Google cementing OAuth

As G Suite admins will have seen in email…

Starting February 15, 2021, G Suite accounts will only allow access to apps using OAuth. Password-based access will no longer be supported.

And fortunately, this particular thing can get quickly discarded from the pile of stuff you gotta worry about. It’s specifically about any third-party apps that you have given permission to access any of your Google accounts. For example, when we set up Apple Mail, we have to grant access to our Google account, and that goes over this OAuth the above email references. Any modern app should be similar.

Even if there were some app that we’ve connected a while back under the old scheme, we would just update it and reconnect it when we run into it not working. IOW, I ain’t concerned about this for any of my peeps.

Mac crashes during sleep

I may have to take back my iMac Pro! It keeps crashing while asleep. I put it to sleep at night and wake up to find it is off. When I turn it on I get the ol’ “Your computer was restarted because of a problem” error. It works ok when working but I wonder if this isn’t an omen?
This happens almost every time I put it to sleep for a while, even while going to lunch.

I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that’s not your iMac but one of your peripheral devices. Try unplugging everything you can when you put it to sleep, even keyboard and mouse. If you don’t encounter that error, leave keyboard and mouse plugged in next time you put it to sleep. If no error, plug in main backup drive. If no error, add your next most important device. You get the idea. Rinse and repeat. Eventually we all narrow it down to the cheap USB hub we bought 7 years ago… 😉 (In one case for me, it was actually a card reader that I had in the expansion slot of my MBP.)

Mesh Wi-Fi for the Home

Can you recommend a good whole-home mesh wireless system?

The options for home networking have evolved so much in the last couple of years. There are now several powerful systems that are sooooper-easy to set up.

As usual the Wirecutter has already done the hard part for me way better, with both explanation and product recommendations.

The upshot is: the Eero system, recently purchased by Amazon, is the best and easiest, and has been since they brought mesh Wi-Fi to the consumer market a few years ago.

I’ve rarely recommended it to a client who didn’t have it all set up for themselves by the next time I talked to them.

The most likely reason one wouldn’t opt to buy the Eeros is a dislike of Amazon owning the cloud control of one’s internet connection and home network. In which case, while I haven’t gotten hands on the D-Link Covr pack recommended by that article, but they say it’ll cover up to 6,000 sf.

I do know and deeply love their “Also great” pick, the nerdier, not-drop-dead-simple Synology. The Synology is also the only one of these systems I can recommend in a business environment, as it is more configurable and flexible, and offers possibilities for remote access.

The Wirecutter ranks Google Wifi as lesser, but I think it’s well worth considering if one has any toes dipped in the smart-home pool. I had previously disregarded the units not because they’re not great, but because they offer just slightly less performance than their competitors. But they recently released the Google Nest Wifi models, which have better specs. You can get the pack called “Google Nest Wifi Router and Point” — the Point being both a mesh wifi access point and a smart speaker a la Alexa but using the very good Google Assistant — or you can just get two of the Router units, which offers better performance and no microphone.

Separate point because I can’t help myself: I really enjoy the smart-home stuff, and most recently we invited a couple of Apple HomePods into the family. We love them almost as much as the dog. I’ve also tried and really liked the Google Home, Home Hub screen, doorbell, and other Assistant devices. I know the Amazon Echo system is popular and very capable, but all the tech reporting around them gives me privacy concerns that I don’t (currently) have about Apple or Google.

Turn on Find My… iPhone, iPad, or Mac

Here’s the full page about enabling Find My iPhone, Mac, and other devices. In short:

On iOS

  1. Tap Settings > [your name] > Find My
  2. Ensure Find My iPhone says “On”
  3. If you’re asked to

On Mac

  1. Click Apple menu  > System Preferences > iCloud
  2. Turn on Find My Mac


If you don’t have Location Services turned on on your device, you’ll be instructed on doing that.

In iOS 13, Apple squeezed two apps into one: Find My Friends and Find My [Gadget] are now Find My. Here’s the icon you seek:

Also in iOS 13, Apple enabled Offline Finding, which gives you a chance of pinging it when there’s no Wi-Fi or cell signal. Apple’s full post on lost and stolen Macs.

And, hoping you never need it, here’s how to locate a lost or stolen device.

Turn on iCloud Backups

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup.
  2. Turn on iCloud Backup.

That’s it. You can read there that backups will occur when the device is “connected to power, locked, and on Wi-Fi.”

If Backups are already on, the screen should show a “Last successful backup” at least within the last day. If it doesn’t, tap Back Up Now.

More info, for those interested:

Here’s the kinds of information it backs up.

Almost every normally used device needs more room to backup and store photos than the 5 GB that Apple includes with every free iCloud plan. Fret not: you can buy more iCloud Storage.

