When restoring vintage Macs, I like to upgrade Mac OS / Mac OS X / OS X to the latest release to make sure that I have the very latest software on my gear. For my latest project, I am installing Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and all of the available updates from DVD and Software Update. Looks likes Java has had quite a few updates.
Numbers is the spreadsheet application in Apple’s iWork productivity suite. With the recent release of Numbers 10.1 for macOS, you are now able to embed and playback YouTube and Vimeo videos directly in Numbers spreadsheets.
As a longtime user of Apple Keynote and Microsoft PowerPoint, I understand why presenters would want to add a video to their slide decks, but videos in a spreadsheet, that seems a little weird. So, naturally, I had to try it.
Apple’s website shows beautifully crafted works of art cleverly disguised as spreadsheets. As and IT professional, my spreadsheets are usually uninspiring lists of things hastily thrown together so that I can quickly move on to the next thing that needs my attention.
In my sample Numbers spreadsheet, I have a very simple high-level task list for deploying some computers and joining them to a domain. To provide instructions for redeeming an Apple gift card code, I embedded a YouTube video from the Apple Support channel. Using videos as a way to help illustrate how to perform a task is just one practical example of why one might want to embed a video in a spreadsheet.
To embed a video in your Numbers document:
- Find the web video you want to embed and copy the videoURL
- Select the Numbers sheet where the video will be embedded
- Click/Tap the Media Add > Web Video
- Paste the video URL and click Insert
- Reposition and resize the video as needed
There are a few problems that you will need to be aware of if you are going to use videos in your spreadsheet for professional purposes. The first is that you will have to click (macOS) or tap (iOS/iPadOS) the play button twice to get the video to play. The first click loads up the video, which is pretty quick, and the second begins playback. The second is that your video will not be playable in full screen. Depending on your use case, that could be a deal breaker. Your mileage will vary depending on your project’s needs.
To learn more about how to add embedded videos to your Numbers spreadsheets, there are detailed directions on Apple.com.
In the world of technology, there are clones and then there are hacks. Depending on who’s point of view is being used and when, clones and hacks can have both positive or negative connotations. Take for instance the well documented case of Samsung outright cloning, or copying, many aspects of early iPhone hardware and software. When talking about personal computers, Macintosh and Apple // clones are fully licensed machines while “Hackintosh” PCs are unauthorized illegal work-alike machines.
In Apple’s long history of making computer for the rest of us, few companies have received special status from Apple to make Macintosh clones. In the mid-1990s, PowerComputing’s PowerWave 604/132 and the UMax SuperMac S900/200 are two examples of favored status Macintosh clones.
A Hackintosh computer on the other hand, is an unlicensed personal computer built from commodity hardware and modified in such as way as to boot the macOS/MacOS/OS X operating system. To do so, one must bypass Apple’s licensing restrictions and copy protections. Hacked copies of Apple’s computers are nothing new. Dating back to the 1980s, the VTech Laser 128 and the Franklin Corporation Franklin Ace 100 were two popular, and unlicensed, Apple // clones. The name “Hackintosh” itself is an amalgamation of the words “hack” and “Macintosh”. In Apple’s view, a Hackintosh is a very bad thing. From the point of tech enthusiasts, a Hackintosh is a call back to the early days of computing when tinkering with hardware and software to make something new or work in ways that were not intended by the original thing is exciting and challenging.
In my view, having worked with both PowerComputing PowerWave “Macs” and a “Hackintosh” or two, the experience is a little bit of both. While PowerComputing boxes were fully licensed clones of the Apple PowerMacintosh PCs of the day, and could boot and use current versions of classic MacOS, I always felt that the commodity hardware was inferior to the more expensive components in Apple’s PCs. For example, after ordering a fleet of 12 PowerWave towers, six of them were defective right out of the box.
Tinkering with a Dell Mini 9 netbook to coax it into running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was both a fun science project and an oddity in the office after many of the Macs had been replaced with Windows PCs. The amount of hacking the Dell netbook to install a modified version of the computer’s BIOS and hardware driver software was not for the uninitiated.
One the plus side, a Hackintosh offers an enthusiast a number of configuration and optimization options that are just not possible with an official Macintosh. The ability to use any case style or video card are just two examples. One big draw of a Hackintosh PC is price. Hackintoshes offer a means to get the same or better raw computing performance out of readily available hardware at a much lower price. I remember the point about price being promoted in an old computer book I purchased in the early 1990s titled “How to Build a Cat Mac”. Remember the time when we actually went to a book store to buy books? The premise of the book is that you would take the motherboard out of an old Mac and retrofit it into a PC case and use PC components with it. Unable to afford a Mac as an early teen, let alone take it part to tinker with it, building a Cat Mac was not an option back then, even if I did find the idea of building my own customized Mac fascinating.
