Great New iOS6 Features

OK listen up if you have an iPhone. The recent upgrade to iOS6 brought with it over 200 additional features. I am going to describe 4 of my favorites here for you. All of the features I am going to talk about here are in the settings area of the phone and can really change the way you use your phone. So here we go.

“Do Not Disturb”– With this enabled not only will your phone be silenced but it will also keep your screen from lighting up when receiving alerts. Your incoming calls will be sent directly to voice mail. This will be especially helpful when you are in the movies are in an important meeting.

To enable or disable “Do Not Disturb” go to “Settings” and toggle it on or off. You can also schedule “Do Not Disturb” by opening “Notifications” tap “Do Not Disturb” and tap “On” to enable to the feature. You can then choose your times and also “Allow Calls from Favorites” if you would like. In addition you can turn on “Repeated Calls”. If you do this if someone calls you more than once. This is in case you do not want to miss an emergency.

“E-Mail Signatures” – This feature is very overdue and I am excited about it. Now you can assign signatures to different email accounts. What took so long for this one I will never know? But here it is and here is how to do it.

To set them up go to “Settings” than “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”. At the bottom tap “Signature” then select “Per Account”. Now you can create a unique email signature for each account! After this the unique signature will appear at the bottom of your new email message.

“Declining Calls” – If you are just too busy to talk there are 2 new ways to decline calls. When there is an incoming call you will see a new a new icon next to the slider. Drag it up and you will see and you will see the option to “Reply with Message” or you can set a time for the phone to remind you when to call that person back. If you choose to “Reply with Message” the person will be sent to voice mail and you can choose from 3 pre-recorded system messages or choose “Custom”. You can add or remove “canned responses” go to “Settings”, “Phone” and “Reply with Message”.

“Improved Privacy” – One of the best enhances with iOS6 is improved privacy integration. This means that you will have more control over which apps can access your personal or social networking information. To check this out go to “Settings”, “Privacy”. Taping any of the “categories” will enable or disable access for any given app. By clicking on these “categories” will display any app that is allowed to access that category. You can toggle access easily here by simply turning access on or off.

My exploration of iOS6 continues so be sure to stay tuned for more updates with the new features available for your iPhone. If you have not upgraded be sure to do so. There is an earlier article describing how to install the update. Other than the wireless connectivity issue I have not seen any other flaws with the upgrade.

Word Tip: Using the Many Paste Features

One of the most common things computer user’s do is cut, copy and paste stuff. When you’re cutting or copying from one place in a document to another, there’s not much to the story; when you’re cutting or copying text from a website perhaps, to a Word document on the other hand, things get a bit stickier, because sometimes you do want the copied text to look as it did on the website, and sometimes, you just want it to fit in seamlessly with what you’re already writing.

Microsoft has not been blind to this and did give us some options for cutting, copying and pasting in Word 2007 with the Paste button on the main ribbon. Recognizing that what they’d done so far wasn’t enough, Microsoft went a step further with Word 2010 by giving users a much better preview of what they’ll get when choosing a particular option.

Word 2010’s new Paste feature can be accessed two different ways; the first is by clicking the right mouse button in the spot where you want to paste something.

Note: You’ll only get all the Paste options shown if you have previously highlighted and copied some text from another source that has non-standard text in it.

The other way is by clicking on the Paste icon on the main ribbon:

Note: In order to get all of the icons to show up in the drop down menu, you first have to copy some non-standard text from another source.

Note the Set Default Paste option that has been added to the bottom of the drop down menu:

Clicking on it brings up a window for setting the defaults for a myriad of Word options:

We only need to look at the defaults for Cut, copy and paste:

Setting defaults for when you paste something, is actually a bigger deal than it might seem. Say for example you have grown used to using Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V for copying and pasting stuff from websites into your Word documents; normally the default is to paste what has been copied in its natural state, i.e. with all the web formatting in place.

If you change the default for Pasting between documents to Keep Text Only, you can save yourself the extra step of having to strip out the formatting manually.

At any rate, once you’ve got your defaults set the way you want, using the Paste feature works the same regardless of which way you access it. To use it, first copy some formatted text and/or graphics from a web site:

Next, open or resume working on a document in Word, then pick a spot in your document to paste the stuff you copied by clicking in the document; then, click the Paste icon. You should notice right away that things look different; instead of word choices, there are now icons.

