Using your Mac with your iPhone hotspot? Be sure to turn on low data mode!

In the summer, I like to take my MacBook Pro with me and work outdoors. Doing that is entirely dependent upon my T-Mobile hotspot on my iPhone. I had my account maxed out at 16 GB of hotspot data per month, so imagine my surprise today when — one day into a new cycle — I got a notification text that my data had been used up!

I’m still not sure what exactly my Mac was doing, presumably some kind of background iCloud Drive backup, but I managed to use up an entire month’s allotment of bandwidth in extremely short order. I worked with T-Mobile support to get my account bumped up to the absolute maximum 20 GB, but there’s no certain explanation of what it was that used all of that data.

But along the way I discovered the Mac does let you configure “low data mode” specific to each network you connect to. If you find yourself needing to use a hotspot regularly, I would strongly recommend turning on low data mode for that network. To do that with the new Ventura System Settings app, go to WiFi, then under Known Networks click the icon for your hotspot, and chose Network Settings…

Now here’s where it gets interesting. I turned on the Low data mode toggle about five times and it kept, after a couple of seconds, shutting itself back off. Finally it “stuck.” Now we’ll see over the coming days if it actually makes a difference!

Caribou vs. Starbucks: The Gingerbread Latte Smackdown

OK, there wasn’t really a smackdown. But if you are an aficionado of the overpriced chain coffeehouses, you probably know that each year between Halloween and New Year’s Day they both offer a trio of “holiday” beverages. The names may vary, but for the last few years I believe they’ve both offered the same three options: an eggnog-flavored latte, a peppermint mocha, and a gingerbread-flavored latte.

Last year they actually both called their gingerbread latte the “Gingerbread Latte.” As I said to SLP (and I think she was somewhat surprised that I chose the analogy, though I think it is apt), it’s like they both wore the same dress to the party. This year they seem determined not to repeat the same mistake: Starbucks has renamed theirs the “Gingersnap Latte” and Caribou has dropped it altogether!

Well, I’m not happy about it! I generally prefer Caribou over Starbucks for three reasons: 1) they’re based in the Twin Cities, 2) I (somewhat pathetically, I suppose) enjoy the ego boost from correctly answering their daily trivia question, and most importantly 3) they have free wifi. I can’t believe Starbucks still charges for wifi, but I suppose ultimately it comes down to the simple fact that they can.

The only thing Starbucks had going for itself with me was that its coffee is marginally better (especially the Pike Place Roast), but all things considered it wasn’t enough to make a difference for me, especially since there are two Caribous closer to me than the nearest Starbucks, and one of them is a drive-thru.

But now in order to get my gingerbread latte fix I’ll have to head to Starbucks… and call it a “Gingersnap Latte,” no less. Drat!

What’s worse, I’ve had two “Gingersnap Lattes” so far this year. The first one had some chunks of… something… in the bottom. They looked almost like pieces of real ginger, but I find that hard to believe, and didn’t bother to investigate them too closely. And the second one tasted more to me like red Plax than gingerbread. Yum!