Everyday Tips from the ComputerMom 

October 2017
 
Join Our Mailing List
Can you believe it's October already? I don't know where September went! As expected, Apple released a new version of MacOS, High Sierra, on September 25th. If you are a Mac user, especially one who uses Microsoft Office 2011, be sure to read all about it. 

I had several clients who asked me to address online financial security in the wake of the Equifax breach - you can read my thoughts below. 

And finally, another Facebook Roundup, with links to articles I think might be of interest to all of you.


Regards,
 
Julie Marto 
 
PS - It was fabulous to see so many of you at Medfield Day, and I'd like to welcome any new subscribers to my newsletter. Hope you enjoy it!
MacOS - High Sierra  


As they do every fall, Apple released a new version of MacOS. This version, called High Sierra, will run on any Mac that is able to run the previous version, Sierra. The upgrade is free in the app store.

 

Apple systems have a reputation for being more secure than Microsoft systems, but that is really only true if you keep your system up to date. Apple OS upgrades are important to install because Apple only provides security patches for the last 2 or 3 versions of their operating system. If you are unsure which version of the MacOS you are using, you can find out by clicking on the Apple menu in the upper left and choosing "About this Mac". Sierra is version 10.12, and High Sierra is version 10.13. 

 

I generally don't recommend moving to the newest version of the MacOS immediately upon release. Typically, you are best off waiting a month or two for the early adopters to work out the bugs. Apple numbers their upgrades by revisions - wait for 10.13.2 to be safe!

 

Eventually, however, you will need to upgrade, and this particular new MacOS is the start of a technology shift that will affect your use of third party software. High Sierra is the starting point for Apple to only run what are called 64 bit applications. This is a bit technical, but basically, Apple is requiring that every software developer rewrite their software to work on Macs. Office 2011 is not supported on MacOS High Sierra. So, if you are a Mac user who uses Microsoft Office 2011 you will have to buy a new copy of Office when you upgrade to High Sierra.

 

One last note. MacOS Sierra dropped a lot of older Macs from the upgrade list. The version prior to Sierra is 10.11, El Capitan.  If your Mac cannot run Sierra, but is on a lower version number than 10.11, you should upgrade to El Capitan ASAP. Even though you can't find El Capitan by searching the App store, it's available through this link. If you'd like help upgrading your older system to El Capitan, or your newer system to High Sierra, I can do it for you as a drop off service

Online Financial Safety

With all the news about the recent Equifax breach, and other major hacks that seem to be reported weekly, I am often asked for advice about financial safety online. Unfortunately, we all have to assume that our social security numbers and other personal data is now accessible on the web, putting us all at risk of identity theft. Keeping in mind that I am not a security expert, and that I don't have all the answers by any means, here are the practices that I personally follow:
  • Check online accounts frequently for any suspicious activity. I personally check my bank, credit card, and investment accounts daily. Some people think it's safer not to have online access to those accounts, but the truth is that your financial institutions are set up to allow online access. If you don't take advantage of it, it's actually possible for someone else to create a log in and access your account. 
  • Take advantage of the three free annual credit reports guaranteed by the government. There are a lot of "free" credit report sites, but the only one sponsored by the government is www.annualcreditreport.com. Through this site you can request one free full credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experion, and TransUnion. To make best use of this site, request one report every quarter, rotating through the three agencies. 
  • Set up a free account at CreditKarma.com. I hesitated to add this, as I don't usually recommend commercial sites, but CreditKarma is an actual free credit tracking site, not a "trial" site where you have to give them a credit card to sign up. They provide you with a credit score, and your credit report from TransUnion, in exchange for advertising targeted credit offers. Additionally, they send email alerts if there are any changes in your credit report.
  • Keep your email address secure and use two factor authentication if it's available.  I know I have brought this up before, but your email address is what is used to identify you to your financial institutions. If someone gets control of your email, they can change passwords to access your accounts.  Your email address is like the key to your front door - guard it as such! Use a different password for your email address than for any other site, use a different email address for financial institutions than for shopping and social media sites, and don't sign in on public computers or public WiFi.
If you need any help setting any of this up or navigating any of these sites,  just give me a call and we can schedule a home visit!
Facebook Roundup

For those of you who don't use Facebook, or haven't "liked" my ComputerMom Facebook page, here are some of my recent
posts:
  • And finally, in order to beef up Apple ID security, people who want to access iCloud data like contacts, Apple email, or calendars, on third party apps like Outlook or Thunderbird, now have to enable two factor authentication and use app specific passwords. If you have found yourself unable to access your @me mail on Outlook, that would be why!