Apple Context Machine: APFS, iOS 11, backups and more

On this episode 429 of the Apple Context Machine podcast, Jeff Gamet and I talked at length about iOS 11, the new APFS file system change that’s already come to iOS and is coming to (some) Macs with High Sierra’s release, T-Mobile and LTE Band 71, backups and more. If you’re looking for an hour to fill with Apple nerdery, please tune in, or whatever the kids are doing with podcasts these days.

Apple Context Machine

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About the new iPhones and T-Mobile’s 600 MHz spectrum

Iphonex front side flat

If you’re in the U.S., looking at a new iPhone 8 or iPhone X and you’re a T-Mobile customer, you may wonder if the new phone supports T-Mobile’s LTE Band 71, new 600 MHz spectrum the company is in the process of bringing online. The short answer is no. Apple’s new phones don’t support Band 71 and can’t be made to. You’ll have to wait until Apple’s next iPhone refresh to get that capability. The devil is in the details, so read on for more.

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Speed up your 2014 Mac mini with this upgrade!

2014 Mac mini

I finally got around to upgrading my 2014 Mac mini with a solid state drive (SSD). The difference is like night and day. If you’re using one of these models and you’re looking for a good way to bump up the performance, an SSD is, quite frankly, one of the only things you can do (unlike older Mac minis, Apple soldered the RAM in place). Regardless, I strongly recommend considering it – not just for a 2014 Mac mini, but for any older Mac you’d like to pep up.

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Apple World News: “Get Off My Lawn”

Apple World News podcast

Very pleased to appear on Nerd Radio FM’s “Apple World News” podcast episode 6 with Brian Sutich. We talked about:

  • old Macs
  • new Macs
  • Cool iPhone photography techniques we recently learned
  • Apple news and rumors
  • My personal philosophy on best backup practices, and lots more.

Lots of ground to cover!

How to use Night Shift on the Mac

Apple on Monday released macOS 10.12.4, the latest version of its Sierra operating system. Among the new features is Night Shift, the same screen-dimming technology that Apple has had in iOS for a while. They’ve buried the feature, though, so it can be a bit tough to find. Here’s how, and what it does.

Night shift

Night Shift adjusts the color of your Mac’s display after sunset. According to some research, exposure to the bright blue light of computer displays in the evening can affect your ability to sleep. Night Shift mode – first introduced in iOS 9.3 – changes display colors to warmer tones with less blue. In the morning the Mac returns to its normal settings. If you’re working with graphics, art, photography, video or other content where color fidelity is of paramount importance, Night Shift is probably not the best thing to use. But for the rest of us, Night Shift can give your eyes – and your circadian rhythm – a bit of a break.

Night Shift is similar in concept to the third-party application f.lux. F.lux is still available if you’d prefer to use it or are not ready to upgrade yet to macOS 10.12.4.

How To Use Night Shift On The Mac

  1. Click on the  menu.
  2. Click on System Preferences…
  3. Click on Displays
  4. Click on the Night Shift tab to change settings.

You can schedule Night Shift according to a custom schedule, determining what time to turn it on and off. You can also override the setting to turn it on until the next day. You can also adjust the intensity of the color shift.

Apple notes that this won’t affect the color balance of connected televisions or projectors – so Night Shift, at least for now, will only affect directly connected monitors.

It’s also worth noting that Night Shift imposes specific system requirements. Apple has outlined them in a tech note posted to its website.

All about Solid State Drives (SSDs)

Solid State Drives (SSDs) offer much better performance and reliability than the traditional spinning hard disk drive, which makes them an attractive option for computer users looking to get a bit more bang for the buck from their existing hardware. Got questions about SSDs? I’ve got answers.

SSD image

SSDs work differently than hard drives – inside are memory chips instead of moving parts, which is why they work so much faster than conventional drives. Memory prices have dropped dramatically in the past few years, which has lowered the price of high-capacity SSDs, making them a more budget-friendly upgrade solution than ever.

Lots of us have questions about SSDs, however. To help answer them, I’ve written a series of posts over at Backblaze. If you’re thinking about upgrading your current hardware, having trouble with an SSD, or need to get rid of one, I’ve got you covered.

How to rescue your pictures from Flickr

At some point, I realized the only copy of some photos I have are on Flickr, the popular photo blogging service owned by Yahoo. That made me nervous for two reasons: Flickr is a single point of failure, and Yahoo has problems including massive user ID and password security breaches. So I decided to back up my Flickr library to my Mac. I took what I learned and put it in a new blog post over at Backblaze. I’ve outlined three ways that you can download your pics quickly.

I’ve been using Flickr for nigh on 13 years now – since before Yahoo bought it in 2005, I know that much – so I have a lot of photos there. Over 8,000, in fact. Many of the earlier ones I don’t have on my Mac or my iPhone.

Now, I know better, I do. But it’s been almost a decade and a half, and in the intervening years I’ve bought hard drives which have died and migrated data to more than half a dozen new computers, so I guess it shouldn’t be a total surprise that I have stuff on Flickr I don’t have anywhere else. Makes me wonder what else I’ve lost over the years, frankly.

The first method to back up your Flickr photos is built right into Flickr. Flickr has a download tool that enables you to select individual photos or galleries for download to a handy ZIP file. It works, but it’s kludgy if you want to back up your entire library, as I did.

Flickr Downloadr

I also tested out two free-to-download third-party backup tools. The first is Bulkr, an Adobe AIR-dependent app that is available in “Pro” trim for $29. The second is Flickr Downloadr, which doesn’t cost a cent but is, quite frankly, a bit kludgy in the UI department. Still, they both work.

Anyway, read on and if you have any questions, let me know.

How To Back Up Your Flickr Library

Also, sorry for the nonexistent posting since December. It’s been a busy winter.