However, there are some significant downsides to using clones and Hackintosh PCs. For one, Hackintosh computers are not legal from a software licensing perspective. While not usually a serious issue for a home enthusiast, trying to build a business around selling Hackintosh computers to consumers is a precarious position at best. Such was the case for Psystar Corporation and OpenCore Computer currently. For me personally, inferior battery life on the Dell Mini 9 Hackintosh was a deal breaker as was having to wait for authorized clone makers to update and release their modified versions of MacOS and driver software after Apple released the software for the Macintosh. For me, not having the latest and greatest software bits to play with is a deal breaker. While I am glad that Hackintosh computers exist from a hobbyist standpoint, I much prefer to have a computer and operating system that just work. While I don’t have my Laser 128, my Dell Mini 9 netbook, or even my old Cat Mac book, I do remember all three fondly and am grateful that I was able to learn from and tinker with them.
Adobe Flash’s days are numbered. Flash is one of those technologies that I never liked using. Using a Flash app on a small business website was never great, but Flash on commercial websites just felt gross, slow, and never felt like it belonged on my Mac. Adobe announced that they would discontinue Flash Player for interactive content at the end 2020. Unfortunately, Adobe’s announcement was in 2017. With months still left on the countdown clock, why are we talking about Flash now?
In the intervening years, Safari, Firefox, and Chrome have been becoming more aggressive at warning and then blocking access to Flash apps. Starting with Safari Technical Preview 99, the WebKit team will be completely removing support for Adobe Flash support from the browser.
Long time Apple fans knew that this day has been coming. From the get-go, Apple famously did not allow Flash to run on their iOS platform. It was a decision that I fully supported after seeing how terribly Flash ran on Palm webOS devices. A decade ago, the late Steve Jobs ranted about Flash in a 1,600-word argument against the technology in a blog post titled “Thoughts on Flash“. In the post, he made an impassioned plea to convince the tech industry, and Apple customers, that Flash was a terrible technology while also arguing that Flash-free Apple products would perform better. It was classic Jobs: fight for the users and Apple all at the same time.
So, now what? If you are like me, I’m ready to ditch Flash now. I already use the Safari Technology Preview beta software. My remaining need for Flash, working with a team that still used Flash on their website, has gone away. Now, I’m ready to rip Flash out of macOS 10.15 Catalina. Here’s how we can uninstall Flash together.
First, go get Flash uninstall tool from the Adobe website.
Next, double-click the uninstall_flash_player_osx.dmg download file. This will create a Flash Player drive icon on your desktop (below, left and center).
Inside the Flash Player drive, double-click the Adobe Flash Player Uninstaller.app file (above, right). When prompted, enter your macOS password to authorize the removal of Flash.
When you are done, drag the Flash Player drive icon and the uninstall_flash_player_osx.dmg file to the trash can icon in the Dock.
Since Flash has a System Preferences control panel and plug-ins for the web browsers that you may have installed on your Mac, I like to also add in a reboot just for good measure.
With the introduction of the 2016 MacBook Pro line, Apple introduced a number of new features, including an all USB-C port configuration, the Butterfly Keyboard, and the Touch Bar with Touch ID sensor. The Butterfly Keyboard is ok, but I preferred the Magic Keyboard from the iMac. I don’t use many USB peripherals, so USB Dongle Town to convert USB-C to the popular USB-A wasn’t too bad. The Touch ID sensor has been a great addition to the MacBook Pro. However, the Touch Bar has been seen by many Mac users as a so-so addition.
The Touch Bar replaced the standard Function Key (F Keys) row that sat above the number row of keys on the standard MacBook Pro keyboard. To be sure, the technology behind the Touch Bar is impressive, featuring a Retina Display with touch input. The whole thing is driven by the secure T1 chip which is running a stripped down version of watchOS.
While I like using the Touch Bar for things like activating Siri, adjusting the brightness and volume controls, and media keys in the Music/iTunes app. In my opinion, the Touch Bar never realized the excitement that Apple had hoped. It is cool, but I can live with out it.
Meghan, who has a 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro, recently complained to me that her Mac didn’t have the F Keys that her fellow engineering program classmates have on their Windows PCs. In typical Apple fashion where a “clean” design is valued over user functionality, holding down the “fn” key on the MacBook Pro’s keyboard changes the default Mac Touch Bar keys into Windows/Unix-style F Keys.
