Mac Doc News – iPhone Photography class next weekend (Aug. 21, ’21)

Greetings, and apologies for the late notice on this, but I want everyone to know that I’m teaching my popular iPhone Photography class at the Ah Haa School in Telluride a week from today. (Even more exciting is that it’s going to be held in their new Silver Jack Building at the corner of Fir and Pacific in Telluride!) Cost is $65 for the three-hour class, and you can register here. I’ll paste in the class description for you:

Learn the art of capturing truly compelling photos with your iPhone.

Are you recent iPhone convert, or do you simply struggle to get decent photos out of your iDevice? As many photographers have been discovering for years now, the best camera is the one you have with you. With the advent of good quality cameras in smartphones like the iPhone, and as the camera specs improve with each new version, you always have an amazingly capable camera with you. Learn the art of capturing truly great photos using your device. (Lesson 1: Stop treating it like a point-and-shoot camera.) This class will include both technical instruction and outdoor experimentation, followed by an indoor critique session. As a bonus, the class will spend some time learning about the thousands of camera “apps” available for smart phones, from Instagram to the more techy HDR realm, and lots in between.

I hope to see some of you there!

And don’t worry, I’ll post a longer update soon. (I know some of you were really worried… 😜)

Mac Doc News – Winter/Spring 2021; Security, scams & hoaxes. 🙄 (And some good news too!)

Greetings, friends & neighbors! I haven’t posted in awhile, mostly due to the a crazy year I’ve had (we’ve all had, I should say), and I thank you all for your patience. I’ve decided to focus this post on all the various security news of late (aka, lack of security!)

Any of you who have followed my newsletter/blog for any amount of time will be familiar with my urgings on this topic. I’m afraid I’ve just seen way too many people get scammed in one way or the other, and I’m sure what I’ve seen is truly the proverbial tip of the iceberg. And unfortunately, the truth is that things just keep getting worse. There’s so much to say on this topic, but I’ll try to keep it to a few highlights, ones that are good examples of why we need to be more cautious than ever.

First off, if you haven’t heard, the software known as Adobe Flash Player is now officially dead. It’s been on the way out for years, really since Steve Jobs famously said that Apple wasn’t going to support the technology on iPhones when they first came out. Flash was always problematic; it was highly vulnerable to exploits by hackers, and it was famously inefficient from an energy use perspective. Jobs said that he wasn’t interested in having it ruin the battery life of Apple’s new device, and the constant stream of updates required to keep it secure was just the final nail in its coffin. And it’s the latter that made it such a great vector for hackers in recent years. We all became so trained to click “update” whenever we saw the ubiquitous “You need to update your Flash Player plugin” messages every few weeks or so, that the hacking/scamming community realized that they could package their malware as a Flash update, and have an easy way to get millions of users to download and install their malware. To this day, when I work on a client’s computer, I often find anywhere from a few to dozens of such downloads on their machine, and Malwarebytes then finds at least a few things to purge from their system. Bottom line: don’t fall for that message anymore, as Flash is dead!

Secondly, I’ll link to an article at MacWorld that explains what you should do when you get those random Apple ID/iCloud sign-in requests. They’re way too common, and totally annoying, but you really need to deal with them in order to get them to go away. But first you should confirm that they’re legitimate. Read this article to learn more, and call me if you have questions about messages you’re getting on your device(s): How to check if an unexpected prompt for your Apple ID password is legitimate

