2015.02 Q&A: Adding RAM to an iMac

This is the first question to be submitted via e-mail to be answered via the blog, as opposed to the live-dialog way we used to do it when we were meeting in person.

GD inquires:

The Apple official stance on RAM for the iMac 8.1 model is that 2 2-MB RAM [chips] is the max. Original has 2 1-MB. Other internet comments noted that a 2-MB and 4-MB for 6-MB total was possible for the system to recognize.

Does going the extra 2-MB for a total of 6 provide much advantage than sticking to the official 4-MB?

My interest in updating the RAM is to provide a better base for the new op-sys available (Yosemite). Since Yosemite was the Nov. 2014 subject at SWAG ... is there any different status for the upgrade?

President Emeritus Dave Weston responds:

The iMac in question appears to be a 24” (early 2008) model, and according to the place I get my memory from, Data Memory Systems, this machine has been tested, and works with up to 6GB of RAM (1x4GB and 1x2GB). I’ve used this source for years and trust them entirely.

More RAM is, in my opinion, always better. You won’t see a tremendous performance boost, but you should be able to run Yosemite without difficulty. Maximizing the RAM is about all you can do with this machine, short of considering a newer one.


2015.02 News: Doc Huntington Died Sunday

This obituary for former SWAG Vice-President Robert W. "Doc" Huntington was just published in the Wisconsin State Journal.


2015.02 News: More TDS E-Mail Drama

Well, the news story I posted yesterday identified a problem I'd encountered when my ISP, TDS, switched me over to their new e-mail system. Suddenly my inbox developed a whole host of "unread" messages. Closer inspection showed that they were all messages that I'd received earlier (most of them years earlier), dealt with, and trashed. And I thot I'd figured out how to trash them again, thereby slimming my inbox down to its customary state of "hardly anything going on", which is what I reported in my previous post.

But as I continued to work, more old messages started showing up. Rather than dealing with them in small batches, I finally figured I'd just move my cursor into a hot corner so the screen wouldn't go to sleep and let the Mail program run in the foreground overnight. I then went to bed. This morning I arose to find my beloved iMac overrun with the walking dead, as tens of thousands of zombie messages had returned from the grave to overwhelm me. Compare this to what I posted yesterday, and remember that in between the 2 of them I'd cleaned yesterday's batch out:

I'm going to contact TDS's help line about this and will let you know what advice they have to offer (if any).


2015.02 Tip: Dealing with the New TDS E-Mail System

My internet service provider (ISP) is TDS Telecommunications, identifiable by the "tds.net" suffix on my eddress. Back in 2009, TDS decided to abandon its own e-mail service in favor of using one operated by Google under its "partners program". Basically, it meant that my e-mail service looked a lot like Gmail, because that was the underlying engine, except I could access it directly thru the TDS website. Or, since I'm a Mac user who prefers to use the Mac interface, specifically Apple's Mail program, I could configure my computer to use either a POP or IMAP account to read the TDS website on my behalf. And so I did, and hadn't been back to mail.tds.net for years.

Well, joy in Mudville, sometime last year Google decided to discontinue its partners program, which left TDS scrambling to institute its own e-mail system again as a replacement. The original plan was that they'd roll out the replacement to their customer base in stages, beginning around Halloween of 2014 and ideally wrapping up by the end of the calendar year.

To nobody's great surprise, that proved to be unduly optimistic. They finally got around to my account this morning (Feb. 18). While the instructions accompanying the transition were opaque, my Mac OS tried to shield me from the worst of the tech-speak horrors by automatically reconfiguring my e-mail accounts. (I'm still not exactly sure how, or what I did to inspire it to go ahead, but it just worked, and I'm not that curious as to the details.)

Here's the unpleasant side effect, tho. All the messages that I had marked as "read" under my old (Gmail-based) account were only recorded as "read" on my own computer. They were all still being stored on the TDS mail server as "unread". So when TDS helpfully reloaded my inbox with all of what they figured were its previous contents, this is the appalling sight which greeted my eyes:

Now, if you're like me, you will occasionally leave messages hanging around in a mailbox indefinitely, on the theory that you may need them at some time in the future. For example, in my "Housing" mailbox, I have messages from my naborhood listserv about removing old oil tanks and finding a good appliance repair person. Someday I may need that info, and I know (or knew) right where to look for it.

The problem is that now those wanna-save messages are buried in an endless stream of thot-they-were-gone messages. It's still possible to identify which ones they are, because they lack the little blue "newly arrived" dot which graces the presence of all the formerly-dealt-with messages that TDS has just restored for me. Here's a good one, a keeper, in a sea of "dealt with" messages:

But who wants to wade thru literally tens of thousands of messages looking for the few that lack the magic dot? Not me, fersher. Probably not you, either.

Fortunately, Apple has provided us with a convenient tool for resolving this mess. See that "Sort by" command at the top of the e-mail list? I normally leave it set to "Date" (with the "Oldest First" option, if you must know), but there are other possibilities as well. In particular, if you switch it over to "Unread", it'll bubble all the messages you wanted saved up to the top of the list, and then you can trash (or, honestly, re-trash) the rest:

Granted, this is a pain, and it took me the better part of an hour to wait for all the old e-mails to finish reloading before I could re-trash them, but it sure beat the living daylights out of having to search for my favorite needles in those giant haystacks.


2015.02 News: Something from Apple That Probably WON'T Fit in Your Pocket

Apple is famous (notorious?) for investigating possible future products in depth but eventually deciding not to get involved in a particular market if it can't produce a game-changer (and associated profits). So far, that's always involved something that can sit on a desk or fit in a pocket. That may be about to change, as the megacorp is reported mulling whether to start manufacturing cars.

