|April 2014 MSS Newsletter
MacAtoZ introduces new recurring payment system for MSS members
Since the MacAtoZ Service Suite (MSS) program was introduced in 2008, we've accepted checks, cash, and credit cards for the annual payment as well as for the initial one-time setup-fee.
In the early days of the program, when we only had a couple dozen members, that worked well enough. Unfortunately, what we've discovered is that this process doesn't scale. In other words, we now have so many MSS members that creating, printing, and emailing invoices, processing those payments, and occasionally following up on late payments is taking an extraordinary amount of time—to say nothing of the time it takes for you.
Since any time we spend on administrative tasks like these is time we can't spend helping you or improving the services we offer, we needed to make a change.
So we're introducing a new, secure recurring payment system for MSS members.
This is system will allow you to input your credit or debit card, and it will automatically remember to re-charge the card in a year. (It will also send you a heads-up email a few days prior.)
Beginning January 1, 2015 all MSS payments will need to be made through this system
, but we'd like to make an even quicker transition if possible. To that end, Brittany Palmer, our office manager, will be contacting MSS members to offer step-by-step guidance
If you feel comfortable making online payments yourself, you can do so. You need to know which MSS Tier you're in (1, 2, or 3) and what your renewal date is. Both your MSS Tier and your renewal date can be found on the front page of your MSS packet or on any previous MSS invoice. (If you know your MSS Tier but not your renewal date, simply choose "Start Immediately" and we will adjust the date for you.)
MSS Tier 1
MSS Tier 2
MSS Tier 3
Have questions? Need help? Just give Brittany a call (503-507-0410). She'll be happy to assist you with the process.
Backblaze offsite backup
We met with representatives of Backblaze, an offsite backup program. We were impressed! The Backblaze client is native OS X software and the service is only $5 per month per Mac for unlimited data.
As you may know, we recommend that your important data exist in three places and one of those three should be offsite. Our data, for example, lives on our main Mac (place 1), our Time Machine backup (place 2) and offsite in a secure data center (place 3).
Backblaze encrypts your data, backs it up to their data center, and does it all automatically so that you don't have to think about it. At $5 a month (per Mac) for unlimited data, we think that's a steal.
Download the Backblaze software for a free 15-day trial
You can also read more about the importance of offsite backups at www.MacAtoZ.com/backblaze
A report from Macworld 2014
Several highlights from this year’s walk of the floor at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, California:
- olloclip’s new 4-in-1 camera lens for iPhone and iPod Touch. I’m not sure how useful the fisheye lens will be, but the wide-angle and macro lenses should make for some fascinating imagery. Eager to try it out more.
- Transporter Sync allows users to create their own private cloud. Attach a hard drive, sync your devices, and you have your own private version of DropBox with massive storage no annual fees.
- CrazyTalk 7 animates pictures to the words you speak, letting make realistic talking animals, cartoons, and so on. It demoed very well.
- Kanex was on hand with the standard compliment of high quality adapters and devices. I’ve used their ATV Pro and was impressed with the build quality. You may not need what they’re offering, but if you do, their stuff is excellent in my experience.
- My favorite iOS app of the Expo was undoubtedly Chore-inator. Designed for parents to remind and reward kids for doing their household chores, the $2.99 app syncs via DropBox to keep everybody—parents and kids—on the same page about what’s been done and what still needs doing.
- Flir’s FlirOne thermal sensor for iPhone looks useful, but I think the ~$350 price tag moves it out of the reach of most consumers. Can see it being a popular item for contractors, electricians, plumbers, though.
- Testing the proposition that people want to print from their iPad or iPhone (and are willing to pay $100 to do it) comes the Lantronix xPrintServer iOS. It looks great and was a “Best of Show” winner back in 2012, so I’ve no doubt that if printing from iPhone or iPad is something you want to do, xPrintServer iOS enable you to do it.
- BusyMac, makers of BusyCal (my favorite Mac calendaring app), announced BusyContacts at the show. It won’t be ready until later this year, but I’m already drooling. As a person with a fair number of contacts (around 1250), I have a love/hate relationship with Apple’s Contacts. It works okay, but could and should be so much better. BusyContacts appears to fulfill that promise, and I await it eagerly.
Overall, I had rather low expectations going into Macworld, but I’d say I was pleasantly surprised by the products, a number of which I purchased or will purchase once available.
A quick note about the Heartbleed bug
As you may have heard, there was an bug (charmingly named "Heartbleed") in some of the technology that secures communications on the Internet. While the bug was wide-spread, it wasn't on every machine, so only certain services and companies were impacted. Heartbleed is not a Mac or iOS bug.
As a home user, there is nothing you need to do unless you receive an email from a particular service (Yahoo, Gmail, Dropbox, etc.) stating otherwise. Then you'll likely need to go to that service and change your password there. This is simply a precautionary measure. There's no evidence that any machines or data were compromised.