The Sweet Setup's Guide To Mac Backups

Stephen Hackett

The reality is that almost every computer user will experience data loss at some point. It’s tempting to think that the solid state drives which come in most Macs these days are more reliable than spinning hard drives, but the truth is that they are not immune to failure, either. Device failure coupled with the risks posed by theft or natural disaster means that the odds are stacked against the average computer user.

External hard drives are practically getting cheaper by the minute; off-site backup services are affordable and extremely easy to set up; and OS X itself comes with excellent, built-in backup software.

In short, the greatest hurdle to overcome in terms of backing up your computer’s data is learning how to set things up. We’re here to get you past this hurdle.

There are 3 sections: local, cloud, and clone. These are the methods I follow and if you follow this advice, you'll always be in good shape when disaster strikes. This should be your go to link if you ever get asked how to properly backup your Mac.

What Fruit Is Left Hanging For iOS In Education?

Let me just preface this article with the fact that Apple is doing some extremely innovative things when it comes to education right now. The Device Enrollment Program and Managed Distribution are incredible advancements when you look at what it takes to scale iOS for very large deployments. Fraser and I have been discussing the planning behind deploying iOS on our podcast and these tools are certainly important. The purpose of this article is to look at what's left for Apple to do given the current state of iOS software and hardware.

In-App Purchases
IAP can be an awesome business model when used correctly. I've harped on it from time to time, but the worst offenders are really games with a lot of consumables. There are very legitimate uses of IAP that make sense from both a developer and customer standpoint, but it's not usable in education deployments. When my art teacher saw Paper by FiftyThree, she immediately wanted it. The problem is that it's a free app and you can unlock needed extras by using IAP. If you are using either Managed Distribution or redeemable spreadsheets from the VPP store, there is simply no way to deploy these upgrades using MDM or Apple Configurator. I've e-mailed a couple of developers asking them to release paid versions of their apps as education editions, but haven't had much luck. It certainly wouldn't work with Apple's Garageband app either.

Book Re-Distribution
I've talked about this at length over the years, but nothing has changed. While it's possible to purchase and deploy them in mass, it is not possible to re-distribute them to a class the following year. When a book is pushed to a device, it becomes locked to that Apple ID with no way to pull it back. This is not Apple's decision, but it's a publisher one. The E-Book market is somewhat workable for schools that require students to bring their own books. For schools that provide books to the students, it is just not feasable from a cost perspective. Even if the books were $14.99, they would quickly be more expensive than the physical books when you factor in how many years we use them before replacing.

Default Storage Size
I am going to be highly dissapointed if 16 GB devices live another year. 16 GB has been the stock size for a few years now and it is time to move to 32GB. iBooks Author books and retina apps are not getting smaller and students really start to feel this crunch as the school year goes on. You can quickly fill up a 16 GB device with a few 1 GB iBooks Author books and 6-7 decent sized apps.

Hardware Durability
John Siracusa probably said it best on a past episode of ATP when he said that iOS devices need to be like our car keys. Your car keys can take A LOT of damage before anything happens to them. The iPhone 6 is rumored to be using a sapphire screen. It's already being used on the touch sensor on the 5s and on the camera lens. If you could somehow use a base of gorilla glass (durable against shattering) and a coating of sapphire (protects against scratches), then you might be on the path to devices that can be dropped without much concern.

Stylus API
Yes, I know what Steve Jobs said about a stylus. Personally, I don't use one. There are lots of legitimate uses for them in education, though. Math teachers need one with a fine tip for grading, while art teachers love them for creation. I have actually considered purchasing the Evernote optimized stylus for use with Penultimate. I've also heard great things about the Pencil Stylus that FiftyThree created for Paper. As the platform continues to mature, we will certainly see more situations where a sylus does make sense. The problem with all the ones on the market currently (that interact with software) are that they are connected via bluetooth and tied to specific apps. Lets say that you love Penultimate AND Paper. Do you carry 2 styluses in your bag and un-pair and re-pair them as you swap apps? Apple could create an API that developers could use to optimize their apps for styluses and hopefully negate the need for multiple ones.

iCloud E-mail For Schools
While Mac OS X server does provide an e-mail server, most schools are trying to get out of the email server hosting business. Google Apps for Education is extremely popular. It's free and it just works. Is Apple letting their customers keep a foothold into a competitors camp by not offering a similar product (hosted e-mail, contacts, calendar)? Businesses are always looking to make their devices more sticky . Lets fast forward to 2016 and imagine that Android has really matured from a education perspective. If you are a Google Apps school, moving to Android is a lot easier. Apple could create a version of iCloud that would let schools use their own domains with Apple's e-mail, contacts and calendar syncing service. This could also serve to help "on-board" students with Apple IDs if they don't already have one.

