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#963: Update vs. Upgrade; How Mega is a Megabyte; Two Factor Authentication

 
     
 

Hello Fellow Technophiles,

The Apple news for today is that they have released updates for iOS 10 and macOS Sierra: iOS 10.2 and macOS 10.12.2. Please note that these are updates and not upgrades and we therefore recommend them for all users currently using iOS 10 or Sierra. “What is the difference between an update and an upgrade?” you may ask. That’s a great question! Thanks for asking!

In the software world, an upgrade is generally a changeover to a completely new version of the software. For the macOS, this would be a change from Leopard to Snow Leopard, or for iOS from iOS 8 to iOS 9. This upgrade may be based largely on the version it replaced or could be fundamentally rewritten from the ground up. This means that there may be compatibility or stability issues that were not present in the last release.

An update, on the other hand, is generally a minor set of changes that either add new features to the existing software, but doesn’t fundamentally change it, or addresses bug fixes. This second category is the reason to always perform Apple software updates. Any glitches that the engineers are aware of and are able to be fixed will be rolled out as software updates. They can also include security updates to address newly found vulnerabilities in the system.

To get software updates for your Mac, open up the App Store app. On your iOS device, go to Settings > General > Software Update.

As always, before performing any upgrade or update, it is always recommended to back up your data. In fact, before you do anything else, if your data is not backed up, now is the time!

Thanks for reading!

Mike
michaeld@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  Data Storage Capacities 101  
   
 

The terms used to measure digital storage can be very mysterious. Most people have heard of kilobytes, megabytes, or gigabytes but it takes a deep understanding to easily associate these terms with understandable amounts of information. When people hear “6 feet” they understand it as “about the length of a person” or understand “40 miles” as “about the distance from Burlington to Waitsfield.” However, most people have no idea how much a kilobyte or a megabyte actually is. Today, I will try to help you gain a deeper understanding of these terms.

The prefixes (kilo, mega, etc) for the terms are taken from the metric system, and are also used to measure things like weight and distance. If you are familiar with measuring large quantities in the metric system, you already understand how to measure, data even if you don’t know it yet.

  • 1 bit: A single 0 or 1, in the form of a magnetic signal or a stored electrical charge.
  • 1 byte: Eight 0s or 1s.
  • 1 kilobyte: 1,024 bytes.
  • 1 megabyte: 1024 kilobytes.
  • 1 gigabyte: 1,024 megabytes.
  • 1 terabyte: 1,024 gigabytes.
  • 1 petabyte: 1,024 gigabytes.
  • 1 exabyte: 1,024 petabytes.

Now some reference points for you to use:

  • 1 byte: A single character of unformatted text.
  • 1-100 KB (kilobyte): A text document anywhere from a few sentences to a few pages. Also, very small images, mainly used for previews.
  • 100 KB-1 MB (megabyte): A “normal” sized image, about 5-10 square inches.
  • 1.44 MB: Storage capacity of a 3.5-inch floppy disk.
  • 1-10 MB: A high resolution image, or audio files of about 2-5 minutes.
  • 10-100 MB: About 2-15 minutes of 480p “normal quality” video. Most simpler applications for computers or mobile devices.
  • 700 MB: Storage capacity of a CD.
  • 100 MB-1 GB (gigabyte): About 15-150 minutes of 480p “normal quality video” or about 3-30 minutes of 1080p high definition video. More complex software applications.
  • 1-2 GB: Advanced software applications such as Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, Adobe Photoshop, etc.
  • 2-4 GB: The approximate size of 1 full-length compressed, high definition movie.
  • 4.7 GB: Storage capacity of the most common type of DVD.
  • 1-10 GB: Older or less advanced video games.
  • 10-30 GB: Modern, advanced video games.
  • 16-256 GB: Storage capacity for most modern smartphones.
  • 100 GB – 1 TB (terabyte): Storage capacity for most modern laptop computers.
  • 1 TB – 3 TB: Storage capacity for most modern desktop computers.

