Category Archives: Common Questions

How to print from your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch

With the explosion of iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches, we often get asked, “How do I print from my iPad?” Granted, we don’t print as often as we used to. E-mail and PDF have made printing more rare, but occasionally we still need – or want – to have a hard copy.

AirPrint is Apple’s solution for printing from any iOS device. It’s an elegant solution. There is no software to download, no drivers to install, and no cables to connect. With just a few taps, you can go from viewing something on the screen to holding a printed copy.

To use AirPrint, you need to have one of the following, and you need to have your iOS up to date.
iPad (all models)
iPhone (3GS or later)
iPod touch (3rd generation or later)

You’ll also need a printer that supports AirPrint. Many new wireless printers now support AirPrint. You can see if your printer supports AirPrint here.

Now you’re ready to go. When you are viewing something that you want to print, tap the action icon, select your printer, and tap Print. Pretty easy, huh?

Here’s an online setup guide for AirPrint if you need help setting it up.

If your printer doesn’t support AirPrint, we sell AirPrint printers starting at just $79.

There is also a way you can make your existing printer support AirPrint. There are a couple of software programs that install on your Mac and use your Mac as a print server. So when you tap Print on your iPad, the print job goes to your Mac, and then to your printer. One is called AirPrint Activator. It’s free, but not incredibly reliable in our tests. We like Printopia. It’s 20 bucks, but it is a very polished piece of software that has easy setup and some cool features.

Data backup, more important than you think.

Why do we need to backup our files?
We love how reliable our Macs are, but we feel terrible when someone brings their computer in for service and their hard drive has worn out, they don’t have a backup, and they have lost their documents, photos, or other important files.

Why do drives wear out? Hard drives are mechanical devices, with moving parts. Even though these days they are very reliable, they will wear out just like any other mechanical device. They spin at 5000-7000 rotations every minute, and we work them hard, so we can see why it’s usually not a matter of if, but a matter of when, our drive will eventually stop working. We are moving towards more reliable forms of storage (flash memory in the MacBook Air or iPad, SSD drives in the MacBook Pro or iMac), but most of us will still be using hard drives for years to come.

Sometimes your hard drive is working fine. but someone just accidentally deleted an important file or our laptop was lost or stolen. Either way, we always want to have our important information in two places–then we have a backup for when something goes wrong.

So what do we do? We can backup stuff onsite and offsite.

Onsite backups will protect against a failed or damaged hard drive. They are quick and easy to recover from.

Time Machine is the easiest way to automatically backup your computer. The first time you use it your whole computer is backed up. After that anything that has been changed is backed up every hour. Time Machine is easy to set up, recover from and is very much worth using. You can get an Apple Time Capsule to set up a wireless backup over your network or get a external hard drive. Then follow Apple’s simple set up guide to get started.

For Time Machine backups, all you need is a external hard drive. You can pick one up at Expercom for about $100. We have drives from 500GB to 3TB, portable and desktop varieties.

Offsite backups will protect against flood, fire or other natural disasters. They are also good in case of thefts where someone takes your computer and backup hard drive.

There are numerous offsite backup options available. A couple of the most common are Mozy and Carbonite. These are both online services that will automatically back up your files.

Mozy offers home, small business and enterprise backup options. The home option starts at $5.99 per month, and you can try it for free. You can get the small business option starting at $9.99 per month per computer, with small reductions for yearly plans, or you can choose the enterprise option with IT controls and customize it to fit your company’s needs. You might need to call or email them to get a price quote for this one.

Carbonite gives you two options, home & home office and small business. The home & home office backup plan starts at $59 per year, and the small business plans start at $229 per year. Both options offer a free trial.

LaCie CloudBox is an external hard drive that also offers an online backup service through their website. Anything saved to the external hard drive is also saved online.

These are just a few of the choices available out there. If you find one you like that you think others might be interested in, let us know and spread the word!

How to manage a bunch of iOS Devices

Okay, your school, church, or business has just bought a bunch of iPads. How do you manage all these devices? That’s a common question that we get asked here at Expercom. In the old days, we would have to connect each iPad one at a time to a computer, sync over the settings we wanted through iTunes, and then move on to the next iOS device. Thats a real pain when we are dealing with 10, 20, or 30 iPads or iPods.

