macOS High Sierra — to upgrade or not

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Sep 252017

Starting today, the latest upgrade for macOS — High Sierra — is available. As always, the question is whether to upgrade or not; or, when to upgrade. This CNET article “7 things to know before upgrading to MacOS High Sierra 10.13” discusses this question:

“Yes, if you answer any of these affirmatively:

  • You’re paranoid about security. Some say that the update is essential in order to get a complete set of security fixes, but it’s not like Apple is going to keep Sierra unpatched. Enterprises are running even older versions and they’ll continue to be patched. But if you think the potential security advantages outweigh the possibility of running into application issues, then update.
  • Your system has an SSD, not a Fusion Drive or HDD.
  • You’ve updated your iPhone or iPad to iOS 11 and shoot photos and videos with the new file formats.
  • You’re a big Photos user.
  • You have a complicated family to manage with iCloud.
  • You’ve been screaming for the specific capabilities added in those particular applications.”

Best practice usually is to wait awhile — a week to a month — before upgrading. If your Mac is not running Sierra (10.12) and is compatible, then upgrading definitely makes sense. If you decide to upgrade, first backup your Mac’s internal hard drive (or at least all your personal files); and do so when you don’t need to use your computer for a few hours.

This CNET YouTube video (below) reviews the changes.

App Store > Featured > Info
macOS High Sierra
Size: 4.80 GB

New technologies at the heart of the system make your Mac more reliable, capable, and responsive — and lay the foundation for future innovations. macOS High Sierra also refines the features and apps you use every day. It’s macOS at its highest level yet.

Easily organize, edit and view your photos in Photos.
Make short videos from your Live Photos using new Loop and Bounce effects.
Easily locate and organize your content with the new sidebar.
Conveniently access all of your editing tools in the redesigned Edit View.
Fine-tune color and contrast in your photos with new Curves and Selective Color tools.
Access third-party apps directly from Photos and save the edited images back to your Photos library.
Rediscover images from your library with new Memories themes including pets, weddings, outdoor activities, and more.
Create printed photo products and more using new third-party project extensions.

Improve your browsing experience with Safari.
Stop web video with audio from playing automatically.
Prevent websites and ad networks from tracking your browsing with Intelligent Tracking Prevention.
Customize your browsing experience with new per-site settings for Reader, page zoom, content blockers, and more.

Enjoy refinements in Mail.
Instantly find the messages most relevant to your search using Top Hits.
Use Split View when composing new email in full screen.
Save space on your Mac with compressed messages.

Look up flight information in Spotlight.
Check the status of a flight by typing the airline and flight number in the Spotlight search field.

Collect your thoughts with Notes.
Organize your information using configurable tables.
Pin your favorite notes so they’re always at the top of the list.

Capture a moment in FaceTime.
Take a Live Photo during a video call to any supported Mac, iPhone, or iPad.

Get music suggestions from a more natural-sounding Siri.
Hear more variations in intonation, emphasis, and tempo when Siri responds to you.
Enjoy personalized music recommendations from Siri when you listen to Apple Music.

Copy and paste files from one Mac to another with Universal Clipboard.
Copy and paste files between your Macs using standard copy and paste commands.

Safely store your family data in iCloud.
Share a single iCloud storage plan with your family and keep everyone’s data backed up and safely stored.
Set up your family with a few clicks and add capabilities when needed.

Work together with iCloud Drive.
Share and work on any file in iCloud Drive with other people so it is always be up to date with the latest edits.

Upgrade the performance, reliability, and security of your Mac with the new Apple File System.
Update to a new file system architecture designed for all-flash Macs.
Experience greater responsiveness when performing common tasks like duplicating a file and finding the size of a folder.
Enjoy faster and more reliable backups.
Protect your entire drive with built-in native encryption for greater security.

Step up to the new standard for 4K video: HEVC.
Create and watch high-resolution video with High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), which uses up to 40 percent less space without sacrificing quality.

Enjoy next-generation graphics and computation with Metal 2.
Get the most out of the graphics capabilities of your Mac with the new and improved version of Metal.
Discover immersive tools for content creation with support for virtual reality.
Build state-of-the-art apps with features that accelerate common machine learning functions.

Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages. Some features require an iCloud storage plan. Some features have hardware requirements. Apple File System requires all-flash internal storage.

iOS 11 Upgrade — new features for iPhone and iPad

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Sep 192017

Starting today (September 19, 2017), the iOS 11 upgrade for iPhone and iPad will be available on your Apple devices. There’s lots of coverage of this release. Here’s one (Macworld) article reviewing the changes and new features: “iOS 11 review: Apple’s most ambitious and impressive upgrade in years.”

If you’re an iPad user, download iOS 11 immediately. It’s a huge update that makes major improvements to the two-year-old multitasking features, and drag-and-drop and Files have the potential to transform iPad productivity.

If you’re an iPhone user—well, who are we kidding, you’re almost certainly going to upgrade to iOS 11, too. And you’ll be right to do so. This is a great collection of new features, Apple’s best iOS upgrade in years. The new, customizable Control Center is a winner. Do Not Disturb While Driving will make the roads safer. And ARKit threatens to kick off a revolution in augmented-reality applications. This is all great stuff.


Ready or Not — free Windows 10 Upgrade ending soon

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Jul 202016

If you’re still getting nags on your PC to upgrade to Windows 10, then either I hope that’s an oversight you’ll address before the end of July, or you really do not want the Upgrade.

PC World’s article “10 reasons to reject Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade” summarizes why some people are not upgrading. However, as I’ve discussed in other posts, bypassing the Upgrade can be tricky.

Here’s that list of reasons not to upgrade:

No Windows Media Center or DVD support
No desktop gadgets or widgets
No OneDrive placeholders
No control over Windows Updates
Privacy concerns
Ads and more ads
Microsoft’s aggressive upgrade tactics
Software compatibility
Hardware compatibility
Ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Note: If you have a Windows 7 PC, Windows 7’s no longer getting any feature updates or Service Packs; Mainstream Support ended January 13, 2015; and Extended Support (bug / security patches) ends January 14, 2020.

Windows 10 Upgrade — a warning if you really don’t want it

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Jan 202016

UPDATE 2/2/2016: PC World yesterday noted in their article “It begins: Microsoft starts ‘recommended’ rollout of Windows 10” that:

Many users of Windows 7 and 8.1 will start seeing a more aggressive push to upgrade to Windows 10 in the coming days, as Microsoft starts to roll the new operating system out as a recommended update which will automatically download.

I’ve written about this issue before. I am more and more concerned about it for some of my clients. For those who really do not want to upgrade to Windows 10. Maybe they’ll get a new PC in a few years (which will come with Windows 10) but until then their current Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PC is just fine.

Microsoft is so aggressively promoting Windows 10 that their Upgrade nags may appear to not allow avoiding it or trick you into accidentally clicking on the wrong item. And it gets worse, as pointed out in this PC World article “You will upgrade to Windows 10: Inside Microsoft’s strong-arm upgrade tactics” published on January 20, 2016.

First, as noted in the article, there’s no clear “No thanks” button in the latest nag. And it may be foisted as well later:

Microsoft plans to push through the initial Windows 10 installation as a Recommended update sometime in 2016. That means Windows 10 will automatically download itself onto any computer that has Windows Update configured to install Recommended updates by default—in other words, the overwhelming majority of consumer PCs in the wild. That’s the default setting for new Windows installs, and the one that most tech experts (ourselves included) recommend that everyday people use.

Personally I don’t want the Upgrade forced onto an almost 10 year old Windows 7 PC that I’ve kept for legacy testing and will discard in a few years anyway. It’s got 2GB of RAM (4 GB’s recommended), a slow graphics processor, a low-res screen, and a slow 5400 rpm IDE drive. But what can I do if Windows 10 gets released as an automatic recommended update?

If you’re running Windows 8.1, you can use the “metered connection” trick. For Windows 7, however, all automatic downloads need to be disabled, not a viable situation for most people — manual installation’s too complicated.

The company says you’ll be able to opt out of the upgrade even after Windows 10’s installed to your PC, but smart money’s betting the prompt will use the same weasel words as the GWX pop-up. Hey geeks: Look forward to receiving frantic late-night phone calls from your friends and family after they accidentally kick off the install process.

