Everyday Tips from the ComputerMom 

September 2018
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Thank you all VERY much for voting me Hometown Best Blue Ribbon Winner for the 6th year in a row! I can't tell you how much it means to me that you regard my services so highly!

My first article this month tackles privacy, very much in the news. Next, each fall Apple releases a new version of MacOS. This year's version leaves many older Macs behind. And lastly, September means Medfield Day - I'd love to see you drop by my booth!

Happy fall!


Julie Marto 
PS - Back to school is a great time to reassess your home tech. Make sure all is working well with a ComputerMom home visit!
Privacy 101

Technology has improved our lives immeasurably, yet there has been a price to pay - personal data that we give out by using our tech is routinely sliced, diced, and sold to the highest bidder. Between Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc, it seems everybody is harvesting our personal information in order to target us with " personalized content". 

One of the few defenses we have is to dive into site and device settings and withdraw our permission to collect or share our data. However, it's not always easy to find the right settings for each site. The following links will give you a good start:
  • And while you're at it, here are instructions to opt out of the rest of Oath's (AOL/Yahoo) tracking, including on your mobile devices. They don't make it easy - there are MANY different places to visit, and you have to opt out with every browser you use!
  • I turn off many of Microsoft's "personalization" services when I set up a computer for you, but here's a great article with steps you can do. 
A few other points to consider:
  • Even though it's not perfect, consider using "incognito mode" for sensitive searches.
  • Those "personal assistant" devices like Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and OK Google actually have to listen to everything you say if they are going to respond when called upon. 
Is it time for a new Mac?

I'm a firm believer in keeping hardware for as long as possible, rather than filling landfills with discarded computers. However, Mac hardware is quite expensive, rarely breaks (although it often needs software support), and still looks like new years after its original purchase. So, how do you know when it's time to replace your Mac?

The answer depends on whether your Mac can run  the most current version of the Mac Operating System (MacOS).  Basically, a Mac is safe to use on the internet as long as Apple issues security updates for it. Once Apple is no longer issuing security updates for your OS, all bets are off - if a hacker uncovers a security vulnerability that allows access to your Mac, Apple doesn't provide a solution. 

Apple releases security updates for 2-3 years after introduction for each version of  MacOS, so even if your Mac can no longer be updated to the latest version, you are OK for a few more years - then it's time to get a new machine. 

To find out what version of MacOS you are currently running, and whether or not you can run the latest version, click on the Apple menu at the upper left, and chose "About This Mac". The window that pops up will tell you the year and model of your Mac and what version of MacOS you are on. With a few exceptions, you should always install the latest version of MacOS that will run on your system.

The following table shows Mac models by year and their corresponding maximum OS. My recommendation? If your Mac cannot be upgraded past El Capitan, it's time to replace it. If it cannot be upgraded past High Sierra, you should plan to replace it within 2-3 years. If it can be upgraded to Mojave, you are fine for a while!

El Capitan (2015) High Sierra (2017) Mojave (2018)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro
    (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)
  • MacBook (Late 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • iMac (Late 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Mid 2012 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Late 2012 or newer)
  • iMac (Late 2012 or newer)
  • iMac Pro (2017)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013, plus some mid 2010 and mid 2012 with Metal-capable GPU)

Medfield Day!

Come by and say hi on  Medfield Day, Saturday September 15th, from 9:00 to 3:00. I'm at booth number 91 on North Street, right in front of the Montrose School. I'll be answering questions, and handing out some great freebies, including a new one this year - a webcam cover! And you can enter my drawing to win some free ComputerMom services!

Hope to see you there!!