|June 2016 Newsletter
Not even 24 hours after we said "OK!" to Apple's last batch of system updates, Apple went and released newer stuff. We congratulate Apple on the speed of their updates while bemoaning the insufficient testing time that leaves us.
Still, Apple's newest releases look good, with one important caveat. First, OS X 10.11.5 seems to be running just fine on various iMacs and laptops. We've experienced no problems, and we've begun pushing this out to Sentinel+ clients who are running OS X 10.11 El Capitan. If your Mac is on El Cap, feel free to install the 10.11.5 update.
If you're on Yosemite (OS X 10.10), our advice remains much the same as before: Upgrade if you like. Your system is secure, so if you don't want to upgrade to El Cap yet, you don't need to. If you'd like help, please call or email us.
If you're on Mavericks (OS X 10.9), now is a good time to upgrade. El Cap is relatively mature, is more secure than Mavericks, and you'll want to upgrade to El Cap before the next operating system release (presumably this fall) anyway. Again, we're happy to help if you wish.
If you're running an earlier operating system in the range of OS X 10.6, 10.7, or 10.8, you should upgrade immediately.
As we've said before, these systems are not secure, and as much we loved some of them—here's looking at you, Snow Leopard—it's past time to move forward.
The latest word is that 10.11.6 El Capitan is in beta, so there's at least one more update coming, but 10.11.5 has been fine for us.
On the iOS front, Apple released iOS 9.3.2 just after we told everyone that 9.3.1 was okay on recent devices. Obviously Apple is unconcerned about our testing of operating systems. They're content to believe that if they're releasing it, it must be ready for prime time. Only 9.3.2 was absolutely NOT ready for iPad Pros—this is the "one important caveat" we mentioned earlier—bricking so many of them on update that Apple had to pull 9.3.2 for that particular model.
At this point, we've installed iOS 9.3.2 on iPhone 6S, 6, 5S, 5C, and iPad Air 2. In all cases, everything has worked fine. We'll continue testing 9.3.2 on older hardware as time permits, but based on the Internet chatter it looks like it's just the iPad Pros that had problems (now resolved by Apple issuing a new 9.3.2 update for that model). If your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) is running any flavor of iOS 9, you should upgrade to 9.3.2.
Teamviewer hacked; All Sentinel clients OK
A quick note about the recent TeamViewer hack that's been in the tech news
: All MacAtoZ residential clients are okay and are unaffected by this hack.
Because our version of TeamViewer—the program we use to provide remote support to you—is user activated, there is no way for bad guys to get into your Mac without you explicitly letting them. (We encourage you not to do this.) As long as you don't give anyone you're not supposed to your Teamviewer ID and password, you're fine.
If you use TeamViewer Host to allow unattended access to your Mac, you should consider changing your password. No MacAtoZ residential clients should be allowing unattended access, at least not at our behest. (You may, of course, use your Mac however you like.)
TeamViewer believes the problem is poor password management—specifically reusing passwords from various web sites. If you do that, definitely change your TeamViewer Host password. Again, if all you're using is the MacAtoZ version of TeamViewer Quick Support, no worries.
WWDC this month
Apple's World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) is coming up on June 13. While this get-together is focused on developers, Apple has a long history of introducing new products at WWDC. What that means for most of us is that we should wait until June 13 before purchasing any new Mac or Apple gear.
In particular, Airport Base Stations and Time Capsules as well as Thunderbolt monitors are rumored to be in short supply, typically indicating new replacements are coming. We expect news on the next versions of OS X, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS.
Also, if you're looking to buy, the easy way to find out if now is a good time to purchase is to visit the Mac Rumors Buying Guide
. It's a fabulous resource.
Buying a new Mac? We can help (finally!)
Although you may wish to wait until after WWDC (see above), if you're buying a new Mac we can finally
help. For years, we've been contractually barred by Apple from selling through their system to consumers. (We have an agreement with the Apple Business Sales team that allows us to sell to businesses.)
This has driven us a bit nuts. It's not that we're dying to sell products—in fact, we make very little money from sales and we're not a sales driven organization by any means. But we've not been able to help people when the want to purchase Apple gear. We've always ended up sending them away because of this Apple-imposed limit.
Recently, however, we've reached an agreement with Micro Decision Systems (MDS), an Apple Authorized Reseller, that will allow us to provide Apple hardware to our clients
. To be clear, you absolutely do not have to buy Apple (or Apple-related) gear through us
. We're happy to help regardless of where you purchase things. But if you'd like a seamless buying experience with MacAtoZ, that is now possible.
Hourly rate change; big discount for Sentinel
Beginning July 1, 2016 the MacAtoZ standard hourly rate will change to $180 for non-Sentinel/Sentinel+ clients. The Sentinel/Sentinel+ hourly rate is discounted to $132.
This is the first rate increase in two and a half years. We don't like raising prices, but we are no more immune to the broad inflationary pressure in the overall economy (increases in minimum wage, rental prices, etc.) than anyone else. Our hope is that, like last time, it will be years before we need to raise our hourly rate again.
We're offering an enormous discount to Sentinel/Sentinel+ clients because it makes a difference. Through Sentinel, we can instantly see the status of your Mac(s) and be proactive about keeping it working. With Sentinel+, we can do that plus maintain the Mac and help secure it. All of this makes our job of supporting you easier, and we think that's worth rewarding.
At the same time, we've also had a lot of internal discussions about folks who, for whatever reason, have declined Sentinel—there aren't many—and still want help with their Apple gear. Because Sentinel/Sentinel+ makes such a huge difference, our position has been that we will only serve residential clients with Sentinel/Sentinel+. Given that our mission is "we help people with their Apple technology"—something we frequently abbreviate to "we help people"—it has felt decidedly uncomfortable to turn people away.
So we're changing that. If non-Sentinel folks want help, we'll provide it. It will cost them more because we'll be coming into situations knowing nothing about the state of their computers, but if we can help, we will.
It's worth mentioning that MacAtoZ continues to offer huge advantages over our competition (like, say, Best Buy's Geek Squad):
- All MacAtoZ technicians are Apple Certified Support Professionals (ACSPs). That means that not only do we say we know about Apple gear, Apple confirms it. You wouldn't visit a doctor who wasn't licensed or consult with an attorney who hadn't passed the bar exam. If your computer and its data are important to you—and we suspect that they are—we would strongly recommend that whoever you use be an ACSP. (As an aside, we called to ask Best Buy if anyone on their Geek Squad was Apple certified. We were told that Apple only certified their own people, which is both telling and demonstrably wrong.)
- All MacAtoZ technicians are members of the Apple Consultants Network (ACN), an international organization of consultants, technicians, and trainers run by Apple. Being an ACN member gives us exclusive access to Apple's engineers, sales teams, and resources as well as to other ACN members. This is an incredibly powerful asset: If we don't know the answer to your Apple-related question, through the ACN program we can undoubtedly find someone who does.
- All MacAtoZ technicians carry $1 million in business liability insurance because we want you to have every confidence in us. If there were ever a problem, you're protected.
We believe MacAtoZ remains the best Apple consultancy in the mid-Willamette Valley, and we don't think the competition is even close. We remain ever grateful for the opportunity to assist those of you who've entrusted us to help with your Apple-related computer needs. Thank you.