Category: Blog

Spring Cleaning: MacOutfitters Style

It would appear that the cold, dark days of winter have finally given way to the bright and warm days of springtime. And with spring comes flowers, sun, and of course spring cleaning. While spring cleaning normally invokes images of organization around the house, here at MacOutfitters we would like to take this opportunity to talk about a few products that can help keep your Apple computers and mobile devices clean as well. Here are a few of the most prominent cleaning concerns, and the products that combat against them.

Fingerprint Fighters

One of the most irksome issues, especially with touchscreen devices, is fingerprints. No matter how clean your fingers are when using your iPhone, iPad, or iPod, fingerprints across the touchscreen are inevitable. Fortunately there are a number of products that can take care of this issue.

The most basic is a simple microfiber towel. It’s amazing how easily many smudges come off from a quick pass over with a microfiber towel. Moshi has their own spin on microfiber, called the TeraGlove. The TeraGlove, specifically designed for the iPad, is made up of Terahedron fiber. It fits on the tips of your fingers, and cleans the screen of the iPad quickly and effortlessly. And it’s small enough to be taken everywhere. Finally, for extra stubborn smudges, a liquid made specifically for Apple devices called iKlear is a life saver. It is made without the use of any abrasive materials that could hurt screens, and can make your Apple product look new again.

Preventative Protection

For those of us who are looking for a preventative measure to minimize cleaning later, two more products by Moshi may come in handy. The first, for laptops, is the Clearguard keyboard cover. Our service department sees a large number of broken keys on keyboards because something got stuck under a key, and in the process of trying to get the foreign invader out, the user inadvertently breaks off the delicate scissor device holding the key in place. To prevent this, Moshi created a tight fitting thermoplastic urethane covering to put across the keyboard. While some may have concerns about how this would effect the feel of typing on their laptop, the cover fits over the keys so well it is barely noticeable.

The other product that can help reduce finger prints and other smudges is the iVisor. The iVisor, also made by Moshi, is available for both the original iPad, and the iPhone 4. The material it is made with covers the screen of the Apple mobile devices, and minimizes the presence of fingerprints. If the smudges do add up over time, simply remove the iVisor, wash it off with water, dry it, and reapply it to your device. Best of all, the iVisor is by far the easiest to apply screen protectors we have seen to date. No pesky bubbles to worry about, and if the iVisor goes on a bit crooked, simply remove it and reapply.

We hope that this post helps you to see the ease of keeping your Apple products clean and tidy. So while you are straightening everything in your house, cleaning up the yard, and putting away winter jackets, take the time to stop in one of our stores and pick up a few of these products to clean your Macbook, iPad, iPhone and iPod as well. Good luck with your cleaning, and Happy Spring from all of us at MacOutfitters!

Productivity? There are apps for that

One of Apple’s marketing campaigns in recent years popularized the phrase “There’s an app for that.” And while the phrase heralded the release of the iPhone 3GS, it rings equally, if not even more true today than it did then. Apps can be found for just about anything, and productivity apps are certainly no exception. Below are a few mobile productivity apps that our team has found most useful.

Native iOS Apps

Clint K. from the Cranberry store use the native iOS applications to be more productive. He uses Calendar, Clock, Notes, and Maps. Calendar’s alerts remind him of things he’d otherwise forget. Clock wakes him up on time, or tells him how fast his computer boots up in the service department via stopwatch.  Or how long since he left his clothes in the dryer at the laundromat. Maps helps him get home from the laundromat, or anywhere else he may need to be. Notes mean he never needs to write a number or name or reminder in pen on his hand ever again. The old system was reliable, but messy.

Apps for presentations

Greg G. from our Cranberry service team uses mluPresenter, an easy to use app, that can control a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation from an iOS device.

Matthew E. from the Cranberry store uses Keynote Remote when teaching MacOutfitters classes. It allows him to be more actively involved in the presentation instead of being hidden behind the computer. He also uses Mobile Mouse every day. It turns his iPhone into a trackpad style control device for his iMac at home. This allows him to control his computer and navigate without having to move his keyboard and mouse.

Apps to stay in sync

Brennan T. from our Cranberry store, recommends two different mobile productivity apps. He uses iTeleport to remotely access his home computer, and Siri Assistantwhich uses voice activation software to locate businesses or book reservations.

