October 5, 2014 Meeting Information

ByMUG Meeting Information – October 2014

On the agenda is iOS 8, a Bash-related security bug (and its fix), the XtraFinder app, and the latest release of iStat Menus.

The meeting started with a query on good Mac DVD ripping software, and both MacDVD Ripper at $50, and Toast were recommended. Scroll towards the bottom of the notes for more on this subject.

Subject: iOS 8

  • Instapaper to show in Safari ‘send’ feature.
  • There’s a good iOS 8 review on ArsTechnica
  • Spotlight includes a wider search base including both online and offline.
  • Double-click Home button to display a list of the latest contacts.
  • Now you can swipe upwards in apps to kill them. It’s a good thing if the app freezes.
  • Dark keyboard and predictive text.
  • Watch out for free keyboard offers. Many are malware.
  • Use Little Snitch app to monitor unauthorized Internet access.
  • $205 for an iPhone 5.
  • Check Activation Lock Status.
  • Family Sharing: One person is the purchaser (owner of credit card) and manages the account. Others must have the purchaser’s permission to purchase things on any of Apple’s stores.
  • As Yosemite had not yet been released at the time of the meeting, “Handoff” was not ready for a proper test run.
  • Also, because Yosemite was not released at the time, iCloud Drive was not properly usable, and was recommended to remain off until Yosemite came out.
  • iCloud space costs are listed under New iCloud Storage Plans at apple.com
    • 5 GB is free with all accounts.
    • 20 GB will cost 99¢ per month.
    • 200 GB will cost $3.99 per month.
    • And More Plans.
  • It’s recommended to keep the more recent files and photos in iCloud, and to keep the older stuff at home.
  • Health and HealthKit: Can put in allergies, etc. for emergencies.
  • Tips app is good.
  • Skype can draw power in background.
  • It is more work for your unit if you kill the app and reload it. You can just leave the app dormant in the background.
  • Get an antenna in your home or turn off the phone when not in use to save power and not overload the battery. Notifications and repeated notifications use up power.
  • Don’t use Wi-Fi unless you have to. Plug things in if possible. Turn off Wi-fi if you’re not using it. Saves bandwidth.
  • Powerline adapter booster (pair) helps with house area.
  • Can use Ethernet over coax cables. Digital with Channel Master boxes on each end. CM6000 goes for $130 (coax kit).
  • Every device you add to your network cuts your network in half.
  • Do not stack router with anything. Let heat disperse.
  • Put router in the middle of the zone, and alone. Watch out for interference from other devices and motors.
  • Routers in bridge mode.
  • Turning off built-in modem, but watch out with Bell Fibe.
  • Use iTunes account settings to switch between US and Canadian accounts, etc.

Subject: Bash Bug
See apple.com for an update on the Bash bug.

Subject: iStat Menus
iStat menus 5 gives you
information on what your computer is doing. It’s good for troubleshooting.

Subject: XtraFinder
XtraFinder allows one to take a file and tag it and much more. Highlight more words than showing only one coloured dot.

Subject: Rendering DVDs
There are four good tools, but only one of them is free.
1) Mac DVD Ripper: It’s stable. It’ll rip full disk images. It uses Handbrake for ‘seasons’.
You can rip to an ISO file. It uses video files. It is legal to use in Canada for backups.
2) Mac The Ripper: PayPal, etc. for gift. Version 3 can strip regions by setting to Region 0. It makes an ISO file. Version 4 identifies bad cells.
Note: The official site redirects to the “Mac DVD Ripper Pro” site. The two are not the same.

  • Use Handbrake for ISO file. Select the file to rip.
  • Never rip and write to the same drive.
  • Use ‘universal’ or presets.
  • 25 minutes to rip a 45 minute episode. Can rip 10 DVDs overnight using cue method.
  • This makes an MPEG4 file, etc.
  • Import to iTunes and beyond.

Note: It is recommended to spend time on forms.
3) 20-30 Euros is suggested as a donation for the Pro version of Mac The Ripper.
Note: A search for “Mac The Ripper Pro” in a search engine results in links to “Mac DVD Ripper Pro”. Mac The Ripper and Mac DVD Ripper are not the same.
VLC is a great player to use to play these movies.
4) Make MKV for Blu-Ray then use Handbrake.

