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MagSafe Connector Disconnects? Fix it with the NewerTech Snuglet

When I travel for photography, I charge the laptop using a power inverter or battery source in my vehicle (I almost never stay in a hotel/motel). The rocky dirt roads are bumpy, the car is loaded up with gear; there is no flat table for the laptop to sit upon and charge in peace.

A pristine MagSafe connector port is bad enough—the thing just does not stay attached very well. But a troublsome flaw in the MagSafe design is that over time, small magnetic particles start attaching themselves inside the connector port on the laptop. I’ve had to dig out the larger particles with a knife blade, but always the very fine small ones are hard to get out. These particles exacerbate the hassles of an already too-loose connector, and so the darned charger plug is constantly coming off, which stops the laptop from charging. (The BatteryBox avoids this issue since it clips on, but it is not for charging).

Along comes a product I’d never have guessed existed: the NewerTech Snuglet. It’s a tiny little metal jacket that goes into the charging port. Two are included, and a tool is provided for removal (but I have no intention of removing it).

The NewerTech Snuglet just works. I am very pleased to have this problem-solver product; it kept my laptop power attached and charging on a recent trip. Fantastic!

NewerTech snuglet for Apple laptops with MagSafe charging
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Photoshop CC 2014 Now Gets the CC 2015 Bugs

I recently reported that a slew of new bugs had appeared in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.

Now with the very recent update to Photoshop CC 2014, Adobe has apparently decided to backport the CC 2015 bugs into CC 2014, at least some of them.

Beware: the bugs involve the GPU, a notoriously unstable area. CC 2014 and CC 2015 have been crashing on me at 5X the rate of the previous versions.

Adobe appears to be steadily replacing proven and optimized non-GPU code with faster but unstable GPU code, while also apparently replacing optimized non-GPU code with turtle-slow code (maybe an internal overhaul of sorts).

So you now can choose fast unstable operation with the GPU code (regular crashes and malfunctions and/or broken functionality), or more reliable but turtle slow operation if the GPU is disabled (I have disabled the GPU for years due to instability).

The Risks of Mandating Backdoors in Encryption Products

Backdoors don’t work, never will, and raise alarming issues both technical and legal.

Kudos to Apple for recognizing reality (an item in short supply in politics) and making encryption the default in iOS with no decryption access to user data by Apple.

The Risks of Mandating Backdoors in Encryption Products

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

OWC Extends Warranty to 2 Years for Thunderbolt 2 Dock Owners

MPG received this today in email.

Classic win/win: customers get a longer warranty, OWC gets credit for going above and beyond. MPG sure wishes that Canon and Nikon and Sony would do the same for cameras and lenses!

See the MPG review of the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock. It’s all but a must-have for MacBook Pro and iMac users, and excellent for Mac Pro too. The dock even passes through the video signal so a display can hang off it.

For the new 2015 Apple MacBook with USB-C, OWC is accepting pre-orders for the OWC USB-C Dock. Apple will likely switch all Macs to USB-C next year, along with a common connector that incorporates USB + Thunderbolt into one cable standard compatible with both.

The USB-C changeover will entail some hassles (adapter plugs), but simple things like charging a laptop via the cable will sidestep the anti-customer patented MagSafe connector headache (Apple produces no useful MagSafe functionality for on the road or battery use, nor does Apple alllow them to be made and sold, at best tolerating products that adapt to MagSafe).

NewerTech Kitchen Kit for iPad

NewerTech Kitchen Kit for iPad

I can’t be the only one out there who suffers from kids who love to bake, and thus test my willpower in maintaining a caloric deficit for cycling.

The about $25 NewerTech Kitchen Kit for iPad looks very practical for kitchen use, and it includes a stylus, a nice touch given how messy hands can be in the kitchen.

