How Not to do Migration Assistant

Migration assistant starting screenWhen I got the 2016 Touch Bar 15″ MacBook Pro, it was only about a month after I’d done an involuntary nuke and pave on my 2013 MacBook Pro. For those unfamiliar with the term nuke and pave, that’s when you erase everything, including the operating system, and then install everything from scratch. You can drag your documents over from a backup or another Mac, but you don’t bring over network settings or license files or any customizations you’ve made.

I have lauded the benefits of a nuke and pave over the years on the podcast and I’m a huge believer in doing it around once a year. It’s painful and time consuming (think days before everything is back to “just so”) but the advantages of speed and freed up disk space are enormous. Your Mac will feel like it did when it was new.

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I Just Can’t Win

Al after 10 hours in lineBefore I go on this particular rant, I want to make sure to state that I have been incredibly blessed in my life in every way and that I realize this is a petty and small problem I feel compelled to describe to you.

When it comes to ordering Apple gear, I fell like the cartoon character Ziggy. Remember him? He’s the guy for whom everything seems to go wrong.

If you’ve been listening for a long time, you’ll remember when the iPhone 4 first came out. Rather than have it delivered to my house, I pre-ordered and got up at the crack of dawn and stood in line outside the Apple Store at 6:30 am. But while everyone who chose home delivery happily got theirs throughout the day, it took TEN HOURS for me to get my phone.

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NC #601 Mini Metro, Turning off UPnP, Trekz Titanium AfterShokz, New MacBooks Pro Diagram, CarPlay

This week we’ve got the Mini Metro iOS and Mac game review by Allister Jenks, tutorials on how to turn off NAT-PMP and UPnP on your router so you don’t become part of the botnet, Trekz Titanium Headphone review from AfterShokz by Bart Busschots, a handy diagram to explain the crazy new lineup of MacBooks Pro, and a review of CarPlay by Dorothy R.

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Apple CarPlay Gives a Useful Interface in Volkswagen Jetta – by Dorothy R

Guest Post by Dorothy R (aka @maclurker)

Carplay main screenAs soon as Allison heard I had a new car that included CarPlay, she had to know more. All the details, in their technical glory. Specifically a NosillaCast review. So before I could even get started, I had to define …

The problem to be solved: how to make better use of my phone while driving when my car only has an Aux connection and no BlueTooth.

Solution: Buy a new car with CarPlay.

I am now the owner of a new Volkswagen. While I am sorry to leave my Civic behind, I love all the new technology. Especially Apple CarPlay, which promises to marry my phone and car, leaving me with a smooth uninterrupted experience. I should point out that Hubs has a new car too. A Ford with CarPlay. So we’ve been able to exchange notes on what’s the same and what isn’t. But, it seems pretty consistent. CarPlay is CarPlay, no matter which car it runs on.

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Do You Find the New Lineup of MacBooks Pro Confusing?

After the big Apple announcement, I sang the virtues of the new MacBook Pro. However, there appears to be some confusion about all of the different models Apple introduced. Dave Hamilton expressed consternation on the Mac Geek Gab about how much harder Apple has made it to choose the right model.

I thought to myself, how hard could this be? I decided to make a simple diagram to help people choose. I did make the diagram, but it’s anything but simple!

Let’s start with what to call these different models. Apple calls the big MacBook Pro simply “MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016)”. Ok, that’s easy enough. But the two 13″ models have a TON of differences between them which really muddies up the naming. Apple chose to name the two models:

MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)

While the name is clumsy, you can actually pick up a Late 2016 13″ MacBook Pro and tell them apart simply by counting the Thunderbolt 3 ports. But for our diagram we need to understand all of the differences.

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NC #597 Credit Card Mixup at Apple, Easy Pill, Clean Install of macOS, Security Bits

Something appears to be fishy with Apple’s databases, based on my story of how someone else’s credit card got into my account. Mark Pouley of Twin Lakes Images gives a great review of the Easy Pill medication tracker and reminder for iOS. I’ll tell you why I think doing a clean install of your OS from time to time and not using Migration Assistant is a good idea, but I’ll follow that up with all the little fiddly bits I’ve had to modify to get things running again. Bart Busschots is back with Security Bits where he gives us an update on the security of the Internet of Things and more information that’s been coming out, along with all of the rest of this week’s security news.

