Apple Pay at Disney and Beyond

If you go to Walt Disney World this summer,  I think you’ll find that all the credit card terminals there accept Apple Pay. At Epcot, I paid for a tee shirt with Apple Pay, and even for a coke from a refreshment stand. That saved me from ending up with a bunch of small change.

The San Angel Inn Restaurante in the Mexico pavillion at World Showcase also accepted Apple  Pay. I had already paid with a physical credit card when I saw the contactless payment logo. The waiter brought the portable terminal to the table European-style. He confirmed that they can accept Apple Pay. “It’s faster,  too.”

When you are in an unfamiliar store, you can get a pretty good idea of whether to try Apple Pay based on the credit card reader you see. If you see a Veriphone brand credit card reader, especially if it looks like this, it is very likely to accept Apple Pay. Recognize it by the slight hood over the keypad. Some merchants have these machines and the clerks don’t even know that Apple Pay will work until it happens.

Veriphone Reader Accepts Apple Pay

On the other hand, if you see Ingenico equipment, which is very common, Apple Pay will definitely not work at that terminal.

Happy shopping!

The Best Shared Shopping List App You Already Have!

I set out recently to find a shared iOS shopping list App to replace my family’s paper grocery shopping list. I had some pretty simple requirements:

  • Easy-to-use sharing between family members using different iCloud accounts
  • Ability to review the list in the store and mark items off
  • Ability to review and revive completed items (We’ve got milk this time, but we’ll need it again soon)

I spent some time in the App store looking at reviews and didn’t see anything I wanted to buy. Some otherwise useful apps had a bad reputation for crashing. Others were just too complex. Some needed a subscription and a sign-on for sharing to work. It’s just creepy that the vendor would be watching everything on your shopping list.

Eventually I found it. An app that was already on my phone that met all my requirements and didn’t need any additional sign-ups, plus you can use Siri to add items to the list by voice.

The app is:  Reminders — the humble Apple Reminders app that comes with iOS.

Here’s an overview from iMore on how to set Reminders up for sharing.

A couple of tips:

  • You can have more than one list.
  • Remember the name of your lists: “Shopping List” and “Grocery List” aren’t the same to Siri.
  • When you invite someone to share your list, they may have to sign on to iCloud on the web the first time to accept the invitation, but after that it can be strictly iPhone-to-iPhone.
  • Everyone invited has equal ability to add, delete and edit items on the list.
  • Tap at the bottom of the reminders App screen to see your other reminder lists.

Enjoy!

Meeting Topic: Apple’s Numbers Spreadsheet App

March 21, 2017 Meeting Topic Overview: Numbers

by Jamie Cox

The current version of Numbers as of March 2017 is 4.0.5.

There are three ways to run Numbers:

  • On the Macintosh
  • On iOS (iPhone or iPad)
  • From a Web Browser on iCloud

 How to Get Numbers

Numbers probably came with your Mac or iOS device, or get Numbers via the Mac App Store ($19.99), or get Numbers  via the iTunes App Store ($9.99).

Competition / Alternatives to  Numbers

Controversy Since iWork ’09

When the new version of Numbers for the Mac came out some features were dropped. Most of them have not been added back in. Reviews of the apps have been definitely mixed. Numbers only gets a 3-star rating on the App store (both versions).

3 stars

Ratings for Numbers on the Mac App Store

Two-and-a-half to three stars is a pretty terrible rating, especially for an Apple app. As you can see, the ratings are very mixed with most reviewers giving either one star or five-star ratings. The ratings for the iOS version are very similar.

Guide to Star Ratings

The one-star reviews are mostly from people upset about advanced features removed from the previous version. The five-star reviews tend to be from people who have come to the application fresh, with no special expectations.

Numbers includes hundreds of distinct features. The chart below highlights just a few of my favorite features as compared with Microsoft Excel.

Comparison of Features Between Numbers and Microsoft Excel

Documents, Sheets and Tables

Numbers documents can have multiple sheets. Each sheet can have multiple tables. When you create a new Numbers document, it has one sheet with one table on that sheet.

If you have used Excel, having multiple sheets should be familiar. The main difference is that the sheets appear at the top of the window instead of at the bottom.

The concept of having multiple tables on a single sheet may be new to users of older spreadsheet programs. It is a very nice feature, which allows you to separate groups of data or  formulas which are of different types instead of lumping them all into the same grid of rows and columns. You can arrange the tables on the page however you like.

This document has two sheets. Sheet 1 has two tables.

