Internet

Dealing with Adobe Flash Player

I woke up to the news of yet another Adobe Flash Player security concern. The article is on the Mac Observer web site.

So, just what is Flash? According to
Adobe:

Adobe Flash Player is the standard for delivering high-impact, rich Web content. Designs, animation, and application user interfaces are deployed immediately across all browsers and platforms, attracting and engaging users with a rich Web experience

According to
Wikipedia:

Adobe Flash (formerly called "Macromedia Flash") is a multimedia and software platform used for authoring of vector graphics, animation, games and rich Internet applications (RIAs) that can be viewed, played and executed in Adobe Flash Player. Flash is frequently used to add streamed video or audio players, advertisement and interactive multimedia content to web pages, although usage of Flash on websites is declining.

Steve Jobs had
very strong feelings about Flash and refused to incorporate it into iOS, the operating system for Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

Flash works on Macintosh computers, but in my experience, it is more of a curse that a feature. In fact, it is usually to blame for many of my computer headaches. I decided to strictly control it several years ago and I could not be happier! The problem with Flash is that it just doesn’t know when to stop! Flash is an Internet browser extension. If it is used on a web site, Flash Player starts up and it does not turn itself off until you quit the browser (think Safari, Firefox, Chrome etc.) While it runs in the background it continues to demand RAM from your computer and it slows down the processor, making your computer run slower--and slower--and slower. Soon you begin to see spinning beach balls each time you try to click a link or even use a different application.

There are ways to limit the effects of Flash on your computer. I use
ClickToFlash, a Safari Browser Extension. It prevents Flash content from loading automatically. When I encounter Flash content, I see this:

no_flash

If I click the Flash button the content for the clicked box shows. When I leave the webpage, ClickToFlash turns the Flash player off. It doesn’t turn on again until I click another Flash box.

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 9.36.10 AM

When you go to the
web page for ClickToFlash, there are download links for both ClickToFlash and the ClickToPlugin. Today we are only going to deal with ClickToFlash. When you click the link, this is downloaded to your Download folder:

clicktoflash

Double click on it and this will appear:

clicktoflash_install

Click the Install button and a web page will appear where you can choose just what the ClickToPlugin will do:

safari_extension

In general, you can ignore this for the moment. An easier way to learn about ClickToFlash is to go back to the webpage. If you want to get it back, the easiest way is to open Safari Preferences.

safari_preferences

Make sure you have selected Extension at the top and ClickToFlash in the left column. Click the link to Marc Hovis to get back to his web page for explanations and instructions. You will make any changes by clicking on “Click this checkbox to access the settings.

safari_extensions

In general, the defaults work well, but if you want to tune it more finely, there are lots of choices.

In tomorrow’s article, we’ll look at just how to install Flash updates. You would think it would be easy, but through experience, I know that about 75% of our clients don’t manage to install all those Adobe Flash Player updates!

--Pat
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Saving Recipes

In my last entry I wrote about Pinterest as a recipe source. Perhaps you might like to see some of the great recipes I have found. My account name on Pinterest is patfauquet. Use the search function if you would like to see my boards and pins.

While I like having the recipes (along with great photos) there, I have found that sometimes the links stop working. That can happen for a variety of reasons. If the web author moved a file to a new location, the Pinterest link will break. If the recipe was from a blog, the author may have stopped writing or they could have moved to a different web location.

There is nothing worse than loosing a great recipe. So, today I am going to show you how to save a recipe to your computer. If you click on the link to the
Layered Mediterranean Dip that I showed in yesterday’s post, you will see that there are some great photos.

In earlier times we wrote our recipes on little cards that we put into a recipe box. Here is a photo of my daughter writing a recipe card for a friend just yesterday. Of course there are no photos.

