Extra bits

Yosemite is out

Apple have released OS X Yosemite. That is 10.10 to those who like digits. 
Yosemite X icon
About OS X
Don't forget to check your system meets the requirements & backup before you install it.

Apple releases two-step verification.

2-step verification process 
Apple have rolled out a two-step verification system that is intended to add extra security to Apple ID accounts a.k.a. iTunes/ iCloud accounts.
Once enabled & setup, you will need to use a trusted device to receive notification codes that are used in addition to your account password. The code is used when modifying you Apple ID account info or when purchasing from new devices.
The Apple FAQ has lots of information to get started.
Limitations & considerations.
You may need to change your current Apple ID password if it is currently weak (fix this now if you only use words in any known dictionary). Account changes put a lock on updating the account security settings, so you may need to wait 3 days to enable two-step verification.
You will need to keep a 14 digit 'recovery key' safe, so that you can access the account settings if your trusted devices are unavailable. The recovery key replaces the security questions - so without it you won't be able to reset the password or change any account settings, the FAQ states Apple can't reset the account password on your behalf once two-step verification is enabled. 
Extra layers of security will always add extra inconvenience, so this may not be for everybody, however if you have several devices, it may be a good idea to enable the option.
Your account is now protected with the password, the device & the recovery key.
If you lose or forget two of the three items your account will be inaccessible permanently. 

MobileMe and iCloud for luddites

Update: Apple have altered the iCloud migration plans a little, you can keep using your MobileMe mail if you are on Snow Leopard, see the transition page for more information.

Apple's MobileMe migration to iCloud is due to happen on the 30th of June 2012.

You should have received a reminder from Apple, nudging you to upgrade if you haven't done so already.

iCloud adds some new features to the old MobileMe service and kills off a few in the process. It has been announced with all of the usual Apple hyperbole (seamless, integrated, effortless). Apple's page MobileMe transition and iCloud has lots of information on the gory details of what services live & which ones die. 

iCloud is great if you have a Mac that can run Mac OS X Lion (10.7). If your Mac isn't supported or Lion just doesn't appeal you will loose access to almost all of iClouds features.

You don't have any choice if you still want to use the same email address (@mac.com or @me.com). You MUST migrate to iCloud. It makes matters worse if you have iTunes purchases or other third party accounts tied to that email address.

Allowing MobileMe to lapse completely isn't a good idea unless you are aware of everything you have ever associated with that account and can afford to lose access to it. This includes all the website logins that send password resets to that email, all the friends/ family/ colleagues who use that email address i.e. newsletters, mailing lists, PayPal, Amazon, Ebay...

Contact Apple via their chat if you need help, or just want someone to complain at :^)

MobileMe Chat Support

Ironically you can still have iCloud support with Windows Vista from 2009, but the last Mac operating system is not supported. 

When Apple says jump, ask how high.

Apple have been silent about providing any iCloud support for users on any OS below 10.7.2, so for anyone on Snow Leopard (10.6) or below it would be prudent to have a 'get out plan' so that you don't loose data or services that you rely on working. Plan NOW and it should be less painful when Apple cut the cord in June.

“Think of MobileMe as ‘Exchange for the rest of us,

Now users who are not part of an enterprise that runs Exchange can get the same push email, push calendars and push contacts that the big guys get.”

Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, 2008 MobileMe press release

Notes on iOS & Mac syncing.

You will still be able to sync data from a Mac to iOS devices by manually using USB, since that is built into iTunes syncing and doesn't rely on iCloud. Look at iTunes for an idea of what will still sync, anything that has options to sync over MobileMe & has a check box for manual syncing should work provided you change from using MobileMe to the old style USB syncing. Basically Address Book, Mail, Calendars and Notes can be synced via USB.

Here's a few suggestions for replacing what Apple plans to take away. 


You can keep using the @me.com and the @mac.com addresses, including any aliases provided you migrate to iCloud. iCloud has only 5GB of storage compared to the 20GB in MobileMe, so make sure your MobileMe mailbox isn't over that size. Select the mailbox in Mail & Get info via right click (or ctrl+click) to check the total size. You may want to move messages to you Mac if you are using a lot of mail storage on MobileMe. Create a new local mailbox to copy messages into & allow it all to download. iClouds 5GB is shared with all the other new features of iCloud. 

