Avoiding wake-from-sleep crashes with the TouchBar MacBook Pro

Advice, Support No Comments »

Man this new MacBook Pro is nice. It’s light, fast, cool, sharp, and its keyboard is the best of the “flat” variety. Even the TouchBar is surprisingly useful.

But what’s this? Whenever it woke from sleep, some apps almost always crashed, including my own RegExRX. What’s that about?

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Setting up an OpenVPN server on a Raspberry Pi

Advice No Comments »

I needed a VPN server.

Well, that’s not exactly true. I had a VPN server through software running on my everyday Mac. I had set it up years ago using voodoo tricks I gleaned from the Internet, and happily used it to protect my data whenever I was connected to a public network. It worked like a charm, but only if my desktop Mac was not asleep. This was not an issue when I had a Mac Pro that was always awake, but became problematic when I replaced it with an iMac that slept after 10 minutes. If I forgot to turn off its snoozing before I left the premises, I was out of luck. So I needed a better VPN server.

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Crucial security flaw

Advice, News 6 Comments »

A patch to iOS (7.06 and 6.1.6) yesterday revealed a deep-seated security flaw within both iOS and Mavericks (OS X 10.9 and 10.9.1). You can read about the flaw here and here, but what it comes down to is a typo by one of the Apple engineers.

Whoops.

What it means for you is that all secure communications, like when you sign onto your banking site through Safari, or check your mail using Mail.app, could have been compromised by an attacker.

Note that I said “could” and not “was”. I haven’t heard reports that this flaw has been exploited in the real world, but now that the cat’s out of the bag, someone may try.

From what I can see, this flaw won’t directly lead to an attacker gaining access to your password, but rather fool your browser into thinking it has reached a legitimate site instead of a close copy set up by the miscreant. Of course, once you think you’ve reached your bank, for example, you will probably enter your password and any other information it requests.

Bottom line: Update your iOS device to the latest version as soon as you can. Update your desktop as soon as there is something available, or use FireFox or Chrome (both unaffected) when signing on to a secure site, especially on a public network.

You can confirm the flaw by using this link. If you can see that page, your browser is not performing the correct security check and is affected by the flaw.

And now for something completely different

Business 2 Comments »

As of February 1, 2014, I will no longer be doing day-to-day consulting.

I started in this business in 1992 with just my love of computers in general and Macs specifically. Along the way, I’ve met a lot of great people, many of whom I now count among my friends, and enjoyed much success. But after almost 22 years, it feels like it’s time for a change.

I won’t be closing down MacTechnologies, nor will I be vanishing, but the time has come to focus on projects that I’ve wanted to pursue for some time.

I have prepared a list of other consultants in the area if you’d like it, and I’ll be available to assist in the transition. I’ll still be posting news here that is of importance to the Mac community and, if you’re a developer, you can also check out my column in xDev Magazine.

I want to thank you all for making my run such a fine and enjoyable one, and hope to hear from you from time to time, just to say “hi”.

Mavericks

Advice, News No Comments »

Apple released version 10.9 of their OS (“Mavericks”) on Tuesday. I’m sure it’s the greatest, biggest, and best-est release of an operating system in the history of man (just like every version that preceded it), and it’s nice that it’s now free, but I still recommend that you wait to install it until there is a version 10.9.1 or even 10.9.2. Although Apple has made some changes to the interface, included apps, and under the hood, there is nothing particularly pressing about this release, and I’ve encountered a few incompatibilities that need to be resolved.

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Beware HealthCare (.gov)

Advice No Comments »

Perhaps you’ve heard of a little site called healthcare.gov, a web site designed to implement part of the Affordable Care Act (commonly called “Obamacare”), and maybe you’ve heard that there have been one or two issues with the site. (I understand that this has been mentioned on a few of the lesser-known media outlets.) And no doubt you’ve heard the explanations of heavy traffic and glitches, so I’d like to offer my advice:

Don’t believe it, and stay away, at least for now.

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Another vacation

Business No Comments »

I am taking some time off, by which I mean I will be stepping into a time vortex. Although for me it will happen in the blink of an eye, I will not exist in your time-space continuum until I emerge on August 19, without any rest or relaxation, and probably with messy hair.

If you need assistance in the meantime, please contact us here or call the office at 212-201-1465.

Hi ho, hi ho, off to vacation I go

Business 1 Comment »

It’s that time of year again when I head off to an undeserved break from my life of leisure and frivolity. This time, we will be taking a train to Fiji where we will climb Mount Everest, then skydive from its peak to the depth of the Grand Canyon. Upon landing, we will take a boat to the Louvre via Pearl Harbor, and finally walk through Rio De Janeiro while viewing the Northern Lights.

I will be returning on April 29. In my absence, Ed Covelli will be handling emergencies, and you can reach him here.

Bypassing GateKeeper in Mountain Lion

Advice No Comments »

If you’ve upgraded to Mountain Lion, you might have encountered GateKeeper, Apple’s new security scheme to protect you from malicious apps. In short, GateKeeper expects applications to be “signed” with a security certificate it recognizes and, if not, will keep you from opening the application.

The problem is, a lot of older apps that are otherwise harmless were not signed with an Apple certificate, but the warning makes it seem as if they are problematic anyway. To get around this, you either change the setting in System Preferences to disable the protection entirely (that just takes you back to the way things were before Mountain Lion), or you can get around it on a case-by-case basis.

If you double-click an app that gives you that warning and prevents you from launching it, right-click (or control-click) on the application instead and choose “Open” from the menu that appears. You will still get a warning, but this time there will be a button that will let you launch the app anyway. After that, it won’t ask you again for that application.

To disable the setting entirely, go to System Preferences -> Security & Privacy, and click the General tab. Click the lock at the bottom, left to unlock this pane, then choose Anywhere.

iDisk going away

Advice No Comments »

When MobileMe goes away at the end of the month, iDisk will go with it. Before that happens, you should copy any files from your iDisk to some other service.

iDisk is a virtual disk provided by Apple. When connected, it shows up on your desktop as if it were a hard drive, but the files you transfer to and from it are transmitted over the Internet to Apple. The advantage of this approach is that these files do not take up space on your drive and are available from anywhere in the world. The drawback is that it’s slow.

If you’ve never used the iDisk, don’t worry about it as it will be gone soon anyway. Otherwise, a great alternative is DropBox, a free service that provides a type of synchronized disk.

The DropBox software creates a folder on your hard drive that acts like any other folder except its contents are synchronized over the Internet to the DropBox service. If you add the same account to another machine (Mac or PC), the same files will show up there automatically. You can also access the files online through their web site and use it to share large files with others.

The drawback is that it takes up space on your hard drive so it isn’t truly virtual. But it is pretty fast, and it isn’t going away.

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