Tech Tip: Apple iOS – Messages app displaying contacts by phone number instead of by name

If you find that the Messages app suddenly displays existing messages and texts by phone number instead of by name AND the affected contacts are in your iOS “Contacts”, there are some steps that you can try in order to resolve the issue.

Tip: Be sure to backup your iOS device via iTunes or iCloud before making any changes to your device.

Note: You may need to adjust these steps depending on the version of iOS and the iOS device that you are using.

  • Turn your iOS device OFF then ON – Turn off your iOS device by holding down the power button for several seconds until the “Slide to Power Off” button appears then slide to power off your iOS device. Wait a couple of minutes then turn on your iOS device by holding down the power button for a few seconds. After your iOS device starts up, check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Reboot your iOS device – You can reboot your iOS device by holding down the power & home buttons simultaneously until the Apple logo appears (for most iOS devices) OR by holding down the power button and down/lower volume button simultaneously until the Apple logo appears (for iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus). After your iOS device reboots, check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Toggle Messages Off/On – In iOS 10, go to Settings | Messages. Toggle the iMessage button to the off position, wait 10-15 seconds, then toggle the button back to the on position (On = Green). Check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Toggle Contacts Off/On – In iOS 10, go to Settings | Contacts. Go to Accounts and select the account(s) for which your contacts for the Messages app are connected to. Within that (those) account(s), toggle the Contacts button to the off position, wait 10-15 seconds, then toggle the button back to the on position (On = Green). Check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Update a Contact – Go into your Contacts and update a contact then check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Reset Network Settings – In iOS 10, go to Settings | General | Reset | Reset Network Settings. Follow the iOS prompts to reset the network settings on your iOS device. This will reset the network settings for your iOS device including resetting Wi-Fi, cellular and VPN settings. After the reset, you will need to restore your network settings. Once your network settings have been restored, check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Delete all existing texts and messages from the Messages app – While this may not be an ideal situation, consider this a “last resort”. Delete all existing texts and messages from the Messages app then ask one or more of the affected contacts to send you a new text or message to see if new messages are properly displaying the names of your contacts vs. their phone numbers.
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Tech Tip: Outlook 2016 for Mac keeps prompting for login credentials

If you are running Outlook 2016 for Mac while connecting to Office 365 and Outlook constantly prompts you for your login credentials, Microsoft has a workaround for you to try.

Microsoft suggests deleting cached passwords associated with your account as well as modern authentication tokens stored in the Keychain.

Tip: If you are not comfortable making changes to your computer, please consult with an IT professional. Before making changes to your computer, be certain to have a current external backup of all files on your computer.

Follow the steps below to try Microsoft’s workaround for this issue:

Note: The steps below will affect all Office applications that utilize modern authentication tokens.

  • Close Outlook 2016 for Mac and all open Office applications.
  • Open Keychain Access by using one of the following methods:
    • With “Finder” as the selected application, click “Utilities” on the “Go” menu. Double-click “Keychain Access”
    • In “Spotlight Search,” type “Keychain Access” and then double-click “Keychain Access” in the search results.
  • In the search box of “Keychain Access,” type “Exchange”
  • In the search results box, select each item to view the Account that’s listed at the top, and then press the Delete key. Repeat this step to delete all the items for your Exchange account.
  • In the search box, enter “ADAL”
  • In the search results box, select all items whose type is “MicrosoftOffice15_2_Data:ADAL:<GUID>” and then press the Delete key.
  • In the search box, enter “OFFICE”
  • In the search results box, select the items that are named “Microsoft Office Identities Cache 2” and “Microsoft Office Identities Settings 2” and then press the Delete key.
  • Close Keychain Access.
  • Re-launch Outlook 2016 for Mac. You will be prompted to enter your login credentials

If all goes well, you will hopefully no longer receive the constant prompts to re-enter your login credentials.