Contact syncing.

If you can live with just manual USB syncing for any iOS devices you have & don't need to move contacts between multiple computers stick with that. Alternatively move your data to another provider. You will need an email hosting company that can provide contact syncing. Many hosts use Microsoft Exchange to do this, which can sync with the iOS contacts & Address Book on the Mac (since 10.5.3). You can also be use it with other email clients or calendar applications if you prefer them to the Apple tools.
You will need your own domain name if you really plan on taking control of your email etc.
You can use a free service like Gmail, hopefully you can find an unused username and are able to put up with a few limitations (like adverts in your webmail). 
Google also have syncing for contacts between mobile devices & computers. You can also use your own domain name with Google via it's Google apps service. Also look at Zoho and reccomend any alternatives in the comments. 

Calendar syncing.

Similar to contacts, either use manual USB syncing for iOS or move the data to a third party that supports calendaring. Many email hosts add this as a 'business' feature so look at the premium plans it you can't find it mentioned in the standard plans. Calendars are also a part of a free Google account.

Bookmark syncing.

There are lots of online services that collect bookmarks & allow apps to read & write them. Nothing integrates as well as Safari on iOS & Safari on the Mac with syncing, but you can keep track of links with services like delicious.compinboard.in,diigo.comInstapaper. Google also provide this service login to Google & look at bookmarks. If you are a heavy iOS browser take a look at Cyberspace, it can pull bookmarks in from other services.

Preferences syncing.

There is little you can do to maintain the same preferences across multilple Macs. There have been people symlinking the preferences folder into Dropbox to provide syncing, but there is no facility to handle merging files correctly (the last update wins basically) so I wouldn't consider it.

Keychain syncing.

This is also a great feature I'll miss - look at 1Password if you really need password management across devices and computers. It will sync over the internet if you store it's database in Dropbox, but this seems risky to me, so think about what passwords you need at your fingertips all the time. 
There are free alternatives like KeyPassX, but migrating the day a is a royal pain since it is migrated from Keychain manually.
Make sure you start backing up your keychains since they will stop being copied to the cloud via MobileMe.They are located in your home folder/Library/Keychains.  


iDisk has always been a hit & miss service, with simple multiuser file sharing, offsite backup, nice photo and galleries and lousy slow access from the Finder. Look at DropboxUbuntuOneSpiderOak or Wuala for online file storage. The storage & sharing features vary so evaluate several and see what meets your needs. Flickr or Picasa can host your image galleries, Picasa is a Google service so it wants to integrate with Google+.
There are many online backup providers that can replace the offsite backup feature (MozyCarboniteJungleDisk). Make sure you grab a copy of all the files on the iDisk before it disappears - including  the Backup application if you ever used it (in iDisk/Software/Backup), the application helps when restoring old backups made with the Backup.app you have on CD, DVD or hard disk.

Homepage and Sites.

If you use Homepage, iWeb or galleries the sites should be stored the iDisk/Sites and iDisk/Web folders. Grab copies if you want a record of what was on the server. 
Rapidweaver may be an alternative WYSIWYG editor for iWeb websites. Third party blogging tools or content management systems (WordPressTumblr,Squarespace or Google Sites) may be suitable for hosting your websites. You will need your own domain name unless you are happy using the reallylongdomainthatcomesforfree.com.
If you have a website on your iDisk you may want to get your own domain now & start redirecting users to the new domain or warn people about the changes to help people find your content instead of just having it dissapear. I really can't see why Apple can't add optional redirection to it's existing sites. Google claims 'About 120,000,000 results for the term "http://homepage.mac.com", it's a lot of links to delete.

Find my iPhone.

This should still work, since it doesn't use a Mac specific application, instead you use the iCloud website to look for a missing phone. iCloud also supports 'Find my Mac' if you have 10.7.2 or better. If you really want to protect your devices look at PreyUndercover or Hidden.

Back to my Mac.

It is supported by iCloud but I doubt it will still work with Macs running anything below 10.7.2. LogMeIn or TeamViewer should work or set up your own remote access system to replace this feature, it is complex to ensure you keep strangers out whilst letting yourself in.

Third party data.

