Product Review – I read about Grammarly in a recent “Working Smarter for Mac Users” newsletter. This is written and distributed by Bob “Dr Mac” Levitus from The Mac Observer. As you might expect from the product name, Grammarly is an extension for Safari on your Mac. As described on the extension website:
Grammarly – Will help you communicate more effectively. As you type, Grammarly flags mistakes and helps you make sure your messages, documents, and social media posts are clear, mistake-free, and impactful.
The free version does a nice job. Below are three examples of what it will catch. Text that it has a recommendation for is underlined in red. Move your cursor over the underlined word or phrase and the pop-up will appear. You can then click on the ‘green’ recommendation (if you agree with it) in the pop-up box and it will be implemented in the text you are writing:
- unnecessary comma
- wrong word
While I have not tried the Premium paid version, the level of writing I do just doesn’t, in my mind, justify the cost of the paid service. I will continue to use the Safari extension as I do like how it reports recommended changes.
My recommendation: Install the free version and pass on the paid Premium version
- Easy to use
- Easy to install
- Base service is free
- Works with any writing you do within a Safari window
- You do have to create an account
- You must be connected to the internet for Grammarly to work
- Paid (Premium) version is expensive ($29.95/month, $59.95 for 3 months, or $139.95 for a year)
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One of the keyboard shortcuts that I use multiple times each day is to bookmark the currently viewed page while in Safari:
CMD + d.
As I read the various articles in my RSS Client, Vienna, I often want to add a bookmark of the page for later reference. Using the keyboard sequence of CMD + d is faster than clicking through the menu bar.
This isn’t a huge time savings, but again it is one of those quick keyboard sequences that will save you a few seconds each time you use it. Every little bit helps when you are trying to make your day more productive.
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Tech Tip – Opening a web site in Safari and then having a video on the page begin to play is annoying! Of course I can mute it by clicking the speaker symbol in the tab, but the video is still playing – consuming bandwidth and processor cycles, not to mention being a distraction.
I came across a means of disabling video auto-play a week or so ago and tried it. It works perfectly! It does involved you dropping into the Terminal interface but the steps are not difficult. Here are the steps to follow:
- Quit Safari if it is running
- Open Finder >> G0 >> Utilities >> Terminal
- paste/type this command into your Terminal window
defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu 1
- Hit return and wait several seconds. You will see the command prompt when it has completed
- Quit the Terminal
- Launch Safari
- There will be a new menu item “Debug”
- Choose Debug >> Media Flags >> Disallow Inline Video
Now any video embedded in a web page will no longer automatically play once the page is loaded. They can be manually played if desired.
To make the “Debug” column disappear, repeat steps 1-5 above, but enter into your Terminal window:
defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu 0
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Apple released a security update to Safari on March 17 which applied to versions of Safari running not only on Yosemite, but Mavericks and Mountain Lion as well. Apple did not release any details on the vulnerabilities being patched, other than to say that:
- Multiple memory corruption issues existed in WebKit. These issues were addressed through improved memory handling.
- A user interface inconsistency existed in Safari that allowed an attacker to misrepresent the URL. This issue was addressed through improved user interface consistency checks.
The memory corruption issues allowed a malicious web site to cause an unexpected application termination or the execution of malicious code, while the user interface inconsistencies opened a door to possible phishing attacks.
As always, the best practice is to keep up-to-date with security related patches.
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FREAK is a newly discovered security flaw affecting both the iOS and OS X versions of Safari, as well as other web browsers. This vulnerability enables an attacker to force the browser to use a weakened, 512-bit form of encryption. FREAK is an acronym standing for ‘Factoring RSA-EXPORT
Keys’. This flaw has been around for years and was just exposed by security researchers March 2, 2015. Specifically this vulnerability is with TLS/SSL (i.e. HTTPS) servers and clients.
This flaw left iOS and other devices vulnerable to attack when visiting what were thought to be secure web sites. The flaw actually was caused by a cold war US government policy that forbade export of strong encryption. The export restriction was lifted in the late 1990s, but the browser code was never updated.
Once an attacker breaches the browser, they can then steal passwords and other personal information. Using this man-in-the-middle mode of attack, they can also attack the site being visited by taking over elements on the site’s pages. The researchers estimate that more than 35% of HTTPS sites world wide are vulnerable.
Apple has indicated that a fix for Safari will be available in the next week or so.
UPDATED 4/22/15 – See Security Now episode #498 for a more detailed description of FREAK.
UPDATED 3/10/15 – Apple Security Update 2015-002 1.0 applied patches that close this vulnerability. The vulnerability was resolved by removing support for ephemeral RSA keys.
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I have been an avid user of Evernote now for several years. What is Evernote?
Evernote is a way to collect and organize notes, ideas, web articles, handwritten notes, photos, and much more. Best of all it is cross platform – Mac OS X, iOS, Windows and Android. Evernote has a Free, as well as a Premium ($5/month) and Business ($10/month) plan. I have been using the Free plan thus far and I have been very satisfied with it.
Evernote allows you to set up Notebooks, then add notes to those notebooks. The Notes can be Notes created within Evernote, photos or clippings from web pages. I have the Evernote Web Clipper installed in Safari (it is also available for Firefox and Chrome). That gives me a button added to the Safari header which allows me to clip (anything from just the URL to the entire Web page) from web pages that I visit. This is a great way to collect information for later use. I save recipes, technical articles, and just sites that I am interested in.
I have a separate Notebook for each of the topic areas that I am writing about so that articles I find can be saved for later use. The great thing is that everything I save while I am on my Mac Mini is also available on my iPad and iPhone.
One of my Notebooks is just for Books and Reading. I have a Note there that lists all of the books that I own and that I have read. That makes it easier on the rare occasion that I go into a used book store. I can easily look up what I have and have not read by an author. I have also seen books at the brick and mortar stores that I am interested in, but want the eBook. So I just use the camera within the iOS Evernote App to take a picture of the book cover with my iPhone and save it to my Book Notebook. That way I have all the information I need for later to try and find the eBook.
All in all I find this to be one of the most essential apps whether for OS X or iOS.
I came across this article on how to use templates to make Evernote even more productive. If you use Evernote, these are good ideas.
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I, like many others, recently upgraded my Mac to OS X Yosemite. The upgrade seemed to have gone smoothly, until a few days ago when I tried to save a Web page to my “Reading List” in Safari. When I clicked on the Sharing icon, all I got was “No Services”.
I did a little research and found that this is a known problem with Yosemite. Fortunately, Apple already has a fix documented (see http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT6545). I opened a Terminal (Finder >> Go >> Utilities >> Terminal) and ran the command described in the fix. A minute or so later I had my Sharing option list back. The command to run is:
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