". . .And then some confusion happened"*

First, some quick notes:
  1. We're testing Amazon's new Echo Show: Alexa with a touch screen. Mixed impressions so far, full report in the next newsletter.
  2. As ransomware attacks become more sophisticated, protect yourself (advice here and here; note that Macs are not immune) and be sure you back up to a location that is NOT constantly connected to your computer or network; otherwise your backups can be infected as well.
  3. Time on your hands this summer? Build a self-driving potato.


Stop Confusing Us!
Somewhere, tech geniuses are plotting to take advantage of the unwary. Not hackers; we're talking about Microsoft and Apple!  

Maybe they’re not doing it intentionally, but programmers need a reality check when they leave landmines for consumers: innocent-sounding messages that pop up, to which you MUST respond whether or not you comprehend them; and when you choose incorrectly, major headaches ensue. 

For example, in Windows:

—can cause you to lose the ability to connect to the Internet properly.
Or this one that appears after a Mac update:
—removes your personal files from your computer’s hard drive and puts them in “the cloud”. Whoosh! Gone! Reversing the process can be a nightmare.

A prime example of this problem is the Apple/iCloud/iTunes password-passcode-security code mess. Intelligent, capable clients are CONSTANTLY getting locked out of their accounts and devices because the terms are so confusing. (In fairness, Apple's only trying to protect us from the bad guys; but when you’re resetting your password for the nine hundredth time, and ready to toss your phone out the window, you probably don’t care about the reason).

Decoding Apple/iCloud/iTunes Security
Normally,** each person has one account with Apple, and then each device (iPhone, iPad, Mac) also has its own separate security;  you need to keep track of both, and to know which is which.

Your Apple/iTunes/iCloud Account and Password
  1. Your Apple account = your iTunes account = your iCloud account. (Thanks, Apple!  That makes sense.)
  2. Your Apple/iTunes/iCloud account is the central repository for all your Apple information, including your name, address, payment and security info, iCloud data (contacts, photos, etc.) and purchases both hardware (computers, phones, iPads) and software (apps, movies, etc).  It’s your Apple identity.
  3. Accessing your Apple account requires two pieces of information:
    1. an email address AND 
    2. a password.  Be sure you know both.
  4. When you are asked to enter the password for your Apple ID, you will usually be prompted with the email address, like this:

Picture

5.  If you enable two-factor authentication, which we STRONGLY recommend, then any time you try to access your account for the first time on a new device, Apple will send you a one-time-use security code that you have to enter ALSO.  You don’t have to write down that code; they’ll send you a different one next time.

Individual Devices (iPhones, iPads, Macs)
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you should secure it with either a fingerprint or a passCODE (usually 4 or 6 digits long). This passcode is ONLY to unlock that specific device, is NOT the passWORD for your Apple account, and is NOT the same as the passcode Apple sometimes sends in #5 above. Okay so far?  You DO need to remember this one. (Please don't use your birthdate. . .)

Finally, if you have a Mac, you will have a user name and password just for your stuff on that computer .  The user name is (normally) a name, not an email address like the Apple ID: Fred, or Fred Smith, not fredsmith@gmail.com.  

When you turn on the computer, install or update software or make other changes to the computer, you will be asked for a password; that’s the USER password, not the APPLE account password, because the user NAME is shown instead of the email address, like this:

Bonus note: Note: choose security questions that have single word, unambiguous answers; “favorite food” is “chocolate” is much better than “city you were born in” is “New York” or “New York city” or “NY” or “Manhattan”—see the difference?

Happy Independence Day!

Alison Holtzschue
and the computers dot mom team

*Title of the chapter about lost children in the Unofficial Guide to Disneyworld. Also, probably, my epitaph.

**there are exceptions to this general explanation, but if you are one of them then either you don’t need this tutorial anyway, or you’ve got some kind of mess and should probably make an appointment with Apple or with us.