Christie H, from our Doylestown store, likes Evernote. Evernote is an application that can be put on any iOS mobile device, along with your computer (provided it’s running at least 10.6.6) as well. She uses it as a way to keep all of her thoughts, ideas, inclinations, and inspirations readily available no matter where she is. If she sees something she wants to look into or buy, she can take a picture of it and check it out later. If there is an idea she doesn’t want to forget, she can write it down in Evernote and can then access the information from any iOS device, or a home computer. In addition, when she makes a note on one device, Evernote will sync everything online so it will show up on anything else that includes Evernote. And to top it all off, it’s also free!

Apps for on the go

Stan M. from our Doylestown store likes the Flixster app to check out new movie reviews and find show times at different theaters.

Don K. from our Cranberry store, has two favorite apps for productivity. He likes to use TipStar for figuring out tips at a restaurant, which not only takes into account the percentage of the bill, but also level of service, party amount, etc. Then, once Don goes home he loves the Xfinity Mobile app from Comcast. While it only works if you have both Comcast and their DVR service, it allows you to look at program guides and schedule DVR recordings from your iPad or iPhone.  You can also use it as a remote to change channels.

While Apple products have long since been lauded for their ease of use, creative potential, and catchy looks, their ability to help their users become more productive has been some what unheralded. However with a constantly multiplying user base, the productivity prowess of Apple’s iOS devices is sure to become another popular reason to invest in Apple for not only traditional computers, but for mobile computing needs as well.

Keeping Kids Safe With Parental Controls

In today’s society, kids are becoming adroit computer users at younger and younger ages. However the fact that they can use the computer does not necessarily mean they are ready for everything that comes with that ability. Apple has made a concerted effort to help with this issue in the form of parental controls. While we won’t pretend that changing a few computer settings will take the place of everyday parenting and talking to your kids about computer usage, it may help with many day to day issues.

Parental Controls in Snow Leopard 

A number of parental controls can be found within Snow Leopard. The instructions that follow are in accordance with the latest operating system upgrade (10.6.6.) This version has been changed slightly to reflect the addition of the new App store, so if your set up looks different simply run your software updates to get the latest version.

The first step in applying these is to make an account for the child or children who will be using the computer. Do this by going to the account window, add an account, and then check off the box that says parental controls. Once this is done, a parental control window will pop up and different settings can be applied.

Apps

The first tab within the parental control options is the Apps tab. Here you can choose to utilize a “Simple Finder,” which provides a simplified view of the desktop for young or inexperienced users. Creating a separate account for a child gives them access only to what you want them to have access to, both on the internet and on the computer’s local drive.

Within the “Apps” tab you can also choose to allow your child to access only specified applications while blocking others. If the the child tries to access an application that has not been pre-approved, a prompt will come up asking for a password set by the administrator in order to gain access to that application. In this section you can also choose to block the ability to burn CDs and DVDs, change passwords, and modify the dock.

Web

The next tab is the “Web” tab. Here, as the administrator you can hide profanity in the dictionary, and set website restrictions (either by limiting sites with adult content or allowing access only to websites that you have listed. )

People

The tab labeled “People” can be used to limit the use of Mail and iChat by allowing your child to only correspond with email and iChat users who you have pre-approved. In addition, if someone who has not been pre-approved tries to contact your child, you can have an approval email sent to your email account so that you can decide whether or not to allow that user.

Web

The next tab is “Time Limits” which can be used to impose limits on how long a child can use the computer for each day. These can be set to different amounts of time depending on whether it is a weekday or weekend. In addition, a bedtime can be set where the child is unable to access the computer at all between certain hours.

Other

The last tab is labeled “Other.” Here you can hide profanity in the dictionary, limit printer administration, limit CD and DVD burning, and prevent your child from changing the password.

The computer itself is not the only place where parental controls can be established. Parental controls can also be used on the iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone.

Parental Controls on Apple Mobile Devices 

The parental controls on an iPod Touch, iPad, or iPhone can be found by clicking on Settings, General, Restrictions, and entering a passcode to control what the mobile device can be used for. After setting a passcode you can choose which Applications are allowed on the mobile device. These include Safari, YouTube, iTunes, the ability to Install apps, camera use and location use.  The other control found in this area is the Content Restrictions control. Here you can either turn off any application purchases, or you can set ratings for what child can access. You can set ratings for music and podcasts, movies, TV shows, and apps.

At the end of the day, none of the aforementioned parental controls are going to completely remove every potential threat that comes with computer usage. However, we feel that these tools, coupled with talking to your children about safe computer and internet use, as well as monitoring their activities as much as possible, can help keep kids safe in the world of technology.

3rd-Generation iPad Quick Hits

After much anticipation and rampant rumors, the 3rd-generation iPad has finally been announced. Below are the changes and updates that were reported at today’s announcement.