Now we have a great App called Apple Configurator. It’s a free App from the Mac App Store that lets us manage a bunch of iOS devices.

 

Apple Configurator is perfect for the classroom or student lab where devices need to bequickly refreshed and kept up to date with the correct settings, approved policies, apps and data. Apple Configurator can also be used to personalize devices with data and documents for specific users. There are even some home users that have a bunch of iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches in the house that are using Apple Configurator to manage all of the iOS devices.

There are basically three ways this App lets you manage devices:

Prepare devices
• Configure up to 30 devices at a time
• Update devices to the latest version of iOS
• Create and restore a backup of settings and app data from one device to other devices
• Import apps into Apple Configurator and sync them to new devices*
• Use the built-in editor to create and install iOS configuration profiles
• Enroll devices with your Mobile Device Management solution for remote management

Supervise devices
• Automatically apply common configurations to supervised devices
• Quickly reapply a configuration to a device and remove the previous user’s data
• Import apps into Apple Configurator and sync them to supervised devices*
• Define and apply common or sequential names to all devices
• Restrict supervised devices from syncing with other computers

Assign devices
• Add users and groups
• Check out a device to a user and restore the user’s settings and data on that device
• Check in a device from a user and and back up the data for later use, possibly on a different device
• Apply custom text, wallpaper, or the user’s picture to a device’s Lock screen
• Import and export documents between your Mac and Apple Configurator
• Sync documents between assigned devices and Apple Configurator

* Installing paid apps from the App Store requires redemption codes from the Volume Purchase Program for Education or Business.

 

You can read more about the features of Apple Configurator here.

Price:
FREE, in the Mac App Store.

Is your MacBook Pro not going to sleep?

I’ve recently had a problem with my MacBook Pro not going to sleep while it’s plugged in. A few customers have recently come to me with the same problem, as well. Sometimes, I would notice that the fan would run all night, but I would open my computer up and nothing would really be going on that should make it stay awake.

The first place that I would encourage anyone to look for this is in System Preferences >   Energy Saver. Make sure “Wake for network access” is not checked.

The fix for me in this case was in the system preferences, under Print and Fax. I’d selected “share this printer over the network” a long time ago for one of my printers, but it was now keeping my Mac from sleeping.

If you’d like to dig deeper, you could run this terminal script to get an exact view of what your machine’s settings look like.

I tried typing the following query in the Terminal

$ pmset -g

It should give an output similar to what you see here (in the figure below), but if you’re experiencing the problem, you’ll see something like:

sleep                    0 (imposed by 35)

The application in reference for me ended up being this Print and Fax preference, but we would expect that other applications could also keep your computer from sleeping, and running one of these checks could help you get closer to the answer!

Flashback malware: How can I keep my Mac secure?

We have had several customers ask us about the Flashback malware that has been getting a lot of publicity lately. One thing that we love about our Macs is how secure they are, especially when compared to Windows, Android, or other OSes out there. But with the increased popularity of Macs, we’ll probably see more attempts to go after Mac users.

We don’t want to take a casual attitude towards any security issue, and we are glad that Apple doesn’t either. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • We have not seen any customers that actually have been infected with Flashback (as of this writing). So although there is a lot of publicity, we hope that the actual problem is not as large as the press is making it out to be.
  • Apple patched this particular security issue in Java a while ago. So if you keep your Mac OS up to date, that is the best way to stay secure. If you haven’t run software update recently, do it!

Am I at risk?
Probably not, but if you would like to check and see if your Mac has the Flashback malware on it, you can download a free utility on github from programmer Juan Leon. This utility will check for the Flashback, but not remove it. If you have Flashback on your Mac, you can find some instructions at F-secure to remove it, or you can bring it in to one of our retail stores and we can help you out.

Beyond Flashback, what else can I do to keep my Mac secure?
The most important, and an easy step, is to make sure that Software Update is running regularly (you can check in your Apple Menu, System Preferences, under Software Update). We would recommend letting it check once a week. When it finds an update, make sure and install it.

