Alex Kaloostian

Apple Certified Master Trainer | Systems Integrator | Video Editor | Motion Graphics Artist

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How do I use Find My iPhone and Find My Friends?

A lot of people have probably heard the news stories about criminals caught red-handed with stolen iPads and iPhones. Here’s one, and here’s another. But it amazes me that so many people still aren’t using it, and don’t know how. It’s really easy, and if more people use it, maybe criminals will start realizing its a bad idea to try stealing iDevices.


Its really easy to set up, but you’ll need an iCloud account. At this point a lot of people roll their eyes, but iCloud is good, really! Its not like Apple’s previous attempts at an online service. Many of you may say you have no need for another mail account, calendar syncing, file syncing, you use Exchange, or DropBox. Thats fine- iCloud is free. Even if you only use it for  Find My iPhone and nothing else, it’s still worth it, I think.

So if you haven’t already, go to and set up an account. Okay, now, moving on.

Click on the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, then the iCloud setting, and log in. Once you’re logged in, turn on whatever services you want, or not, but make sure you turn on Find My iPhone.


That’s it! Now, lets see how to track your device if it gets lost. To do this on another iDevice, download the free Find My iPhone app, or on any Mac or PC desktop, go to and log in. Log in with your iCloud account, and it will show you all of your registered devices on a map.


You can also display a message on screen (reward if found!), play a sound, even if your phone is on silent, and you can even remote lock or wipe, like Bluetooth devices. If your device can’t be found, it will keep trying indefinitely, and send you an email when it IS found.

Starting with Lion, Macs can be tracked now, as well. Just log into the iCloud system preference, and turn on Find My Mac. You can track, lock, and wipe, same as your iDevice.

Some people have told me they use Find My iPhone to track their kids or spouses, whether with their consent or not. Obviously, Find My iPhone could present privacy issues, but if you’re worried about being tracked, don’t give people your iCloud password!. Or set up your kids under your iCloud account, so they can’t turn it off. “You can have an iPhone for your birthday, but only if you allow us to keep tabs on you.”

What if you WANT to be tracked, but you don’t want to give out your account? What if you’re meeting up with someone for dinner and you don’t know where they are? Check out the Find My Friends app, also free. This is more like an opt-in version of Find My iPhone, where you can invite friends and they can allow themselves to be tracked by you, permanently, or they can turn it off later. You can even set up events that will auto-expire.


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Setting up an iTunes account without a credit card

**Update!** Hey you, did you come here from Google or another search engine? This article is a bit out of date. Go read the new & improved story.

Are you thinking of setting up a Mac or an iPad for a child, but you’re worried about your credit card getting maxed out with Farmville charges and Angry Birds sequels? Well, just don’t input an AppleID… ohh yeah, you HAVE to to run your apps. Well, sign up for an iTunes store account without a credit card, shouldn’t that be easy? Let’s see what happens if we go through the iTunes music store, or the web, or any of the other myriad ways Apple gives us for creating an AppleID…

Okay, so far, so good. Now, I’ll just enter a username and password, answer some security questions, and…

Hmm, I HAVE to click Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover of PayPal. Last I checked, those are ALL payment methods, right? So why can’t I just skip this or click none? Turns out, you can! You just have to know a trick.

The Trick!

Okay, so there is ONE way to create an iTunes account without adding payment info. Skip the web, skip the music store, skip Apple’s web site. On your Mac or PC, launch iTunes, click the App Store link at the top, and find a free app. Any app will do. I’m a fan of PBS Kids Video, my son loves it.

Okay, so try to download a free app. It will require you to log in. Click the Create AppleID button, fill out an email account and password* and answer some security questions. And when you get to the last page, here’s what you’ll see:

Now we’re talking! Click none, and you’re good to go. You now have an Apple Store ID with no payment attached. You can download and run all the free apps you want, but if you want to buy a paid app, you can but a gift card, enter the code, and you’ll be limited to that credit. No chance of your kid going off the rails and building the greatest collection of Pokemon, or whatever kids do these days. Grumble grumble, get off my lawn.

