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#957: macOS Sierra; So Many Apps; iPhone 7 Camera Review

 
     
 

Hello Fellow Technophiles,

Today’s big tech news from the Mac world is the release of the latest operating system: Sierra. Its numerical name is 10.12 and this is the first release to use the new name for the Mac OS which is, appropriately enough, macOS. This keeps it in line with the other operating systems in the Apple family: iOS, watchOS, and tvOS.

I wish that they had stuck with big cat names (such as former operating systems Tiger, Lion, Leopard, etc.) because as a person who was born in the hospital at and graduated from the University of Vermont I was looking forward to OS X Catamount. Now there are people out there that say that a mountain lion (the friendly name for OS X 10.8) IS a catamount, but I say that a catamount must live in Vermont to be a catamount. I also believe that we have catamounts in Vermont despite the official story that the last one was shot on Thanksgiving Day 1881 But I may not be credible as I also believe in Champ.

Putting all of that silliness aside for a moment, the big question we always get when a new OS is released is: Should I update? The answer is, unfortunately, not always a simple one. In general, my advice is to wait for the first .1 update which usually cures most of the major issues with the initial release. And, as always, BACK UP BEFORE UPDATING. Your specific computer, the programs on it, or your peripherals (printers, scanners, etc.) may not be compatible with the new release and a backup allows you to roll back if necessary. Also, in some cases, this installation can fail in the middle rendering your computer inoperable and your data inaccessible.

If you prefer to have the experts handle this, we offer data backup and OS upgrade services at all retail locations.

Thanks for reading!

-Mike
michaeld@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  So Many Apps  
   
 

Fall is in the air: nights are getting cooler the leaves are starting to change, and the birds are heading south. As you think about raking leaves, putting your garden to rest, and cleaning up around the house don’t forget your Mac! I normally use this time of year to tidy up my machine. One step of my process is to take a look at the all of my installed applications to see what I may not need anymore and remove them.

Now why would you want to uninstall an application? Well, there may be many reasons but mainly uninstalling programs you no longer need frees up disk space and allow software upgrades to run smoothly. Often machines can start to slow down or freeze when they are running out of disk space or maybe there are new applications out there that you would like to explore and have fun with. Having fun is what it is all about, right? If you’ve had challenges upgrading to a newer version of software before it may be due to the older version on your machine. Sometimes it is necessary to completely uninstall the older version to ensure the newer version works properly.

Uninstalling software in macOS is generally an easy straight forward procedure: locate an application by opening a Finder window, click Applications in the sidebar, then right click the applications icon and select move to Trash OR you can hold down the Ctrl key and click on the application icon and then choose Move to Trash from the menu that is displayed. Alternatively, you can also drag-and-drop an application’s icon to the trash can icon on your dock.

But what about applications that don’t have shortcuts such built-in system apps, and other random cases where the simple uninstall steps will not work as they may not appear within the applications folder? For example you will not find the Flash plug-in for macOS in the applications folder but in your System Preference panel. Here you will need to head over to Adobe’s website and search their site for the proper uninstall app for the version of macOS that you are running. There are many other plug-ins that fall into this category and the best solution here would be to search the software manufacturer’s website and follow their steps for proper un-installation. If you are not the user who originally installed the software, or your are not an admin user on your Mac, you will need to enter an administrator’s name and password to continue, so make sure you are an admin of your computer or know the username and password to the admin account before starting this process. When complete make sure you Empty Trash to fully uninstall.

Keep in mind this is different than a Windows machine. Apple’s macOS does not come with an built-in uninstaller tool listing out all your installed software (like add/remove programs in Windows Control Panel) and few vendors offer packaged un-installers with their applications for macOS, and generally they’re not necessary. This is because most applications are contained within themselves and don’t run background components or alter system settings files, unlike our lovely friend Windows, and leaving old preferences and support files on the hard drive generally doesn’t do much harm.

There are some instances where this is not the case and removing preference files, support items, and sometimes hidden files or kernel extensions are necessary especially when you are dealing with corrupt software installations that you are trying to reinstall and get working again. This is where the power of Terminal comes into play to assist us in the removal. This will be discussed along with a number of free software applications available to aid in uninstalling and cleaning up your Mac later in Part 2, the follow-up to this Tech Tails newsletter tip.

 
   
     
  iPhone 7 Plus Camera Review  
   
 

I was fortunate enough to get my hands on and receive the new iPhone 7 Plus on release day. I skipped the iPhone 6s when it came around so when the 7 was announced I jumped at the chance to upgrade and I haven’t regretted it once. Despite the suggestions from my co-workers I’ve yet to drop my phone into a glass of water…perhaps that review will come in a future issue. For now, I’ll still be playing it a bit safe!

Like many of you, I’ve read some of the reviews out there and some reviewers are less than impressed with the camera. Coming from an iPhone 6, and after a few blunders with my first few photos, I can say it’s clear that there are significant improvements in the quality of the photos. I am not a professional photographer by any means but I enjoy taking photos and take a lot of them. For the first few photos that I took with the phone it appeared that the phone was struggling to focus on the object I was trying to take a photo of. For about a minute the camera was blurring and coming into focus, then blurring again. Once the camera focused, there hasn’t been a single hiccup with my photos but briefly I did wondered if I’d gotten a defective phone.

My first round of photos were taken around dusk so the lighting was low and flat. The pictures came out much better than I expected, and the optical zoom worked much better than I would have thought. I was taking pictures of my campfire and was pleasantly surprised with the details the camera picked up from the fire. Later on that night I took pictures well after dark and quickly learned the flash was not the best option to use even though it was completely dark. The photos all came out very washed and the colors were completely off; turning off the flash dramatically changed the quality of the photos. My iPhone 6 never took a good picture at night but the iPhone 7 plus in comparison takes amazing photos! I took a picture of my dog Piper and the only light was from the campfire and a small outdoor light. I was very impressed!

Night time photos are always something that I’ve struggled with, so I also made sure to take my phone along with me on our trip to the local fair and there I was frankly blown away at the quality of the photos. I took photos all day long, in dimly lit buildings, outside in the bright sun and in cattle barns. Each photo taken that day came out amazing and the details that the camera picked up were way better than I ever expected.

Lastly I finally tried out live photos, which I’ll be honest I never really understood the value of that when the 6s came out. Frankly I still don’t, but it sure is cool! I’m thinking that live photos could be a great opportunity for some very creative memes and some good laughs for my kids. Ultimately, despite what some reviews are reporting, my testing and responses from co-workers on the photos I took over the weekend, the camera in the iPhone 7 plus stands up to the expectations.

 
   
     
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