App Interaction
While this certainly doesn't just impact schools, the in-ability for apps to talk to each others file system is a problem that grows year by year. An example of this is if you have a PDF in Evernote and you wanted to edit it in PDF Expert. You have to copy it from Evernote into PDF Expert and then copy it back once you are finished. You are then left with the edited PDF and also the un-edited one in Evernote (along with another copy of the edited one in PDF Expert). From a workflow and training perspective, this gets confusing for teachers and students alike.

802.11ac Wi-Fi takes the lead, but wired network has to play backup

Jessica Scarpati :

"If you're taking care of your network today and making systematic upgrades, you'll be fine," says Bradley Chambers, director of IT at Brainerd Baptist School in Chattanooga, Tenn., who is testing 802.11ac APs from Aerohive Networks. "I don't think you've got to rip and replace and put in $20,000 switches if today you're not [already] putting in that nice of a switch."

I was interviewed as part of a discussion about how 802.11ac impacts your wired network. TL;DR: If you aren't buying $20,000 switches today, you don't need them for 11ac either.

Learning To Love Evernote 2.0

Apple has approved Learning to Love Evernote 2.0. It's a free upgrade for all current customers. If you purchased the iBooks version, you can simply upgrade inside iBooks. If you purchased the direct videos, you will get an email shortly to download the new videos. I've re-recorded every video with new tips, tricks, and workflows. The Evernote iOS apps have changed drastically since the original version was released, so I hope you enjoy the free update. If you find it useful, I'd appreciate a review on iTunes or sharing a link on your social media accounts.

Why Closing iPhone Apps Makes Your Battery Life Worse

Scotty Loveless:

iOS 7 made it super fun to close your apps: all you have to do is double-click the home button and swipe up on the app preview to blast it into a digital black hole.

What most people tell you is that closing your apps will save your battery life because it keeps the apps from running in the background.

Wrong.

Yes, it does shut down the app, but what you don't know is that you are actually making your battery life worse if you do this on a regular basis. Let me tell you why.

This entire article is about what's draining your iPhone battery. I get this question a lot and this will be my go-to resource.

Link via The Loop.

One iTunes Library To Rule Them All

My wife and I combined iTunes music libraries a few weeks back. We did it because iTunes Match is much more useful if we have 1 single library instead of it being spread out. If you are wanting to do this, here is how I did it:

  1. You both must be using the same iTunes Store account on all your devices (you can use separate iCloud accounts).
  2. We decided that my laptop would be the "authoritative" library.
  3. My wife went through her library and deleted anything she didn't want anymore.
  4. I then moved her remaining songs to my Mac over WiFi by connecting to my laptop's desktop through the finder.
  5. I imported about 10 artists at a time in order to manage duplicates and correct metadata (I'm picky about this.)
  6. I then turned on iTunes Match and let everything match and sync up.
  7. I then deleted everything out of her library.
  8. If you activate iTunes Match on another computer, it can also access the library.

You can now turn on iTunes Match on iOS by going to Settings.app > Music. If you are really daring, you can delete all your songs on your Mac. When you do this, a pop up menu will confirm that you want to delete the songs. Make sure the delete from iCloud option is unchecked. Once this happens, your entire library will be in the trash. Your music can still stream from any of your iOS devices, but you won't be taking up hard drive space on your Mac. Just make sure to keep paying for iTunes Match or you will lose access to your library. Once you have confirmed everything is working, empty your trash.

Apple's Device Enrollment Program Is A Moat Around Its Education Kingdom

When the iPhone was released in 2007, people wanted to use it in the workplace, but there was some technical challenges. The biggest challenge was the lack of native exchange support. The only way around it was to enable IMAP over Exchange (something a lot of people didn't want to do). With the launch of iPhone OS 2.0, ActivSync was added and therefore it could sync e-mail, calendars, and contacts from Exchange servers. With each version of iOS, Apple has added additional APIs for mobile devices management systems. In fact, there are things you can now do with an iOS 7 deployment that I thought would never have happened.

