XR or XS? And what size?

A friend writes:

XR or XS?

Sure! You should get one of those.  😉

All of the new ones are pretty kickass, and all have benefits. The XS (Apple pronounces it “ten-ess”) and its big brother are great, with two cameras on the back, but the one everyone is talking about is the XR. Comes in cool colors!

I’d look real hard at that one. The XS Max is nice but kind of enormous; I already have enough discomfort with the 8 Plus in a jeans pocket.

If you like two cameras (and I do, a lot) or a somewhat better display with richer blacks, get the XS. If you just want a kick-ass phone with amazing battery life at a good value, get the XR.

Does storage matter? 64 GB XS at $999 vs. 128 XR at $799

Fantastic question: I do like the 256 GB (gigabytes) in my 8 Plus. It’s a wee gluttonous, but I no longer have to worry a whit about my storage when I’m shooting video. Also, the 8 only came in 64 GB or 256 GB, and 64 was too small for me. So, it depends on your current usage, but I prefer at least 128.

Is there an alternative to Photoshop on the Mac?

Is there an affordable alternative to Photoshop for macOS? Something with deeper features than Photos, like layering.

I like and admire Pixelmator a lot, but its interface is way different from Photoshop, and with all the time I’ve spent mucking about with it, I haven’t gotten as fluid as I am in PS.

The closest I’ve gotten is Acorn. It’s like Photoshop 6, which appeals to my nostalgia, but even better to my desire for elegant software to stay that way. I always get what I need, in and out, in minutes, without thinking about how-to.

That said, if you need to get truly jiggy wid it, Affinity Photo is a go-to for pros.

GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) is worth mentioning, because free. But I haven’t used it in forever; whenever I have tried it, I run into the usual non-Mac-like behavior of ported open-source packages.

 

How should I upgrade to Mojave?

I have been reading about Mojave and was wondering which of the two ways to upgrade would be best: clean (wipe the computer and start over), or just drop it in the computer and go…

I’m real glad you asked! Almost always, I recommend simply upgrading your existing insulation. Apple’s upgrades have historically run pretty clean, and typically do some nice housekeeping in the process. The only conditions that make me go for a full erase-and-reinstall are a) someone is moving to a new computer and has a burning desire for a fresh start, or b) something is real obviously messed up and no other troubleshooting has been successful.

But there is an implied question here, namely, should you upgrade to Mojave yet?

Short answer: It would probably be fine to do so, but I’m still going to recommend that you hold off for a couple of months.

For iPhones and iPads, the big upgrades usually go smoothly, but on the Mac, unless you really need or want the new features and don’t mind some quirkiness as Apple squashes bugs, it’s best to wait a couple/few months for the new OS to reach its x.2 or x.3 update.

Mojave has been working fine for me, and there are no reports of big problems. I think it’s one of the nicest upgrades to the Mac in recent years, specifically because Apple gave Finder some long-overdue love. The new screenshot features that mirror what iOS got last year are also really helpful.

But as this article demonstrates, some folks have encountered minor issues. They have quick enough fixes, but if you count on your Mac to run smoothly without having to engage someone like me, might as well wait a bit!

Guess I’ve been consistent; this guidance dates back a while: 2007, 2011, 2013

 

Is HomeKit set to take off?

I don’t think Apple said squat about it last Wednesday. But something is clearly happening here. For all its prettiness, this page is pretty vague. Also interesting that it’s under /ios:

http://www.apple.com/ios/homekit/

A bunch of great accessories here…

http://www.apple.com/us/shop/accessories/all-accessories/home-automation

Yet Philips has only said:

We are working hard on integrating Philips Hue lighting system for the home with Apple HomeKit, in time for this Fall.

Whilst the details are being finalized we can confirm that existing Philips Hue lights will work with Apple HomeKit, and any necessary upgrade to the system will be fully supported… More details will follow from September 2015 onwards.

But I don’t get why Apple would highlight this company’s kind of silly products:

http://idevicesinc.com/switch/

I’m just thinking, this space is gonna blow up this year.

Are domain registration, web site, and email hosting all connected?

A friend writes:

I had registered my domain with GoDaddy, with the domain registration (and private registration) paid up through 3/30/2019. Web hosting expires 3/30/2015. My understanding is that the expiration date for the hosting is irrelevant to me now, right? The site and email have been hosted on Gmail for years, so it doesn’t matter that they’re expiring on GoDaddy, right?

