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.

September 2013 Meeting Report

A discussion of the big news of the month including Apple’s iPhone announcements kicked off the September SEAL meeting.

Key topics from the news discussion included:

  • Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 5s and 5c.
  • The M7 motion processor and new camera features included in the iPhone 5s.
  • iWork and iLife applications now being included with the purchase of new iOS devices.
    We had planned to hold our first beginners section at this meeting but, as everyone attending was an experienced Mac user, we decided to hold that over for a future meeting.

For the remainder of the meeting members showed interesting products and tips in our Show & Tell section:

DavidB Demonstrated two useful features of iOS 6 both of which are useful if you’re lending your iOS device to someone or letting a child use it:

The restrictions option in General Settings can be used to limit access to certain apps (for example you could block Safari) and features (such as in-app purchases). You can block access to apps, music and videos based on their content rating too. A PIN is set so the device owner can unblock features or alter the restrictions settings. Apple have a help article about Restrictions on their site.

David also demonstrated the Guided Access feature which is located in the Accessibility section of General Settings. This allows you to lock the iOS device into a single app and then control if touch and/or motion controls are available. It’s also possible to block access to certain areas of the screen to prevent accidental activation of commands. Apple also have a help article about Guided Access.

DavidK then showed us a couple of interesting iOS applications:

Opera’s new Coast web browser is designed specifically for the iPad. This free browser has a minimal user interface so you can concentrate on web content and allows you to browse between pages using touch gestures.

Groceries is a shopping list application which allows you to compile your list from common grocery items (or you can add your own), it learns what products you commonly buy so you can easily add them to your list. The app keeps your list grouped by supermarket aisle to speed up shopping.\

Questions and answers from the September meeting covering creating ringtones in iTunes and assigning applications keyboard shortcuts are now available.

August 2013 Meeting Report

At the August SEAL meeting we had a lively news discussion and two interesting presentations on web design software. Don’t miss John’s video on the RapidWeaver Stacks plug-in at the end of this report!

Key topics from the news discussion included:

  • Apple announcing a take-back programme for third party iPhone, iPad and iPod USB chargers.
  • Reports of the easy accessibility of saved passwords in Google’s Chrome web browser.
  • The security of user’s data on the Internet following reports of XKeyScore, an NSA tool which was revealed to easily interrogate a huge database of Internet messages and usage data.
    The rest of the meeting focused on creating websites with your Mac.

Ben started off with a presentation of iWeb, Apple’s web design application that was included in the iLife suite. Although it’s not currently available with new Macs or on the Mac App Store, iWeb is still a useful program. Ben explained how it can continue to be used on Mountain Lion and with your own hosting even though Apple’s Mobile Me hosting service has been discontinued.

Ben then demonstrated how iWeb can be used to quickly create an attractive web site and how flexible it is to work with the supplied templates or your own design. This amazing YouTube video shows Apple’s home page being recreated in iWeb, a testament to its surprising power.

If you’re interested in iWeb, here are some sites which continue to provide information and advice for iWeb users:

iWeb FAQ
iWeb for Musicians

Apple has some support resources available:

Apple Support Communities
Tutorial Videos

Robert then demonstrated RapidWeaver, a template-based web design program from Realmac Software. Robert showed how a site can be built up from different page types to include features such as a blog and photo gallery. Once the site was complete he changed the look and layout of the site by selecting from the included templates.

One of RapidWeaver’s most powerful features is the facility to add new page types and templates through plug-ins. SEAL member John was scheduled to demonstrate the powerful Stacks plug-in at the meeting but unfortunately was unable to attend the meeting. John has very kindly produced the following video about using Stacks:


July 2013 Meeting Report

July’s SEAL meeting kicked off with our usual discussion of the month’s news. A few highlights were:

  • Apple’s digital dashboard patents which point to greater integration of iOS devices with cars.
  • The iTunes Radio service and the terms with music publishers that were revealed.
  • Apple’s statement on customer privacy following the PRISM revelations.
    SEAL member John then gave us a very interesting presentation on screencasting with the Mac. This involves recording a video of your Mac’s screen as you preform actions, you can add a commentary if you wish. John started by showing how you can make a basic recording using Quicktime X which is included with Mac OS X.

