dBug Cafe´

When: Every Other Saturday, 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM. Check the Events Calendar for dates
Where: The Row House Cafe’ See address below. Also noted in the Calendar. On occasion, we may meet at a different location. If so, a post on the home page and a note on this page will announce it and the Calendar will also show it.
What: Free-form discussions of Apple and Mac-related topics, including macOS and IOS, with side trips into whatever you want to talk about. Non-members are welcome.

So if you’re wondering which Mac or digital device to buy, what that baffling error message means, or why your hard drive is a mess, come on down. Bring questions, something you are working on, or a few hot rumors.

Reports: Often, a report about a meeting is posted in the comments section, below. Reports from 2015 have been accumulated on a separate page and deleted from the comments.

Location: We have chosen The Row House Cafe, 1170 Republican St, Seattle, as our meeting place. It is near South Lake Union, just south of Mercer St and east of Fairview Ave (west of Eastlake Ave) at the corner of Republican and Minor.

On occasion we may meet at alternate locations and times. If so, the home page, this page, and the Calendar will be updated to reflect the change


32 thoughts on “dBug Cafe´

  1. dBug Cafe’ 4/22/17
    With no specific agenda items, the discussion was wide-ranging. Our venue, the Row House, expects to be in operation for 18 more months at the current location. There are as yet no plans for opening at an alternate location. At least we have time to do more research.
    Dick demonstrated a flash drive designed to work with iDevices that have a Lightning port. There are several manufacturers making these devices and they typically connect via the Lightning port but also have a USB connector, allowing you to move content between the device and a Mac or PC. Most require an app to be installed on the device to access the flash drive. They often come in various capacities. Some need to be separately charged.
    The one Dick showed was a 32 GB model from SanDisk called iXpand. It was capable of offloading photos and videos from his iPhone or iPad with the option of deleting them from the device, freeing up onboard storage. The files can be viewed or played back via the app from the drive. With the drive attached, you can take photos using the app that are written directly to the drive, and not to the device.
    It is also possible to write media files (audio, video) from other sources to play back on your device.
    A lot of us are finding the base 16 GB is too little memory in our iPhones. A Lightning flash drive could be a solution. Dick’s was available locally at Best Buy for less than $45 including tax in the cell phone department. For other options, try searching online for “Lightning flash drive”. Pay attention to the form factor. Some drives extend straight out from the Lightning port, somewhat cumbersome in actual use. The SanDisk model Dick demonstrated wraps around the back and is hinged to accommodate most phone cases.
    Three members were in attendance

  2. Notes from the 4/8/17/dBug Cafe’:
    Repairing frayed electrical cords. Will showed two products. First, Sugru [https://sugru.com/about] is a moldable rubberlike substance you can use to mend a variety of items. Wil showed an iPhone USB connecting cable with Sugru reinforcing the cord close to the connector, a common wear point. The same repair is featured on the official Sugru website at the link above. Second, X-treme tape [http://www.xtremetape.com] has similar qualities and uses. It sticks to itself, remains flexible, and withstands environmental extremes like dampness and temperature. Both products are available online from their websites as well as from Amazon. Home Depot also carries them, if you like to buy locally.

    It’s sometimes useful to see the full header information for a piece of e-mail. Here’s a handy command in Apple’s Mail on a Mac: while viewing a message, press Cmd-Opt-U to see the full header (actually, the full raw message) in a separate window. Close the window (Cmd-W) to remove it. Alternatively, while viewing the message, press Shift-Cmd-H. This reveals the full header info in the message window itself. Press the same keys again to return the message to its default state. Both commands are accessible via the View menu by clicking on Message. A similar option for mail on iDevices appears not to exist.

    Polaris Office: full-featured office suite, free on the Mac and iDevices. It claims the ability to open and edit PDFs and MS documents and to sync across platforms. Some capabilities might be extra-cost items, though. If you are interested in a non-MS and non-Apple office suite, check it out at https://www.polarisoffice.com/en/free-office

    iOS 10.3.1 includes the new Apple file system, APFS. Some users have noticed gains in unused memory space. In Settings, your name now appears at the top. Under it, find details about you, your devices, etc. You can also turn on preferences to receive announcements, Apple news, etc. in this location.
    Wil showed his refurbished 16 GB iPhone 6S: ~ $450 from Apple, unlocked and without a SIM. While shown as refurbished, it appeared to be new and unused. His thought is that perhaps Apple had unsold models of the 6s with 16 GB due to the small amount of memory. Many users find 16 GB too small for their needs. He also showed an app that gives information about your iPhone: memory allocation, battery status, system details, and network details. In the App Store, look for Battery Memory System Status. There’s a free version and a $0.99 paid version, ad-free.
    There was some discussion regarding meetings twice a month instead of every other Saturday, with the current schedule being favored. There were three attendees. The next meeting is April 22nd.

  3. Attending: Dick, Richard, Wil, Aaron, Lezlie

    Wil concluded his overview of troubleshooting issues with Macs. When you are troubleshooting: remember to save your work. If you have backed up your system and files, you minimize the risk of losing data and operability. Other hints: Check the Help Menu; Don’t forget the basic Reboot (shut the system down, wait a bit, and then boot it up again. You might also have to remove a laptop’s battery to accomplish this) or Restart (from the File menu.)