And then in 2019, do I just shop around for anybody who charges the least to re-register the domain?

I haven’t uploaded new files to my web site in a while, but I believe the FTP passwords and settings date back to when I signed up with GoDaddy. Do they change?

Confusion on this is common, but easily cleared up:

Domain registration, web site hosting, and email hosting are three distinct and separate services.

GoDaddy is your domain registrar, and also your web site host. Google is your email host.

Of course you want to keep your domain going, presumably forever. And email for @yourdomain.com as well. Whether you continue to want a web site, we can discuss.

Domain: Shopping around for a domain registrar in 2019: I still really like and frequently recommend GoDaddy, who keep their prices pretty low. Namecheap.com is great and the cheapest I’ve found. Hover is just a bit pricier, but the most clean and considered approach. The price difference between any of these is perhaps $7/year, so I don’t choose strictly by price alone. I myself have domains at GoDaddy and Namecheap, and I’m happy with both, but prefer GoDaddy’s customer service, though Hover’s is better.

Email host: Google for Business (using their email et al. with your domain) is no longer free for new subscribers, but you are grandfathered into free. But if you did want to change email hosts, the other one I recommend is Microsoft Office 365 at $5/month or so, depending on the plan you choose. There are others, of course, but those are the two with the most moxy.

Web site: I assume you want to keep your web site live, in which case it’ll be easiest to renew with GoDaddy. (Passwords for your site wouldn’t have changed if you didn’t change ’em; this would be a good opportunity for me to recommend making sure your email and web site admin passwords are strong.) If you did want to change hosts, that’s doable but a longer discussion. If you didn’t want a web site, then just let it expire, but I’d recommend exporting and downloading your content first.

Modern email hosting

My current email service stinks. Three different people reported to me recently that they had emails kicked back from my address address. I spoke to my host, who said they were doing maintenance over the weekend.

I really can’t have an email address that is subject to occasional maintenance. Do you have a suggestion as to where I can host it? I was with Network Solutions but had problems with them as well. I’m seriously thinking about just going with my gmail address for business and everything.

Here’s the scoop: We now have two excellent and similarly priced options for hosted email: Microsoft Office 365 or Google for Business.

I’m a Google reseller, and I’ve used and loved their product for years now. All my @playworksync.com email goes through Google, and I can use any email software or the super-powerful Gmail web site to get at it. Great collaborative calendar stuff, and a whole ecosystem of third-party apps to tie into it.

Microsoft has made a quite amazing turnaround in the last couple of years, and their Office 365 reflects that. People who want a true Exchange experience (in many ways still the best in the industry) no longer have to own and maintain their own server. And if you pay a bit more, it can include your license for Microsoft Office, in keeping with the new software-as-subscription model adopted by Adobe and many others.

Really, I can recommend either of those solutions. Let me know whenever you want to make the switch. You’ll never look back.

New Office for Mac, and “should I ditch my MacBook Air”?

H. writes:

I’ve been using a 13” MacBook Air for about 3 years, running Bootcamp/Windows/Office. I’ve been happy with it, other than continually confusing the shortcut keys (e.g., moving the cursor to the end of the line or jumping over a word) with those on my work PC. I wonder if it’s a good time to consider an upgrade and maybe switch to a PC. Do you have a recommendation for a replacement with the same size/form factor on the Windows platform?

This is funny: when I started googling “pc alter…” it filled in “pc alternative to macbook air.” You ain’t the only one, H.! 

I can’t claim any experience with these, but just running with the top article — http://blog.laptopmag.com/best-ultrabooks — I’ve heard that the Asus and Acer models are really great. You really can’t go wrong with Dell or Lenovo either, but I think Asus and Acer tend to have better design.

But of course you know what I’m gonna say: Why not go with the best and see how little you need Windows? The Mac OS accommodates Exchange just fine, and it looks like there’s finally a new Office for Mac on its way. (“Excel…now recognizes most Windows keyboard shortcuts.”) You can download a preview if you’re curious. 

Also, that new MacBook should be quite fantastic. Some reports suggest it may have performance issues, so I’m not going to recommend one unequivocally, but depending on your use, it could be the sleekest piece of kit you’ve ever owned.

Finally, if you need a current copy of Office for Mac, you can purchase a downloadable license from Amazon for $199: http://astore.amazon.com/j2cons-20/detail/B0064PF4ZQ

I hope that helps!