A Review of Apple's  Pay

 Pay Review
by Guest columnist August Flassig

Contactless payments have been around for some time, mainly in Europe and Asia. It wasn't until recently that card companies added Near-Field Communication (NFC) to their cards for contactless payments.

Contactless Payment Symbol

Google and other Android phones companies added NFC within the past two years and created “Google Wallet” as their answer to the “mobile wallet” question. However, it didn’t become as popular as anticipated due to lack of infrastructure in the U.S. Now Apple looks to bring a “whole new take” on mobile payments and solve the mobile payment question. So, did it?

In a way, Apple is on the right path to making a truly mobile wallet and making online and in-store payments private, simple, and secure. Setup for  Pay only takes a minute and is easy to have all your supported cards set up in minutes. Using the iPhone’s built-in iSight camera and positioning the card in the onscreen square, the iPhone instantly reads the card data and inputs it. This process is similar to how a Mac and iPhone can redeem iTunes cards using the camera. The only thing you have to add is a security code or any authorization through your bank, if applicable. Also, if you have a credit or debit card on file with iTunes, it will ask if you wish to add it to passbook as well. So, how simple is it to use?

When shopping, if you see a register with a “contactless card payment symbol”  pay is supported. I’ve used  Pay at Panera Bread and its as fast and effortless as one would expect. With a selected card in PassBook, I placed my phone near the card reader, authenticated the transaction with my fingerprint, and the transaction is complete. People have reported even using  Pay at vending machines with the same symbol for contactless payment. However, not all banks and credit card issuers are the same. After buying my breakfast, I never got a digital receipt or other transaction information. The amount is blank and no breakdown of what I bought. However, people who use AMEX report they have the last ten transactions listed in their PassBook. After contacting Bank of America, I was told to talk to Apple because PassBook is not their jurisdiction. So far, not having a digital receipt is a bit scary. Contesting transactions or making returns can be a headache and having to hang onto a paper receipt makes the mobile wallet a little less mobile. If the receipt issue is something that is a store to store issue than it can be a complicated one. However, this issue can be an individual one and my PassBook could have an issue.

Overall, the roll out of  Pay has been successful as they work out the minor kinks and card activations. Using  Pay in apps is a welcomed feature but its only supported apps and not all developers are on board at the moment. Like iOS adoption rates, the adoption rate for  Pay and retailers should be greater by early 2015 when  Watch is released. If you haven't already added your cards in PassBook, try it out. Some locations may not have the supported hardware but by next year EMV “Chip and Pin” card readers will be required and with that support for contactless payment.  Pay is a fun, safe, and secure way to pay that makes owning an iPhone 6 and 6 Plus a great investment. Hopefully you will have a great experience paying with your iPhone for your next purchase. For basic information on  Pay see Apple’s page: https://www.apple.com/iphone-6/apple-pay/

Mac Malware and Scams are on the Rise

Mac Malware and Scams are on the Rise

Recently, I've been hearing from quite a few clients that think their Macs are infected with viruses because their Macs are not running optimally. Although there are no known Mac viruses in the wild, there is malware out there that will make your Mac act strangely. Unfortunately, just like the story from antiquity about the Trojan Horse being let into the city gates by the Trojans as a “parting gift” from the Greeks only to have said Greeks spew out of it at night to sack the city, you can introduce malware to your Macs by going to “less than reputable websites” and downloading software that promises all kinds of things in exchange for your Mac’s password to install it. You can avoid most malware by not downloading software from questionable websites or websites with which you’re not familiar.

Just last week, a new client was referred to me by a mutual friend because her Mac suddenly started alerting her that she was at risk and that she needed to visit a certain website or call a toll free number to resolve the issue. The notification she received indicated that it was urgent and insistent that she should call the Tech Support number shown on the screen. When she called, the foreign “customer service representative” offered to fix the issue for $200 and needed her credit card number before he could help her. To add insult to injury, the “customer service representative” was able to convince her to allow him to log into her Mac and she even gave him her Mac’s master password! This fake tech support scam is simply a “human engineering” scam that preys on people’s fears about computer viruses. Fortunately for my client, she did not give the “tech” her credit card number! Since the “tech” had her Mac’s master password, he potentially had access to her Keychain Access program and its stored logins and passwords as well as any passwords stored in Apple’s own Safari web browser. I did advise her, however, to log into all of the websites she frequents (e.g. bank websites, social media sites, other websites, etc.) and change all of her passwords so that each website has its own unique password that she’s not used before. The “tech” also directed her into the Terminal app, so he had access to the Mac’s operating system’s underpinnings. I took care of that for her by wiping her drive and installing a fresh copy of the Mac operating system and reinstalling her user files (paying close attention to those as well so as not to reintroduce anything that that “tech” may have changed while logged into her Mac).

