Category Archives: Apps

Mac internet security made easy with Intego

You’ve invested a significant amount of money in your beautiful, powerful iMac or MacBook. It contains all your photos, music and work documents, and you know you’d be lost without it. So, what are you doing to protect it?

If you’re diligent about backing up your data, you’re ahead of most people, who surprisingly, despite hearing horror stories, still don’t bother until a disaster causes them to lose everything. That trauma is usually the catalyst that causes most people to set up Time Machine and buy an external hard drive.

Perhaps you are good about backing up your data regularly. But do you also use a reliable anti-virus or Internet security program? If you still believe that Macs are impervious to viruses and malware, you’re just as at risk as those who don’t bother to back up their files. Macintosh operating systems are overall very stable and secure; we certainly hear fewer cases of corruption and infection than those who use PCs. However, they aren’t bulletproof. As fast as Apple can work to develop and maintain their top-quality systems, hackers are inventing ways to break into them.

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to install an Internet security program. Consider it the final piece to complete the protection and maintenance of your investment. A program such as Intego’s Mac Internet Security Premium may be ideal. It’s quite user-friendly, and it’s Apple-focused. M.I.S.P., as it’s often referred to, offers users the ability to operate a multi-faceted data centre that protects their MacBook or iMac. With a simple user interface, it isn’t intimidating for those less technical users. However, its powerful features are sure to impress even those with high expectations.

If your Mac gets hacked, it’s going to be personal

M.I.S.P. protects your computer from having data stolen or corrupted, which is excellent in an age when identity theft is far too common. It offers 24-7, real time protection in addition to scheduled scans. Furthermore, it scans files whenever they’re accessed. It even provides the ability to drag and drop specific documents or files into the program to be scanned.

Another impressive feature of Intego’s Mac Internet Security Premium is that it doesn’t just protect against Mac-centric threats. It offers the ability to detect and protect your computer against PC-based malware as well. Accordingly, it prevents Mac users from spreading viruses and spyware to friends, family and colleagues who aren’t Apple users.

Intego’s M.I.S.P. has received a solid, averaged four out of five start rating through C-Net, where it is offered as a paid download with the ability to try a free, thirty-day evaluation period. It is especially popular amongst those who frequently use public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks, and computer users who are new to Macintosh.

Criticisms of the program are rare, and include mainly minor concerns. Some users have mentioned that they’d like to be able to tinker with the anti-virus and firewall settings in more detail. Others have expressed a desire to see a detailed log of what viruses and other threats Intego’s program is finding and deleting.

Overall, Mac Internet Security Premium is a solid program that provides a stable and secure level of protection against Internet-based attacks. While nothing will guarantee a problem-free computing experience, by using it coupled with regular data backups, you’ll vastly reduce the risk of encountering issues and make recovery far easier.

Simcity for Mac delayed

Those of us on “Team Apple” who can’t wait to rule over elaborate simulated cities once again will have to wait a little longer. Unfortunately, Electronic Arts has postponed the release of the brand new SimCity for Mac game for the second time.

The eagerly anticipated game was originally due to hit shelves in February, but was pushed back to June. Now, Electronic Arts’ Senior Producer is claiming it’s still not quite ready for primetime. The company now reportedly aim to launch it in August, giving them more time to “ensure a great experience for players.”

Of course, the gaming giant had a bit of a bumpy ride with the release of SimCity for PC in March. The issues were primarily related to the fact that the game can only be played online, unlike previous versions. This new feature requires that the game be connected to Electronic Arts’ servers at all times, in order to facilitate region play where cities are connected and accordingly share utilities and citizens.

While a fabulous idea, the constant connection required by the über-popular game meant traffic slowing down the servers, resulting in poor quality play. That issue has now been addressed by Electronic Arts. In fact, several updates have been released since the game’s launch and the 1.3 million PC users who have bought the new SimCity are playing it with the good experience intended.

However, we can’t help but wonder if the Mac version is being delayed because of similar bugs. SimCity for Mac will be available exclusively as a download through Origin; perhaps systems are being upgraded and bugs ironed out once again in preparation for the onslaught of Apple users buying it?

Despite the delay, early reports indicate that the latest version of SimCity will be worth the wait. It will support cross-platform play with PC users, has beautifully upgraded graphics and a host of new in-game features, from big changes to tiny details.

One significant update is the fact that each Sim is now an individual, with his or her own personality, life expectancy, career and education. With no more faceless Sims moving around your city like ants, this will certainly add a new dimension to game play. Other new features include everything from having curved roads and customizable buildings to being able to commute between cities. The new SimCity will even have more detailed crime scenarios.

