How iPhone 6S Plus fits in with your viewing habits

When you’re getting a new phone, how do you choose what Apple Device to get?

The iPhone 6 S Plus, and the earlier iPhone 6 Plus, have changed the way that we view web pages and apps.

Where do these iPhones sit in the Apple lineup compared to an iPad Mini or and iPad Air 2?

I’ve had a good look at the 6S Plus and, of course, it’s a great phone! Recently at an Apple Store, I was interested in asking one of the Apple Sales staff, what product folks are buying, taking into account web surfing. Her response to me made a lot of sense.

She said that younger folks in particular or going for the 6S Plus because to them, the screen size is perfectly acceptable in for web browsing and apps. She went on to say that very few people would have both an iPad Mini and a 6S Plus in her experience.

I’d offer a slightly different “viewpoint”.

My use for an iPhone to date has been largely as a phone, and I do some internet banking and GPS applications, but I find I almost never use it for web viewing.

Why is that? Well it’s probably a matter of habit and age and of course the model iPhone I have. I use the iPhone 5S and the iPad Air with an almost 10” diagonal screen.

Even though my eyesight is fine with my glasses, I find web surfing a much better experience on the full sized iPad.

At a local Apple Reseller, I would show customers how to use an iPad. I used to suggest that customers go to say The Age newspaper website. Looking around on the site, customers would be able to take in a lot more of the site without having to scroll around or constantly zoom in and out. In this way, the iPad improved the experience compared to smaller screen products.

So, for me personally, even though I’ve had a good look at the iPhone 6S Plus, it wouldn’t be an “all in one” solution for me. with lots of other appeal over my 5S iPhone, but wouldn’t change my web viewing habits.

To me, it makes sense to have both an iPhone and an iPad and maybe you see that as a “der” thing to say… Yes, the iPhone makes phone calls and the iPad doesn’t, but I’m loving both products for their separate uses in terms of web browsing and other apps in full screen size.

But as usual, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject. So please reply and let us all know what you think.

I guess the simple question is, would the iPhone 6S Plus cover all your phone and browsing needs, or would an iPad make things so much better for you?

Regards,
Rob
iThings Bendigo

Mac: Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office

Some of my recent customers have been asking me to recommend alternatives to the Microsoft Office suite.
The current Microsoft Office Suite for the Mac range appears to be Office 365. This is sold via an annual subscription basis, or most recently as a one time payment only Microsoft Office 2016 suite.
From recent articles online it appears that MS Office version 2016 for the Mac appears to have SO many problems/bugs that most folks advise against using it.

Microsoft has committed to fixing the software issues, but I, for one, wouldn’t hold me breath for them

I’ve recently been looking at Libre Office as an alternative to the the Microsoft Office Suite.

Although it offers no email client like Microsoft Outlook, for the average, non cooperate user, to seems to rate really well and it’s free.

Take a look at it at http://www.libreoffice.org

For the average user, in my humble opinion, Microsoft Office offers way too many options that we’ll never use.

That’s just my opinion. What do you think? I’m keen to hear from you.

Regards,
Rob Plowman
iThings Bendigo

Boost your iPad speed and battery for Free

This week, Apple released the latest version of their software for the iPhone, iPad and iPod.

The upgrades make a significant boost to your battery life, running more than one App at once, improvements to Mail, Photos and Notes. Plus Apple makes great improvements to the way things look.

The latest versions are called iOS 9 for the iPhone and iPad, and “El Capitan for iMac’s and MacBooks. OS2 will become available for the Apple Watch.

A bunch of folks in the Bendigo area have slow internet speeds or very limited data allowance. Perhaps you connect to the internet via prepaid or Mobile Internet.

Apple software updates would likely exceed your download limit.

Contact me on 0457803207 and I’ll come to you and install the new software called El Capitan on your iMac or MacBook. I can bring a USB stick with the latest update, saving precious mobile internet data, and your sanity.

If you want an iPhone or iPad software installed with the latest release software, I can do that also.

Just contact me via my email address which is rob@ithingsbendigo.com or on my mobile phone number 0457803207 and I’ll come to your house.

Contact me for an obligation-free chat anytime,

 

Regards,

 

Rob

iThings Bendigo

0457 803 207

How to Fix Wireless Internet Blackspots at Home

Lately, a few clients have said that they aren’t getting the best access to the internet across their home.  They ran into internet ‘black spots’  and asked me for my advice on how to fix it.

One may think that an obvious solutions is to relocate their current modem/router closer to the centre of the house.  However, you need to have a nearby phone connection (if you are using ADSL- a connection to the internet through your home phone system). For some people, this isn’t an option.

