality cable? If you spent hundreds of dollars on your TV, gaming console, and other devices, you don’t want to risk getting a low-quality image by purchasing a cheap HDMI cable, right?

Wrong.

This may have been accurate decades ago, but not today. In the past, it was true that analog cables for devices like VCRs could have an improved signal by adding gold plating or other premium features. Due to the variable nature of analog signals, slight variances in material quality between cables or devices could indeed have an impact on the clarity of the output signal. However, modern media devices use digital signals, not analog. Signal degradation does not affect digital connections in the same way as analog connections. If the quality of a digital signal is degraded enough by a damaged or worn out cable, once the degradation reaches a certain threshold it will simply not be transmitted. For these reasons, a so-called “premium” digital cable will not produce a better signal than a cheap one.

Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the difference between analog and digital connections. People are frequently taken advantage of, and buy an expensive cable that they were led to believe would be significantly higher in quality than the alternative. Currently on Amazon, a company called WireWorld is selling a “Platinum Starlight 7 HDMI Cable” for $10,500. No, that’s not a typo! This cable costs over ten thousand dollars and will produce exactly the same signal as any other HDMI cable.

 
   
     
  Other Space in OS X  
   
 

A frequent question that I get from customers is, “Why does my Mac have x GB of ‘Other’ data?: where ‘x’ can range from 0 GB to 100 GB or more. “Other” space in the About This Mac Storage tab is defined by Apple as a “category to count any files that aren’t recognized as one of the other listed file types (audio, movie, photos, apps, backups).” This may include items such as system caches, app plugins, certain media files, file types not recognized by Spotlight, and more.

“That’s interesting and everything, but how do I free up some of that ‘other’ space?” you might ask. Well, I’m glad that you did ask! One thing you can try first is to rebuild the Spotlight index. The “Other” storage may not have been updated in a while, and may not be correctly reporting how much data of each type is currently on your Mac.

To rebuild the Spotlight index follow these steps:

  • Open System Preferences and click Spotlight.
  • Click on the Privacy tab.
  • Drag Macintosh HD (or whatever your OS X startup disk is called) into the box. Click OK to confirm.
  • Select the disk that you just added, and click the button in the bottom left.
  • Quit System Preferences. Spotlight will now reindex your startup disk.

If you now bring up Spotlight (press Command-space bar or click on the magnifying glass in the top right corner), and start typing something, such as s-a-f-a-r-i, you’ll see a blue bar that says “Indexing…”. Wait a few minutes for it to finish indexing, and check the Storage tab in About This Mac again. See if the Other storage changed at all. If it looks better now, great! If it still looks the same, then tune in next time for further suggestions on how to manage Other storage.

 
   
     
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