Category Archives: General Macintosh Information

5 Things You Need to Know About the Charter-Time Warner Cable Merger

The Time Warner and charter communications mega merger

Is the Time Warner and charter communications merger going to be good for consumers?

As of May 13, 2016, the Time Warner & Charter cable merger is about to be finalized. If you happen to live in an area where Time Warner is one of the only cable providers, such as myself, here are some things you’re going to want to know about going forward. Even though we personally don’t subscribe to Time Warner’s cable service, We are one of their Internet customers. This is only because we really only have two choices, which is either Time Warner cable, or Verizon DSL. We’ve tried the DSL route before and it’s horrible. Here’s a little research we’ve done to see what’s going to change when this merger finally ends up going through.

How big is Time Warner and Charter about to get?

This mega merger will total about 17 million cable subscribers and about 19 million Internet subscribers to Time Warner and Charter total. This puts them second behind Comcast which is currently the largest cable provider in the United States. If you recall, in 2014 Comcast tried to purchase Time Warner Cable but failed due to regulations. After all is said and done, Comcast and New Charter will own about 80 to 90% of the entire Internet broadband market in United States alone.

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The seven year rule

As part of this merger, Charter communications will not be able to charge video streaming companies extra money to improve the delivery of their video content. This includes streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon video streaming. This rule is in effect for seven years from the date of the merger. Charter will also not be able to come up with any policies that will inhibit these video providers from delivering content to their subscribers. Charter will also not be able to institute data caps on their Internet service.

A name is a name is a name

After the Time Warner and Charter cable merger goes through, Charter Communications will name itself “New Charter.” We can probably assume that the name Time Warner will probably just fade away.

Will there be any hidden costs?

As far as we can see, the rates for Cable services and Internet services from the New Charter company should not go up in the short term. In a merger of this size and scope, it would be beneficial for the New Charter to be on it’s absolute best behavior for the next couple of years as the dust settles. They are also committed to providing the best customer service, which is supposedly better than the customer service Time Warner currently offers. As far as price increases in the future, this is probably inevitable and will eventually be something that new charter will rollout. We’re still unsure about things like Internet modem fees, which can currently be avoided by buying your own equipment as we talked about here.

Filling in some Internet access holes

Under this new merger of Time Warner and Charter Communications, a number of low income households will now have access to high-speed Internet. Recent research states that seven out of 10 teachers assign homework that needs to have Internet access. One third of school-age children are unable to get online due to financial concerns. This should change with new plans being offered by this cable giant that will bring down rates for people who currently can’t afford the high rates.

What were also unsure of are the plans for fiber Internet service from this cable giant. In the past Charter has been very vocal about not providing higher speed fiber-optic networks to cities due to the cost and technical hurdles to bring the service to more homes such as Google fiber. As more high definition video content becomes available, consumers are going to be requesting more options to access this content, such as high speed fiber Internet.

It’s still too early to see what the final ramifications of the cable merger of this size will cause, but we will be keeping our eye on it as we are also Time Warner customers. Hopefully by combining these two companies, this will encourage competition between Comcast and New Charter and bring better service for all of those involved.

Is Google planning an Amazon Echo Competitor Called Google Chirp?

Is Google planning a competitor to Amazon's echo?

Is Google planning a competitor to Amazon’s echo?

(Update: “Google Home” may be released at Google I/O on May 18th. Read more here.) Sources around the web are claiming that Google is close to developing a product that will compete against the massively successful Amazon Echo product and seems to be codenamed “Google Chirp”.

The Amazon echo product is a neat device that sits in the middle of your house and listens to voice commands which are then translated into different types of actions. For example you can have the Amazon echo play music, answer questions, or even control your lights. Strangely enough, this is basically what Google’s own Google Now product already does on Android phones.

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What will the Google Chirp look like?

Supposedly, google’s device will look like their own OnHub router, which is also similar in look and style to Amazon’s Echo product. Sources have also said that Google’s own Nest division has been working on such a product to integrate with Nest products such as the Nest thermostat and Nest Protect smoke alarm system. If these sources are correct, this should be a smash hit for Google. Amazon’s own Echo product line is a sleeper hit that has generated millions of dollars in sales. Most analysts also think that Apple is working on a similar product to integrator Siri voice recognition software into. These voice assistant software and hardware products seem to be an emerging market for many big tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Amazon.

How to Check For Malware on the Mac

Macintosh Malware and Antivirus Support

Stay safe from virus and malware activity on your Macintosh with these simple tips.

Do you think your Mac has been infected by malware or a virus? It’s always possible, and here’s some ways to check.

Is it a virus? Is it malware?

First of all, don’t blame every single problem on malware or a virus. Many problems on the Mac appear to be virus related, but, actually are system related. If you’re not surfing underground sites or downloading software from places you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t have any virus or malware activity. In the off chance that you do get a virus or malware, here are some basic things you should do to get rid of the malware or virus on your Mac.

Let’s start with the browser.

Google Chrome for the MacOn the Macintosh, you have a few choices for web browsers. The big three browsers that most people use are Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Of these particular browsers, we prefer Google Chrome as our day-to-day browser. Google chrome for Mac is a fairly lightweight browser, has great security controls, and doesn’t seem to have the issues that the other browsers tend to have. Another great feature of Google Chrome is that it has Adobe Flash built right into it. This means you’re not hounded by the constant warnings to upgrade Adobe Flash. This is not to say Safari and Firefox are not safe, we just have a better track record with Google Chrome across-the-board. It’s wise to be careful what extensions you do load into Google Chrome. Only stick to known good browser extensions that are featured on the Google app store. if you do need to stick to using Safari as your daily web browser, you should turn off the extensions. Extensions and toolbars are a common way for malware and viruses to get into your Mac.

