In this issue: Apple newsbits; Mac HelpMate 3.2 now available; MSS Tier 1 in review.
September 2011 MSS Newsletter

Apple Newsbits

Apple CEO Steve Jobs retires.  Expect no changes to Apple product strategy, customer service, or quality. New CEO Tim Cook served as interim CEO while Jobs was on medical leave, and Cook is very well-regarded. Jobs will continue as Apple's Board of Directors Chairman and as an Apple employee. 

Apple releases the first Mac OS X Lion update, 10.7.1. Time to upgrade to Lion? No. Unless you want to risk encountering unfixable problems, I say continue to wait. When I think Lion is fully baked (probably 10.7.3), I won't be shy about saying so.

Rumor sites say Apple's next iPhone will be announced at the end of September or in early October. If you are thinking of an iPhone purchase it might be worth waiting 30 days. Apple is very unlikely to introduce anything new in November or December simply because they would be hardpressed to meet holiday demand. (They'll probably be hardpressed to meet demand anyway.)

Mac HelpMate 3.2 Now Available

Version 3.2 of Mac HelpMate, the remote support program we use to connect your Mac(s) to my Mac over the Internet, is now available. Among other features and bug fixes, version 3.2 offers transitional support for Lion. I'm not recommending Lion upgrades yet—probably 10.7.3—but Mac HelpMate will be ready when you do update. Unless you've already upgraded to Lion, most older versions of Mac HelpMate will continue to work. As always, Mac HelpMate remains free to MSS members.

If you have the "Automatically Check for Updates" box checked in Mac HelpMate, your version should automatically update the next time you launch the program. If not, or if you prefer to download it directly, the latest version of Mac HelpMate we support will always be available at

MSS in Review: Tier 1

The MacAtoZ Service Suite (aka MSS) program is comprised of three tiers, Tier 1 being the least expensive. At $40 a year ($42 a year beginning January 1), it's an amazing bargain. Who do you call when you have Mac problems? MSS members have the peace of mind of knowing the answer immediately. Since MSS remote support time has just a 15 minute minimum and is thereafter billed in 5 minute increments of our hourly rate, you can rest assured that you're getting your problem resolved as quickly and as inexpensively as possible.
  1. MSS remote support works with just one phone call and three clicks of the mouse: Call me, click to launch Mac HelpMate, click to start the remote Sharing/Control session, and click to Share Your Mac. That's it. Within 2 minutes, I'll be able to see your screen and we'll have joint control over the cursor so that I can fix things directly or you can show me where you're having problems. Click the Stop Sharing button when done. I'll email an invoice to you afterward.

    If you happen to call when I'm not available—perhaps I'm on site helping another client, giving a presentation to a Mac User's Group, or driving to or from a meeting—leave a voice mail message. As an MSS member, your call is a priority and will be returned as soon as I can. Generally, requests for remote support are able to be handled same day and almost always within 24 hours. 
  2. But Tier 1 is more than just remote support. For example, if you're within Marion County, MSS also includes a recycling/donation service. If you want some Apple or Apple-related equipment removed from your house, just call and MacAtoZ will come to your home and pick up the equipment. We'll fix the gear so that it can be donated to someone who needs it, we'll give it to a charity like Goodwill, or we'll haul it out to the recycling center. There is no cost to you for this service—it's part of your MSS membership. Let's say you want to get rid of your old iMac and aging printer. Call us. We'll arrange a pick up time and haul the stuff away.

