iPhone 6 sizing templates for printing

 

Apple announced the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus today to great fanfare. If you’re thinking of ordering one, the big question is: Which size do you want?

  • Does the larger size make it too awkward to hold?
  • Will it fit in my pants or shirt pocket?
  • Will it fit in my car’s coffee cup holder?
  • Does it look dorky?

I’ve created a simple scale diagram to help you decide. All you have to do is:

iphone-templates-on-cutting-board

Now you’ll have two scale models to compare. Good luck with your decision!

 

Updated 4/19/14: iPhone 6 Delivered

My cardboard template turned out to be quite accurate compared to the real iPhone 6.

iPhone 6 vs. cardboard template

Why I switched from iBank to SEE Finance

I was a Quicken user for many years, then switched to iBank when Quicken for Mac was essentially abandoned. iBank worked okay for me for several years, although I always had issues with its performance (sluggish), user interface (not customizable enough), and feature set (stagnant). Despite its shortcomings, I still decided to pay $29.99 for the version 5 upgrade on December 3, 2013.

At the end of 2013, as I was working on some end-of-year entries, iBank suddenly couldn’t open the data file which contained my business accounting for the last 20+ years! I was able to restore a backup from about a week before and reconstruct where I left off. But it troubled me greatly — I lost confidence in iBank’s data integrity. There’s really nothing more important.

SEE FinanceAfter investigating several other Mac finance applications, I experimented with a trial version of SEE Finance. The application quickly converted all my personal and business data from iBank’s exported QIF files. The transfer was very accurate with the exception of a few reconciliation checkmarks. Those were easy to fix manually.

I’ve been running SEE Finance in parallel with iBank for about a week. The new application was very easy to use and accurate. I had a couple of questions about reconciling my accounts. I received prompt email replies from their customer support.

A week was more than enough time to convince me that SEE Finance is the way for me to go for both my personal and business accounting needs beginning January 2014. It’s a bargain at $29.99.

Apple Touch ID problems with chapped fingerprints

I bought my iPhone 5S when it was first available in late September 2013. I really like the phone, including the innovative Touch ID fingerprint sensor that I use in lieu of entering a passcode to unlock my screen.

Touch ID had been pretty reliable during my first two months of use. Lately, however, it hasn’t been working as well. After several days of frustrating “try again” messages, I finally figured out what was wrong. The weather here in Buffalo has recently turned cold and windy. And dry. Consequently, my hands are getting a bit chapped — including my memorized right thumb — which apparently looks like a different fingerprint to Touch ID!

The solution was simple. I deleted the stored fingerprint and then just added it again, this time for our very dry Buffalo winter season. Touch ID recognizes me again!

And when the conditions change again in the Spring, I’ll know exactly what to do!

 

Apple Touch ID setup

How to listen to iPhone text messages on Ford Sync

Turn on the vehicle and allow your iPhone to connect. Then tap Bluetooth in the iPhone’s Settings app. Select SYNC, then tap Show Notifications on the following screen.

The next time you start your vehicle, the syncing will be automatically activated.

Now when you receive a text message while driving, you’ll see a notification message on the vehicle’s screen and hear a tone. You can press the Listen button on the screen — or press or pull the Voice button and say “Listen to text message.” SYNC will read the text message  to you!

Note that this feature only works if your iPhone is locked.

iPhone Sync to Ford
Ford Sync: new-message alert

Tracking my Apple iPhone 4S resale value prior to Sept. 10, 2013

Today Apple will announce the new iPhone 5S. I’ve been tracking the fluctuating resale value of my two-year old (Verizon) iPhone 4S 32GB for the past few weeks. I picked Gazelle.com to track its value on the used market.

The price was holding steady at $195 until late August when it started to drop.

Today (9/10/13) it jumped up in anticipation of the official announcement.

iPhone 4s - 9/10/13

Resale value of Apple iPhone 4S 32GB (Verizon)

Updated: 9/10/13

 

I originally paid $299 for it a little over two years ago.

9/27/13 Update: I sold my iPhone 4S to Gazelle.com on September 27, 2013 for $165.

11/29/13 Update: Two months after selling my iPhone, the price on Gazelle.com has dropped to $115.

How to fix ‘Safari could not download the file because there is not enough free disk space’

I use Safari as my Mac’s default browser and have recently encountered the following message when attempting to download files:

[box type=”info”]Safari could not download the file because there is not enough free disk space. [/box]

I have about 100 GB of space available on my drive, so that’s certainly not the problem. Both Chrome and Firefox download the same files without any problems. So what’s the problem with Safari? I’m not sure what triggers it, but here’s how to solve it:

  • Start up Disk Utility which is in your local version of Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilities directory.
  • Click on Repair Disk Permissions.
  • That should fix your Safari download problem!

Disk Utility icon

Mac Disk Utility

Speed up a Mac Pro and extend its life by adding a SSD

Mac Pro is getting slow

Apple just announced a completely redesigned Mac Pro that will be available in the Fall of 2013. The current model has been around since 2006 and was in desperate need of a serious upgrade. As I impatiently waited for this hardware announcement, I discovered a way to boost my Mac Pro’s performance so I could continue using it productively.

When I bought my Mac Pro in early 2008, it was the fastest computer Apple had ever produced. Over my next four years, I was able to increase its capabilities by upgrading its memory to 14 gigabytes and adding a larger hard drive for more storage capacity. My Mac Pro has been a real workhorse for me in my consulting and web design business.