NewerTech Kitchen Kit for iPad

NewerTech Introduces Kitchen Kit -- Use Your iPad in The Kitchen Mess-Free

  • Stand for iPad & Stylus Bundle Keeps Your iPad Clean & Safe in the Kitchen
  • No Wet, Sticky, Damaged, Smudged, or Greasy Screens -- Makes Cooking a Joy
  • Swivels 360 Degrees for Viewing Recipes, Videos, Internet Sites, Listening to Music, & Chatting
  • Not Just for the Kitchen – Use in the Garage, Living Room, & Craft Table – Anywhere You Have Busy Hands

WOODSTOCK, IL, July 7, 2015 — NewerTech www.newertech.com, a leading performance upgrades and accessories company for Macs, PCs, iPhones, iPads, and iPods since 1988, introduced today the NewerTech Kitchen Kit iPad stand and stylus bundle that lets you safely use your iPad in the kitchen for viewing recipes, videos, web browsing, listening to music, IM’ing and Skype video casts -- all cleanly and easily while cooking.

The Kitchen Kit includes the NewerTech NuStand 360 iPad holder that rotates 360 degrees and pivots up and down and the NewerTech NuScribe Stylus, an elegant digital and traditional writing tool that functions as both a capacitive stylus and twist-barrel ballpoint pen.

Your Ideal Sous Chef

The Kitchen Kit’s stand features a soft touch, scratch-resistant rubberized black aluminum finish and a weighted, anti-skid rubber base with removable silicone blocks that keep your iPad right where you want it at all times, even in a busy kitchen -- safe from splashes, spills and kitchen debris. The stand has a rear cutout for clean cable routing and works with all full-sized iPads (original to 4th generation).

You can quickly and securely clip the iPad in for a full 360-degree range of motion and precise positioning, so the iPad is always in the right spot for viewing. Featuring the protection of a one-year limited warranty, the Kitchen Kit makes your iPad readily available while cooking, with easy cleanup with just a damp cloth.

To keep messy hands from touching the iPad screen, the Kitchen Kit includes a silver stylus. A combination twist-barrel ballpoint pen for writing on paper and an input stylus for iPad notes, it also provides precise navigation, note taking, and page turning on an iPad with a precision-formed, soft rubber tip for a smooth screen surface touch. The Kitchen Kit is equally at home in the garage, home brewery, backyard, living room, craft table, at parties or anywhere else you want easy and safe access to your iPad with busy hands.

NewerTech’s Secret Ingredient is Convenience

“NewerTech is dedicated to giving our customers quality products that add convenience to their lives,” said Larry O’Connor, Founder and CEO, NewerTech, “and the Kitchen Kit is a great example. It’s the easy solution that makes working with your iPad hassle free, anywhere.”
The Kitchen Kit includes everything you need:

iPad stand:

Black aluminum NuStand 360 desk stand.
Holds all full-sized iPads (original to 4th generation).
Rotates 360 degrees.
Adjusts up/down for easy viewing.
Soft touch, scratch-resistant rubberized black finish.
Weighted, anti-skid rubber base.
Rear cutout for clean cable routing.
Dimensions: 12” (H) x 8” (W) x 5.5” (D).
Weight: 1.6 lbs. (.7 kg).
Corner hold blocks for iPad - set of 4.
Corner hold blocks for iPad 2nd, 3rd & 4th Generation - set of 4.

Stylus:

Silver NewerTech NuScribe 2-in-1 touchscreen stylus.
Combination twist-barrel ballpoint pen and touchscreen input stylus for precise navigation, note taking, and page turning.
Precision-formed, soft rubber tip for smooth screen surface touch.
Screwdriver and screw.
Warranty: One year NewerTech Product Limited Warranty (does not include consumables, such as pen ink).

Pricing and Availability

The NewerTech Kitchen Kit for full-size iPads is available immediately from Other World Computing at: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/NewerTech/CHEFSTBNDL/, priced at $24.99.

Cycling

OWC Thunderbay 4 RAID Customers: Get your FREE SoftRAID Download

See the MPG review of the OWC Thunderbay 4. HIGHLY recommended (MPG has five of them).