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How Did Someone Else’s Credit Card Get in My Apple ID?

Happy apple orderToday something truly disturbing happened with my Apple ID. It all started last night when I used my iPad Pro to buy a Hue Hub from the Apple Store using Apple Pay. When prompted I happily put my finger on TouchID and the website confirmed that my payment had been accepted. A few minutes later I got a confirmation that my order was being prepared. It included an order number ending in 9168.

In the morning when I got up, I had an email from Apple entitled “Action Required” and referenced the same order number 9168. In the email they politely explained that my credit card provider had declined payment. In the email was a link to Order Status that I was encouraged to click to verify my payment. Now I’m not one to click links in emails but clearly this was my order so I clicked away.

When I got to Order Status, the Hue Hub was not in the list of orders. I could see the watchband I bought last week, but not the most recent order. That was weird. Continue reading “How Did Someone Else’s Credit Card Get in My Apple ID?”

When Amazon Does You Wrong, Write to Jeff

Guest Post by Denise Crown

Pristine apple watch in original caseHello Castaways, this is Denise Crown.

I have a story to tell you with a surprise ending.

I recently treated myself to the water resistant AppleWatch 2. I love to swim, and really wanted to capture my swimming effort as part of my fitness history. This left me with my original Apple Watch to find a home for. I’m not a sentimental person, but I do get a little emotional over first generation Apple gear. I still have my original iPod and iPhone.

In this case, I thought I would part with my original 38mm aluminum watch with white sport strap, so I started researching my options. I don’t deal with Craig’s list or eBay so one of the Castaways suggested the Amazon trade in program. I checked and they offered $135 (US) for the watch. Because I am a fanatic about taking care of my Apple gear, I had the original paperwork, box, etc, so I lovingly packed it all up and shipped it off to Amazon. I actually felt a little pang of remorse the minute the box dropped into the UPS container.

A week or so later, I got an email saying my pristine watch was REJECTED. Rejected! For minute scratches! I was MORTIFIED. I was DEVASTATED they thought my watch was scratched. Was I a terrible watch parent without even knowing it? Would I be banned from future trips to Apple? All of this seriously went through my head.

Continue reading “When Amazon Does You Wrong, Write to Jeff”

CCATP #454 Lynda Gousha on Apple Announcements

This week our guest is Lynda Gousha and she’s here to talk about the big Apple announcements with me. We’ll talk Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, discuss camera specs and revel in “the best iPhone” they’ve ever made. You may have heard her on other fine podcasts, like Let’s Talk Apple with Bart Busschots

You can connect with Lynda on Twitter @llg4cdg

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Mac App Store Rant

App Store OS X logoI listen to a lot of tech podcasts and many of them have had discussions lately about what’s wrong with the Mac App Store. The level of rant against the Mac App Store has become so high that I feel compelled to voice my own opinions. I’m going to try very hard not to call out any people or products but keep this a generic discussion.

Point of View

First of all, the rants I’ve heard are all from the point of view of the developers. While the developer’s needs and concerns are valid, theirs is not the only point of view to consider. None of these discussions seem to take into account the needs and desires of the Mac user.

I can only speak for myself, but I love the Mac App Store. I love that I can buy an app, and get it on all of my devices. I love the fact that those on my Family Plan can also get access to any apps I buy through the Mac App Store. I love that I can do a nuke and pave and get all of my apps back by just clicking in the store, instead of navigating to each developer’s website and hunting down my license keys.

A couple of years ago I bought a $100 app directly from a developer for which I get high value and I enjoy using. When I bought my MacBook to supplement my MacBook Pro, I was furious to discover that the license agreement didn’t allow me to use this very expensive app on my second Mac. I know that 30% of the cost of an app goes to Apple, but when a new version came out, you can be sure that I switched to the Mac App Store version, even though I could have bought an upgrade for far less money directly from the developer.