Tech Tip: Office 2013 Support in Office 365 ProPlus Subscriptions To End On February 28th

Microsoft has announced the end of support for Office 2013 products that are currently available as part of Office 365 ProPlus subscriptions as of February 28, 2017. This means that after February 28th, you will no longer be able to download and install Office 2013 products currently available as part of an Office 365 ProPlus subscription nor receive product support from Microsoft for the same. To continue to receive product support, you must upgrade to the latest version of Office. In addition, you will only be able to download and install Office 2016 thru the subscription.

If you have an Office 365 ProPlus subscription and want to use Office 2013 products (without Microsoft product support) be sure to download and install Office 2013 before February 28th. This change only affects Office 365 ProPlus subscriptions. It does not affect Office 2013 Professional, Professional Plus or Standard.

For full details and to learn more about this change, visit https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/3199744/support-for-the-2013-versions-of-office-365-proplus-ends-february-28,-2017

2017 Tax Season Begins January 23rd

The 2017 tax season is set to begin on January 23rd. This is the date that the IRS will start accepting tax returns filed by paper or electronically. While the tax season can be a challenging time of year, there are some things that you can do to help streamline the process.

First, know your filing due dates. For most individuals, you must file your federal tax returns to the IRS by April 18th. For businesses, the filing due date depends on your tax classification. Partnership and S-Corporation returns must be filed by March 15th. C-Corporation returns must be filed by April 18th. Check with your individual state’s tax department for the filing deadlines for your state/local tax returns. Keep in mind that even if you file for an extension, you are still required to pay any tax payments due by the original filing due date. Be sure to file on-time! Do not wait until the last minute!

Second, have all your tax paperwork ready to go. Whether you prepare your own tax returns or have a certified Accountant or tax professional prepare them, get all your paperwork together. This includes your Form W-2(s) (if you had multiple employers you should have a 2016 Form W-2 from each employer), 1099-MISC(s) (if you worked as a freelancer or independent contractor and were paid non-employee compensation of $600 or more, you should have one for each company you worked for), 1099-INT(s) (if you earned any interest income on your bank accounts, you will receive a 1099-INT from each financial institution for interest earned in the amount of $10 or more – Note: You are still required to report interest income amounts under $10), 1099-G (if you itemized your taxes and took a deduction for your state & local taxes, you should receive a 1099-G or it may be available for download via your state’s tax department website), receipts for charitable donations (if you plan on taking deductions for qualified charitable donations, be sure to have copies of the qualifying donation receipts which should have been provided to you by the charitable organization) and so forth. Having all your paperwork ready goes a long way towards getting your tax returns prepared and having accurate records & backup for your filing.

Third, use tax preparation software if you are filing your own returns. With all the changes to the tax codes and the probability of making manual errors, tax preparation software can help to minimize manual errors and help you maximize on qualifying deductions. The caveat here is that tax preparation software may not be perfect so make sure you use reputable software and install all the applicable software updates. Carefully review all information. Keep in mind – Garbage In, Garbage Out. If you do not carefully follow the instructions while using the tax preparation software AND do not enter the correct information, your returns will not be accurate resulting in an overstated or understated refund or tax payment. Check your work then double and triple check it!

If your returns are “simple” tax preparation software is a fairly good way to go but you do need to understand what you are doing. If you have more complex returns or don’t have a good understanding of preparing your tax returns, consider having your returns prepared by a certified Accountant or tax professional. While it will cost you some money, it may be better off than filing an incorrect return and paying penalties down the road.

Fourth, e-file your returns and opt for direct deposit. If you use tax preparation software or have your returns prepared by a certified Accountant or tax professional, e-filing will be a must. For anyone who still prepares returns manually and files by paper, e-filing is the recommended method of filing returns and has been for many years so it may be time to make the switch. Once again, check your returns for accuracy & completeness before finalizing and e-filing your returns.

If you are entitled to a refund, direct deposit has been the recommendation for many years as refunds tend to be issued quicker than via traditional paper checks. Direct deposit also reduces the odds of a lost paper check. You will be able to check the status of your tax refund via the IRS website. For state & local tax refunds, check with your individual state’s tax department.