OWC tells MPG that most buyers of the OWC Thunderbay 4 RAID edition have not downloaded the free SoftRAID app. Definitely should be done, because the SoftRAID folks are very good about updating for OS changes.

If you haven't installed the SoftRAID engine that comes free with your ThunderBay 4, you're missing out on your drive's maximum performance.

Applicable part numbers start owctb4msrxxx and owctb2sr

Sleek and Fast SSD
240GB / 480GB / 1TB, perfect for travel or silent backup.

Apple Releases OS X 10.10.4

OS X 10.10.4 (released today) supports TRIM on 3rd-party (non Apple) SSDS.

There are also a variety of security fixes in OS X 10.10.4. some of which are darn frightening that they were there. And of course there are many more not yet fixed. The web is a dangerous place.

I’m a big fan of the “Improves networking reliability” item, since the network stack had gone partially dead as it has been wont to do (even as a side-by-side computer on the same subnet proves that nothing is wrong with the LAN or internet).

The OS X Yosemite v10.10.4 Update is recommended for all OS X Yosemite users.

The OS X Yosemite v10.10.4 update improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac. This update:

  • Improves networking reliability
  • Improves Migration Assistant reliability
  • Addresses an issue that prevented some external displays from functioning properly
  • Improves the reliability of upgrading iPhoto and Aperture libraries to Photos
  • Improves reliability when syncing photos and videos to iCloud Photo Library
  • Addresses an issue that could cause Photos to unexpectedly quit after importing some Lecia DNG files
  • Resolves an issue that could delay outgoing email messages in Mail
  • Fixes an issue where a website could prevent the user from navigating away by presenting repeated JavaScript alerts in Safari

OS X 10.10.4 Now Supports 'TRIM' for 3rd-party SSDs

OWC SSDs do NOT need TRIM (MPG has never used or enabled it all these years).

See OWC SSDs Built to Perform with or without ‘Trimforce’ Command.

To enable TRIM for your SSD, use Terminal (in the Utilities folder). Regrettably, there is no way to control the behavior on a per-SSD basis. Given the claimed risks this is a dubious design (it’s on for all non-Apple SSDs, or off for all).

MPG strongly recommends backing up before enabling TRIM.

Enabling TRIM

Devices connected indirectly, such as multi-protocol enclosures with multi-port chipsets might not be accessible in a manner that supports TRIM.

The command to enter in Terminal is trimforce enable.

diglloydMP:DIGLLOYD lloyd$ trimforce enable

Man entry for trimforce

TRIMFORCE(8) BSD System Manager's Manual TRIMFORCE(8)

NAME
trimforce -- enable TRIM commands on third-party drives

SYNOPSIS
trimforce verb

DESCRIPTION
trimforce enables sending TRIM commands to third-party drives attached to an AHCI controller. By default, TRIM commands are not sent to third-party drives. Use extreme caution when enabling TRIM, as some drives may not correctly handle the commands. trimforce must be run by the system administrator.

VERBS
enable
Start sending TRIM commands to AHCI-attached third-party drives. Requires a reboot to take effect.

disable
Stop sending TRIM commands to AHCI-attached third-party drives. Requires a reboot to take effect.

help
Display brief usage syntax.

ERRORS
trimforce will exit with status 0 if successful, or with an appropriate error if it cannot parse input, allocate memory, or is unauthorized to perform its work.

HISTORY
The trimforce utility first appeared in OS X 10.10.4.

Firecracker Deals at OWC

See all OWC Firecracker Deals (good through 5 July).

SSD

Old dog laptop but you want a new puppy? Upgrade it with an SSD.

480GB Mercury Electra 6G for $197.74240GB for $107.74 1.0TB Mercury Electra 6G SSD for $397.74.

These are also great in OWC Mercury Elite Pro Mini bus powered case.

Hard drives

See also Hard Drives: Odds of Failure with Time, When to Upgrade/Replace.

