iCloud Keychain: The Latest in Password Management

Imagine you’re shopping online using your MacBook when you get called away from your desk. Later in the day, you’re waiting for an appointment and have a moment to wrap up the task. You pull out your iPhone and pick up where you left off, with the website password and even your credit card number synced securely for your convenience. It’s possible with the new iCloud Keychain.

Amidst the many exciting bits of news that came out of the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference last week was an announcement about the new iCloud Keychain, a password manager for Safari. While it didn’t generate a lot of immediate buzz, this latest development has the potential to significantly impact consumer habits online.

For those of us who utilize iCloud across different Apple devices, the addition of the iCloud Keychain is welcome news. It is yet another way to keep synced and organized, regardless of whether we’re using our MacBooks or our iPads.

iCloud Keychain has a number of remarkable features. It will store and sync website login data, credit card numbers and even preferred Wi-Fi networks and their passwords, across all systems. It can even auto-fill information in online forms.

In an era where we all have more login credentials than we can easily manage, we are scared off the practice of using one password for everything (or even worse, writing our passwords down somewhere.) Yet studies show two thirds of North Americans still use the same password for multiple websites and services, leaving them vulnerable to phishing attacks. In this regard, iCloud Keychain will make our technology-driven lives a little easier. It will even generate and suggest new passwords for users, then store and use them from that point on, if preferred.

iCloud Keychain is Apple’s answer to services like LastPass or 1Password, which integrate with browsers across devices, enabling subscribers to access all their accounts once they’ve entered a master password. The main advantage over competitors’ products, of course, is that iCloud Keychain is free.

Not only is it free, it’s safe, too. To keep your most sensitive data secure, it utilizes 256-bit AES encryption, only syncs on trusted devices, and doesn’t store credit card security codes.

What is a hackintosh?

iMacs, MacBooks – we all know a Macintosh computer when we see one. But just what, then, is a Hackintosh? A Hackintosh is, quite simply, a PC computer that is configured to run a Macintosh operating system and Mac software on it. They’ve been dubbed “Hackintosh” as a portmanteau of the Apple computers and the fact that they’re set up illegally using Macintosh software – hence, hacked.

Just how do you go about creating a Hackintosh? It used to require extremely restrictive hardware choices and considerable computing expertise. However, it’s become easier to do lately. There are a wealth of resources that guide computer users through setting up a Hackintosh as well as address related concerns and questions. Furthermore, there are even manufacturers who will set up Hackintosh computers for consumers. However, if you’re determined to build one yourself, there are a few important points to keep in mind.

First, consider carefully whether you’re truly comfortable with building your own machine and having to rely on yourself for troubleshooting and support. There are no hotlines you can call or shops you can bring your “hacked” computer into if something goes wrong.

If you feel you can handle the risks that come along with building a Hackintosh, then you should research and determine which hardware will best suit your needs. This has been compared to putting together a puzzle where it seems like many of the pieces are interchangeable, but in fact aren’t. Selecting the appropriate hardware can be the most daunting part of this project.

The parts that Apple uses to create their computers aren’t unique. Many are the same as what gets used in PCs. What differentiates them are the software drivers created to interact with the Macintosh operating system and cause the hardware to function correctly. By doing your research, you can select hardware with the correct drivers or even obtain open-source drivers online that will function with your Hackintosh.

Once you have your hardware together, it’s time to assemble the actual computer. Follow one of the many online guides regarding building a Hackintosh carefully, and read your motherboard manual word for word. By doing so, you should avoid any major issues and have a functioning computer in no time.

Next, it’s time to install the operating system so you can actually use your new machine. First, you must correctly configure the BIOS to make its settings Hackintosh-friendly. Next, you can create a partition and install the operating system. The latest guides online give specific steps for installing OS X Mountain Lion.

After the BIOS is configured and the operating system installed, you can install the drivers. From there, you should be “in” and able to do any Macintosh software updates and otherwise set up your computer for personal use!
So, with such an extensive process, what’s the point of creating a Hackintosh computer? For some computing enthusiasts, it’s merely s project or hobby, the idea of being able to handle such a significant undertaking. However, for many people the benefit lies in being able to essentially have a Macintosh computer at a fraction of the cost of buying an iMac or MacBook with comparable specifications.

While it has become easier lately, it must be stressed that building a Hackintosh is not a simple project. While the benefit is having an extremely powerful computer for a small amount of money, the trade-off for some is the amount of effort that must go into the build and the level of tinkering and troubleshooting that will always be involved.

If the idea of going it solo and having bugs to work out isn’t daunting to you, then creating a Hackintosh may be a fun project.

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.

New plastic iPhone available in multiple colors

As usual, the tech world is buzzing with rumors about the next iPhone. It seemed the moment the 4s was released we were already buzzing about the iPhone 5, and now that it’s old news, we’re all speculating on the possible features on the 5s. But this time around, Apple might be changing the game a little and releasing not one, but at least two new versions of their popular smartphone in order to compete with their rivals, Samsung.

Apparently, Apple is considering two different sized versions of the iPhone 5s – one with the current screen size and one even larger – as well as a cheaper model that will come in a variety of different colorful plastic casings to differentiate from the standard model dubbed the iPhone 5c.


While Apple CEO Steve Jobs had called their signature 3.5 inch screen “the perfect size for consumers,” after his passing the next iPhone had a slightly larger display. Current CEO Tim Cook has also recently hinted at other changes to screen sizes and the company has apparently been looking into offering iPhones with 4.7 inch and even 5.7 inch screens sizes, to compete with popular Android smartphones and “phablets,” those bigger than a smartphone, not quite a tablet devices like the Samsung Note II.

But what’s even bigger news than the changing screen sizes is the rumor that Apple will be producing an even cheaper phone. It will reportedly cost $99.00 and come in five or six different colors, according to supply chain sources. The story is that suppliers have been approached with plans for the new budget iPhones, but that the final product is still unknown. Of course Apple changes specifications right up until the last possible moment, so it’s difficult to say with any certainty what the phones will actually look like and feature by the time they’re released. Still, it’s rumored that trial production for the cheaper iPhone model is currently underway.

Even trials and production of the cheaper iPhone is now subject to rumors, as it’s been stated by those in the know that mixing of colors is taking longer than expected, due to Apple’s high and idealistic standards. If true, it’s great to know that they’re applying that much effort to even their lesser models.

The latest buzz from industry insiders is that 20 million plastic iPhones are expected to ship from the manufacturer between October and December, but the final price for the cheaper smartphone is still yet to be confirmed.

One thing, however, is for certain. Given the constant speculation about the budget-priced iPhones and the larger models due out at the same time, it shows that Apple is feeling – and responding to – pressure to compete with Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Note. Apple products are still immensely popular around the globe, with consumers lining up overnight to be among the first with the latest “iGadget.” But despite that, the company’s revenue growth has decelerated in recent years, and Samsung has overtaken Apple recently in market share. Perhaps offering a wider range of options in size, features and pricing for the iPhone, similar to what’s been done with the iPad and iPad Mini, is just what Apple needs to gain their market share back.