Use free Malware and Virus checking software

The best free software we have found to detect malware on your Mac is Malwarebytes. This software is remarkably easy-to-use, and can be run once or twice a week to check for any malware on your Macintosh based computer. We’ve been surprised a few times to find that we actually did have malware and the software has found it and deleted it every single time. This software doesn’t run automatically; you will have to run it by yourself once in a while. Another great piece of software we have found the check for viruses and malware on a Mac is from the company Sophos. This free software does run continually on the Macintosh and is also a good, lightweight piece of software for checking viruses and malware on a Mac. Apple can also detect and defeat certain malware from their end which is built into the Macintosh operating system. This is obviously not the best option because you have no control over what it finds and what it gets rid of.

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Backing up your data is a wise move

With good data backups, a good portion of malware and viruses shouldn’t affect your data. Even better, have multiple backup options so your main data backup doesn’t get infected. We prefer multiple hard drives, and Google Drive as our backup options. Apple provides the Time Machine software that can back up every single Mac for free. All you have to do is provide an external hard drive for this option to work.

Be incognito whenever possible

Most browsers today offer an incognito mode, Or stealth mode, which hides your browsing activities. If there are sensitive sites you travel to, using one of the stealth modes may help limit the malware and virus activity on your Mac. The stealth mode can stop tracking and automatically turn off cookies on these sites as you visit them, which aids in your protection.

Stay away from filesharing and torrent sites

A lot of virus and malware activity on a Mac comes from filesharing and torrent sites. You should limit access to the sites if at all possible, especially if other family members are using the Mac. A good option in this case is to use a DNS filtering service such as OpenDNS to stop people in your household from accessing these and other dangerous sites.

Everyone should not be an administrator on the Mac

If your Mac has multiple users, and all them are set up as a administrators, this is not a good situation. This simply means that anybody using the Macintosh has full privileges on the Mac. They would actually be able to install any piece of software, including malware, that they deemed fit. Changing these users to standard users is a great way to bypass this problem. By making them standard users, they don’t have the privileges that an administrator would have. Therefore, they would not be able to make any changes on the system at all. By teaching these users good browsing habits, you should be able to limit the amount of malware and virus activity on your Mac.

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Mac OS X System Preferences Keeps Crashing on Launch

Mac OS X System Preferences Crash

Mac OS X System Preferences Crashing? Here’s a good trick to try.

Do you find that the System Preferences application on Mac OS X keeps crashing when you either open it, or, try to access any of the individual system preference panes in the window? Here’s something to try if you find yourself with this issue.

First, you are going to be using the Mac OS X Terminal application, which is located in the Utilities folder inside of your Applications folder. You would want to back up any important data before doing these steps, hopefully with Time Machine and an external disk. We are not responsible for any data loss.

Here’s What to Do To Fix Your System Preferences–Proceed Carefully.

You are going to want to select the line of code below, and copy it to the clipboard (edit menu –> copy), so we can paste it into the Terminal window. This will move a possibly corrupt system preferences plist file to your desktop.

mv L*/P*/.GlobalPreferences.plist Desktop/GlobalPreferences.plist

At this time, you will want to paste this code into the Terminal window by choosing “paste” from the edit menu. You can now hit the “return” key on your Mac OS X keyboard, which now should move this file to your desktop. Leave it on the desktop for now. At this time, you will either want to logout of your Mac, by choosing “logout” in the Apple menu (and then logging back in from the login window) , or, simply choosing “restart” from the Apple menu. When the Mac comes back to your desktop, you can then try to launch system preferences once again. If all goes well, you will now have full control over the system preferences in question.

If this does not work, and you want to return this file to its original place, you can copy and paste the line of code below into the Terminal once again. If this trick worked, please leave a comment so other readers can decide to try it or not.

mv Desktop/GlobalPreferences.plist L*/P*/.GlobalPreferences.plist

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Keyboard Volume Keys Not Working on the Mac

Volume and Media Keys Not Working

Mac OS X volume keys not working? Try these tricks.

Have you lost control of your keyboard volume keys on your Macintosh, especially since upgrading to Mac OS X El Capitan? You’re not alone. Here’s a few things to try if you suddenly cannot control your volume keys on your MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac or any other Macintosh computer.

First, make sure you aren’t running the TIDAL music player software–this seems to be a common thread for the Macintosh keyboard volume keys not working. TIDAL is a streaming music service that has a corresponding software component that can cause the Mac volume keys to simply stop working. To test this theory, simply quit the TIDAL application on the Mac and see if your volume keys begin to work. If this is the case, simply stop using the TIDAL application to have your Mac volume buttons back to normal.

Another trick to try when you cannot get the volume keys on the Mac to work is to check inside of the system preferences. Locate the Keyboard system preference and note the status of the checkbox that says “Use all F1, F2, etc. as function keys.” If this box is checked, try unchecking it to return the Mac volume keys to normal working order. If the box is checked, this could be causing your Mac OS X volume keys not to work.

Lastly, make sure you don’t have the Google Music extension in Chrome running on your Mac, which could be hijacking all of your media keys, including the iTunes software. By removing this extension, you may fix the volume key issue on your Mac.

Let us know in the comments below if any of these tricks worked to regain control of your Mac OS X volume keys, or, if you have other tips and tricks to help our readers with this common issue on the Mac.

 

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