5TB Toshiba for $147.74. These are fast drives and work great in a Thunderbay 4 (these 5TB drives fill most of MPG’s Thunderbay units).

OWC has a 90-day DOA guarantee too: if a new drive fails within 90 days OWC will replace it with a new one.

Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

UPDATE: Your Passwords are at Risk with OS X and iOS?

Research paper: Unauthorized Cross-App Resource Access on MAC OS X and iOS.

I previously reported on this monumentally dangerous security bug in All your passwords at risk with OS X and iOS, and Apple Sits on the Problem.

ArsTechnica covers the same issue in Serious OS X and iOS flaws let hackers steal keychain, 1Password contents.

Why has Apple sat on this for over six months, doing next to nothing?

MPG advice is to use 2-factor authentication on all sensitive accounts. That means a hardware token or something like Authy. Unfortunately, many institutions are badly in arrears on security, not even allowing strong passwords. And there is only piecemeal and inconvenient support for 2-factor authentication. Worse, each institution may do it its a different way. It’s awkward.

Well, it’s a lot worse than your own stuff

The internet and the Cloud have become a very dangerous place for not just money and privacy, but real physical things, like steel mills. Are nuclear power plants next? It’s a valid question. The Federal Government just lost 4 million or whatever sensitive employee records to China (allegedly). Tip of the tip of the iceberg without a doubt, in terms of security penetrations that are “sleepers” and what is not reported and not detected.

Recently I sat next to a CEO of a major company whose business is to staff and run major events all over the country (conventions, exhibits, etc), including all the IT work and information collection. I mentioned the massive and dangerous security issues cropping up today, the fact that governments and organized crime were involved, that real physical things could be shut down and destroyed, and this naive CEO jackass actually argued with me that his network was secure and it was just not an issue because his security folks were doing their job. His attitude was that I was a “sky is falling” reactionary worried about fantastically remote possibilities. That’s the state of denial today that still exists in corporate America.

But a loss of privacy or money pales in comparison to far worse possibilities, like shutting down the power grid for a few months, which could kill (by starvation and similar) millions. It’s no laughing matter, and only a gray swan probability. In fact, it is a certainty when war comes because a country can be taken down by computer, no bombs or bullets needed (electronically attack all dams, power plants, distribution centers, hospitals, etc, probably with sleeper compromises already in place and undetected). This country sits and waits for that to happen, with virtually nothing being done.

Which Mac? Memory and Storage? Backup Questions?
✓ MPG consulting starts you out on solid footing.

Don’t Get Suckered In By Spam Email (Phishing) #2

See also the previous example of email phishing.

Some people are still easy prey, which is why such emails are still sent. This phishing attempt is incompetent (contains basic grammatical errors though many people might not notice) and less sophisticated than some phishing attempts, but still good enough to trick quite a lot of people.

Phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) for malicious reasons, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

  • NEVER CLICK ON LINKS IN EMAIL. Use the phone or manually enter the web site yourself.
  • Set Apple Mail to disable automatic loading of content within email. If you fail to do this, remote spammers know they have a “live one”, because the loading of that content is from the evil spammer server.

The email

Classic approach with classic incompetence: an implied threat of some kind (termination of service or similar), usually written with grammatical and/or spelling errors, generic “dear client” (but can be more specific), etc.

Red type are MPG annotations. Even as shown there are giveaways: Apple does not send from “service.com” or have a return path of nobody@lp.linkdatacenter.net. These are obvious clues; look for them for starters, delete immediately if any doubt.

Spam email purporting to be from Apple, with call to urgency, obviously bogus address, etc

The email source code

What’s really going on?

There all all kinds of fishy links here, but the one you’re supposed to get suckered into clicking on goes to some site compromised by hackers.