 

Formatting Controls

Table Style Controls

Numbers uses a consistent set of formatting controls very similar to those in the Pages word  processor we discussed last month. These are presented  in a pane on the right hand side of the window. These controls look simple, but all together, they have a lot of power. In addition to the pre-defined Table and Text styles, you can create and save your own preferred styles.

Formula Editing

Type an equals sign to enter formula editing mode for a cell. Color coding appears showing the source cells used in your formula. This  makes it easier to understand if your formula is correct or to see the source  of errors.

When you copy or fill a formula into additional cells, Numbers automatically adjusts cell references relative to the current cell. If you want to override that to select an absolute row,  absolute  column, or absolute cell, you can use the Preserve Row/Preserve Column options.

The Numbers Formula Editor

Importing Files From Excel

A common task in Numbers would be to open an Excel document created by someone else. This can work fairly well, but is not completely painless.

Original Excel Template on left, Numbers Import on right

This imported okay, and the amortization calculations agreed, but the date formulas were not imported correctly and would have to be re-done in numbers.

Large Files

One of our members asked how Numbers was at handling large files imported from Excel. To test this I created a large spreadsheet in Excel with 40,000 rows and about 14 columns. The file size in Excel was 3.7 Megabytes. Numbers opened it without complaint, but it took about 30 seconds. When saved as a native Numbers document, its size increased to 6.3 Mbytes, but the native document opened in Numbers in about five seconds.

Although I didn’t get any warnings in Numbers, I did get one “Not enough memory” message in Excel while cutting, pasting and filling to create the document. Excel handled it gracefully without crashing.

iOS Numbers App

The Numbers app on iOS is deliberately very similar to the version for  Macintosh.

Numbers App on iPhone

FYI, Excel also has an iOS app which is free in the App store. It looks like this:

Excel on the iPhone

The Excel app is apparently read-only until you register for and log in to a Microsoft Office 365 account.

 Conclusion

If you want a spreadsheet program to perform the usual tasks of calculation, sorting and organizing, and you don’t have much prior experience with spreadsheets,  you will find Numbers a very useful application. It’s especially easy to learn because of consistent controls across Mac and iOS versions and consistency with Pages and Keynote.

If you know what a pivot table is, or have a lot of spreadsheets already in Excel format, you may be dissatisfied with the limitations of Numbers.

 

Meeting Topic: Apple’s Pages Word Processor

Feb 21, 2017 Meeting Topic Overview: Pages

by Jamie Cox

“Expect a lot from software and you’ll usually get  it.”                  – Eric Newman, MacMAD President emeritus

In Feb 2017, the current version of Pages for Mac is 6.0.5. For iOS it is version 3.0.5. 

There are three ways to run Pages:

  • On the Macintosh
  • On an iPhone or iPad
  • From a Web Browser on iCloud

 Pages Running on the Mac

Pages Running on the iPhone

Pages  Running in a Browser from iCloud.com


How to Get Pages

Pages probably came with your Mac or iOS device, or get Pages via the Mac App Store ($19.99), or get Pages via the iTunes App Store ($9.99).

Competition / Alternatives to  Pages

  • TextEdit – came with your Mac; Open Source; For simple tasks, it does more than you think
  • Microsoft Word (Office) – For giant documents and giant companies (Now with iOS version)
  • Open Office – Free and Open Source Office suite
  • NeoOffice – Commercialized version of Open Office customized for the Mac
  • GoogleDocs – Cloud-based, free

 

What Pages Does

Although Pages has a deceptively clean and simple design, it does a lot of things you might have expected to need separate applications for. Pages includes these functions:

  • Word Processing (obviously)
  • Page Layout
  • Spreadsheet
  • Charting
  • Photo Editing
  • Publishing
  • Collaboration Software

Integration with iCloud

Work on your document from all your devices.

Pages Has Two Document Types

All Pages documents are either:

  • Word Processing Documents, or
  • Page Layout Documents (have no body)

Word Processing documents have body text which is a continuous flow of text within the document. It may flow around images, tables, etc.

Page Layout documents have no body. All text in a page layout document exists as part of  something else: a text box, a shape, or a table.

Consistent Text Operations

Text can exist in:

  • The document body,
  • Text boxes
  • Shapes,
  • Tables,
  • The header and footer

All are treated consistently as far as styles and formatting.