Applications such as Yojimbo, Transmit, Entourage and many others tapped into MobileMe syncing so that data was shared across multiple Macs. This feature is now gone. To replace it look at the developers site (or their help forums) to see if it is possible to use a service like Dropbox instead. You do need to take care because you may make edits on two machines at the same time and Dropbox doesn't resolve the merge the same way as MobileMe.

Protecting your data.

You may have been using MobileMe to provide an offsite backup of your preferences, keychains, contacts, calendars photos… Now you need to take control of this yourself.

  • Time Machine is a really good start.
  • Make regular full system copies (SuperDuper!CarbonCopyCloner).
  • Copy completed work to another disk for archiving (or CD's & DVD's, or both).
  • Using Time Machine and system clones and copying offsite should cover everything but an extreme 'act of God'.

Choose a system that suits you & your data.

Address Book, and iCal on the Mac have 'Export' in the File menu. Use this to get a copy of all the data, and save it to an external disk or copy to an offsite service - remember that these contain sensitive information so your public folder on Dropbox is a bad place to put them.

Do the same with Safari Bookmarks ('File > Export bookmarks').

Keychains are in your home folder/Library/Keychains. They are encrypted, but the encryption is only as strong as the password you have used - by default it is the same as your user account password. Take care when copying offsite.

Mail accounts are difficult to backup with every preference, mailbox and attachment. Use Time Machine and keep track of the mail account setup info. If you ever need to recover you should be able to recreate the account & download all the mail that is on the server. Then use Time Machine to restore any additional local mailboxes.

Preferences, Dock items, Widgets etc should be backed up with Time Machine. I don't think there is much point making a full offsite copy of the preferences folder in your home/Library, Time Machine or a full system clone should be enough for most people.


The elephant in the room.

You may have noticed there is a recurring answer to many of the missing services - Google. They do have a lot to offer, most of the MobileMe features can be replaced either with free services provided by Google, or paid for additions. Google also have good web clients for email and calendars, so you can still use browsers if you prefer. You will need a recent browser & a will to stay 'close to current' to avoid missing newer features they keep adding.

Google do constantly change and update the appearance & functionality which can be frustrating if you like things to remain the same. Google is similar to Apple, or probably worse at creating new services that get killed off after a few years (Buzz, Gears, Wave, Notebook…). Google are combining services too, e.g. one login for Email, Google+, YouTube, Android Marketplace, they have a habit of promoting new services to users. Choose to move to them if you are happy with Google knowing everything & remember their business is selling adverts. Chances are you already have the ability to add these features to any existing Google account, login to Google's dashboard to see what services are active for your account.

It does appear that Apple is at war with Google, Apple want us to put all our data in the cloud, accessed from Macs & iOS (current OS only). Google 'is the cloud' to an extent, and is treading on Apples toes with it's Android OS. It may not be a good idea to get caught in the crossfire with your data. Set up services that do what you need & hopefully it will cost less than MobileMe. Being your own IT support is the price of using older Apple hardware.

Add comments if you want to let us know your plan, the mailing list is a good place to get help.

Gliding photos

Photos from the MMUG meeting at Stratford on Avon Gliding Club.

Photos taken by Lindsay Newton, thanks to the gliding club & the MMUG team for an enjoyable evening.

More info on the club is at their site, stratfordgliding.co.uk

MMUG goes gliding at Stratford on Avon Gliding Club
Glider coming in to land
Launch preparations
Launch preparations
Gliding photos
Gliding photos
Still 'kiting' up to about 1400 feet
Gliding photos
The trees look closer than they are in reality
Gliding photos
Gliding photos
Gliding photos
Gliding photos
Gliding photos
Gliding photos
Graham, our gracious host
Gliding photos
Gliding photos
Gliding photos
Take off for another mmuger
Gliding photos
Smooth landing.
Nice sunset to ride off into…

Change the login window background and text

Automator LogoThese scripts make changes to your loginwindow preference file. If the file doesn't exist it will be created.

This preference is set for the computer (all users) as it effects the login window we all see when we log in. The preferences are stored in a plist file /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow.plist

You could use terminal commands to add these things yourself - the scripts just add a confirmation dialog box and make it easier for novice users.

