Apple’s New Adapter

I don’t know when Apple is going to replace its Lightning adapter with a new and improved model, but it’s going to happen. And when it does, the bellyaching will begin. But take a step back. Every time our hardware providers change ports and adapters, it’s because you want to transfer more data faster.

The Lightning adapter, the 9-pin connector now used with the latest Apple products, replaced the 30-pin connector. Just the fact that it changed upset a lot of people because they had to replace a slew of old ones – that seemed to work just fine. But in reality, it gave you access to newer, faster ports and improved performance.

Not be left out of the connector race, Android and Windows devices have started using USB Type C. This connector isn’t smaller than the Micro USB, but it introduces one standard port for both phones and computers. Soon it won’t matter which side of the cable you use or which orientation you insert the cable.

For Apple, it still matters, but for the past year, you’ve had a host of options.  For nearly a year, Apple’s Lightning-to-USB 3 Camera Adapter has made it much easier to transfer photos and videos from your high-resolution digital camera to your iPad Pro. After you connect it, your iPad Pro automatically opens the Photos app, which lets you choose photos and videos to import – and organizes them into albums. It supports standard photo formats, including JPEG and RAW, along with SD and HD video formats, including H.264 and MPEG-4.

You can even power the Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter with a USB Power Adapter and connect USB peripherals like hubs, Ethernet adapters, audio/MIDI interfaces, and card readers for CompactFlash, SD, microSD, etc.

Both the USB camera adapter and SD card reader take advantage of the faster speeds offered by USB 3. While USB 2 can transfer at up to 60 megabytes per second, USB 3 has a transfer rate of up to 625 megabytes per second. Think about that when you wonder if it’s worth a few dollars for a 10X increase in transfer speed.

Even though Apple calls it a “camera adapter,” it supports an array of devices that can be plugged into its full-size USB-A port to connect keyboards, microphones, USB hubs for multiple accessories at once, and even Ethernet adapters to an iPad.

In addition to a USB-A port, the camera adapter also includes a female Lightning port to charge your iPad while using a connected device, and you can add Apple’s 29-watt power adapter to connect with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and charge it at a faster rate.

You can find numerous cables and apps to transfer data – and pictures and videos – from Android phones to Apple devices – and vice versa. We think it’s all intuitive, but if you have questions about what you need, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us for recommendations. Just have the makes and models of the devices handy.

Don’t Wait When Hacked

A client got hacked at 5 p.m. and discovered it at 8 p.m. They waited until the next morning to call us. Our advice to them was to shut down their system. Our advice to you is don’t wait – but please use some common sense. We don’t appreciate calls at 5:30 in the morning because you can’t connect to the internet or get your email, but a hack is a whole other story.

If you think you’ve been hacked, shut down – as in “power off” – your computer or your system immediately. If nothing’s running or connected, nothing more can be taken from you, nor can anyone get deeper into your system. Once you call us, we can examine every part of your system and help you take steps to secure it before you and everyone in your business or home goes back online.

If we’ve learned anything from news reports, no system is immune from attack. But there are a number of steps you can take to make an intrusion more difficult – and for small businesses and homes, they may be enough to deter anyone from making a huge effort to invade your system.

In the case of the client who was hacked, he did not have administrative rights to his computer – and that was a big help in minimizing the damage. Administrative rights give those who have them the authority to make all sorts of changes to a computer or a group of networked computers. In addition to adding and removing programs and managing data files, administrative rights can be used to grant permission to other users to perform all of those actions.

In a small business, it makes sense to give several people administrative rights to keep business flowing smoothly. Even if you have automated systems to take care of certain functions, you may need to give people permission to do certain things. However, you need to pay attention to security to benefit from the convenience of this flexibility. We recommend:

  • Keep the number of people who need administrative rights to a bare minimum.
  • Make sure those people change passwords frequently and that they use strong passwords.
  • Limit permissions to certain functions to prevent a hacker from getting carte blanche to your entire system.
  • Set up separate users and log-in credentials for performing administrative functions and delete them after those functions are performed.

The same recommendations can apply to a home computer or home network, with the requirement that children and seniors should not have the ability to install or remove programs.

We also can repeat steps we’ve suggested before:

  • Do not use any simple usernames and passwords for any piece of equipment that is connected to the internet. Every device has a default name and password, and hackers know them all.
  • Use strong passwords and change them often. Strong passwords are usually complex passwords. Hackers have software to figure out certain patterns of numbers and letters, and they can pick up information about anyone from public records. Try not to relate your passwords to that information, but for any password, use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Download and install updates from the publishers of your application software. In most cases, the updates contain bug fixes and patches to improve the security of your applications.
  • Keep your anti-virus and malware software up to date and active.

Again, if you get hacked, don’t wait to call us. Time is of the essence. Shut down everything and call 973-433-6676 for immediate help.

Of course, preventive measures offer the best protection. Call us or email us to arrange a security audit of your system. And don’t wait until you’re hacked to do it.

Holiday Greetings and Connections

We all get holiday greetings – electronically. Sometimes, they’re cards available from any number of websites, and sometimes they’re emails and Facebook posts. I appreciate them all. But as much as I’m connected, I do miss a card in a stamped, hand-addressed envelope.

Technology has improved our lives in so many ways and made it so easy to stay connected. With email, it’s so easy to keep up with family and friends across the country and around the world. You don’t need to write a letter, address and stamp an envelope and take it to the post office. You just need to write it and click “send.” You can share pictures, videos, news items – anything that you can attach to a message. And why restrict yourself to sending it to one friend or family member? You can send it to everyone you know.

With Facebook and other social media, it’s even easier to reach out and have “conversations” of a sort with everyone you know and who-knows-how-many people you don’t know. You can stay connected with people with whom you have all levels of relationships, and it’s exciting.

But sometimes, it seems so impersonal, too. We’ve lost something by reducing relationships to keystrokes. It’s great to hear from somebody at holiday time, and it’s gratifying to get a bunch of birthday wishes on Facebook or LinkedIn. Any of those messages can restart a relationship.

Still, there’s nothing like talking to family and friends – to hear a voice over the telephone. We need to make more of an effort to pick up the phone, as the old telephone commercials implored us to reach out and touch someone.

But wait, technology can help us with that, too. The same company that invited you to reach out is one of many internet and cellular providers making it possible for you to use Skype, Facetime and other programs to see and talk to people anywhere in the world.

Yes, that hand-addressed card is really great. The ability to talk to people and see their faces is even better. And in the world of business, seeing a face and hearing a voice can convey so much more than an exchange of keystrokes.

Let’s resolve to use our connectivity to strengthen our connections. And if you need some help in setting up your computers or devices to run any videoconferencing applications, give us a call – 973-433-6676 – and we’ll walk through it – and test it out. And of course, you can email to set up an appointment.