to commonly asked questions.

December 2019

Can I cut the cable?

I would like to get rid of cable and hear abt all kinds of providers out there over the internet. I would like your option/direction and am happy to schedule an appt if that is best.

Yes there are many choices. More and more people are cutting the cable these days. I cut off my satellite plan 10 years ago and have ben living within the App ecosystem for years now. So there are several different paths depending on what you are interested In.

First you want to look at the financial equiviance. How much you're paying for tv now vs. what you will convert to. Say your tv package is around $150 not including internet access. Consider that access to individual apps is usually close to $10 a month. Each app (or company) specializes in it's own content for the most part. In other words, CBS All Access has its own shows, Netflix has it's own, Disney+ has it's on and so forth. For live TV I suggest just buying a digital antenna (about $30 or less). This gives you access to all the live TV channels you grew up with like NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, etc…. You could also buy a package sort of plan that includes many of these channels along with ESPN, food channels, etc…. Here are two of the most popular:

Disney+, Hulu,ESPN

Youtube TV

It all comes down to what you want to watch. I personally don't care about sports so I don't have a plan like the links above. I just have several apps a-la-cart. Keep in mind a few things:

1. Every company is taking back possession of its own content. In other words, ABC is pulling its old shows from Netflix, CBS is pulling it's shows from Amazon Prime Video, etc…
2. Disney owns just about everything including Fox and ESPN so they are a monopoly in content. (Side note: they generated about 80% of the revenue at the box office this year alone)
3. ATT owns everything else including HBO and Warner Bros so they are coming out with their own service soon called HBOmax.

It's all confusing.

Hope this helps a little.

Holiday Nice List

Ho! Ho! Ho! 

Hope you're having a happy holiday. But remember, if you want to stay on the NICE list be sure to follow these safety tips:
1 Always backup.
2 Don't join open/public wifi networks.
3 Don't fall for the scams out there asking you to install flash or telling you your firewall is down or telling you your data is at risk. If you are ever in doubt, take a screenshot (command+shift+4 then drag around the area) and send it to me.  I'd be happy to tell you whether it's legit or not.  

Stay safe and try not to end up on the NAUGHTY list.

Happy Holidays,

Drives tend to die in iMacs.

You worked on an iMac of mine many years ago, in my home - do you still do "in home" work?

I have two problem machines:

2013 iMac that is completely dead - started turning on intermittently, then not at all. Power supply?

2017 iMac that is always a little sluggish, and intermittently very sluggish (intermittent spinning beach ball for simple tasks like typing in a Word doc) -  - no malware found, only 50% of hard dive filled, Activity monitor shows minimal CPU usage, I cleaned up desktop. But when I ran a "SMART Utility" hard drive test it registered as "failing" - I have read that this could be the cause? (Everything is backed up to Time Machine and Backblaze)


Yes, I still do in home work.

2013 iMac: Most likely the drive has failed to the point that will will not cooperate with the startup sequence and therefore the machine is cutting off as to not overheat as a safety precaution. It may be possible for us to pull the drive out and harvest the data if it has not yet completely failed. (Audible clicking means no chance). I wouldn't personally put money into repairing a 7 year old iMac.

2017 iMac: Yet again, same reason. You've done some great troubleshooting. When I see "failing" in disk utility, it's time to lose faith in that drive. Backblaze is ok as a secondary source but nothing beats having a dedicated hard drive using time machine. Double check to see that the TM backup is up to date then it's time to get that drive replaced. If you have AppleCare, the Apple store would do it at no cost. I no longer replace drives.

Happy to answer any other questions you may have.

Hotspot unreliable over long periods of streaming.

You have helped me out in the past with our apple computer and WiFi network. I have a small business and have been broken into a couple of times lately.

I have bought the Blink XT2 camera system and trying to run it off a hotspot on an ipad. Problem is it works for about a day and then goes offline and I have to there to reset. Do you know anything about that system or a way to get it to stay online?

So while in theory the iPad hotspot will work, it's not something I would rely on. Most likely the hotspot is the failure point in this equation. It's very possible that your ISP (the phone company) may break anything streaming after a certain period of time. They do this because they don't want bandwidth being taken by permanent connections. Presently, hotspots are designed as short term connections to the internet. For instance, if you started streaming an entire TV series over Netflix via your hotspot, the stream would probably be interrupted after several hours.

I really think using a hotspot is the weak link here. Perhaps a better option may be to install a motion triggered camera much like you a deer hunter would use in the woods. This way it would activate on movement and the data could be retrieved at a later time. Battery operated but not connected and streaming to the internet. Another option would be to jump onto a nearby network whose password you knew.

Why did Catalina kill my Office?


I recently updated my Mac software to Catalina. It gave me a message indicating that I would need to update my Microsoft Word and Excel for them to work. What it didn’t tell me was that I’d need to update to Microsoft 365 at a subscription of $99/year. Therefore, I have a couple of questions for you as follows:

1) Should I try to “undo” my update to Catalina? I suppose I know the answer and that this is all part of the planned obsolescence and if I don’t things will stop working properly.

2) If your answer to #1 is “yes”, how long of an appointment will this require? I need to schedule an appointment with you in January to try and upgrade my wife’s Mac as well.

1. Apple has been moving to a full 4 bit operating system for several years now and Catalina 10.15 kills all old 32 bit software. The biggest victim here is Microsoft Office versions prior to 2011. Office 2014 and forward are 64 bit programs so they are fine. You are not required to subscribe to Office if you don't want to although Microsoft would love for you to since they make more money off of you in the long run. There are 3 plans. $99 subscription a year for 5 computers and iOS apps including One drive and Outlook (neither of which any of us really ever use.). $69 per year for one computer including all the aforementioned perks. OR $149 one time fee to buy it out right not including iOS, One Drive, or Outlook. They are pushing heavily for people to subscribe you you do have the option to purchase it.
Screen Shot 2019-12-23 at 4.02.10 PM

2. I strongly suggest we not go backward from Catalina as painful as purchasing Office would be once again. You would end up paying me for the effort to downgrade the operating system. There is no simple way to go back. Yes, it's possible but time consuming. Happy to do it but you're better off moving forward.

Internet down first steps in troubleshooting

Can you remind me what to do when my internet is out?
Thanks and Merry Christmas!

First thing you always want to try is simply unplugging the main modem/router given to you by your ISP.    In this case it would be the one circled below.  

In most cases that will solve the issue unless there is an actual outage in your area.  In which case, contacting the ISP would give you an idea of how long the internet would be down in your area.  

How do I flip my contacts to print Christmas cards?

Scotty, I have a question. Scotty - A while back, you showed me how to create a group in contacts and "mark as company" the whole group for the purpose of Christmas cards, i.e. the address reads The Smith Family versus Mary Smith. I can't remember how to "mark" the whole group versus going one contact at a time. When I "select all", the "mark as company" and "mark as person" options are disabled. Please advise. Thx so much.

This was a feature that was included in Apple's MacOS address book for many years then they removed it for about 4 years. The good news is it is back but you need to be on macOS Catalina 10.15 in order to see that functionality. If you've not yet updated or don't want to at the moment, I can assist if needed.

Depending on the age of your computer, you can go to the App Store on your Mac and then search for “Catalina”. It is 10.15. After the update, you’ll again be able to flip all contacts from person to company all at once.

Note: always make sure you’ve backed up your computer before ever doing an update.
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