*So what should you use for an email account? Well, you could go over to Yahoo or Gmail or Hotm*snicker* sorry, I thought I could get through that. You COULD go over to Yahoo or Gmail and set up another account for your child, but then things are going to get crazy. Here’s a cool trick you can do with Gmail: Gmail lets you create as many aliases as you want, just add a plus after your existing address.

This is a great way to set up filters, spam traps, and accounts for your kids, among other things. My address is (oh come on, like you couldn’t have guessed that). If I want to sign up for a company’s email list but I think they’re sketchy and might sell my identity, I can set up, for example, and any email to that address will go to my main address.

So, just set up an address for your kid that goes to your main address. One less account and password to remember and you’ll receive anything they would have received. Oh, and don’t bother; that bait shop address isn’t real. And sorry if this post got a little long and pithy, I’ve been watching an Aaron Sorkin show while I type this.

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Use emoji for a tighter (and cuter) bookmarks bar in Safari

I like Safari’s bookmark syncing with my iPhone, its speed, and some other features. But I always missed the Stylish extension in Chrome that let me display favicons in the bookmarks bar. Safari still can’t replicate this, but I found something almost as good: Emoji!

The iPhone has supported these Japanese-inspired little graphical doohickeys for a while, and now so does the Mac OS in Lion and Mountain Lion.

Just right-click a bookmark and select Rename Bookmark…

Then click the Edit menu and select Special Characters… to bring up the character picker palette, now with Emoji!

Double-click the symbol you want and press return.

They even sync with your iPhone.

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Locking down your child’s iPad with Restrictions

Okay, you’ve decided you want to give an iPad to your kids, but you want to keep them (and your credit card) safe. There are some steps you should take, and the first one should probably be Restrictions.

Click on the Settings app on your iPad, and click General, then Restrictions. You’ll be asked to ender a 4-digit password. This does not have to be the same as your Passcode lock. I know its a bit consuming, so here’s the deal: You can set a passcode lock in the General settings that will be required anytime you wake up your iPad. WIthout the passcode lock, you can’t do ANYthing on your iPad, it’s locked down. The Passcode Lock can be 4 numbers or a long alphanumeric password. I don’t recommend setting a passcode lock, because its annoying, its confusing for kids, and they hopefully don’t have any private data to worry about.

But the Restrictions passcode is a separate passcode, just for turning restrictions on and off. This one can only be 4 numbers, and it is required to turn Restrictions on. Otherwise, restrictions wouldn’t be very useful if your kids could just shut them off, right? The Restrictions passcode could be the same as the Passcode lock, but it shouldn’t be, because if you sent a Passcode lock at all, you’ll want your kids to know it so they can turn on their iPad, but you WONT want them to know your Restrictions passcode. Got it?

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Tricking myself into being awesome

I’ve been trying to keep a low profile on this blog, and only post articles of relevancy, of substance. I don’t want to flood people with meaningless stuff- that’s what the rest of the web is for. But I’ve also been at a loss for good content, and perhaps neglecting you more than I should.

I’ve been inspired by Chris Strom’s blog post on Lifehacker, 366 Days, or How I Tricked Myself Into Being Awesome. In one year, Chris wrote three books on topics he had not even been an expert in. If he can do that, I should be able to write TWO books on things I DO know, right?

So over the next few weeks I’m going to do my best to post more here. Not every day, but I am making a commitment of at least 3 posts a week, on 2 topics, and hopefully at the end of the year I’ll be able to collect all that stuff together into some sort of e-book.

The topics are something I hope many of you will find useful, and I’ll tag them so you can follow or ignore them at your choice. The topics will be Learning The Mac Command Line and iPads For Kids.

Even more than usual, I will be hoping all of you will comment, feedback and ask questions so that this can be a living, evolving project. Wish me luck!

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What will the iPad3 be like?

It is silly how many questions I get about “The iPad 3”. I’d say that in a given week, the questions I get from family, friends, coworkers and students breaks down like this:

50% “Should I buy an iPad3?
50% everything else

Which is especially silly because there IS no iPad 3. You may have heard from a guy who knows a guy, but as of now, its all rumor. Yes, there will be an iPad 3. But let me be clear: we don’t know when, we dont know what it will have, and we don’t know how much. I can still conjecture, though.