He then went on the demonstrate Screenflow, an application which captures video from your screen and audio from your microphone and then allows you to edit together a complex screen cast. Screenflow includes features such as zooming in on certain areas, editing to remove mistakes or slows sections, the ability to highlight the mouse pointer and show key presses. The end result can look really professional.

In the Q&A section we discussed whether anti-virus and other security software is required on the Mac and what performance should be expected from an iMac hard disk. A summary of the answers to these questions are on the Q&A July 2013 page.

June 2013 Meeting Report

We started off the June meeting with a detailed discussion of Apple’s many announcements at their World Wide developer conference. These included:

  • Upgraded MacBook Airs with improved battery life, faster graphics and some reduced prices.
  • The sneak preview of the new Mac Pro with a radical new cylindrical design and greatly improved performance.
  • Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks with upgraded Finder, Maps, iBooks and many other enhancements.
  • New versions of iWork including a full web version.
  • iOS 7 with a new look and sweeping changes and improvements.
  • iTunes Radio, Apple’s streaming music service with a free (advertising supported) option.
    Following the discussion members brought along apps, hardware and tips for our first “Show and Tell” session:

  • John kicked us off with Drafts, an inexpensive app for iPad which allows you to quickly enter text and then decide what to do with it later. Each time you open the app it presents a new page ready for you to type with no distractions. A version of Drafts for iPhone and iPod Touch is also available.

  • Ben brought along a classic clamshell iBook to show us, this was Apple’s portable alternative to the original colourful iMac. Ben is a Mac collector and plans to regularly bring classic Apple products to show us.
  • DavidK showed 7 Little Words, a free (with in app purchases) iOS game which challenges you to put together 7 words from a selection of tiles with 2 or 3 letters on each. There is a new puzzle every day.
  • DavidB then suggested Clueless Crossword Party for iOS, a crossword game with no clues, instead numbers in some of the squares indicate which have the same letter.
  • To complete the trilogy of iOS games, Denesh suggested a classic game of Solitaire.
  • DavidB also mentioned that he’d spotted a smudge on pictures taken with his iPhone 5 which couldn’t be removed by cleaning the lens. This seems to be a known issue that’s been widely reported. David visited the Apple Store who promptly replaced his phone.
    We ended the meeting by answering questions on iOS backup and Finder shortcuts, find these on our Q&A June 2013 page.

Q&A July 2013

These questions were asked at the July meeting:

  • Do I need to install an anti-virus or Internet security program on my Mac?
  • I’ve run a disk speed benchmarking program on my 2009 iMac, what results should I expect?
    Q. Do I need to install an anti-virus or Internet security application on my Mac?

A. We recommend that Mac users do not need to install security or anit-virus applications. No viruses (malicious programs which spread without user interaction) are currently known on the Mac. There are a few trojan and malware programs which try to trick you into installing them but these can generally be avoided by using good internet security practices, We’ve included some suggestions below. PC Advisor has an article explaining why Macs are rarely affected by Malware and don’t need anti-virus products.

On-line security good practice suggestions:

  • Be wary of e-mails which ask you to open attachments or link to web sites even if they appear to be from friends or companies you know.
  • If a software installer or a prompt for your administrator password appears unexpectedly cancel the prompt and do not enter your password.
  • If you think a prompt for an upgrade or install might be genuine, still close it. Instead use the Check for Updates feature within the application if it has one or go to the official web site for the product and download the update from there.
  • Where possible download software from the Mac App Store.
  • For software which is not available on the App Store, take care to make sure you download it from the developer’s official web site.
  • Avoid unofficial software web sites and in particular pirated software.
    Mac Rumors has a useful Mac Virus/Malware FAQ article which covers this topic in more detail and includes further security tips.

If you would none the less like to run anti-virus software or are concerned about passing on Windows viruses (which don’t affect the Mac) to friends (for example by forwarding an e-mail that may have a Windows virus attached) a free option is the open source ClamXAV. This can scan your system for Mac and Windows viruses and trojans and scan new files as they are created. While ClamXAV is available in the Mac App Store, the version from the developer’s web site is more fully featured.