    File naming no-nos. This is excerpted from Wil’s notes, which he provided to the group:
    “File naming: File>New Folder, Always start with a letter or number, DO NOT use characters such as -,~,{,},=,+, %,& and spaces as some of these are used by the operating system and some may cause file recognition problems. Underscores are ok and should be used instead of spaces.”

    See all of Wil’s notes in the Tips and Tricks section of the ExChange. He also covered the following:

    Booting from a bootable flash drive: With the bootable drive installed, restart holding the shift key and select the bootable drive when it shows as an option in the macOS utility. Options include Disk Utility, Install or Upgrade OS, Restore from Time Machine Backup, Get Online Help.

    Restoring the “Save as . . .” menu option: Save as. . . . went away in the File Menu for Apple apps, usually replaced by the Duplicate option. You can restore it! In System Prefs>Keyboard>Shortcuts, create a shortcut for all applications named “Save as . . .” with the key combination Shift-Command-S (unless you have used that for some other function, or want a different, unused-elsewhere key combo.) Now you should have the command in the File menu in your Apple apps.

    Not covered: repairing frayed electrical cords.

  4. Cafe’ of 2/25/17
    Five members and one guest attended.

    In Sierra, startup automatically runs a malware removal tool. Additionally, and for older versions of the OS, Apple may suggest a third party malware app to resolve issues resulting from malware. One such often-recommended app is Malwarebytes. There are free and paid versions for Macs.

    There was some discussion of keystroke combos, like Cmd-Tab to show, cycle through open apps to switch to one and Cmd-~ to cycle through open windows in an app.

    Wil likes Find Any File, a third-party app, for its many search options. See the author’s website (http://apps.tempel.org/FindAnyFile/) for much more information. He notes it does not search for content and recommends Spotlight. For that. Otherwise use Cmd-F in the Finder. There are multiple other means to reveal more details, like the file path.

    Troubleshooting tips:
    Mail: many issues may be resolved by using the “repair mailbox” command. For other apps, deleting their preferences may resolve issues. User: library: preferences.

    Is it a user-specific issue? Try adding a new user in Users and Groups to sort it out. If the new user doesn’t have the issue, then pursue other stuff, like hardware and software.

    A combo update might resolve issues generated by serial incremental updates.

    Startup USB drive: Wil likes a third-party app DiskMaker X, for creating a bootable system on a USB drive. Choice of macOS versions.

    Aaron has had problems at work with the MS Outlook program running on Macs. “They just don’t play well together.” Often, updates are awaiting installation. dBug’s Office Applications SIG leader, John Livingstone, commented “Outlook 2016 on both Mac and Windows have had an epidemic of user profiles getting corrupted after an update a few months back or after upgrading from 2013 (Win) or 2011 (Mac). Cure is to delete the user “account” profile in the Outlook app (NOT the actual Internet email account) then restart app and set up a “new” account,” using the appropriate settings.

  5. Cafe’ 2/11/17
    Present were Wil, Richard, Dick, Tom, and Aaron
    AirDisplay, further investigation: Refer to the previous report below for the initial results using AirDisplay. At Saturday’s Cafe’ we could connect three iPads to Wil’s Mac, with mixed results. The iPads didn’t accurately image the Mac display. With Bluetooth on on an iPad, its user could control the Mac, which might interfere with a demonstration. Sometimes, the connection seemed automatic. At other times the Mac user needed to accept the iPad.
    VNC stands for Virtual Network Connection, designed to allow one remote device to view the screen and control a computer. Wil attempted to demonstrate RealVNC, an app in two parts: Viewer (remote) and Server (source.) VNC required Bonjour to be turned on and time ran short before we were able to work with it to any extent. Visit http://www.realvnc.com for information and downloads. iOS versions are available in the App Store.
    In a previous Cafe’, Wil covered booting in Safe Mode and Verbose mode. For a recap of booting modes, including Safe Mode and Verbose Mode, see the interesting article at https://www.tekrevue.com/tip/mac-startup-options/
    Notes by Dick H

  6. At the 1/28/17 dBug Cafe’ these members attended: Dick H, Richard K, Wil N.
    Richard passed out styli to attendees. They were the soft-tip kind in combination with a ballpoint pen on the other end. Their small diameter gives a finer line and better precision. Thanks, Richard!
    Several persons have already sent in dues. Richard collected them from Wil and Dick.
    iPhone Mockup
    Wil showed a plexiglas pane in the size and shape of the iPhone 7 Plus. The idea was to check its physical dimension in several use cases: will it fit in your pocket? interfere with physical motions like sitting? be comfortable in your hand? It might be better to learn these things before plunking down the big bucks for such a device.
    Using an iPad as a second screen
    Wil demonstrated this using the Air Display app (Avatron.com, $9.99 in App Store, right now at 33% off) on your iPad and a client for your Mac or PC (free.) It works over WiFi but is better if connected via USB with your Lightning or 30-pin connector cable. It can be set as a second screen or a mirrored screen.
    You may have to fiddle with the display resolution on the host device (Mac) to get the best display on the tablet. It appeared that using the software changed the display resolution on the host, so that what showed on the iPad was altered from what was displayed on the host without the second display.
    We successfully connected two iPads to one laptop, but not with identical displays on both, probably because we were doing it for the first time during the Cafe’. Documentation suggests up to four remote displays can be connected to a single host. There appears to be a version for Android tablets as well.
    Possible uses include demonstrations in mirroring mode as well as extending screen space with a second screen. Notes by Dick H.