There are a lot of old movies and TV series available from Amazon.
Cases for DVDs, DJ cases, check out MM Design at Meritline.
The Toast Titanium program allows you to create chapters for movies.
Can place a Rider on insurance policy to cover replacements costs on DVDs according to invoince costs. Equipment as well.

That’s it for the October 2014 meeting.

September 7, 2014 Meeting Information

ByMUG Meeting, September (7th) 2014

Ideas for Future Meetings:

  • Oct: Review Apple Sept 9th announcements >> {Tom, Dave, John }
  • Oct: Review Delicious Library http://delicious-monster.com ($25)(Catalog your books, movies, music, software, toys, tools, electronics, & video games. Archive your life.)
  • Oct: Ripping DVD Workflow using Mac The Ripper or alternative {Marc S} (What is the official website of this software. It seems very out of date?)
  • Oct: iStat Menu {Tom, Dave} ($16) http://bjango.com/mac/istatmenus/
  • Compare Parallels Desktop (C$80) / VMware Fusion US$70/ Oracle VirtualBox (free) / Bootcamp >>{?) {Is there anyone who uses these products and could demo or speak to user experience?}

Succession planning or the “Just-In-Case” file i.e. how to make it easy for your loved ones to get to your account info and passwords if something happens to you. >>{Marc, Tom}

Two Factor Authentication for Apple ID (by Tom)

In light of the recently leaked/hacked photos from celebrity iCloud accounts, we discussed the importance of secure passwords (ones that are hard to guess & unique for each account).  The celebrity accounts that were hacked used simple-to-guess passwords and security questions. For celebrities, a lot of their personal info is online i.e. pet names, places they grew up, relatives names. Tom says that for account security questions, he never answers the security questions with “correct” answers. Since we all have dozens or hundreds of logins, it  makes sense to use a secure password manager like 1Password (others have been discussed in previous meetings).

Tom showed us screenshots of the process and walked us through the 4 steps that he took to set up 2-step authentication on his Apple ID, Mark set it up on his Apple ID during the meeting, it only took a few minutes.

Two-step verification will require you to verify your identity using one of your devices before you can make changes to your account or make an iTunes or App Store purchase from a new device. Using this process, you won’t have to remember security questions.

  • With two-step verification enabled, you will always need two of the following to manage your Apple ID:
    • Your password
    • A trusted device
    • Your Recovery Key
  • If you forget your password, you will need your Recovery Key and a trusted device to reset it.
  • Apple will not be able to reset your password on your behalf.

What , Why, How >>  see: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht5570

How to set it up:

Go to appleid.apple.com

How do I set up two-step verification?

  1. Go to My Apple ID.
  2. Select Manage your Apple ID and sign in.
  3. Select Password and Security.
  4. Under Two-Step Verification, select Get Started and follow the onscreen instructions.

Step 1:

If you don’t have an Apple ID, go to https://appleid.apple.com/account:

  • It is strongly recommended that you specify a second email account associated with your Apple ID.
  • It is strongly recommended that your Apple ID is not an email account that is tied to a service provider. i.e. your ISP or your employer (Sympatico, Rogers, Storm, Telus, Magma, etc.) If, for some reason you change providers or change employers, you will loose access to all the email accounts associated with that service provider (potentially without advance notice). Get yourself a gmail, hotmail. yahoo, etc. email or buy your own domain and setup email forwarding. (this was covered in a previous meeting).
  • Tom has had good service and support at Hover.com but there are many other providers.

Q: Can it (2-factor authentication) be turned off temporarily? When traveling overseas it is expensive to receive text messages.

A: Yes it can turned off in a few minutes – go to appleid.apple.com. Dave mentioned that the text might not require SMS, and would come over iMessage, avoiding SMS roaming charges.

Speculation: Maybe Apple will release a different kind of authentication… eye print?….

Step 2: Passwords & Security Questions.

  • Use 1 Password to generate and store a unique random password  (how many times have I typed this recommendation?)
  • Answering the security questions “truthfully” can expose you to hackers (maybe even family members) guessing the answers. Tom recommends letting 1Password generate random answers and store these in 1Password. (see: https://learn2.agilebits.com/1Password4/Mac/en/Tutorials/multi-page-logins.html)

Step 3: Agree to proceed.