I love that the Mac App Store isn’t the only way I can get apps for my Mac. Utilities like App Delete will never be allowed in the Mac App Store, but I can still go get it on my own. TextExpander is too far reaching for the Mac App Store also but it’s 100% worth it to get it directly from Smile. We have the flexibility to get the tricky cool tools directly from the developers and to get mainstream apps through the Mac App Store. Best of both worlds.

Is 30% Too Much?

Apple’s 30% cut has been a sore point for a long time and recently this was highlighted with Spotify complaining rather loudly about it. I’m not sure having the same recurring fee for a subscription service as for apps makes any sense at all so I think Spotify may have a point. And let’s not forget that Apple is now taking 15% off subscriptions in the second year a user keeps the subscription. I’d rather talk about the 30% in context of normal, non-subscription apps.

One developer complained about the 30% during a podcast recently with the statement, “I think the richest company in the world could afford to take a smaller cut.” That evoked so many thoughts for me.

First of all, how do you think Apple got to be the richest company in the world? It wasn’t by having razor-thin margins, was it? This conversation drove me nuts because the argument for why Apple should cut their margin was because Spotify had a razor-thin margin! Why is it Apple’s responsibility that they chose to be in a business with such low margins? I don’t get that argument at all.

I think it’s a valid comparison to look at what cut Amazon takes when you self-publish an eBook. According to Amazon’s Direct Publishing guidelines for Kindle books, the author gets to keep the grand sum of 35% of the selling price of their book. Seriously, Amazon keeps 65%. And they give you a range of what you can charge for the book. That’s the standard policy, but if the author agrees to some further restrictions, she can get a better deal, keeping 70%. But to get the Amazon Kindle deal to be as good as the Apple deal is for apps, the author has to agree to have the book exclusively on Kindle, and it has to be part of the Kindle all-access program (where you don’t get full price for your book). So…is Apple’s 30% cut a bad deal for apps?

When people look at the 30% cut and declare it outrageous, I believe they’re only thinking about the cost of servers and storage. They know that disk is cheap , they know that linux boxes are cheap and they know that bandwidth is cheap. Therefore, storing their app should be cheap so Apple shouldn’t charge them so much. But here’s a sampling of what people don’t take into account. Apple has to pay for:

  • Cost of physical footprint for the server
  • Cost of electricity to run the server
  • Cost of system administration time to keep the server running and patched
  • Cost of paying someone to architect the server farm
  • Cost of redundant servers, offsite backups, and disaster recovery plans
  • Cost of someone to create purchase orders to buy the servers
  • Cost of developers to design the database for the store
  • Cost of UI designers to create the look and feel of the store
  • Cost of architects to design the store
  • Cost of Research and Development
  • Cost of help desk to answer calls about the store
  • Cost of financial billing software and people to manage the purchases
  • Costs paid to credit card companies for purchases made in the store
  • Cost of managers of all of these people
  • Cost of marketing for the store

I could go on and on but do you see how many things are behind that simple word “server”?

My point is not that Apple is barely scraping by. They’re clearly raking in money hand over fist. With average gross profit margins (profit before tax) at around 40%, they aren’t hurting. We don’t know exactly what margins they make on apps but their services business appears to be in line with that average. My point is that they built this business to make money, they’re responsible to the shareholders for making that profit, and to say that they should lower their margins just because someone else chose to be in a low margin business is just plain silliness.

Some of the people who complain so much about the 30% cut don’t take into account how much better their exposure to customers is with the Mac App Store. I know it’s hard to get noticed, but I believe it’s easier in the store than it is to be found on your own website.

But It Could be Better

I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I don’t think improvements could be made to the Mac App Store that would benefit both the developers and customers. For example, I think both sides would love to have the Mac App Store allow free trials. That benefits both sides. Just yesterday I spent 10 minutes pondering whether to part with the giant sum of $3 for an app just because I wasn’t sure it was going to do what I wanted it to do. You’ve been there, right?

I also think it would benefit both sides if developers had ways to contact their customers from the Mac App Store. Getting notifications of new versions, having a communications path for problems, being alerted to discount codes, all of these things would help the users and the developers.

But saying that the Mac App Store is a horrible disaster as some of these louder folks have said kind of makes my head explode.

Ok, I’m done with my rant, thanks for letting me get that off of my chest.

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