  7. Six members were present for the first meeting of 2017.
    To clarify material from previous sessions, Wil pointed out that in the Finder, cmd-tab cycles through open apps. Shft-cmd-tab cycles backwards. Fn-delete deletes forward from the cursor’s position in text.
    Interested persons might try the Opera Neon browser. Wil reports that it is very fast. It’s still more of a concept, though. A review: http://www.zdnet.com/article/opera-neon-could-this-be-the-future-of-the-desktop-browser/
    Mac basics covered in the ensuing discussion included:
    Demo: Using Wil’s Seagate SSD Thunderbolt 20 Gb/sec 480 Gb hard drive. An external drive can be used as a backup drive and, if configured correctly, as a boot drive. Restart your Mac with the Option key depressed after the startup chime to boot from external drive. You’ll be shown the available internal drives as well as external drives, including their partitions, if they have them. The external device can be a hard drive, a USB stick, or a CD drive.
    Booting in different modes: Verbose mode – restart with cmd-v pressed. In verbose mode, the steps of the startup process are displayed. Safe mode – restart with shift pressed. During startup in safe mode, the system checks the boot disk and attempts to repair directory issues. It loads the least amount of kernel extensions and prevents Startup items and Login items from running automatically. It helps diagnose software issues and may resolve other issues.
    Long name/short name: a Terminal session will show both. You need the short name for certain operations.
    Activity Monitor is a Utility. It shows active apps and processes, and the amount of CPU usage they are taking up. You can end a memory hog or force quit apps.
    Keychain: this is where passwords you’ve saved for various websites, as well as other information, are tracked. You might review it for obsolete items. You need your administrator password to access passwords you’ve saved to Keychain, or you may have set a separate password for Keychain, in which case you’ll need that. If you did so and have forgotten that password, there is no easy way to recover it, so beware and be careful.
    Wil also mentioned Onyx, a third party disk management utility. For more, see notes from earlier meetings.
    Mac OS Sierra Patch Tool permits Sierra on some older Macs that otherwise are not eligible for the upgrade. For details see, for instance, http://lowendmac.com/2016/macos-sierra/. You can also search for “Sierra Patch Tool.”
    Get the latest OS update: via Apple downloads (look for the combo update) or App Store.
    Richard Knights reported that renewal notices are coming soon.
    This report by Dick H.

  8. Aaron Nakamura-Weiser joined dBug at the December 31 meeting at the Row House in Seattle. Dues have been sent on to Richard Knights for deposit. Richard Harrell and Wil Nelson were also in attendance.

    We covered a lot of ground in two hours on Mac OS Basics and troubleshooting techniques, from how to install new Applications to Zapping the PRAM, reviewing Networking and Sharing parameters and resetting the SMC along the way. Richard Harrell took copious notes and may have additional comments.

    Wil forgot his prepared notes as opposed to typing them in Text Edit. After reviewing them it appears we only were able to cover about 25% of the intended data. Therefore, we will cover the remaining information in the coming meetings.

    Wil presented his latest iPad Pro stand made from a scrap piece of 2 X 4. His oak stand met its demise while being modified to function as a two position stand.

  9. December 17: We welcomed a visitor, Aaron, who has a Tech Support position at Zillow which now includes support for Macs. As a result, most of the meeting went toward Mac basics and typical issues. If Aaron attends the next meeting, there will be an actual MacBook on hand for demonstrations and hands-on experience.
    Following that, Wil went on to demonstrate the new graphics features in iMessage. In the app, touch the icon that looks like a heart and hand. That shows a screen with a dot and a FaceTime icon on the left and a set of gestures on the right. Touch a gesture for a menu of Digital Touch options and how to use them. If, for example, you pick the “Draw with one finger” option, you get to pick a color and then draw free-handed. What you create is sent via iMessage.
    Dick demonstrated iOS 10’s Magnifier option. You enable it in Settings: General: Accessibility. When activated, a triple tap turns your iPhone or IPad into a magnifier for those low light or small print situations. You can sharpen the focus and lock the view for a more thorough look. The Magnifier controls are similar to the Camera’s, but don’t let you actually take a photo of what you see. (But you can take a screen shot by holding the power button and pushing the home button.)
    Members attending: Wil Nelson, Dick Harrell, Lois Gruber. Next meeting: December 31st at the usual place and time.

    • I appreciate the iMessage tip about pictures & drawing. I have discovered sell on local Buy Sell boards via Facebook and some require a listing of the price on the photos. Now I know how to do it.
      Thanks, Karen

      • You are very welcome. It would be great if our members would share tips on things they use to get stuff done with their Apple products.

  10. The December 3rd meeting had four attendees: Wil Nelson, Richard Harrell, Lloyd King, and Lezlie Wolff. We covered a lot of technical ground.