IMG_2740

I had a recipe box and cards when I married. I collected recipes from family and friends, beginning in high school. When I married I started using those cards--and loosing those precious recipes. My solution was The Black Cookbook, a composition book that I could write or paste recipes into it. That composition book traveled with me as we moved at least two dozen times. Pages with favorite recipes got tattered and dirty, the cover disappeared and a few pages were lost.

IMG_2741

Two of my daughters decided to make family gifts this past Christmas. They typed all of the recipes from “The Black Cookbook” into a recipe program. They also cooked many of the recipes and photographed the dishes. Then they sent the entire file to Blurb to have it printed as The Fauquet Family Cookbook.

They even recreated the cover! They etched a baking dish with each family’s last name and presented the cookbooks and dishes to our entire family. They were a big hit!

IMG_2742

I really appreciate their efforts. I love the cookbook, but it has some problems. If I want to share a recipe, I either have to write it out or photocopy it. The best part of the present is that each of those recipes is also a data file! I can drop them into an email to share them!

Recipes on Pinterest often come with pictures--sometimes lots of pictures. Those photos make it so easy to see what the recipe author meant when she wrote the instructions. Photos show me how big the pieces were cut, how much of an ingredient she really used.

There are several ways to save recipes from the Internet. The first way is to print the recipe directly from the web page.

saving_recipes4

The result has several problems. The first page contains a lot of unnecessary “stuff” in the right column. There is lots of wasted space on the second page and even worse, some of the information was over-typed on the third page. So, to store one recipe, I would need to keep three pages of paper. If I used the print command to make a PDF file, those same problems would exist!

At the end of the recipe on the web there is a link to see a print friendly version of the recipe:

saving_recipes5

While the results will fit on a single sheet of paper, there are no photos.

SafariScreenSnapz004

The next thing to try is to copy and paste the recipe into something like Apple’s word processor, Pages.

saving_recipes7

The results are terrible! The recipe is now 7 pages long with lots of extraneous white space. Those white spaces are page breaks that occur when objects such as pictures are too large to fit on the page along with the words. It is impossible to remove those page breaks using a word processor because the program sees the content as pages to be printed.

If printing or PDF files don't produce good results, what is left? There is a great little program built into Mac OS X. It is on every Mac and it is free! Go find TextEdit in your Applications folder. When you first open it, it looks a lot like Pages. The interface resembles a blank piece of paper.

saving_recipes8

The secret is in the Text Edit preferences.

saving_recipes8a

Make sure there is NOT an x in the Wrap to page box.

saving_recipes9

Instead of looking like a piece of paper with margins, you will have a box that can be as long and a wide as you want it!

saving_recipes10

When you copy and paste the recipe into this space, it will look like this:

saving_recipes11

There is some minor clean up to do, but the pictures and the text flow nicely. The file is saved as a .rtfd. That means that instead of just being text, the file is actually a container and inside the container is not only the text but also the picture files.

Saving files in this manner means that I can go back later to see all the details. If I want to print out a recipe to use in the kitchen, I can copy out the text and take it into the kitchen, but I can also see the whole thing on my computer!

I am sure you have a bunch of questions--like what about putting them on an iPad? What about being able to access the file when I am at a friend’s house without my computer? Come back and we will continue in another blog entry!

--Pat
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Pinterest and cooking

While I did not use my computer very much last year, I certainly used other technologies, ones that did not require sitting at a desk or using my hands (arms and shoulder) as much. I would have been lost without my iPad. It allowed me to tap and drag my way through my day. I did most of my reading on my iPad and it was easier for my to type on it than on a traditional keyboard.

While I did not do a lot of involved cooking, I found lots of new recipes that I wanted to try. My favorite source for new recipes was (is)
Pinterest. If you haven’t given it a try, you might enjoy a quick visit.

Pinterest is very visual. Just what will appear depends on you. If you have created an account and have followed people, the things they have pinned will appear.

pinterest_1

There are also links to more generalized (Everything) or specific (Catergories) content.

pinterest_2

If you have signed up for an account, you can save things that interest you to specific “boards.”

pinterest_3

This is my Cooking board. It contains pictures and links to recipes that I have saved for later.

