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2013 An exciting year for Apple enthusiasts and watches

The year 2013 will be an exciting year. Apple is doing the same yet doing new things.

The same – Great products that are simple to use while giving the user power. Don’t think that hacking your device means power. It usually means removing stuff you don’t want. With Apple products that is a given from the start.

The new – iWatch (or what it is called) can be a great product if Apple chooses to. I have the iPod Nano 6th generation and as a watch it is pretty good. Looking at this iPod and it’s features tells a story about the little watch that could. iPod Nano has most of the watch features like stopwatch, lap timers, alarm, and different faceplates. What makes this product super useful is the FM Radio, Music, Podcasts, Photos (just a little bit) in addition to the watch. Wait, isn’t it the other way around? Yes, the watch portion was not the main point of the iPad Nano, but it is sure useful. I own this and use it as my current watch.

Citizen proximity Bluetooth Watch ©Citizen

The ability to provide a total watch experience will be exciting as may other watch companies have done a pretty good job already, like Citizen with their iPhone bluetooth Proximity watch that tells the wearer if there are any voicemails or emails waiting for them. The best thing is when iPhone is more than a few feet away the watch will let you know that. This will help prevent any iPhone thefts as you will know within a few seconds if your iPhone is taking off.

I like that the Citizen looks like a classic watch, classy and nice. No LED screen here but the notifications are very basic because of that. That is the trade off. I was tempted to get this watch at a “jewelers accommodation price” but that was still pricey. These watches normally goes for about $500. I will have to wait to see what Apple delivers.

Pebble watch

Watches like Pebble hold promise but with their display they are limited as they won’t fully integrate with iPhones or Android semi-ok-phones. Anytime you have a 3rd party hardware device that tried to integrates you will have a pretty good fit that is not 100%. What I do like about the pebble is the ability to sync with some features on your iPhone. I would not buy this watch as the applications will be limited in the end with full integration with iPhone.

In the end of the watch choices, once Apple enters the market officially we will see how they stack up before purchasing the Apple, Pebble, or Citizen watch.

Other parts on the horizon includes he next generation iOS and Mac OS X updates will bring both platforms more integrated. That part is inevitable.

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Review: Livescribe Sky pen

Evernote fans take note that the new Livescribe Sky pen does away with the Desktop Manager app and all notes will be synced through the cloud to your Evernote account (or a new Evernote account if you don’t have one).

Livescribe Sky Pen works with iOS Mac and Evernote

The premise is the pen records your pen strokes on special dotted paper and will connect to a Wifi connection where the pen will upload that information to your cloud storage area on Evernote. From our tests this works great. Upon setup the pen will connect to your Mac or Windows and perform an update through a USB cable connection (the web site you go to listed in the documentation details this out). Then you setup the pen to your Wifi spots and bam anytime you manually sync the information is there. You can also record voice while you write with that information being synced with your notes.

Different versions

- 2GB pack: this gives you the pen 2GB, extra utility stickers, two pen caps, 1 ink refill,and a starter notebook.

- 4GB pack: this gives you the pen 4GB, extra utility stickers, two pen caps, 1 ink refill, and a starter notebook.

- 8GB pack: this gives you the pen 8GB, extra utility stickers, two pen caps, 1 ink refill, and a starter notebook.

-8GB Pro pack: this gives you the pen 8GB, 1 year of Evernote Premium, the protective hard case for the spiral notebooks, extra utility stickers, two pen caps, 1 ink refill, and a starter notebook.

 

Livescribe Sky 8GB Pro Pack

Usability

I found using this pen is like using any other really think pen (non-BIC). My handwriting was pretty good and the flow of the ink was good. Recording audio worked pretty good with the pen recording any writing noises. To eliminate that you need to buy a headphone with microphone from the company and have that plugged in. You can playback the entire note recording or tap with the pen on the ink and the pen will starting playback from that point. This is really cool. Your mileage may vary with note recording. This seems to be better suited for a school lecture hall setting.

