An Update about Updating to iOS9…..

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 7.00.00 AMSo ……. I still have not updated to the next iOS system. And for those of you who are not techy, and happy enough with the way your phone is working, I recommend that you wait a bit longer, too.


Well, apparently, as usual, there are bugs. But a few of these bugs are a bit more challenging than the typical variety of inconvenience. THIS time, your iPhone could crash during the install (requiring a full restore :shock: ) and another “helpful” change is messing with people’s data plans.

Interesting, too, was the impact of this update on this blog. Usually gets about 500+ hits a day. Suddenly, after the update was released, the daily hits nearly doubled. I could not understand why, but I did see that most of the hits were landing here because of a search for turning off game center pop ups. Apparently that is another issue with the new update …. a very pesky pop up.

I’m going to wait a while longer. I have done a full restore before (more about that on another blog post to come) but I would certainly rather avoid a full restore, so…… waiting.

Bottom line: For me, and the rest of you regular folks who like to USE your smartphone, but NOT tinker with it, I suggest you do nothing right now.

Yes, I am going to wait a bit longer to update, and to Gina, Mona, Trudi, et al. …… if you haven’t done it already, I suggest you wait, too.

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The Apps I found to be Most Helpful for Cross-Country Driving

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 5.15.22 PMLast July we took a month-long road trip. I live on the east coast and we drove all the way to the west coast, passing through 15 states. Being an east-coast person, where facilities exist at every highway exit, and internet access is everywhere, I anticipated fretted (just a bit) that there would be times on this drive where I would find myself in pockets of “no service.” Like many of you I have come to rely on my iPhone for directions, recommendations, reservations, information and reviews and so I did what I could to prepare for “life without” my smartphone. :shock:

To my surprise, I never found cell service to be a problem. I got the dreaded “no service” occasionally, but not nearly as often as I had expected. Even on remote route 2 in northernmost Montana, cell service was surprisingly available.

Before leaving, I loaded my iPhone with apps that I thought might be useful. I didn’t dig too deep, so most of the apps I used were pretty mainstream, and their usefulness varied according to where-in-the-world I was.

It goes without saying that the Camera and Photos were both used a LOT.

And Weather. I have several weather apps on my phone, although three of them are local. So I turned to the standby Weather Channel app to check forecasts for the places we were going.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 6.52.15 PMAnother weather app that I found to be most helpful was Radar US.

By keeping an eye on the radar, we were able to time some outdoor events in between approaching storms.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 6.40.15 PMI used Google Maps constantly. I used it for navigation and I used it to look ahead for traffic.
However, I soon learned that “traffic” was really not a problem in most of the areas we explored. (True story: The very WORST traffic of our entire adventure happened as we arrived back in our own area, about 20 minutes from home. 30 days of driving, and we got stuck during the last half hour.)

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.03.30 PM When you’re a stranger in a strange land, Yelp is a treasure. There was a time that Yelp was most helpful only in cities, but I am here to report that even in the smallest of towns I found that folks had reviewed the (very) few eating establishments thoroughly. We had several delicious meals in places that we would have missed without turning to Yelp for advice.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.29.18 PMiExit was wonderfully helpful. There is nothing better when riding down a highway than being able to look ahead to determine when and where you might stop for gas or food.

I found that this app was even useful in the sparsely populated areas, because I was able to see at a glance how many exits ahead had nothing …. making a stop “now” even more imperative. As someone who lives on the busy East Coast, I live in a world where EVERY exit of EVERY highway is populated with numerous motels, gas stations and eateries. It rapidly became clear that this is not the norm for most of the country, and while looking ahead down a highway on this app I was delighted when I was finally able to report an exit with facilities.

Entertainment: I had anticipated that there would be some long and rather dull stretches of road, so I loaded up some entertainment on my phone to keep us awake occupied as we drove.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.51.07 PMOf course I loaded my iPhone with many favorite Podcasts for listening as we drove. To my surprise, we didn’t listen nearly as much as I thought that we would. But they were available to fill some time if we needed them, and that was good.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.48.55 PMMy husband is a great fan of trivia, and so I selected a new trivia app for the drive, ExQuizit. We used it often, and found it delightful. There are many options available within the app. You can choose a single category, or two or several, and you can choose the number of questions you want, as well. You also have the opportunity to select from Normal, Hard, or Expert questions. The game has an option to play with friends, but we never used that. We played “solo” and just tried to conquer the questions together. I am not a trivia fan, but I actually found this an enjoyable way to pass some time.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.59.33 PMNo drive across country can be accomplished without looking for a license plate from each state. And of course… there’s an app for that. Although pen and paper would do just fine, this was actually kind of fun and convenient. State Plate Hunt includes not only the 50 states of the USA, but also the states, provinces and territories of the USA, Canada and Mexico. When you see a plate, just tap the state and the app will mark it as “found.” (How did we do? 47 states. 47! grrrrr. We missed Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont. I understand Hawaii, but wasn’t anyone from Rhode Island or Vermont riding around this summer?)