Pinterest_4

If I click on a specific picture, it will take me to the Web site that the recipe came from.

pinterest_5

I often emailed the Web site of the recipe to myself so that I could easily save them for later.

Pinterest_6

While all of the above images were taken from my iPad, you can also email web addresses to yourself from Safari.

pinterest_7

This looks like a good stopping place for today. However I need to explain why emailed those links. I will do that in my next post.

--Pat
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Security Checkup - Safari and Preview, Part 2

In the previous post I was talking about Safari’s security.

While I know that some of you are probably thinking that it is time to move to Firefox or Google Chrome, similar issues exist in those browsers and it could take far longer for those companies to fix the issue than it takes Apple.

So, how do you make Safari more secure? The first step is to open Safari’s Preferences:



You will then see this window. Note that the General pane is chosen:



It is very important to make sure that there is NOT an x in “Open “safe” files… at the bottom of the window. If you do not know where files that you have downloaded are stored, notice that they are probably being sent to the Downloads folder. That folder is a part of your Home folder:



Open that folder. Is it full of old files, ones that you didn’t even know you had? If it is, put away the things you want to save and clean out unneeded files by putting them in the trash and emptying it. Make a commitment to keep the downloads folder empty so that you will recognize files that you did not intend to download.

If files that are out-of-sight never get dealt with, then change your download folder to be your desktop and then remember that a cluttered desktop slows your computer down and makes it inefficient.

There is a whole pane in Safari Preferences devoted to security:



While your ultimate choices are up to you, I do want to know when Safari thinks I am entering a fraudulent web site. I haven't had it steer me wrong yet!

As for my location, that one is hard. I appreciate getting information about things around us when I do a search, but sometimes, I would rather be a bit more private, so the check here changes occasionally.

I am not bothered by Java and JavaScript, but I really dislike pop-up windows, so my checks don’t change here very often. As for cookies, if I didn’t go directly to your Web site, I don’t want your cookies!

The last one is particularly important to me. Sometimes the lack of security on a form on a secure Web site is an oversight on the part of the programmer, but if it is not a site I am very familiar with, this warning will cause me to take my business elsewhere. The non-secure form raises the issue of hacked sites. I may be too cautious, but I would rather be safe than sorry!

There is a lot to think about in computer security! If you need a hand, one of the services we offer at Dr. Mac Consulting is tutoring and issues like this make great learning opportunities. Tutorials cost only $60.00 per hour. We use special software to see your computer and we can show you secure your computer and lots more! Give us a call at Bob LeVitus Consulting. We can discuss your needs and help you formulate a plan that will give you the best “bang for your buck.” You can reach us by telephone at 408 627-7577. Or send an email to urgentrequest@boblevitus.com.

--Pat
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Security Checkup - Safari and Preview, Part 1

As Macintosh users, malware, spyware and viruses are not things that we worry about every day. In fact we can become pretty lackadaisical in our security habits and sometimes even Apple seems to help us out.

Macintosh computers are shipped with a setting in Safari that should probably be changed. They are set so that “safe” files will open automatically. However, some of these “safe” files are not so safe.

“Safe” files include movies, pictures, sounds, PDF and text documents, and disk images and other archives.

While I will agree that on the Mac movies, pictures, sounds, and text documents are almost always “safe,” the other three are not nearly as “safe.” Let’s consider the others.

When your Mac was shipped, the default viewer for PDF documents was set to be Apple’s own Preview application. It is safe, but the other popular software to view PDF files, Adobe Reader, is not. There are lots of web sites that have links to and recommend Adobe Reader. Most of those sites are written by Windows users and for PC’s, there are few free Windows applications that can handle PDF chores.

On your Macintosh, Preview is a faster, better and safer application choice. If your computer is set to use Preview to view PDFs, the icon will look like this:




or this:



These are the “good” icons.