Expandability

Memory is not expandable so make sure you purchase a GB amount. The pen keeps all notebooks and voice recordings on the pen. The only expansion is through purchasing other notebooks. There are 4 spiral notebooks, 8 hard bound notebooks, and a flip style of notebook. The pen can only use each book once as the book is stored in memory and in Evernote. To use a different hard bound notebook 4 you would need to archive the current notebook from the pen to remove it (all notes and voice recordings still stays in Evernote) and use a new hard bound notebook 4. You need to only use special printed notebooks form the manufacturer or print your own on your laser printer. If you go the do it yourself printing you will be archiving 4 notebooks more frequently.

 

 

Overall

This pen idea is a great way to keep notes and audio recordings synced together. We found no problems as the Livescribe player is runs on iOS, Macintosh, Windows, and Android. Evernote is a great way to track all of this kind of information so the wifi syncing makes sense. It took a few minutes at most to sync the information. When I would sync after a meeting by the time I got to my desk the information would be there in Evernote.Livescribe Notebooks

 

 

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Get iTunes 20% off and download iTunes 11

iTunes Thursday is here!

iTunes $25 Gift Card

Yes that is right.  A little known secret is that your local Bed Bath and Beyond is selling until November 30, 3012 a iTunes $25 gift card for $20!  Saving your 20%.  If you missed Black Friday iTunes discounted gift cards, drive to a local store and pick a few up.

Plus iTunes 11 is out today!  iTunes 11

The best looking iTunes yet. Enhancements include quickly finding your content on the default screen. What I like is you can switch quickly through your content on the left drop down menu and access the controls on the top left. This puts iTunes back on the top of the best multimedia apps of all time.

Do  yourself a favor and get the new iTunes and make it the center of your digital media world. You will be glad you did!

iTunes 11 Details

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Evernote version 5 is out on Mac and iOS

I discovered Evernote in 2010 and wanted a personal cloud to store everything in. The idea of a cloud based note storing app was awesome but I wanted more control of my data. After a period of time I realized that trying to hobble my own solution between devices resulted in using a cloud service like Pogoplug and going back and forth between apps. Not seamless so I eventually took a look at Evernote again and fell in love with it.

Version 5 of Mac and iOS version of Evernote are here (iOS came out last week but we waiting as the Mac version was right around the corner). Version 5 puts both on par with the level of features.

Evernote for Mac version 5Evernote iPhone Version 5

Changes for Mac

- Left panel has shortcuts, entire notes list, rearrange notebooks graphically, and the last 5 recent notes.

- Atlas view to see on a map where that note was taken.

- Note List can view the notes as cards.

- Improved Search including type ahead search.

Changes for iPhone/iPad/iPad mini

- New Home screen with slide up/down sections.

- Page Camera.

- Places

- Recent Notes on iPad only.

Since I have been using the new versions I love them even more. More and more of my life has been imported into Evernote and the best thing is I can export the notes and files as HTML for a backup locally.

See the Evernote User Guides for Macintosh and iOS here.

Source: Mac Version http://evernote.com/evernote/whats_new/mac/

iOS (iPhone / iPad / iPad mini) - http://evernote.com/evernote/whats_new/ios/

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Java, I banish you!

The final straw has bee pulled and Java has lost. I am afraid I have to remove Java from all of my Macs and never use it again due always wondering if some Java exploit will let some malware onto my Mac. Mac and malware? I have been asked many times before, “I thought Macs cannot get malware?” I always tell them that a Mac can if the malware is written specifically for the Mac OS X platform. I don’t think the new Gatekeeper  in Mountain Lion can stop this as Java is the pass thru connector.

I decided I did not need some web scripts running from various websites in order to protect my Mac and more importantly my data and personal information! Not getting scared here, just being safe. An ounce of prevention is a worth a pound of cure! My Mom always told me that and I do believe it.

Checking if your Mac has Java

Mac Java Preferences

Navigate to the Application / Utilities folder and run the Java Preferences app.

If you receive an error saying “To open … Would you like to install one now?”  Click the Not Now button.

Your safe!

Uninstalling Java

If the Java Preferences app opened then you can remove Java with a few file deletions.

(These instructions I got from CNET as credited in the source below).