Shapes and Images

  • Wrap
  • Align
  • Resize
  • Rotate
  • Shapes can have text with the  usual attributes
  • Images can not have text
  • Shapes have adjustable opacity
  • Images have opacity and Instant Alpha
  • Opacity is the opposite of transparency
  • Alpha is just selective transparency – pixel-by-pixel

Import and Export

Import Microsoft Word Format

Export Your Document As:

  • PDF
  • ePub – for eBook readers like Kindle and iBook
  • Microsoft Word
  • Pages ’09 – For users of older versions of Pages

Learn More

http://www.apple.com/pages/

Pages 101 Tutorial Video with David A Cox (YouTube) (no relation)

 

 

Brighthouse ISP Changes to Spectrum

[Bright House Networks, now Spectrum, is the near-monopoly provider of “high-speed” internet in the Brevard County, Florida area. This article may or may not apply for other regions or providers.]

If Brighthouse was your Internet Service Provider (ISP) you have probably heard that they are changing identities to Spectrum. Here is what I know about the change that may affect our members in the Brevard County area.

  • Brighthouse’s “Lightning” internet service (50 Mbps) is now the default Spectrum service, and the speed has been bumped to 60 Mbps (Megabits per second)
  • For customers subscribing to internet only (no bundled TV or phone, etc.), Lightning service formerly cost $74 per month. The new 60 Mbps service is priced at $59.99. (January 2017)
  • If you subscribed to a lower speed, it looks like your price went up from $54, but your speed also went up. A lot.
  • If you already had a cable modem capable of the new speed, you do not need to get a new modem.
  • You do not need to subscribe to Spectrum’s $5/month WiFi if you already have your own WiFi router.

If you are paying the old, higher, price for Lightning, you need to call Spectrum and ask in order to get the new lower rate. They will really push their TV bundles and other options. Make sure you know what services you actually want to buy before calling.

When we called to get the new rate, they said okay, but you have to get a new modem, but there’s no charge for the modem, and they will come out and install it for free. I had purchased  my own cable modem previously, but we agreed to the new one.

So sure enough, a tech comes out and hooks up the new modem. The thing is enormous!

SB 6141 (White) vs. the Huge, Black, Spectrum-provided Wi-Fi modem

The white modem is the one I bought, which works up to 100 Mbps. The big black one is about three times the size. I had to build a shelf for it in my closet. It doesn’t mount on the wall.

Next, we find out that in addition to the agreed rate for internet service, Spectrum is now charging us $5/month for WiFi, which is provided by the black behemoth. That was a surprise, and we called back and insisted that we didn’t want to buy their WiFi service. Spectrum says okay, but you have to return our modem. I had come extremely close to selling my own modem on eBay, but I still had it.

I think Spectrum would have sent someone out to pick it up, but my wife took it to the office in person. There was a big, slow line at the customer service desk.

At least some of those people said they were cancelling their service, probably due to price increases on their service(s).  The good news is that someone poked their head out and asked if anyone was simply returning equipment. They went ahead and processed those quickly. If you do take something back to Specturm, be sure to get and keep a receipt for it.

Spectrum told a friend that Spectrum had unnecessarily installed a lot of modems because they had been mis-trained for the transition from Brighthouse. That’s believable, but I could also believe that they just wanted to upsell customers to their WiFi service and that they lied by omission to get it onto customer’s monthly bills.

 

 

 

Basic iPhone Gestures

I’ve met several people who say they just want to use Facebook or email, but are having problems using their iPhone. They are often surprised by the results of their actions, and sometimes flail away at the screen in frustration.

Trying to use Apps on the iPhone (or iPad) without understanding the basic gestures is like hopping in a car, wanting to drive across town, without being quite sure what those pedals on the floor do.

Here’s a quick rundown of the iPhone controls and what to expect from them. I’ve seperated gestures you make on the touch screen from operations involving the power button, the home button and the whole phone. Many of the functions I have indicated below can be customized in Settings, but these are the default actions. Gestures may have special meaning within certain Apps, but these are the most common usages.

Starting at the very beginning, here’s how  to use the power button, located on the upper right side of your phone. Holding the power button for 3 seconds brings up the Slide to Power Off screen. If your phone is powered down,  you will need to hold the power button for a few seconds until you see the Apple logo and the phone begins powering on.

Here’s  what you can do with the Home Button at the bottom center of the iPhone/iPad. Touch ID is only available in the iPhone 5s and newer. For a click, press hard. For a tap, just touch it lightly. Only a light touch is needed for the fingerprint sensor.  If anybody knows some function that requires only a single tap of the home button, please  leave me a comment.

There are a few things you can do with your whole phone, without pushing any buttons. When you phone is asleep, lifting it to a vertical position momentarily turns on the screen so you can see the time, date and notifications.

