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Mac 911: A wild Wi-Fi ride to hunt a pesky set of problems

There’s no technology simultaneously more useful and frustrating than Wi-Fi. Wireless local area networking shouldn’t be rocket science at this point, even though it involves fiendish calculations and increasingly sophisticated physics. While setting up a Wi-Fi network has become simpler over time and networks more reliable, when a connection … [Read more...]

Mac 911: Good backup habits making migrating to a new Mac easier

To go forward, you must back up. This is an old rubric and bad joke about the importance of keeping regularly updated copies on hand of your personal and work documents and, ideally, your entire drive. Backing up is often an important stage in migrating to a new machine as well. This week, I cover my recommended methods. Jim Kay writes: I’m … [Read more...]

Spring cleaning for your Mac: How to consolidate files and remove duplicates

This week we tackle some of your storage questions, including consolidating, de-duplication, and management.Too many drives Reader Jon writes that he has a pile of partly full external USB drives formatted for use with Windows that he almost always mounts on a Mac, and expects there is a lot of duplication among the different drives he’s using. I … [Read more...]

Mac 911: Making DVDs from old iMovie projects and slideshows

I still remember the glorious day when I first encountered writable CDs. It was in the early 1990s in a $100,000 system designed by Kodak to produce its Photo CDs, discs that worked with its CD/DVD player and with computer software to provide galleries to few and high-resolution scans. It took years before CD burners were cheap and then included in … [Read more...]

Thunderbolted: USB-C is our new connection overlord. Get used to it.

When news of a new Mac notebook leaked two months ago, one of the aspects that seemed most absurd was the omission of multiple ports. Instead, there would be just one hole. Weirder still, it would be USB-C, a format never before seen in a Mac and unfamiliar to most people, as it was only unveiled in production equipment last September. Turns out, … [Read more...]

How to manage cellular data usage on your iPhone and iPad with iOS 8

When Apple introduced the iPhone, it also managed to get AT&T and then other carriers to offer unlimited data plans in the United States and in a few other countries. That didn’t last, especially as networks became congested with heavy data use.There are still millions of people grandfathered into old plans that allow unlimited data use, but … [Read more...]

Find your missing Wi-Fi adapter and free up that ‘Other’ storage space

Greetings! You may be used to a much thicker mane of hair occupying the Mac 911 seat, but as you may have heard, one Mr. Chris Breen has gone on to greener pastures as an orchardman, and I’ve been tapped to take your questions. I started using a Mac in 1985 and never stopped. I even owned a G4 Cube. My first smartphone was the original iPhone; my … [Read more...]

How to keep your email private with PGP encryption on your Mac

In our last episode of Private I, I explained the basics of public-key (PK) cryptography, a way to scramble messages in a way that only someone possessing a particular key can decrypt, without that key ever having to be publicly disclosed or shared. It’s an effective system that has no known theoretical exploits, and currently deployed … [Read more...]

Review: LastPass for Mac protects your passwords but needs polish

The gold standard for password vaults on the Mac is 1Password. Now in its fifth major release, 1Password has matured along with its userbase. One of its most stalwart longtime competitors, LastPass, has had an iOS version, but OS X customers have had to work through browser plug-ins or its website, putting it at a disadvantage. The release of the … [Read more...]

How to share your location with iOS 8 (without creeping yourself out)

I don’t consider myself an excessively private person nor think I’m a superspy in civilian clothes. But there’s something about sharing my location with other people that gives me the heebie-jeebies. I absolutely don’t want to do it all the time, but I love the ability to choose when, where, and to whom I do. iOS 8 offers a host of ways to share … [Read more...]

How to encrypt your Mac with FileVault 2, and why you absolutely should

Apple’s first pass at built-in encryption was, frankly, terrible. The original FileVault, introduced with 10.3 Panther in 2003, only encrypted a user’s home directory, and had a number of functional and implementation problems. FileVault 2 appeared in 2011 with 10.7 Lion, and had almost nothing to do with the original except the name. FileVault 2 … [Read more...]

How and why you should use a VPN to protect your data’s final mile

Your greatest security and privacy risk relates to data in transit, as it passes to and from your devices. In a coffeeshop, airport, or other public space using Wi-Fi, your information passes in the clear between your hardware and the network’s hub. You may not be sure how and whether the hotspot secures access to the wired side of its routers, … [Read more...]

Two-factor authentication gets physical with USB U2F devices

I’ve written a few times about two-factor authentication (2FA), where a password (something you know) is paired with a second item, like a device-generated token or one-time code sent via SMS (something you have). A password can be stolen or sometimes extracted, so a second factor makes it substantially more difficult for someone who lacks physical … [Read more...]

iOS app review: Photosynth iOS photo app is a premiere photo stitcher

iOS app review: Photosynth iOS photo app is a premiere photo stitcher

Entering life as a photographic experiment, Photosynth has evolved into a fabulous panorama maker. … [Read more...]

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