If your computer is set up to use Adobe Reader, it will look like this:



This is the “bad” icon. If your computer is set to use Adobe Reader, pdf icons will look like this. Unfortunately, there are a number of vulnerability issues associated with it. Even with frequent updates, Adobe Reader is still a problem.

Here is the way have Apple’s Preview open PDF files.

First, find a PDF file on your computer. To find such a file, open a new Finder window:



In that window, type .pdf in the search area and click the buttons for “This Mac” and “File Name.”



Click on a PDF file to select it.



The press Command - I on the keyboard or go to File > Get Info in the Finder.



You will then see a window similar to this. Notice the tiny “disclosure triangles” beside each item. If the “Open with” area is not displayed, click that tiny triangle to view the information.



Choose Preview. It could be at the top of the list, or it could be further down in the body of the list.



Now, press the “Change All…” button to make this choice the default.



From now on (or until sneaky Adobe Reader convinces you select it again) PDF files will open in Safari.

As for Disk Images, Wikipedia defines them this way:

A disk image is a single file or storage device containing the complete contents and structure representing a data storage medium or device, such as a hard drive, tape drives, floppy disk, CD/DVD/BD and key drive, although an image of an optical disc may be referred to as an optical disc image. A disk image is usually created by creating a complete sector-by-sector copy of the source medium and thereby perfectly replicating the structure and contents of a storage device.


So, put simply, a disk image looks like this.



When it is opened, it will look similar this on your desktop:



It will look like this in the Finder Sidebar:



Archived or Zipped files look similar to these:



Both Disk Image Files and archived files could be malicious. The vast majority are quite safe, but if you do not recognize the file or your cannot remember where it came from, it is safest to put the file in your trash can and empty it!

We are certainly not finished here, but this post is long enough. Stay Tuned for Security Checkup - Safari and Preview, Part 2. I am working on it NOW!

--Pat
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Traveling With Technology: Internet Access

Times change--and the connected world just gets more expensive!

I am in Texas this week. We will be in San Antonio until Thursday afternoon when we will drive to Austin to spend the weekend with Bob LeVitus and his family. My husband is attending a technology conference and we are staying at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio.

I find it odd that while a stay in a top-level American hotel does not include free WiFi access or a free breakfast buffet, most tier two hotels such as a Marriott Residence Inn, Hilton Garden Suite, etc. include those items in the cost of the room.

Here at the Hyatt, there are two levels of Internet access costing $9.95 or $12.95 per day. A continental breakfast bar cost $11.00 and the full breakfast bar is $18.00.

Even more problematic is the rules for Internet access. Have a computer, an iPad and an iPhone? That counts as three separate devices. Staying with your spouse who has similar equipment? Now you potentially have 6 devices to pay for! Each of these devices has a different MAC address, so they count as separate items.

If you are willing to attach one of the computers to the Ethernet cable, then you can use Internet sharing to set up an ad hoc network, but this is not allowed in the terms of service.

Since I bought the Virgin Mobile MiFi2200, I activated it for the month and I am using it to provide Internet access to our other device when thy are not connected by a different data plan.




I purchased the $60.00, 30 day, 5 GB plan for the MiFi. I suspect I could have gotten by with the $40.00 plan, but I wanted to make sure I have adequate data for any activity we wanted to try.




Because I have not modified our existing contracts, both my husband and I have unlimited data plans on our iPhones. If I would modify our contracts, we could add iPhone tethering which would allow us to use the iPhone to provide WiFi Internet service to one computer at a time. I do not think there is a way to provide WiFi to our iPads from the iPhone, unless we jailbreak them. I do not plan to do that.

While my husband’s iPad is WiFi only, mine is the 3G model. I purchased the data plan before AT&T changed the plans, so for the moment, I have the unlimited data plan.

