December 2019 Newsletter
Adblocking on Safari 13
In short, it's not as easy as it once was. Our current go-to recommendation is AdGuard for Safari
. In part, that's because previous adblockers no longer work like they did in Safari 12 for Mac.
If you don't mind paying $10, 1Blocker
works for Mac, iPad, and iPhone and shares rules between the platforms so blocking something once on, say, your iPhone, should mean you don't have to block it again on your Mac. Note that the current 1Blocker Mac version only supports macOS 10.15 Catalina (which we do not currently recommend), so in the short-term 1Blocker is really only a solution for iPhone and iPad.
Overall, our favorite Ad Blocker is uBlock Origin
, but it no longer runs on Safari 13. If you want to use it, we can certainly recommend the Firefox web browser
which has as strong a commitment to privacy and security as Apple. Add Privacy Badger
, an extension from EFF
that blocks trackers, and you're in a good place from a privacy perspective. (Privacy Badger won't work with Safari 13 but there's an argument to be made that Apple's built-in Intelligent Tracking Prevention provides the same functionality.)
What we can't recommend on the basis privacy is, of course, Google's Chrome. For now you can run uBlock Origin on Chrome, but again you'll want to couple it with Privacy Badger, and there's no telling when Google will decide that these extension are too burdensome for their "we're selling your information" business model.
Sentinel Monitoring updates
Some people like to hear what we're doing with Sentinel Monitoring. They like to dig into the nitty gritty of it all and be informed what's up. Others will want to skip this whole article. We'll understand either way.
The current version of Sentinel Monitoring is 188.8.131.52. Because we update Monitoring automatically, you don't really need to check to see which version you have, but if you wanted to, go to System Preferences > MacAtoZ Monitoring and look in the bottom right corner of the screen. You'll see the Sentinel Monitoring version there.
Going back to September 2018, we released version 6.6.5 which added Mojave Support, a fully native SMART utility (to check for disk errors), improved reporting speed, and of course, a whole bunch of malware definitions (so we can detect the bad stuff).
Version 184.108.40.206 which we released in December of 2018 added more malware definitions (because the bad guys don't stop) and improved Time Machine reporting.
Version 6.6.8 came in July. It offered, you guessed it, more malware definitions, improved malware reporting, updated SMART Utilities for newer drives, and assorted bug fixes.
Our latest version, 220.127.116.11, added—you won't believe it—more malware definitions and basic compatibility with macOS 10.15 Catalina. Catalina makes hash out of a lot things, and Monitoring is included in that. We've got three bugs—none of them show stopping—when Sentinel Monitoring runs under Catalina. We'll get two of them fixed, but one of them is up to Apple.
In Catalina, Apple has included the ~/Library/Safari folder as data covered by the Privacy Preferences Control Policy. What that means to us is that Monitoring can't look at the Safari extensions anymore, so if malware comes in that way, we have no way to see it. We're searching for a way around this, but as I say, unless Apple is willing to play ball (hahaha—unlikely), we will just have to reply on Apple's own security tools to weed out and detect malware that comes in through Safari.
Want to keep images out of Photos?
Most Mac users rely on iPhones and iPads to take photos and store them in the Photos app, which happens automatically for those who use Apple’s iCloud Photos syncing service. But what if you want to import photos from a device other than an iPhone or iPad—say a Samsung smartphone running Android—and what if you don’t want those images in Photos?
Turn to Apple’s Image Capture app, which has shipped with macOS for ages and is stored in your Applications folder’s Utilities folder.
To use it, connect your device to your Mac via USB, launch Image Capture, and click the device in the sidebar. Choose a destination from the Import To pop-up menu, and then either select some photos and click Import or click the Import All button to get everything.
Creating an iPhone Medical ID
Accidents are all too common, and while no one plans to be in one, you can prepare for the eventuality. If you end up in a state where you can’t speak with emergency responders or are too shaken up to share your details clearly, your iPhone can provide them with essential medical information. Emergency responders are trained to know how to access these details.