Many, many Mac users assume that iCloud backs up their Macs. It absolutely, categorically does not.

Every Mac or PC user should have a cloud-backup service such as Backblaze. Individually owned computers can use the Personal Backup product, while any owned by an organization can be under the Business Backup plan. [Those are affiliate links.]

Businesses might have their mobile devices signed into iCloud accounts under the user’s organizational email address. The user should know that the organization owns every bit of information on that device.

Favorite bits in iOS 13

Highlighting some of my favorite small details that may prove to be big boons.

With so many big and small improvements in iOS 13, Apple has resolved lots of deficiencies and complaints. To me, this is the year that iPhones and iPads graduate, from amazing gadgets that clever people have figured out how to use as business devices, to real productivity workhorses.

You can read about the big headlines here: iOS 13 – Apple. I just want to highlight some of my favorite small details that may prove to be big boons:

Long press is more relaxing than 3D Touch. It will become as natural as right-click. Best to standardize on it and move on.

Once again being able to triple-tap to select a whole paragraph. (Doesn’t work in all apps.)

This revised menu is great in general, but the font-size buttons in Safari are especially welcome:

This has been around but I just rediscovered it: Long press on the square at the bottom right of Safari:

A little shortcuts bar for adding and formatting content in email. A huge improvement from the old white-on-black contextual menu.

New Message.jpeg

And iOS Mail becomes a real modern email client.

Swipe-to-type has been around in third-party keyboards for a while, but Apple gave those short shrift, so having it native with the QuickPath keyboard is really huge:

The new Siri voices are really smooth and natural.

Voice Control is going to be incredible for differently abled people, but even while I am lucky enough to I have average use of my limbs in digits, I think I will probably be using it to dictate naturally without having to press the microphone button. Selecting and replacing text is as easy as it ever was with Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

This very convenient menu pops up when you tap-and-hold three fingers anywhere on the screen when you’re editing text.

How about this mini keyboard on the iPad that behaves more like the iPhone keyboard?

I’m a little surprised that this matters to me, but buttons with icons instead of words is welcome. In voicemail, the red delete button stands out better.

Buy a used or refurbished Mac

Time to update the buying guide for 2019. And even if Apple does release the rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro in October, all of the following will still apply for now.

I’m fine with someone buying a used computer as long as the service they go through has buyer protection (e.g. eBay). But refurbished machines from Apple or OWC, especially ones covered by warranty, are a superb option

Base specs for any Mac

Getting less than this is wasting money and, worse, productivity:

  • At least 16 GB RAM (memory)
  • Absolutely get Flash Storage (a.k.a. solid-state drive or SSD), and not a SATA drive or “Fusion” Drive
  • At least 512 GB Flash Storage, though I prefer 1 TB for most folks
  • Make sure it is covered by the AppleCare warranty if it is younger than three years old

Laptop models

MacBook Pros with Retina screens from 2014 or 2015 are great. And the MacBook Air from 2018 is also great. Do not buy a MacBook Air older than 2018 unless you get some kind of great deal on it ($400 or less) and it has at least 8 GB of memory. 

Do not buy any laptops made in 2016 or 2017, and I generally recommend against 2018 MacBook Pros, because the keyboard is controversial-bordering-on-tragic, and the Touch Bar is kind of gimmicky, and they are generally overpriced. But if you need one and you have the jack, a 2018 MBP is basically fine.

Do not buy any year of the 12-inch MacBook, unless you have very specific needs for lightness and don’t require a great deal of power.

Desktop models

Any iMac with a Retina screen is fantastic. If you’re a professional who works with images, get an iMac made since 2016 because the color gamut of the monitor is wider.

The 2018 Mac mini is one of the coolest Mac models ever.

If you’re a professional who needs an iMac Pro or the soon to be released Mac Pro, you know who you are and you probably aren’t reading this section.

New iPad

I am thinking of buying a new iPad or gently used one. My current phone is a 64GB model and I’ve barely used half of the storage, so I think a 64GB iPad would do it. But I don’t know about cellular. What are your thoughts?

I love my new iPad Air (and the new iPadOS!), and while I might enjoy a Pro that much more, I know my personal productivity wouldn’t benefit that much from the extra performance. The new iPad minis are also super sleek and totable.

I have found that, because of better cameras that inspire more photography, and more available media to enjoy, it’s really a good idea for most people to spring for at least 128GB. That said, if your usage has not grown like that, perhaps you’d do fine with 64GB. If you at all suspect your needs might increase, get the bigger size.

Since the phones got personal hotspots, I no longer keep a cellular account for my iPad. If you’re that mobile and need the Internet always on at a moment’s notice, get the cellular, otherwise skip it.

And I’m alllll about buying refurbished devices as long as they are under warranty!