Internet

Dealing with Adobe Flash Player

I woke up to the news of yet another Adobe Flash Player security concern. The article is on the Mac Observer web site.

So, just what is Flash? According to
Adobe:

Adobe Flash Player is the standard for delivering high-impact, rich Web content. Designs, animation, and application user interfaces are deployed immediately across all browsers and platforms, attracting and engaging users with a rich Web experience

According to
Wikipedia:

Adobe Flash (formerly called "Macromedia Flash") is a multimedia and software platform used for authoring of vector graphics, animation, games and rich Internet applications (RIAs) that can be viewed, played and executed in Adobe Flash Player. Flash is frequently used to add streamed video or audio players, advertisement and interactive multimedia content to web pages, although usage of Flash on websites is declining.

Steve Jobs had
very strong feelings about Flash and refused to incorporate it into iOS, the operating system for Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

Flash works on Macintosh computers, but in my experience, it is more of a curse that a feature. In fact, it is usually to blame for many of my computer headaches. I decided to strictly control it several years ago and I could not be happier! The problem with Flash is that it just doesn’t know when to stop! Flash is an Internet browser extension. If it is used on a web site, Flash Player starts up and it does not turn itself off until you quit the browser (think Safari, Firefox, Chrome etc.) While it runs in the background it continues to demand RAM from your computer and it slows down the processor, making your computer run slower--and slower--and slower. Soon you begin to see spinning beach balls each time you try to click a link or even use a different application.

There are ways to limit the effects of Flash on your computer. I use
ClickToFlash, a Safari Browser Extension. It prevents Flash content from loading automatically. When I encounter Flash content, I see this:

no_flash

If I click the Flash button the content for the clicked box shows. When I leave the webpage, ClickToFlash turns the Flash player off. It doesn’t turn on again until I click another Flash box.

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 9.36.10 AM

When you go to the
web page for ClickToFlash, there are download links for both ClickToFlash and the ClickToPlugin. Today we are only going to deal with ClickToFlash. When you click the link, this is downloaded to your Download folder:

clicktoflash

Double click on it and this will appear:

clicktoflash_install

Click the Install button and a web page will appear where you can choose just what the ClickToPlugin will do:

safari_extension

In general, you can ignore this for the moment. An easier way to learn about ClickToFlash is to go back to the webpage. If you want to get it back, the easiest way is to open Safari Preferences.

safari_preferences

Make sure you have selected Extension at the top and ClickToFlash in the left column. Click the link to Marc Hovis to get back to his web page for explanations and instructions. You will make any changes by clicking on “Click this checkbox to access the settings.

safari_extensions

In general, the defaults work well, but if you want to tune it more finely, there are lots of choices.

In tomorrow’s article, we’ll look at just how to install Flash updates. You would think it would be easy, but through experience, I know that about 75% of our clients don’t manage to install all those Adobe Flash Player updates!

--Pat
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Traveling With Technology: Internet Access

Times change--and the connected world just gets more expensive!

I am in Texas this week. We will be in San Antonio until Thursday afternoon when we will drive to Austin to spend the weekend with Bob LeVitus and his family. My husband is attending a technology conference and we are staying at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio.

I find it odd that while a stay in a top-level American hotel does not include free WiFi access or a free breakfast buffet, most tier two hotels such as a Marriott Residence Inn, Hilton Garden Suite, etc. include those items in the cost of the room.

Here at the Hyatt, there are two levels of Internet access costing $9.95 or $12.95 per day. A continental breakfast bar cost $11.00 and the full breakfast bar is $18.00.

Even more problematic is the rules for Internet access. Have a computer, an iPad and an iPhone? That counts as three separate devices. Staying with your spouse who has similar equipment? Now you potentially have 6 devices to pay for! Each of these devices has a different MAC address, so they count as separate items.

If you are willing to attach one of the computers to the Ethernet cable, then you can use Internet sharing to set up an ad hoc network, but this is not allowed in the terms of service.

Since I bought the Virgin Mobile MiFi2200, I activated it for the month and I am using it to provide Internet access to our other device when thy are not connected by a different data plan.




I purchased the $60.00, 30 day, 5 GB plan for the MiFi. I suspect I could have gotten by with the $40.00 plan, but I wanted to make sure I have adequate data for any activity we wanted to try.




Because I have not modified our existing contracts, both my husband and I have unlimited data plans on our iPhones. If I would modify our contracts, we could add iPhone tethering which would allow us to use the iPhone to provide WiFi Internet service to one computer at a time. I do not think there is a way to provide WiFi to our iPads from the iPhone, unless we jailbreak them. I do not plan to do that.

While my husband’s iPad is WiFi only, mine is the 3G model. I purchased the data plan before AT&T changed the plans, so for the moment, I have the unlimited data plan.

As you can see, I have several overlapping data plans in place. Therefore, I have turned off the WiFi on my 3G iPad and on my iPhone while I am in range of the MiFi. Since there is a Starbuck’s Coffee with free AT&T WiFi in a nearby mall food court, I used it yesterday morning and went back to upload a large audio file yesterday evening when the upload speeds on the MiFi were too slow to easily upload a 125 MB file.

My Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go MiFi does not require a monthly contract and I can change the plan each time I buy more data. Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile probably offer similar devices (or they will soon). The important part of this device is its lack of a contract. If I plan to be home for a month, I can simply tuck it away until I need to activate it for another trip.

While I had planned to remove the data plan from my iPad 3G, we have found it to be very useful in day-to-day life around town. I often tuck my iPad into my purse when we are away from home. Being able to surf the web anywhere, at any time on the larger screen is a big improvement over the iPhone screen. I also hand it to my husband if he is going to be away from home, waiting for a car repair or something else.

Eventually, I will need to trim our costs and I will need to cut some of the overlapping Internet services. However, for the moment it is very convenient to be able to be online on any device at any time. It’s too bad that money doesn’t grow on trees!

If you need help choosing the best sources of Internet connectivity for you and your family, give us a call at Bob LeVitus Consulting. We can discuss your needs and help you formulate a plan that will give you the best “bang for your buck.” You can reach us by telephone at 408 627-7577. Or send an email to urgentrequest@boblevitus.com. Our service for this costs $60.00 per hour.

-- Pat

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Taking notes on your Mac and iPhone: iCal

While storing notes about people or companies in the Address book on the Mac (or in Contacts on the iPhone) makes perfect sense, some information just doesn't belong there.

For example, I am taking a Frontier Airline flight to Macworld later this week. I received a confirmation email from Frontier after I booked my flight:




While I might put the telephone number and URL for Frontier in Address Book, information about my flight to San Francisco would be easier to locate in iCal or the iPhone Calendar. I used copy and paste to put the information into iCal:




Then I waited for MobileMe to sync the information to my iPhone:




One of the most interesting things is that although the links from the email do not appear in the iCal event, they are visible and available on my iPhone. The links open to Google maps in Safari. Just think of how convenient it could be to have such easy access for maps to hotels, restaurants etc.

Note that I edited the screenshots to remove personal and identifying information from the images above.

Both Bob LeVitus and I will be at Macworld later this week. Look for blog posts, Twitters and updates as we learn about new products for the Mac, iPhone and iPod Touch. I will be traveling with my husband, Ron--if we don’t get snowed in by yet another DC storm.

--Pat

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Printing from blogs and other long pages

I gave our old PowerBook to my 90 year old aunt several months ago. This has been a true adventure for her as she had never really used a computer before. Actually, I gave her the computer, an older AirPort Extreme, a printer and even an iSight camera. Aunt Lee lives in California--and I am in Virginia, so we have used iChat screen sharing many times as I teach her more about her computer.

The other day I sent her a link to one of my favorite blogs, Bakerella. If you have not seen it and you enjoy baking or cake decorating, this is a wonderful site. Aunt Lee discovered a recipe for Lemon Bars. Of course, she needed a printout to use while she cooked.
Click here to read more...
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Interesting links 2009-06-17

If you ask that question to a friend, most people will say that they want to be able to surf the web to find information and do email.

I have noticed that several of the authors of blogs that I follow occasionally post interesting or useful links. I have decided to adopt the practice. The links I provide will generally be to technical sites or to sites that I think will be of interest to a wide audience of readers.

My husband had a heart attack last summer. It caused quite a scare since he did not seem to be a heart attack candidate. He eats sensibly, watches his weight, exercises regularly and his medical tests were in the normal or very slightly elevated range. On the advice of his cardiologist, we invested in a blood pressure machine. I have been looking for a good blood pressure chart, and I have found one! Check this link out:
Click here to read more...
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Is your Internet connection down? Part 2

Did you read Part 1?

There can be lots of other problems with Internet connections besides those listed in Part 1. While that article dealt with problems that affect both wired and wireless connections, today we will focus on wireless problems.

Years ago when I bought my first Apple AirPort, no one else around me had a wireless Internet connection. My PC neighbors were amazed that I was able to be on the Internet without having a cable connected. Some of them eventually bought wireless set-ups of their own and they were stunned by the difficulties in setting up their new routers while my AirPort made the task so easy.

After a time things began to get ugly. Instead of being able to “see” one wireless network, I had several to choose from in my AirPort menu item. Soon I began having problems with drops in my AirPort signal strength and sometimes I could not even “see” my own network! Click here to read more...
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Is your Internet connection down? Part 1

You know the drill.

You launch Safari and all you see is a spinning beach ball. Or you’ve been away from your computer and then you come back to go to a web page. All that you get is a spinning beach ball.

So what is going on?

Why can’t you get that web page?

Did your computer mess up--again? Click here to read more...
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Capturing YouTube Videos

The emergence of a new star in the Britan’s Got Talent show last weekend has captured the imagination of the entire world. Susan Boyle has won the hearts of fans everywhere and many of us want to share her story with friends and family.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY&fmt=18

There are several ways to capture YouTube videos. While some are geeky and complicated, CosmoPod, an inexpesive software package, makes the task quick and easy. Click here to read more...
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