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Tag: Apple Genius

How Parents Can Take Control of Notifications on the Family iPad

If your children are starting to read iMessages on your iPad or iPhone that aren’t meant for them, it’s probably time to change the settings in your device. Here’s how…

So, my almost eight-year-old is playing Minecraft on my iPad in the living room, and he turns to me and says, “Mommy is writing me a message!”


I’m a little alarmed, because even though my wife wasn’t at home, she never uses electronic communications with our son and certainly not using something like Minecraft.
(You can probably guess that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who he will be interacting with when he eventually engages in multiplayer video games online.)

I jump over to take a look.


It’s a simple text message banner that popped up at the top of the iPad screen from my wife to me about camp plans for our second grader this summer.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the Minecraft platform.

The Early Taste of a Texting Stream
My wife referenced our son’s name in the text, which is why he mistakenly thought it was written to him.

Yes, he can read now, but he got confused by the style of my wife’s texting banter with me.
(Plus, it’s probably one of the first texts that he’s encountered.)

So, this wasn’t really a problem other than an iMessage to my iPhone also showing up on my linked iPad that my son happened to be using.

Ironically that feature is supposed to be a nice iOS bonus provided by Apple.
But it was clearly time to turn the option off on my iPad.

Our son doesn’t need to be privy to the Lester family texting stream…
(Well, at least… not yet!)

How to Turn Off Pop-Up Text Banners
Using iOS 11.3 –

  • Tap the ‘Settings’ gear icon
  • Tap ‘Notifications’
  • Tap ‘Show Previews’
    You’ll probably find that it’s defaulted to ‘Always’
  • Tap and change to ‘Never’

But that’s not all you have to do…

There is No Global ‘Off’ Switch
I decided to visit the Apple Store in Grand Central Terminal to gather a little more advice.

An Apple Genius told me that you also have to individually turn off each app from proactively trying to send you banner notifications on your device.
(He mentioned that detail to me several times. I imagine I’m not the only one who might be confused by the extra step.)

To ‘completely’ halt your iMessage banners…
While in Notifications, go down your list of apps until you find ‘Messages.’

  • Tap ‘Messages’
  • In ‘Allow Notifications,’ slide the little circle to the ‘off’ position

And that will finally get the job done!

Now, you’ve got to repeat this step for your other apps…

There are a few other settings to consider if you want to be a little less draconian about muffling your iPad or iPhone, but I was satisfied with hobbling my iPad to keep my young Padawan away from the constant buzz of the Net. My iPhone was providing that Borg-like public service to me quite sufficiently, thank you very much.
(I know I’m mixing my science fiction metaphors.)

But then I began to think about my own experience with my iPhone’s many chatty apps…

Less is More
After considering the issue for a moment, I decided that I was, in fact, being interrupted by way too many banners from apps wanting to share ‘critical’ news.

Perhaps I should take a few minutes to review all of them and silence the ones I didn’t want to hear from all of the time.

And that’s exactly what I did!

Of course, I kept ‘Messages’ fully activated, but I did turn off ‘Repeat Alerts’ from ‘Once’ to ‘Never.’
(I usually get it the first time.)

You Can’t Hide Your Child from the Connected World Forever
Now, I find that my iPhone is a little less ‘disruptive.’

My iPad shares nothing from the outside world with my son.

And I fully acknowledge that this is only the beginning.
It’s a long journey ahead for me and my boy.
(I know that as a parent, I can’t keep the ‘off switch’ activated forever…)

My son has asked for multiplayer mode in Minecraft for his 8th birthday… so he can play remotely with his friends.

To be continued…

My iPhone’s Logic Board Error

What are you supposed to do when you wake, but your smartphone doesn’t? It’s that thin gray line… when good tech goes bad!

It’s 5:15am. My iPhone’s rise-and-shine alarm begins to ring. I reach over to tap the screen. I tap it again. This time I open my eyes and tap three times more.


My iPhone 6 Plus’ screen has become positively unresponsive.

Good morning, Barrett…

Clear the Cache
A few minutes later I trick my digital companion into compliance by clicking the home button a couple times and rebooting. (I forget the exact sequence.)
But clearly something is wrong as the ‘issue’ repeats itself twice more over the next couple of hours.

So I jump in my car and whisk my iPhone to the Apple Store for an emergency check up with an Apple Genius. The first thing she asks me is if I’ve done a ‘hard reboot’ by simultaneously clicking the home button and the sleep/wake button.

“That will clear out the cache, which can really build up over time,” she explains.

“Uh… no,” I respond sheepishly.

She proceeds to do that and a few moments later, my iPhone comes back to life as if nothing was ever wrong.

“Let me do some diagnostics, just in case,” she offers.

Another few minutes pass, and everything looks great on the report.
My iPhone is a picture of perfect health.

The Genius hands my iPhone back to me.

The Thin Gray Line
I look at my device.

Then I remember something else.

“You know… there was one other thing…
Once, when the screen was frozen, I noticed a thin gray line shimmering on the very top of the screen.”

