How to: Learn from Apple’s tax mess

Apple CEO, Tim Cook, was summoned before the US Congress to testify about his company’s tax practices. The American government is particularly interested in the fact that Apple has $105 billion in foreign accounts and only $43 billion in US coffers.

Keeping their money in low-tax havens like Ireland has saved Apple billion in taxes. But what does that mean for you? Well, you could follow suite in this age of globalization. There should be a disclaimer that we’re IT experts, not tax advisers.

However, there are a growing number of companies and law firms that specialize in creating offshore subsidiaries for smaller businesses. While overseas, your money is tax deferred, meaning you don’t pay taxes on it until you retrieve it. Such capital is either held or written off the books to be invested overseas.

Investing if overseas allows companies to buy inventory the sell it wherever they want. The question should then turn to: Is it legal? Maybe. For now, it shall remain firmly in the grey area.

How To: Managing your social media with your Mac

When you first start off you’ll want OS X to be working in favor.  Go to the Apple Menu, that’s the symbol in the upper left corner shaped like an apple.  Under System Preferences, click on Mail, Contacts & Calendars.  From there, you can add various e-mails and social media accounts.  Now every time there’s an update your Mac will make a ding and alert you.

That’s freebie.  However, more advance social media efforts require either a dedicated social media employee or a few products.

If you want to manage your LinkedIn, Google+, more all at once then HootSuite might be for you.   There’s a free version that allows you to do things like auto-publish posts. Basically, the service allows you to interact with all your social media accounts all at once from one screen.  Further, if you want to pay $10 a month you can get tracking statistics, learning tools, and vanity URLs just for you.

Should you crave something a little more exclusive to Macs, then you may want to check out Alfred.  Alfred is a way to launch apps without lifting your hands from the keyboard.  It’s a more comprehensive version of Spotlight.  Theme, codify, and exemplify your work flow.  Alfred is a tool that lets you hit hard, hit quick, and hit often without spending a lot of time.

Social media in a nut shell is the ability for one person to connect to a lot of people in various spheres.  In business it serves a dual purpose of maintaining customers and attracting new ones.  The easier it is for you to do that, the quicker you can return to getting down to business.

An Apple Sale

Apple was once known as a price-leader in the tech industry.  It commanded seep prices for all of its products.

However, in recent quarters, the tech giant has slashed the prices on some of its most iconic devices.  This time around, it’s the 13-inch Macbook  with Retina Display is getting  a $200 slash.  That will bring down its price tag to $1,499.  The 256GB version will also be dropped down, to $1,699.

The 15-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display is not going to receive a price adjustment.  Instead, the lower end model will get a faster 2.4 GHz processor.

This definitely a response to a less-than-stellar last quarter performance.  Then, Apple had about a 22% drop in sales.

The rule of thumb is that a drop in price will equal an increase in sales, especially for a company with as much brand recognition as Apple.  However, Apple has proved itself as a prestige product in which it’s high price helps its appeal.  I guess only time will tell if this move will help Apple’s dwindling sales.

A Paradox: Apple’s Time Machine Showing a Few Faults

There is nothing worse than losing data, not even a flat tire or paper cut between your toes.  There are a variety of ways to keep your data from being swallowed by the ether.  One such way, that is touted by Apple is Time Machine.

It works by taking an image of a hard drive, copying every file except for select root directories and itself.  Then it transfers the image to an external hard drive, such as the brand specific Time Capsule.  After the initial image is taken, every hour Time Machine takes more hard drive images.  To save time, it compares the new image to the old one and only keeps files that are different, i.e changes you’ve made in the last hour.

However, like with their new, but defunct, mapping application Apple’s new Time Machine is showing faults.  One such fault may be a sign of a bigger problem.  The blog Mac’s Performance Guide has report on Time Machine not backing up partitioned drives.  Evidence suggests that when a drive is unmounted, mission critical files can be excluded from Time Machine’s backup list.

Why is this important?  Well, although one can argue that Mac’s have a lot user friendly features, no one can argue that there’s a plethora of software made with them in mind.  This causes individuals to partition their drives with Bootcamp, software that allows another operating system to be live on your Mac.

The fact is that if you want a well optimized office, you need your Macs to have Windows on them.  It is well known that the Mac’s versions of the Office are inferior to those of the Windows’.  However, this bug could mean none of the Microsoft Word documents and spreadsheets are being backed up.

If you really are feeling antsy, I’d suggest that you backup all your critical files to the cloud. Find out more here.

Is Apple’s iPad mini good for business?

At a starting price of $329, Apple’s new iPad Mini should be looked at if you are preparing to deploy tablets to your workers. It’s price places it at 35% cheaper than its full sized brethren and 50% lighter too. Still, the 329 price mark is higher than the $250 (half price) that most people were expecting.

Google’s Nexus 7 is an attractive rival, especially at its starting mark of $199.  At that price, it has several edges over the iPad Mini.  Hardware wise it has greater pixel density for a sharper screen and a quad core processor to power it all.  Software wise, the Nexus 7 has turn-by-turn directions.

