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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fixing your old computer the easy way and saving some coin, too!

My brother’s computer went blank yesterday. He e-mailed that the screen was broken.

When I got home I looked at the screen. No apparent physical damage, no distorted picture, just ….nothing.


To cut to the chase, I resolved the problem and saved him visiting a repair shop by simply removing the memory modules and then reseating them to ensure a firm physical and electrical connection. 

After doing so, the computer came back on and went through the cyber equivalent of “spectacles, testicles, watch and wallet, “ for several minutes before returning to normal operation.

I have had this happen to three different computers, where the On/Off cycling causes tiny metal parts to flex microscopically and work its way out of their sockets. 

Now for the details. You’ll need a appropriate sized screwdriver, some good sense, and a bit of patience. Oh, and wash your hands! 

Now lay the computer on a clean cotton towel to ensure small parts don’t roll away and get lost on the floor.


How I tested the computer

I tested the video output by plugging in a VGA monitor. I’m a full-on nerd, so I’ve got a couple of extra monitors. Nothing, though, came up. I pressed all the buttons on the side of this Samsung monitor and nothing, but nothing, came up! “It’s dead Jim” 

So the problem went beyond a problematic LCD screen. So I thought through my experiences from the past 30 years of working with computers. An old Windows 2000 computer sprang back to life when I moved its single 64 Mb memory chip to another socket 3 years ago. My own late 2011 Mac mini came back to life after I reseated the hard drive’s connections. So I figured it was worth a shot on my brother’s computer. 

Now to the details

First, read the manual. “When all else fails, read the instructions,” is an old part of the Murphy’s Laws. You want to advance past fumbling amateur to Grand Nerd Extraordinaire? Read the instructions first!

If you have access to another computer, open up the search engine, whether Google, Bing, Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo, and enter the following “service manual <name of your broken computer>” You can skip the quotation marks and arrows. In my case, I entered service manual Inspirion 6400 and up popped where to go for the Dell service manual.

It’s a PDF that I downloaded. So opening it up, I found the section for Memory Modules. I read that before doing anything. It kept referring to the first steps you should always take when fixing the computer. So like an intelligent person, as you are too, I read them. Unplug the computer, touch a metal surface to discharge any static electricity, and remove the battery. 

So I removed the Dell battery, which proved even easier than removing an Apple battery. Just push a latch to one side and pull up gently (!) on the battery to remove it. Set it aside and see if it displays signs of bulging or leaking. Those are not good and fortunately, I didn’t see them with this computer’s battery.

Now to open the memory module bay, you’ll need a teeny-weeny Phillips head screwdriver to unscrew the captive screws holding the bay’s cover in place. Go to Fry’s to get a computer repair kit if necessary. From earlier work on the Mac mini, I had the necessary screwdriver (thank you, Other World Computing!)

1 teeny weeny Phillips head screwdriver


Here is the teeny-weeny little Phillips head that I got from Other World Computing while doing a project.


2 computer repair kit at Frys

Here is a computer repair kit that I found at Fry’s. It costs about $24 and should cover 99% of situations you encounter. 

I unscrewed the captive screws and laid the plastic cover aside.

One side piece of advice, use an old cotton towel on your desktop if you have small screws to keep them from rolling on to the floor.

Now for the money shot!

I looked at the memory chips or modules. Nothing unusual about them. I read the instructions again, which said to GENTLY use your fingers to spread the clips holding the module(s) in place and pull out the module. Oh, and make sure to discharge any static electricity by touching a metal object first!

I looked at the memory module. Hmm, nothing special, just a stock DDR2 memory module. No signs of corrosion or damage. So I reinserted the module into its socket GENTLY and made sure of a firm physical fit. 

3 DDR2 memory module at Frys


I reattached the memory bay cover, reinstalled the battery, flipped the computer over, and turned it on. Voila! The Windows 10 boot up sequence began. As I wrote before, Windows goes through a self-diagnostic procedure if it detects something drastic happened. Soon the desktop appeared with my brother’s user name. He sat down and logged in. 