For the picture script the image needs to be a jpeg and needs to be stored in a public folder as the system needs access to the file before a user logs in.

The picture will be squished or stretched to fit on the screen.

Download the Scripts

I've made these mini apps in Automator and I've included the workflow files in case you want to edit them.

Once the automator workflow checks it is OK to run the the users is asked for input, the results of this are passed to some shell scripts.

for the loginwindow text
/usr/bin/defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow LoginwindowText "New loginwindow text" 

and for the desktop picture
/usr/bin/defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow DesktopPicture "PathToFile/pictute.jpg"


Locking the Screen on Mac OS X 10.6

I'm often asked by teachers, IT folks and mac switchers "How can the screen be locked on a mac?"

Cautious Windows users are used to pressing ctrl-alt-delete to be presented with a menu and a choice to lock the screen. Getting control of your computer back is as simple as entering your account password and you're off.
Such a feature does exist on the mac but it's hidden away a bit. Here is how you turn it on.
Open Keychain Access, it is in your Utilities folder which is in your Applications folder...
path to keychain access
Keychain Access is the application which looks after your Keychains! Keychains are used by the system to store private information like website passwords or passwords for services. Keychains are the files that store the passwords when you click that little "Remember my password" check box you sometimes see. 
From the Keychain Access menu choose Preferences... or press cmd-,
In the Preferences window that appears tick the checkbox labelled "Show Status in Menu Bar"
Keychain Access Preferences window
keychain menu iconIn the top right corner of your screen, along with the clock a new icon will appear looking like an open padlock. The open padlock shows that your login keychain is unlocked (the login keychain is the one storing your passwords)

enter your password dialog

Click on this padlock and you'll see some options the top one being Lock Screen. Choose this and your screen will turn black... it's locked!!
At this stage I should point out that once locked you'll need your password to unlock, so I hope you can remember it.
Just wobble your mouse or press a key and you'll get the enter your password dialog box. Type your password in and click OK, you'll be back to the computer as it was before you locked it.
That's really all there is to it, but some users may want to automate this process a little.
You could choose to activate screen locking after a few minutes or when you wake your computer from sleep. The option to do this is in the Security System Preference.
require password screen grab
So there you go. Just a couple of ways you can make your mac a little more secure.

Changing the Account Name on Mac OS X 10.6

BACKUP! The first thing to do before messing around with user folders is to back up.


Make sure you have a good current working backup before doing the following. You're not actually going to delete anything, but you are going to use the command line which doesn't have an undo so be careful.


In this example we are changing the Account Name from jonny to bobby.

1. In the Accounts pane of System Preferences make a new user by clicking on 

Call them whatever you want, but make them an admin user.


2. Log out as you and log in as the new admin user.


3. In the Accounts part of System Preferences select the user to rename and press  as if you are deleting them. When asked what you want to do with the users data choose "Don't change the home folder" This will rename the folder by adding (Deleted) to the name.


4. Open Terminal and type

sudo mv /Users/jonny\ \(Deleted\) /Users/bobby


Obviously replacing the names with the correct ones - spaces and slashes in the above are important. Make sure the new name is all standard characters (a-z 0-9) with no spaces


The sudo bit runs the command as the root user so you will be asked to enter a password, any Admin users password will do. As you type the characters won't appear on the screen, its a security thing.


You should now have a folder in the Users folder with the right name. Check the name is correct before you carry on. If you mistyped it then use the mv command again.


6. In the Accounts part of System Preferences make a new user by clicking on 


7. Enter the details for the new user making sure the Account name is exactly the same as the folder name you just used for the new user name.


8. When you click OK the computer will see that a folder already exists for the user and will ask if you want to use that folder for the home. Click OK - if you don't get this window then you've got the name wrong, you'll need to delete the users you've created and try again.

9. You can now log in as the renamed user.


When you log in a dialog box will appear saying the the system was unable to unlock your login keychain. The keychain stores passwords and other information, when you log in it will need to have its password updated to work with the new account. 

Click the button that says Update Keychain Password and enter the old account password. The keychain will be updated and will now use the new account password to unlock.


It is also worth running Disk Utility and clicking the Repair Disk Permissions button as some folder permissions especially your public and sites folders might not be correct.


That's pretty much it… good luck!