Apple makes this possible via the Medical ID feature of the Health app, which you can use to record medical data and emergency contact information (this is sometimes referred to as “ICE information,” where ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency”). Once you’ve entered all this information, emergency responders can use your iPhone to learn about your medication allergies and other conditions, plus contact your family. This data could also help a Good Samaritan return a lost iPhone. (Unfortunately, the Health app isn’t available on the iPad.)
To set up or edit your Medical ID, follow these steps (in iOS 13; they’re slightly different in earlier versions of iOS):
- Open the Health app and tap the Summary tab at the bottom.
- Tap your profile picture in the upper-right corner.
- Under Medical Details, tap Medical ID.
- Tap Edit in the upper-right corner.
- Make sure the Show When Locked switch is on.
- Enter all the relevant details about your medical conditions, medications, allergies, and so on.
- Specify one or more emergency contacts. These must be people in the Contacts app with phone numbers; if the right people aren’t there, add them first. You can’t select your own card in Contacts, so consider making one for a fake person called “If Lost, Please Call” and listing a different phone number at which you can be reached.
- Tap Done.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to use someone else’s Medical ID information, but you should know how to do so. You should also teach family, friends, and colleagues how to find and use this information. Should you come across a bicyclist who has had a bad crash or a similar situation, follow these steps:
- With a locked iPhone that uses Touch ID, press the Home button to display the Passcode screen. For iPhones with Face ID, press the side button and swipe up from the bottom.
- On the Passcode screen, tap Emergency in the bottom-left corner to move to the Emergency screen. If needed, call 911 from this screen by tapping Emergency Call.
- Again at the bottom left, tap Medical ID to display the Medical ID screen, complete with all the details that person entered into the Health app.
- From that screen, you can share the information with EMTs or other first responders so they’re aware of any serious conditions or allergies that would affect treatment. You can also call any emergency contacts listed by tapping their numbers.
Please, enter your medical and emergency contact details into the Health app right now, and spread the word to everyone you know. It could save your life, or help you save someone else’s!
MacAtoZ year in review and holiday closure
MacAtoZ will be closed for the holidays from December 23 through January 3. The plan is to, once again, celebrate with our families and eat too much. We are confident in our abilities here.
We will continue to monitor Macs for Sentinel/+ clients, and alert folks if necessary. We'll also be available for emergency remote support, though only for existing Sentinel/+ clients.
We are so grateful for the opportunity to serve you. Whatever travails we've encountered during 2019—and some were considerable—we return to a place of gratitude.
In January, Stephanie Meagher, our rockstar Office Operations Manager, left us for a fiancee—she is now Stephanie Meagher Simpson—and career in human resources up in Portland. Our long-time superhero in the administrative arena, Brittany Stenger, returned to save the day. That we were able to keep things humming is a testament to her talent.
We lost Ty's mom to congestive heart failure in early March, and Dynee's younger brother to an accident in mid-November. Work, time, and friendship are balms of different sorts. Our journey through these events has been made easier because of family, friends, colleagues, and, frankly, clients. We are so lucky to work with the people we do. Truly, our burdens are lightened because we work with people like you.
We presented numerous times at the Salem Macintosh Users Group this year. Topics ranged from new Apple operating systems and products to Apple Pay & Wallet. We're scheduled to present at the January 2020 meeting and will undoubtedly do more. If you're in Salem, and want to learn about Apple stuff, there's no better group. The newsletter sidebar has details.
Dynee expanded on her title of Network Specialist. She'd been CISCO certified, of course, but has now become an expert it Ubiquiti (including AmplFi), eero, and more. Presently, she's learning RedHat Linux and PfSense so she can dig into servers and firewalls. This is all important, because keeping stuff secure is about the network, too.