Third, I’m still hearing of way too many folks falling for tech support scams. One very common vector for these is when your printer (or some other peripheral) starts acting up, and you google the number for that manufacturer’s tech support line. Unfortunately, depending on the search engine you’re using (but they all do this to on extent or another), it’s all too possible that you’ll get a paid ad which is actually a scam site. If, for example, you google the term “epson printer support phone number”, as I just did, one of the first links is for “https://www.epsonprintersupportpro.net”, and there’s a number there for you to call. [If you want a laugh, you really should read some of the text on that page; it’s so obvious that they’re not legitimate, it’s hilarious.] Anyway, were you to call that number, I can almost guarantee that you’d get a ‘support rep’ that will insist that he needs to get on your computer remotely in order to check your software. He will then show you a program called Console, that’s on every Mac, and which outputs odd sounding messages constantly. Software engineers use Console to troubleshoot their programs. Well this guy will tell you that those messages show that there’s something terribly wrong with your computer, and you need to pay him something like $350-500 in order for him to repair these problems for you. Sigh… I get calls from people who’ve just had experiences like that all the time!

The lesson is, make sure that you’re calling the manufacturer, not some imposter. Do whatever you can to confirm that. Hint: the site is almost certainly something like epson.com or hp.com, not epsonprintersupportpro.net! Secondly, don’t ever let someone connect to your computer remotely unless you’re absolutely certain they’re legit. I’ve been using Screen Sharing to help many of my clients remotely during the pandemic, but my clients know who they’re dealing with. 🤓 Apple uses the same tool, but again, you simply need to make sure you’re talking to Apple, by going to apple.com and starting the process there (or calling 800-275-2273, their real support line).

As the tech world continues to get crazier and more out-of-control, seemingly by the day, it’s increasingly important that we all remain vigilantly wary in our online interactions. Better safe than sorry, right?

On a happier and more exciting front, I have a goal this spring to provide more video content to you all (as much as I can find time for anyway) via my Vimeo On Demand page. Everything from short tutorials recorded on my iPhone, to more full-length classes on topics such as Pages, Numbers, Keynote, etc.

That’s about it for now. 😊 Stay tuned, stay safe & stay well!

John

Mac Doc News – Summer/Fall 2020; Classes, and Craziness!

Greetings Apple device users! It’s been awhile since I posted, but seeing how the last six months have been unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, I hope you can forgive me for the radio silence. 😳

The primary reason for my post is to tell you about two new classes I’m teaching through the Ah Haa School in Telluride this month. They’re both virtual, 3 hours long, and only $50 ea.

First, this coming Saturday, Sept. 12th, from 1-4 pm, I’ll be teaching my popular iPhone Photography class:

Learn the art of capturing truly compelling photos with your iPhone. [Click that link to register. Cost is $50]

Learn the art of capturing great photos using your device. (Tip #1: Stop treating it like a point-and-shoot camera.) The best camera is the one you have with you, and with the quality of cameras and software improving with each new version of  iPhone, you always have a surprisingly good camera with you. Even so, do you struggle to get decent photos out of your iPhone, or would you  like to learn how to take your “iPhone-ography” to the next level? This class will include both technical instruction and outdoor experimentation, followed by an indoor critique session. As a bonus, the class will spend some time learning about the thousands of camera “apps” available for smart phones, from Instagram to the more techy HDR realm, and lots in between.

Next, on Saturday, Sept. 26th, from 1-4 pm, I’ll be teaching a class I’m calling:

Managing Your Apple Devices In The Wacky 2020’s! [Click that link to register. Cost is again $50]

Technology is changing faster than most of us can keep up with. As soon as you wrap your head around one system, everything gets updated again! Let John Clark, the Mac Doctor, help you get the most out of your Apple products, and learn how to keep everything organized. In this one-day workshop, John will help students make sure everything is syncing correctly, show them how to pick & choose what to sync, and detail how to manage their privacy settings, notifications and other functions. In the end, you’ll feel confident that your iPhone, iPad, laptop and iCloud are all doing exactly what you want them to do (at least most of the time)! [Registration for this class opens 9/17, but please call the school at (970) 728-3886 if you would like to pre-register.]

I really hope some of you will be able to join me for one or both classes!

Aside from those classes, and the general CovidCraziness™, there’s quite a lot of stuff going on. We’re at the time of year when new iPhones are just over the horizon, along with major macOS (Big Sur) and iOS (14) updates following closely. I’m sure there will be lots of changes involved with both, which will bring the usual frustrations. With any luck, those will be offset by welcome new features.