He was ecstatic! He didn’t need a new computer, he didn’t need to track down a computer repair shop on Saturday, and he could get back to work.

As my reward, he fixed me dinner. Yum!

And that’s all there was to it. 


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog





Sunday, August 6, 2017

Xnconvert solves the problem of converting old graphics files to new formats

I needed to convert several old graphics files in MacPaint and PC Paintbrush format. I needed to do this with macOS, Ubuntu Linux, and Windows.

I bumbled around looking for solutions. I figured out awkward workarounds in each case, but I believed someone must have arrived at a better solution.

Someone has, and that solution is the graphics batch converter Xnconvert. It easily converted my old files into the contemporary Windows .bmp format, which has been around since at least 1992 in Windows 3.1.

This product reads 500 different formats (!) including some even rarer than MacPaint, such as Atari ST’s Neochrome. It writes to 70 different formats.

The developer asks for a donation to help defray costs. He wants $6.48. Perfectly reasonable and I paid it as quick as I could.

Xnconvert has versions for Windows, macOS, and various distros of Linux. I got it up and working on macOS and Ubuntu Linux quickly and easily. It converted the old files quickly and easily. It displays the progress of each conversion and its success or failure.

I wholeheartedly recommend this product to anyone faced with converting old graphics files in a plethora of formats into a common contemporary format usable across Windows, macOS, and Linux.


1 Input for Xnconvert

This shows the input. I’ve selected the folders that I want to convert. You can convert nested folders. 

2 conversion process is fast


This shows the speed of the conversion process

3 output folder settings



This shows the output settings, where you select the output folder and format.

Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Wrap-up for Tuesday 8-1-2017

Apple’s Silence in China Sets a Dangerous Precedent
A year ago, Tim Cook (CEO of Apple) decided to fight the FBI demand to make a hackable version of the software that runs all iPhones so they could get inside a dead terrorist’s iPhone.
The fight paid off. On the eve of a courtroom showdown, the F.B.I. rescinded its request. It is worth underlining this point: When Apple took a public stand for its users’ liberty and privacy, the American government blinked.

Yet in China, when faced with a broad demand by the Chinese internet authority, it was Apple that blinked.
Apple pulled down several VPN apps — programs that allow iPhone users to bypass the Chinese government’s censorship apparatus — from its Chinese App Store.
Apple’s silence may be tactical; the Chinese government, the conventional thinking goes, does not take well to public rebuke. Yet Apple’s quiet capitulation to tightening censorship in one of its largest markets is still a dangerous precedent.

“Apple’s response is tremendously disappointing,” said Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation
So what was Apple supposed to do? Jeopardize its operations over a few apps?
Rather than play out these scenarios, other tech companies such as Google have opted to withdraw from China altogether. Some of Apple’s critics have suggested that by not doing the same, it not only loses the moral high ground but also sets a precedent that other governments, including the United States, will seek to exploit.
It’s too soon to say what Apple’s decision on VPNs will mean for the future of its business in China, or for its policy battles elsewhere. But China appears more committed than ever to clamping down on freedom of information, and as long as it remains a growing market, foreign companies will have to grapple with those policies.
I mocked the Apple Pencil. Now my iPad productivity depends on it
I am a professional engineer, not an artist, and I struggle to draw stick people. I was hesitant to purchase an Apple Pencil because I couldn't see how I would use it.
There is much more you can do with an Apple Pencil than draw pictures, create cartoons, and develop electronic masterpieces. One of the first things for those of us with no artistic bent, is to start taking handwritten notes.
Color Splash and Affinity Photo are two of my favorite apps for editing images. Without the Apple Pencil, you could never achieve the same results in these apps thanks to the fine selections you can make with the Pencil tip.
The Apple Pencil is a very useful instrument, for both artists and those of us that cannot draw well.
Concepts, a digital design sketchbook app for iPad Pro, released a new update that focuses on the Apple Pencil
After nearly 16 years on the market, more than 400 million units sold, and one Cupertino company launched into the stratosphere on its back, Apple quietly pulled the iPod Nano and Shuffle out of its virtual stores.
Why the death of the iPod nano is also the end of a gadget era
Apple has killed off the iPod nano and the iPod shuffle, the remaining music players in its lineup that were solely dedicated to playing music.
Devices dedicated to one thing are so every-decade-before-this-one.
So the iPod touch is now the standard-bearer for the iPod name — an iPhone in every respect except for its lack of a cellular connection.
iPhones take better pictures, says former Google exec
Former Google executive Vic Gundotra said "I would never use an Android phone for photos!”
The problem, he said, was Android.  When Samsung puts an improved camera in their latest smart phone, Google is slow to update its Android OS to take full advantage.
When Apple puts an improved camera into its latest iPhone, Apple updates iOS to use the camera from day one.
I play the security odds in Las Vegas by rolling the Wi-Fi dice
Who hacks the hackers? An inside look at hunting for insecure connections at the largest cybersecurity gathering in the world.
It's worse than the Wall of Shame. It's the Wall of Sheep. 