With Apple's new Device Enrollment Program, they have solved just about every problem or complexity relating to deploying iOS. My podcast co-host Fraser Speirs has a great write up about the nitty gritty details of the new options if you haven't read about them yet.

Do you see what Apple has done here? They are building a moat around the iOS kingdom in education (and a lot of corporations). Microsoft originally built a moat years ago with Active Directory and Exchange. The main difference between then and now is that end users actually like to use Apple products. Now, IT professionals actually like to deploy and manage iOS. Apple learned from Microsoft that once you control the locks (the back end infrastructure), it's harder for people to change the keys (devices). It's certainly not a long term world domination plan, but it does give Apple a few years of runway if they found themselves being challenged for end user attention from someone else. Once IT departments have gone "all in" on iOS deployment principals, they are going to be less likely to want to move elsewhere.

Fluke Networks LinkSprinter Network Tester

I've been needing a good network connectivity testing tool for a while now. I need something that I can plug into an ethernet port and verify DHCP and gateway accessibility. Fluke Networks has had some great tools for years, but they have been out of my price range. I don't need a tool like this daily, but maybe 2-3 times a month. They recently released the LinkSprinter (affiliate link) product line. There are two models: one that has a built in WiFi web server and one that doesn't ($299 vs $199). The WiFi server allows you to show your test results on your mobile device (and initiate a new test). Both devices send your results as an email. The other new thing about this device is that it has a cloud services piece. All your test results are stored online with Fluke Networks and you can view them later. You can add notes to the test by replying to the original test result email. This could be helpful for recording a port location or a trouble ticket number. There is one downside to the cloud component: it has fees.

The service is free for the first 120 days. After that 10 tests per month are included per tester. Additional tests may be purchased in 100 or 1000 packs for pennies per test. Tests packs can be shared across an organization.

This will be no problem with me. I'm not likely to use it more than ten times per month. Overall, I am pretty impressed. I got it connected to my account with relative ease. It applied a firmware update and that did seem to cause it to struggle for a bit. It got itself worked out and I've had no issues since. One thing to note is that the folks at Fluke noticed I was having trouble completing the first few initial tests and reached out via email.

If you are needing an in-expensive and portable way to test connectivity, then you'll love this device.

How Should Dropbox Respond To Google Drive's Price Cut?

Google made big news last week when they dramatically cut the price of Google Drive storage. I've always been a heavy Dropbox user (as well as Evernote), so I hadn't gone "all in" on Drive. I've always thought Drive was a useful service, but I don't collaborate with a ton of people so the sharing options weren't something I used.

When I saw the changes to the pricing, I decided to put it through the works. My test included dropping my 67 GB photo library into the Mac app. It finished with 1 error. I told the app to re-sync and it worked fine. I also tried the same test through the web interface and only got 2 errors. In case you are wondering, yes I did upload 67 GB through a web interface with 1 drag and drop (using Chrome). To me, that's amazing. It really shows that Google knows how to make web services. One thing that the Mac app can't do (that Dropbox can) is to do selective sync on interior folders. Only folders in the main root Drive folder can use selective sync. It's an all or none type choice.

Google Drive's iOS app is also really nice. As a photo viewer, it's easy to see thumbnails and everything loads fast (even movie playback). It allows multi user sign in (work and home) where Dropbox does not. One glaring ommision is that it can't play audio files inside the app. The iOS versions of the productivity apps aren't as full featured as the web versions, but it's certainly functional.

At $2/mo for 100 GB, Drive makes a nice backup for your photos. I'll be updating my photo book soon to reflect how using it can impact your workflows. One nice feature of Drive is that shared files aren't double taxed like they are on Dropbox. Google also doesn't count Google Drive created files against your quota.

Dropbox has been the king of the folder syncing hill for a few years now. Transporter is doing a end-run around on Dropbox by offering similar functionality with no monthly fees (and using onsite storage). Google is doing a full frontal assault with the price cut. Google is offering 100GB at 75% less than Dropbox at this time.

How does Dropbox respond? One thing they need is a great web presence. Dropbox's web interface is for viewing, organizing, deleting, and viewing. With Google Drive, you can create and edit spreadsheets, presentations, and documents. Dropbox needs to add this feature, but they also need to provide more. What could they do without matching the price?