As you can see, I have several overlapping data plans in place. Therefore, I have turned off the WiFi on my 3G iPad and on my iPhone while I am in range of the MiFi. Since there is a Starbuck’s Coffee with free AT&T WiFi in a nearby mall food court, I used it yesterday morning and went back to upload a large audio file yesterday evening when the upload speeds on the MiFi were too slow to easily upload a 125 MB file.

My Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go MiFi does not require a monthly contract and I can change the plan each time I buy more data. Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile probably offer similar devices (or they will soon). The important part of this device is its lack of a contract. If I plan to be home for a month, I can simply tuck it away until I need to activate it for another trip.

While I had planned to remove the data plan from my iPad 3G, we have found it to be very useful in day-to-day life around town. I often tuck my iPad into my purse when we are away from home. Being able to surf the web anywhere, at any time on the larger screen is a big improvement over the iPhone screen. I also hand it to my husband if he is going to be away from home, waiting for a car repair or something else.

Eventually, I will need to trim our costs and I will need to cut some of the overlapping Internet services. However, for the moment it is very convenient to be able to be online on any device at any time. It’s too bad that money doesn’t grow on trees!

If you need help choosing the best sources of Internet connectivity for you and your family, give us a call at Bob LeVitus Consulting. We can discuss your needs and help you formulate a plan that will give you the best “bang for your buck.” You can reach us by telephone at 408 627-7577. Or send an email to urgentrequest@boblevitus.com. Our service for this costs $60.00 per hour.

-- Pat

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AirPort Wireless a bit slow?

I keep an eye on the most recent Apple technical articles using this link. While the articles may not be interesting or relevant every day, I often find good information for learning more about the hardware and software that we use on our Macs.

I have been setting up a number of Apple Time Capsules and AirPort Extremes in recent weeks and I had wondered which Wireless Security scheme was better. Lets take a look.

Note: The method I am showing supposes that you use an Apple wireless base station of some sort. You will need to refer to the user manual for your wireless device if you are using another brand.

You will need to open the AirPort Utility. My usual method is to click on the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of the screen and enter the first few letters of the thing I am looking for:




This method is convenient because it quickly shows you not only the application, but also a number of items that might be related. Another way to get to the AirPort Utility is to use the “Go” menu in the Finder to open the Utilities Folder:




A third way to get to it is to open a Finder window, open the Applications folder, then locate the Utilities folder and open it. Give the magnifying glass a try--it is definitely the fastest and most direct way!

When you open the AirPort Utility, you will see a list of Apple wireless devices in the left column. If you see more than one, choose the “main” device. You will also want to make similar changes in any other devices.

Click on the “Manual Setup” button:




In the next window, choose the “Wireless” tab at the top of the screen:





Now, click the “Wireless Security” button and choose WPA Personal.




That will cause the Update button to become active. Click it.




You will then see this dialog box. Click the “Continue” to make the change.





I am sure you are wondering what you just did and why it matters. The answer is in Apple’s Technical Knowledge Base article TS3361, but let me try to simplify it.

The rules for how devices and settings work are set up in industry standards. The standard being used in current Apple wireless devices is 802.11n. The standard includes rules for how fast data can be transmitted and rules for security settings. According to that standard, when a wireless device is using WPA or WEP, the fastest speed that data can travel is 54 MBps. While that is fast, 802.11n devices are allowed to transmit data at a much faster rate if the device is using WPA2 Personal.

If you choose WPA/WPA2 Personal, then your AirPort Base Station transmissions are capped at 54 Mbps when there is a device that is using only WPA on your network. If there are no devices present that require WPA, then your wireless speed can increase up to a theoretical maximum of 300 Mpbs.

I have also noticed that web pages open much faster when WPA2 Personal is enabled. That seconds-long pause that frequently happens when a link is chosen is greatly reduced. I cannot find anything definitive in technical literature to support my experience, but Ted Landau also noted it in a recent article at Macworld.com

However, there is one possible “gottcha.” If you choose WPA2 Personal, then devices that use WEP or WPA are locked out of your network.