How do you know if you have malware installed on your Mac? Well, what will likely happen is you will visit a website which will generate “pop up” windows that stay active in your web browser. An example of these pop ups is MacKeeper or CleanMyMac. Both of these pop ups will try and instill a sense of fear that your Mac is running less than optimally or has otherwise been compromised. Coincidentally, if your Mac is sluggish because you don’t have enough RAM in it (have you been seeing the Rainbow Pinwheel a lot lately?) or you haven’t restarted your Mac since Steve Jobs’ last Macworld Keynote Address, you may see those pop ups and genuinely think you have a problem and be tempted to download and install either or both of those programs. All you need to do is close all the windows in the browser you’re using (e.g., Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc.), then quit and relaunch that browser. It's important to close all the windows before quitting so they don't open again a second time when you relaunch the browser. Restarting the computer is also a good idea. I also recommend running Cocktail at least once a month to keep your Mac running swimmingly. To me, MacKeeper and CleanMyMac border on being malware because they are marketed not as useful utilities but are marketed in such a way to instill fear that if you don’t download them, buy them, and use them, your Mac would be somehow compromised or run less than optimally. In short, you don't need them!

Using a Mac on the Internet is still relatively safe but the growing Mac user base seems to be attracting more social engineering scams. No virus or malware detection program will detect those but Good Old Common Sense™ should! As President Ronald Reagan used to say about the Soviet Union: “Trust, but verify!” If you’re not sure if something is a scam or malware, please send me an email with a screenshot of what you’re seeing or at least the text of the dialog box you’re seeing and I can help verify its authenticity.

As always, Tech Me Back LLC is here to help you with all of your Mac and iOS needs.

Predictive Typing in iOS 8

Predictive Typing in iOS 8

Like many cell phones, the iPhone, when running iOS 8, uses "predictive typing" to suggest words that you are likely to be typing. You can select those words without having to type in all of the letters the comprise that word.


While many may find that handy, a friend of mine did not care for it and wondered if it could be turned off. It sure can!
Just go to:
Settings -> General -> Keyboard and slide the "Predictive" switch to the left.


Does My iPhone Have a Sleep Timer?

Does My iPhone Have a Sleep Timer?

For those that know me, it would come as no surprise that I like an eclectic variety of music. Many of my clients and fellow music lovers have asked me if the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch has a sleep timer because they remember their old iPod had one but cannot find a similar function on their new iOS device. Like me, they like drifting off to sleep listening to their favorite tunes but would like for the iOS device to turn itself off after a predetermined amount of time. Good news! There is a sleep timer built into your new iOS device! The sleep timer works not only with Apple’s own music app but also with Pandora, and iHeartRadio, too.

I recommend that you start off by choosing the music to which you’d like to fall asleep. I’ve done this in screenshot below:

Step 1

In iOS 7, the easiest way to access the iOS timer is to swipe up from either the black or white area (depending if you have a black or white iPhone/iPad) immediately to the left of the home button at the bottom center of your iOS device. If done correctly, you will open the Control Center as shown in the screenshot below. Touch the timer icon (see
red square box in screenshot).

Step 2

When the Timer comes up, choose how long you’d like the music to play for before the device shuts off by sliding the dials up and down to set the hours and minutes. Next, touch where it says, “When Timer Ends” and scroll down and choose “Stop Playing.” Lastly, touch start and your sleep timer will start counting down.

Step 3

The last step is to relax listening to your favorite music while you drift off to La-La Land. Enjoy!

How Photo Stream Works

What is Photo Stream?