Before leaving home, I would have guessed that Waze, AroundMe, and GasBuddy would all have been favorites, but I used those apps rarely. I’m sure there are some great road-trip apps that I missed, so if you have some you enjoy, please share!

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Here We Go Again! New Operating System Coming Soon. iOS9

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 7.14.47 PMFor the techy people of the world, a new operating system is probably a good thing. For me (and, I’m guessing, many of you…) a new operating system means that I get a little shaky in the knees as I worry about updating my devices and anticipate the glitches-that-will-most-likely-happen. :shock:

Yes, once again we are about to get an update for our iPhones and iPads. iOS9. September 16.

If you’re a long time follower of this blog, you know that I’ve always suggested waiting a while before updating. If there are bugs and glitches, I’d rather have someone else suffer through them as they are worked out. Hopefully the nasty bugs on release day should be few since iOS9 has been public-tested for a while. But I’m very conservative when it comes to “new” stuff, and so I’ll be taking my time as usual.

It always seems that just as I get used to the system I have …. they change it. So what’s new this time? I did some googling to find out what would be “new and improved” in version 9. Here is what I learned:

1. Battery Life. We all tweak our devices to help save battery power. Apparently iOS9 will help us do that. Today, when you set your phone face-down, and you get notifications, your phone lights up, using battery power. In iOS9, your iPhone will KNOW that it is face-down, and it won’t bother lighting up, conserving battery power. There are several other battery-saving additions as well, such as a low-power mode. Apple says that by using the low-power mode you will be able to boost your battery life by as much as 3 hours.

2. Siri improvements. I’ll admit I don’t use Siri very often. Mostly I use her in the car, when I want to call someone hands free (very convenient!), or when I ask her to read text messages to me (also in the car). Apparently Apple wants to make Siri smarter, and has strived to do that with this update. With iOS9, you should be able to ask Siri to show you all the photos you took at your nephew’s birthday party or on your last trip to Chicago. In other words, the search options are expected to be greatly improved.

3. In iOS9, Apple has gotten rid of Newsstand. (I never ever used this, did you?) They have replaced this with a news app that you can personalize to your interests. The app will also make recommendations for you, based on your preferences.

4. Multi-tasking on the iPad will make a debut. iOS9 will give users of the newer iPads the ability to use two apps at once or watch a video while using an app. This is an iPad only improvement. iPhone = nope.

5. Notes app. This app has been improved with some new tools.

6. Keyboard letters. With iOS9, when you are using lower case letters, the keyboard will show you lower case letters. Once you hit the shift key (to use caps), the keyboard will then show capital letters. (Now the keyboard always shows caps, regardless of whether you are using the shift key or not). Although this not-changing thing has never bothered me, it seems so obvious and simple, I’m surprised that it hasn’t been done long before now.

And so, although it looks as though the new iOS9 won’t be too dramatic, it will bring with it some sensible changes.

I’ll wait a little while as I usually do before I install this new operating system, but once I do I’ll be sure to go through each and every change, here on this blog, one at a time. S-l-o-w-l-y. :)

Test Driving Apple’s iOS9

iOS 9 will be available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch September 16th

iOS 9 will be released on September 16th

iOS 9: The new and notable features in the open beta (hands-on)

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How to Change the Auto-Lock Time on your iPhone or iPad

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 7.56.53 PMWhen you finish using your iPhone or iPad, it will, after a certain period of time, lock up. It will do this after a period of inactivity. This is obviously a good thing for security purposes, and of course, by shutting down your device it helps save battery life, as well.

But it is completely up to you WHEN you want your iPhone or iPad to shut down. Some people like it to shut down quickly once they stop using it, while others may prefer some wait time of 2 minutes, 4 minutes or perhaps ….. never.

Here is how to set the auto-lock time for your iPhone or iPad:

Go to Settings

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Once you open Settings, tap on General.

Now scroll down to find “Auto-Lock.”

