Watch out for Apple Phone Phishing Scams

Security researcher Brian Krebs on his Krebs on Security blog recently outlined one of the latest phishing scams he’s seen, where an incoming phone call appears to be from a legitimate Apple support line. I’m writing about this to make you aware so that you don’t fall for the scam. Please take the time to read the blog post so that you know how the scam works.

Brian Krebs, writing for Krebs on Security Apple Phone Phishing Scams Getting Better — Krebs on Security

A new phone-based phishing scam that spoofs Apple Inc. is likely to fool quite a few people. It starts with an automated call that display’s Apple’s logo, address and real phone number, warning about a data breach at the company. The scary part is that if the recipient is an iPhone user who then requests a call back from Apple’s legitimate customer support Web page, the fake call gets indexed in the iPhone’s “recent calls” list as a previous call from the legitimate Apple Support line.

Jody Westby is the CEO of Global Cyber Risk LLC, a security consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. Westby said earlier today she received an automated call on her iPhone warning that multiple servers containing Apple user IDs had been compromised (the same scammers had called her at 4:34 p.m. the day before, but she didn’t answer that call). The message said she needed to call a 1-866 number before doing anything else with her phone.

Apple support also offers a document on how to Avoid phishing emails, fake ‘virus’ alerts, phony support calls, and other scams – Apple Support

Apple products are getting more expensive

I’ve been thinking about Apple’s pricing a lot lately. It’s reached a point where I’m not going to be able to afford to update my Apple hardware as often as I would like.

My Apple devices are getting dated but for now, I won’t be upgrading to any new devices. I’m going to have to use my existing hardware until it becomes unusable. Instead of having an iMac, MacBook, iPad, and iPhone as I do now I’ll be more selective in the future. For example, my iMac is a late 2013 non-retina. It’s getting dated. It’s stuck on Sierra. I love it but when it fails I won’t be replacing it. Instead, I’ll use my 2015 MacBook for all my computing needs. I just can’t justify the cost of owning two macs anymore.

I’ll also be sticking with my iPhone 7 Plus for now. It works great and does everything that I need for it to do. At a $1,000 plus a new iPhone Xs model isn’t in my budget.

I’ve got a feeling I’m not the only one feeling this way. Here’s a Washington Post article that does a nice job of laying Apple’s price hikes and what you should do if the price of Apple loyalty is getting hard for you to swallow.

Geoffrey A. Fowler and Andrew Van Dam, writing for the Washington Post

Apple has never made cheap stuff. But this fall many of its prices increased 20 percent or more. The MacBook Air went from $1,000 to $1,200. A Mac Mini leaped from $500 to $800. It felt as though the value proposition that has made Apple products no-brainers might unravel.

What we learned: Being loyal to Apple is getting expensive. Many Apple product prices are rising faster than inflation — faster, even, than the price of prescription drugs or going to college. Yet when Apple offers cheaper options for its most important product, the iPhone, Americans tend to take the more expensive choice. So while Apple isn’t charging all customers more, it’s definitely extracting more money from frequent upgraders.

What we see is a reflection of a new reality for consumer tech. Most Americans who want a smartphone, tablet or laptop already have one and aren’t interested in changing to a new system. Without big subsidies from phone carriers and as product innovation slows, we also don’t mind holding on to these products for three or more years. Apple, hoping to charge more every time we do buy, is changing how it gets money from us. So we need to change how we think about its value.

But the specs hardly matter. As any member of the Apple tribe will profess, it’s selling far more than sexy hardware. It’s an Apple-only operating system that works with all its other Apple-only stuff, like iMessage and iCloud — a (mostly) happy trap that’s hard to leave. You’re buying access to all those Apple Stores and customer service, not to mention Apple’s aggressive stance on privacy.

The paradox is that many Apple customers think they must have the latest, trained by Apple marketing to future-proof ourselves. So this year, instead of buying a year-old iPhone 8 at a discount or an iPhone XR (a much less expensive compromise to the top iPhone XS), many customers are skipping out on an upgrade altogether.

The question is: How far can Apple’s latest and greatest prices stretch? “Apple is becoming aggressive, perhaps overly so, in pricing the top- of-the-line models of its products,” says Rafi Mohammed, a pricing strategy consultant. And that is “putting its loyal relationship with its core customers at risk.”