My second suggestion is to look at updating your modem/router. This is one of the options that worked best for me. I was having dropouts and not so good coverage. I updated my modem/router to an all-in-one box from a company named D-link and couldn’t be happier with it.

Not only does the new system whole house with a great WiFi connection, it also enables quite a few other functions too.

For instance, I can plug in an external hard disc drive into it and I can back up my Apple MacBook from anywhere in the house, automatically.
The same with Windows computers.

I can also use a password protected system to allow my family and friends to access part of that external hard disc drive over the internet. Wherever they are in the world, they can share photos and other files privately.

However, some houses have double brick walls that limits a typical WiFi System.

D-Link for instance, has a solution for that as well, and it’s technical name is “Ethernet over Power”. What this means in layman’s terms is a solution which uses your home’s current 240 Volt electrical wiring in the wall, to enable an internet connection without having to install special computer cabling

.
Check out the D-Link products that enable this at the link below:
http://www.dlink.com.au/home-solutions/connectivity/powerline

To use Ethernet over Power, one adapter plugged into your current modem/router and another into the normal wall socket. The other adapter is simply plugged in to a wall socket in a place with poor wireless internet.

You aren’t limited to using cables either. Some adapters include their own wireless connection for the “remote” or distant end of the house. This is a bit like ‘grafting’ extra wireless internet where it’s needed. If you like cables, then you can still get very fast connections to the internet.

With the right tools, you can access the internet wirelessly wherever you want it in your home. You don’t have to stand on your head to try and get the right wireless signal.

As usual please click on the subject title to write back to me on this or email me directly at rob@ithingsbendigo.com

Hope this helps.

Case Study: Mixed Messaging in Business

A local Managing Director contacted me from a local Bendigo company.  He described his home and company computer systems as “a bit of a dog’s breakfast”. He asked me to visit both locations and fix their issues.

After I assessed the situation, they were in quite a mess!

 

Here are some of the problems I discovered:

 

  • Mixed messages: Both the husband and his wife were using the same Apple ID. This meant that they were frequently receiving messages that were meant for their partner.
  • Mixed Apps: Since sharing the same Apple ID, one would install a new app, which may not be useful to the other. The partner would then receive the new app regardless.
  • iCloud mess: Using the same iCloud login meant that their private contacts where completely jumbled with their business contacts.
  • Lack of backup: Their iMac was not backing up. It turns out that this was their main office computer. If the hard disc drive “crashed”, they would have been in real trouble.
  • Patchy Wifi: The WiFi system didn’t provide coverage to several rooms.
  • Sharing: The owners didn’t know it, but they were actually using their neighbours open (non password protected) WiFi. This happened when their Wifi lacked coverage.
  • Their old Microsoft suite didn’t enable them to read Microsoft Word attachments from business who emailed files with newer versions of Office.

 

There were several other issues as well but I first sat down with them and explained all the issues they had and what the solutions were.

 

Given all the years I’ve been involved in IT, I always try to explain even the most technical issues in a way that the non computer “savvy” customer will understand. I quite often get complements from middle-aged and mature-aged customers thanking me for my patience. They appreciate me helping them to understand their Apple product issues and the solutions to fix them.

 

In this customers case, I knew it would take a few visits to both their home and work sites in order to get things working. We agreed on what the first priorities should be, and I commenced the work.

On the first visit I got their iMac backing up their internal hard disc drive. I also connected an older MacBook they had. I relocated their modem/WiFi device so that it covered their whole house, disconnected them from their neighbours WiFi system, backed up their two iPhones and an iPad, helped them create separate Apple ID’s. All of these helped fix many of their issues.

 

All in all after working with them, they are now delighted with the systems they have. They have also referred several of their friends and family to me as a result.

Customer satisfaction and positive word of mouth is absolutely vital in the case of iThings Bendigo.

Regards,

Rob

Unlocking the treasures of your home media library

What things can you store on a home media box?

Home media boxes have many uses and work with virtually any device.
Basically they consist of a box into which you can put one, two, or more hard disc drives as storage. Then you plug it into your home router/modem.
With a Network Attached Storage device (or Home media box), you can do:
  • Share photos, movies, music and any other sort of file, so that if you want to, everyone in the house can share them.
  • You can also optionally add, a TV receiver (via USB) which is able to record free-to-air TV shows
  • Time Machine backups of Apple Mac’s and backup’s of Windows PC’s and laptops, both at the same time if you need to.
Some really useful features that I use include:
  • Share with Family (overseas, interstate or next-door). You or your family can connect to the NAS remotely and copy files from anywhere in the world. This is protected via a password protected system.
    Yes, you can use “DropBox” or other programs,  but they usually come with a very modest amount of free storage. Questions have been raised about how secure those services are.
  • Play music from a whole bunch of different music files, all from the convenience of your iPhone or iPad
  • A NAS can also connect Internet-enabled cameras to it. This becomes a home or business security monitoring system. Like CCTV,  the cameras can detect movement and starts recording. I’ve heard that the files from these recordings are admissible in court.
Peace of Mind
A NAS often has the option to add two disc drives. You can delegate the role of one of the disc drives is to ensure that it’s doing  “mirror” or exact copy of what’s on the other drive. So if disc drive 1 fails (and they can!) you just unplug the “dead” drive and drive 2 will automatically copy everything back to the replacement drive. Ie a double back up or “to be sure, to be sure” as they say.
If you’d like to discuss this or get further information on them from me, simply click on the heading above and you’ll find a place on the page where you can comment on it or of course you could always phone on 0457 803 207
Hope this helps.

