Okay, maybe it isn’t exactly a “Spectacular” but J.D. does update the summer’s geek movie calender while El Kaiser hashes out the differences between an Image Macro and a Meme. In the news rumors abound that Apple is getting set to unveil new versions of their OSes; Windows Phone gains traction; Google debuts their virtual personal assistant software; and McDonald’s gets set to offer breakfast all day.
Last week, we had a Hopefully Helpful Hint for the Windows 8 users and this week, we’re going to step it up for the Macfolk. OS X 10.8, also known as Mountain Lion, incorporates a number of programs and features that are also in Apple’s iOS system for its mobile devices. These programs include Notes, Reminders, the Calendar and Contacts, all of which can be linked together through Apple’s iCloud service so your Mac, your iPad, your iPhone and your iPod Touch all have the same information – in theory.
OS X and iOS have another thing in common: the Notifications Center. As on the iOS system, the Notification Center is your one-stop shopping location to see all the alerts you’ve gotten for new mail, GameCenter updates, missed FaceTime calls, Reminders, Calendar appointments, Twitter mentions and other things that you may want to know about. (Notifications on mobile phones are nothing new – in fact, the Android system had them first before iOS got on the bandwagon.)
To see the Notifications on your Mac, click the icon in the top right corner of the menu bar; it sort of looks like a pictograph of a bullet list. A panel slides out from the right side of the screen to reveal your notifications. If you’re using a Mac laptop with the multitouch trackpad, you can also see the Notification Center by swiping two fingers across from the right edge of the trackpad. Click the x icon to clear old notifications from the list.
You can configure which apps notify you and how they get your attention in the System Preferences area of the Mac. You can choose to be pestered by onscreen red-circle number badges on dock icons, by banners that slide down from the top of the screen and then go away, or by alerts that won’t leave until you make them.
In the Notifications preferences box, you can also choose to add sound to your alerts if you want the Mac to give you an audio cue with a notification. If you work in an open-plan cube farm, however, your co-workers may kill you unless you wear headphones all day. Then again, wearing headphones in an open-plan cube farm is the only way some people can get any work done without killing their co-workers, so a total win-win could be on the books here.
Thievery and hacking never go away, and tech nerds like us always advise coming up with “strong,” hard-to-guess password for your computer or other accounts. But many people don’t exactly know what exactly constitutes a strong password. Fortunately, you can get some password-creation advice on your computer — right there in the control panel where you go to change your password in the first place. Isn’t that convenient?
In Windows, just go to the Start menu to Control Panel to User Accounts and Family Safety to User Accounts. Click on Change Your Password. This opens up the box where you type in your old and new passwords. If you need some help with the strong stuff, look closer. Right in the box is a link called “How to create a strong password” (circled below). Click there for advice. Microsoft also has a site that checks the strength of your chosen password.
On a Mac, just pop open the System Preferences box from the Dock or Apple menu and click on the Users & Groups icon. Make sure your user account is selected on the left side of the box and then click the Change Password button. Here, you also get the familiar Old Password/New Password box, but look on the New Password line. As circled below, there’s a key icon there. Click that icon to call up the Mac OS X Password Assistant, which offers a strength indicator and can even generate strong passwords for you so you don’t have to burn the brain cells thinking them up yourself.