My Ice Bucket Challenge - I Challenge You!

It finally happened…I was tagged to take the Ice Bucket Challenge. ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a neurodegenerative disease that results in rapidly progressive weakness due to muscle atrophy. It’s devastating. Most of us know about ALS because of people like Stephen Hawking or Lou Gehrig, but ALS hit me in a very personal way this year when I learned that a friend and mentor was diagnosed. For my friend, and for everyone else impacted by ALS, I’m proud to take the Ice Bucket Challenge and more importantly, donate money to the ALS Association.

Part of the fun of this challenge is that you get to invite a few friends to help you raise money and awareness for this cause. To that end, I’m challenging the entire Mac Power Users community, including specifically calling out my podcasting partner David Sparks, to take the challenge with me. You can post your own Ice Bucket challenge videos to our Google+ page to share and inspire others. I’m also calling out my friends in the Mac Podcasting community in the hopes that they will inspire (and challenge) their listeners to participate as well.

You’ve been challenged…

Verizon's New Single Line Plan - There's A Catch

As I was browsing RSS feeds this morning I came across this post from iMore pointing to a new single-line smartphone plan from Verizon for $60. According to iMore:

As part of a new promo, you can now get unlimited voice minutes, unlimited text messaging and 2GB of data for $60, you’ll want to pay attention to the overage charges though that are set at a whopping $15/1GB. Obviously not going to be an option for everyone but it’s sure to fit some needs.

When Verizon moved to their “More” plans a few years ago that allowed individuals and families to share their data across multiple devices it made sense for some families and people with multiple devices, but individuals with a single smartphone ended up paying significantly more. For example, I have a 32GB iPhone 5 with Unlimited Talk, Text and 2GB of Data (generally enough for my monthly use) and pay $90 a month plus taxes - seems a little ridiculous. I hoped moving to this new plan specifically for individual products an opportunity to save $30 and a welcome change.

Unfortunately - there’s a catch. When I called Verizon this morning to inquire about the change I was informed the mobile hot spot feature is not available on this plan. Meaning you cannot use your iPhone to tether to other devices like your Mac or iPad. Notably this is not mentioned on Verizon’s FAQ site as of this posting and their online chat wasn’t aware of this limitation either. It's a shame because Verizon is restricting you to 2GB, what should it matter how you use it?

I don’t tether my iPhone often, but when I need it, it’s a big deal. Whether tethering is worth an extra $30 a month is something I’ll have to think about a little more before I make this decision, but if you’re considering this move you should be aware.

208: Repurpose your Apple Hardware

This week on Mac Power Users David and I chat all about Repurposing your Apple Hardware. We discuss turning your older devices into servers, prepping them to hand down to friends and family, upgrades to extend the life of older products, creative projects for old Macs and responsibly donating, selling or recycling older devices.

You can find the show on the MPU site or subscribe in iTunes or via RSS.

MILOfest Discount Offer

This week on MPU Live, David and I were joined by special guest Victor Medina, who is the organizer of MILOFest, a conference for attorneys and office administrators who use Macs and iOS devices in their law offices.

I had an opportunity to attend MILOfest last year for the first time and it was a career-changing event. This year the conference is being held October 23–25th at the Walt Disney World Yacht Club Resort in Orlando, Florida. Topics include iOS security, Document workflow and assembly, using OSX Yosemite (presented by yours truly), using Macs for trial prep, how to train your staff, creating an outstanding client experience and more.

Registration is now open and if you haven’t bought your tickets, Victor announced a special discount for MPU listeners. You can use coupon code MPU to save $75 on your registration between now and August 31st.

I hope to see you there.

207: MPU Live: Functionally Inspirational

Last Saturday was the first Saturday of the month which meant David and I recorded MPU live in front of a live chatroom of 5by5 listeners. The show is now available for download. We were joined by special guest Victor Medina and discussed equipping remote workers, Daylight for Mac office management, tech for going back to school, listener workflows and more vacation gadgets.