To see how these icons work, slide your mouse slowly over the different options. Moving from left to right the icons represent: Keep Source Formatting, Merge Formatting, and Keep Text Only. You should be able to see what the pasted material will look like in your document as you move your cursor over the three icons.

Keep Source Formatting:

Merge Formatting:

And finally, Keep Text Only:

To actually paste in the copied material, click on the one you want and the copied material will be pasted into your document in the format you chose (in this case, Keep Source Formatting).

The new icon based Paste tool with preview should make cutting, copying and pasting a much easier task for anyone that does a lot of moving text around from different applications into Word.

Apple’s Lightening Strikes Again

Everyone here knows about my thoughts regarding Apple’s iPhone5 and the new “lightening cable” it sports. In addition to the limited supply of available cables some users are now reportably experiencing troubles getting the USB end of the cables to unplug from their computers and other devices. Now I myself have not experienced this but I only used mine for about 3 days before boxing it and going back to the 4S.

CNET reports that several people describe problems getting the cables out of the USB ports on their computers, with some going so far as to break out pliers and even take their machines into one of Apple’s retail stores to get the cable unplugged.

While USB is a standard spec, manufacturers can have design variations. I have seen this myself from time to time on USB devices.

AppleCare support reportably stated that “they were aware of the problem” and providing replacement cables to those with any issues. It’s unclear whether those cables differ from the ones available at launch.

As I reported in an earlier post “lightning” is Apple’s new plug technology, which replaces the 30-pin adapters that date back to early iPods. Its key benefit is the smaller iPhone connector, which is 80 percent smaller than the previous connector. Users can also plug it in with either side up. I have experienced this and it really is a nice advantage. No more trying to figure what is up and what is down. Despite these benefits, the new technology will present a costly change for people who have multiple cables just like me that they use in their car, home and at work. Apple includes one out of the box with its latest iPhone but additional cables are probably weeks out from being available.

In addition reports are being made that Apple has placed a “chip” in this cable which will either greatly reduce or remove the ability for outside manufactures to provide less expensive cables. I am not really happy about this and I am keeping hope alive that this report is untrue.

iPhone 5 in Storage

Why would anyone be lucky enough to have an iPhone 5 delivered on the first day available and then only switch back to the iPhone 4S? Here is why.

Apple blundered if you as me. Now don’t get me wrong. I loved the iPhone5 and I look forward to using it in the near future. However in my long IT career I have never seen this. A smartphone released with no ability to purchase powering accessories. That’s right. With the iPhone 5 you cannot presently purchase lightening cables (the new cable), car kits or even external power supplies. You get the one cable in the box and you are expected to carry that with you at all times if you want to charge your phone through the day.

I am not afraid to say this. Believe it or not. I am a very busy person and normally the battery on my smartphone is under 50% by lunch time. I need the ability to charge my phone at several places every day. One “lightening cable” is simply not enough. To make matters worse there is not a release date for these power accessories or cables until “sometime in October”.

With all this in mind, my very awesome iPhone 5 with 4G (LT) service, a bigger screen, faster processor and superior camera went back into it’s box until Apple decides to make available power and cabling accessories.

If you need powering options wait a bit until these accessories are available before upgrading to the new iPhone. Otherwise you may be sitting at home writing a silly somewhat angry blog article as opposed to watching the Monday Night Football pre-game show!

Office 2013 – Pricing from the Cloud

Microsoft is doing their part to expand the future of computer services in the cloud. With Office 2013 consumers as well as corporate users are being enticed in a very real way to move to the cloud with subscription services. The days of running out to Best Buy or Staples and purchasing your software on media discs are almost at an end.

Although the actual release date of Office 2013 has yet to be released it is assumed it will be available by the end of 2013. Subscription prices are set to be under $9.00 per month. What do you get for that? Actually I am impressed with what Microsoft is offering.

For under $9 per month the consumer may install Office 2013 on up to 5 individual computers including Macs. In addition the primary account holder will get up to 27 gigabytes of space on SkyDrive. Microsoft is also promising regular updates and improvements for subscribers.

Can you still purchase Office on a disc? The licensing for the retail editions has been made much more restrictive then it’s cloud service version. Each copy is good on only one machine, and there are no volume discounts or family packs. This could make Office a much more expensive purchase when multiple family members need it. It might just be Microsoft’s way of herding everyone toward the subscription versions. The “Home” version is set at $219 while the “Professional” version is set at $399. Obviously at under $99/year the cloud service is actually more affordable and flexible when you consider all of the other advantages offered.