  • When I set mine up while writing up these meeting notes, once I agreed to proceed, I encountered a 3 day waiting period to ensure my identity.
  • You will get a text.
  • Verify the device, enter the code.
  • Get the recovery key; PRINT IT, store it in 1Password, keep it safe, keep it in your Safety Deposit Box/ Just In Case file You will need it if you forget your password.

Step 4 : Verification.

  • You will need 2 items i.e. password and SMS phone

Beware of spam messages from Apple claiming to verify your Apple ID. (prediction following the celebrity scandal) DO NOT CLICK ON LINKS IN emails to reset account information. i.e. PayPal, Apple, Bank XYZ, Apple, your ISP, etc.

Adobe Photoshop-Lightroom Demo (by Michael)

Michael used this product extensively when he worked for walked for Ottawa Little Theatre.

Michael uses it to apply adjustments to multiple images.

Lightroom uses an Organizer module (similar to Photoshop Elements) to manage catalogs and settings. It is easy to have multiple catalogs open.

DxO is slow to load since it rebuilds library each time it launches vs Lightroom opens quickly

  • Lightroom main window modules include Map, Book, Slideshow, Print, Web.
  • Mike likes the Print templates, contact sheets.
  • Uses Main window to triage images, flag them, apply smart folders, publish to social media, can change size. Main window offers multiple ways to work with images, ratings, colours.

Develop Module: Copy adjustments and apply to multiple images. Can reset the adjustments if the desired result is not achieved. Changes are non-destructive. Changes are saved in a “side-car”. Must bring that with the image if moving the files.

Filmstrip: Show/hide easily to work on multiple monitors.

Workflow:

  • Only 1 catalog open at a time. Has 1 main catalog, others with limited content for teaching and demos.
  • 1st, put images into folder.
  • Put in global keywords like location, metadata, copyright info, capture date.
  • If moving folders, do it using Light room.
  • Combination of Adobe Bridge & Camera RAW. Imports JPG & RAW. pay attention wot what working on. – Defaults to RAW.
  • Sidecar can get bloated when many adjustments and presets are applied.
  • Create a virtual copy.
  • Apply keywords in Library Mode. Find images based on Lens used, etc.
  • Use Paint can / spray paint to apply keywords to multiple images.
  • In Filmstrip, can change the order of images.

Develop Module – Enable profile corrections: Some cameras i.e. Nikon have lens corrections and can manually control corrections like white balance, temperature, blacks, whites, clarity. Don’t usually mess with tint. Used Gradient to to apply correction to the sky of an image, bringing out the blues and clouds.

Q: Are there keyboard shortcuts?

A: Yes there are extensive keyboard shortcuts.

In Library, icons appear at the bottom of images to indicate  actions that have been performed. i.e. cropping, exposure, stacked images, etc.

Sharpening is done in 100% in Preview pane. Noise reduction can be done in Lightroom but Mike prefers using DxO which is accessed through Plugins in menu.

Mike prefers to keep all images – Hard drives are inexpensive and it avoids deleter’s remorse. It also preserves number sequences. Mike’s main catalog has > 20K images. Catalog can be optimized.

Uses Lightroom+DxO 90% of time. Uses Photoshop for burning in shadows and for localized enhancements like enhancing sharpness & contrast at a micro level.

At the end, we discussed the strengths of different photo-editing apps. Photoshop and Lightroom do very similar tasks. Which you prefer often depends on which product you started using first, and how you like working

  • DxO.com (OpticsPro: USD$170, ViewPoint USD$80) A German image editing software excels at perspective and lens correction, restoring true proportions, smart lighting, increasing sharpness.
  • Adobe PhotoShop (excels for automation, exporting photos en-mass
  • Adobe Photoshop-Lightroom (v5 single license: approx. $180) (excels at applying preset global adjustments to multiple photos
  • Apple Aperture ($80)

Pixelmator full featured image editing app for the mac for a fraction of the cost (It isn’t in the same league as the others, but it’ll do in a pinch).

This fall Apple is releasing “Photos”, the combined replacement product of Aperture and iPhoto.

  • Aperture users are eagerly awaiting a conversion tool that will keep the adjustments and process along with the final photo produced. Tom is confident that this tool is being developed by 3rd party.