“A thin gray line?”

“Yes… at the very top.”


“Is that not a good thing.”

“No, it’s not.”

“What does that gray line mean?”

“It’s a documented sign of a logic board error.”

“Logic board error? That’s bad, right?”

“Yes… that’s bad.”

“But it only happened once. Could it happen again?”

The Genius looked at me. I already knew the answer.
When tech begins to malfunction, of course the problem can or will eventually come back. It’s just a matter of when.

Logic Board Blues
So I really can’t have a smartphone with a glitchy logic board.
That’s not going to work.

I’m planning on upgrading to the iPhone 8 when it’s released. But that’s an eternity when you’ve got an unhealthy iPhone. I see no viable option to just ‘wait it out…’

I turn to the Genius. “What are my choices?”

Her eyes squint a bit as she thinks. “What I can do is give you a new iPhone 6 Plus with the same specs as your old one for the same cost as a screen replacement.”

“And how much is that?”

“One hundred and fifty dollars.”

It’s Going to Cost You
What choice did I really have? Sure, it’s a band-aid solution… and you might recall, I replaced the battery on my naughty iPhone a few months back.
And that cost eighty bucks!

You might say the collective $230 would be better spent on a newer iPhone 7. But in a sense, I’d be buying into newer (though not more advanced) tech… The Genius explained that my new iPhone 6 Plus was built out of new and refurbished parts and came with a 90-day warrantee.

“Okay… let’s do it.”

“Good… So have you done a full back up of your old iPhone? You’ll have to re-sync everything to the new one.”

Thousands and Thousands… of Photos
Okay… so this is a little bit of a touchy subject for me…

I’ve been syncing all of my important iPhone data to iCloud like Mail, Contacts and Calendar. But I haven’t been using iCloud for a full back up.

I’ve got thousands of photos on my iPhone, which I’ve collected over the years.
(The basic 5GB of iCloud storage couldn’t handle that.)

And I’ve felt I haven’t needed to pay for more iCloud storage, because I’ve been religious about archiving my iPhone photos to my iMac… originally into Aperture, and now into Lightroom.
(I’ve also been archiving my iPhone’s video files onto my iMac.)

So I’ve been saving all of my phone’s media elsewhere.

There Are No Shortcuts
Separately, I’ve properly backed up my iPhone to my iMac via iTunes.
But… not recently.
(Bad Barrett)

Still, I know I’ve got all my media plus the old back up. I’m thinking I can confidently hand my iPhone over to Apple… never to see it again.

The Genius looks at me. “You don’t seem certain.”

“No, I’m good.”

“You sure?”


So she unboxes the shiny replacement and slips my old iPhone’s SIM card into the new iPhone.

And that was it.

I must have suddenly turned pale, because the Genius says, “Do you want me to help you restore your data from iCloud?”

“Yes, please.”
(I don’t do this every day.)

So I stay in the Apple Store for another fifteen minutes, and she guides my next steps to ensure my new iPhone properly downloads all of my iCloud data.

I thank her and leave behind my old iPhone… and all of its photos forever.
(The device’s memory gets wiped and usable parts recycled.)

Rebuild and Improve
When I return home, I have a little more work to do. Since I’m not doing a full restore from a back up, I have to download my apps again and sign into them.
(A full back up solution of course would be better next time.)

The good news is I take the opportunity to only re-download the apps I’ve actually been using. And then I organize them on the screen in way that makes more sense.
(Like organizing your sock drawer… when do you ever make time to do that?!)

And then I tap on the photos app…

Of course, all of my thousands of photos are not on this iPhone.

Well… not exactly…

iCloud Photo Sharing
Over the years, I’ve been organizing all of my best photos into shared photo albums in iCloud. So all of the pictures that really matter to me… have already popped back into their respective shared albums on my new iPhone.

And then I had my Aha Moment…

These iCloud photo albums are now where I always go when I want to show someone a picture on my iPhone. I haven’t been going back and searching for a pic in my ‘Camera Roll.’

How many times have you waited for friends to show you photos on their smartphones, and then they have to swipe through hundreds (thousands?) of locally-stored pics to find the right ones?

I gave up that embarrassing practice a long time ago…

So really… why would you need to carry around your past decade’s worth of disorganized photos locally on your iPhone?
…As long as you’ve backed them up… you don’t!

Plus, without all of those photos bogging down an iPhone… it suddenly recovers a whole lot more local memory for other uses.

Make Sure the Sun Still Rises
This all points back to the bottom line that you shouldn’t get too attached to any particular iPhone or the data it houses locally.

It’s always all about backing up and properly organizing your data and files… elsewhere.

Because eventually… all good tech goes bad.
Even your trusty iPhone.

Strengthen Your Computer with a New Year’s RAM Boost

As you consider your New Year’s resolutions, don’t forget about the health of your computer. It might need a little more memory and a lot less dust!

As you consider your New Year’s resolutions, don’t forget about the health of your computer. It might need a little more memory and a lot less dust!