Tap on “Auto-lock.”

You will see the screen below. Touch to select your choice of minutes (or never).


That’s it! You’re done …. and the next time your iPhone or iPad is inactive, it will shut down according to the time you just chose.

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Are Your Passwords on this List?

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Every year, Splashdata publishes a list of the “worst passwords,” and this year’s list was announced a few days ago.

The number ONE worst password? “123456”

The word “password” has topped the chart for a while, but was unseated last year by “123456.” The very-bad-choice-of-a-password……. “password” …… remains at number 2 for this list.

I assume no one reading this blog is using either of these two passwords (am I right?)
are you guilty of using any of the others on this list?

Take a look…. and give a thought to your own password safety. A safe password should have a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols. It should not contain personal information. You should have unique passwords for different accounts. And, you should change your password often.

Worst Passwords 2014

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How to Change Your Email Signature on your iPhone and iPad

Over the last several years, “throwback Thursday” has become quite popular. Although it is really supposed to be about nostalgia (like old photos), I thought I’d stretch the point, and occasionally post an old (but updated!) “how to” on Thursdays, for the benefit of the many new-device-users who have joined our blog. (or to refresh the memories for those of us who forget!)

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 8.48.41 PMWhen you send an email from your device, it has a little “stamped” message at the bottom of your text, either “sent from my iPhone” or “sent from my iPad”. If you are a relatively new user, you may have wondered if you can change this message.

The simple answer is…… yes, indeed.

You can customize it however you would like, or you can choose to have no message at all.

You can also select a different signature for each of your email accounts, clearly separating your personal and professional life.

Before you make any changes, give it a little thought. For example, “future rock star” would be a poor choice for a professional signature. :shock: Make absolutely sure that you pay attention as you assign a signature to your email accounts. Determine if messages will be personal or professional, and create accordingly.

Personal signatures vary from the simple “regards” or “cheers” to a comedy choice (“sent from my Atari 2600”) to inspirational quotes or lines from literature.

The directions to make a change are the same for both the iPad and the iPhone.

Here is how to change your email signature:

Go to your settings and select “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”. Then scroll down and tap “Signature”.

You can now make the choice of “All Accounts” or “Per Account.” You can see, here, that on my iPhone, the message “sent from my iPhone” goes out on all my emails, from any account.


Under the “accounts” choice, you see a text box, with the current message in it.

Replace “sent from my iPhone” with your name, or whatever else you would like to appear at the bottom of every email that you send.

Once you have made your changes (you can just make it blank), you are done. There is no “save” button, it just works.

To go back, touch the “Mail, Contacts..” arrow at the TOP of your screen, and this will take you back to Settings. Give your Home Button a push, and you are back to a screen full of your icons.

All done. The next email you send will contain your new signature (or no signature at all if you made it blank).

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How to Turn Off (the evil) In-App Purchases

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 6.49.05 PMAlmost two years ago, I blogged about turning off in-app purchases, after a child in the UK racked up a whopping bill of $2500.

Since many folks have recently subscribed to this blog after (probably) getting a new device for the holidays, I think it’s time to talk about this again.

First, my rant. Bluntly, I think in-app purchases are (usually) evil. It’s a model designed to get you to pay more and more just to finish whatever it is you are doing. In-app purchases often appear in games, encouraging you to acquire extra powers or lives or turns or whatevers. In the heat of the moment, many normally-sane people find themselves wracking up charges for…… well, lots of nothing.

It just seems to me that the vast majority of in-app purchases are simply designed to, uh, ‘get’ you.

If you have children using your devices, you should absolutely positively turn OFF the ability to buy these extras.

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 7.00.17 PMBut I’d like to take this a step further and suggest that all of us boomers do the same. Those in-app purchases are pretty darn sneaky (and getting sneakier all the time). They can pop up and be confusing, and you might find yourself buying something you never intended to buy at all.

I recently downloaded a well-reviewed match 3 game, a Disney product, and was flabbergasted at all the “do you want to buy an extra turn/power/etc” that the game kept throwing at me. I’d MUCH rather pay for a game, and use it cleanly without any hidden costly surprises.

Here is how to turn off your in-app purchases on your iPhone or iPad:

Go to your Settings > General > Restrictions.

To enable restrictions, you’ll have to enter a passcode. Be sure to remember this, because you will need it if you want to change it later.

Once you have enabled restrictions, just slide on down and find “In-app purchases.” Slide the switch to off (not green) and you’ll be all set.


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