  1. Add a web based image editor.
  2. Add PDF creation and editing on the web.
  3. Add web based email for all your email (think Mailbox.app for the web).
  4. Buy and integrate a web based "productivity suite".
  5. Shared folders only count against the original creator.

Dropbox likely cannot compete compete with Google on price per GB. Dropbox isn't subsidized by other products nor does it own its own data centers (it's using Amazon S3). It can attempt to be a better value. With the acquisition of Mailbox.app last year, it seems they know that.

As time goes on, I think Steve Jobs was right. Syncing is a feature. What you can do around the syncing is the product.

Schools, Google Apps, And One Login To Rule Them All

One of the problems that a lot of schools (and their families) face is login overload. I work at a elementary school and our parents have at least 3 accounts with us (but that gets up to 5-6 as their kids get older).

  1. Renweb - Student Information System
  2. FACTS - Tuition management
  3. Advanced Reader - reading comprehension program
  4. Artsonia (our Art teacher uploads artwork here)
  5. SpellingCity (a lot of our 3rd-5th classes use this)
  6. Google Apps (5th grade only)

When I go to education conferences and sit in on presentations that talk about "the 10 apps you must use" or the "5 best web 2.0" websites, I immediately think of the account management of these services. I’ve also noticed that a lot of teachers “try” something for a month or two (and create logins for their classes), but then usage fizzles. This creates a lot of work for students and the teacher will little impact on learning.

What we need is a turn key universal login system for the majority of services that schools use. This would be similar to OpenID, but built for schools. Is this going to happen? Not a chance. What has happened is that Google Apps has become a universal login system. A lot of the services we look at allow Google logins. If I am comparing 2 products for our school, the winner will likely be the one that supports a Google login. Active Directory is all but dead in the Post-PC world. The only thing you might use it for on iOS is WiFi login and maybe email (Exchange). I believe you’ll start to see WiFi vendors start supporting Google Apps as a login mechanisms in the near future (imagine tying Google Apps “orgs” to VLANs). One company has already built a hosted Radius server that works with Google Apps.

As our reliance on cloud services grows inside the school, we must do what we can to simplify the login problem for our families and faculty. Leveraging Google's authentication system (as a Google Apps school) is probably the best method so far.

What's Wrong With Apple TV?

I wrote an article a few months back about my experience of using the Roku when compared to the Apple TV. After a few months, I have dropped down to two Apple TVs and 4 Roku 3s. I've absolutely fallen in love with the Roku. For anyone that claimed I was an Apple fanboy, there is your proof. The purpose of this article is about what does the Apple TV need to do going forward to innovate.

Remote
The remote needs to be RF (or WiFi) based and it needs to be bigger. It's the same basic remote that shipped with Front Row. Our usage has certainly changed since then. I know iOS devices have Remote.app, but that isn't a full time solution for most people. The remote is also too small. It needs to be thicker and add a few buttons. The Roku remote feels nice in the hand and is RF driven.

App Variety
Does the Roku have a ton of apps? Yes. Are most of them good? Not a chance. In fact, it feels a bit like the cell phone app store in the pre-iPhone world. A lot of them a require monthly charges and are pretty terrible (imagine a $2/mo screen saver app). There are some nuggets, though. Obviously there are Amazon and Panorda apps, but I recently found two new ones that opened up my eyes to the future:

Angry Birds Toons and and QVC. My son saw me browsing apps and asked to watch Angry Birds (he's never played the game). We watched a few of the episodes and then he asked if their was an iPad game for Angry Birds (not joking). Angry Birds is turning itself into a nice brand for kids and this Roku app is anther extension of that. Is it just designed to sell games and merchandise? Yes, but so are most Disney movies. The QVC app is simply a live stream of its channel. QVC has no preference on how you view their channel. They just want you to buy the products they are selling. My wife used to enjoy leaving it on as background noise when we had cable, so it was great to see that QVC has moved into the "over the top" model.

Apple needs to have an SDK for Apple TV. Imagine the iPhone App Store if it worked like the Apple TV. You'd wake up with new apps installed on your phone that you didn't ask for nor care about. It seems like Apple is wanting to build a consistent experience with its apps. Now don't get me wrong, I get that. It makes it easy to find your way around the apps because all the menus are similar. The downside of this model is that it sets the bar where no developer can innovate.