  • A retina display featuring a resolution of 2048 x 1536. This means not only is it the most pixels of any mobile device, but that it has one million more pixels per inch than 1080p.
  • An improved A5X dual core processor with quad core graphics.
  • An improved 5 mega pixel iSight camera on the back of iPad with 1080p video recording and face detection.
  • Built in voice dictation with a microphone button on the keyboard. This should not be confused with Siri, the personal assistant available on the iPhone 4S.
  • The 3rd-generation iPad will boast 4G LTE, bringing next generation wireless available on both AT&T; and Verizon. Both models will be world ready.
  • Along with 4G capabilities, iPad can be a personal hot-spot if the carrier allows it.
  • 10 hour battery life, with 9 hours on 4G.
  • New iPad is 9.4mm thin and 1.4 lbs, which is slightly heavier than iPad 2 to accommodate the larger battery.
  • The 3rd-generation iPad will have the same pricing and storage capacities as iPad 2. 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models, priced at $499, $599 and $699 for the wifi only models.
  • iPad 2 will continue to be produced, but only in the 16GB and 16GB with 3G models. The pricing on the iPad 2 will drop by 100 dollars for each model, making the 16GB $399 and the 16GB with 3G $529.
  • The 3rd-generation iPad will launch on March 16th.

Here at MacOutfitters we are all excited to get our hands’ on Apple’s newest product! Stay tuned for arrival and order information.

Thunderbolt: What Could It Mean To You?

As most Mac enthusiasts have now discovered, Apple updated the Macbook Pro line last week. While the physical design remains the same, three major internal changes were made on the popular portables. The first was an upgrade of the processors, the second a boost to the graphics, and the third, and perhaps most intriguing change, the advent of a new I/O (input/output) technology; Thunderbolt.

What Is Thunderbolt?

The new Thunderbolt port, developed as a result of a collaboration between Apple and Intel, appears to be a ‘jack of all trades.’ While physically it is shaped like a 20 pin MiniDisplay port, the Thunderbolt port can be used not only for displays, but also peripherals such as a LaCie hard drive or a Promise Raid. The varied functionality means that the new port can bring capabilities to a laptop that were once reserved only for desktop computers. According to the Intel website, companies who have voiced their support for the new technology include AJA, Apogee, Avid, Blackmagic, LaCie, Promise Technology, Universal Audio and Western Digital. This widespread support from such trusted names in technology mean that we shouldn’t have to wait long before a number of peripheral devices are available with Thunderbolt technology.

But what does all of this mean to you, the consumer? More than anything else it would appear that Thunderbolt means speed, and lots of it. Its symbol, a combination of an arrow and lightening bolt, is indicative of just how quick the new technology is. It is said to transfer data at a rate of 10 gigabytes per second (Gbps,) making it 12 times faster than FireWire 800 and 20 times faster than a USB 2.0 connection. In more quantifiable terms, that equates to the ability to move an entire HD movie across a Thunderbolt cable in approximately 30 seconds.

What we’re excited about:

Our entire team here at MacOutfitters is excited to see the speeds of the new technology as well. Brad S. and John C., two technicians in our Western PA stores, are both looking forward to the possibilities of lightening fast data migrations. Mike M. from our Doylestown store is excited about the ability to daisy chain multiple Thunderbolt compatible peripherals, without compromising speed and performance. Brian C. from our Doylestown store brings up the point that Thunderbolt will be an exciting technology in the business realm as it will provide for instant, or near instant, back up to external drives. This should serve as a faster and cheaper alternative connection for raid technology in the enterprise market.

Video is key

Don K., our video specialist at the Cranberry store is “salivating at what Thunderbolt can do for the video industry. From high end capture devices, displays, and super-fast speeds for external drives, this is a new ballgame! And the fact that you get all this in a single port is amazing.” Tim F., our video specialist at the Doylestown store is excited for the 20 Gbps available in each direction, which is in his words “really really fast.”

Other observations:

Andrew D. of our Doylestown store brings up the point that once Thunderbolt technology becomes the standard, portables will be made smaller and thinner. This is because they will no longer be at the mercy of the thicker and more cumbersome ports of the past. Meanwhile, Stan M. of our Doylestown store is simply impressed that everything has been poured into one single cable.

At this point Thunderbolt is creating a great deal of buzz around the tech world, and looks to be a huge and positive advancement on a number of fronts. While some in the blogosphere have shared concerns about the security of the new technology, it is still too early for there to be real-world evidence supporting these claims. Either way, Thunderbolt is living up to its moniker as a groundbreaking new event on the technology scene.