    Are you seeing spam invitations in Calendar? Apple is looking into it, but meanwhile you may want to put a stop to it. Just deleting the invitation still sends a message back to the spammer, thus validating your information. This article tells you how to safely delete those items and also prevent them in the future: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/11/how-to-stop-the-wave-of-apple-calendar-alert-spam/

    It deals mainly with iOS, but you can do the same steps in Calendar on your Mac.

    If you are looking for ways to free up disk space you might try Monolingual. It’s an app that will uninstall the multiple languages automatically loaded with the macOS. If you’re sure sure you only need English, Monolingual lets you remove the rest, or keep the several you may need. CNET has a review and download here: http://download.cnet.com/Monolingual/3000-18487_4-22468.html

    Touch Bar simulation: If you are intrigued by the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pros but don’t know if you would ever use it, you can try it out on your existing Mac if it is running the latest version of Sierra. To do so, you download and install a GitHub app called TouchBarDemoApp, following the instructions in this article from CNET: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-get-a-touch-bar-on-your-old-mac/

    The article includes two other options. The third one didn’t perform well for Wil.

    User question: screen shots on my Mac are going to DropBox instead of my desktop. How do I change that? dBug answer (thanks to an Internet search): change a setting in your DropBox Preferences. See https://discussions.apple.com/thread/5440963?tstart=0

  11. Richard Harrell, Lezlie Wolff, and Will Nelson attended the November 19th dBug meeting at the Row House in Seattle. Richard Harrell’s attendance was via FaceTime. Again, the FaceTime experience was quite good.

    We discussed a bit of the recent election results but most of the conversation revolved around the new MacBookPro and its New TouchBar. Richard provided a link [https://9to5mac.com/2016/11/18/15-touch-bar-tips-and-tricks-for-the-new-macbook-pro-video/] to a video and Wil discussed his experience with hands on use at the Apple Store. It looks like Apple has really hit on something very useful in the TouchBar. However, for most of us it is not something we will go out and purchase right away but if someone has an older MacBook go dead that would be a good excuse.

    [Dick Harrell adds] Wil also mentioned Firefox Focus for iOS devices. V.2 is available in the App Store. Mozilla touts it as a private browsing solution. Interestingly enough, you can configure it to work as an ad blocker in Safari or use it as a stand-alone browser. See more at Mozilla’s site: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/focus [/Dick’s add]

    Looks like we will stop using Dino’s in Renton and Starbucks in Madison Park, Seattle and will be making the Row House a our permanent meeting location. Access and egress is easy and they have excellent food and coffee (IMHO not as harsh and much better than Starbucks).

  12. Richard Harrell, Lloyd King, Lezlie Wolff, and Will Nelson attended the November 5th dBug meeting at the Row House in Seattle. Richard Harrell’s attendance was via Facetime using iPads and the experience was quite good. Cathy Doser e-mailed that she would not be in attendance.

    Topics consisted of the usual multiple topics from A to Z with the unusual absence of anything political. Lezlie had some specific questions on the purpose and use of an Apple Air Port express. We also went over some recent topics on various Mac subjects including federal portable batteries amp hour limitations on aircraft, iOS features and settings, Mac OS Sierra performance on older Macs and Hackintoshes. Sierra drop down menus stuttered on a Hackintosh using 9 year old PC hardware so not a good choice for optimum viewing even using an SSD.

    Our next meeting will also be at the Row House in Seattle, South Lake Union area on November 19th.

  13. Cathy Doser and Wil Nelson were the only attendants at the Row House on Saturday, October 22nd. Had an interesting catchup session since Cathy had been absent from dBug for about 8 years. Many rivers had been crossed by many members over the years. She mentioned that she now lives in Renton and that a meeting Dino’s would be very nice for her. Sent a separate e-mail to members to start a discussion. Had some further discussion on items of interest in Mac OS Sierra and iOS 10. Cathy demonstrated the Voice reader capability of the Kindle app on her iPhone Phablet.

    • It was very nice to see Wil again, after all this time. The reason I had been absent from dBug for so long was that another member of dBug had passed in 2007, and dBug was a big involvement for both Caryn Roberts and myself. And because of that, it was too much of a reminder of Caryn to be at dBug. So, I had some issues to work out over that time.
      I had been very involved with dBug before that, being on the Board of Directors, and even the President of the Board, so moving away from dBug was very hard. I hope to make many friends, again, at dBug, with my return! I will see you guys at Row House on Nov 5th! I hope to see many of my old friends!

  14. On October 8th we met at a new location in South Lake Union known as the Row House with Leslie Wolff, Richard Knights, and Wil Nelson in attendance. Food is very good and of course costs a bit more than Dino’s etc. but quantities are more than adequate. Access is very easy from the Mercer St. exit south bound on I-5. Access to I-5 north is best from Fairview as even at 11:30 on Saturday Mercer has heavy traffic. Access to 99 from Harrison is blocked by construction.

    Parking in front is $4 for 2 hours and nearby free street parking a block or two distant. Richard Knights is looking at possible free parking about two blocks distant in a lot next to a buss barn.

    General discussion covered a wide range of topics.