6 Useful Apps that are already on Apple Watch

In part two of my mini review of the Apple Watch, I’ll mostly focus on the inbuilt, standard applications of the device.

Some I find really useful and others, well, I’d prefer that they could be left out.

 

My List of Useful Apps

  • As I mentioned earlier, I personally like the variety and customisation of the various watch faces the watch offers. You not only get to choose which watch face you like, but you can choose small graphics like remaining battery life, your next appointment details and what the weather forecast is for your location.
  • The built in Fitness application is really good and it’ll encourage you to keep going when you’re close to reaching them. I’m about to reach my big 6 ohhhh birthday and I bike ride about an hour a day. The Fitness app is great to try and stretch myself in order to get to a good fitness level and the fitness app is great to help me in this respect.
  • The Apple TV remote control app is quite useful, especially now that I’m using Netflix through the Apple TV. It so much better than using the Apple TV’s silver-coloured remote.
  • The Calendar app is great for looking up what’s happening in the rest of my week and also for setting new appointments.
  • The Camera app, although I haven’t used it a lot, could be really useful. Not that the Apple Watch has a camera built in but think of it as a remote control for your iPhone’s camera it’s a useful thing to have.
  • The Music app. Now here’s an interesting use. There are two choices here. You can use it as a remote control for your connection to your iPhone’s stored music, or you can download about 2Gb of music directly to your Apple Watch and listen to it through some Bluetooth-connected headphones. This equates to about 200 decent quality songs. Personally, I’d rather leave the stored music on my iPhone and use the Apple Watch as a remote control to it.
  • Using Siri is a very positive experience on the Apple Watch. Siri keeps getting better and better.

However.

Let me be really blunt here. The Apple Watch is really limited in it’s capability unless it’s connected to a close by iPhone in order to be really useful, because the Watch links to the iPhone for much of it’s data. Any internet or GPS data has to be sourced from an iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

 

My list of Non-Useful Apps

  • Personally, I have no use for the Stocks application on the Apple Watch or the iPhone. I wish I could remove them from the choices each device gives me, but it’s not possible.
  • To me, the Photos application on the Apple Watch is totally useless. Who wants to see a 42mm photo of anything I want to display? On the iPhone or iPad this makes sense but on the Apple Watch, why bother?
  • Passbook which is one of the standard Apps but doesn’t have much practical use in Australia.
  • And the really big one is Apple Pay, which has no use in Australia until maybe next year. Some Australian banks have promised to introduce it next year, but why would I need it?. It’s an alternative to other systems we don’t need, in  my humble opinion.

 

Readability of Apple Watch Screen

I thought it might be helpful to compare the Apple Watch Screen in different light, so you can see how it performs. I’ve attracted photos off the screen of  my Apple Watch both inside my house and outside on a fully cloudy day here in Bendigo.

 

Apple Watch Indoors: iThings Bendigo

Apple Watch Indoors: iThings Bendigo

Apple Watch Outdoors: iThings Bendigo

Apple Watch Outdoors

Cheers,

Rob from iThings.

Opening an Apple Watch: Part 1

Opening an Apple Watch

Choosing an Apple Watch version and ordering within a couple of minutes of pre-orders was a “leap of faith”. As I live in Bendigo, the closest Apple-owned Store was about two hours away.

I was excited to receive the Apple Watch and open the packaging. Apple excels on details, but even by their standards, the packaging was superb.

I purchased the lowest-priced “Sport” model with a black watchband and a 42mm screen. I’m glad I did.

If you happen to have a smaller wrist, there is also a smaller model with a 38mm screen. It’s slightly cheaper.

Although it’s important to get the right relative size for your wrist, Apple has a way of sizing the band so that regardless of your wrist size, it’ll fit you. Other colours are available too.

If gold is your thing, you can choose to buy the Apple Watch Edition for $US17,000. A collectors item indeed!