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Aside: Tom got back from vacation to a nice surprise, Dropbox increased his account to 2TB of online storage. Tom is excited to see what else he can upload to Dropbox.

– Tom is working on a post about How to store data securely in Dropbox. (don’t have iPhoto open and running on more than 1 Mac at the same time on the same network – if storing your photos in Dropbox).

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Backing up Blu-Ray discs for use in your personal digital library  (by Tom)

WARNING: this process is intensive on many levels. It will eat up HDD space; it takes a long time; it uses a lot of power (electricity); it will max out the CPU, and it will generate a lot of heat. It is something to do during off-peak Hydro rates. Marc ruined a Mac Mini that he had set up as a ripping station.

  • Speed things up by reading from an external drive —> write to Internal drive.

Setup: Using an external Blu-Ray Writer that connects via USB3 (available for approx. $100 at places like CanadaComputers.com). Make sure that it will read and write to Blu-Ray discs.

  • A ripped Blu-Ray will require approx. 40GB of space so plan accordingly.
  • Storage capacity: DVD-R: 7.4 GB or 8.5 GB vs Blu-Ray BD-R 25GB or 50GB.
  • Software MakeMKV http://MakeMKV.com  (Mac & Windows versions, 30 day free trial might be enough to do your whole collection).
  • Must have VLC installed. http://www.videolan.org/vlc/ (free) VLC-VideoLAN Converter.  VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.
  • HandBrake https://handbrake.fr (free) Takes many different video formats, and outputs different video formats i.e. iPod, AppleTV, Android (was covered in an earlier ByMUG meeting).
  • Mark uses MacDVD Ripper Pro http://www.macdvdripperpro.com ($25) (also useful to strip regional encoding to convert from PAL to/from NTSC.

Workflow: 

Blu-Ray Player > MakeMKV > HandBrake>output file to be viewed in iTunes.

  • Plug B-Ray Drive into Mac.
  • Insert B-Ray Disc > in Finder, it will show lots of files.
  • Launch MakeMKV.
    • Make Disc Backup, check on Decrypt video files (very important).
    • Select path of Source. It finds the encrypted file, ends up with 1 giant decrypted video file + extras.
  • Launch HandBrake > Select Source > navigate to the file created by MakeMKV.
  • [in Finder, DVD titles will appear in all Caps, Blu-Ray titles appear mixed caps]
  • Select the Preset (on right side of window) based on how you will be viewing the resulting file). Handbrake scans and uses filter to decide which file contains the movie in the correct sequence.
    • Tom likes DVD Extras including Behind the scenes and Directors comments. He creates a hi-res copy of the movie for viewing and a separate low-res copy with Directors comments. This usually the last track listed in “Source”.
    • The other files may have the movie with the clips incorrectly ordered. (copy-protection).

At this point, the demo failed @ HandBrake.

{Mark explained that he has had problems with the latest versions of VLC/HandBrake decryption. HB stripped out the decoding – hence he uses DVD Ripper . He offered to demo his workflow at the October meeting}

Check the HandBrake forums to find workflows to automate processes.

Identify app http://identify2.arrmihardies.com? to add artwork, “Tags your videos so you don’t have to!”

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Reminders (by Tom and Dave) – an iCloud Apple app on desktop and mobile. Use Reminders to organize your life in to-do lists, complete with due dates and locations.

  • iCloud sync iOS & OS X
  • Above and beyond the standard Date based reminders, it now supports GPS location to remind you when you Leave a location or Arrive at a location. It allows you to set how close or far from the location. i.e. when you drive near a particular store, if you are driving, you need to set the distance further away than if walking.
  • On Left of app window, Lists of tasks for tracking & organizing.
  • Can add or edit the lists, show/hide calendar view, show/hide the list.
  • Can select and show all items due Today (includes overdue tasks).
  • Can select and show completed tasks.
  • Double clicking a list item will pop it out to a separate window so you can compare multiple lists side-by-side.
  • On Right, white pane with the tasks in the list that was selected on the left.
  • Red ones are overdue.
  • Setup tasks with reminders based on date or location due dates, Set Priority and repeats.
  • Tasks can have brief notes, not intended for extensive notes.

Strengths!

  • Siri can create new reminders.
  • Reminders are synced across iCloud connected devices.
  • You can share a reminder list.

