Important Tips if you want a new Apple Computer in 2020

Several customers have wanted a new Apple Computer recently. Chris helped them with their purchases and learned a thing or two about the current Mac buying process.

Customer Experience #1:

About two months ago, I served a customer who has been a long-term loyal Apple person. He wanted to get the new Apple computer because his roughly 7-year-old iMac had become slow. He went to the Apple Store and got a new iMac. I prepped his new machine and transferred his data. I found it was slow at the time, and told him this. He said he would work with it.

Investigation:

About two weeks later, he called back, saying that his new iMac was very slow. I came to inspect the machine and confirmed that it was glacially slow. It was much slower than his previous iMac. I found that this beautiful-looking new machine, unfortunately, had an 8th generation Core i3 processor in it, which is slow, and a 5400 RPM physical hard drive, which is also very slow. These are important specifications that a “forward-leaning” company like Apple should not be selling. The machine he bought at the Apple Store is the kind of computer you want someone you don’t like to have.

I called the Apple Store where he bought the machine, and there was no answer after many calls. The call eventually rolled over to Apple Corporate, and after about 1-1.5 hours on hold, I was able to finally talk with someone at Apple Corporate.

Initial Findings:

I learned that Apple has a 14 day “no-questions-asked” return policy. But since the computer was bought from the store, rather than ordered through Apple Corporate, the return or exchange of the computer must be done through the store. Apple Corporate would not handle a return for a purchase made at the store. It was as if each Apple Store was independently owned and operated. This was not what we expected.purchasing a new Apple computer at the Boulder Apple store - outside shopping only

Also, it’s the “Time of Covid-19”, and the local Boulder Apple Store is closed, or at least not answering their phones. (At least four attempts were made.)

(In my opinion, this new iMac, which the customer had purchased by himself at the Store, was unworthy for him to keep because it performed so badly. This was a violation of the basic Apple premise of good performance from your computer. You expect to love any computer you get from Apple.)

Field Trip:

We drove to the local Apple Store in Boulder and found that no one was inside. There was an EZ-Up popup tent on the sidewalk, with a couple of Apple people talking with citizens. There were marks on the sidewalk for social distancing. They also had two security guards there who were not doing Apple business but were there to take a forehead temperature. We put our name in and explained that we wanted to return this machine and to get another iMac today.

After waiting for about half an hour, we were approached by a young man who handled the return. The return process was pretty clean and easy and was completed in 5-10 minutes.

He was personally a little prickly, maybe because he was surprised. (Who in their right mind wants to return an Apple anything, ever?)

Well, this was one of those times, and it was for cause – a substantial technical failure by inadequate capabilities of a new machine, which was much slower than his current 7-year-old machine.

He was mildly contemptuous that anyone might say Apple wasn’t great. We again asked him to process the return because this product is not being kept and we’re getting it done on day 14 – within the 14-day return policy.

Replacement Mac:

After he received the return, we began to talk about getting a replacement computer. Long story short: the Apple Store only had iMacs with physical hard drives in them. If we wanted a Solid State Drive in the computer, it would have to be ordered from Apple Corporate, and it would take about two weeks to arrive. (This was in mid-August.) The Apple employee could not receive that order. We would need to order it online.

We left, placed an online order with Apple Corporate, and the new Apple computer arrived about 10 days later. The new iMac performs impressively well, and the customer is delighted.

Customer Experience #2:

The picture below is for a different machine than the story above. It was purchased at the end of September 2020 and shows the estimated arrival timeiMac wait time for a new Apple computer is Nov 2 – Nov 9. Now, four to five weeks is a long time to wait so that you don’t get a physical hard drive in your new iMac. (Apple and other manufacturers are delayed in shipping machines.)

The customer called back the next morning, saying that he had talked with his family in Denver. They had found the exact same machine that he had ordered at a local technology store. He could get it today! I walked him through the important points to make sure it really was the same machine.

  • Did it come with a solid-state drive, or did it have a “fusion” drive or a physical hard drive?
  • Does it have the better 8th generation processor?
  • Did it come with enough RAM? (RAM can’t be upgraded later.)

He talked with his family, and no, the store did not have the computer with the better equipment which /is/ necessary. He will continue to wait a month for the new machine to arrive.

UPDATE: The customer’s machine arrived mid-October!

Here are Chris’ specific tips for buying a new Apple computer:

One: Drive

Make sure that your Mac comes with a “Flash Drive” which is a full Solid State Drive (SSD). Do not get a “Fusion Drive,” which is a large Physical Hard Drive with a small Solid State Drive, which acts as a cache. The performance increase is poor. Do not get a Physical Hard Drive because it is /much/ slower than an SSD. Spend the money. Take the longer view. Get an SSD.