Constantly pressing the fn key to bring up the F Keys can get old quickly if you are working on an exercise in class or a homework assignment. Fortunately, you can setup a macOS shortcut for the Touch Bar that flips the behavior around. Here’s how to set up a Touch Bar F Key shortcut by application.
Configuring the MacBook Pro Touch Bar To Show Function Keys By Default Per app
- Open the Settings app in macOS.
- Navigate to or search for the Keyboard control panel.
- In Keyboard control panel, click the Shortcuts tab.
- On the Shortcuts tab, select Function Keys from the left window pane.
- On the Shortcuts tab, click the plus icon to add the app(s) you want to default to the F keys configuration.
- Repeat this process for all of the apps you wish to add.
- When done, click the red close window button in the top left of the Settings window.
Earlier today, Apple released a number of maintenance and security updates for all of their OS platforms. At 1:00pm Easter time today, Apple pushed out iOS 12.4, watchOS 5.3, and Mac OS Mojave 10.14.6. Also getting updates today were current editions of Apple TV and the HomePod.
Just in time for the arrival of iOS 13 and new iPhones, Apple added a new feature that allows users to directly migrate data between old and new iPhones. That seems like a neat party trick, but not entirely unexpected give Apple’s work to refine the process of sharing information between iOS devices, iOS to Mac OS devices, and iOS to watchOS.
On watchOS, a patch has been added that corrects an issue with the Walkie-Talkie app. Once the update has been installed, the feature will be available again.
Today, Apple has posted a set of updates that are designed to patch recently reported vulnerabilities found in Intel and ARM CPU processors. These are very important security updates. You should install them as soon as you can.
Apple Software Updates
Ready for your downloading and installing pleasure are:
* iOS 11.2.2 for iPhone 5s and later, iPad Air and later, and iPod touch 6th generation
* macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 Supplemental Update
* Safari 11.0.2 for OS X El Capitan 10.11.6 and macOS Sierra 10.12.6
The Apple support website always links to the latest security patch updates.
The Short Story
The vulnerability, which impacts all modern Intel and ARM CPUs, can be found in just about every PC, smartphone, and tablet on sale. Microsoft Windows, Linux distributions, and hardware vendors all need to update patches to prevent the “Meltdown” and “Spectre” vulnerabilities from being exploited and granting cyber-attackers access to highly sensitive data that is held in a computer’s protected memory space.
Confused about all of this processor vulnerabilities and patching? It’s totally understandable. If you really want to understand what’s going on, check out Rene Ritchie’s excellent Meltdown and Spectre FAQ at iMore.com.
On December 12, Apple released a pair of AirPort firmware updates to close the WPA2 key reinstallation attack vulnerability. The vulnerability was first publicly announced in October, after alerting vendors of the vulnerability much earlier in the year.
Apple AirPort Extreme/AirPort Time Capsule base station firmware version 7.7.9 and AirPort Express firmware 7.6.9 both include the patch that protects against the WPA2 key reinstallation attack. The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) numbers that these patches address are CVE-2017-9417, CVE-2017-13077, CVE-2017-13078, and CVE-2017-13080.
The AirPort firmware updates can be applied using the iOS AirPort Utility, available for free from the Apple iOS App Store. If you have an Apple AirPort running in your home or office, you need to update it right away to close this serious vulnerability.
About this time last year, I wrote about my doubling-down on Apple AirPort hardware in the face of media reports (aka: rumors) that Apple had abandoned the AirPort product line. I still hold that there are much better Wi-Fi solutions available today, even for die hard Apple fans like us. The Wirecutter (https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-wi-fi-mesh-networking-kits/) has a very good review of mesh network Wi-Fi devices from vendors such as Eero and Netgear. You really should be running them over Apple’s AirPort at this point. Still, despite Apple reportedly walking away from AirPort, as a customer, I am glad that Apple tool on the task of releasing a pair of security updates for the aging devices. It seems only fair to customers, since Apple is still selling the AirPort hardware online and in retail stores.
What About My Other Apple Gear?
Apple updated iOS 11, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS back in October. If you are running iOS 11.1, watchOS 4.1, tvOS 11.1, or the latest versions of macOS High Sierra 10.13, Sierra 10.12, or El Capitan 10.11 you have already installed the WAP2 patch. Use the Software Update feature of these operating systems to verify that you are up-to-date or install the latest software releases if need be.