Since all of the computers in my home are fairly new, and all of them can use WPA2 Personal, I have our network set to do just that. If you have a PC or an older Mac (Intel Core Duo or PowerPC processor), you may need to use WPA or even WEP.

Because my Time Capsule is fairly new, it can be set to allow for a second guest network. While guests can get wireless access, they cannot get to our family’s computers for file sharing or printing. In general, I leave the guest network security set at WPA/WPA2 Personal. However, if a friend has a really old PC, I occasionally have to take all password protection off to allow them to see and use our network.

Apple’s latest Time Capsules and AirPort Extreme Base Stations cost a bit more than generic Linksys or Netgear wireless routers, the ease of setting them up, updating them and being able to set up guest networks make them a real bargain for me.

Just in case you are wondering, I do not get any special prices or deals for my computer equipment. I go to the Apple Store or order it online at regular prices.

If you would like to discuss the information presented here or if you need help to make sure your wireless network is operating at maximum speeds, consider booking a tutoring session with us at Bob LeVitus Consulting. We can use our special software to take a look at your computer and we can advise you on future purchases. The cost is $60.00 per hour. Send us a message at urgentrequest@boblevitus.com or give us a call at 408 627-7577.

--Pat

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Safari: Tabs - More Tricks

Who would have thought there is even more things that can be done with Safari’s tab feature?

Yesterday I did a special presentation for the Falcon’s Landing Apple Group. I used Safari: Using Tab as the basis for the presentation. When I was reflecting on the day, I decided to look for a few more features. I can often find hidden commands and little-know tidbits in the View and Windows menu of application.

While the View menu didn’t yield much, the Window Menu was full of things to explore:



If you look at the bottom of the menu, you can see that I had seven different windows open in Safari:



If you look at the upper left corner of my screen, you six of the windows, but one is completely hidden. Unless you go to the Window menu, it’s easy to miss something that you have opened.

This is a time when it would make sense to move all of those windows into one--and there is a command for that!



If you use the Merge All Windows command, the seven windows will suddenly become this:



Merging all the windows into one is certainly efficient. Now, let’s explore some ways to navigate around tabs. In the same Window menu are the clues.



The Select Next Tab command ends with two symbols and the Select Previous command adds a third. I have learned that most Mac users don’t know what those little symbols mean, so here is a cheat sheet:



So, using this chart, to go to the next tab you would press Command - Tab. To go to the previous tab, press Command - Shift - Tab.

If you would like a copy of the list of symbols above, just drag the graphic to your desktop or press and hold the Control key while clicking on the picture to see this pop-up menu:



You can find even more Apple keyboard shortcuts by clicking on the words.

There are two more command that you might find helpful. Pressing Command - T will make a new tab in you current Safari window.

The second command in very interesting. Look carefully at the two screenshots below.



When I made the first screenshot, I had a Safari window open with no tabs. The command to close the window was Command W. The Close Tab command was grayed out. Now look at the second screenshot, In this case, the Safari window had at least one tab. Using Command W would close the active tab. If I wanted to close the window, I would need to press Shift - Command - T.

It is the little features like these that show how much thought and effort has gone into the programming of Safari. Kudos to Apple for all the little, useful details!

If you would like to learn even more about Safari, book a tutoring session with Doctor Mac Consulting. We can show you how to make your computer easier to use and we can see where you are having problems. The cost is $60.00 per hour and we can use our special software to “see” your computer. Send a note to urgentrequest@boblevitus.com or call us at (408) 627-7577 for further information.

--Pat

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Safari: Using Tabs

There are so many features in Safari that are not turned on when it ships. These are features that make Internet surfing faster and easier. It’s difficult to understand why Apple does not enable them when it ships Safari.

Here is a list of recent posts about Safari features on MacMousecalls.

