Welcome to SEAL

South Essex Apple Link is an Apple user group run by enthusiasts with a collective deep understanding of the Apple technologies and it’s user community. SEAL welcomes Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV users across the whole of Essex and surrounding areas.

We meet monthly in Wickford, Essex. Visitors are welcome (there is a small entrance fee), for more details see our About page and follow @sealusergroup on Twitter for meeting reminders and updates.

Next meeting: Friday 12th July 2019.

March 2014 Meeting Report

At the March meeting we had a number of smaller demonstrations and presentations from SEAL members.

DavidK showed us a neat tip with the 1Password iOS app. The main use of 1Password is to simplify the storage and use of strong unique passwords for on-line accounts. The 1Password app includes a built-in private web browser and Dave showed how you can save a custom site URL which will open directly in the 1Password browser. To do this enter the URL (for example https://www.facebook.com) into a note in the iOS Notes application and then amend it so it starts with the letters “op”, for example ophttps://www.facebook.com. Now you can tap that link and it will open in the private 1Password browser (after 1Password has prompted you for your master password) and use your saved credentials.

Robert demonstrated the PowerMac emulator SheepShaver, this allows you to run the classic Mac OS (9.0.2 and earlier) on a modern Mac. This can be useful if you need to use older software or access old documents but don’t have an older working Mac.

DavidK also demoed Play to Cure: Genes in Space, an iOS game from the charity Cancer Research UK. In the game, the player’s actions of mapping their route and then flying their spaceship actually help analyse real genetic data which is used in Cancer Research.

Ben brought along another classic Mac from his collection, this time a PowerBook 165c, the first Apple laptop with a colour screen. Ben showed how much the design of current laptops (both PCs and Macs) owes to Apple’s early PowerBooks. Shrine of Apple have some excellent pictures of the PowerBook 165c on their site but note that the written specs on their page are incorrect at the time of writing.

In our news discussion we covered the month’s Apple news including:

  • The release of the updated iOS 7.1.
  • The new CarPlay feature of iOS which is being supported by car makers including Volvo, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz.
  • The major SSL vulnerability in iOS and Mac OS that was fixed by latest updates.

February 2014 Meeting Report

January the 24th marked 30 years since the Apple Macintosh’s original introduction by Steve Jobs at the Flint Center in Cupertino. To mark the occasion, at this meeting we looked back at the Mac’s history. Robert had put together a time line of the key events which we discussed and members recalled their early Mac experiences.

Some other interesting Mac history links:

  • apple-history.com - Details of all Macs and an interesting company history.
  • folklore.org - Fascinating anecdotes on the development of the Mac from the original team members.
  • A gallery of Mac history - This includes photos of many of the Mac models Robert mentioned in his presentation.
    Ben, our resident Mac collector, brought along his Mac Classic (made from 1990 to 1992) to show us. This model shares the same all-in-one design as the original 1984 Mac 128K.

DavidB mentioned a couple of iOS apps he’s found recently:
QuizUp - A quiz app which lets you compete with friends and people from across the world.
SwiftKey Note - a note taking app with a special predictive keyboard designed to make note taking faster. Optionally syncs with EverNote.

In our news discussion we covered the month’s Apple news including:

January 2014 Meeting Report

The January meeting included the SEAL Annual General Meeting. The committee was re-elected for another year, thanks to the committee members for standing. The AGM included reports from the Chairman and Treasurer and a useful discussion of plans for the coming year.

We watched and discussed the iOS 7 tip videos on In-App Purchases and Location Services that DavidB has recently made. DavidK gave us a demo of the iOS game BADLAND which was picked as one of Apple’s Best of iTunes 2013.

Apple’s Best of iTunes doesn’t cover the Mac App Store. The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) have a long list of best Mac Apps of 2013 so if you’re looking for Mac Apps that might be worth a gander.

Robert then demonstrated some of the changes to Notifications in OS X Mavericks including some features that are less obvious like notifications from web sites, selectable “snooze” time for calendar and reminder alerts (click and hold the Snooze button) and the configurable do-not-disturb period. A complete list of new Mavericks features (including Notifications and much more) can be found on Apple’s See everything the new OS X can do page.

We also had a brief news discussion, this included:

December 2013 Meeting Report

At our last meeting of 2013 everyone brought along Christmas food to share. We had an Apple Quiz, Ben got the most questions right, impressing everyone with his knowledge of past and recent Apple history.

During our show and tell segment, DavidK demonstrated the recently released iOS game Clumsy Ninja which features an impressively animated ninja character to interact with. The game is free with optional in-app purchases.

Ben brought along two original Clamshell iBook Macs (one in Tangerine and the other in Blueberry) from his Apple collection and told us about the history of these interesting machines and about the current collector’s market for them.

The meeting also included a discussion of the month’s Apple news including:

  • Apple deploying iBeacon technology at US stores.
  • The results of the one-off product (RED) auction which featured products designed by Jony Ive and Marc Newson.
  • Western Digital updates the SmartWare software supplied with their external hard drives to fix problems with Mavericks.
    We’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If you haven’t been to one of out meetings before, why not make a resolution to visit us in 2014!