Another interesting change in the launch of Microsoft Office’s own “app store” which will offer more add-on applications for Office products then we have ever seen before.

At the borough we have been subscribed to “Office 365” for over an year now and I believe it has been everything Microsoft indicated it would be. There is surely more detailed information coming from Microsoft soon. Stay tuned and prepare to jump on Microsoft’s cloud with Office 13!

Microsoft Releases Out-Of-Band IE Zero-Day Patch

As expected, Microsoft today released a cumulative update for Internet Explorer addressing the zero-day vulnerability in the browser being actively exploited in the wild. Security Update MS 12-063 patches not only the critical remote-execution zero-day, but four other vulnerabilities privately disclosed to Microsoft that are not being exploited.

The most critical vulnerability is the execCommand Use After Free flaw in IE versions 6-9. The vulnerability occurs because of a faulty way in which IE access objects in memory that have not been deleted or properly allocated. Successful exploits will give the attacker the same privileges as the user.

Exploits were discovered this week by a pair of research teams. Eric Romang, a Metasploit contributor, found the first last weekend while monitoring servers infected by a pair of recent Java zero-day exploits. Romang found a pair of HTML pages, an executable and a Flash movie file that triggers the executable when a user lands on one of the malicious HTML pages. The first exploit dropped the PoisonIvy remote access Trojan.

A few days later, researcher Jamie Blasco at AlienVault found three more exploits, including one that dropped the PlugX RAT. All of these exploits are tied to Nitro, a hacker group in China. The three latest exploits all target defense contractors in either the United States or India. Blasco had evidence within his research that these three exploits were built before the release of the Metasploit module and was able to tie them to Nitro because he found files named after a video game character from Warlock: Master of the Arcane; other files tied to previously tied to Nitro were similarly named.

Microsoft responded in stages throughout the week, first recommending several workarounds, before making a FixIt solution available that would temporarily mitigate the vulnerability until today’s patch was available. Microsoft announced it would release today’s patch late Wednesday night.

A Special Report from a Special Guest

iPhone Update Horror
“My iPhone Thinks I Don’t Have Friends”
As you are all well aware, yesterday was the much awaited iPhone iOS6 upgrade. And I must forewarn all of you…I have limited technological abilities, so I’m hoping that this is a quick and simple little upgrade – requiring little or no input from me. So, after having been advised repeatedly during the day by our resident IT Genius to update my phone, I eagerly began the update process…even though I was not happy that it could take an hour or more – essentially cutting me off from the world!

Lucky for me, the update went smoothly, took only 45 minutes and was relatively painless for me, unlike my husband – his update took almost 3 hours! Anxious to see what new features were added to my phone during the upgrade, I went through the finishing process, setting up iCloud and all that good stuff and everything was great. Until this morning…I went into my contacts to get a phone number….and that’s when it happened…my iPhone update horror…there were no contacts in my list!!! Not a single one…Just my lonely phone number at the top of the page. Apparently, I no longer had any friends according to my much beloved iPhone.

And then the overwhelming feeling of panic begins to set in…my heart started racing, the language being uttered by me would have made a sailor blush, I felt faint and the prospect of rebuilding my list of contacts made a tear come to my eye…because out of the hundred or so phone numbers and email addresses stored in my phone , I think I only know 3 of them by heart!!!

Ok, take a deep breath, this has got to be fixable, right? I mean isn’t this one of the great reasons behind “The Cloud” that we have all been hearing for the last year or so? “The Cloud” is supposed to be the almighty backup server! And with a little help (okay, a lot of help) from a little search engine called “Google” I discovered the answer to my prayers! My contacts COULD be recovered – so long as I hadn’t made a backup since they were lost…and this is how it’s done:

Go to “Settings”
– Choose “iCloud”
– Where it says “Contacts” it should be at this moment switched to the “ON” position.
– Swipe the switch to show “OFF”
– It will ask you “Keep on iPhone” – Choose this option
– Now Swipe the switch back to “ON”
– It will ask you if you want to “Merge Contacts” – Choose this option
– And that’s it! It is really that easy!!!

At this magical point in time my contacts are now restored to my phone…And the shaking has stopped, the cursing has subsided and the world is good again…I have friends!! 