Articles & Guides

  • Boosting Performace of Older Macs

    Older MacBook Pro computers made between 2009 and 2012 are routinely retired because they seem slow or will not hold a charge.  These models can have several more useful years with some simple and inexpensive upgrades.  The newer models - like the mid 2012 has a CPU almost as fast as the 2015 models.  Apple has made major improvements in battery life and the beautiful retina display however the perceived speed hasn't changed much.  If you bought your son or daughter a shiny new Mac when they started college in 2012, that computer, with a few upgrades would be a perfect computer for their high school sibling.  

    3 Simple Upgrades for about $250 can save you from buying a new $1,800 Mac.

    Tags: 

  • Daniel's Mac Security Guide

    [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"385","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 400px; height: 226px;"}}]]

    Last update March 11, 2016

    Mac / OS/X Security Recomendations

    • Keep your software up to date.
      • Always update your Apple software from the Updates section of the Apple App Store.  Click the Apple icon on the top left of the display, select "About this Mac" and click on Software Update.  Never update by way of a link on a webpage or an email.
      • Update non-Apple software from within the application or from the company's web site.  Beware of ectra or bonus software downloads during updates.  Oracle's Java updates are notorious for installing unnecessary toolbars.  Less scrupulous companies are often the source of unwanted add-ons that can steal data or show unwanted ads.
    • Make Time Machine backups
      • Select the option to encrypt backups.
      • Keep at least two backups each at a different location and at least one disconnected.  See my article on The Dangers of Cloud Sync.
    • Install anti-virus software.
      • I use Sophos Home, a free AV program for Macs.  Sophos.com
      • Install anti-malware software
        • I use Malwarebytes from Malwarebytes.org.  
    • Set a login password for your Mac
    • Keep your Mac behind a good firewall.

  • The Heartbleed Bug - What to Do Now

    Websites that exchange sensitive information with users have, for many years now, secured the connection between a users browser and the web site by encrypting the information.  The system is called SSL for Secure Sockets Layer and TLS for Transport Layer Security and up until the begriming of 2012 the software that implemented these techniques, OpenSSL protected the information as it flowed over the  Internet by making it unreadable to anyone other than the intended recipient.  A programming mistake (A missing bounds check)  introduced into the software introduced a flaw in  a function of the TLS protocol called heartbeat.  

     

    That flaw allowed a non-standard heartbeat command to return 64 KB or about 32 pages of text of unencrypted data.  In effect, the programming error allowed an attacker to access the very information that SSL/TLS was intended to protect.    Named for the heartbeat function that allows the data to be viewed by attackers, the bug has become known as Heartbleed.

    Tags: 

  • Daniel's Rules for Shopping at Fry's Electronics

    DISCLAIMER - This site is not operated by, sponsored by, or affiliated with Fry's Electronics in any way. The official Fry's Electronics site is www.frys.com All the opinions expressed are my own or in the case of third party links of their respective authors.

     
    Fry's Electronics is a unique chain of electronics 'superstores'. Unlike Best Buy, Fry's targets a much more tech savvy group. Fry's carries a wide range of appliances, audio/video equipment, computers, CDs, DVD's and just about everything that a Best Buy would have. In addition they carry more specialized computer and electronic parts such as punchdown blocks, test equipment, and network equipment that one would normally only find on the web.  But a visit to Fry's reveals a gap between the intended audience and the people who shop there. Fry's has an undeserved reputation for low prices. While it is true that some of their advertised specials are incredible deals, the day in and day out prices are nothing special. Many shoppers also incorrectly assume that since Fry's carries so much computer equipment, both systems and components, that it is a good place to get advice. In fact the opposite is true. While a sales person at Best Buy may shrug his or her shoulders at a technical question, or provide an answer like "let me read the box" a Fry's Associate is more likely to make something up or intentionally lie. That is assuming you can find one.  In fairness, since I originally posted this guide, Fry's service has improved and there are certainly individuals (very few) that are capable and do give good advice.