Delete this file: Macintosh HD/System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework

Delete this folder: Macintosh HD/System/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines

Delete this folder: Macintosh HD/Users/UserName//Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines

Now you are safe from any future Java exploits.

Aftermath

You can always install Java for the Mac, do something on the web that requires it, then remove the JavaVM.framework and the JavaVitualMachines at will. I am just eliminating one more infection possibility. Should I trust GateKeeper more that it would catch everything rogue application trying to run? At this point in time until I read or see this work in action I will still be safe. Not to knock Gatekeeper as I believe Apple’s certificate signed approach is the most secure aspect of Mountain Lion.

For me; being safe is better than being sorry.

Source: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13727_7-57501517-263/new-java-7-exploit-can-potentially-affect-macs/

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13727_7-57408841-263/how-to-check-for-and-disable-java-in-os-x/

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Mac OS X Mountain Lion Upgrade Install and aftermath

Today we are looking at the Mac OS X Mountain Lion installation once you download the app from the Mac App Store. So far I absolutely love this version of the Mac OS. I only had 3 apps that were not compatible (one was my fault as I did not update it before upgrading). The other apps are too old (previous version of the latest version ) and I don’t use them anymore on that Mac. This is easily fixed by downloading necessary updates after the Mountain Lion install.

Mountain Lion InstallSo to begin installing Mountain Lion you need to either 1) Download the app and the installer will automatically open, 2) Run the Installer form the Applications folder or from LaunchPad.

Either way will give you the main installer screen (to the left).

Then you just select the continue buttons, accept the terms, and select what hard drive to install it on. From there it will take about 3 minutes (depending on Mac speed) and your Mac will reboot. The rest of the install will take about 30 minutes (+/- on your Mac speed). Then reboot again and you are now in Mountain Lion.

 

Mac OS X Mountain Lion Incompatible Apps Dialog box

Mac OS X Mountain Lion Incompatible Apps Dialog box

 

If you do have some incompatible your Mac will let you know which ones when you boot into Mountain Lion for the first time. To avoid this is to remove the older Apps you don’t need and won’t be supported and update all of your current apps before installing Mountain Lion.

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the Installation screens while in Mac OS X Lion:

Mountain Lion Install

Mountain Lion Install

Mountain Lion Install

Mountain Lion Install

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mac OS X Mountain Lion out now with backup disc instructions

Horray! Mac OS X Mountain Lion shipped today. I am downloading it right now (that is a great $19.99 spent). Yes, I know that Apple dropped the “Mac” part of Mac OS X. I cannot change just yet. I have been using Mac OS since, well System 5.

Mac OS X Mountain LionDo you just install it without performing a disk check? My advice is no. Check over our Mac OS X Mountain Lion Prepare guide first (without installing the new OS). Then come back here.

(added 05/26/2012 8AM) In the Prepare Guide it will suggest you back up all of your data. I personally user Time Machine as if I need to restore I can easily.  BUT there is another option that I use when I migrate from one hard disk to another hard disk – create a complete bootable working copy of your current system by using Carbon Copy Cloner. Carabon Copy Cloner will let you image your disk to another hard drive (or seperate partition on the same drive). This way if your upgraded Mountain Lion system is not working with all of your apps and the manufacturer has not updated them you can still hold the option key when you boot your Mac and select the backup drive still with Mac OS X Lion.

Ok. Now that you are ready lets back up your install disk image. Leave the Installer for OS X up and pull up the Finder. Open your Computer disk (mine is called “Macintosh HD”) and find the Install OS X Mountain Lion installer. Right click the app and  select”Open Package Contents”.  Then navigate to Contents folder and go inside of the SharedSupport folder. In that folder is a disk image you want to copy to another drive. It is 4.35GB in size. When you are ready to burn a disk just take that disk image and mount it in the Disk Utility app. From there you can burn the disk image to a physical DVD disk. Make sure you use a dual layer DVD disk as the 4.35GB disk image is compressed.

Great you are now set to go ahead and install Mac OS X Mountain Lion. Enjoy installing it and have fun with all of the goodness contained inside.