On the security front, things continue to just get weirder (and scarier). In general, my latest advice is to avoid clicking on anything that pops up while you’re using a web browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc). Flash Player is going away at the end of 2020, so if you’re still seeing those “You need to update your Flash Player plugin…” pop-ups, for instance, you should ignore them. Same goes for most everything else in the way of random pop-ups on the web, as I said. In truth, you likely can’t even trust Google when trying to research the validity of many of these things, unfortunately. And one of the primary scam sources these days is when you do a search for something like “HP printer repair”, when your printer stops working. Chances are, most of the top search results are scam sites. When you need something like that, go to the manufacturer’s website (hp.com, epson.com, canon.com, etc), and initiate your search there.

I could go on and on, but I doubt you want me to. 🤪 Suffice it to say that I’m hoping to post more regularly now that we know what the “new normal” looks like (HA!). Seriously though, I have some fun new plans in the works, so stay tuned! Don’t forget to check out my video links in previous posts, and let me know if you’d like to purchase the recent Photos class ($20, details in the previous “Winter 2020” post).

Thanks, and stay well!

Apple/Mac news – Winter 2020

Hello again, Mac Doctor followers, and a belated happy 2020 to you all! It’s been a while since I posted, due to my usual nutty over-committed life, but I hope you’ll find that your patience is about to be rewarded. ✋🏼🤓🤚🏼

I have great news; my long-awaited Photos for Mac video class is finally ready! This will be my first class with a fee: $20. If you’d like to download the class, you can pay me in any of the following ways, after which I will send you the link to download the class:

  1. Pay me in cash (always welcome 😜)
  2. Write me a check (payable to Mac Doctor, and sent to PO Box 53, Ridgway, 81432; include your email address.)
  3. Use a digital payment service like Square Cash, PayPal or Venmo

The class is 2 hours & 11 minutes long, and covers everything about Apple’s Photos class for Mac, from a detailed tour of the interface, to using the many included tools to manage your photos, to editing and sharing them. I’m excited for you to check it out, and to hear what you think!

Also, I’m happy to be able to share a deal on one of my favorite new accessories for your devices. I got my first Fuse Reel more than a year ago, and love it. Some of you may have seen mine at a Black Canyon Mac User Group meeting, or seen one around elsewhere. Their first product was simply called the Side Winder, and is a brilliant solution to the mess most of us make of our laptop chargers. They’ve not expanded into solutions for iPhone, iPad and Watch chargers & cables, and I gave a bunch of them out as stocking stuffers last Christmas! Anyway, the folks at Fuse Reels have given me a link to share that will get you 15% off of your purchase a Side Winder for your laptop charger:

http://fusereels.refr.cc/glassguy

(Full disclosure, I’ll get a small credit if/when you use that link to buy a Side Winder)

I’m not sure what I should take on next for my video class series, so let me know if you have requests.

I hope your winter has been a good one so far, and that 2020 is shaping up to be a spectacular year for you all.

Take care, John

Apple/Mac news – Fall 2019

Greetings Mac Doctor followers!

It’s been awhile since I posted; I have been very busy! The good news is that I’m working on new video class content, starting with a “Photos for Mac Overview”. This video class will feature the 4.0 version of Photos, found in the latest version of Mojave. With any luck at all, I should have it available before Thanksgiving.

In other news, I continue to be discouraged by both the volume and variety of internet/email/phone scams happening these days. On top of that, hardware scams are even beginning to appear. For example, there was a report in a recent cyber-security email newsletter I receive, stating that a “nefarious hacker” was recently spotted at DefCon selling custom-made USB Lightning charging cables that look exactly like the ones that come with your iPhone. The problem is, the cables are embedded with special technology that allow a hacker to take control of your computer!*

From now on, you’re going to want to be sure the charging cables you buy are from a reputable source!