    Importantly, we will securely erase the hard drive on your computer. This, too, is a free included service once you donate your Mac. (Indeed, never donate a hard drive—inside your computer or out—unless it will be securely erased. Otherwise, deleted files and personal/financial data may be recoverable by whomever ends up with the equipment.)
  3. MSS members get free memory installation after buying RAM from MacAtoZ. Not only is our RAM less expensive than Apple's, it's also certified (meaning each chip is tested), and it comes with a life-time replacement warranty. With free installation (within our service area), you can be rest assured of getting a great deal on your computer's memory. In fact, a great strategy when you buy a new Mac is to get as little memory as possible, buy more RAM from MacAtoZ (for considerably less than Apple's), and have us install it for free. Call or email if you'd like to upgrade the RAM in your Mac.
  4. Not to toot the horn too loudly, but MSS Tier 1 also includes direct access to a very fine eNewsletter. You may have read it. 
  5. MSS also includes a referral service that allows you to extend your renewal date. When you refer a friend and they join MSS, you get 1, 2, or 3 months added on to your own MSS account depending on which MSS Tier your friend joined. If you know a Mac user who might benefit from being an MSS member, tell him about MSS and be sure to have him mention your name when signing up for the program.
  6. MSS comes with a 60-day unconditional money-back guarantee. 
The goal of MSS is, of course, to provide you with a set of services that makes your life better. Remote support helps you with your computer when you're having a problem. Recycling/donation helps you when you have old computer stuff and just want it gone. Free memory installation helps you when you want to improve the performance of your computer or extend your Mac's useful life through the purchase of additional RAM. This newsletter helps keep you informed of Apple related issues that might impact how you use your computer, iPad, or iPhone.

Do you know someone who could benefit from being an MSS member? Refer them today! 

Next month: MSS Tier 2 in review.

Tip o' the Day

Formatting a new external hard drive can be surprisingly difficult. Normally you'd just launch Disk Utility, select the hard drive from the list on the left, and click Erase. Many times, however, this will fail with an error. Here's why, and here's what to do about it.

The problem is typically that the new hard drive is not only formatted for a Windows system (MS-DOS FAT32 or similar), but that the partition map is set to "Master Boot Record." Your Mac can read PC formatted hard drives, but it can't erase a hard drive with the wrong partition map. So in order to erase the hard drive, you have a to change the partition map first.
  1. In Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility), select your new external hard drive's volume from the list on the left then click on the Partition tab.
  2. Change the Volume Scheme to 1 Partition and click the Options... button below.
  3. You'll need to read the onscreen explanations to pick the right option, but generally, choose a GUID Partition Table if you'll be using the external drive with an Intel-based Mac or Apple Partition Map if you'll be using the external drive with a PowerPC-based Mac.
  4. Click OK then click Apply.

Now that you've changed the Partition Map, you will be able to successfully format your external hard drive.

All of the above a confusing mess of tech jargon? Not to worry, call MacAtoZ if you want to format an external hard drive and we can do the job via remote support. 
Apple Consultants Network
I am Ty Davison, the only Apple-certified, Apple Consultants Network member in Oregon's mid-Willamette Valley.

My company, MacAtoZ LLC, provides technical support, upgrade, installation, networking, training and tutoring, web design and hosting, and remote support services for Apple products like Macintosh computers, iPhones, iPods, and iPads. 

I've been providing computer services for clients in the Salem area since 1999. I am certified by Apple and I carry $1 million in business liability insurance. I am a frequent and well-known presenter (and former Board Member) of the Salem Macintosh Users Group (SMUG). You can count on me and my company.

At $96 an hour, MacAtoZ offers one of the lowest certified on-site rates in Oregon. Our innovative remote support program, the MacAtoZ Service Suite (MSS), also provides a wide-range of features at incredibly low-prices.

If you're looking to save money on Apple and Apple-related products, check out our MacAtoZ Online Store. (If you're looking for computer memory, we sell that directly.)


Quick Links

MacAtoZ LLC: The main company web site. You can find information about products and services as well as advice here. 

MacAtoZ Online Store: Get recommendations on various Apple-related products. Ordering and order fulfillment by 

MacAtoZ Support: Download the latest version of Mac HelpMate here.

MacAtoZ App Discovery: Recommendations on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad software. Ordering and order fulfillment by Apple. 

Salem Mac Users Group: Salem, Oregon-area Macintosh and Apple gear enthusiasts. Meets monthly. Visitors welcome!

Apple Consultants Network: If you need help, entrust your computer and your data to professionals. 
© 2011 by MacAtoZ LLC. All rights reserved.
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