In addition, cross-platform interactivity will certainly come in handy with the new Great Works Areas update. These zones benefit regions over one individual city, enabling players to collaborate, bring in more tourists and even share the cost of energy.

Electronic Arts have also stated that the Mac version will automatically include the Launch Park, a special area that just opened up for PC gamers last month. And while waiting is frustrating, we can hardly blame the developers for proceeding with caution before launching SimCity for Mac, given the PC issues. Even still, that does little to dissuade our patience as we cross our fingers and hope the release isn’t pushed back any further.

Update: Mac Version to be released August 29th.

Is there value in buying Apple’s iWork over other software?

At Apple’s recent Worldwide Developer’s Conference, a new version of the iWork productivity suite was previewed, and it included some interesting features. Integrated with the popular iCloud service, the latest incarnation of iWork can be accessed from any device, including a PC, using an Internet browser. To demonstrate just how handy this can be, Roger Rosner of Apple used it to edit a Microsoft Word document on a Windows 8 PC by running iWork in a Google Chrome browser window.

At approximately $60.00 to download the full iWork suite of Pages, Numbers and Keynote from the App Store, the software is a reasonable price compared to purchasing Office for a PC. But if you want the accompanying apps for your iPad or iPhone, they’ll cost you roughly an additional $30.00. Are they worth it, especially considering the option to access iWork from iCloud on any browser will be available this fall?

Depending on the way you work, it may be worthwhile to have iWork on your Mac as well as the apps on your device. The combination is ideal for the mobile mindset many of us have today. The freedom to start a document in Pages on OSX, then access it in iCloud and add to it on iPad during your morning commute or even have the ability to pull it up on your iPhone and show it to someone unexpectedly can prove quite convenient. It’s especially useful if you either don’t have a MacBook or the circumstances just don’t call for pulling a computer out. For example, the ability to pull up and deliver a Keynote presentation on your iPhone or iPad makes for greater ease of mobility than having to set up a laptop.

The app versions of the iWork programs are surprisingly full-featured, too. You’ll enjoy the same capabilities to read and create documents as you’ll get on the traditional Mac software. Pages, Numbers and Keynote are just as visually appealing as they are on OSX and offer many options for formatting and editing, while being tailored to a mobile device. For example, Numbers uses a unique input panel in iOS that makes using it on iPhone or iPad much simpler. Furthermore, Keynote capitalizes on its visually appealing format and increases interaction by offering the ability to touch and swipe to create presentations.

There are two main drawbacks to operating iWork from iOS, but neither should be significant enough to deter consumers from using them. First is the pop-up touchscreen keyboard. While certainly sufficient for making minor additions or edits to documents, most consumers find it less than optimal for doing large amounts of work. If, for example, you’d like to use the iPad to work on the go instead of having a MacBook, a portable wireless keyboard or case and keyboard combination device is highly recommended.

The second concern with iWork for iOS is the inability to have multiple documents open at once. While not a major issue, it may decrease productivity slightly for those who are used to switching back and forth between files while working. Despite these minor negative points, however, iWork for iOS is still incredibly functional. Furthermore, while the upcoming release of iWork for iCloud is useful, it’s not beneficial in moments where you don’t have an Internet connection. As a result, the ability to work in the app and sync later is convenient.

Given that purchasing the equivalent Office for a PC would cost between $95.00 and $150.00 for the average versions, with professional additions and extras upping the price even more, the price of owning iWork for OSX and iOS comes into perspective. Whether you’re jetting between the office, home and meetings or just want to utilize the time during your commute, t o have the option of accessing your documents and being able to work on them from any device can prove extremely valuable.

Google Reader alternatives

Google Reader is no more. But while the popular RSS reader has been shut down, there are actually many other alternatives, including ones with excellent iOS apps. Since Google announced they were discontinuing the service, several lesser-known readers have been gaining attention, and other already-popular services have refined their offerings to capture even more users.

Here are a few of the most popular alternatives to Google Reader, all available through the app store so you can read your favorite blogs on your iPhone or iPad.

1. Feedly

By far the most popular alternative to Google Reader, Feedly is simple to use and has a clean, beautiful interface. It’s easily customizable to work similarly – and even better – than Google Reader did. Since Google announced the death of Reader, they’ve been adding new features, updating their iOS app and acquiring even more users. The great thing about Feedly is the number of options it provides, from social media sharing to integration with other services. Feedly has already been named “the service that everyone else will be using” and it’s not hard to understand why.