Q. I’ve run a disk speed benchmarking program on my 2009 iMac, what results should I expect?

A. Hard drive performance results can vary quite a lot based on the particular drive, computer and also how the test is performed (for example the size of the file and the testing program used). The person who asked this question had used Blackmagicdesign Disk Speed Test which is available on the Mac App Store. As a rough idea, the maximum throughput you should expect on a 7200RPM 3.5” hard drive of the type fitted to the iMac is about 120MB/s (this is from a review of one of the recommended drives on StorageReview.com) however this is in ideal conditions (the slowest performance noted on the same drive is about 60MB/s) and with a modern 2TB drive. Older and smaller drives will tend to be slower.

If you’re concerned your hard drive is running slowly then the ideal way to benchmark it would be to compare your results against someone with a similar system.

Q&A June 2013

These questions were answered at the June meeting:

  • In the Finder, how can I open a folder in a new window?
  • How do I set up iCloud backup on my iPad, iPhone or iPod touch?
    Q. In the Finder, how can I open a folder in a new window?

A. Hold down the command () key while double clicking on the folder, this causes a new Finder window to open displaying the contents of the folder you clicked on. This can be very handy when organising files.

Q. How do I set up iCloud backup on my iPad, iPhone or iPod touch?

A. It’s important to backup your iOS device (iPad, iPhone or iPod touch) so that if it’s ever lost, damaged or stolen you can recover your data. Backing up to iCloud is a quick and easy way of saving a copy of your data to Apple’s servers and works even if you rarely connect your device to a computer.

For iCloud backup to work it must be enabled, your device needs to be connected to power (charging) and must be on a WiFi network. Bear in mind that if you tend to charge your device where there is no WiFi then this method won’t work.

A second option is to backup your device using iTunes when it’s connected to your computer with a cable. Apple has an article explaining the pros and cons of these methods.

Setting up iCloud backup

On your device:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Choose iCloud and then Storage & Backup.
  3. If iCloud Backup is OFF, switch it ON.
    Backups will then happen automatically once a day. If you want to backup immediately, choose the Back Up Now option.

Further details of what is backed up and how to restore your data can be found in Apple’s iCloud: Backup and restore overview article.

May 2013 Meeting Report

The May meeting took place in the new venue which along with the interesting topics and discussions during the evening was well received by all attendees.

The evening started off with some club announcements:

  • The club had some flyers printed which are now available for members to help promote and advertise the club in their local areas. This is also downloadable from SEAL Flyer A6
  • Club member Denesh explained that SEAL had set up affiliate links with various suppliers - a way for people to help the club raise funds through purchases they make via links associated with SEAL. The purchases would not cost extra, just that SEAL makes a commission. The SEAL website will soon be updated to include a section with Affiliate links to Apple’s iTunes, Mac App Store, iOS App Store, iBook Store and various other suppliers.
  • The June meeting would contain a section called ‘Show & Tell’ where club members would be invited to quickly showcase a product or software they really like. Members could either do this impromptu or think about it over the coming month prior to the June meeting.

Next up was Apple related news and discussion. News items consisted of:

  • WWDC 10-14th June, sells out in 2 minutes
  • Countdown to 50 Billion downloads from the App Store
  • Apple celebrates a decade of the iTunes Store
  • Rumours: iOS 7 “deforstallization” and OS X 10.9 features
  • Apple Q2 Results, increased income but reduced profit over last year
  • Jonathan Ive Named as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential people
  • Safari 6.0.4 allows Java security changes
  • Anonymised Siri voice clips stored by Apple for up to two years
  • Replacement programme for 3rd generation Apple TVs with Wi-Fi connectivity issues
  • Working Apple 1 may fetch $240K-$400K
  • Adobe drops Creative Suite development in favour of Creative Cloud
  • Phishing e-mail targets Apple IDs and credit card info

Next up was a feature presentation by club member Ben, on DJing on a Mac. He demonstrated the application called djay by algoriddim for this.

The in-depth demonstration included Ben mixing through some 80s and 90s music to show the powerful features of the application and how to achieve required results.

The application is available on Mac OS X, iOS for iPhone and iOS for iPad (a snip at the prices) and can be downloaded via the following Mac App Store and iOS App Store links:


djay for MacOSX by algoriddim - £13.99


djay for iPhone by algoriddim - £0.69


djay for iPad by algoriddim - £2.99

The second presentation of the night was given by club member David. He gave an explanation about Newsreaders and then gave a walkthrough and demonstration of Feedly which one may use in any browser, in Feedly for Safari via an extension, Feedly for iPhone or Feedly for iPad

Not only does Feedly display the information in an attractive yet intuitive format, it also keeps the necessary data synchronised across all the devices you use to access the news feeds.