Then, on the data-breach front, it has recently come out that CenturyLink was one of the casualties of the “MongoDB” server breach, and for the last 10 months, more than 2.8 million customer information records, including names, addresses, emails & phone numbers, were left exposed. Apparently, the data was all locked down on Sept. 17th, and CenturyLink is assuring customers that “the data involved appears to be primarily contact information and we do not have reason to believe that any financial or other sensitive information was compromised.”*

*(Both of the previous two pieces of information come courtesy of the National Cybersecurity Center, whose newsletter I subscribe to.)

Appropriately, October is National Cybersecurity Month, and as such, I’d like to share a few other relevant links. First off, the Office of Homeland Security provides resources and toolkits to help improve awareness of online security and privacy protection:

And with the Census coming up next year, it’s important to be aware of potential census scams. In another recent newsletter, the Colorado State Demography Office shared a couple of good resources:

I really hate to focus on the scarier aspects of our technology-related lives in such detail, but I feel strongly that the only way to protect ourselves is to be educated and vigilant.

Here’s to a beautiful fall; hopefully you’ll hear from me again soon!

Cheers! John

Mac news – Summer 2019

Happy almost-summer, Mac Doc followers! Who knew that Colorado was going to become the Pacific Northwest? C’mon sun, you can do it!!

My big news, first off, is that I’m leaving the country on a much-needed vacation, for almost the entire month of June. Don’t despair, I’ve spoken to Chris Kennedy, of Apple Core Technologies in Montrose, and he’s more than willing to help cover for me while I’m away. His email and phone number are available on his webpage, but here’s his number if you just want to make note of it quick while you’re reading this: (970) 901-3051. Also, if you’re in need of help from an Apple-certified hardware repair center, I recommend Simply Mac in Grand Junction. Here’s a tip about Simply Mac though: if you call, don’t bother leaving a message for their service department, as they’re so busy that they rarely return phone calls (in my experience). Instead, call their main number and see if you can make an appointment through one of their sales people. Better yet, just make note of their hours and head to GJ with you know they’ll be open.

I’ll be back in the office on July 1, refreshed and ready to help with anything I can. Where am I headed for vacay, you ask? My wife Mallory and I are headed to Italy for more than two weeks of bike touring, followed by sightseeing excursions in Florence and Amsterdam! I am so ready for a vacation…

As for the rest of the summer, I plan to move into the phase of my recorded video classes, starting with the Photos program. I’ve gotten a ton of great feedback on my first video that I shared awhile back, and am excited about doing more!

In the meantime, keep being vigilant about avoiding all those phishing scams and other hoaxes flooding the tech world these days. In essence, don’t believe any alarming message you get about your computer, etc, especially if the message contains threatening language about “locking you out of your account” or “not being able to recover some of your data”. The scarier the claim, the more likely it is that’s is a scam. Maybe someday the powers that be will actually start trying to do something about all these scams, but in the meantime, be careful out there!

Thanks, as always, for supporting the Mac Doctor.

Mac news – Spring 2019

My first video class is ready!

Happy Spring, Mac Doc followers! When last I wrote, I said not to mention the ‘D’ word, but the winter we’ve had has almost banished that awful reality from our minds. It’s simply astounding that we could have such opposite winters one year after the other. With the promise of a nice, wet, green spring on the horizon, let’s move on to the first Mac Doc news in quite some time…

As the headline above makes clear, I finally have my first video class available. I’ve decided to make this one free, to give you all a chance to see if the concept, and my style, will work for you before I start making more. All future videos will only be available on a pay-to-view basis. I’m still working out those details, but I hope to be able to offer a subscription version as well. Anyway, here are the details about this first class:

Class #1; A Mac Overview, is a almost 70 minutes long, and gives you a thorough walk-through of the basic Mac interface, focusing primarily on the Finder, where you’ll learn how to navigate your Mac, with side-trips to the menubar, Dock and System Preferences.