Mac spinning beachballBut in 2012, I noticed that it was really slowing down. The reason? My theory is multiple upgrades to OS X and other software applications placed increasing demands on the aging hardware. Sometimes I encountered the “spinning beach ball” — 20, 40, 60 seconds or more — for  reasons I could not predict nor understand! Needless to say, it was getting very frustrating.

I considered upgrading to a new computer and thought about whether to buy a new Mac Pro tower or possibly switch to a large-screen all-in-one iMac. An additional factor was my very nice 30-inch Apple Cinema Display, which made the iMac alternative less attractive. The Mac Pro models Apple was selling were pretty expensive and didn’t provide me with the power boost I was seeking. Plus, there was the promised but non-specific 2013 Mac Pro redesign.

I needed to do something but didn’t feel like replacing my computer just yet.

Upgrading My Mac Pro

I had a theory that my Mac Pro’s performance bottlenecks were from excessive disk activity on the startup drive. What if I switched to a solid state drive to my system? SSDs have no moving parts and therefore no latency wait times. Plus, SSD read/write specs are much faster than traditional spinning platter hard drives. SSD downsides? Their storage capacities are on the low side and price/gigabyte costs are higher.

What minimum capacity did I need? How should I configure my files for maximum efficiency and performance?

First I needed to analyze the my current setup. Of my startup hard drive’s one-terabyte capacity (1,000 GB), here was the rough usage breakdown:

Mac Pro hard drive space allocation

Since I couldn’t buy (or afford) a one-terabyte SSD replacement drive, I decided to keep my existing hard drive and dedicate it to my User Data (my Home directory) only. The new SSD would be my startup drive and contain only the operating system and my software applications.

My calculations showed that I required no more than 120GB of space to contain the OS X System, Applications and Library folder items.

I opted for a 240GB Mercury Electra 3G SSD 2.5″ Serial-ATA Solid State Drive plus a AdaptaDrive 2.5″ to 3.5″ Drive Converter Bracket from Other World Computing. Total price in October 2012 was $259 with shipping (it’s a bit less now).

OWC Solid State Drive (SSD)Installation Process

The SSD was easy to install. I just screwed the thin “drive” into the adapter bracket, opened my Mac Pro, and inserted it into one of the available drive bays. Then all I had to do was:

  1. Format the new solid state drive. I named it SSD to easily distinguish it from my traditional Mac’s spinning hard drive.
  2. Perform a clean install of OS X Mountain Lion on the new SSD volume.
  3. Restart the computer from the freshly minted SSD startup drive.
  4. Re-assign the default home directory to the existing one on the original Macintosh HD. This essentially told the computer to keep using my current home folder where all my files resided.
    • Open System Preferences > Users & Groups
    • Right-click (Control-click) the Current User and select Advanced Options…
    • Select the correct Home directory

Assign Mac home folder

Installing OS X and Applications

I considered cloning the both the system and applications from my existing hard drive to the new SSD but quickly decided against it. I wanted a clean install of everything I was going to put on the new drive. Plus, I had accumulated many orphaned and outdated versions of software applications that I didn’t want to dump onto a pristine SSD.

The whole process installation process was very fast, no doubt because of the speedy solid state architecture versus relatively slow spinning hard drive platters.

Next up: Installing applications. I just copied apps from my existing Macintosh HD >Applications to the new SSD > Applications as I needed them, leaving behind old or unused applications.

For most apps, a simple drag-copy between drives worked fine — except Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite. They required complete re-installs from their original DVDs. That didn’t really surprise me knowing Microsoft and Adobe!

New storage configuration:

New HD vs SSD storage breakdown

The Results

After only a few hours of live use, I could tell …

  • My system was faster that before – MUCH faster
  • Startup times were much faster
  • Applications were opening much faster
  • And have virtually eliminated the annoying spinning beach balls… Everything was snappier!

In fact, I believe the useful life of my Mac Pro has been extended for at least a year. That should easily get me through to the recently announced (but not yet available) Mac Pro model that’ll come out later in 2013.

I’ll probably upgrade then. But then again, I might even wait a little longer!

DIY free plastic switch guard keeps a switch in on or off position

As a technology consultant, I’m usually working on high-tech solutions to solve business problems. But sometimes a low-tech solution is the perfect answer to handle a simple task.

This was my little problem: I have a outdoor floodlight on my garage that lights up the driveway at night. As I drive in from the street after dark, the unit’s motion detector turns the light on. After about five minutes, the light turns itself off automatically. It works great — as long as the lightswitch inside the house remains in the on position. If the switch is accidentally turned off, of course, the outside security light will not turn on. Unfortunately, this has happened too many times.

Plastic soup containerI used to put a piece of tape over the up/down switch to keep people from accidentally flipping the switch. But that was a bit messy and inelegant. So here’s what I did: I took a plastic soup container from a Chinese food take-out order. Using scissors, I cut a 4 1/4 x 1 inch piece of plastic. I lined up the piece over the light switch and pierced two holes aligned with the switchplate screws. Then all I had to do was remove screws and reinsert them through the two holes I made in the plastic.

The installed clear plastic cover is barely noticable, yet it’s quite effective in keeping kids and visitors from accidentally turning off the outside security light. If, by some chance, I do wish to change the switch’s position, I simply put my finger behind the plastic guard and flip the toggle down or up. Simple!

That’s it! A DIY switch protector — free and easy!

Finished: diy free light switch cover