After a few terabytes, we start to talk about very large amounts of data, much more than most people will ever need to deal with. If someone refers to 10+ terabytes of data, they are most likely talking about a library of data that is stored for by an organization, not an individual person. To give a sense of scale for the larger terms, I will include some examples of these as well. For these, the data is not publicly available, so the information is from estimates over the last few years from various sources.

  • 3 PB (petabyte): Estimated video available to stream on Netflix.
  • 20 PB: Estimated total size of Google Maps.
  • 24 PB: Estimated total video uploaded to YouTube per day.
  • 357 PB: Estimated total photos stored by Facebook (estimated at 960 billion photos).
  • 10 EB (exabyte): Estimated total storage of Google.
  • 12 EB: Estimated storage of the NSA’s Utah Data Center.

I hope this information helps you to become more familiar with measurements of data!

 
   
     
  Understanding Two-Step Verification  
   
 

Two-Step verification is being used now for more and more accounts. When we first started to use two step verification for some accounts here at Small Dog I was a little unsure how it worked and honestly thought it did nothing but slow my workflow down. Waiting for the verification text or e-mail has delays occasionally which is frustrating. But after I had a break-in to an e-mail account, I’ve learned the value of this added security step. I was lucky, there wasn’t anything personal stored in the e-mail account that was compromised, but that is rarely the case for many users whose accounts are compromised or hacked.

It seems we hear almost weekly information about a new security breach. I remember most recently one involving Yahoo accounts. Strong passwords are something that is always recommended and some sites even require it, but not all. We’ve talked a lot about not using kids and pets for passwords. Keeping track of your passwords is becoming more and more complicated. I am a fan of ( and rely heavily on! ) iCloud keychain password storage myself. I also utilize 1Password for some of my accounts as well. Using these kinds of password management systems can be critical in not only your organization, but also your account security. Having to move away from simple passwords and utilizing more complex passwords with special characters can be complicated to keep track of. I know I’ve more than once reset passwords and then found myself locked out because I couldn’t correctly remember the password…very frustrating. Utilizing password management software to keep track of passwords as they get more complex is extremely helpful, but often a complex password isn’t enough. This is where two-step verification comes in.

With a normal account, a bad guy has to get only one thing to break in, your password. With an account that’s protected by two-step verification, breaking in becomes far more difficult. That’s because logging in requires both your normal password and a time-limited one-time password or numeric code. This one-time code is generated by a special authentication app and sent to you in a text message or via e-mail. This secondary passcode is only valid for a short amount of time and you can only use it once. Depending on your account ( you can’t control this yourself ) you’ll either have to enter the one-time code each time you log in or sometimes they last for extended periods of time. I have some Apple accounts that I have to use the code each and every time I log out of the account. For some of my e-mail accounts I only have to use the code once every 30 days. So it does vary.

Most accounts that offer ( some will require it ) two-step verification provide fairly detailed instructions on setting up your two-step authentication. One very important note and step is safely storing your recovery key. Your recovery key is your emergency lifeline or safety net if you find yourself locked out of your account for some reason. I was recently locked out of my Apple ID and easily got back in only because I had my recovery key handy. I do not recommend keeping your recovery key physically on your device, you should print it out and put it in a safe place. If you do choose to store your recovery key on your device, I recommend also printing and filing your recovery key. If your end up losing your device or a drive fails etc, you’ll be thankful you have this on hand!

Ultimately having two-step verification is the next best step for safeguarding your accounts, especially during the busy holiday shopping season! Does it have draw backs? Sure, but I feel the perceived inconvenience felt in the beginning becomes second nature with time. My best suggestion is to have your mobile device set up if possible to receive your codes. Most of us carry our phones with us 24/7, so even if you’re not physically with the device that’s needing the verification you’ll know when someone is trying to access your account and quickly determine if it’s someone who should be or someone who shouldn’t.

 
   
 

 
   
     
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