    We discussed weak wireless problems on a iPad Pro and potential solutions on https://www.iskysoft.com/mobile-tips/wifi-not-work-after-ios-10-update.html. Should note that Richard Kights iPad Air 2 had no such problem.

    We also discussed using a hack to install MacOS Sierra on earlier Mac’s than authorized by Apple on this site using the Sierra patch tool. A review appears to indicate that some of the tools are similar to those found on TonyMacX86 for hackintoshes.

    Richard Knights demonstrated the “infrared” tool in Photo Booth on his iPad Air 2. Will be trying this out tonight on my own residence to determine value and potential usage to increase thermal efficiency of house.

  15. One regular attendee was out of town on September 24. Wil was there and ready, but there were no other drop-ins, so he cut the meeting short. If you came late and missed the Cafe’, we’re sorry to have missed you. Discussions are under way about alternate meeting locations, so stay tuned.

  16. At Dino’s on 9/10, Wil began by showing the Sierra Grand Master Beta running on his MacBook Pro.
    He hadn’t had time to test it thoroughly so we don’t know, for instance, if ApplePay is working or not. He had previously reported an issue with Safari Private Browsing, which Apple indicated they had improved. He didn’t see the improvement and reported back to Apple.
    We went on to look into the HacBook Elite, a Hackintosh offering based on a refurbished HP EliteBook laptop, with an introductory base price of $329. The web site [http://hacbook.com/] suggests that the price includes the OS, without stating it outright or mentioning which version.
    Wil points out that Hackintosh implementations don’t always work as well as one would hope. All Mac functions may not work. Upgrades may not be possible. You have to make the choice: accept the risk for the low price, or stick with Apple hardware.
    Alternative Cafe’ meeting locations were discussed. While Dino’s is accommodating, getting there for some of us is complicated by athletic events and construction on freeways. A month from now we’ll try Randy’s Cafe’ on East Marginal Way at the south end of Boeing Field. Details to follow.

  17. Cafe’ Notes from 8-27-16: Wil noticed a new option in consumer SSDs: the Samsung 750 Evo. The 500 Mb version costs around $150 on the Samsung site. Specs are competitive with the OWC Neptune 480 Gb SATA-III SSD reviewed at the previous Cafe’.

    Not much seems to be vastly new in the latest Sierra beta, that Wil has noticed. He did notice some issues with a Safari private browsing window. You get such a window in the Safari File menu or by pressing Shift-Command-N. You can have multiple tabs in that window; Wil found that some tabs didn’t display correctly when returning to them from other browsing, and made a report to Apple about it.

    Time Machine issues: Usually, Time Machine works quietly and efficiently in the background. Wil was having trouble making backups recently. As often happens, research on the Internet revealed solutions. He found this reasonably good third-party site for diagnosing and recovering from various difficulties: http://pondini.org/TM/Troubleshooting.html. Specifically, he used the instructions for Full Reset of Time Machine at A4 to get back in business. He cautions that you should go over the instructions a time or two before proceeding, and follow them carefully.

    Versions in TextEdit: You might not be aware that TextEdit maintains versions of a document that you modify over time. This feature is useful if you update a document, then want to reuse an earlier portion you had removed in the interim. To see earlier versions, go to File: Revert to: Browse All Versions. You’ll see the current version beside a “stack” of earlier versions. Click through them to find the version you’re interested in. Copy the portion you want to re-use, and then click the Done button. Afterward, paste the material into the current version. Ta-da!

  18. Cafe’ 8-13-16: Wil found not much new to report in beta 3, and two more beta versions have arrived since then, so stay tuned. There seemed to still be issues, also reported by others, with Disc Utility. In this version, the Partition option was not available at the outset. The tab was present but not active, but after clicking on other tabs, it seemed to become active. Apparently Apple is still refining the update of Disk Utility.

    At one point in testing, the cooling fan on Wil’s MacBook went on maximum output. It wasn’t clear why. To quell it he had to restart and then reset the power manager.

    In Safari, the Print option on a given page froze up the page and nothing was printed. It’s not clear if this was related to that specific page or to all pages with a Print option. He reported this condition andApple will certainly address it. A workaround would be to take a screen shot.

    Wil found two interesting web sites. With Siri available on the Mac, an introduction to how it (she) works could be useful. Hey-Siri.io shows the kinds of commands available in Siri. They appear to be suggestions and examples only, playfully compiled by some Brit. When using Siri, your phrasing makes a difference, and shorter requests tend to be processed better than longer ones..

    There is an iCloud competitor called ChronoSync from Econ Technologies. It seems to be oriented toward businesses and organizations rather than individuals. It’s not free, but neither is iCloud if you don’t keep below the free storage limit from Apple. Interested? Visit http://www.econtechnologies.com/chronosync/overview.html#

    Wil also brought a new OWC Neptune SSD: 480 Gb SATA-III SSD, along with a 6-year-old Crucial 128 Gb SATA-II drive for comparison. As you might expect, newer SSDs are much cheaper than earlier ones. They are generally faster too. Wil performed the calculations and the OWC SATA-III SSD was less costly than the Crucial SATA-II SSD by a factor of over 8 on a cost per Gb.  And added to that was a Read/Write speed factor of slightly over 2X better.