If your device gets hacked, you end up on the Wall of Sheep.
Being called a sheep means you didn't take enough care or simply didn't see a hack coming. 

Thankfully, the hackers aren't after your identity or your money or anything else that could do you real harm. But they don't mind publicly shaming you into being more thoughtful about your security.
To avoid getting hacked, I followed the digital hygiene regimen that experts advise. For example, if I want to go online, I use a wired connection. If I must go wireless, I use a cell connection through my phone or a hotspot. 

When I'm surfing the web, experts say I should use a virtual private network, which routes all your information through secure computers. It's also good to use multi-factor authentication, meaning I get sent a password by text or a special code in an app to be able to log in.
Alex Goldman, co-host of the Reply All podcast, allowed somebody he knew to be a scammer take remote control of his computer. Of course, he did it for a story for the podcast, which is available to download.
The scammer in question was running a grift that tried convincing people their iCloud accounts had been hacked, and the only solution was to pay $400 in tech support. But he didn’t know any of that yet. He only knew that he had received a robocall from a random 800 number and wanted to find out who was behind that particular scam.
Audio of interview with scammer.

iCloud Keychain encryption bug exposes iOS passwords, credit card numbers
A largely unreported iOS security flaw undermined iCloud's end-to-end encryption capability, and could have allowed attackers to steal passwords, credit cards, and any other information on file, according to security firm Longterm Security.

"The bug we found is exactly the kind of bug law enforcement or intelligence would look for in an end-to-end encryption system,” Alex Radocea told ZDNet.
The flaw was addressed in the iOS 10.3 update—demonstrating again why it's important to stay on top of updating your device.
Did you get a robocall about that iCloud account you don’t have? Here’s what to do

DON’T call them back.
DON’T trust what caller ID says.  Scammers know how to fool caller ID.
DO hang up the phone when you hear a recorded message.
DO report your experience to the
Backups vs. iCloud vs. Time Machine – Mac Geek Gab 668
New TSA rules force iPad, Kindle, Nintendo Switch into X-ray bins
The Transportation Security Administration said it's boosting security measures by requiring any carry-on electronic larger than a cellphone to be screened separately at U.S. airports.
The new rules apply only to "standard" screening lanes and not TSA pre-check fliers.
How to print from your iPhone or iPad using Bluetooth
Many of us wouldn’t even consider printing from our iPhone or iPad, but it is surprisingly easy.