Source code of spam email purporting to be from Apple, with call to urgency, obviously bogus address, etc

 

Lexar Camera Cards Tested: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB

Now better organized, and with some updates too:

Lexar Professional 2000X 64GB SDXC Camera Storage Card (Tested in 3 Card Readers)

Lexar Professional 1000X 256GB SDXC Camera Storage Card

Lexar Professional 1066X 128GB Compact Flash Camera Storage Card

Performance of Lexar 64GB 2000X SDXC in 3 different card readers

Lexar 64GB 2000X SDXC Digital Camera Storage Card: How Fast in Different Card Readers?

Your author reviews and uses many brands of cameras; some camera use CompactFlash and some use SDXC and some have dual slots, one of each kind. For the latest cameras producing big files, a fast SDXC card can make a noticeable difference in responsiveness, assuming the camera supports the latest protocols (older cameras not likely to benefit).

Card tested here: Lexar 2000X 64GB SDXC card about $99 with included card reader.

But the speed can very by camera (faster may not be any faster than a slower card in some cameras), and card speed can vary with card reader too.

MPG previously tested the Lexar 2000X 64GB SDXC card and found it to be blazingly fast with the Lexar-supplied card reader. But what about the card reader?

Lexar Professional 2000X 64GB SDXC Camera Storage Card

Performance of Lexar 64GB 2000X SDXC in 3 different card readers
Which Mac? Memory and Storage? Backup Questions?
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OK, So Up in the Mountains in a Canyon, Whadya do for Power for a Laptop?

A MacBook Pro Retina lasts 3 hours or less while doing photography work—a far cry from Apple’s misleading 9 hour claim (the 2015 model may be about 5% better).

So powering a laptop becomes a challenge out in them thar hills. I charge it as well as camera batteries and flashlights and so on using a power inverter in the SUV (a pure sine wave power inverter is best). I’ll probably replace the 400W power inverter unit I have since it’s a square-wave unit and gets quite hot and has gotten whiny and making unhappy noises*.

The Duracell DRINVP175 175-Watt Pocket Inverter with 2.1-Amp USB Port isn’t bad and I may buy another one since I gave that one to my dad who needed it on a trip.

Anyway, few vehicles are happy about an 85W power brick trying to pull power for very long to recharge a battery that is mostly drained. It’s not an issue if it’s just steady state usage power, but recharging a mostly drained battery draws some serious amperage at 12V for a while. So that means idling the engine at times just to charge the darn thing—highly inefficiently: 12V DC to 120V AC to MacSafe power brick back to DC.

Wagan EL2600 Elite Pro 200W Pure Sine Inverter

The Wagan EL2600 Elite Pro 200W Pure Sine Inverter looks like a good unit (400W sounds great but 20 amps at 12V is 320 watts and that’s already blowing the fuse, so 200W is plenty).

But all vehicle power inverters have an efficiency problem: they convert a vehicle’s 12V DC to 120V AC which the Apple power brick (or other AC charger) convers back to DC power — very inefficient. And so, over at diglloyd.com, a photographer’s perspective on powering an Apple Macbook Pro laptop in the field where there are no AC outlets:

OK, So Up in the Mountains in a Canyon, Whadya do for Power for a Laptop?

The Best MacBook Pro for Photographers, Videographers, Power Users

See the MPG review of the 2015 MacBook Pro.

Want the very fastest model? MPG recommends the Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro Retina (Mid 2015), 2.8GHz / Radeon R9 M370X / 16GB / 1TB at authorized Apple dealer B&H Photo. Save money on AppleCare too.

Here are MPG’s top picks for accessories to add to the 2015 MBP Retina:

2015 Apple MacBook Pro Retina
Cycling

Don’t Get Suckered In By Spam Email (Phishing) #1

See also the #2 example.

Some people are still easy prey, which is why such emails are still sent. This phishing attempt is more competent than some (no obvious spelling or grammar errors) and much less sophisticated than others.

Phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) for malicious reasons, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

NEVER CLICK ON LINKS IN EMAIL.

Use the phone and/or manually go to the web site yourself.

Spam email purporting to be from Apple, with call to urgency, obviously bogus address, etc
Great Deals on Used Macs at OWC!
Mac Pro, Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iPad, Displays
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