One of the recommendations I make in my Take Control of Upgrading to… books could potentially cause a headache unless you know how to avoid it. I tell you to save a copy of the OS X installer that you’ve downloaded so that, if the occasion should ever arise when you need to reinstall it or put it on another Mac, you don’t have to download it again. Saving the installer requires deliberate action, because if you leave it in /Applications and run it from there, OS X deletes the installer app once your new version of OS X is in place. (Some people go a step further and create a bootable volume, such as a USB flash drive, containing the installer, which makes it easier to install on multiple Macs.)
Unfortunately, if you followed my advice and kept a copy of your installer prior to February 14, 2016 (whether or not you turned it into a bootable volume), you’ll find that the installer no longer works the next time you try to run it, because the certificate that Apple used to sign the installer (a crucial security step) expired on that day. Josh Centers explains the whole thing in the TidBITS article Previously Downloaded OS X Installers No Longer Work.
If you’ve already saved the installer but don’t need it yet, you can delete it and download a fresh copy (now updated with a new certificate); that way you’ll be ready if and when you need it. If you created a bootable installer volume, you’ll need to erase it and follow the instructions in my book to recreate it.
Should you find yourself suddenly in need to reinstall OS X but not have an updated installer handy, there are ways (mentioned in Josh’s article) to trick OS X into running the old installer, but they’re not ideal, and I recommend planning ahead for best results.
This issue appears to affect every version of OS X from OS X 10.11 El Capitan back to 10.7 Lion, although a few users have reported that their previously downloaded installers continue to work (the reasons for which are unclear).
Sure, you can read about what’s new in the second edition of Joe’s Dropbox book right here on this page (click the What’s New link just above), but it’s more fun to hear him explain it all to Chuck Joiner on MacVoices.
Longtime Excel users have another reason to need it: some multi-worksheet files are so complexly intertwined that the automatic recalculation of connected formulas every time you enter new data can slow things down. So, they turn off the automatic calculation feature and trigger it when they want the sheet refreshed.
But, back to Numbers. It’s unlikely your spreadsheets will be so complex that recalculation will slow things down; and, in any case, there’s no way to turn off the automatic recalculation that occurs when you enter data. But you can’t specifically trigger a recalc of cells, so those containing random numbers (from the RAND or RANDBETWEEN function) are quite static. Whether you’ve set up a bunch of random-number cells to test what will happen when real data is entered, or intend to keep the random-number formula in place to interact with data you input later, it’s important to test the results of various possibilities in your random range.
Why? What would happen if, coincidentally, all the randomly generated numbers are even, or there’s nothing under 10 or over 99, or perhaps there are no multiples of 5, and you’ve set up something where an odd number, a low or high number, or a multiple of 5 will result in flawed output? (Even if “flawed output” is nothing more than a column that’s not wide enough to display three digits.) You won’t realize there’s a problem because the random numbers are static until something else you enter forces a recalculation.
The solution I proposed in the book was to go to any cell adjacent a block of cells that include RAND or RANDBETWEEN cells and use Command-X to force Numbers to recalculate the entire table, resulting in newly generated random numbers. If there was nothing in the cell, nothing gets cut, and if there was, you can paste it right back.
Well, as of Numbers 3.6.1—and perhaps before, because this was only recently brought to my attention—this no longer works. Command-V in any cell works, but that runs the risk of accidentally pasting something that could overwrite nearby cells and really make a mess of your table. So, let me recommend the trick that everybody in the know has used all along for recalculating Numbers spreadsheets; I had ignored it because it requires using a cell specifically for the recalc trigger.
Simply format any cell to hold a checkbox: select the cell and go to the Format Inspector’s Cell tab, and then choose Checkbox from the Data Format menu. When you check or uncheck the checkbox, every formula in the document—in every cell of every table on every sheet—will be recalculated.
The fact that the recalc is global in the document, really takes care of my objection to setting aside a cell in one of your tables for this purpose. You could, of course, stick it in the usually unused cell A1 where it’s easy to get at, and you could easily just delete it and set it up again if you don’t need it in the interim. But since the recalc works globally, you don’t have to keep the checkbox in any of your working tables. Make a table specifically for the checkbox—it can even be alone on its own tab. And, you can delete all but its first row and first column, making it a single-cell table (yes, an amoeba table!) and duplicate it on every tab for convenience.
Talking about Apple Watch Book Update at MacVoices
The ever-gracious Chuck Joiner and Jeff sat down on MacVoices to talk about the latest update to Jeff’s book, a discussion that covered topics such as the strengths and weaknesses of the Apple Watch almost a year in, which important changes are in watchOS 2, and why Jeff updated the book.
Joe and Chuck Discuss the Latest 1Password Features
1Password is new and improved in version 6, giving Joe and Chuck Joiner (of MacVoices) a perfect opportunity to tell you what’s new and improved not only in the app but also in Joe’s Second Edition of his book, which covers it. Best of all, you don’t need a password to watch the interview!
CrashPlan Discontinues Seeding and Restore-to-Door
For many years, CrashPlan offered its customers two optional (and extra-fee) services that were particularly useful for those with limited bandwidth. Seeding enabled users to load up an external hard drive with an initial full backup and send it to the company so that it would be unnecessary to wait weeks or months to have all of one’s data backed up to the cloud. Restore-to-Door was the opposite—a service whereby users could have files returned to them overnight on an external hard drive rather than wait for them to download.
I’m sorry to say that CrashPlan discontinued seeding in late 2015, and discontinued Restore-to-Door in January 2016. In both cases, a company rep told me the reason was that too few people used the services, and the company wanted to shift the responsible technician to working on other support tasks. This is bad news for people with limited bandwidth and a need for ultra-fast backup or restoration. Options for such people include switching to a competing service (such as Backblaze) or maintaining local backups in addition to cloud backups.
Dropbox has announced that it is closing its Carousel photo sharing app and service, and its Mailbox mobile email service. If you have used or have planned to use either of these services, read the Dropbox’s blog post that explains these closings and provides links for more information for users of either service.
Disable Password Requests for Free iBooks Store Downloads
It makes sense that Apple requires a password when you purchase a book from the iBooks Store using iBooks on your Mac, because it is, after all, your credit card’s balance that is at stake. But it doesn’t make as much sense if you want to download one of the store’s many free books. To skip the “Enter your Apple ID password” prompt on your Mac when you get a free book, a post by Christian Zibreg at iDownloadBlog tells you how.
Among the many free books Apple’s iBooks Store offers, you can find such titles as Apple’s official iPad User Guide for iOS 9.2, the issue of Detective Comics that features Batman’s first appearance, and some story about a guy named Scrooge and his personal issues with the holiday season.
Following the release of Jason’s update to his Crash Course book, he sat down with Chuck Joiner of MacVoices to discuss what’s new in the update. Such interviews are no new thing for Jason: he has conversed with Chuck many times in the past as, among other things, a guest on Chuck’s long-lived MacNotables podcast. MacNotables is now ten years old (an eon in podcast time), so it should come as no surprise that their conversation veered into a discussion of the venerable podcast’s decade-long run. So kick back, relax, and get the picture of what’s new in Photos and then enjoy a stroll down memory lane with Jason and Chuck.