Apple’s Photo Stream is a cloud-based photo sharing service that allows one to easily share photos between various devices. These photos can be viewed on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV, as well as Macs and Windows PCs. Photo Stream keeps the last 30 days’ worth of photos or the last 1,000 photos - whichever occurs first.

How Photo Stream Works

If you have Photo Stream enabled on both the iPhone/iPad and iPhoto on your Mac, any picture you take on iPhone/iPad is automatically uploaded to Photo Stream. Photos on Photo Stream can either be manually or automatically imported into iPhoto on the Mac according to your preferences.

Do you want to keep Photo Stream photos permanently?

Because your Mac has more storage than your iPhone/iPad, you can choose to download all of your My Photo Stream photos manually or automatically.

Manually Importing Photo Stream Photos into iPhoto on Your Mac

Open iPhoto on your Mac and click on "iCloud" in the left sidebar to allow iPhoto time to download any recent Photo Stream photos. If you take photos frequently, it is important to make sure to go into iPhoto on the Mac periodically and click on "iCloud" in the left sidebar to give iPhoto the chance to download the photos from your Photo Stream and automatically place them into iPhoto's permanent library.

Automatically Importing Photo Stream Photos into iPhoto on Your Mac

If enabled in iPhoto's Preferences (see screenshot), iPhoto can automatically import any Photo Stream photos and place them into iPhoto’s permanent photo library. To do this, on your Mac, launch iPhoto and go into its Preferences. Select iCloud -> My Photo Stream -> Automatic Import. All of your Photo Stream photos will import into your Events, Projects, Photos, Faces, and Places folders in iPhoto on the Mac.

You can also set up “Automatic Upload” so that any new photos you import to iPhoto on the Mac automatically upload to your Photo Stream when you’re connect to Wi-Fi network. If the button is unchecked, you will have to manually select photos to be uploaded to Photo Stream from iPhoto on the Mac.

Uploading Photos to Photo Stream

Photo Stream only uploads photos from iPhone/iPad while connected to a Wi-Fi network. In other words, if you're using a cellular connection and take a photo, the photo will not upload to your Photo Stream. Occasionally, a picture doesn't get uploaded to Photo Stream because it was taken when you were on a cellular connection while you're out and about. Currently, there is no way to trigger an upload to Photo Stream after the fact. If a photo fails to upload to Photo Stream, you can manually synchronize your iPhone/iPad with iPhoto on the Mac to synchronize missing photos and videos. You will have to connect your iPhone/iPad to your Mac with its Docking cable (older generation iPhones/iPads) or its "Lightning" cable (newer iPhones/iPads). Incidentally, videos are not currently being uploaded to Photo Stream given their large file size.

Syncing iPhone/iPad with iPhoto Manually

Plug your iPhone/iPad into your Mac. Then in iPhoto, click on your iPhone/iPad in the left sidebar. You should see an Import button. The import process will automatically skip any photos previously imported from Photo Stream. Once imported, you can choose whether to remove them from Camera Roll on the iPhone/iPad. If you do this, make sure you are syncing them back to the iPhone/iPad in iTunes if you want them on the iPhone/iPad in albums.

Deleting Photos

Photos can be deleted from two (2) locations:

Deleting from Photo Stream

When you delete a photo from Photo Stream, it removes it from Photo Stream entirely. In other words, if the photo was taken with one iOS device and shared with other iOS devices, and you delete it from the Photo Stream, it will be deleted from all devices. If it was already downloaded into iPhoto on the Mac, however, the photo will remain there under the (MonthName Year) Photo Stream album (e.g. August 2014 Photo Stream), but not in the Photo Stream area.

Deleting from the Camera Roll

When you delete a photo from Camera Roll on a particular iOS device, it removes the photo from that the Camera Roll but does not delete it from Photo Stream.


How to Encrypt a PDF on a Mac

How to Encrypt a PDF on a Mac

PDFs have become a “go-to” file format for sharing and preserving information. If you’re like me - and many of my clients - some of your PDFs contain sensitive information of either a personal or financial nature (e.g. tax returns back to your accountant). Take a step to guard those sensitive PDFs by encrypting them. This is a good idea if you have your sensitive files on a laptop or would like to share them with others via email or some other file sharing system such as Dropbox, SugarSync, etc.

