I'm Christian Boyce, a Mac, iPhone, and iPad consultant.
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Apple Security Update 2011-003 and the Mac Defender Malware

There's this bad thing called Mac Defender. It comes from bad guys (Russians, just like in the movies). Then there's this good thing called Apple Security Update 2011-003. It comes from good guys (Apple, Inc.). You want the Security Update 2011-003 because you DON'T want Mac Defender. So, Step One: go to your Apple menu, choose "Software Update...", and install Apple Security Update 2011-003. You can read about it by clicking here but this is a case where you can take my word for it. Get the update and read about it later if you want. For Mac OS X 10.6.7 only. Sorry, Mom.

Mac Defender has gotten a lot of press. It's a scam, pure and simple: a fake anti-virus program that does nothing other than put your credit card info into the wrong hands. It works like this: you're reading a web page when all of a sudden a message appears telling you that your computer is infected with viruses and other malware, and that you need to take care of this problem right away, and Mac Defender offers to do it for you, for a fee. In fact, the warning message is faked; the Mac Defender virus warning is canned, and when "they" say they can clean up the problem they mean that if you give them your credit card info they'll quit with the phony "you're infected!" messages. Pretty easy money-- but that's not the end of it, because now they have your credit card info and you can bet they'll use it.

You know better than to give your credit card info to some total stranger, even if they have a trustworthy-sounding name like Mac Defender. Right? Right. And you know the internet is not locked down nice and tight-- websites are hacked all the time, so malicious code can be put onto a site that you thought you could trust. (It's happened even to Google, believe it or not.) So, it's not going to work to say "Well I never go to those bad websites, I only use Google and PBS.org and ChristianBoyce.blogspot.com"-- the bad guys can stick their nasty code into any site if they try hard enough. Passwords are learned, weaknesses are exploited. Bad things happen. Just don't let them happen to you.

If you get a message on your Mac (or your iPhone, or your iPad) and it says "pay me, quick" it's probably a scam. Take a picture of the screen (Command-Shift-3) and email it to me and I'll help you figure out what's going on.

The really good news here is that Apple has figured out how to stop scams like this in their tracks. Get the Security Update 2011-003 and you're all set. If you are on Mac OS X 10.5, you're somewhat on your own, but just keep being smart and somewhat suspicious and you'll be fine. And of course send me those screenshots (Command-Shift-3).

Here's a nice write-up about the Mac Defender phony anti-virus thing, though it's a little out of date now that Apple's come up with the Security Update. Good reading anyway. Thanks to PCWorld.com for this.

Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.



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How to Type Perfectly, Part II


If there's something you type all the time, and it's more than a few characters, why not have your Mac type it for you? This tip will show you how.

Let's say, hypothetically, that your name is "Christian Boyce." Now, let's say you stay up late doing blog entries and AppleScripts and kitchen cleaning (I did say "hypothetically"). Wouldn't it be a drag if staying up late made you tired and you accidentally made a typo while typing your own name? It Could Happen.

Actually, it probably did happen. I don't remember. I'm tired from being up late doing blog entries and AppleScripts. But it's not going to happen anymore, because I've gone into the Language & Text preference pane and set up my own little short-hand substitution. All I have to do now is type "cb" and it's magically expanded to the full "Christian Boyce." You should try it (but use your own name).

Here's the Language & Text preference pane (start by going to the Apple menu, then System Preferences). We're interested in the "Text" part. Yes, I know the name doesn't make a lot of sense.

You can see that Apple provides a few substitutions for you already-- (r) becomes ® and so on. Neat, but not as neat as turning your initials into your name. To do that, click the + at bottom left of the preference pane, and type your shortcut on the left and what it expands to on the right. See below.

Close up the preference pane and start enjoying your shortcut. Ah, but where? Turns out that these substitutions don't work everywhere. Here's a list of applications where the text substitutions definitely work:

  • Mail
  • Text Edit
  • iChat

If it doesn't work for you in those applications, put your cursor somewhere that allows you to enter text, then control-click to reveal a menu. Choose Substitutions/Text Replacement. Then it will work. (To trigger the expansion, type the shortcut, then a space or a return or punctuation.)

You can even make a shortcut that expands to more than one line. For example, you could put your entire mailing address into a shortcut. Imagine typing "hadd" and having your entire home address get typed for you. Neat.

The same sort of thing works in Pages '09 except you turn it on in Pages' own Preferences, and it does not read the list of custom substitutions that you made in System Preferences/Language & Text. Instead it has its own list. Word 2011 has a similar feature but it's under Tools/AutoCorrect.

Hint: don't use a real word for your shortcut. You'll be triggering it all the time. For example, "had" would be a poor choice for the Home Address shortcut. You'd try to type "I had the fish" and it would come out with your address in the middle. Ooopsy.

This is not the end-all, be-all text expansion/substitution method, but it's built into OS X 10.6, so you may as well use it. If you want to do something a little fancier, and you want it to work in practically every application, you should look into TypeIt4Me, TextExpander, and Typinator. Of these, I am leaning toward Typinator. Watch this movie and see how it could work for you.

Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.



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How to Type Perfectly, Part I


Suppose you were writing an email using Apple's Mail program. Suppose you made some typing mistakes (who me?). Suppose your email looked like this:



Not very good! But, those red underlines do show you where you made mistakes, and there are plenty of ways to make corrections. I will cover those in a future blog post. For now, though, let's learn how to have Mail correct the problems as you type rather than just underline them. It's a simple one-step procedure.

All you do is get an email window up, and then go to the Edit menu and turn on Correct Spelling Automatically. With that checked, the exact same typing is corrected, behind your back, without you doing anything at all.



Here is how it looks when you make the same typing mistakes, but with Correct Spelling Automatically checked. I'm not kidding. Every single mistake was corrected without me doing ANYTHING. You should try it.



Turns out that this automatic correction works a bunch of other places but Mail is where you will use it the most.

Sorry to say that this only works in OS X 10.6 and higher. Another reason to get to 10.6.

Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.



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