Here are the gestures for the iPhone touch screen. These are the most commonly used and the area where people have the most trouble. In particular, the iPhone is very sensitive to any sideways or vertical motion of your finger when you touch the screen. If it notices any motion, your gesture is interpreted as a swipe instead of a tap. Tapping is probably the most common gesture, so it’s important to master it. When tapping make sure you move your finger up and down only, without sliding it sideways at all.

One of the most common problems with the touch screen is unintended actions. The screen is very sensitive to the slightest touch. In fact, it will sometimes sense a touch if your finger is just near the screen. So, keep all your fingers away from the screen until you actually want to do something.

Remove your finger promptly when tapping or you will get a Press & Hold. If you want to use Press & Hold, you don’t have to press hard, just rest your finger — again, no sliding. This is probably most useful to open the sharing menu for a photo.

These are special, iPad-only gestures:

For a device with such an easy-to-use reputation, this is a pretty big list. But, make sure you understand these and you will have a much easier time using your device.

Unsolicited Testimonials

Here are some of the unsolicited rave reviews the MacMAD blog has received just in the last few days.

Thank you for publishing this awesome article.
I’m a long time reader but I’ve never been compelled to
leave a comment. I subscribed to your blog and shared this on my Facebook.
Thanks again for this great post!

Excellent weblog right here! Also your website quite a bit up
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host? I desire my website loaded up as quickly as yours
lol

I couldn’t resist commenting. Well written!

Fabulous piece of writing! Genuinely savored often the examining. I hope to study significantly more away from you. In my opinion you may have amazing information and even imaginative and prescient vision. I’m greatly fascinated this particular answers.

Thanks for posting this awesome article. I’m a long time reader but I’ve never been compelled to
leave a comment. I subscribed to your blog and shared this on my
Twitter. Thanks again for a great article!

You may notice a pattern here. The authors are apparently not all fluent English speakers. Also, the comments are all perfectly generic. They don’t mention the content of the articles at all and may seem weirdly inappropriate to the content.  (The “prescient vision” comment was on the rather mundane article How to Turn on an iMac.) Some of the comments use language almost identical to other comments. And, of course, they are all highly complimentary.

These are all examples of blog spam filtered out by Akismet recently. The senders hope that bloggers will be flattered and allow these comments on their site. The usernames or homepage links invariably refer to some shady source of Viagra, cheap watches, etc.

I really don’t know why the spammers bother. I would think that surely, all WordPress sites have installed Akismet by now. If you didn’t filter this stuff out, your blog would turn into a gigantic spammy link farm within days.

 

Twenty Years Ago – 1996 Mac Setup

I just found this photo of my computer desk from 1996.

Computer Equipment on Desk

Laserwriter, Power Mac 7200, Modem, Optical Drive & Heavy CRT.

Here’s my reasonably well-equipped computer setup from 1996. From left to right:

  • The miracle piano. My wife was using that. It connected to the Mac via MIDI. I don’t know of a modern piano teaching system comprable to it
  • Apple LaserWriter NT printer. Apple’s last LaserWriter came out in 1996. My new printer is about the same size and speed. It’s  cheaper, more reliable, and has WiFi, though.
  • A microphone. That was a rarely used accessory. Who knows what was going on that day.
  • Yellow Touch-Tone desk phone
  • 9600 baud modem
  • Removable media optical drive — I think 100 Mbyte capacity
  • Power Macintosh 7200 – 90 MHz Power PC 601, 500 MB hard drive, CD-ROM, floppy drive
  • A big, heavy CRT – probably a Bill Bernett after-the-meeting special
  • A joystick, probably for the game F/A-18 Hornet
  • Blue mousepad. Hey, I still have that mousepad. I should probably get a new one occasionally
  • Another telephone, Model 500 black dial phone. This phone stayed in use longer than the yellow one. It was still working when my landline was disconnected entirely about 2015.

 

 

Fight Calendar Spam

Recently, I have been receiving mysterious spam calendar invitations like the one below. You may have received them also.

fullsizeoutput_6b35I never saw a corresponding email. Even worse, the only options are accept or decline. Either one sends a message back to the spammer, confirming my email address! This junk is coming through your iCloud account. Here are instructions for preventing this type of spam from The Dangling Pointer blog.  

Since this is associated with your iCloud calendar, it affects both iOS and Macintosh.

They probably didn’t get your email address from anywhere. It appears they are trying big lists of likely email addresses @icloud.com.