The night closed with the interactive Q&A section - attendees helping each other by answering questions posed by other attendees.

The next SEAL meeting will be on Friday 14 May at the current new venue:

The Wick Community Centre
Silva Island Way
Salcott Crescent
SS12 9NR.

Click here for the map.

Some of the links in this article redirect you to the Mac App Store and iOS App Store via affiliate links. Please note that SEAL is a promotional partner with the affiliate network TradeDoubler and any sales via these links benefit SEAL at no extra cost to the purchaser, and provide a way for readers and members to support the club.


Q&A May 2013

At this month’s busy SEAL meeting we only had time for one question:

Q. When I attempt to start Open Office after downloading it from the Internet, I get the message “Open Office can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer” and it will not start.

A. This message comes from Gatekeeper, the anti-malware feature that Apple introduced in Mac OS 10.8 Mountain Lion. By default, Gatekeeper only allows apps that have been downloaded from the Mac App Store and those that come from identified developers to open. Apps that come from developers who have not registered with Apple and signed their app with a developer ID (i.e. the developer is unidentified) display the message above when double clicked and will not open.

In this case, Open Office is not signed with an Apple developer ID so it is prevented from opening by Gatekeeper. If you are confident that you have downloaded a genuine copy of Open Office from the official web site then you can override Gatekeeper and let Open Office start. To do this:

1, Control-click or right click on the Open Office icon.
2. Select Open from the top of the context menu that appears.
3. Click Open in the dialog box that warns you that Open Office is unidentified.
4. If prompted, enter your administrator user name and password.

OS X will record that you trust the app and from then on you can start it normally without warnings.

Apple’s About Gatekeeper support article explains the system in more detail and includes information about the options available for it in System Preferences.

April 2013 Meeting Report

The April meeting was another successful one and another meeting where we welcomed new members.

The evening started off with some club announcements and details:

  • Change of venue from the next meeting (10 May 2013) to the Wick Community Centre (also in Wickford), mentioning the benefits for the club and it’s members
  • Monthly meetings will continue on the 2nd Friday of each month
  • New Q&A format for the meetings, making them more involved for every attendee
  • Plan for a club trip to the Silicon Dreams & Vintage Computer Festival 2013 in Coalville, Leicestershire, in July. Anyone interested in going to contact the club so that the club may consider transport options.

Next up was Apple related news and discussion. News items consisted of:

  • iOS Podcasts app updated with custom stations and iCloud support
  • Apple’s data centres now running on 100% renewable energy
  • Apple changes iPhone warranty policies in China after government media pressure
  • Google Forks WebKit for Chrome
  • Firefox updated to version 20 with new download manager and private browsing improvements
  • Apple faces Siri patent law suit in China
  • Apple blocks yontoo trojan
  • iMessage is highly secure
  • Mac OS X 10.8.3 update available
  • iOS 6.1.3 update available
  • Final Cut Pro, Motion & Compressor updated
  • Funny or Die iSteve biopic with Justin Long as Steve Jobs (80 minute movie released at the time of writing)
  • JOBS film starring Ashton Kutcher delayed

Next up was a Tips & Tricks presentation by club Chairman Robert, on Recording Audio on a Mac - audio that is being played on the computer in any application, be it a browser (running YouTube), or a VoIP program such as Skype, DVD player, microphone or even a game.

Robert explained and demonstrated doing this using an application called Audio Hijack Pro by Rogue Amoeba. The in-depth demonstration and tutorial showed the powerful features of the application and how to achieve required results.

One of our members produces music and she quickly showed a piece of music where she had grabbed some sound with extreme clarity using Audio Hijack Pro to integrate into it.

Robert mentioned another application, WireTap Studio by Ambrosia Software, however this is has big limitations on OS X 10.7 and above and he mentioned that AudioHijack Pro was easier to use.