If you are still running macOS/OS X Mavericks 10.10, you should consider upgrading to High Sierra to gain the WPA2 patch. Mavericks and earlier versions of macOS will not be patched.
What About Everything Else?
The WPA2 key reinstallation vulnerability is not a flaw or vulnerability that is specific to Apple hardware and software. It is a flaw in the WAP2 system itself. Thankfully, the flaw can be fixed with software. What that means, though, is that to improve your chances of being protected against attacks using the WAP2 vulnerability, you must patch all of your Wi-Fi equipment, including routers/modems, smart devices (i.e.: light bulbs, switches, and cameras), TVs, Blu-ray player, and gaming consoles, for example.
Learning More About the WAP2 Vulnerability
To learn more about the KRACK WPA2 key reinstallation vulnerability, and to see just how catastrophic the vulnerability can be, see Mathy Vanhoef’s summary website and Krebs’ What You Should Know About the ‘KRACK’ WiFi Security Weakness blog post.
Update: iTunes 12.5.5 was also released today.
Apple gave us four updates for our iDevices and Macs today.
Earlier this afternoon, MacOS Sierra 10.12.3 arrived offering graphics improvements for the October 2016 edition MacBook Pros. The Sierra 10.12.3 update closed up a hole in Preview that was mucking with searching scanned PDF files.
iTunes 12.5.5 was also released for MacOS (and Windows PC) adding “minor app and performance improvements”.
Also arriving today was 10.2.1, a minor security and bug fix update for iPhone and iPad. watchOS 3.1.3 tagged along to give Apple Watch owners a small tune up also.
And, last, but not least, Apple TV got a minor bump up to tvOS 10.1.1 from 10.1.
All of today’s updates are minor security and bug fixes, with no major features or new functionality added.
Look for the iOS 10.3 beta releases to start arriving any day now.
Earlier this week, Apple’s wireless ear buds, AirPods, when on sale in Apple Stores. After selling out almost immediately, I finally got mine today. What follows is my story and first impressions about getting my pair of AirPods.
I first learned about Apple’s new AirPods wireless earbuds like many of you…while watching a recording of Apple’s iPhone 7 event back on September 7th. I was super excited about them and was looking forward to getting a pair to go with my iPhone 7 Plus. Alas, the AirPods wouldn’t be ready until “October”. Throw in a “We need a little bit more time to get them exactly right” from Apple PR and you end up with some disappointed customers.
Fast forward to December 13, when Apple dropped a press release stating that the AirPods where now on sale at Apple.com. Whoa! I totally missed the press release because, you know, work, and by the time I checked out the online store, AirPods were showing delivery dates three to four weeks out. Having to do the responsible adult thing this past Monday meant that there was no chance of taking the morning off to get in line at one of my local Apple Stores. Topping it all off, AirPods are showing delivery dates around mid-February. 2017. Ugh!
But my luck changed today, thanks to iStockNow.com! Using their inventory status tool, I was energetically checking AirPod stock in Connecticut, New York City, Long Island, and southern Massachusetts. Yes, I seriously considered driving out of state, taking a train down to Grand Central Station, or taking my car over to Long Island via ferry.
At 3:30pm, I saw that Apple Danbury received some in. The hour drive, by comparison to getting on a ferry, wasn’t too bad, but driving back home in rush hour traffic would have been the worst. With AirPods in my bag and my finger hovering over “Buy with Apple Pay” in the Apple Store iOS app, I chose to wait. I decided to wait a half hour to get back to my iMac, and I told myself that if they were still available for pickup in Danbury, I would buy them and go pick them up after dinner. When I checked the status, to my surprise, the AirPods were sold out in Danbury, but were “in” at Apple Trumbull. I hastily changed by order and purchased them online for pick up today. He shoots! He scores!
Earlier today, I dropped by Apple Trumbull in Westfield’s Trumbull mall. The store was busy, as you would expect, but not super packed. The greeter checked me in, and a few minutes later, Joe was coming over help me finalize my order. Joe recognized my name from the store’s grand opening event two years ago. We got to talking and I decided to open my AirPods in the store and set them up. Joe gave me a quick session on how to pair AirPods with my iPhone 7 Plus (Spoiler Alert: Flip open the AirPods case next to your unlocked iPhone running iOS 10) and how to use them. There was a lot going on in the store, so I appreciated him taking some extra time with me for a one-on-one. I also took a few minutes to talk to Mary, the store manager, just to let her know how awesome her staff is.
