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Beware the iCloud for iTunes Purchases

Published September 17, 2017 - 0 Comments

I've accumulated a lot of music over the years. At last count my library had just over 10,000 songs, although in fairness there are plenty of duplicates and less desirable songs that I am slowly weeding out. Most of that library consists of music ripped from my extensive CD collection, plenty of online trading, and yes... even some legally purchased iTunes tracks.

When Apple began offering their Music Match service a few years ago, it was like a dream come true. For $27/year I could upload my entire collection to their iCloud, even songs I hadn't purchased from iTunes. Those songs would be available to me at all times - as long as I had an internet connection to access them. That $27/year is still one of my best purchases. 

In addition to music songs, I've also accumulated a decent collection of music videos - 354 to be exact. I sometimes like to put music videos on while I'm putting around the house or working on something. I get more value from a $2 music video than any movie I could buy. The fact that everything is stored in the cloud is a bonus. I don't have to load my phone up with these files. I can set the phone in a stand, connect to wifi, and have access to my entire collection.

Or can I?

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Windows 10 is Pretty… but not Pretty Enough to Bring me Back

Published August 3, 2015 - 0 Comments

Windows 10 is pretty

I swore off buying Microsoft Windows computers a few years ago.  I’d owned many of them over the years… from Windows 3.11 up to Vista.  Then I bought my first Mac, and I’ve never looked back.  I’ve been so happy with my Macs that I even bought one for my sister, rather than continue to live the eternal hell known as being “the computer guy”.  My mission to eradicate Windows from my family was thwarted by my Mother secretly replacing her new Chromebook with a Windows laptop with touch screen.  Shit.  Well.. there’s one in every family.

Then I heard a tale of woe… Jess’ cousin had a Windows 7 laptop that was sick.  Very sick.  Plagued with unwanted pop-ups and chronic pokiness.  Several times she had taken it to a local computer shop, and within days the troubles re-appeared.  It was an endless nightmare.  Or as I like to think of it… just another day with Microsoft Windows!

I couldn’t stand by and allow this to continue.  I had to do something.  But I’m old.  I haven’t had to troubleshoot Windows problems in seemingly forever.  (except at work, but hey.. that’s another story)  Could I even do this anymore?  There was only one way to find out.

“If you want to drop it off to me sometime, I’ll take a look at it for you.”

It was official.  I had come out of retirement.  Me vs Windows in a bloody, take-no-prisoners, bout.  A fight to the finish.  A clash of the titans.  Insert your own hyperbolic statement here.

I’d been out of the game for so long, I had to get myself back into shape.  I trained.  I Googled.  I talked to people who continue to do this for a living.  It was going to be ugly.  I needed the best tools for the job.  File scanners.  Harddrive utilities.  Anti-virus.  Anti-malware.  Anti-spam.  Anti-biotics. Even a bottle of Captain Morgan.  I had my work cut out for me.  And then something happened… a new icon appeared at the bottom of the screen…

Get Windows 10.

Really?  Well shit… that’s convenient!  Yup!  On the very same day that I sat down to try to clean the infected laptop, Microsoft released Windows 10.  After checking with Julie, I backed up her important files and went through the clean installation process.  Microsoft has greatly improved this from the days of old.  It’s very straight forward.  I had a brand new installation of Windows 10 installed in an hour.  It’s pretty.  It’s definitely faster than what she had been using.  Is it perfect?  I doubt that.  I assume there will be a bit of a learning curve to try to figure out where things are, and what they do, but that’s normal with any new software release.  I just need to be clear when I hand the laptop over to her… no support questions!

I’m retired.

The Apple Watch or “Apple Has Finally Created a Product that I Have no Real Interest In”

Published May 4, 2015 - 4 Comments

Screen-Shot-2014-09-09-at-3.13.40-PMI wrote “Apple finally created something that I have no interest in” to a friend of mine recently.  He immediately replied with “What?  A treadmill?”  Well played.  Well played indeed.

Apple’s latest creation confuses me.  On one hand I think that it’s gorgeous.  On the other hand, I can’t get over the fact that it’s just a watch.  The sport model starts at $449 and that’s not even the nice looking one.  That’s a lot for something that sits on your wrist and doesn’t do anything drastically different from the phone that it is required to be paired with.

Last night I sat through an unboxing video from DetroitBORG and it’s true… the Apple Watch is beautiful.  But as I watched him go through the functionality there wasn’t anything that made me think I wanted to plunk down that kind of money.  I can’t even tell you when the last time I even wore a watch was.  I feel like Apple is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.  It worked for the iPad.  I’m not feeling it this time.