You can get some security software for your Mac. Many ISPs (like Comcast) will provide you with security software, or here are a few good programs you can download:
Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition (Free)
Virus Barrier Express (Free)

Also, this issue was caused by a vulnerable version of Java. Java has seen other security issues in the past. If you don’t need Java anymore, you can disable it. The Java Preferences utility is in /Applications/Utilities; uncheck the boxes next to the versions listed in the General tab. Some programs still need Java, so be careful with this step.

Gatekeeper
We are looking forward to Mac OS X Mountain Lion, coming out this summer. Mountain Lion will include Gatekeeper, which will make Mac OS X, the most secure OS in the world, even more secure. Read more about Gatekeeper and what it will mean for security on the Mac here.

Update (4/11/12)

Apple has a new knowledge base article about Flashback, and it looks like they will provide a tool to remove it soon.

For now, security company Kaspersky Lab has a free removal tool that is easier to use than the instructions provided above.

Update (4/12/12)

Apple has a new item in Software Update that not only patches the Flashback vulnerability but also deletes all known variants. More information can be found by clicking here.

In short, make sure you run your software updates!

Genealogy on your Mac

As a Macintosh dealer in Salt Lake City and Utah a common question that we get is “How can I do genealogy on my Mac.” There are few ways this can be done. You can get a Mac specific genealogy program or a Windows virtualization program. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Mac Specific Programs

There are a number of programs that will run on your mac without the need for anything else.

Reunion 9

(Leister Productions) – One of the older genealogy programs for Mac. It hasn’t had a major update in years. It does have LDS ordinance support but does not have New FamilySearch integration. They have have a mobile app version for iPhone/iPads. The current version is compatible with OS X Lion. There is a demo available for download. Cost is $99 and is not in the App Store. It can be downloaded from their website or purchased in store. The mobile app is $14.99 and is purchased through the iTunes app store.

Family Tree Maker (ancestry.com) – New for Mac. It does have LDS ordinance support but not New FamilySearch integration. It does integrate with ancestry.com. There is not a mobile version or demo version for download. Cost is $69.99 and is available through their website.

Mac FamilyTree 6 (Synium Software) – Relatively new and made major improvements

with version 6. It has LDS ordinance support and New FamilySearch integration (requires LDS.org login). There is a mobile version for iPad/iPhone. It is compatible with OS X Lion. There is a demo available for download from their website. Cost is $59.99 on the App Store. Mobile version is $14.99 through the iTunes app store.

FamilyInsight (Ohana Software) – This is also a new program for the mac. It has LDS ordinance support and New FamilySearch integration (requires LDS.org login). The most unique feature of FamilyInsight is the Ordinance Helpers for keeping track of ordinances and making reservations to have them done. There is not a mobile version and the cost is $25 to download from their website. They also have a free utility called Get My Ancestors.

Running Windows Programs (PAF, Roots Magic Ect)

It is also possible to run Windows genealogy programs on your Mac (most common are PAF and Rootsmagic). There are multiple ways to do this and most methods require a license of Windows to work.

Bootcamp – This is a program that is part of Mac OS X that will set up your hard drive in a Mac part and a Windows part. Once Windows is installed you can tell the computer to boot into either Mac OS or Windows. This offers the best compatibility with Windows programs but has to be rebooted anytime you want to use it. The cost is the price of a Windows license. (Between $129 to $499)

Virtualization Software – This includes Parallels Desktop and VM Ware Fusion. They are applications that emulate a Windows computer. You can install Windows and programs and they run at the same time as your Mac programs. Some programs can run slower when using one of these applications because you are running two operating systems at the same time and they are using more resource on your computer. The biggest advantage is that you don’t need to restart to use your Windows programs. For doing genealogy it works great. Parallels is $79 and Fusion is $49 and you would need to buy a license of Windows as well. We carry everything you need in our stores.

CrossoverCrossover is an application that can run Windows programs without needing Windows installed. It is inexpensive but doesn’t work with everything. I have tried it with PAF and it worked well. I haven’t tried it with other programs yet. There is a trial version available for download. Cost starts at $39.