W1, iCloud, and the Magic of the Secret Sauce
AirPods, are Bluetooth wireless ear buds. The bud part that goes in your ear is styled after the current EarPod wired ear buds that Apple puts in the box with the iPhone. I always thought that Apple’s ear buds were comfortable to wear, and the AirPods are no exception. Pairing Bluetooth devices is a real pain in the neck. Apple solved this problem by creating the W1 system on a chip. W1 makes pairing AirPods with your Apple devices effortless if that device is running iOS 10, macOS Sierra, or watchOS 3. Just hold the AirPod case a few inches away from your unlocked iPhone and flip open the AirPods case. Boom!
For devices like my 4th generation AppleTV, the pairing process is still super simple, but you must press the round button on the back of the case to initiate the pairing process. Because all my Apple devices are signed in to iCloud using the same account as my iPhone, all my devices instantly knew about my new AirPods. That takes so much of the hassle out of trying to use Bluetooth headphones and ear buds with more than one device. I love my PowerBeats ear buds for working out at the gym, but I almost never bother trying to get them to connect to my iPad Air to watch a TV show or movie. Thanks to W1 and iCloud, using AirPods with all my iDevices is really easy.
AirPods in Action
There are some cool things you can do with AirPods. First off, if you pull one of the ear buds out of your ear, whatever you are listening too or watching will instantly pause. Pop the bud back in, and the music or video automatically resumes. Double-tapping either one of the AirPods will summon Siri. You can ask Siri to raise or lower the volume, skip the current track, or read new messages. Any command that you can issue to Siri from your iPhone, Watch, or Mac will work. In my few hours of playing with them, I haven’t found a command yet that didn’t work. My daughter Kate wanted to do some Christmas shopping this evening. I brought along AirPods so I could listen to some Christmas music while walking around the local Target. A good song came on, and I pulled out one ear bud and popped it into her ear so we could both listen. We got an aisle length apart and her AirPod bud was still rocking out without any trouble. While connected to my iMac (in my finished basement), I could listen to music on my AirPods two floors away in my bedroom. That’s some really great range! You can also use one AirPod at a time. You won’t be listening in stereo, but that’s perfectly fine while talking on the phone or listening to spoken word content in podcasts or audio books.
In just a few hours of using them, I have had a good experience so far. They sound pretty good. Obviously, personal preference will come into play here. I’m not an audiophile, and I like the sound of the wired EarPods. To me, AirPods sound as good as the wired ear buds. They are light weight and are comfortable to wear. I think the best part about AirPods is that there are absolutely no wires to get tangled up in. I won’t catch the wire around the arm rest on my office chair. There’s no cable to bunch up behind my neck while walking or running. And the AirPods in their case is a smaller package them my PowerBeats in their case. The negatives I can see with the AirPods in my limited amount of testing are the purchase price ($149.00) and the fact that unlike EarPods or Beats headphones, there are no buttons on AirPods. Volume up, volume down, play/pause, and track skipping can only be done via Siri, from your iPhone, your Watch, or another connected Apple device. This wasn’t an issue for me. Each time I double-tapped an ear bud, Siri correctly understood and issued my voice commands. Even in a busy Target store. The pause/play feature also worked well just by taking one ear bud out of my ear. AirPods provide about five hours of continuous use, and are charged when they are placed in their case. The case charges via a Lightening cable. A Lightning cable is provided in the box, however, you will need to provide an adapter, like the one that comes in the box with iPhone. This might be a problem for some heavy iPhone users who may need to charge their iPhone and their AirPods/case at the same time.
But let’s cut to the chase. Everyone I talked to about the AirPods at work, and Meghan, my Apple loving child, thinks I’m crazy for wanting AirPods because I will promptly lose one and be sad. I baby my Apple equipment. I can’t imagine a normal day-to-day situation where I would misplace one or both buds. They sit nicely in my ears. Shaking my head in a vigorous side-to-side “No!” motion does not cause them to fall out. Walking around the mall does not cause them to fall out. Double-tapping them does not cause them to fall out. Lying in bed watching a movie on my iPad wasn’t a problem. Heck, I even did 30 jumping jacks without any problems. Every ear is different, so your individual mileage may vary. When I’m not using them, I plan on putting the buds back in their charging case, so I don’t expect to misplace either of them. There is no “Find My AirPods” app, so you will need to remember where you put them down.
Everything told, I’m super excited to have a pair of AirPods, especially considering how constrained supply is right now. They sound great, the W1 chip makes the Bluetooth pairing process dead simple, and they work as advertised. In a word, I would call the new Apple AirPods “magical” and I am going to enjoy using them.