Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 75: This Is a Brain Hack

We take a deep dive into spam: how it works, and how you can manage it. We also discuss another Facebook blunder, some thoughts on preventing facial recognition software from spotting you, and a new scam allegedly from the CIA.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

Your AirPods Probably Have Terrible Battery Life – The Atlantic

Two years ago, Desmond Hughes heard so many of his favorite podcasters extolling AirPods, Apple’s tiny, futuristic $170 wireless headphones, that he decided they were worth the splurge. He quickly became a convert.

Hughes is still listening to podcasters talk about their AirPods, but now they’re complaining. The battery can no longer hold a charge, they say, rendering them functionally useless.

[…]

Hughes, who is 35 and lives in Newport News, Virginia, has noticed a similar thing about his own set: At first, their charge lasted five hours, but now they sometimes last only half an hour. He frequently listens to one while charging the other—not optimal conditions for expensive headphones.

[…]

The lithium-ion batteries that power AirPods are everywhere. One industry report forecast that sales would grow to $109.72 billion by 2026, from $36.2 billion in 2018. They charge faster, last longer, and pack more power into a small space than other types of batteries do. But they die faster, too, often after just a few years, because every time you charge them, they degrade a little. They can also catch fire or explode if they become damaged, so technology companies make them difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to replace themselves.

The result: A lot of barely chargeable AirPods and wireless mice and Bluetooth speakers are ending up in the trash as consumers go through products—even expensive ones—faster than ever.

This is quite disappointing. I bought mine when they were released, in December 2016. I don’t use them a lot; I use them for phone calls (I work at home, and I prefer making phone calls with headphones), and to listen to music and podcasts when I walk. But that is, on average, less than one hour a day, and sometimes I don’t use them for several days.

Nevertheless, I find that they don’t connect to my iPhone reliably any more, and they don’t last as long as they used to. I’m not in a situation where they need replacing yet, especially given the cost, but that headphone jack is looking a lot better now in hindsight.

Source: Your AirPods Probably Have Terrible Battery Life – The Atlantic

Dropbox to Limit Free Accounts to Three Devices; Here’s Why This Is a Problem

Dropbox has announced that users of free accounts will no longer be able to link more than three devices to their accounts. Those who had linked more devices prior to March 2019 will be able to continue to use them, but will not be able to link any additional devices.

There are lots of problems with this. Dropbox became quasi-ubiquitous because if its free accounts; anyone can sign up for a 2 GB account and use it to share files. This is especially practical because many people need to work with shared folders created by, say, employers or clients, who need to share files with them. Many Dropbox users don’t use the service very much; those who do, and who need a lot of storage, upgrade to the paid plan, of which there is only one: 1 TB for $10 a month. (There is also a 2 TB plan, and a Business plan, for companies with lots of users.)

The problem here is the old bait and switch; for years, Dropbox has promoted its free service, and now it’s imposing a limit. It’s true that, for many users, this three-device limit will not be a problem, but for others it will. I have five devices linked to my Dropbox account: my iMac (my main computer), my MacBook Pro (my secondary computer), my iPhone, iPad, and a Mac mini server. Actually, there are more; an Android phone I use for testing, and an iPad mini I use for reading occasionally. I don’t need the last two, but in my work I do use the others.

I’d be happy to pay for Dropbox, and have said so for years, but I don’t use it enough for it to be worthwhile. I currently have 25 GB storage on my free account; that’s the 2 GB I got initially, plus lots of bonuses for referrals, for driving customers to Dropbox. I use about half that.

Back around 2014-15, I took out a pro subscription with 1 TB, but there was no way I could make it worthwhile. I don’t need 1 TB, and even if I did, it wouldn’t fit on my Macs; I could put that much data on an external drive connected to my iMac, but now my MacBook Pro. (Yes, I know, selective sync; but I still don’t need that much storage.)

The problem is that Dropbox doesn’t have a low-priced, low-GB plan. I’d happily pay, say, $20 a year for 100 GB, because I am aware that I’ve been getting this service for free for many years. But I’m not spending $100 a year.

There are alternatives: on the Mac and iOS, there’s iCloud Drive, but you can’t share folders. There’s Google Drive, OneDrive, etc., and I have access to both of these through a GSuite (30 GB) and Office365 (1 TB) account. But there are apps that use Dropbox to store settings or data, and may not be able to use iCloud Drive or another service for that.

I know what Dropbox is doing; they’re saying that they don’t care about all these little customers who built the service. They just want to focus on business customers; because, aside from professionals, not many people need 1 TB cloud storage. It’s just a shame that they’re doing it this way.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 74: Spoiler Alert

Josh tells us about the RSA security conference, and there are some new vulnerabilities that affect processors; one even has its own website. We also bring you some news about Facebook using phone numbers when they said they wouldn’t, and Firefox’s new secure file-transfer service.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

Use Private Browsing to Maintain Your Privacy on the Web

You know that whenever you visit a website, a great deal of data is collected about you by the company running the website, and by third parties that track you to serve ads. The more you use the web, the more information goes into a profile that companies like Google and Facebook use to target ads that match your search terms, the types of websites you visit, and more.

While you can use an ad blocker to not see ads, and also to block some of the trackers used to follow you around, these tools aren’t 100% effective. But there’s another way you can maintain your privacy: you can use private browsing.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 73: Maintain Your Privacy When Browsing the Web

All modern web browsers provide the capability to use “private browsing,” a way of maintaining your privacy when using the web. We discuss how to use this feature, as well as some browser extensions that will also mask some of your personal information.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.