My iMac has been acting somewhat sluggish lately… lots of spinning beach ball action. I first thought it was simply because I had so many family photos jamming up my Aperture photo management software. But I eventually realized there might be more afoot than a memory-hogging program.

I can’t believe it, but my iMac is already kind of old. It’s a mid-2010 vintage with 4GB of RAM. (random access memory)

My iMac hadn’t been to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store for a long while.
So I figured it was time to take it in for a check up…
Why not start off the New Year right on solid digital footing?

My Trip to the Genius Bar
Fast forward to my Genius Bar appointment, which I had easily booked online.
My designated Genius ran a few diagnostics on my iMac, and within twenty minutes she gave it a clean bill of health. I asked her if installing more RAM might help my digital companion reclaim some of its original pep.

My Genius looked a bit skeptical and said that 4GB should be enough to run memory-intensive programs like Aperture, but she decided to bring in a second opinion to confirm her perspective.

Enter Genius #2…
This Genius looked at me knowingly and without missing a beat said, “Oh yes. You definitely need more RAM.”

My iMac has 4 RAM slots. Two of them contain 2GB RAM chips, and the other two of the slots are empty. Genius #2 suggested putting in four 4GB chips for a total of 16GB.

I said, “Great! Let’s do it.”
It’s common knowledge you can buy RAM memory elsewhere for less and install it yourself, but I wasn’t feeling especially adventurous. I was willing to pay a premium for a little official Apple love.

But the gesture wasn’t returned… this Apple store didn’t stock this older RAM.

I think I may have started to hyperventilate, because Genius #2 took me aside and quickly began typing into one of the many humming iMacs surrounding us…

The name of this website he called up is actually Other World Computing, or ‘OWC,’ for those in the know.
Genius #2 told me it was a reputable site to purchase extra memory, and
I could pick up the 16GB of RAM I needed for a great price…$77.99

Impatient Human
So I boxed up my massive iMac and schlepped it back to my car.
(Yes, this is the one time in four years you get to use the original box and packing Styrofoam. How else are you supposed to safely transport this
30-pound monster?)

As I was driving home, feeling mildly dissatisfied without immediate resolution, I scanned my brain for something swifter. Then, I remembered there was an Apple-authorized reseller just down the street from my house. Maybe that store had the RAM I needed…

And in fact it did. But the pricing wasn’t quite as competitive as OWC….
Still, I picked up two chips of 4GB RAM there.
(You always want to buy memory in matching pairs.)

That would bring my computer up to 12GB of RAM. Not quite the recommendation of 16GB, but I figured I could always upgrade the other two slots later if I really needed to.

The Dusty Install
Everyone I talked with… from Genius #2 to the helpful sales lady at the third-party store assured me it was super simple to install the RAM chips on my own. I’ve actually done this kind of operation a couple times before on non-Mac machines, and it always made me feel a little queasy jamming a delicate memory chip into a computer slot without breaking something.
(Plus you’ve got to worry about ‘grounding’ yourself so you don’t zap your computer with a little static electricity discharge.)

But I was committed… and I had come this far. So I began the operation…

I place my heavy iMac face down onto a towel on my dining room table. Under the bottom edge of the screen were three tiny Philips head screws, which housed a metal cover protecting the four RAM slots.

Unscrewing them was straight forward, but I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when I removed the cover…

There were these ‘mini-mountains’ of upside-down dust piles on the bottom edges of the two existing RAM chips.

These linty stalactites can’t be good…

Dust on RAM Chips







Now what…?!
I didn’t have a can of air to blast the dust away.
(That actually might have been a bad idea if I blew some of the dust deeper into the guts of my Mac.)

So I carefully removed the dust with a tiny, soft brush.
As a result, a few clumps of dust fell into the side of the machine, just out of finger’s reach… but I carefully removed these powdery bandits with tweezers.

I wouldn’t exactly call my cleaning an exact science or a perfect execution, but at least there was a whole lot less dust hanging around to clog up my computer’s airflow.

After Dust Cleaning







Now, it was finally time to insert my new RAM.

The Operation is a Success, but…
Yes, it was indeed a pretty straightforward process… you lift out two flexible, plastic tabs that are blocking your way… and then you insert your RAM with increasing effort until you feel that horrible scrunching sound of two plastic parts being forced to bond together.
Apple literature describes it as a ‘click.’
(But it never feels to me so clean and simple.)

And that’s it.

You hope you haven’t done any damage; you screw the bottom plate back on… and you lug your iMac back to its normal location and plug it in.

Then it’s time to turn your buddy back on…

Happy Computer…

I immediately checked to see if the new RAM memory registered.
(You can click on the Apple icon on the far left and then on “About this Mac.”)

And there it was… “12GB.”

I opened up Aperture and happily saw an immediate improvement. My computer was indeed much more snappy!

Problem solved.

…Happy New Year
So as you consider your New Year’s resolutions, you might want to make sure you’re not waiting around for your computer to keep up with the “new you” this year.

Everybody and everything needs a little boost… every so often.

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