In 2014, Americans waited about 24 months to upgrade their phones at national carriers, according to BayStreet. Now we’re waiting almost 36 months. People will ride their iPhone 6S until its wheels come off.

“I could see it going to four years” for phones, says industry analyst Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies.

So what should you do if the price of Apple loyalty is getting hard to swallow?

Instead, you might ask: How many Apple products do you really need?

Beyond that, it’s about recalibrating our upgrade urge. Apple devices really do last a long time, all the more so with the inexpensive battery replacements Apple is offering through the end of the year. If your iPhone breaks, used ones available on eBay can still work great for far less money.

Or: Before buying the new thing following one of Apple’s launch events, wait a month until the buzz settles. If the product doesn’t still seem very revolutionary, it’s a safe bet to save your money by holding on for another year. Or four.

My 2019 Must-Have iOS Apps for iPhone and iPad

This article is an annual tradition: towards the end of December I summarize My Must-Have iOS Apps for iPhone and iPad that I will be using for the next year. This is always among my most popular posts. I’m sharing my 2019 must have apps in hopes you’ll discover a new app or two that will improve your workflow or make you more productive.

During 2018 I tried a lot of different apps. Some I liked and switched to, others I tried and didn’t like and stayed with what I’d been using. Having the right app for the right task on the right device is key to my productivity.

You can find My 2019 Must-Have Mac Apps here.

My iPhone and iPad setup:

My iPhone is a 32 GB Silver 7 Plus. My iPad is a 2017 9.7” with Retina display with 128 GB of storage.

Here’s my software and what I use it for:

Safari
Safari is my browser on iOS.

Mail.app
Fastmail IMAP works flawlessly with the stock mail.app.

Messages
Messages is for messaging with my friends and family.

Things 3
Things 3 is for task management and reminders. I love the simplicity of how it works. I wrote an article about it here.

Fantastical 2
Fantastical is my calendar app. It’s where I keep all my appointments and some reminders.

Bear
Bear is my notes and lists app. I’ve been a pro user since the inception of the app. It’s beautiful to work in, search is excellent and I’ve never had a sync issue.

Drafts
Drafts is my multi-purpose writing and note taking app. I use it as the first stop for most everything I write and use its extensibility to send it anywhere. It has a customizable keyboard, which allows me to add one button actions. Then there are an array of export actions once I finish creating. I’ve written about how I use Drafts here.

Ulysses
Ulysses is the app I use to write my stories. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it since it went subscription. During the year I tried other writing apps but none compares with Ulysses. I do most all my writing on my Mac so it’s rarely used on my iPhone and iPad other than for a quick add to one of my stores or for the share sheet.

Copied
Copied is my cross-platform clipboard history manager. I’ve written about it here.

Day One Journal
Day one is for keeping a life log of things that go on in my life.

Reeder
Reeder is my newsreader for my Feedly RSS feeds.

Tweetbot
Tweetbot is for reading my Twitter feed.

Instapaper
Instapaper is my read it later service. I wrote an article about my Instapaper workflow here.

Overcast
Overcast is where I listen to podcasts.

1Password
1Password is my password manager.

Launch Center Pro
Launch Center Pro is for launching actions in a single tap.

PCalc
PCalc is my stock calculator replacement. I use it for its additional features and customization.

Scanner Pro
Scanner Pro allows me to scan paper documents into PDFs that look clean and professional.

TunnelBear VPN
TunnelBear is my VPN for security on public WiFi and web browsing privacy.

Garmin Connect
Connect is for recording and tracking my cycling and running activities.

My 2019 Must-Have Mac Apps

This article is an annual tradition: towards the end of December I summarize My Must-Have Mac Apps that I will be using for the next year. This is always among my most popular posts. I’m sharing my 2019 must have apps in hopes you’ll discover a new app or two that will improve your workflow or make you more productive.

During 2018 I tried a lot of different apps. Some I liked and switched to, others I tried and didn’t like and stayed with what I’d been using. Having the right app for the right task on the right device is key to my productivity.

You can find My 2019 Must-Have iOS apps for iPhone and iPad here.

My Mac setup:

I have two Macs. A late-2013 21.5” iMac and an early-2015 13” Retina MacBook Pro.

Here’s my software and what I use it for:

Safari
Safari is my browser of choice. It just works best on macOS. I use Firefox Quantum browser when a site doesn’t play nice with Safari.