    You can use the OWC as a replacement drive in a Mac, but not in the latest ones, which use a proprietary Apple non-SATA connector. Wil uses his with a SATA-to-Thunderbolt adapter from Seagate. You could use a USB adapter, but it would be slower than Thunderbolt. He finds it useful as a backup drive or external storage. Or, as now, a home for macOS Betas.

  19. At the Madison Park Starbuck’s, Will reviewed the Sierra second beta. Some things notably missing or faulty in the first beta have been fixed. Previously, a click in the Safari address bar would quit the app, but no longer. The feature where your Apple Watch can automatically log you in now works. Using Apple Pay wasn’t working before, but is now. The Notes app no longer unexpectedly quits. Siri is working better. You can tell Siri to send an iMessage and dictate the actual message, but you still can’t tell her to attach a photo.

    In the About this Mac window, there are more options and more information. The bar showing storage usage shows purgeable files. Purging files has been possible in Windows and Linux/UNIX before now. Apple has put a GUI on it. Under the Details tab, you can turn on iCloud storage, optimize the hard drive, reduce clutter, and set automatic emptying of the trash. The Support tab has useful info not present here before.

    At the last Cafe’ Wil noted that the Restore option had moved to the Menu bar, instead of being a button in the Disk Utility window. Evidently Apple received negative feedback regarding this change; now it is back as a button.

    There may be many other changes Wil didn’t have time or interest in researching. For instance, an icon on the menu bar in iTunes switches to the MiniPlayer. Currently that is an option in the Window menu or can be accessed by the key combo Shift-Command-M.

    If you use the Parallels virtual machine, it works in Sierra. Wil’s existing Windows 10 example runs in Parallels without reregistration. Wil has XP running as well, despite warnings from Apple. He wasn’t able to install it from disks, but could copy his existing installation from El Capitan.

    If you are interested, a Macworld article takes you through the steps needed to make bootable Sierra installer on a flash drive. It’s at:

    Long-time member Dona McAdam attended the Cafe’. Normally, another activity of hers conflicts with the Cafe’ dates. It was good to see you, Dona.

  20. Notes on the Cafe’ of 7-16-16: Wil Nelson gave a quick tour of macOS Sierra Public Beta. Compared to his previous experiences, it is a better implementation than, for instance, the first El Capitan beta – more features are working correctly, with less buggy stuff. If you are trying it out, Wil notes that Apple pays attention to feedback you give them. It’s good to provide maximum details about an issue, with screen shots if applicable.

    Wil puts betas on an external drive, not on the Mac itself. He uses a SATA2 SSD via a Thunderbolt connection and boots from that drive – it reduces hassles while testing and keeps your main drive uncluttered. He also recommends an alternate user name for the beta version.

    Sierra seems to run hotter, maybe due to more CPU cycles.

    When you initiate installation, Sierra offers the option to upload all docs and data to iCloud, but you can avoid it in the initial install. Ostensibly, using the cloud might seem like a good idea, saving local disk space. But that’s a lot of data and documents, if you are like most of us, and may exceed your free iCloud storage space. Naturally, Apple will suggest that you buy more storage. You might also think about what you really need to have available across all your devices and what you really would rather not be exposed in that way, even if the risks are minor. If you go ahead and put docs and data in the cloud but then have second thoughts, you can certainly move them to local storage. Just be sure they are truly removed from the cloud afterward: iCloud may retain a copy.

    There are almost too many improvements to mention. Wil demonstrated the Siri implementation and the availability to Tabs in Maps and Pages. Writers in the group thought Tabs in pages would be extremely useful for comparing two (or more) versions of a document or cutting and pasting between documents. Tabs in Maps have similar uses: compare two or more routes, have several different maps available by switching tabs. Most of us have become familiar with Tabs in browsers like Safari and appreciate their uses.

    If you are already testing Sierra, check out the introductory video in “About this Mac.” If you want a preview of the new features without installing the beta, you could watch this video from 9-to-5 Mac. – Dick H

  21. July 2nd Cafe’: Alsoft DiskWarrior v. 5 comes exclusively on a flash drive, instead of on a DVD like the earlier versions. You need v. 5 if you are running any version of macOS newer than Yosemite. The flash drive includes an application that must be installed if you want to use the automatic hardware fault detection function and perhaps some others. The app need not be installed for directory repair and some other utilities. You can run it from the drive itself. The drive can be used as the startup drive for Macs that originally came with OSX 4, 5, or 6. For newer Macs, once DiskWarrior is running, you can use the included Recovery Maker to upgrade the flash drive for your newer macOS.

    To use the recovery tools without installing the app, plug the flash drive directly into a USB port on your Mac (not a USB hub) and restart pressing Cmnd -r. When the splash screen shows, use Terminal to start DW. Once it is running, you see the various available status checks and repair solutions.
    DiskWarrior works on SSDs, unlike other third-party utilities.

    At the Cafe’, Wil demoed v 5 on his late MacBook Pro running the latest El Capitan version. Upgrades are not cheap – around $60 plus shipping from Alsoft. If you are buying a new copy, you might shop around for the best price.