This article provides step-by-step instructions.
iPad Pro 10.5 Review: Is Apple's Goldilocks Tablet The Best Yet?
Slide Show:
How I ditched my laptop for an iPad Pro
My iPad Pro is lighter weight and easier to carry than a MacBook Pro.
Editing photos on an iPad is wonderful.
The iPad is not a laptop computer. Don’t try to make it one.
I didn't miss my laptop at all.
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch Review
Gboard for iOS now supports Maps and YouTube
Google has released the latest update for Gboard on iOS, which brings Maps and YouTube to the keyboard.
These features are currently exclusive to the iOS version of Gboard, continuing Google’s streak of making independent features for each platform (and giving iOS the good features first).
Users are biggest impediment to Apple iOS security
"Educating people is more effective than any security software you can purchase,” Erik Lightbody said. "If people know what they're doing, they won't do things they shouldn't be doing."
Windows 10: Five reasons to avoid Microsoft's flagship OS
1.  Uncertainty over support for older PCs
2.  Removal of your favorite features
3.  Windows 10 tries to railroad you into using other M$ products
4.  There's no need to use Windows — this article recommends Linux
5.  Better to stick with what you know — Windows 7 is good enough for most people.
DON’T watch the video.  It’s a waste of time.
MacBook vs. MacBook Pro:  How to Pick
Even after three weeks with these computers, I find choosing between the two of them to be difficult.
Reviewed: A used, year-old MacBook Pro from Apple's Refurbished Mac store that saved me $450
Apple MacBook Pro 13-Inch (2017)
This Is the MacBook You're Looking For
Top 10 best workstations of 2017
Apple’s Mac Pro is in fourth place, according to this article.
Nine things you didn’t know your Apple Watch could do
Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know your Apple Watch could do.

1.  Unlock your car doors
2.  Measure your lover’s heart beat
3.  Act as a TV remote
Just to name a few.

Cardiogram, a startup working on algorithms to make the Apple Watch’s heart rate data clinically actionable, is launching two new features for the Apple Watch that aim to help people stay more active this summer: Leaderboards and Workout Zones.

Leaderboards is geared toward those who want to inject some friendly competition into their active lifestyles.
Workout Zones allows users to track the intensity of their workouts.
“Perverse” malware infecting hundreds of Macs remained undetected for years
A mysterious piece of malware that gives attackers surreptitious control over webcams, keyboards, and other sensitive resources has been infecting Macs for at least five years. The infections—known to number nearly 400 and possibly much higher—remained undetected until recently and may have been active for almost a decade.
Google’s New Parental Control App Has a Flaw: Puberty
At the age of 13, a child can choose to “graduate,” as Google calls it, or lift restrictions, getting the keys to the internet kingdom and all the good and bad things that come with it.
… Google’s decision to let children remove the restrictions the instant they become teenagers.
“The fact that the kid can graduate themselves is just preposterous,” said Jesse Weinberger, an internet safety speaker who gives presentations to parents, schools and law enforcement officials. “It takes the power out of the parents’ hands, which is a big no-no.”
Low-Cost Micro Satellites Are Spawning A Global Surveillance Arms Race
Google has received vast criticism for its Google Earth, Google Maps and Google Streetview systems that have essentially removed the inherent right to privacy and transferred it to the whim of corporate terms and conditions. However, this pales in comparison to what has been launched by the world’s largest defense contractors as well as newer providers of commercial space imagery.
Next-generation global imaging satellites such as Lockheed Martin’s WorldView-4 was spawned from a partnership with commercial space imagery vendor, DigitalGlobe. The largest customer of DigitalGlobe is the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, also known as GEOINT.

The incredible scope and applications of GEOINT is laid out on the .mil website’s About page but their image collection from DigitalGlobe can best be described as … penetrating…
“ intelligence professionals were better able to exploit and analyze imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess and visually depict physical features and human activity on the Earth. Today, NGA continues to deliver these vital intelligence products in responding to, and anticipating, our nation’s most critical national security challenges.”
How would one know where to launch specific surveillance? Well, of course the solution is to have pervasive surveillance that blankets the planet and stores all of the images for later retrieval.
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency web site
From a speech by Robert Cardillo, Director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency:
With help from the Gates Foundation, Oak Ridge created a map of Nigeria based on satellite imagery and more than 2,000 on-the-ground neighborhood surveys. Through this partnership, they identified settlements that didn’t exist just a few years ago. So, when Nigeria distributes the measles vaccine next year, they’ll save a billion dollars and countless lives because they won’t use flawed, 10-year-old census data. And it’s all thanks to the unique combination of imagery, automation, human geography and mapping technologies – and most importantly – strong partnerships.
NGA helped track down al Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Beginner's Corner and how to customize your Mac in small ways

I should like to begin to paying tribute to those who have really souped up their Mac’s desktops. Go to a periodic feature on the Lifehacker Web site, which shows you fancy desktops from the Mac, Windows and Linux communities. You will think “Wow!"