You’ll need this password to view the video: stevejobs

Feel free to share the link to the video, along with the password, but please urge anyone you share it with to sign up for this email newsletter as well, if only so they’ll be notified when new classes are available!

Probably the best part of this whole new approach to doing classes is that you can download the video, making it possible for you to watch at your own pace, whenever you want, over and over again if you want as well. What could be better, right?

Please let me know your thoughts about this first class. I want constructive criticism, because I know it will only make future classes better.

Thanks, as always, for supporting the Mac Doctor.

Enjoy!
John

Mac news – June 2018

[Apologies for the deafening silence here for so long! I’m about to move this to a new platform, but in the meantime, here’s my latest update!]
Happy June, Mac Doc followers! Man oh man, what a spring we’ve been having! Let’s not even mention the ‘D’ word, but instead enjoy these gorgeous days while they’re here, and dream of the healthy monsoons to come… 😊 

Many of you have been asking what’s happened to my classes. Well never fear, I have a new plan! I continue to be swamped with my usual Mac Doctor business (as the tech world gets crazier and more complicated by the day!), on top of the responsibilities that come from all the other hats I wear, so I’m feeling the need to make some changes.

What I’ve decided to do is to continue to do a class or two, a month, probably alternating between Ridgway and Montrose. There may be months that I don’t do a class at all though. Of course, I’ll continue to do presentations at the monthly Mac User Group meetings for much of the year as well. [As a reminder, those meetings are held at the Montrose Proximity Space at 7 pm on the second Thursday of every month. Attendance is free, but membership is encouraged, at only $12/year or $18/year for a couple.]

What I’m really excited about, however, is that I’ve decided that the best approach for many of my recurring classes is to make recordings, here in my office/studio, lasting an hour or hour-and-a-half, post them online, and offer subscription access to them. To test out that approach, I’m going to make one for Photos first, and hope to complete that soon.

Here’s where I need some help from you all again. My thoughts are to either charge a one-time fee per recording (say $20), which would give you something like a year of access to each class, and/or to charge a higher fee (say $50-75/year) for access to all class recordings. I would guess that I’ll eventually have a dozen or more recordings available. I plan to cover: Photos, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Safari, Mail, ‘Security Essentials’, Facebook Marketing, Mac Basics, iPhone/iPad Basics, etc. Feel free to suggest others, and do let me know your thoughts about the different pricing models and costs.

Please get back to me with your feedback on this idea. I’ve mentioned it to a few of you, and had universally positive response. I think it’s a great way for folks to be able to go over the content at their pace, while allowing me to cover topics in a more organized (uninterrupted) fashion. I’m very excited about the idea!

In the meantime, here’s the brief June schedule:

  • Thurs., June 14th, from 7-9 pm at the Montrose Proximity Space, the monthly Black Canyon Mac User Group will hold their regular meeting. I’m not able to attend this month’s session, so I’m not sure what the topic will be at this point, but you can be sure it will be fun and informative! This event is free, and there’s no need to RSVP.

There won’t be any other classes this month, as I plan to focus on producing my first couple of recorded classes. Stay tuned for news about that, and with any luck, I’ll have at least one to share with you by the end of the month!

Thanks, as always, for supporting the Mac Doctor!

Best,
John

Mac news – October 2017

Greetings folks! I can’t believe it’s October already, but what else is new?

Getting straight to the point, here are my October events/classes:

Thursday, Oct. 12th, from 7-9 pm at Montrose Proximity Space, at the monthly Black Canyon Mac User Group meeting, I will be covering the latest operating system updates for iPhones/iPads & Macs. iOS 11 for your iDevices, and “High Sierra” (10.13.x) give us lots to talk about! Admission is free.

Saturday, Oct. 14th, from 10 am -2 pm at the Sherbino Theater, as part of Weehawken Creative Arts’ ongoing “Business of Art” series, I’ll be offering a class titled: “Grow Your Business Online”. Cost is $40, and you’ll need to register with Weehawken to sign up.