Another Safari feature that I really like and use every day is tabbed browsing. When you first use Safari, the top of the window looks like this:




The Show Tab Bar command in the View Menu…




will add a tab bar in the Safari window:




When you are on a web page with links to other pages , hold down the Command key as you click on the links.




Tabs will appear along the tab bar and the web page will load on the tabs.




If you click on a tab you will see that web page, but your original page will not disappear. You can click the tabs to view the different web pages.


If you want to close a tab, hover your cursor over the favicon (icon) on the tab. An x will appear.




It is possible to re-arrange the tabs by dragging then along the tab bar.




To move a tab into a separate Safari window, click and drag down on the tab:




If you try to close a Safari window that has multiple tabs, it will warn you that you are about to close multiple web pages:





While I like the way Apple has configured tabs to work, you can modify those actions in the Safari Preferences.




To get to this window, go to the Safari menu and choose Preferences. Be sure to select Tab in the toolbar at the top of the window.




Sometimes it is difficult to learn new things, even with all of these pictures. If you would like one-on-one help, consider booking a tutoring session with Doctor Mac Consulting. We can show you how to make your computer easier to use and we can see where you are having problems. The cost is $60.00 per hour and I can use our special software to “see” your computer. Send a note to urgentrequest@boblevitus.com or call us at (408) 627-7577 for further information.


--Pat

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Taking notes on your Mac and iPhone: iCal

While storing notes about people or companies in the Address book on the Mac (or in Contacts on the iPhone) makes perfect sense, some information just doesn't belong there.

For example, I am taking a Frontier Airline flight to Macworld later this week. I received a confirmation email from Frontier after I booked my flight:




While I might put the telephone number and URL for Frontier in Address Book, information about my flight to San Francisco would be easier to locate in iCal or the iPhone Calendar. I used copy and paste to put the information into iCal:




Then I waited for MobileMe to sync the information to my iPhone:




One of the most interesting things is that although the links from the email do not appear in the iCal event, they are visible and available on my iPhone. The links open to Google maps in Safari. Just think of how convenient it could be to have such easy access for maps to hotels, restaurants etc.

Note that I edited the screenshots to remove personal and identifying information from the images above.

Both Bob LeVitus and I will be at Macworld later this week. Look for blog posts, Twitters and updates as we learn about new products for the Mac, iPhone and iPod Touch. I will be traveling with my husband, Ron--if we don’t get snowed in by yet another DC storm.

--Pat

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Safari homepage - Make it yours!

Yesterday I blogged about the Safari toolbar. If you read that post, hopefully your toolbar contains at least a few extra icons.

Another thing that I see as I work with client's computers is the default Apple homepage. While it is not terrible, it is pretty useless. Your homepage should be something that you WANT to read when you open Safari.

For many years, I used a page from Excite. Other similar pages include Yahoo.com and iGoogle, These can be personalized to include things that were of interest to the reader.

Recently I have been using Google News. Once again, it can be personalized and its content changes frequently throughout the day.

Some of my clients prefer a large newspaper such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Houston Chronicle. Other favorites include the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle or even the San Jose Mercury News. Still others prefer the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times.

For the real geek, you might enjoy MacDailyNews, The MacObserver, Macworld, or The Loop. Let's not forget Macsimum News, TUAW, ArsTechnica and CNET. A great page that aggregates these and even more is MacSurfer.

If you have a favorite hobby or special interest, think about a page with daily new content.

First, open the page that you have chosen. Open the Safari > Preferences > General menu to make your choices.



Click the "Set to Current Page" button to change the page.



Some Mac users would prefer to use something other than a homepage. Click the "New Windows open with" button if you would prefer something else:



The nice thing about being a Mac user is that there are lots of different choices available--and you can make new choices easily.

Happy Web Surfing!

--Pat
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Is your Internet connection down? Part 2

Did you read Part 1?