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Preparing for Mac OS X Mountain Lion 10.8

It is getting close for Apple’s next release of Mac OS X. I have been eagerly waiting for this release since the announcement. The only downside for me is that only one of my Macs can upgrade, my 2009 MacBook Pro with the 64-bit EFI. Will I continue to run the 2 older Macs? Yes! One is my powerhouse 3Ghz 8-core Mac Pro which is my media server and the other is the original MacBook Air. Both of these Macs has their specific jobs and is not impacted by any Mountain Lion features.

The price of Mountain Lion will be $19.99.Mac OS X Mountain Lion

The Macs that can run Mountain Lion :

  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

Make sure you have either the latest Snow Leopard version (10.6.8) or any version of Lion (10.7.x).

Backup all of your data files using Time Machine on a separate hard drive or Time Capsule. This is a must as you never know when 1) any install of an OS can behave badly or 2) your hard drive dies from a mechanical failure on it’s own. To configure Time Machine if you are not using it: go to System Preferences, then select Time Machine. Turn Time Machine on and select the external hard drive or a Time Capsule and let it work.

Run Disk Utility (in your Applications Folder, then Utilities Folder) and make sure no disk problems exist by clicking on Verify Disk.

Now you are ready to install Mountain Lion on your Mac.

As a personal note – I have upgraded 3 Macs to Snow Leopard and then to Lion using the Upgrade option. I have had no weirdness or unexplained app crashes with these 3 Macs. So I feel fully comfortable upgrading to Mountain Lion. I will have a Time Machine backup available in case I need to quickly restore back. Restoring from a Time Machine is as simple as booting to the Recovery Disk partition (hold down the Option key after you hear this startup chime when booting your Mac. Then select the Recovery Disk and then press the arrow underneath that disk. Once in format your hard drive partition (Macintosh HD) using Disk Utlility and then use Time Machine to restore. ** Remember you assume all risks, The Mac 512 does not imply any warranty for following these directions.).

 

Source: http://www.apple.com/osx/how-to-upgrade/

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iPad Life : WWDC delivers true goodness.

WWDC – The premier computing developers conference.

iOS 6

Instead of going over every feature (www. apple.com/ios6/ can fill you in on all of the features, I will list what I think will be game changers.

  • Maps – These really look better than the Google maps. Turn by turn directions built-in means no more Garmin.
  • Siri – WOW! What will work for me is the ability to use Siri for almost everything from social media to getting more information when I need it.
  • Integrated Facebook – If this works as well as integrated Twitter, it will be spectacular.
  • Passbook – Very cool. I will use this feature a lot with the many loyalty cards I use.
  • FaceTime – over Cellular! I almost jail broke my iPhone to get this, I am glad I waited.
  • Improved iPhone app – Yes! The call back I’m busy feature will be awesome.
  • Safari – Browsing on one device and pick it up on another device? COOL!
  • Accessibility – Apple always made their products the best with software that works with many impairments. Kudos to Apple to continue the innovations in this area.

Supported on iPhone (3GS, 4, 4S); iPad (2nd and 3rd generation); iPod Touch (4th generation).

Mac OS X (Mountain Lion)

As an Apple purest it will take me a long time to change from calling Mac OS X to OS X Mountain Lion. This is because the Mac really resonates an important way of computing back when the Macintosh first came out.

$19.99 in July 2012!  Dang!

Instead of going over every feature (www. apple.com/osx/ can fill you in on all of the features, I will list what I think will be game changers.