  • This 4-hour intensive will cover everything from A to Z in the world of online marketing. We’ll start by making sure you have claimed your business on Google Maps, which will then enable you to post photos, price lists, menus, etc, as well as build you own free website and possibly begin advertising on Google search. Instructor John Clark has recently gotten certified by Google as a “trusted verifier”, meaning he can bypass the annoying postcard requirement for verifying your business with Google if you haven’t claimed it as of yet. There will also be instructions for getting listed on other online resources such as Apple Maps, Yelp & Trip Advisor. Apps such as Google’s “My Business” and “Google Primer” will also be covered, demonstrating the ways in which you can manage your business listing from anywhere.

      Thursday, Oct. 19th, from 3-5 pm at Montrose Proximity Space, I’ll again be doing my “iPhone/iPad Overview”. Remember, this class is no longer free; it costs $20 like my other classes.

      • This class will give you an in-depth review of all the tips & tricks you need to get the most out of your iPhones and iPads. As I mentioned above, there’s a brand new operating system, iOS 11, that just came out, so if you want to learn what all the fuss is about, join us!
      Saturday, Oct. 28th, from 10-noon at the Ridgway Library, I will be revisiting my “Photos for Mac” class, since I haven’t done that one in awhile.
      • If you’re using one of Apple’s latest versions of their “Photos” program on your Mac, you surely know why you’d want to take this class, right? 😎

      Remember, visit my website to learn more about these classes, or give me a call at (970) 417-8434. I do need you to sign up ahead of time for any class you hope to attend.

      Hope to see you at a class sometime soon!

      Mac news – September 2017

      Happy Labor Day folks!

      Thank you all for your patience with the lack of classes over the last two months. It was a crazy summer for me, and I needed to clear my calendar of anything I could, in order to keep up with everything else!

      I’m coming to you this month with a bit of a new approach. I’m going to offer just one class a month, one in Ridgway, and one in Montrose, plus there will be occasional extras from time to time. I’m going to give you the topic, location and date/time here in the newsletter, and then have a link to get all the details on my blog at https://macdoktor.net. This will save me a bunch of time every month, and hopefully make this email more readable. So, without further ado, here’s are my September classes:

      • Tuesday, Sept. 12th, from 7-9 pm at Montrose Proximity Space, at the monthly Black Canyon Mac User Group meeting, I will be hosting a lively Q&A session. Bring all your nagging questions and comments. Admission is free.
        • This isn’t a “class” exactly, but more of an opportunity to ask questions about things that may have been annoying you for awhile, or that you simply don’t understand. Bring any and all questions, and come prepared to learn some things!
      • Thursday, Sept. 21st, from 3-5 pm at the Montrose Proximity Space, I’ll be offering a new class: “Keeping Things Organized On Your Mac”. Cost is $20, and please contact me to sign up.
        • This new class is the result of my inquiry earlier this summer about ideas for classes you might be interested in taking. The idea will be to help you better understand where everything lives on your Mac, as well as how to better organize it using all the tools at your fingertips: folders, special locations, tagging, etc.
      • Saturday, Sept. 30th, from 10-noon at the Ridgway Library, I’ll be bringing back my “iPhone/iPad Overview”. This class will no longer be free however; it will cost $20 like my other classes.
        • For years, I offered this class for free, every other month at the Ridgway Library. Then they told me they couldn’t afford to pay me to teach computer classes any longer, so I had to stop. I’ve had enough requests for this class however, that I’ve decided to bring it back as a paid class. This time around it should be pretty fun, as Apple’s brand new iOS update, iOS 11, will have just come out later this month. There will be tons of new things to learn about, so join us if you can!!

      Give me a call at (970) 417-8434 if you need more info. I do need you to sign up ahead of time for any class you hope to attend.

      Hope to see you at a class sometime soon!