Apple Announces No New iPhones… Hooray!

Published June 12, 2013 - 1 Comment

silver-apple-logoApple had their big conference earlier this week.  Despite all sorts of speculation that a new iPhone was going to be announced, the event concluded without any such revelation.  I am probably one of the few Apple lovers who was actually happy about the lack of a new iPhone.  Seeing as I just bought my iPhone 5 last month, I wasn’t looking forward to seeing it become obsolete so soon.  At least now I can cling to the illusion non-obsolescence a little longer!

I do have to say that I love my iPhone 5.  I upgraded from a 3GS, which has been a fantastic phone, but was beginning to show its age.  The iPhone 5 is so much faster, and with 64GB of storage, I don’t have to worry about filling it up yet.  It’s considerably smaller than the 3GS, but my decision to purchase an OtterBox case dramatically adds to its size.  The OtterBox is a virtual fortress of protection, but makes the iPhone 5 rather clunky.. not unlike a 3GS!  I’m quite used to its size, but I keep joking that if I ever do take it out of the OtterBox for some reason, I’m not going to want to put it back in there.  It’s just such a sleek form factor.

This phone should do me quite well for the next few years!

When Your Computer is Stolen You’ll be Happy You Have Prey Installed

Published October 6, 2012 - 0 Comments

I’ve never had a computer stolen.  I once had a couple of old Cisco routers stolen from the trunk of my car, but never anything like a computer, cell phone, or iPad.  When I think of those Cisco routers, I would love to have seen

the look on the thief’s face as he tried to figure out what the hell they were.  I was using them to study for a Cisco certification and even *I* wasn’t sure how to get them to work!  Good luck to any common thief trying to convince a pawn shop that they were worth anything.  I picture them rotting in a landfill somewhere.

But what if I did lose a laptop?  Or my iPhone?  Or one of the kids left their iPod somewhere and someone swiped it?  It happens all the time.   A thief can walk off with a couple of thousand of dollars worth of tech in one armful.  Leave the TV… it’s too heavy.  Stereo?  No way.  Oh… nice shiny iPad?  That’s worth $500-600 easily.  Same thing for a smart phone.  Macbook Air is $1100.  And it’s not just Apple products… a decent Windows laptop or desktop is still hundreds of dollars or more.  Your new Android phone is going to set you back $500 or more to replace.  These items are particularly attractive to thieves because of their high monetary value, small size, and ease of dumping… and the chances of the police recovering your stolen tech is slim to none.  By the time you’ve even filed a police report, your iPhone is packaged and on its way to an unsuspecting EBay buyer anywhere in the world.

So what can you do to dramatically increase your chances of recovering your stolen property?

Let me introduce you to a neat little program called Prey.  Before I go any farther, I’ll tell you that Prey comes in a free and a paid version.  Even if you don’t feel like spending a single penny to help protect yourself from thieving paws, I highly suggest that you consider installing the free version!  It’s not nearly as feature-rich as the paid version, but it’s still awesome, and you can install it on up to 3 devices.  And when I say devices, I mean any Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, iPod, iPad, or Android piece of tech that you own.  But forget about the free version for a minute, and let’s talk about the paid one.  I bought it.  Yup.  Yesterday.  So this isn’t me just looking around for things to promote… this is something I should have bought ages ago, and it’s only a fluke that I haven’t had to use it yet.  Trust me… every time one of my children says “I lost my iPod” I feel my skin crawl.  So far “lost” means that they forgot it at their grandmother’s house… or it’s under the bed… but it’s only a matter of time before one of them truly loses it.  And that’s where Prey comes in.


Installing the Prey client on your device takes less than a minute.  Once you log in with your Prey account, you’re all set.  From that point you can decide to never touch it again, or if you’re like me, you’ll probably want to log into the Prey website and simulate a “stolen” device.

You can see from the screenshots that you have a lot of different actions that you can take.  Simply move the selection bar from OK to MISSING, and you will start to receive reports from your stolen device as soon as it connects to the internet.  You’ll get a map of its current location, detailed information about the network that its connecting to, and even screenshots of what the thief is doing.  And my favourite?  Activate the webcam and have it email you a picture of the thief.  Say cheese!  You can also do standard stuff like lock the computer, have it display a message, sound an alarm, even speak a message in an eerie computer generated voice… “Hey shithead!  I want my computer back!”  Or whatever you feel like saying…

And even if your device hasn’t been stolen, it’s comforting to know that you can activate the siren for the times when you can’t remember where you set your iPhone.  Or when calling the children to the supper table is too boring, why not have their iPod talk to them in a robotic voice… “Supper.  Now!  That’s right.  You heard me.  Now!”   Oh… I can’t wait to get Prey installed on their iPods.