  • iCloud will shine on the Macintosh as well as it has worked on iOS.
  • Dictation – Most Macintosh owners have used voice command software in the past. I did and it worked pretty well. Once the novelty wore off it ended up being limited. The older voice command software did not work with every app out of the box. I am excited to see who the new Dictation app will work on my Mac.
  • Gatekeeper – The ability to choose where apps are installed from is HUGE! I can make sure that any apps I need are secure and safe. If I want to install an app that is not signed, the flexibility of Mac OS X (OS X Mountain Lion) let ms do that. Apple once again lets me control my personal computer in a safe way. I use Windows 7 at home for two reasons – 2 Windows online games and MS Visio/Project. I don’t trust it’s security model beyond that.
  • AirPlay mirroring – I use Airplay with my iPhone 4S all the time with my AppleTV. The ability to use it on my MacBook Pro is great! Sharing anything this way or just “family time surfing” will be awesome with this and an AppleTV.
  • Safari – Browsing on one device and pick it up on another device? COOL!
  • PowerNap – The ability that the Mac can update mail and other apps while asleep is a feature other Personal Computer makers will emulate. Backups while the Mac sleeps will be another feature that will change the world while making your data safe from any data loss.
  • Social Media (Facebook and Twitter) – Integration anywhere. This sounds like the best way to keep up with your family and friends, easily.

MacBook Pro

Flash hard drive, Retina Display (2,880 x 1,800 pixels!), Quad-Core i7, 7 hours battery, and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M graphics with 1 = WOW!

MacBook Air

Faster Flash storage. 8GB of RAM, and 7 hours battery in the original Ultrabook form factor = SMART AND COOL!

 

Good things are coming…

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The Veteran’s View on Anti-Virus Software for Macintosh

Last month’s top story in the Macintosh community was the spread of the Flashback virus. One month later, it’s time to look back at the recent attack, the future, and the distant past in terms of Macintosh viruses.

When news outlets everywhere reported on Flashback, many of my friends began to ask me what I thought about the virus.

“What do you think about the Mac finally having a virus?”

“Did you get attacked?”

“Should I get anti-virus software?”

These questions, among others, were directed my way, coming from my fellow Macheads and Windows users alike.

When the remarks of “first ever Mac virus” came up, this veteran Mac user could only shake his head, think of the System 6 days, and remember when every Mac user wanted to raise a glass to toast John Norstad, author of the excellent Disinfectant utility.

While this may be the first widespread OS X virus, it’s certainly not the first Mac virus. In fact, viruses have been around since the early days of the platform, long before OS X or even System 6.

If you’ve dealt with a bunch of annoying nVIR infections by running Disinfectant, downloaded Agax to wipe out a SevenDust strain, or rebuilt the desktop to rid yourself of CDEF, you certainly know what has existed in the Mac’s past. I’ve actually done all three of these things. Both school systems I attended prior to college had virus infections at some point. I actually contacted nVIR on my own Macintosh LC in the 1990s after swapping shareware with a friend. While most Mac viruses were harmless, save for a few obscure malicious viruses with names like INIT 9403 and a handful of trojan horses, the virus threat was real.

Those of you who know how to identify a Scores infection, know the consequences of running HyperCard stacks named “New Apple Products” or “Sexy Ladies”, remember the indictment of the Cornell students who wrote the MBDF virus, and have experience with anti-virus tools containing Monty Python references in their about boxes (thanks, Mr. Norstad!) have truly earned the right to call themselves veterans of the platform. Bonus points are hereby awarded to anyone who knows what the Frankie virus did.

Early Mac viruses primarily attacked System files and applications. Several also went for the invisible Desktop file. Most slowed down the system, causing little more than crashes and annoyances (although some did have annoying side effects, such as the bouncing cursor behavior caused by the ZUC virus). For the most part, these viruses were spread through shared floppy disks and bulletin boards. Keep in mind these were the days when user groups could distribute system software, shareware was actually shared between users (instead of through a website), and most home users were modemless.

Although a new Mac virus popped up now and then, it wasn’t a common occurrence, especially compared to the number of viruses written for DOS and Windows. Windows users dealt with Melissa, the Love Bug, and other widespread infectors while the Macintosh community looked on.

There were two reasons for the lack of Macintosh viruses. Virus authors wanted to attack great numbers of computers, something which certainly could not be done with the Mac’s minuscule market share. More importantly, the core of Mac OS X, based on UNIX, was far more difficult to penetrate than the traditional proprietary Mac OS, which was last updated in 2001.

However, the inevitable happened. A widespread virus was written for a platform whose market share has steadily been growing and whose inner core has been on the market for over a decade.