The application is a free download and the unlicensed version allows up to 10 minutes of recordings. The licensed version with unlimited length recordings costs just US$32 (approx £21)

The second presentation of the night was given by club member David. He gave a walkthrough and demonstration of the recently introduced Apple ID two factor authentication (also called two-step verification)

It was explained that this two factor authentication was only for your Apple ID (when needing to change any details such as email address, or credit card details) and not for when using your Apple ID to sign in to iCloud or make App Store or iTunes purchases. It is there to protect unauthorised changes to your Apple ID (which could affect everything you use your Apple ID for - purchases, etc).

As this is an option (at no charge) on your Apple ID security, you need to switch it on manually within your Apple ID account if you wish to use it.

David demonstrated the process of setting it up and showed the different options available, needing to select two of the three to set up two factor authentication: email, SMS and Recovery Key.

An important point made was that the Recovery Key should be kept separate from other passwords. A number of club members use the 1Password password manager and David explained that if one uses 1Password for all login details then the Recovery Key should not be stored in that application - storing both ‘factors’ of the authentication in the same place would in effect render it useless as anyone who could gain access to one’s 1Password details would then have the ability to change the details in the Apple ID, in this instance. It was advice well-given.

Apple themselves have a support page for two-step verification at http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5570

The night closed with the interactive Q&A section - attendees helping each other by answering questions posed by other attendees.

The next SEAL meeting will be on Friday 10 May at the new venue:

The Wick Community Centre
Silva Island Way
Salcott Crescent
SS12 9NR.

Click here for the map.


Q&A April 2013

A couple of questions were answered at the SEAL meeting this month:

  • How do I deal with the Pages message “Import warning: An unsupported field wasn’t imported.” when opening a form in Microsoft Word (.doc) format?
  • How can I type symbols and accented characters which aren’t shown on the keyboard?
    Q. How do I deal with the Pages message “Import warning: An unsupported field wasn’t imported.” when opening a form in Microsoft Word (.doc) format?

A. Fields in a Microsoft Word are elements that can be inserted into a pre-written document that contain information that will change. One class of fields are form fields, they allow a user to fill in information without changing the pre-written document. There are different types of form field such as text, tick boxes and drop-down selections.

Apple’s Pages word processor doesn’t support form fields. When you import a Word document which has them into Pages it warns you that these fields could not be imported with the message: “Import warning: An unsupported field wasn’t imported.”

In most cases you can still go ahead and fill in the form using Pages, the design of the form will make it clear where you should enter your answers. If there’s a place where you need to enter a tick, see the question below for how to do so.

If it’s not clear how to fill in the form or you think there might be options you are missing a free alternative is to use Open Office to open the form. Open Office is an open source suite of office applications which is available for the Mac. Open Office Writer, its word processor, does support form fields in Word documents.

Q. How can I type symbols and accented characters which aren’t shown on the keyboard?

A. A variety of key combinations can be used to type many common symbols and accented characters on the Mac. The easiest way to see what options are available is to enable to Keyboard Viewer. To do this:

  1. Open System Preferences and choose Language & Text.
  2. Select the Input Sources tab.
  3. In the Select input sources to use list, make sure Keyboard & Character Viewer (at the top) is ticked.
  4. Make sure Show Input menu in menu bar is ticked.
  5. Close System Preferences.
    You should now have a new icon on the menu bar with options to show the Character and Keyboard viewers.

Open the keyboard viewer window and try holding down the different modifier keys (Shift, Control and Option) on your keyboard to see the symbols you can type. Remember that you can use combinations of modifier keys such as Shift and Option together.

As an example, if you want to type a tick symbol you’ll see that if you hold down the Option key, a tick appears in the v position on the keyboard. So to type a tick, simple press Option+v. Try holding down Shift and Option and look at the k position, you’ll see an Apple logo. To type that at any time you need it just press Shift+Option+k.

You may notice that when you hold down the Option key some of the symbols are highlighted in orange. This indicates that those combinations initiate typing an accent. For example Option+U shows an orange highlighted umlaut symbol (two dots above the letter). To type an accented character press the key combination for the accent you want, release the keys and then type the letter you want the accent applied to. For example, to type ö, press Option+u and then type o.

On Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) and later, there is an alternative method of typing accented characters by holding down the letter you want to add the accent to. This opens a pop-up showing the available accents which can be selected by typing the associated number.

These keyboard shortcuts work in almost every Mac application.