The next iPad will probably be out in April. Maybe March, maybe May, but I’m guessing April. I was against the idea of a higher resolution screen- what’s the point? It uses more battery life, and people dont use their iPads primarily for reading books. Until, of course, yesterday’s textbook announcement. So given Apples clear dive into the education market, now I DO think the iPad will have a higher res screen, and I know exactly what it will be, too: 2048×1536. That is exactly 4x the pixels, or 2x the resolution of the iPad and iPad 2.

It has to be double, because of the way Apps are coded. If you have coded your own iOS apps before, you know that resolutions aren’t done in pixels, but in units. That way, you can design for the iPhone and the iPhone with retina display and everything is automatically doubled. If the resolution was anything else, converting for more than one device would be a mess. Now, iPad apps will just double for the iPad 3, and iPhone apps will quadruple, the math is easy for the processor to handle.

Higher resolution means faster chips, so the iPad3 will probably have a new quad-core chip, better for gaming and large, complex textbooks full of rich media. It will inevitably have to have a bigger battery, though I suspect it will get the same charge, with all the bigger features. Maybe less charge, but they will try to sweep that under the rug and be vague about it.

I also want to think they will offer more storage, since these textbooks can be up to 2GB, but 64GB is already pretty darn big. We may see them drop the 16 and just offer 32 and 64 for the price of the current 16 and 32?

The 3G antenna: they are going to want to include one universal antenna so they dont have to offer a different model for AT&T and Verizon, thats how the iPhone is now. And I think they will be dropping 3G from the iPad2. So any desire to lower the cost of 3G ($100 extra is a nicer number than $130) will be cancelled out by the new antenna. They COULD add 4G support, but they havent been big on that with the phones yet, and the iPad tech has traditionally lagged behind the phones. Maybe in the iPad4.

They could improve the camera, but I dont see a big push for that. Maybe a little bump, so it is on par with the iPhone4, but the 4s will still feature their marquis camera tech.

I also think they will pull an iPhone and still offer the base model iPad2, 16GB no 3G, for a much lower price, maybe $100 or $200 off. they COULD hit the $299 price point but that seems like wishful thinking. They are NEVER going to try to compete with the Amazon fire, its a whole different market strategy and its not tenable for Apple to sell iPads at a loss like it is for Amazon.

With the minor changes and same body, they may just pull an iPhone and call this the iPad 2s instead of the iPad 3, but somehow I don’t think so. It depends: I could see them calling this iPad2s, and next year the iPad3 will have 4G, but then again that could be confusing, too. maybe they’ll call this the iPad3, so next year they will be perfectly lined up to release the iPad4 with 4G!

We will NOT be seeing a new dock connector, or an SD slot, or any new-fangled gimmicks. Or a new body design. It may be 1mm thicker for a better battery, but it’ll still fit in existing cases.

To sum up, this is Apple’s lineup now:

iPad2    16GB    $499    3G   $629    dual-core, standard screen
iPad2    32GB    $599    3G   $629    dual-core, standard screen
iPad2    64GB    $699    3G   $829    dual-core, standard screen

Here is my probable prediction for April:

iPad2    16GB    $399                  dual-core, standard screen
iPad3    16GB    $499    3G    $629    quad-core, retina screen, upgraded camera
iPad3    32GB    $599    3G    $729    quad-cire, retina screen, upgraded camera
iPad3    64GB    $699    3G    $829    quad-core, retina screen, upgraded camera

Here is my best-case scenario prediction for April:

iPad2    16GB    $299    3G    $429
iPad3    16GB    $399    4G    $499
iPad3    32GB    $499    4G    $599
iPad3    64GB    $599    4G    $699

There’s also the possibility, if apple is really behind this education initiative, that we see a new education-only model, with a lot of storage but no 3G, at a discount in bulk, like the eMac used to be sold.

Here’s some more info on iBooks Author:

What do you think? Am I way off? Will the new iPad3 cost $50 and make toast?