  22. Welcome new member Lezlie Wolffe.
    Wil reexamined items from the last Cafe’. For the disk utility Onyx, he suggests you don’t use it to check the structure of SSD drives until the app is updated. Spurious error messages will result. He noted that Repair Permissions is no longer an option in the latest version of Apple’s Disk Utility. Onyx does include it. Either app includes the Restore function. In Disk Utility, it is an option in the Edit menu. It’s a more obvious button in Onyx.

    Android on a Mac? Wil noticed this CNet article on running Android on a Mac (and other types of computers.) It describes installing RemixOS, a port of the Android OS for 086-based devices. The OS is a free download. The articles suggests using UNetbootin to assist in writing the OS to a storage device – you provide that, an 8 GB USB 3.0 flash drive. Wil then then showed extracting, installing, and actually running the OS on his MacBook. Why? Curiosity, mostly.

    The Cafe’ is also where you can bring questions regarding your Apple devices. In this session we discussed these:
    How do I safely erase a surplus hard drive so it can be donated to someone else? This is handled by Apple’s Disk Utility. Connect the disk, select it in Disk Utility, and click the Erase button. There is a Security Options button where you can select the degree to which data could be recovered. Tip – Additionally, select MS-DOS FAT for the Format: option. That will make the files even more unrecoverable.
    iCloud tells me I’m out of space. What does that mean? What do I do? iCloud gives you 5 mb of iCloud storage. You can buy more storage or remove content to give yourself more room. If you are backing up iDevices to iCloud, consider backing up to a computer instead. You can delete old backups from iCloud. This Apple article has useful information about managing iCloud storage.
    I have apps that will not run in newer versions of macOS. How can I run the latest OS and still use these apps? One option is to turn your Mac into a dual-boot machine. You can partition your hard drive and install two (or more) versions of macOS, both the latest and hottest and the one under which your legacy apps will run. We found this particularly useful set of instructions.

  23. At the June 4 Cafe’, Wil discussed OnyX, a free disc utility app. Your Mac caches tons of information. Some of the caches make your Mac or its apps boot or run slowly. They include system, user, font, application, and Internet caches, log files, and the like. They also take up storage space. Onyx (or OnyX) is a maintenance utility for Macs that assists with those and other tasks, like diagnosing hardware issues and repairing permissions. Granted, you can do these tasks on your own. You might give OnyX a try if you want to have a single app to help with these issues.

    Wil also reviewed several third-party disc burning apps. Here again, you can burn discs natively using the Mac OS or Apple-authored apps. No specific app was recommended. Not all of the ones discussed provided solutions for every disc-burning need.

  24. At Dino’s on 5/21, attendees were Dick H, Wil N, and Lezlie Wolff, daughter of late member Austin Wolff. She shared details of Austin’s passing, which we had not heard before. After his last attendance at the Cafe’ on February 27th, Austin went through with his plan to avail himself of Washington’s Death With Dignity law. In the presence of his immediate family he completed his own death by taking the legal medicine provided under the law. It was a peaceful passing.

    Lezlie shared that he had come to this decision due to failing health, but more importantly, failing mental faculties. He valued intellectual pursuits and did not want to continue living with the noticeable reduction of them he had been detecting.

    Surprisingly, the family got some criticism for allowing him to do this by outsiders who read about it in Facebook postings, ranging from attempts at dissuasion to threats. On the day of his death, police responded to reports of a person being held against his will at his residence, evidently prompted by someone opposed to his manner of passing. The officers reviewed the paperwork and left quietly. The law is rife with safeguards against misuse.

    Lezlie shared insights on Austin and his life that we may not have realized before. He valued dBug as a source of reasonable dialog he found missing in many other areas of public discourse. It was a pleasure to meet with her and talk about Austin. She still would like to hear from others who knew him. She will include comments in his forthcoming obituary.

  25. 4/23/16 at Dino’s – Wil demonstrated F.lux on his MacBook. It’s similar to Night Shift in iOS 9.3 on your iPhone. It works on the idea that blue light stimulates your brain and makes it harder to drowse off at bedtime if you’ve been staring at a standard screen. F.lux adjusts the color of your screen based on the time of day, so that there is less blue in the evening hours. Using fairly simple controls you can set a profile for daytime, sunset, and bedtime. You also set timepoints when the adjustments occur and the strength of the color change. You can include it as an icon in your Mac’s menu bar. There are other controls as well. It’s a free app. It’s available for iPhones – if you’re not using iOS 9.3 – as well as iPads, the iPod Touch, and Macs (and PCs.) You can download it from the F.lux website. There’s information there about the science behind the app as well.

    The Cleartext app limits you to the 1000 most-used English words. Perhaps you need to produce easily-read text, for instance for children, ESL students, or basic instructions. As you type, Cleartext will not allow words not on the list. You can set it not to refuse a word, just signal that it isn’t among the most used. It doesn’t offer alternatives. If you are interested, perform a web search on “cleartext app.” Include the “app” to avoid multiple references to clear text vs. encoded text.