(There supposedly are two technical ways to remove the nag and/or block the Upgrade. One involves a 3rd party utility and the other requires editing the Windows Registry. Ugh.)

Aug 022015

So, you upgraded a Windows 7 or Windows 8 PC to Windows 10 — for free. Cheers. What did you do next?

PC World suggests these explorations:

Here’s my checklist:

1. If you didn’t Customize your privacy settings (vs using Express setup) in the final setup stage of the upgrade, then consider revising those settings. What do you really want to share with Microsoft — Microsoft, Windows 10, and your personal data.

“Any information shared with Microsoft is at your discretion—we will not collect information without your permission,” says a Microsoft spokesman.

That’s good to hear, but many of Microsoft’s data collection systems are turned on by default. Opting out requires knowing where to look, and disabling some of the features in Windows 10.

What can you do about it? In addition to the above article, “Here are the privacy settings you should check in Windows 10.”

2. Check that your anti-virus app is still there and working okay.

3. Consider whether you really want Microsoft’s new Edge app to be your default web browser — rather than Chrome or Firefox, for example. If not, here’s how to change that.

4. Re-enable System Protection on your boot (C) drive so that Restore points will be created before Windows updates are installed.

5. If you intend to use Microsoft’s Edge browser, customize the settings — such as your home page and whether to show the home button and favorites bar.

6. If using WiFi, check that your local area network (LAN) still is designated as a Private network.

7. Review how to uninstall programs and apps in Windows 10.

8. Customize the Start menu — perhaps to make it more like Windows 7’s.

9. Uninstall MSN apps that are being discontinued in 2015 – MSN Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, Travel.

10. Perhaps you don’t want to use Cortana (maybe your PC lacks a microphone and the other aspects of Cortana aren’t compelling) or you don’t like Cortana or you’re concerned about privacy (sharing all that data with Microsoft); so, review how to disable Cortana.

Windows 10 Upgrade — Getting Ready FAQ

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Aug 022015

Are you getting ready to upgrade your Windows 7 or Windows 8 PC to the newly released Windows 10? Did you reserve a copy?

Microsoft answers frequently asked questions about this upgrade on their “Windows 10 FAQ & Tips” page, such as:

  • When will I get my free upgrade?
  • How long does it take to install the upgrade?
  • What if I have more than one Windows device – can I upgrade them all?
  • What edition of Windows will I get as part of this free upgrade?

Another page answers the question, “Will my PC or tablet be compatible with Windows 10?” The basic system requirements are minimal. Even a 9 year-old PC running Windows 7 might qualify. But is that a good idea? Check the “Important Notes” regarding migration of existing applications and the section on “Additional requirements to use certain features.”

“You can check to see if it meets the requirements by using ‘Check my PC’ in the Get Windows 10 app. To open the Get Windows 10 app, click on the small Windows icon found at the right end of the task bar. … For certain third party applications, the Get Windows 10 app will scan for application compatibility. If there is a known issue that will prevent the upgrade, you will be notified of the list of applications with known issues.”

Absolutely can’t wait? You have a couple of options to get your upgrade sooner:
1. Visit a Microsoft Store for free upgrade services.
2. Use the Media Creation Tool to install immediately on one or more devices (recommended for tech-savvy users only).

If you reserved a copy of Windows 10 and are waiting … and waiting, in addition to Microsoft’s note above, PC World’s “Windows 10: How to skip the line and claim your free upgrade right now” article summarizes the steps.

Windows 10 is finally here! So why haven’t you been offered a copy even though you reserved your upgrade months ago? Simple: Because Microsoft only started rolling out Windows 10 on July 29.

People are taking advantage of the free upgrade at a blistering pace, and Microsoft doesn’t want to melt its servers. Because of that, the company’s rolling out upgrade prompts slowly—so slowly, in fact, that Microsoft recently warned would-be-upgraders that they may be waiting for a few weeks.

Fortunately, there’s a way to skip ahead in line if you’re impatient.

Are you going to backup your system before the upgrade, as recommended in “How to install Windows 10 on your PC?