You can find the show on the MPU site or subscribe in iTunes or via RSS.

iStat Menus version 5

iStat Menus version 5 was released today featuring a new design, Yosemite support and tons of new features. iStat menus is a menu bar application that gives you the ability to quickly monitor various statistics for your Mac including battery stats, network speed, processor usage, heat and so much more. The new version brings additional features such as support for compressed memory, more detailed network information, power shaming, and additional time and world clock features. Federico has an in-depth look over on MacStories.

I’ve used iStat menus in my menu bar for years and can’t imagine a Mac without it. The new version is a $9 upgrade or $16 for new users.

Move Your iPad to a Free T-Mobile Data Plan

For years, I've bought Wi-Fi only iPads figuring that I almost always had Wi-Fi available in the places I commonly used my iPad. Last year when I upgraded to the iPad mini with Retina Display I opted for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model to allow additional flexibility. Because I already have a "share everything" plan with Verizon, it was only an additional $10.00 per month to add my iPad to my shared 2GB data plan, seemed like a reasonable thing to do. After living with the iPad for about a year now, I'm finding that I very rarely use the cellular data connection and wondering whether it's worth the extra cost. When T-Mobile came on as a carrier for the iPad they introduced a free 200MB per month plan which would probably suite most of my needs. I set out to see if I could move my "Verizon iPad" to a T-Mobile free data plan. As it turns out, the process was easier than I thought, assuming you have a compatible iPad. As of the writing of this post, this process seems to worth with the 2014 model iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display.

Acquire a T-Mobile SIM

You will first need to acquire a T-Mobile SIM for your iPad. These SIMs normally cost $10.00 but I've found they will regularly go on sale. For example, I bought mine for $0.01 using coupon code "SIMDEAL" which I have seen featured with some regularity. I purchased the "T-Mobile Starter Kit Nano SIM" that advertises compatibility with the iPhone 5. You can order online or pick one up at a T-Mobile store. Make sure you order the Nano SIM. It should look like this:

Replace your existing SIM with your new T-Mobile SIM

Once your new SIM card arrives you'll need to replace your existing SIM. I suggest you hang on to your old SIM for a while as you may decide to switch back to your old provider. You'll want to carefully remove the T-Mobile SIM from the cardboard carrier and put it in the SIM tray of your iPad. Once the new SIM is firmly in place, turn on Cellular Data on your iPad and restart your iPad.

Connect to the T-Mobile Network

Once you have restarted your iPad it may take a few minutes for the iPad to recognize the T-Mobile network. Make sure you're in an area with reasonable T-Mobiel coverage so you can setup your new T-Mobile account. Once your iPad registeres the T-Mobile netwok choose: System Preferences > Cellular Data > View Account

Setup A New T-Mobile Account

If you don't already have a T-Mobile account setup with this SIM (if it's a new SIM you won't) you'll want to create a new account.

Choose Your Plan

I opted for the Free 200MB a Month Plan

Create a T-Mobile Account

You'll be prompted to enter information and create a password to create a T-Mobile Account. Note that after choosing the 200MB Free plan, I was never asked for any payment information.

A New Data Plan

You'll have to agree ot the terms and conditions and wait for your SIM card to activate but you should be done. You'll receive a confirmation email letting your know your plan is active. Your free 200MB will reset every 30 days and you can check the status of your data usage in System Preferences. If you need more data you can buy additional data a-la-carte. You should also be able to swap out with your original SIM if you keep it, but will probably need to restart your iPad each time you swap SIMs. While I'm happy to have my free 200MB of monthly T-Mobile data for my penny investment, in practice I've found the T-Mobile network to be so spotty in my area that it's valuable is questionable. According to T-Mobile's coverage maps I have "good" network coverage at my home and "excellent" coverage at my office. Unfortunately I can't reliably send or receive data from either location. Other parts of town, the service is reasonable. Of course network coverage, speeds and reliability are going to vary wildly from location to location so your mileage may vary. That's why I suggest you keep your old data plan in place until decide if this is a plan that will work for you.