 

The Reason For Apple Watch

The Apple Watch enters a time period when people tend to wear watches less frequently. Especially for younger generations who see a smartphone as normal.

This means pulling the iPhone out of your pocket, or handbag, which can be annoying to reach for it.

Apple Watch puts this information back on your wrist, so that you can quickly check time and notifications, whilst leaving your iPhone safely where it lies.

Apple doesn’t simply hope to offer another iThing and strap it to your wrist. It aims to extend it’s capabilities and create an easier way of accessing information.

 

The Sea of Notifications

Upon linking my Apple Watch and iPhone, the setup assumes you want to have all notifications from all applications on your iPhone to appear on your Apple Watch. This quickly gets annoying.

Imagine your personal time or time with others being frequently interrupted with notifications. This is too much.

So if you get an Apple Watch, be very selective about what applications are important enough to interrupt your communications with others and deselect the rest.

I’ve deselected almost all the applications on my iPhone except for Text Messages, iMessages and emails.

 

Wearing an Apple Watch

One gripe I should add here is a very basic one and that it’s not as easy as it should be to put on your wrist.

I pick up the Watch, rest it face-down on a soft surface and then go through the process of linking the two parts together and tucking in the band.

It’s only after you get one that you’ll get what I’m referring to but the process is a bit awkward.

 

Apple Watch as a Time Device

Firstly, as a time-device, it’s fantastic. You have several choices as to the style of watch face you want to look at. In addition, you can also display things like battery life, your next calendar appointment, and your local weather conditions are. Very useful. And there are more options to display instead if you prefer.

 

Check out Part 2

I’m now evaluating each of the standard applications that are included with the Apple Watch and that’ll form part two of my personal impressions.

 

 

3 Ways to integrate your iPad, Macbook and iPhone for easy access

To me, one of the best things about Apples products is that they all can work so seamlessly together.

 

With Apple being one of the few product manufacturers that produce hardware and software, I believe that they a huge advantage over their competition.

One of the things I’ve been most often asked by customers is for assistance to make this integration happen.

 

Sometimes it’s simply a matter of getting your iPhone, iPad and Macbook all connected to the same iCloud account. This helps so that when you add a person’s address details on one device, it’ll automatically be pushed out to the other devices.

 

But several folks aren’t aware of other advancements that Apple has made in taking this integration further.

 

One more recent one is called “Handoff” and it allows you to start reading a web page on your Mac and then pick up your iPad, open Safari browser and continue reading that web page exactly where you left it on your Mac.

 

Want to answer a phone call you’ve received to your iPhone but it’s in another room? If you’re working on your Mac, the caller ID will come up on your Mac, as long as it’s connected on the same WiFi network. Then you simply answer the call on your Mac instead of your iPhone. For me, the only slightly amusing side of this happens when I’m in the same room as my Mac, iPad and iPhone- it feels like the whole house is ringing at the same time!

 

Frequently, I am asked for my help because the parents and children have their own Apple devices and when someone decides to download a new song or app, everybody in the house also gets that App as well. Or everybody gets a Text Message (or iMessage) that was meant for just one of the members of the house.

 

This is caused by everybody in the house being logged on to the same iTunes and iCloud account. The solution here is to make sure that each member of the family has their own iTunes and iCloud account. (i.e avoid using one Apple ID for the whole family.)

 

In theory, children under the age of 13 aren’t supposed to have their own Apple ID, and quite a lot of parents don’t want their younger children sending and receiving their own emails, and this isn’t difficult to fix either. I can help with this.

 

If you have questions to ask or a post you’d like to share with us all, just click on the heading of this topic and than at the bottom of the article you’ll see a place where you can type your message to share.

 

Hope this helps and I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

Apple Watch: A ‘must-have’ or a ‘toy’?

It looks like I was one of the first few hundred folks that ordered an Apple Watch, Sports Edition, as soon as the Apple Australia web site opened up for orders.

My order is due to arrive between April 24th and May 8th.

I’ll be posting my thoughts here shortly after I receive it and get a chance to put it through its paces.

My key criteria will be what most folks will likely be thinking:

Is Apple Watch a “must have” or just a “nice to have” or just a toy?

One of the challenges here will be evaluating Apple Watch as it works at the time of release (including Apps from other software developers) compared with what the Watch may be capable of doing when the software developers really get their thoughts together and truly add value to make it the product it could be.

Like a huge proportion of you, I’ll be keen to see what value and in what areas it can add to my daily life, versus it’s marketing hype value. I’m certainly not into buying an Apple Watch for the fashion or geek value.

Before even seeing it, I have formed some opinions, as I’m sure you have, but I’ll be sure to post them once I’ve had a chance to see how it fits into my lifestyle.

Regards,

Rob