Fifth, after filing your returns, keep copies of the filed returns along with all your paperwork in a safe place. You may need to pull those records out again some day. The IRS states that you should keep copies of your returns for at least three (3) years. If you e-file your returns, be sure to keep copies of the e-file confirmations / transmittal receipts to show the returns were electronically filed (most tax preparation software will include notifications confirming the returns were successfully transmitted/received by the respective tax agencies). Be proactive and monitor to make sure those returns are filed. If your returns are prepared by a certified Accountant or tax professional, they should provide you with similar documentation to confirm the returns were filed.

These are just a few steps that you can take to help the tax season go smoothly. You can visit http://www.irs.gov/getready for more information on how to prepare for the tax season and if you still need help, consult with a certified Accountant or tax professional.

Experimenting with GarageBand: One Year Later

It’s been over a year since I started experimenting with Apple’s GarageBand, initially playing around with smart instruments using the auto-play control and eventually building up to creating, editing, arranging & producing full tracks in GarageBand using only smart instruments on auto-play and royalty-free Apple loops (both included with GarageBand).

While I don’t expect to win any awards for any of these tracks nor do I intend to be an award-winning composer by any degree, I will say that this has been a truly fun, rewarding & educational experience. I am extremely pleased with all the tracks that have been created & produced over the past year.

Jam Sessions Collection

The Jam Sessions collection is a “preview” of the kinds of tracks that can be created using GarageBand’s smart instruments on auto-play. When using the auto-play control in conjunction with smart instruments, you can access a series of preset chord progressions. The chord progressions will vary depending on your key/chord selections and the smart instruments you choose. How you edit, arrange, and utilize these smart instrument chord progressions in your own tracks is completely up to you and is only limited by your own creativity.

The Jam Sessions collection is not only a collection of “preview” tracks; it also serves as the building block for the forthcoming On The Road collection. Many of the chord progressions previewed in the Jam Sessions collection are incorporated into the On The Road collection.

Check out the Jam Sessions collection below:

Countdown, Discovery & Countdown Revisited

GarageBand also includes a library of royalty-free Apple loops which you can similarly use to create your own unique arrangement or get more sophisticated and throw in some smart instruments on auto-play.

Countdown & Discovery were the first two tracks I created, edited, arranged and produced in GarageBand using royalty-free Apple loops and smart instruments on auto-play. Countdown became one of my favorite tracks that I ended up revisiting the track and arranging a new version, Countdown Revisited.

Check out Countdown, Discovery & Countdown Revisited below:

Tech Tip: Office 365 / Exchange Online – RPC over HTTP to end on October 31, 2017

Microsoft has announced that RPC over HTTP will be deprecated on October 31, 2017 for Office 365 / Exchange Online. Simply put, Microsoft will no longer support connections to the Office 365 / Exchange Online platform via RPC over HTTP as of October 31, 2017. Instead, Microsoft will rely on the modern MAPI over HTTP.

If you are running Outlook 2007 for Windows to connect to Office 365 / Exchange Online, you will need to upgrade to a newer version of Outlook which supports MAPI over HTTP. The current version is Outlook 2016. Outlook 2007 does not support MAPI over HTTP and as such, starting October 31st, you will no longer be able to use it to connect to Office 365 / Exchange Online.

Microsoft also recommends that users running Outlook 2010, 2013 and 2016 install the latest updates for their respective Outlook applications to ensure support for MAPI over HTTP. This change only affects Outlook for Windows and does not affect Outlook for Mac, Outlook for iOS, Outlook for Android, Outlook for Windows Mobile or Outlook for Web.

For full details on this change, go to: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/3201590/rpc-over-http-deprecated-in-office-365-on-october-31,-2017

TIP: If you are unsure how this change may affect you or your company, consult with an IT professional or your company’s IT department.