Using Apple’s Preview on your Mac, it’s pretty simple to encrypt your PDF:

Open the PDF you wish to create in Preview and choose File > Duplicate.

When you go to close that duplicate file using either the red dot in the upper left corner, File > Close, or , you’ll be prompted with a Save dialog box.

Assign your PDF a file name in the “Save As” line and determine where you’d like the file saved in the “Where” line. Then continue down the screen and you’ll notice a check box to “Encrypt” the file.

Preview - Encrypt1

Check that “Encrypt” box. When you do, two password fields will appear. Enter the password you would like to be required to open the file in each of those two password fields. Note that you’ll need to remember this password.
If you cannot, you will not be able to open your encrypted PDF in the future.

Preview - Encrypt2

Click “Save.” As soon as your file is saved, your file is encrypted. You’ll notice that the icon for your PDF now has a lock on it.

Preview - Encrypt3

If you’re planning to transmit your encrypted PDF via email or a file sharing platform like Dropbox, remember to share your file or file location and the password for your file separately. In other words, don’t email the encrypted document with its password in the same email. Consider calling the recipient and giving him/her the password verbally.

Please note that these steps assume you’re running Mavericks on your Mac. If you’re running an older version of Mac OS, the steps are slightly different. Interested in how to encrypt PDFs for those older versions? Send us an email with your OS and I’ll reply with the details!

How to Easily Encrypt a Flash Drive on a Mac

How to Easily Encrypt a Flash Drive on a Mac
Mac OS 10.9.x “Mavericks” Edition

(NOTE: This was written for OS X 10.9 “Mavericks.” If you’re looking for the OS X 10.11 “El Capitan” edition, please click here. If you’re looking for the macOS 10.12 “Sierra” edition, please click here. For the YouTube video for Sierra edition, click here.)

Like many of my clients and friends, I use a flash drive (also known as a “USB drive” or “Pen drive” or “Thumb drive” etc.), for backing up important files. One of the things I’ve noticed, though, is how many people put sensitive and personal data on these flash drives but don’t even bother to encrypt them. The reason it’s important to encrypt these flash drives is because these flash drives are usually physically small and can be easily misplaced, lost or stolen. If they are encrypted, you don’t have to worry about the data on them being accessible to someone that may have stolen your flash drive or happened to have found it lying around somewhere.

Apple’s Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” and later operating systems make it easy to do a full disk encryption of these flash drives. You can also easily encrypt Secure Digital “SD” cards too! SD cards are typically what is used in digital cameras to record the images taken with the camera. Most Macs have built-in SD card slots so Apple has made SD cards very easy and convenient to use.

In order to encrypt a flash drive or SD card (we’ll call them “media” collectively from this point onward), you should either start with brand new media or prepare to reformat the media that you may already have. Please note that when you reformat this media, you are effectively erasing it so any existing data (e.g. files, folders, programs, etc.) will be lost! If you’re using existing media, you should consider copying or backing up the data on that media to another media first so that you can then copy it back to the encrypted media later.

The first thing you need to do is insert the media into your Mac. Afterwards, go to your Mac’s Applications folder and locate the Utilities folder. Inside the Utilities folder, you’ll find the Disk Utility application. Double-click on its icon to launch it. You should see a window on your Mac similar to this screenshot:


In the screenshot above, I’ve selected my 8GB flash drive by clicking on it once in Disk Utility (highlighted in yellow). Once selected, I then clicked on the Erase tab. I then changed the format type to “Mac OS X Extended (Journaled, Encrypted)” using the drop down box as shown in screenshot (highlighted in blue). At this point, you can type in a name for your media. Naming your media can help you keep your media organized. After all, most of us have several of media, right? Giving them names helps us keep them straight!

Click the Erase button in the lower right-hand corner of the window and Drive Utility will then prompt you to enter a password before it begins the process to erase and encrypt the media.
Please remember to use a password that is not only hard for someone to figure out but one that you can easily remember. Please also note that if you cannot remember the password you used when formatting and encrypting the media, then you will not be able to access the data contained on that media. You will also be given the opportunity to give yourself a “hint” on what the password is. I’d recommend writing a hint that you can figure out but would be meaningless to someone who doesn’t know you.