Two: Processor

Make sure that it comes with a Core i7 processor, and not a Core i3 processor. As of right now, the iMac can come with either an 8th generation Core i3 processor or an 8th generation Core i7 processor. Both processors say “quad-core,” but the performance of the Core i7 processor is so /much/ better than the Core i3. It really is worth the extra $200. NOTE: The current Intel processor generation is the 11th generation, but the 10th generation has been commonly available on the open market for the past year.
Intel makes four lines of consumer processors: Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9.

    • Core i3 has low-end performance and low cost, do not get this processor unless your needs are really low
    • The Core i5 is a mid-pack processor that satisfies the needs of most normal people who want to use a computer and want to like the computer
    • Core i7 is a high-end, high-performance processor and will serve you nicely for most tasks
    • The Core i9 is uber-high-end and is expensive.

Three: How to Purchase

You should order your Apple computer online from Apple Corporate. Don’t buy it at the local store. The Apple Store does not have the better computers. You have to go through Apple Corporate to get those. Keep in mind too, that Apple Corporate will not help you return a purchase that you made at the Apple Store.

Four: Delay Time

The current delay time (in September 2020) for ordering a new iMac from Apple Corporate is 4-5 weeks. IMHO: take the longer view, order the machine with the better features you actually want, bite the bullet, and wait for it to arrive.

Conclusion:

As most people already know, Apple has historically made really good computers. They aren’t cheap, and they tend to last a long time. I have several 10-year-old MacBook Pro and iMac computers that I’ve rebuilt with SSDs, and they perform competently in 2020. Granted, the speed of the SSD does nothing for the speed of the processor or the speed of the video card, but the operational speed of the old computer with a new SSD is definitely satisfactory in 2020.

But lately, I find that Apple has begun to cut corners on what they put into their computers. I see slow processors which are several generations old. I’ve also seen physical hard drives into the computer rather than a “Flash Drive” – which is also known as a Solid State Drive.

Computers are one of those “you get what you pay for” kinds of things. The Apple Premium is alive and well and has been for years. Apple offers discounts to no one. A recent customer wanted a new iMac. He is a long-term professor at the local University. Apple offered him an Academic Discount of $50. (FYI, We get 35-50% discounts from Dell and a lower discount from other manufacturers. We always pass that discount on to our customers.)

If you need help navigating the process of getting a new Mac or PC, please let us know. This is just one of the services that we offer. And, if you’re wondering how to set up a new Apple computer, we can help with that as well.

Watch Out For Phone, Text, Email, and Other Scams:

  • Remember to stay well clear of shortened links unless you know without a doubt where that link will take you. That includes most bit.ly and owl.ly links. Here’s a recent article about short links.
  • Right now there are a lot of scams out there. Read our article about Covid19 scams.

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has provided computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call at 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America. We provide Apple & Mac computer repair onsite or remotely.

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

When Should I Turn Off My Computer?

When I got my first computer, I would turn it off every time I left my office for more than a half hour. A few years later I would turn it off when I left for the day. Now, I’ll turn it off a couple of times a week. Why the change? Have you ever wondered: When Should I Turn Off My Computer? You might wonder how often you need to turn off your machine, or if you even need to turn it off at all!

Here’s what Chris says:

“I really wish Gail would turn her machine off more frequently!” When Should I Turn Off My Computer? Not as often as you think. Hint: Don't just puss the power button

Do I need to turn off my machine?

The short answer is Yes! When you turn it off the machine will clean itself, reorganize files, empty the trash, install any updates, and generally make itself faster and more efficient for the next time you turn it on. Other reasons to turn your machine off include saving power.

It’s really a balancing act. The process of turning your machine off and back on takes its toll on the mechanics of your computer. But leaving the machine on all the time does the same thing. If you use your machine constantly throughout the day, by all means, leave it on. If you access your machine from a remote location, then you definitely need to keep it on most of the time!

When should I turn off my computer?When Should I Turn Off My Computer - windows start button

Every couple of days save all of your documents, close all of your applications, and turn the machine off. Leave it off overnight, or just for a few minutes.

If you use it for only an hour or two at a time, then you should turn it off when you are done. If you know you won’t use your machine all weekend, you should turn it off.But, if you use your machine all day long, there’s really no need to turn it off every day. Turning your machine off once a week should be sufficient.

Remember, when you turn off your machine, don’t do it with the power button. Use the off button on the screen menu. This allows the machine to shut off gracefully.

General computer health & Well-being:When should I turn off my machine?