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Rumours and Wild Speculation re: Apple’s September 9th, 2014 Announcement (by Jon)

  • 2 new iPhones 4.7” & 5.5”, iWatch, tie-ins to Health-kit iOS 8, heart rate sensor, motion tracking, 3rd party app support, link disparate information and aggregate it.
  • all new apple devices will be phone enabled.
  • biometric authentication on all devices.
  • more mobile payments.

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Q & A:

Q: When my mac is idle and I press on a key to login, Sometimes it takes a long time for the password box to appear. What influences that?

A: 1- It takes time to spin up the HDD – not an issue if you have an SDD or Fusion drive. Also, if you have USB devices or a USB bus attached, especially if you have iTunes library on an external USB drive.

Q: What is a Fusion Drive?

A: When Apple updated the iMac and Mac mini in late 2012, it introduced a new storage option called Fusion Drive. Despite the name, it’s actually two drives working in a special arrangement. It pairs 128GB of flash storage with either a 1TB or a 3TB hard drive.

Q: Sometimes the password box appears quickly – why does it sometimes appear fast, sometimes slow?

A: Your mac often wakes itself up to do maintenance tasks when the no user activity is detected. You may be logging in shortly after one of these events. Make adjustments in System Settings > Energy Saver.

Q: Does OS X 10.9 have better memory management (RAM) that 10.6?

A: Dave: Yes.

Q: How often do you shut down your computer?

A: Tom & Dave: Never unless moving it, rebuilding it. Restart occasionally, unlike PCs, you don’t need to “Shut Down”.

Q: Can you have too much RAM installed?

A: Yes. RAM “costs” energy – i.e. battery power. If you are just surfing the web and checking email, the factory defaults are usually sufficient. The computer can’t use only part of the RAM.

Q: Where did Tom buy his very cool T-Shirt?

A: TeeFury.com offers different shirt every day. Original artist designs. Tom says he can get T-shirts for under $20 ea. and they support artists.

Q: Favorite podcast app?

A: Tom: Overcast iPhone app or Overcast.fm for desktop. Must have good audio quality at 2x or greater speed. Apple’s iOS app is OK, many apps garble the audio when playing at high speed . Tom respects the developer’s track record with Instapaper. Must have the paid version ($5 in-app) to get the 2x feature. (in iOS app store, it appears as “iPhone only”. If you are looking on an iPad, the default search is for iPad only apps and it does not show up.\]

A: DownCast iOS & OSX.

Q: Favorite source of audiobooks?

A: Tom: Audible offers low cost ($10/yr) plan.

Q: Favorite source of audiobooks and Audiobook app?

A: Tom: Amazon, Audible. Tom has a $10/yr at Amazon which he apparently was offered only after canceling a regular membership.

Q: When formatting a drive, which format should I choose?

A: Stick with the default, Journaled JFS+. other formats only if you have specific needs.

Q: Where is a good place to buy SSDs

A: OWC Other World Computers at MacSales.com, they specialize in selling products to Mac users. Also, iFixIT.com for parts and repair guides for apple products and more.

Q:  Trade-ins?

A:  Apple offers trade-ins/store credit on Macs, PCs. FutureShop also offers trade-ins/store credit.

Q: Stuart: How to speed up the playback of very large audio book files (180 hrs). iTunes on mac does not support 1.5 or 2x speed.

A: iOS podcast player plays at .5x, 1x, 1.5x, 2x. If your audiobooks don’t show up in the Audiobooks category of iTunes, They are probably in the Music category. To “convert” them to show as audiobooks, select the “Album” in Music, Get Info >  Options > Media Kind: Audiobook. Also on the Options tab, it helps to also select the Equalizer Preset: Spoken Word and Remember Position: Yes and Skip when shuffling: Yes.

  • To buy Audiobooks, Tom likes Audible app and Amazon
  • Ottawa Public Library offers audiobooks, and Books on CD.

Q: How to get Audio CDs to “not get separated”?

A: In iTunes, Select all Tracks > Join, Change to Audio Book (see above).

Q: Some Favorite podcasts (See previous ByMUG meeting notes for extensive list of favorite podcasts)

A: MacBreak Weekly, Accidental Tech, This Week in Tech, Systematic, 5by5.