As I mentioned above, you can install the free version of Prey on up to 3 devices, and I think that it’s a great idea to do that.  The program will automatically capture your serial numbers, which are critical in recovering stolen goods, and most of us do not have these written down.  So at the very least, you will have that, and the ability to track your stuff should it wander away from you.  But I fully believe that this program is insurance for my electronics (Did I mention that the paid version can protect up to 10 devices? No?  Well I just did!), and more than willing to pay for it, especially given the amazing deal that the fine folks at AppSumo were able to offer.  If you’re not familiar with AppSumo, they are an awesome company that works to secure amazing discounts on software and training from other internet companies.  They’re primarily focussed on internet entrepreneurs but occasionally a deal comes along for the masses… like this one!

A one year subscription to Prey would normally cost $162, but if you buy it through AppSumo, you get it for a whopping $49. 

Will this change?  Probably.  Many of the AppSumo deals are time limited, but I don’t see a timer associated with this one.  Still, it’s unrealistic to think that this offer will be available forever… so at the time of this writing $49 is a pretty sweet deal for something that normally costs $162.

And like I said earlier… even if you don’t want to spend the money to protect your hard-earned tech… do yourself a favour and install the free version.  The Prey website has a section with customer testimonials… and these look to be 100% legit.

I wish that I had Prey installed on those Cisco routers.







Here Kitty Kitty… Installed OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion

Published July 26, 2012 - 0 Comments

When I bought my iMac almost 2 years ago, it came with OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard installed.  It was my first taste of Apple’s operating system, and I was lost pretty well from the start.  Eventually I started to figure things out… just in time for them to come out with OSX 10.7 Lion.  Well it’s the time of year again… another big cat release from Apple, this time OSX 10.8 otherwise known as Mountain Lion.

I have to say that I’m a huge fan of Apple’s release structure… $20 for an incremental release, unlike Microsoft’s $400 Windows releases every few years?  And you simply download it through the App Store?  Sweet!  (The App Store, btw, is brilliant… once you have an app purchased, it’s yours forever and you can re-download it from the cloud if anything ever happens to your copy)

I can’t tell you how long it took to download and install Mountain Lion.  I started the download on my lunch break, and it was completed by the time I got home.  The installation portion says that it takes 30 mins.  I didn’t time it, but it seemed longer than that.  Maybe it was just the anticipation that made it feel longer than it was.

I was a little worried when my iMac rebooted and showed the old Lion background.  I actually had to go find the system properties to see whether I was running the new OS.  I was, but I guess that I had expected it to change my background… which sitting here thinking about it now, doesn’t make much sense… but it was still an irrational fear at the time.

So how does it work?

It’s fast.  Noticeably faster than Lion.  My iMac only has 4 GB of RAM, and things seemed a little pokey under Lion.  Not anymore!  I’m still looking to upgrade the memory, but right now I’m enjoying the boost of speed courtesy of the new OS.

Mountain Lion syncs with iOS devices, so now my messages and notifications appear on my iPhone / iPad as well as my iMac… and soon to be Mac Air…  I love being able to pick up any device and get the same experience, no matter which one I’m using.  It would be nice if I could play my iOS games on the iMac, but I’m sure that’s coming in another release someday.

I’m still finding little things as I play with it, and it will take some time before I can really say that it’s awesome… but even considering the speed increase and integrated messaging, I’d say those 2 features alone make it worth the $20.

Trying to Think of Something for Christmas Gift Ideas? How About Steve Jobs’ Biography?

Published October 28, 2011 - 2 Comments

Believe it or not, I actually started my Christmas shopping last month!  And no, I’m not talking about a single little item so I could say that I’ve started it ridiculously early… I’ve actually bought a couple of things.  I still have much more shopping to do, but I’ve started making a list, and checking on things while I’ve been in stores.  Better to get it done now, than when the zoo animals are unleashed and the malls become nuthouses.

So in the spirit of Christmas giving, I thought that I would point out something sure to be on the list of every Apple fanboy (along with iTunes cards)… It’s the official Steve Jobs biography, written by Walter Isaacson.