There can be lots of other problems with Internet connections besides those listed in Part 1. While that article dealt with problems that affect both wired and wireless connections, today we will focus on wireless problems.

Years ago when I bought my first Apple AirPort, no one else around me had a wireless Internet connection. My PC neighbors were amazed that I was able to be on the Internet without having a cable connected. Some of them eventually bought wireless set-ups of their own and they were stunned by the difficulties in setting up their new routers while my AirPort made the task so easy.

After a time things began to get ugly. Instead of being able to “see” one wireless network, I had several to choose from in my AirPort menu item. Soon I began having problems with drops in my AirPort signal strength and sometimes I could not even “see” my own network! Click here to read more...
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Is your Internet connection down? Part 1

You know the drill.

You launch Safari and all you see is a spinning beach ball. Or you’ve been away from your computer and then you come back to go to a web page. All that you get is a spinning beach ball.

So what is going on?

Why can’t you get that web page?

Did your computer mess up--again? Click here to read more...
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Capturing YouTube Videos

The emergence of a new star in the Britan’s Got Talent show last weekend has captured the imagination of the entire world. Susan Boyle has won the hearts of fans everywhere and many of us want to share her story with friends and family.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY&fmt=18

There are several ways to capture YouTube videos. While some are geeky and complicated, CosmoPod, an inexpesive software package, makes the task quick and easy. Click here to read more...
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Finding things near you with Google

Do you know where the nearest Starbucks is? I don’t -- I am not a coffee drinker, but when out of town friends arrive, that is a frequent question.

To find out where a particular store or restaurant is located near you, type in its name and your zip code. Google will return a map the addresses of locations near you, and even telephone numbers. Click here to read more...
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Taking notes from the web

Isn’t the web wonderful? What did we do without it? I know that I spend far less time in the library looking for information--and I spend far less money and use far less space since I don’t have to rely on photocopies to keep information.

There are many ways to capture and store information from the web. For example, if I go to a recipe site on the web I can use their tools to store my flies on their website. However, I vist too may sites to find this an effective method of storing recipes!…
Click here to read more...
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Aging eyes and tiny type on the web and in Safari

Darn, this getting older is not much fun! Back when I turned 40, I began to notice that small type was getting harder and harder to read. That was just a few years ago, but sometimes I land on a web page that must have been produced by someone with unbelievable visual acuity!

Sometimes it is not the whole site, but just a particular section: Click here to read more...
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Internet Access in Rural Areas and on the Road

Glenn Fleishman wrote a very interesting article, The portable hotspot for Macworld. The article discusses the use of Verizon, Sprint Netxtel, and ATT for cellular data access and then continues with the topic of cellular routers to provide a network for multiple users. This article should also be of interest to people who must consider satellite access to the Internet as cellular data service is in the same general price range and is often faster.
Click here to read more...
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Advanced Google Searching

Have you ever wanted to find a particular file on the Internet? You might be looking for a specific music file, pdf, or photo. Normal Google searches show you web pages. This tip will allow you to search for directories with specific files.

The type of search we are going to perform is one using the "intitle:" query. And for our example, we are going to search for the song "Happy Birthday."

Our search query will look like this:

intitle:"index.of" (mp3|aac|mp4)happy.birthday -html -htm -php

Of course, each space or lack of space is VERY important, so let's take it apart.
Click here to read more...
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Can't Get on the Internet?

It happens to all of us -- and all to frequently to those of us who live in thunderstorm country where surges, spikes and brownouts cause electrical disrutptions.

You were on the Internet yesterday (maybe even earlier today) and now you can't get online. So what in the heck is going on?

Our first reaction is to call our ISP (Internet Service Provider). And their first reaction is to make changes to your computer settings. DON'T!

I have a favorite motto: If you were on the Internet yesterday, you will probably be able to get there tomorrow, but today may be a problem. But if you start messing around with settings, you probably will not be on today or tomorrow!
Click here to read more...
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