Speaking of security, malware (and associated scams) continued to be a big issue in 2019. Happily, Sentinel Monitoring detected and Sentinel Maintenance removed most of these. (In instances where new stuff appeared before Sentinel could be updated for it, we did some free remote support sessions to take care of the problem.) The number one thing you can do: Run a secure operating system on your Apple devices. Our Software and Hardware recommendations (see below) are predicated on this fact. Running a secure operating system helps us to help you.
In closing, we reiterate our thanks for our clients. Our mission statements says, "We help people with Apple technology." We've always said that if you want to take off the last three words and leave it at "we help people" you can. But we can only help those who want assistance and who will trust us to provide time and expertise. For our clients, we treasure the relationships they allowed us to forge with them, and look with renewed hope to serving them in 2020.
macOS 10.14.6 Mojave
. macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra is acceptable. Earlier versions should be upgraded ASAP. You can see your Mac's operating system version by going to the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and choosing "About This Mac." Don't even think about macOS 10.15 Catalina yet.
iOS 12.4.1 (or 12.4.2 for some models) acceptable. Any device that can run iOS 11 should be upgraded to 12.4.2 or 13.2.2. You can see your iPhone or iPad's operating system version by going to Settings > General > About > Version.
iPadOS 12.4.1 (12.4.2 for some models) also acceptable.
. Older versions of WatchOS acceptable if necessary; upgrade if your devices (iPhone and Apple Watch) support it. You can see your Apple Watch's operating system version by going to Settings > General > About > Version.
. tvOS 12 also acceptable. Note that earlier models of Apple TV do not run tvOS and are fine for what they do. You can see if there's a software update available for your Apple TV by going to Settings > System > Software Updates > Update Software.
- iMac: iMac10,1 (Late 2009) or newer
- Mac mini: Macmini4,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
- Mac Pro: MacPro5,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
- MacBook: MacBook6,1 (Late 2009) or newer
- MacBook Air: MacBookAir3,1 (Late 2010) or newer
- MacBook Pro: MacBookPro7,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
- Note that 2016-2019 MacBook Pro models have a higher than usual keyboard failure rate. Used 2015 models, which use a different style keyboard, may be a more reliable option. The new 2019 MacBook Pro 16" model uses a new keyboard mechanism and should be fine.
These are minimum
hardware recommendations based on what is necessary to run a secure operating system (macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra).
The following are the macOS 10.14 Mojave/10.15 Catalina system requirements. If your Mac does not meet these specifications, it will need to be replaced by fall of 2020, when High Sierra will no longer be secure.
macOS 10.14 Mojave/10.15 Catalina system requirements
- MacBook (Early 2015 or later)
- MacBook Air (Mid-2012 or later)
- MacBook Pro (Mid-2012 or later)
- Mac mini (Late 2012 or later)
- iMac (Late 2012 or later)
- iMac Pro (all models)
- Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer)
macOS 10.15 Catalina was released in October 2019 and has the same system requirements as Mojave.
iPhone and iPad
- iPhone 6S or newer. Older iPhones cannot run iOS 13.
- iPhone 7 models have a higher than normal failure rate over time. Given the choice, we would recommend iPhone 8 models as a strong alternative to iPhone 7 models.
- iPad Air 2 or newer will be needed for the new iPadOS coming this fall
- iPad mini 4 or newer will be needed for the new iPadOS coming this fall
- iPad Pro (all models)
- iPad 5th generation or newer
The iPad line is made confusing by the multitude of model names and types (Air, mini, Pro, and just plain iPad). Generally speaking, devices introduced in October 2014 and later will run iPadOS. iPads that will not run iPadOS and should be replaced unless they will not be used on the internet.
- Apple Watch Series 5 is highly recommended.
- All versions are secure and acceptable though Apple Watch Series 0 will not run the latest version of WatchOS and therefore lacks both the speed and features of later Apple Watches.
- Apple TV 4K is recommended. Apple TV (4th generation) is fine as well.
- Older models of Apple TV do not support tvOS and cannot run Apple TV Store apps, though we are unaware of any major security issues.