Make us your home page

Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Apple releases iOS 8.1.3, which is no big deal — except …

… that it addresses two of the very small, very irritating things about iOS 8:Full Story

I want this

A Bluetooth keyboard that snaps apart to slip in your pocket? Yes, please!

Full Story

Laying out the problems with Apple's Family Sharing

I think I've written before about Family Sharing, Apple's solution for families that want to be able to share the stuff they buy in Apple's iTunes Store.

The idea is that family members shouldn't have to buy a song, movie, etc., if someone else in the household has already bought it. In the past, most families accomplished this by sharing one iTunes Store account — everyone in a family could access the same stuff, because everyone was buying stuff under the same name.

That was what my family used to do, and it did make sharing purchases dead simple. There are only four of us, only one of us uses more than one iThing (raising my hand, sheepishly) and we all pretty much want to watch and listen to the same stuff. The most awkward the arrangement usually ever became for us was when one or both of the kids were given iTunes Store gift cards. We'd load them onto our shared iTunes Store account, then we'd have to keep our own checkboook-style register so we knew who had how much left to spend.

Family Sharing arrived with iOS 8, probably because iOS 8 makes a stronger assumption that devices sharing the same account belong to the same person. Until we signed up for Family Sharing, I had a hard time convincing iOS that all of our devices didn't belong to my wife, for example.

But Family Sharing isn't without its shortcomings, and David Sparks described them eloquently in a New Year's Day blog post. He runs through several points in fine detail, but here are the ones I've run into in our family:Full Story

Apps that help you avoid sleeping at the airport

Just Landed's design is elegant both on your iPhone screen and under the hood.

Just Landed's design is elegant both on your iPhone screen and under the hood.

Even if you're staying home this holiday season, there's a good chance you're going to be asked to pick someone up at the airport. And there's a good chance that's not going to be as simple as it sounds.Full Story

Four ways Mac owners should keep them safe

Apple Inc.

So, here's another in what seems to have become a series of links aimed at fellow Apple users: MacUser has a great article up today titled, "The four Mac security options everyone should know."Full Story

How owners of older Macs can get iWork for free

Apple Inc.

I mentioned yesterday that most of the gadgets I've bought for myself (and my family) have been Apple products. As it turns out, I'm also a longtime subscriber to their online services, starting back when iTools was completely free. Remember iTools? It was what iCloud was before it was MobileMe before that was .Mac — we're talking 14 years ago, now.Full Story

How to help a stranger restore your faith in humanity

MacWorld has some good advice today for anyone who owns an iPhone, iPad or a MacBook — any easily lost Apple device.Full Story

On this day in 1968, a man stood on stage and predicted what your desk would look like today

SRI International (2005)

The first prototype of a computer mouse, as designed from Doug Engelbart's sketches.

SRI International (2005)

Computers in 1968 were big, clunky, expensive and rare. If your work day was typical, you probably never encountered one.

And yet on Dec. 9, 1968, Doug Engelbart stepped onto a stage in San Francisco and started a 90-minute presentation that imagined something that sounded a lot like 2014. Eerily like 2014, in fact.Full Story

Also, regarding Net neutrality:

This became another hot-button political issue yesterday when President Obama took a stand for it. If you need a quick (and very funny) explanation of what Net neutrality is and why it's important, The Oatmeal has one. You might remember Stephen Colbert's take on the issue back in January, too.

Full Story

You almost certainly don't need to worry about the latest Apple security scare

We ran a story in today's paper that probably scared some iPhone and Mac users. Hackers are targeting your iPhone, it said, essentially, tricking you into a security breach that could spill all your personal information out onto the Internet!

That's really not the case at all. Unless you've acted on your own to turn off security measures that Apple leaves on by default, you're as safe as you ever were. And even if you've taken that step, Apple has already pushed out updates to their affected products to make sure you know you're using software that can damage your system.

AppleInsider posted a great explanation of the security systems on iPhones and Macs, what they can do and how you can make sure they're working properly. It's worth reading, but most of the advice is simple and straightforward: Don't jailbreak your phone. Don't turn off security settings on your Mac. If you get a warning that you're about to install software from an untrusted developer, don't click or tap "Trust." You get the idea.

Full Story

I guess you can now hack your lawn, or something

Rachio, the company that markets a smartphone-enabled lawn sprinkler controller called the Iro, announced today that they've made updates that can cut your water use by up to 30 percent. Now get a load of's description:Full Story

Older iPhone owners: Whatever you do, don't follow this awful advice

Bay News 9

If you live in the Tampa Bay area, there's a decent chance your cable TV provider is Bright House. And if your cable TV provider is Bright House, there's a decent chance you spend some time watching Bay News 9. And if you spend a lot of time watching Bay News 9, there's a good chance you're familiar with Angie Moreschi's Consumer Wise segments.

They're usually pretty good. She did one recent installment on store credit cards that I thought was especially useful.

But today she offered some horrible advice to owners of older iPhones (donotlink URL).

The premise of her segment was that previous iPhone models always get slower just as a new model is announced. As scurrilious evidence of some nefarious plot by Apple, she pointed to a study published by a Harvard Ph.D. student comparing a fever chart of Google searches for "iPhone slow," which showed spikes coinciding with Apple's iPhone hardware release schedule, with a similar chart of Google searches for "Samsung Galaxy slow," which was missing similar spikes. …

Full Story

Is the government getting privacy backwards?


AppleInsider posted today about FBI director James Comey's complaints about encryption on Apple's new iPhone models, repeating his opinion that it allows users to "place themselves above the law."

First, I should say I'm not really on the angry privacy crusade I see from some folks. David Pogue's argument that privacy concerns are unlikely to change his behavior because most of what he does is just too boring really resonated with me. I'm certainly more boring than he is.

I think of the Internet as a giant public space, where not much of the shouting, listening or looking can ever be private. And if you're really worried about how to keep your public shouting private, you should probably be using a different technology entirely.

In other words, I don't have any expectations that I'll ever become a Sam Lowry.

But something about Comey's attitude bothers me. …

Full Story

How to check your Mac for 'iWorm' malware

A new piece of Mac malware discovered Monday might be affecting around 4,200 Macs in the United States, researchers report. Fortunately, there's an easy way to tell if you've been infected.

Go to the Finder, click the "Go" menu, then click "Go to Folder…". In the window that pops up, copy this path and paste it into the text area: /Library/Application Support/JavaW — then click the Go button. If you just get a beep and a message that the window can't be found, you should be okay.

(Thanks to The Safe Mac, via MacDailyNews.)

Full Story

Dan Ruth's take on the iPhone 6 Plus 'crisis'

Today's Dan Ruth column rants about the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus:

"Let's review. The nation's foremost producer of highly engineered communications devices spends hundreds of millions of dollars on a new thingy, which is supposed to be marginally better than its old thingy, and the entire project is put at risk and Apple's stock craters because gelatinous consumers wearing tight clothing can't pry the cockamamie widget into a pocket. Is it too late to bring back the Princess phone?"

Yes, Dan. Yes it is.

Full Story