The question: should we be worried about more viruses? The bigger question: is it time to seriously consider anti-virus software?

Windows will always be more vulnerable to viruses in general due to the nature of the operating system and the higher installed base of users. Despite this, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more Mac viruses down the line.

Still, I’m not rushing to install anti-virus software. For starters, the way to remove a Flashback infection is quite easy and involves a few typed lines in the terminal. Apple was quick to respond to the threat, which is pretty much a distant memory now.

The real reason I’m not installing any protection is because of how modern viruses spread. Most are caught by users on peer to peer networks, users who carelessly click on suspicious links and banners, and those who open attachments from known careless users. Yes, I have dealt with a personal virus infection before, but this was in the days when shareware was passed around on floppies. Downloading shareware from trusted websites eliminates the problem. (Even then, I won’t try shareware until it’s been out for a while just in case there is a problem with the software).

Despite being called a “power user” by my friends, I’m more or less a stereotypical Volvo driver when it comes to the world online. (Yes, I once owned a Volvo). I play it safe with my web habits, including the design of my personal site, which I fund out of pocket to eliminate advertising. I don’t click banners, popups, or links to unknown sites. In fact, most of the time I spend online involves communicating with clients, research, keeping up with friends, and staying on top of news and sports. For every purpose, I have a preferred website (in some cases, these sites have been bookmarked since the 1990s). The programs I choose to purchase or evaluate come only from the Mac App Store and known good shareware sites. iTunes and Amazon are the only places I’ll purchase digital content.

If you take risks by using untrusted sites or clicking obviously bogus ad banners, you’re playing with fire. The same can be said if you use peer to peer services, which may also mean you’re breaking the law (depending on what you’re using them for). The same can be said for downloading a file from an unknown developer. I love supporting startup companies and one-man businesses, but after the Tetricycle trojan of 1992, I’ve been leery of doing this until a product has been out for at least a few weeks.

Another factor is the way anti-virus software slows down computers. Try using a Windows machine bogged down by Norton or McAffee. Granted, the free anti-virus programs are a little less intensive, but when you’re working with 2GB RAM and a slow laptop hard drive, every bit of power counts. It’s not like we have the lightweight Disinfectant INIT around anymore. Now we have programs which take up big chunks of RAM and bug us with automatic updates whenever we’re in the middle of something important.

Another easy solution I have against anti-virus software is to constantly back up files. With cloud services, this is easier than ever, although I still wouldn’t trust all my data to the cloud just in case it gets hacked. I still make physical backups and often spread my files across four different computers as an extra precaution. In addition to using an external hard drive, I also am a firm believer in burning DVDs from time to time. I treat these like a birth certificate, placing them in a secure, locked location albeit one easy enough to access within a minute just in case I need them.

Finally, I offer the advice to keep up with the news. Word travels far quicker in 2012 than it has at any time in history thanks to forums, social networking sties, and superior news outlets. The days of the latest Mac gossip being available only to Usenet group members are long gone. I read technical news every morning alongside my local paper, not only to stay on top of things as a guy who works with technology on a daily basis, but also as a user who wants to know of anything to be aware of. If I hear of a particular problem, I’ll get around it through avoidance (if possible) or patches.

I’m not installing anti-virus software on any of my Macs. Neither should you. A heightened sense of awareness and knowledge of both the past and present state of viruses should do the trick, coupled with some precautionary measures such as backing up data and being careful about website selection.

On a final note, I should clarify something the entire Mac community has been struggling with. Flashback is NOT a trojan horse. Trojan horses are seemingly useful programs which have some sort of side effect, typically infecting a computer or erasing a hard drive. An example is Font Finder, an early Mac trojan which appeared to be a font management utility. However, it wiped the hard drive of the Mac it was using instead of proving itself an alternative to the Font/DA Mover. A good way to remember what a trojan horse does it to think of its namesake from Greek mythology.

Flashback did not disguise itself as a program and is clearly not a trojan horse. It’s a virus, plain and simple.

___

Opinions expressed belong solely to the author, and do not represent the views of The Mac 512.

 

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