However, if you have the money, Apple offers some interesting functionality.  The iPad Mini has a rear facing camera and access to a significantly larger library of apps.  For a $130 premium, the little iPad can get 4G cellular connectivity.

Looking over the available data, we would have to say that the iPad Mini has limited appeal.  It would be ideal for the office that has already embraced Apple products.  The iPad Mini has excellent cross compatibility and sharing capabilities with products that share its logo. If you are planning on distributing tablets there are less expensive options out there.  Click here to learn deploying Apple products.

How to Get the Most of Out of Mountain Lion Contacts

Apple’s new OS, Mountain Lion, has been out for a while now.  One feature you probably use a lot is Contacts.  There are a few features you should know about in order to get the most out of this program.

Being in Sync

Mountain Lion’s Contact app allows you to sync all your contacts with your favorite web services.  Sync your contacts list with your Facebook and Google contacts.  Now all the people know can be codified and organized into one screen.

Put a Face to that Name

Now, you can click and drag an image into the Contacts and attach to someone’s information.  A meeting is a lot easier when you know who’s who.  If you don’t want to use actual pictures, the standard OS images like the parrot and penguin can be used.  If those don’t float your boat, you can click on the camera icon and take a picture of what you want with your webcam.

Did We Say Sync Already?

If you upload your Facebook and Google contacts information, you can also connect directly to those services through Contacts.  By clicking on headings on contact cards, you can see recent posts and updates.  It’s a good way to using just one program to deal with many.  You can even see their Twitter Feed.  If we live in the world of Too Much Information, at least Mountain Lion’s Contacts app helps us wade through it quicker.



Mountain Lion Arrives

The newest Apple operating system, OX Mountain Lion, is now available, and, while it doesn’t represent a huge departure from previous Macintosh systems, the consensus among reviewers is that the upgrade is well worth the $19.99 price tag.

One of the most significant new features from the predecessor Lion operating system is Gatekeeper, a security system designed to keep out malware. Aside from screening for known threats, it lets users choose their level of security by instructing the computer to open apps downloaded from the Mac App store only, from the app store and Apple-approved developers, or from anywhere.

Mountain Lion also takes a step closer to the iOS software found on iPhones and iPads. Like those mobile devices, computers with the new system will have access to iCloud functions, giving users easy access to the same apps, message services and games from all their devices. The OS also features a Notification Center that pulls updates from various apps together in one place.

Unlike Windows 8, Mountain Lion is more of an update than a whole new product. Still, PC World has an interesting list of features that the Windows system might be well advised to copy from it. That includes the Notification Center, access to text messages and voice dictation, and AirPlay Mirroring, which makes it easy to send video from one device to another.

In the spirit of the internet’s increasing dominance of all computing functions, Mountain Lion can only be purchased at the Mac App store and isn’t available on any physical media. Of course new Macs will come with the operating system installed.

About Apple’s new iCloud service, and its impact on business

Cloud services have been a hot topic in recent years – companies are moving further and further into the cloud, while consumers seem a bit slower to adopt.

Apple’s new iCloud services is poised to bring consumers (and small business owners) radically forward with a highly integrated cloud offering designed to keep all of your technology in sync at all times.

What iCloud does:

In the past, if you had a laptop, desktop, smart phone and a tablet computer, they all had their own data and none shared very well with each other.  Your smart phone might sync with one of your computers, but that leaves the other two computers “in the dark”.  Multimedia like music and pictures are very rarely common across all computers.  In short, it was pretty hard to keep all of your data straight, and very inconvenient to keep everything in line with each other.

iCloud seeks to change that by keeping all devices in sync with one another at all times.

How iCloud works:

For small business owners, iCloud keeps your calendar completely updated across all devices, in real time.  Your emails and business documents are also automatically updated, so you can always be sure that you’re working from completely up-to-date information.

For consumers, your multimedia (like music, books and pictures) are also kept up-to-date across all of your devices.

Advanced iCloud features:

In addition to keeping all of your devices in sync, iCloud also offers special add-ons designed to keep your family and close friends “in the loop” at all times.

One such feature is the “Find My Friends” feature.  “Find My Friends” allows your friends to see where your iPhone is on a map at any time.  This option can be extended to your friends or family for a limited time – say, a day while you’re on the ski hills or in the shopping mall, or for a longer period, in case you’d like your friends to know where they can meet you for drinks!

Another handy feature is the “Find my iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Mac”.  This is very much like it sounds – it allows you the ability to see exactly where your device is.  Accidentally left your iPhone somewhere, but not sure exactly where?  Just bring up this iCloud feature on your Mac, and you can see exactly where your iPhone is, on a map, in realtime.

You can even have your iPhone display a message to someone who finds it, so they can return it to you!

In Conclusion:

The iCloud service changes the way that devices interact with each other for the better.  Rather than having many devices that are independent from one another, iCloud makes transitioning between them completely seamless.