    Wil also demonstrated the web-based Expresso site. It lets you write or paste in text and then it analyses it for multiple factors, such as:

    Weak verbs
    Filler words
    Nominalizations (Complex nouns extended from shorter verbs, adjectives and nouns.)
    Entity substitutions (Pronouns and the like)
    Passive voice
    Rare words (Words outside of the 5000 most frequently used English words)

    In the latter category, Expresso will suggest alternatives. You might not agree with the analysis, but it is thorough.

    Next Cafe’: More on using the dual screen features on an iPad Pro. Also, demonstrating a USB- 3 to Ethernet connector.

  26. At the Starbucks in Madison Park on April 9, Wil showed off his new 32 gb iPad Pro. Its dimensions and weight are the same as the iPad Air 2. It weighs in at less than 1lb. You can see more specs at the Apple site. He also bought a $15 case from Amazon, clear plastic covering the back and sides, with bumpers for the corners. Like most newer iDevices, it supports fingerprint login. It has the same oleophobic screen as other newer iDevices, designed to resist fingerprint smears. Both the front- and rear-facing cameras are better than the iPad Air’s and there are other improvements to photography and videography. One feature, the flashlight mode, is not supported due to changes in the photo flash.

    Wil demonstrated the Night Shift feature. You can schedule the shift in Settings, leave it on auto, or disable it entirely. You can also adjust the degree of shift. The Split Screen, introduced with the larger iPad Pro, works mainly with Apple apps so far. It has four speakers for better sound. Screen pixel density is the same as the bigger Pro. It has more color density than the older iPads, but it was hard to detect in a side-by-side comparison with an older iPad 2. In this photo, the colors of the iPad Pro are distinctly warmer, but it was hard to detect differences in pixel density.

    Wil also demoed the Live Photo process.

    Attendees: Lois, Lloyd, Wil, Dick. Next Cafe’ is at Dino’s in Renton.

  27. DBug notes 3/26/16
    Attending: Dick, Wil, Richard,
    Dues: Wil turned over $270 received so far from four renewing members – some donating extra funds over the basic dues.
    Richard brought his newly purchased refurbished iPad Air, one of a pair eventually to be used by his wife and mother. We also looked at Our Pad, a $2.99 app that creates multiple user accounts on a single iPad. It’s mainly useful for sharing an iPad without sharing personal material. Richard is using it to set up the iPad before turning it over to its eventual main user.

    Wil on Hackintosh: Wil makes use of the tonymacx86 website (http://www.tonymacx86.com/) for downloads and guides to get OSX running on a generic x86 PC. He’s done it mainly for demonstration purposes, to see how it’s done and what the results may be. Others might want to go this route rather than pay a premium for Apple hardware. Wil recommends an SSD drive for best results. In his implementation, not every Mac feature works, but most do.

    By happenstance some Mac users sat next to us and we shared our web site address and offered assistance.

  28. 2/13/16 Powerline ethernet adapters create an ethernet network using the existing electrical wiring in your house. They transmit and receive a signal that rides on top of the 60-cycle AC that powers your lights and appliances.

    Wil displayed the Logitech 200 starter kit, but there are similar devices from multiple manufacturers.
    The basic set includes two adapters and an ethernet cable. The list price is over $100, but Will found his for ~ $40.
    Easy setup: one adapter is for the internet router and one is for the Mac. You need additional adapters for each additional ethernet device you want to connect to your network. The Logitech adapters are not grounded and go into a wall outlet either way. LEDs show power, status, traffic, and the like. Once you’ve connected the router and a device, the adapters set up an ethernet LAN. No additional software is needed. Wil felt that the speed he attained was less than the full potential of his router but more than a wi-fi connection. He got the best speed using outlets on the same circuit or on circuits using same side of home service. This situation may not necessarily be documented. So-
    Pros: no additional wiring, take with when you go
    Cons: speed reduction, off brands not reliable, some locations don’t work. In multiplexes, shared wiring might let a third party access your network. Some brands have security features to prevent that.

    Wil also showed a $7 set of decals to stick over faded letters on a physical keyboard.

    Attending: Wil and Dick Harrell, with Austin Wolff via FaceTime. Question: Keep the Madison Park meeting location? Better attendance at Dino’s, on average.

  29. There were five present at Dino’s on January 30th (see list below.) We evaluated our financial situation and decided to reduce and simplify our dues. Starting with this renewal, due will be $40 for all categories. The Family Membership category will be discontinued. Richard Knights is preparing to send out renewals this Spring, pending revision of the renewal documents and the online payment process.

    John Livingston, Office Apps SIG leader, gave a brief presentation regarding Windows 360 on the Mac vs. on a PC: the Mac version is severely limited in features.

    Wil Nelson discussed Malwarebytes, a downloadable, free app for detecting malware on Macs. It checks for malware only, not viruses, but does better than virus scanners in catching malware. It turns out that Apple uses Malwarebytes to track down malware issues for users. There is also a paid version.

    Wil Also demonstrated making a bootable Linux removable drive. Wil found instructions at the howtogeek.com site. Maybe he will direct us further to the exact instructions he found there.

    There was plenty of non-Apple-related talk about many of the usual subjects. High on the list: issues with schools, school administrations, and educational quality. There is no easy solution.

    The attendees: John Livingston, Richard Knights, Wil Nelson, Austin Wolffe, and me, Dick Harrell

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