Fastmail
I’ve been using Fastmail as my email service for over 4 years. It’s been a great Gmail replacement. I’ve written about Fastmail here.

Things 3
Things 3 is for task management and reminders. I love the simplicity of how it works. I wrote about it here.

Fantastical 2
Fantastical is my calendar app. It’s where I keep my appointments and some reminders. I love that I can use natural language to quickly create events and reminders.

Bear
Bear is my notes and lists app. I’ve been a pro user since the inception of the app. It’s beautiful to work in, search is excellent and I’ve never had a sync issue.

Ulysses
Ulysses is the app I use to write my stories. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it since it went subscription. During the year I tried other writing apps but none compares with Ulysses.

Marked 2
Marked is the markdown previewer app I use side by side with Ulysses.

Grammarly
Grammarly is for proofreading my stories for grammar and punctuation.

Copied
Copied is my cross-platform clipboard history manager. I’ve written about it here.

Reeder
Reeder is my newsreader for my Feedly RSS feeds.

Tweetbot
Tweetbot is for reading my Twitter feed.

Instapaper
Instapaper is my read it later service. I wrote an article about my Instapaper workflow here.

Alfred
Alfred is Spotlight on steroids. I’d be lost without it. Alfred is my launcher, search interface, TextExpander replacement and much more.

Keyboard Maestro
Keyboard Maestro is another productivity app that I couldn’t live without. I use Keyboard Maestro keyboard shortcuts to launch apps, open files and folders and for automating actions. It has a learning curve but once you start to get the hang of it you can do some amazing things. Check out Keyboard Maestro’s homepage for a list of all the things you can do.

BetterTouchTool
BetterTouchTool allows me to configure gestures or keyboard shortcuts for my Magic Mouse, MacBook Trackpad, and Magic Trackpad to trigger actions like moving and resizing windows, switching tabs in Safari and more. BTT has a 45-day free trial. Give it a try.

Dropbox
Dropbox is where I keep files that I want to have available on all my devices. It’s also where syncing happens for apps like Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, and BetterTouchTool.

PDFpen and Hazel are key apps for my paperless workflow. I’ve written about my paperless workflow here.

App Cleaner
AppCleaner is my app uninstaller. I use it because it deletes all the junk that gets left behind when you just drag the app icon to the trash.

PopClip
I use PopClip to manage what I do with selected text. I’ve written about PopClip here.

Yoink
Yoink speeds and up my workflow by simplifying drag and drop. I’ve written about Yoink here.

Bartender 3
Bartender is the app I use to organize my menu bar. I’ve written about it here.

ScreenFloat
ScreenFloat is my app for taking floating screenshots and storing them.

TunnelBear VPN
TunnelBear is my VPN for security on public WiFi and web browsing privacy.

f.lux
f.lux is for protecting my eyes and sleeping better at night.

Setting up an iPad for an elderly user before gifting

I saw this timely article on AppleToolBox today and thought it would be worth sharing. This article is specific to the iPad but it’s also good advice if you’re gifting an iPhone or Mac to an elderly user.

Sandy Writtenhouse, Writing for AppleToolBox How To Setup an iPad for Elderly User Before Gifting

If you’re purchasing an iPad for an elderly loved one, whether for the holidays or their birthday, one of the best things you can do is set it up before you give it to them. This makes the process of starting to use it much easier for them.

Conserve your MacBook’s battery with this keyboard setting

Did you know the MacBook has a setting to power off the keyboard backlight after a period of inactivity? I didn’t. This is the same concept as the Energy Saver feature for your display.

The setting is here: System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard > Turn keyboard backlight off after X secs of inactivity.

This isn’t something I would use all the time but it could come in handy in a pinch. Give it a try the next time you’re in a situation where you need to conserve your MacBook’s battery power.

How to View Folder Sizes on Mac Using Finder

I don’t often need to know the size of a folder but when I did I didn’t know how to find the size until recently.

When you use Finder’s List view to work with files on your Mac, the Size column tells you the size of each file, but when it comes to folders in the list, Finder just shows a couple of dashes instead.

Here’s how to view the size of a folder. Click File in the menu bar and hold the Option key, and Get Info will turn into Show Inspector. Unlike a Get Info panel, the Inspector panel is dynamically updated and will always display information for the active Finder window’s currently selected file or folder – including, of course, its size.