2. NewsBlur

Originally a web-based feed reader, NewsBlur now offers an app as well. You can read stories through it or on their original website, create categories and tags that help highlight the stories and topics you’re interested in and even create a “Blurblog” which will share your favorite stories in a blog type feed for others to read. NewsBlur is Free for up to 64 sites, but you can pay $24.00 a year for a premium account that gets you unlimited access and more frequent updates.

3. Pulse

For a different approach to RSS reading, try this visually appealing reader app. Instead of trying to imitate Google Reader or follow the usual RSS layout, Pulse makes your feed more image-driven. It also pushes the stories it thinks you’ll like the most to the top. For those who especially appreciate pictures and a visually stimulating user experience, Pulse is worth checking out.

4. Flipboard

Another unique take on an RSS reader, Flipboard is a magazine-like option ideal for those who love to read on their iPad. It’s also very image-driven, much like Pulse, but with an entirely different layout. Flipboard isn’t for everyone, but those who love it swear by it.

5. Zite

With a clean, newspaper-like look and feel, Zite has iPhone and iPad apps as well as the option to read it online via your computer. If you like a few images but an overall straightforward feed view, Zite might be your best bet.

Another option for keeping up with the blogs and websites you most enjoy is by following them on Twitter or Facebook. Some people don’t enjoy using social media, and others read the blogs they like through an RSS reader program even though they’re also a “fan” through social media. With a little effort, it is possible to set up an excellent newsfeed on Facebook or Twitter and keep up with it on your iPhone or iPad, especially if you use a social media client like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.
For some purists, none of the current options will ever quite take the place of Google Reader, although there are excellent alternatives. The best way to see which is for you is to download a few and check out how your favorite blogs appear on them. With so many reader services available, you’re likely to find something that will work for you.

Evernote : Remember everything

Evernote: it’s an incredibly popular download, virtually everyone with a smartphone or tablet has at least tried it, and it often divides people. You either love it or just can’t get into it.

To extend it’s range beyond just being an iPhone or iPad app, Evernote is also available for OSX. But can the program really increase your productivity or is yet another app that claims it’ll make your life simpler while really just wasting your time?

Those who swear by Evernote claim it’s best approached with a “go big or go home” mindset. Use it to the full extent of its capabilities, for everything you can, or don’t bother using it at all. When you only use a few of Evernote’s features it can be isolated and confusing, but it becomes incredibly useful when you default to it for bookmarking, web clipping, recipes, business card storage, note taking and so forth.

While it’s not the fastest app going, it is quite intuitive. Once you get into the habit of using it, Evernote becomes a valuable repository for all the information that comes your way each day.

Having the ability to access Evernote through both OSX and iOS apps adds to its usefulness considerably. If you’re out at a meeting, you can take notes on your iPad and instantly pull them up on your computer when you return to your office. Or if you start a recipe book through the program on your iMac and see something at the grocery store you want to make note of, you can jot it down or take a photo with your iPhone and include it.

Evernote for Mac

Evernote on OSX is also useful if you’re making the transition to a paperless office. Using a scanner you can easily upload important documents, business cards and receipts then divide them into customized notebooks, according to content. From there, you’ll have access to everything, whether you’re at the computer or going mobile, and can add to the notebooks as needed. Don’t be hesitant to create lots of them, too! Evernote on OSX is ideal for grouping and storing lots of information and uses a handy tagging system that makes it simple to find files at a later date. You can even link contextual information from different notebooks together for ease of reference.

Evernote for OSX is an ideal service for students, especially those who use the LiveScribe smart pen. LiveScribe pens allow you to write on high-tech paper and record sound in conjunction with it, then upload it to the Internet. LiveScribe has partnered with Evernote and allows uploading directly to your notebooks. Accordingly, students can take notes, keep them organized effortlessly and access them on a computer or mobile device. Within Evernote and LiveScribe you can even touch on any point in the notes and hear the sound that was recorded at the time it was taken – great for recalling what happened in class.

Don’t think of Evernote as just a tool for school or business, either. While it is a vital tool for keeping track of client information, meeting notes and so on, it’s also excellent for personal information. Use Evernote to organize recipes, health documents, photographs, clips of information from the Internet and more.

If you’re considering trying Evernote for OSX, make an effort to use it to its fullest extent, including downloading the tablet or smartphone apps. While an extremely advantageous program, if you only use it a little or worse, devote a lot of time to setting it up then not stick with it, it has the potential to be a time-waster.