The Shortcuts App for iOS

Dennis Crowley presented on Shortcuts for the iPhone and iPad at our February meeting.

Shortcuts is a new scripting tool for iOS. Although it has more potential than anything Apple has released recently, it is widely under appreciated. Many people have never heard of it.

Shortcuts lets you easily create and use your own scripts for commonly performed actions on iOS. You can also use many pre-existing scripts which are freely available.

Although Shortcuts is an Apple app, and is free, it may not be installed on your device by default. You can get it from the App Store.

Here are the slides from that talk. Note that many of the slides contain links to more information. The slides are shared in Apple Keynote format through iCloud.


June 2018 WWDC Notes

At this month’s meeting we are reviewing the announcements from Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference Keynote. As usual, MacMAD is providing links so that you don’t need to take notes in the meeting.

The announcements fell into three subject areas:

The Apple TV and Apple Watch (PDF)

iOS 12 – New system for the iPhone and iPad (Pages document) or (view as PDF)

MacOS Mojave – New system for the Macintosh (RTF Text Edit document)



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 Verifone 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.

Verifone 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!

Use Apple Pay at Gas Stations


I like the convenience of Apple Pay and have been looking for places that accept it. It seems like paying for gas at the pump with Apple Pay would be convenient and more secure than using your credit card directly.

Gas purchases are unlike other purchases because you normally have to present (scan) your card before pumping gas, and before the total value of the purchase is known.

There seem to be three levels of support for Apple Pay at service stations:

  1. Go Inside and Prepay ,”Preauthorize”, a maximum limit (BP, Kangaroo, CircleK, WaWa)
  2. Download an App that works with Apple Pay (Exxon-Mobile’s Speedpass+ App)
  3. Apple Pay works at the pump (requires new hardware at the pumps) (Texaco/Chevron)

Method 1 is  pretty useless. Any convenience factor is destroyed by having to go inside first. At BP, Discover actually rejected the transaction, but it went through on Visa. After pumping gas, I went back inside to get my receipt. The clerk was unable to print a final receipt. The only reason I would ever do this again is if my phone was the only method of payment I had with me.

When I heard about the Speedpass+ App in method 2, I was skeptical about needing an additional app, but it does have advantages. Since it doesn’t require any new hardware at the pump, it can roll out immediately to all Exxon Mobile stations. The App knows which station you are at via GPS. You tell it what pump you are at, and you can complete the transaction without holding your phone up to the pump. So, you can pay without getting out of your car, if you want to.

Method 3 is probably what you were expecting from a gas station that accepts Apple Pay at the pump. You hold your phone near the pump. Your phone and the pump talk to each other via NFC. Once you begin the transaction, you have 45 seconds to start pumping gas. Chevron/Texaco is leading the pack by rolling this out extensively.

Any method of using Apple Pay is more secure than swiping your card and will prevent your card number from being stolen by scanners on the pump, or by hacked or compromised pumps. This is because Apple Pay does not give the merchant your real credit card number, but rather a one-time credit card number valid for that transaction only.





Using AirPlay Disables Your Network Unless …

This is weird. I wanted to use AirPlay to send web pages and videos from my MacBook Air to my Apple TV. As soon as I did that, my network connection on the Mac failed completely. The AirPlay connection continued to work wirelessly. This was completely repeatable and reversable. AirPlay on — network down. AirPlay off — network works fine.

After a good bit of poking around in the Apple support forums I found that this only happens if… Bluetooth is enabled on the Mac. Disable Bluetooth, and maybe log out, and now AirPlay works without killing your network connectivity.

This kind of random weirdness is the exact opposite of the “It just works” that Apple fans hope for from Apple gear.

How To Replace Your PC

If you know a non-technical person who needs some straight-forward advice about getting a new computer or tablet, send them to .

The site’s recommendations are primarily intended to help home users avoid malware and security problems. There’s a good chance that one reason the old computer is being replaced is that it is infested with malware.

The site is run by Neil Hutton, whose day job is cleaning viruses off user’s machines. With this experience he unsurprisingly gives high marks for security to iOS and Macintosh, and Windows is in the “just put a target on your back” category.

No tech jargon here. This is a site you can send your mom to. Enjoy.

Smart Folders

I had to miss our February meeting at the last minute and would like to share what I had hoped to show the group. I found a nice little ditty about Smart Folders and how they could help me organize the new FCPX Libraries introduced in the 10.1 update. The usefulness of Smart Folders is dictated almost solely on the needs and imagination of the user.  And anyone who works with FCPX.1 knows how important  Libraries are to your workflow. They contain EVERYTHING needed for a given project. Of course Smart Folders don’t care what or how they organize so the lesson is easily transferrable to any other kind of data you may need to keep easily accessible. So with out further explanation, please go here to see the tutorial.

Why you Should Use BCC

Be kind, REMOVE my Email Address, use BCC when forwarding. Say NO to Spammers & computer viruses!

This cutsie graphic going around contains an important lesson. When you send an email to a group using TO or CC, everyone in the group can see everyone else’s email addresses. You might think, So what? We’re all friends.  Yes, but what about when your friend forwards the message on to a few dozen or a few hundred of his friends? Do you really want all of them to have your email address? If any one of those friends-of-friends is infected by a spambot — BINGO, you all start getting spam.

In case you think this is an unlikely problem, it happened to me this Christmas. I received a Merry Christmas email blast from someone I’ve never met, who lives thousands of miles away — a relative of a co-worker. The happy email was addressed to hundreds of people, and all of their email addresses were visible. Shortly after that, I started getting a LOT more spam.

Another reason to use BCC when emailing a group is to prevent an Unsubscribe Storm.  This starts when a large mailing gets some smart-ass, controversial, or off-topic responses. The responders use reply-all, so everyone can see their brilliance. This annoys people who are now getting a lot of messages they don’t want, so some of them also reply to all, saying “Take me off this list”.  At that point, nearly everyone wants off the list, and the volume of messages saying so becomes really alarming.

It sounds funny, but it can get really out of hand. I saw a case where a message like this had a large attachment. The resulting volume rendered heavy-duty corporate mail servers unusable for the rest of the day, and the mess took a while to clean up.

If BCC had been used, then reply-all would only reply to the sender, and no harm would be done.