I watched Isaacson on The Daily Show tonight, and it only reinforced the fact that I would really like to read this book.  No matter what you think of Steve Jobs, it’s difficult to argue that he wasn’t an interesting person, and I think that this book would be quite a read.

So I’ll put it on my Christmas list, and hope that Santa is reading this blog.  It might be something for you to consider when looking for a gift for your hard to buy for Apple lover.  Hey, it’s cheaper than a new iPhone!

The Latest Addition to My Apple Family: MacBook Air 11″ of Pure Heaven

Published October 13, 2011 - 2 Comments

It’s no secret that I’ve slowly been replacing every piece of computer hardware I have with alternatives bearing the Apple logo.  It’s not that I’ve drunk the Cool-Aid so to speak… it’s just that they make damn fine products!  I still use Windows at work.  I still do my fair share of supporting Windows on machines that my kids own, and the occasional problem that a friend might run into.  And maybe some day I will buy another Windows machine… but not any time soon!

The Macbook Air is a thing of beauty!  (Like I’ve never said that about an Apple product before!)  Just look at the picture of it… I got the 11″ model, which is plenty powerful enough for what I want it for… and it weighs only 2.38 pounds!  It barely feels like anything.  And somehow, even though it’s so compact, it still sports a full keyboard!  That was the main selling point for me.  I have tried typing on netbooks, and it’s extremely painful.  I bought Acer netbooks for the kids 2 Christmases ago, and I hate working on them.  The keys are too close together, and there are too many keys that double, triple, or quadruple for different characters.  For some reason, even though I bought identical netbooks for the kids, I have to use a completely different key combination to make the ” @ ” on my son’s… and it usually takes me several minutes to figure out what it is!  My point is.. there’s none of that foolishness on the Macbook Air.  It’s beautiful.

My only problem is trying to connect to the wireless network at work.  For some reason I can not connect.  It gives a timeout error.  Thankfully it has no problems connecting at home.  But at work… it’s frustrating me.  I’ve done a bit of reading on the topic, and apparently I’m not the only one with this issue.  That’s encouraging, but most people say to log into the router and make changes there.  That’s not an option for me at work.  I don’t want to be playing with those settings.  I simply want to piggyback off the wireless for the nights when things are quiet.  I’ll continue to work at it.  I don’t really consider that a fault of the Air’s… and I could probably get the two of them talking if I was able to log into the router and look at the settings there.  Ah well…

But so far, so good!

Living in a Post Steve Jobs World

Published October 6, 2011 - 1 Comment

Today the world wakes up to a new era… the first day of what I shall call the post-Jobs era.

There will be millions of tweets, Facebook updates, and blog posts pouring out tributes to Steve Jobs.  This is mine.

No matter what you think of Steve Jobs, and Apple, there is no doubt that the man shaped our world in a way that few others have.  You may not have ever used a single Apple product, but it’s highly doubtful that you haven’t used something that wasn’t somehow influenced by the man.  He was a genius.  Period.

So what will the Apple of tomorrow look like?  People have been asking that since Jobs stepped down as CEO in August.  I’m certainly no analyst, but I doubt that Apple’s innovation has died with Steve Jobs.  I suspect that they will continue to develop amazing products, even if some of the “magic” inevitably fades a little.  I do hope, however, that Apple becomes a little more “open” as a company.  And I think now they will.

56 is way too young.  Cancer sucks.

Goodbye Steve.

Apple Unveils the iPhone 4S… And the World Responds With a Collective Yawn…

Published October 5, 2011 - 5 Comments


That was a little anti-climatic, wasn’t it?  No iPhone 5.  No great leaps in technology to propel Apple through to the next great frontier.  Ah well… Doesn’t matter to me too much.  In my case, I still need a new phone so I will be getting one.  It was just a matter of which one.  The price of the iPhone 4 will be slashed to make room for the iPhone 4S.  So do I want one of those?  Or do I want to spend the money and get the newer one?  Either will be a considerable upgrade to what I’m currently using.

  • Dual core processor
  • 8 MP camera
  • Longer battery life
  • Siri voice recognition

Yeah… I can go for that… as long as my phone doesn’t start talking back to me…

Goes on sale here October 14.  I won’t bother trying to get to the front of the line.  Those people are stupid.  I’ve waited long enough.  I can wait a little longer.

Update:  The phone starts at $649??  That’s for the 8GB model?  Wow…   Maybe I’ll just be ordering a new 3GS for $375 instead.  I’ll go take a look at the Android phones, but I don’t think that the good ones are really much cheaper than the iPhones… but I may be wrong about that.

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