Aside: I'm amused that the layoffs at progressively downsizing magazines like Time have apparently wiped out their copy editors, as the article refers to "bran loyalty" and "putting the vehicle bask on display".


The other day I got to wondering about emoticons and emoji, and how they are the same or different. An emotion ("emotion icon") is of course the ASCII "smiley-face" that we've used for years in emails, online forums, text messages, and instant messages of all kinds to express emotions.  You know what I'm talking about -- these guys:
:-)  :-D  :P  :-(   8-)     

And so on.  Over the years users got cleverer and cleverer at creating emotions to express feelings without words.  For example @--\-- is a rose.  On its side.  Kind of.  

Wikipedia's entry on emoticons reveals a much more interesting history than I expected (check it out at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoticon), but the invention of the "smiley face" emoticons is pegged at 1982.  About 10 years later, as Japan was developing mobile platforms and tools, standard pictographs known as emoji [the word emoji literally means "picture" (e) + "character" (moji)] were standardized and hard-coded into the character sets like fonts.  These proved VERY popular among the Japanese culturally, and as mobile technology became entrenched and spread through Asia and western Europe, the demand for emoji on the various platforms like Apple iOS spread as well.  It's only fairly recently since North America has taken to emoji.  Apple first introduced emoji to their desktop operating system with the release of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion in 2011.  (With the introduction of Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks, users can now access a dedicated emoji input palette in most text input boxes by using the key combination.COMMAND+CONTROL+SPACE.)

Emoji include smiley-faces but also other pictures such as hands applauding, animals, national flags, flowers, and a lot of other things.  As such, they can be used to express far more complex information than the simple emoticons, which are largely limited to representations of facial expressions.  Emoji are static (they don't move) and brightly colored.  They are not fonts in and of themselves, but emoji come in character sets like fonts do.  Wikipedia's entry on emoji was interesting although emoji history is not as impressive as emoticon history (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoji).

To make my emails and texts more interesting I use both emoticons and emoji.  I don't put a ton of thought into choosing one or the other; usually it depends on the message I'm writing and how fast I'm typing.  But now I feel a lot more informed about these non-text components of my messages!


2015.02 News: UserID and Password Passé?

For essentially the entire Internet era, the way you've validated your identity to a website has been to adopt a unique UserID (often your eddress) and a cryptic password supposedly known only to you. The standard advice for a password is that it should be easy to remember but hard to guess.

Well, where money is at stake (like for the half of the Internet not devoted to cats), there are beaucoup motivations for cracking this relatively unsophisticated 2-factor authentication, and recent massive ripoffs of valid user identities have hit several large financial institutions, almost all of which naively believed they had good security. Wrong!

So the State of New York, where a huge number of big-buck corporations are headquartered, is giving serious thot to requiring multi-factor authentication, at least for employees and contractors. But we can see the handwriting on the wall. Sooner or later, simple name and password won't cut it for us end users, either.

Fortunately, Apple seems to be more on top of this than most computer vendors, tho some of the solutions they're working on conjure up grisly images from SF and spy movies of bad guys holding up severed fingers and gouged-out eyeballs in front of security cameras to validate the identity of some (former) poor schmuck who had actual, legitimate authorization to get in.


Popular Spots

As the now former newsletter editor for SWAG I wanted to share with you the news sources I found most interesting, easy to read, and helpful in garnering bits for the newsletter. In addition to the below of course there are GOBS of sites - so go exploring!

TidBITS, started in 1990, is an online newsletter and Web site about all things Mac and Apple. They cover a wide variety of topics from business uses of Apple products to troubleshooting to "just for fun", plus a lotta other stuff. They have a website, a mailing list, and you can join TidBITs as a member for access to more good information written by experts for us mere mortals. To me, this is the most user-group like resource I've found.

Small Dog Electronics is actually an Apple retail operation with four stores located in the state of Vermont. They have an active blog and different newsletters to which anyone can subscribe. They are definitely user-friendly.

9to5Mac was born in 2007 between the announcement and the launch of the iPhone. This site focuses on breaking news and analyses, but they publish reviews of devices and apps as well. (Two companion sites, 9to5Google and 9to5Toys are related to 9to5Mac but I haven't visited them.)

MacRumors is the slightly more hyper cousin of 9to5Mac and focuses on - you guessed it - rumors of upcoming Apple products, services, and activity. I take everything I read here with a grain of salt, but it's never boring.

Cult of Mac is a daily news website that follows everything Apple.  They post news, reviews, how-to's (hey, that rhymes!), and other info.  I never found a lot of newsletter material here (most of what they posted didn't seem of interest to our user group members in my opinion) but it's fun to read.

Finally, I've been pleasantly surprised how often I've found truly helpful instructional videos on YouTube for doing things with my Mac.  One of my favorite YouTube channels (is that what they're called?) is Mac Help for Moms.  Whenever the guy's mom had a question, they made a video to answer it.  Very user-friendly.  Just go to youtube.com and search for "Mac Help for Moms."

Hope that helps get you started!


2015.02 News: OS Tweaks

Happy Groundhog Day from Sonny, Cher, and your slowly expiring SWAG board of directors.

Macworld magazine informs us that there are new versions of the Apple operating systems available. These are bug-fix releases Mac OS X 10.10.2 (Yosemite) for your Mac desktop and laptop computers and iOS 8.1.3 for your handheld devices: iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Since these aren't major releases, there's no real reason other than sloth and indolence to hold off upgrading.

Get the OS X upgrades from the App Store; get the iOS upgrades by tapping Settings > Software Update.