November 2013 Meeting Report

At the November meeting we explored the new features of Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks (a free upgrade available now from the Mac App Store for everyone with Mac OS X 10.6 or later and compatible hardware) and helped members decide whether they should upgrade. Some of the features demonstrated were:

  • Tabs in the Finder making it easy to switch between folders and allowing the Finder to be used effectively in full-screen mode.
  • Tags, a new way of organising files in the Finder which also extends to files stored in iCloud.
  • Enhanced dictation which enables long-form dictation and doesn’t require an Internet connection.
  • Improved support for multiple displays allowing multiple full-screen applications to be displayed and the menu bar and dock to appear on any display.
    The meeting also included a discussion of the month’s Apple news including:

  • The announcement of the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display.

  • Apple offering iLife and iWork free with new Macs and iOS devices and free updates to current owners of eligible earlier versions.
  • We highlighted to members that hard drive maker WD have warned that some of the utilities included with their external drives can cause data loss on Mavericks.

October 2013 Meeting Report

At the October meeting the main topic of discussion was the recently released iOS 7. Several members had downloaded the new operating system on a variety of devices including iPhone 5, iPhone 4 and iPad. Key features demonstrated were:

  • Control Center
  • Blocking of calls and messages from unwanted contacts.
  • New camera features including square photos, filters and easy access to HDR.
  • New Safari features including bookmarks available in new tabs and easy access to Private browsing.
    DaveK pointed out a some handy tips on the iOS 7 keyboard:

  • When entering a URL or e-mail address, the .com button is no longer available on the keyboard. However, if you touch and hold the full stop (.) button a selection of top level domains (including .co.uk and .com) are displayed for you to select from.

  • To quickly enter a number in the middle of entering text, press and hold on the number key (123) then drag your finger to a number and let go. The selected number will then be entered and the keyboard switched back to text mode saving two taps.
    DavidB has produced a video demonstrating some of the new iOS 7 features and tips on setup:


It was mentioned that the iOS game Temple Run Oz is currently available for free via the Apple Store app. Free downloads are regularly offered via the Apple Store app so it’s worth keeping an eye on. DaveK showed us Temple Run 2 (the base game, Temple Run Oz is themed after the film Oz the Great and Powerful) to give an idea of how this type of endless runner game works.

The meeting also included a discussion of the month’s Apple news including:

Q&A September 2013

These questions were asked at the September meeting:

  • I’m trying to add a custom ringtone to my iPhone but it’s greyed out in iTunes, how do I do it?
  • How can I add a keyboard shortcut to an application menu item when there’s more than one menu item with that name?
    Q. I’m trying to add a custom ringtone to my iPhone but it’s greyed out in iTunes, how do I do it?

A. Click a song in your iTunes Library which you wish to convert to a Ringtone for use on your iPhone. Choose File>Get Info (Command and I) and select the “Options” Tab. You will see two boxes “Start Time” and “Stop Time”. Ringtones can’t be any longer than 30 seconds so in the “Stop Time”, change this to 0:30 and click “OK”. This will give you a 30 second clip from the start of the song. If however you would like a 30 second clip from later in the song, this can be achieved by adjusting both the “Start Time” and the “Stop Time”. This is very useful if there is a long intro until your favourite part of the song.

Now, select File>Create New Version>Create AAC Version (other format options will be displayed if you have selected other formats in Preferences such as MP3 etc.). This will essentially create a duplicate of the song and will only be 30 seconds in length. Drag this to the Desktop. It will probably have the File Extension “.m4a”. In order for it to be recognised in iTunes as a Ringtone, change the File Extension to “.m4r” and then either double click it or drag to iTunes for it to be added under “Tones”. This can then be synced to your iPhone. Don’t forget to correct the Start/Stop times of the original song file. “Start Time” can be set to 0 and the “Stop Time” box unticked.

Q. How can I add a keyboard shortcut to an application menu item when there’s more than one menu item with that name?

A. An example of this problem is adding a shortcut to the Center option of Align Objects on the Arrange menu in Pages. If you try to add a keyboard shortcut just by referencing the Center menu item name the shortcut is added to the Center option of Text on the Format menu instead.

To get over this issue add the keyboard shortcut as follows:

  1. Open the Keyboard preferences pane within System Preferences and choose the Keyboard Shortcuts tab.
  2. Click Application Shortcuts in the list and click the add (+) button to add a shortcut.
  3. In Application select the application you want to add the shortcut to, in this example, Pages.
  4. In Menu Title type the menu name, followed by the sub menu (if any) and then the name of the menu item separating each with “->” (that’s a dash followed by a greater than symbol) to give the full path to the menu item. In the case of the pages Align Objects/Center menu this would be “Arrange->Align Objects->Center”. It’s important that each name is typed exactly as it appears on the menu.
  5. Click in the Keyboard Shortcut field and type the key combination you want to use. I chose Option+Command+C.
    Your chosen Keyboard shortcut should now appear against the menu item.

This tip was tested on Mac OS 10.8 Mountain Lion. I understand in 10.7 (Lion) you need to use “>” as a separator instead of “->” and this trick is not supported in 10.6 and earlier.