Some other things you should do for the general health and well-being of your machine are:

  • Always use a surge protector. These help even out any power spikes so that they don’t damage your machine. We also advise that you use a UPS (Universal Power Supply). This is a battery backup system that protects your equipment from power surges and provides a limited time of battery life. This is helpful when you’re in the middle of working on a project when the power goes out. It gives you enough time to finish up and save everything. (There is an annoying and frequent beep to let you know that you are using battery power.)
  • During lightning storms, you should turn off AND unplug all of your electronics. Even a surge protector can’t always help protect your equipment if there is a nearby lightning strike.
  • Uninstall and delete any programs that you are no longer using. Even if you’re not running a program, it may still be processing in the background.  This will undermine the efficiency of your machine. (Yes, we can help you with this if you don’t feel comfortable choosing which programs to uninstall.)
  • Keep your machine clean! Periodically open it up and remove all the dust and pet hair that have accumulated. Dust tends to accumulate on the fan, which is there to keep your machine cool. If too much dust is there, the fan won’t run properly and your machine will overheat. (We can help you with this too!)
  • Finally, When Should I Turn Off My Computer?  At least once a week!

Please forward this to your colleagues who ALWAYS leave their machine running.

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report to protect you from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Mac OS Malware – What you need to know

It’s finally happened.  Mac’s have finally reached that magic threshold where more and more people are purchasing MacBooks and iMacs.  The “bad guys” have recognized that and are writing Mac OS malware, viruses, and ransomware.  Yes, they are specifically targeting the Mac OS.  They’ve had years of practice on Windows machines.  They know Mac users are a bit more discerning, so their malware needs to be even more subtle to trick those Mac users.  Their products look like the real thing – a real email from Dropbox, a real pop-up from Adobe.

It’s a jungle out there, so don’t think you’re immune just because you have a Mac!mac os malware

Two versions that are targeting Macs are MacSpy and MacRansom.  MacSpy does the usual data scraping, browser history harvesting, etc. MacRansom is a straight-up ransomware.  The cost to retrieve your data is about $650-750.  You can read more about them in this article from Dark Reading.

Another Mac OS malware that’s spreading is installed when you think you’re installing an Adobe upgrade.  You do get the upgrade, but you get a “snake” program as well.  For anyone interested in reading more, check out this article.

Another Trojan, named OSX/Dok, is also relatively new and spreads it’s program through a sophisticated phishing email.  So far, it seems to be targeting primarily European Mac users.  Checkpoint says that:

“This new malware – dubbed OSX/Dok — affects all versions of OSX, has 0 detections on VirusTotal (as of the writing of these words), is signed with a valid developer certificate (authenticated by Apple), and is the first major scale malware to target OSX users via a coordinated email phishing campaign.”

Have you learned something about Mac OS malware? If you found this helpful, please forward it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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iCloud – Valued Apple Feature or not?

iCloud

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about Apple’s iCloud recently.  iCloud is something many of us have been using for years.  But are you sure how to best take advantage of it?

If you have multiple devices – an iPhone, iPad, and iMac, for example, you can listen to your music whether you’re at home, a coffee shop, in your car, or on a trip.

If you don’t have an Apple computer, you can still access some of the iCloud features from your Windows computer.  Head over to www.iCloud.com and sign in with your user ID and password.  Some of the features available at the website include Mail, Contacts, Calendar, and Photos.  Access to your music is not available here.

20160621 iCloud image

The “Find My iPhone” feature is available at the iCloud website.  Take a minute now to sign in.  Navigate around the site briefly, but especially take a look at the “Find my iPhone” feature so that if you do lose your phone, you’ll know how to use it.  (Make sure any folks in your family who are challenged in the area of knowing where their possessions are, have this feature turned on!)

When you sign in to the iCloud, your user ID is probably your email.   If you’ve forgotten your password,         it’s relatively easy to reset it.  Remember that the password for your iCloud account is different from the security passcode you may have set up to access your iPhone or your iPad.  If you have set them up to be the same, please change one of them now!

Another feature I’ve just learned about on the iCloud is the ability to share photos with other people.  When you click on the “Photos” icon, your pictures appear.  At the bottom of the screen there are three buttons – Photos, Share, and Albums.  Your Photos shows all the pictures you’ve taken from a given point in time organized by date.  Albums arrange your photos by different categories like Selfies, Panoramas, Videos, and Screenshots.

To share photos, click on “New Shared Album”.  Give it a title, and select who to share it with by entering their emails.  Once the structure is set up, you can then add photos to the album.

