mSecure Password Manager

Here is a tip for possible consideration and FYI.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I use the app, mSecure (https://www.msecure.com/), to securely store my passwords. Whenever I add or make three changes to mSecure it asks if I’d like to send an encrypted email to myself of all my passwords so I’d have another record of these changes. Of course I do this.

What I didn’t think about doing previously was saving this encrypted password file to my Dropbox account, and I just did it. Now, I’ve saved my passwords to the ‘cloud’ as well as storing them in my mSecure app — which is on my iPhone, iPad and Mac. If my Dropbox account should ever get hacked, no one could get into my password file as it is securely encrypted, and would self-destruct after three failed password tries.

Yes, I realize this is really a “belt and suspenders” approach to password security. But it’s free and easy to do, so why not do it?

Jim Hamm

Dropbox Security

I have commented previously about how much I use and appreciate the convenience of using Dropbox to store documents and easily sync between devices. And I’ve also mentioned that I don’t store any sensitive data there, such as passwords. But this brings up the question: how secure is Dropbox? Read the following two articles and a short video:

Is Dropbox Safe to Use? How Dropbox Works to Secure Your Files Online

6 Ways To Secure Your Dropbox Account

The video discusses using an encryption app — such as BoxCryptor (https://www.boxcryptor.com/en/boxcryptor) — to encrypt one’s passwords or sensitive data before sending it to the ‘cloud’. Here’s another approach I’m going to use: I already have an encrypted file of my passwords from my mSecure app. I’ll just send a copy of this file to my Dropbox account for storage. Let’s say, as an example, that my Dropbox account gets hacked, or Dropbox gets a court order to open my account. This they would do, but Dropbox doesn’t have access to my mSecure file so it couldn’t be opened by Dropbox or the hacker or the government.

If you should have an encrypted file from another Password Managers, I should think this would work, also. Easy to do, and yet another way to use the ‘cloud’ securely.

Jim Hamm

PMUG: Computer won’t boot up?

It is inevitable that someday the internal hard drive will develop an anomaly and fail to boot up. This happened to me yesterday. The internal drive on my MacBook Pro is a Solid State Drive – the original from Apple.

The first line of defense is to hold down the Command and R keys together when powering up the computer. This boots the computer into the Recovery mode.

Once in Recovery mode, click on Disk Utility in the window that shows up on the display. In Disk Utility, select the internal hard drive in the left column and then click on First Aid in the Tool bar. Then reboot.

Well, this didn’t fix my problem. And if it doesn’t fix yours, then the next step is to re-install the OS. This is done without losing any of your data. And again you have to boot up into the Recovery mode.

After I re-installed the OS, my computer still would not boot up. And if a re-install doesn’t fix your problem, the next step is to wipe the internal hard drive clean and re-install the OS from scratch.

To wipe the computer clean, boot up into the Recovery mode and again select Disk Utility. In Disk Utility, select your internal drive and then click on Erase in the Tool bar. There goes all your data and applications!

After erasing the internal drive, you now select to re-install the OS.

After the OS has been installed you need to reboot your computer. Thankfully, this time my computer did boot up. But now I was faced with a decision. Do I just pretend I have a new computer and start everything from scratch or do I attempt to recover everything from the Time Machine backup that I had been meticulously keeping? I decided to recover from the Time Machine backup. If you have not been keeping an up-to-date Time Machine backup, your only option is to start from scratch. Sorry.

Following the instructions given me on the screen after booting up my computer, I selected to restore from a Time Machine backup. The good news is that the computer was restored and it now reboots normally – and nothing was lost! Even better news is that an annoying problem I had with Mail is now gone.

So now I have to consider that there just might be something lurking in my internal drive that will someday again cause the computer to misbehave. I’m prepared to replace the 500GB SSD with a 1TB SSD should that happen again.

John R Carter Sr

Battle of the Browsers

If you’re just browsing the net, and have the time and interest in reading another article comparing browsers, read here.

I read the article, but it didn’t give me any reason to switch from my favorite browser — Chrome. I really appreciate and like the many features and extensions available on Chrome (running Flash in a Sandbox is a good one), but I suspect it may use the most memory when it’s running. The article didn’t discuss that aspect of browsers.

One browser that I’ll keep my eye on is Opera, when it is available with a built-in VPN. This could be handy to use when one is traveling and using public wifi. Right now it is still being tested in developer mode. Article here.

Jim Hamm

What Does iTunes Make You Agree to before Use?

David Passell offers this amusing bit of information about the Apple EULA:

The user agreement for iTunes includes a clause promising not to use Apple
products to build nuclear weapons.
Admit it: you never read the fine print when installing software. That
became amusingly evident back in 2008 when an astute user discovered that
in the End-User License Agreement (known as the EULA) for iTunes, Apple
prohibits the use of its products in “the development, design,
manufacture or production” of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

PMUG: Give Apple Feedback

Do you have a suggestion for Apple about any of their products? It is easy to do. Just go online at http://www.apple.com/feedback/ and select the product that you want to give feedback on.

I’m less than satisfied with how Photos synchronizes across devices, so I gave them an earful. In fact, I submitted three different posts.