The Apple TV is a fantastic device, but outside of a few app additions (that most people probably don't use), it's largely the same device that launched many years ago. Perhaps it's time for a "bet the company" type moment through an acquisition like Aereo or Dish. This could be the first step into a real living room play.

Deployment 2014, Part 3: Network Infrastructure

This week, on the podcast, Fraser and I discuss network infrastructure. 1:1 deployments require drastically different network planning than was needed during the "computer lab" era. There are a couple of key points:

  • Don't assume your network can handle 1:1
  • Don't assume it can be upgraded cheaply
  • Don't assume it can be upgrade quickly.

You can listen to the show here or you can subscribe to get each episode automatically downloaded to the podcast app of your choice. We're building a special page on our website where each topic gets explained a little further. You can check it out here.

Special thanks to our sponsors:
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Comcast Wins, Netflix Wins

Ben Thompson:

With this deal, Netflix has effectively cut out the middleman Cogent, and is sending traffic directly from their servers onto Comcast’s network. Not only will this mean better quality for Netflix customers on Comcast, but it also raises the barrier of entry for potential Netflix competitors. Netflix currently has unique leverage over Comcast due to Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner, which, combined with their brand name and favorability amongst customers and regulators likely meant they got a great deal; future Netflix competitors, forced to go over the open Internet or rely on providers like Cogent will be at both a cost and quality disadvantage.

This is very important for Netflix long term. As they continue to dominate the streaming video market, this is an extra barrier to competitors. Amazon may be willing to throw money at content, but are they will to throw money for "better" access to the last mile?

Apple's New Deployment Programs

Fraser Speirs:

Yesterday Apple released two new deployment programs for iOS and Mac, and rolled out enhancements to another. I want to explain as best I can how they work together.

The Volume Purchase Program has been significantly enhanced and there are two new programs: Device Enrolment Program and AppleID for Students. Let's look at each of these in turn.

Apple has really improved the management and roll out process. It's important to remember that with iOS, Mobile Device Management providers can only work the the APIs that Apple allows. These changes are going to dramatically simplify larger rollouts.

The Device Enrolment Program basically takes that best practice but moves it into Apple's device activation servers.

DEP provides four major advantages over cabled deployment:

  • A device can be supervised over-the-air
  • Users can be presented with a simplified version of the setup assistant
  • Devices can be automatically enrolled in your institution's MDM
  • MDM enrolment can be locked

This would have prevented the LAUSD "hacking".

The second caveat is that DEP is US-only for now. Apple operates a direct sales model in the US and therefore has knowledge of who ordered which devices, down to the level of individual serial numbers. That's not true in most other countries where Apple works through resellers to sell to institutions.

Fraser and I have talked about this on our podcast on multiple occasions. In the US, schools can only buy through Apple. In fact, I can't go to my local Apple reseller and buy an iPad or Mac with my school tax ID. Apple will not allow them to sell it. Apple will likely work with resellers in other countries to bring this improvement worldwide. This is one of the areas that Apple has shown the willingness to brute force solutions to problems.

The COPPA regulations in the US have made it awkward to use individual AppleIDs for students under 13. This is being solved with the AppleID for Students program.

This will be a lifesaver for 1:1 schools with students under 13 years old. I highly recommend that you read Fraser's entire post.

Microsoft Creates Apps For Brands Without Permission

Blair Hanley Frank:

As it turns out, this isn’t a native Windows Phone app — and it wasn’t made by Redfin. It was developed by Microsoft, by packaging up Redfin’s mobile website in the form of an installable app.

My question is not who came up with the idea, but who approved it?

via Tab Dump

Replacing Pocket With Pinboard And Paperback

I've used "read later" type services since around 2008. I used Instapaper for a long time and moved on to Pocket about a year ago. I've had a Pinboard account for a few years, but I never really found a use for it. I store articles in Evernote when I want to save them forever. I like the app for Pocket, but I don't like the branded URL when sharing to Twitter.

I asked on Twitter why someone hasn't built an app on top of Pinboard as a Pocket/Instapaper replacement. 3 minutes later, I had my answer. Someone had. While Paperback doesn't have an iOS app, it has really nice web interface (responsive design). The developer mentioned to me that he is working on an iOS app. It's $15/year, but I am really enjoying it so far. If you are looking for more control over your bookmarks and your "read later" experience, I'd highly recommend looking at Pinboard and Paperback. Don't forget to check out the new article over at The Sweet Setup on discovering the best Pinboard app for iOS.