If you need help setting up your iCloud properly, check out Apple’s Help pages or the Genius Bar at the Apple store.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

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Tagged

Q&A with Chris Eddy (iMac’s, PDF’s and Windows 10)

Question:

I’m currently running window 7 professional on my work laptop.  Windows 10 want to upgrade computer software.  I have office 2003 and ms project software  2010 and I’m wondering if windows 10 compatible with these programs?  Also since I’ve been rejecting windows 10 computer seems to constantly upgrade software (daily) and is running slow.  Any way that not upgrading to 10 can be causing this?

Answer:

I think you should decline the W10 upgrade because W7 works fine for you, I don’t think that W10 has enough new and different and better stuff that you should run right out now (metaphorically) and get it.  Also, I’m seeing occasional strangeness with W10 becoming unresponsive or very disk intensive for long periods of time, and have seen occasional filesystem corruption after things like a graceless shutdown which causes the machine to require serious startup repair (not the automated one), but W7 would have recovered from that in stride.

Question:

An associate recommended PDFMerge as a great program to take individual pdf pages and be able to combine them into a document. I went to the website www.pdfmerge.com and downloaded it. …. Well now every pdf on my laptop is a soda pdf. This was not what I intended – will this cause me problems since they are no longer adobe pdf’s? Should I have you change it all back? Worried about this change. Recommendations?

Answer:

This is an easy thing to change.  Go to the file using Windows Explorer, right click on the file name, go down to “Open With”, select the Adobe Acrobat Reader program, and make sure you put a check in the box to use this program for this file type in the future.

Question:

Do you have an opinion on the iMac all in one?  The 21.5 ” most suitable for my space and I’d like to connect it to a TV and be able to watch TV at same time as using computer – is that possible or a pipe dream?

21.5" iMac

Answer:

In general, I like the iMac.  And, in a nutshell, yes.  But you’ll need an “Apple TV” device, which is a white hockey puck sized thing that connects to the house network and to the TV.  More here: http://store.apple.com/us/question/answers/appletv/can-i-use-apple-tv-to-mirror-my-imac-on-my-tv/QCFJP9Y472HAJP9YP

Do you have a quick question about your Mac or PC?  Send us an email to support@geekforhireinc.com

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted! Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

How do I … (fill-in-the-blank)…?

How-To Books:

Like a lot of our customers, I try to figure things out for myself before I call in outside support and training. That is doubly true for learning new software and applications. If my friends can’t help, I type my request into Google. If that doesn’t work, I head to the bookstore. With that in mind, here are some books we recommend:

If you’re trying to learn Windows 10:

If you can’t figure out your Windows 8 machine:

If you need help learning how to navigate on your new Mac:

Microsoft Office

Open Office:

  • I’m trying to find a great book to recommend on using OpenOffice, a replacement for the (fairly expensive) Windows Office Suite. If there is a book that you love, please share the title with me and let me know why it’s so great!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area. Links to products may provide a small commission to Geek For Hire.

 

Experts say computers won’t last as long as you think

We have several customers with very old machines and they generally ask us how much longer they can expect their machine to last. We’re talking ten plus years! Remember Windows ME? Yup, we’re still seeing customers with that Microsoft Operating System!

It’s true that the machines that were built prior to 2010, for example, are likely to last five or so years. Some people have gotten them to last longer by taking special care of them. For example, we’re still happily using our 2008 iMac. Eight years later, it still performs very well. However, machines built in the last couple of years were only made to last three to six years.

I talked with Chris about computers in general and how long we can expect them to last.

“Computer technology doubles every three to four years and computers tend to last about four years. The better (more expensive) computers tend to last much longer than the cheaper ones will.”

Other experts around the internet chime in:

“…we use the 3-4-5 theory.  Plan on three years, hope for four, and don’t push past five years.”

“If you’re looking at the computer as a whole, with no interest in upgrading or replacing parts, expect to get at least three years out of the average desktop computer.”

“As a general rule of thumb, I expect laptops to last two to five years. Desktops may last three to seven years.”

“…a good timeframe to consider upgrading is around every three to four years.”

What can you do to help your machine last longer and keep it humming along?

  • Keeping the insides free of dust and pet hair.
  • If a machine is short on RAM, adding more will help it to run faster.
  • Too many protective software programs will make a machine run slower.
  • When the hard drive is more than 50% full, it will begin to run slower.
  • Viruses will tend to make your machine run slower. If you think you may have a virus, run your virus scanner to remove them.
  • Things get bigger and more computationally intense over time, so there are lags.

Remember, even if your machine is running perfectly, to keep your machine backed up regularly. Backups never go out of style and you never know when that hard drive might fail!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area