Each post had to be submitted separately because they have a limit on how many characters can be entered in a single post. My suggestion, and this was also suggested by the Apple tech support I talked to, is that every member in PMUG post these complaints. The more complaints they get, the more likely they are to make a change.

Problem 1. Reported as a Photos feedback.
When using My Photo Stream to transfer new photos from iPhone/iPad to the Mac, I can edit or delete the photos that then show up on the Mac, and I can import the photo from the photo stream to the Mac’s library.

When using My Photo Stream to transfer new photos from the Mac to an iPhone or iPad, I cannot delete the photo although I can duplicate the photo to edit the photo. This is NOT GOOD! In addition, photos transferred to an iPad from an iPhone – or vice-versa – the photo on the destination cannot be deleted. This is NOT GOOD!

I need to have full control of all photos on all devices no matter how they are transferred or sync’d.

Problem 2. Reported as a Photos feedback.
In order to have full control of all photos on all devices, I have to use AirDrop to do the transfer. This means turning OFF My Photo Stream on all devices and never using iTunes to sync photos from the Mac to a mobile device.

The problem with not using iTunes is that albums are not created on the mobile device. But if I use iTunes, then I can’t delete a photo that goes to the mobile device without deleting it from the Mac and then sync’ing again. Nor can I edit the photo on the mobile device without creating a duplicate. This is NOT GOOD!

I need to be able to transfer albums as well as album content using AirDrop, because AirDrop is the only way I can have full control of all my photos on mobile devices.

Problem 3. Reported as an iPhone feedback.
When importing photos into the system Photos library on the Mac I am given the option to import only new photos or to select just those photos that I want. This is good.

When transferring photos from the Mac to a mobile device using iTunes, it appears to be an all-or-nothing selection — I can select individual albums or faces, etc., but not individual photos. This is NOT GOOD!

I need to be able to transfer selected photos or albums or events from the Mac to a mobile device or vice-versa WITHOUT USING ITUNES! iTunes is broken because it does not allow me to delete a photo in iOS, and I have to create a duplicate in iOS in order to edit the photo there.

John R Carter Sr

Google Drive for the Mac

How would you like to have available 15 GB of free ‘Cloud’ storage on your Mac? If that might be of interest, here is an article with more information on Google Drive.

Of course, you’re probably already using Apple’s iCloud, which provides 5 GB of free ‘Cloud’ storage. If you haven’t installed the app yet, here is an article on how to set iCloud up.

Now, perhaps you, like me, may be a bit confused as to the difference between Apple’s iCloud and iCloud Drive. Here and here are two articles you might read for a better understanding between the two.

And, of course, you have Time Machine for backups — and you’re using it, aren’t you? And, to be really safe, you could do a complete image, bootable, backup of your hard drive, using an app such as SuperDuper (info here). You download all the items on your computer’s hard drive onto an external hard drive. I have used SuperDuper for years but, fortunately, have never had to use it. This is somewhat akin, I suppose, to buying a Life Insurance policy and hope you never use it.

The above will give you some food for thought on places where to safely store your computer “stuff”.

Jim Hamm

mSecure Password Manager

If you keep your passwords secure on a Password Manager — and you should, I think — here is a suggestion for your consideration. My wife and I both use the same Password Manager: mSecure. (https://www.msecure.com/). The app can be purchased from Apple’s App Store as well as the website.

We both have the app on our Macs as well as our iPhones, and are able to easily sync between devices. We both use the same password, so if one should pass before the other (which is most likely), then the remaining spouse would have access to passwords for bank accounts, etc. I shudder to think what it would be like for a remaining spouse to try and figure out passwords to get into bank accounts, etc. What a mess that would be.

We happen to like the features of mSecure, but there are other Password Managers one can consider. But, if you have a spouse (or even if you don’t), I highly recommend your getting and using a Password Manager — and both spouses use the same password. If single, perhaps leaving your password with a sibling or your beneficiary.

As I said, just a thought for your consideration.

Jim Hamm

Avira AV for the Mac

For years I used the free Avast AntiVirus program on my Mac (and PCs as well), and was pleased with its performance. Recently, however, the free version started doing small popups wanting me to upgrade or do something else. In short — lots of nagging.

Well, I decided to look around a bit at another free AV program, and settled on Avira, which I installed and am now using instead of Avast. If you’re interested in reading more about Avira, following are two reviews:

http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/review/security-software/avira-free-antivirus-review-3493945/

http://www.tomsguide.com/us/avira-free-antivirus,review-2207.html

Opinions vary on whether an antivirus program is needed on a Mac. I prefer to use one, especially one that is free and seems to be effective.

Jim Hamm

Which Mac Laptop Should You Buy?

If you should be in the market for a new Mac laptop, now or perhaps at a later date, which one should you buy? The following article gives a great comparison of the features between a Macbook, a MacBook Air, and the MacBook Pro:

http://www.laptopmag.com/articles/macbook-vs-air-vs-pro

Once you have a new Mac laptop, the following article lists a few apps the author thinks are very helpful for you to have:

http://www.laptopmag.com/articles/best-mac-apps

Of the apps the author recommends, my favorite is Dropbox, which I use often. I’ve used some of the others, and you probably can’t go wrong in using any of his recommendations.

Jim Hamm