In a minute or two, you’ll have an encrypted flash drive or SD card ready for you to use! Remember to always drag your media off your Mac’s Desktop to your Trash to eject it properly. This step helps to prevent data loss that can result by simply pulling the media out of your Mac.

When encrypted media is plugged into your Mac, you will be prompted to enter the password you selected in order to access the data on that media. If you cannot remember your password, you can click on “Show Hint” and any hint you may have established while setting up the encrypted media will be displayed to assist you in remembering what the password is.


While Apple’s Disk Utility program is easy to use, there are a few drawbacks to using it to create encrypted media:

  • The encrypted media can only be accessed with a Mac running Mac OS X “Lion” or later. Provided you know the password, you will be able to access the media and the data on it with any Mac running Mac OS X “Lion” (10.7), “Mountain Lion” (10.8) and “Mavericks” (10.9). The media is not compatible with Windows or any other operating system (i.e. Windows or other operating systems will not be able to access the data contained on the media). Most flash media come pre-formatted for use with PCs running Windows but your Mac can also access them. This process will make your media Mac only. It’s not a big deal unless you live or work in a mixed computing environment containing Macs and PCs.
  • As mentioned above, you’ll need the password you selected in Disk Utility to mount and use the media on your Mac. Without it, the data on the media cannot be accessed.

These drawbacks, on the whole, though, are minor when protecting your data on media that is easily misplaced, lost, or stolen, don’t you think? Give it a try and you’ll see that encrypting media on your Mac is easy to do. If it’s easy and safe, why wouldn’t you use encryption to protect your data?

As always, Tech Me Back stands at the ready to help you with any questions you may have!

Have You Upgraded to “Mavericks” Yet?

Have You Upgraded to “Mavericks” Yet?

OS X 10.9 “Mavericks” has been around since October 2013 but there have been some minor install issues as well as problems between Apple’s Mail and Google’s Gmail since Mavericks’ introduction. Apple’s recent release of the 10.9.1 back in mid-December, however, fixes many of those major issues. Apple’s
website does a good job of covering some of the advantages that Mavericks offers you.

If your Mac is capable of running Mavericks, now seems like a safe time to make the upgrade if you haven't already done so. All Macs capable of running OS X 10.8 “Mountain Lion” are capable of running Mavericks and the best part is that Mavericks is a
free update.

Mac models compatible with OS X Mavericks:

• iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
• 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)
• Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
• Xserve (Early 2009)

If your Mac is one of the above or newer, you can upgrade directly to Mavericks from Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard.” Mavericks does require that your Mac has a minimum of 2 gigabytes of RAM/memory. I would only suggest that you upgrade if your Mac has at least 4 gigabytes of RAM. Anecdotally, your Mac should have 8 gigabytes or more to run most efficiently and effectively under Mavericks. Generally, if you have 2-4 GBs of RAM, you should be able to at least double the RAM you have for less than $100. If you think you need more RAM in your Mac, please click

Before you download and install the Mavericks upgrade, you should make a full backup of your hard drive. Give yourself a safety net in case your install goes awry. For more information on how to back up your Mac, please click
here. You should also run Apple’s Disk Utility (Applications folder Utilities folder Disk Utility) to verify your hard disk to ensure that there are no physical errors with the hard drive that could negatively impact you while you upgrade to Mavericks. I’d also suggest running a utility program such as Cocktail to repair disk permissions, clear caches and log files, and run various maintenance scripts to help ensure your upgrade is successful.

Speaking of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, Apple has provided both security and general updates for it for many years but there are rumors that that support will end soon. Once Apple drops support for Snow Leopard, updates for major web browsers (e.g. Safari, Firefox, Chrome) and plugins like the Adobe Flash Player will also likely begin to require newer versions of the Mac OS and you may not have a choice but to upgrade. I would suggest that if you are still running Snow Leopard on your Mac and your Mac is capable of running Mavericks, you should consider upgrading in the near future. You can get your free copy of Mavericks via the Mac App Store.

As always, Tech Me Back LLC stands at the ready to assist you with upgrading your Mac so please don’t hesitate to call or
email us.