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Turn on iMessage in iOS5

One of the coolest new features of iOS 5 is iMessage, solely because it can save you money 🙂 But even if you upgrade, its not activated by default. Here’s how to do it.

iMessage is Apple’s answer to Blackberry Messenger. It lets anyone with an iPad, iPhone or iPad Touch running iOS5 send messages to each other without paying carrier fees. Since the few people I text to most all have iPhones, I plan on canceling my text message bundle and saving $10 a month. (but don’t tell AT&T!)

First of all, you have to upgrade to iOS5. Its free, so if you have an iPad, iPhone 3gs, iPhone 4 or iPhone 4s, (hereafter referred to as ‘iDevices”), its a no brainer. I’d be a little worried about putting it on an iPhone 3g, read some reviews online and see if people are running it okay.

So, upgrade your Mac to the latest version of Snow Leopard (10.6.8) or Lion (10.7.2), then download the latest version if iTunes (10.5). Now you can plug in your iphone, and it will tell you there’s an upgrade available. Download and install it. Enjoy your new features, too many to list here, but Google it. Theres lots worth upgrading for. I love it.

Next: You need an iCloud account. It is also free, so even if you dont use any other of the other features (like Find My iPhone, Photo synching, and backup) its worth it just for iMessage. Go to to set up your account form a Mac running 10.7 or an iDevice.

Okay, finally! here’s how you activate iMessage: Click the Settings button in your iDevice. Click on Messages. Next to iMessage, click ON. Enter your account and password, and youre good to go. Now open your Messages app. Click the New Message button and search for someone’s name. if they are on iMessage, they will have a little blue speech bubble next to their name. And the text box where you enter your message will say “iMessage”, and your speech bubbles will be blue. If they’re NOT on iMessage, the input box will say “Text Message” and the speech bubbles will be green. Send them a text and tell them to get with the program!



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Boston Open House THIS THURSDAY!

This Thursday evening I will be presenting at our Boston office’s open house. Our past open houses have had, let us say, lackluster attendance, due in part to bad luck, bad weather and bad promotions. I am excited for this one, so I convinced our Powers That Be to make it FREE.

Whole-house media streaming with Apple. This Thursday at 6 PM

I will be discussing how to set up a whole-house network and stream movies, music, podcasts and photos all over the place with Apple iTunes and some fantastic third-party apps.

  • Creating a home media server
  • Downloading, ripping DVDs and storing media in iTunes
  • Accelerating your media conversions with the Turbo.264
  • Searching and editing metadata
  • Streaming to Macs, PCs and Airport Express
  • AppleTV: What is it?
  • Controlling it all: Universal remotes and the iOS Remote app
  • Streaming from iPhones and iPads with Airplay
  • Streaming media BACK to your iPhone or iPad with third-party solutions

Don’t make me stay late after work for nothing. I’d love to see you all here. We’re at 1 Kendal Square Cambridge, upstairs from Friendly Toast. Street parking or plenty of lots nearby, and minutes from the Red Line. The presentation starts at 6:00. Please email me if you are thinking of coming so I can get a heads up and order some food and such.


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The next big issue for IT is managing mobile devices

I get more and more people asking about how to manage and secure iPhones and iPads in the workplace, and the answer isn’t a good one- there’s no good single answer right now. its a burgeoning industry though, and I’m sure we will see solutions by the truckload before long. Whether any of them are any good is another question.

I welcome your thoughts, and especially any solutions you’re using now. I would love to put together a class on this, if it’s feasible and there is demand. So please point me in the right direction if you’ve got any trusted apps.

This article was on Slashdot yesterday. Overly optimistic, to say the least, but a good read. What is most fascinating, however, is seeing the reaction of the Slashdot community; It’s one thing to read a pie-in-the-sky column by an optimistic writer, and its entirely another to hear what real IT professionals have to say about it. Slashdot is still the most important tech site on the internet, if you ask me. More than just headlines and press releases, this is where THE most brilliant people in the tech world congregate.

“Staff will routinely be bringing their own devices to work in five years time, according to IT industry experts in the UK. Some companies might already allow a few iPhones and iPads, but CIOs and businesses are not only going to have to support a general influx of consumer kits — they’re going to need to get a whole lot more relaxed in general. ‘Big businesses are going to have to become more flexible about how IT is provisioned and managed — to enable a new generation of workers who use consumer technologies to communicate and be productive.'”