Today, though, I will show you some simpler customizations that don’t require typing in arcane lines of code. You just have to know where to go on your Mac to do these. 


I’ll start with a plain vanilla macOS 10.12.6 desktop. I achieved this by just setting up a new user Bugs Bunny

1 Brand new desktop


Note that it comes with a Menu Bar at the top, a Dock at the bottom, one of the stock Sierra wallpapers, and two icons for external hard drives. They are my Time Machine drive indicated by the green drive and an external drive I call Backup for stashing old files. If you create a new user or install a new instance of Sierra, this is what you get.

My goal in this is to pare it down to a minimal desktop with no Menubar, no Dock, no desktop icons, and a one-color wallpaper. More of a paint job.


Remove the Hard Drives

You start by removing the hard drive icons on the desktop. To do this, you go to the Finder’s preferences, not the System preferences!


2 The Finder s General Preferences


Under the Finder’s preferences, you will see four buttons for General, Tags, Sidebar, and Advanced. You want the General preferences.

You see four check boxes for show these items on the desktop. 

Uncheck the boxes for External disks and CDs, DVDs, and iPods. They immediately go away from your desktop. 


4 no more external hard drives displayed

That completes Step #1. 

I will return to General Preferences later to show how to customize your Finder in a later article.


Remove the Menubar

To remove the Menubar from the top, you will go to the System Preferences. 

You access the System Preferences from either the gear icon in the Dock or from the drop-down menu under the silouhette of an apple (Apple’s corporate trademark) in the upper left-hand corner of the desktop.

14 Where to find the System PReferences on the desktop



You want the General Preferences in the top row on the left-hand side. 

4 General Preferences highlighted

Click on the General preferences to open them.

5 Contents of General Preferences

As you see, the General preferences covers several areas, including Appearance at the top. That’s where I want your attention. That second checkbox down? Check that to make the Menubar automatically hide when not in use. When you move your pointer into the top, it will reappear.

Menubar is missing 7 30 2017

The Menubar is gone! Well, it reappear if you move your pointer into the top area.


Making the Dock disappear, if only temporarily

To make the Dock disappear, too, you return to the General Preferences and click on the Dock preference

6 Dock preference highlighted

Click on the Dock preference to open it up

7 the Dock Preferences shown in detail


I have highlighted two areas to show you. The Position on Screen gives you a choice between putting the Dock at the bottom or on the left side or right side. You might want to put the dock on the side and have it pop out as needed to squeeze the maximum space on your screen.

The Dock Preference also shows options that I won’t go into right now. 

With both Menubar and Dock gone from your screen, you are close to a minimalist screen!

18 MInimalist desktop


How to change your desktop wallpaper to a minimalist design

To achieve full minimalism, you want to switch to a solid color desktop. To do that, you go to your System Preferences again. In a moment, though, I’ll show you a shortcut.

Go back to the System Preference through the Apple Menu or the System Preferences gear icon in your Dock. 

If you don’t see your Menubar or your Dock, move your pointer up to the top left-hand corner or the bottom of the screen. They will pop back for you.

In the System Preferences, you want the Desktop & Screensaver Preferences. It’s between the General preference and the Dock preference.

8 Desktop and Screensaver Preference


When you open the Desktop & Screen Saver preference, you will see the beautiful pictures that Apple prepared for you.

9 Desktop  Screensaver preference


I went into much more detail in an earlier article, but I’ll explain briefly. The Julia fractal referred to came from my own collection, which I put into a folder called Fracture fractals.

The Desktop Pictures you see displayed come from Apple’s own collection. Just below the Desktop Pictures folder appear the Solid Colors folder. 

10 The Solid Color selection




Pick a color and you have achieved minimalism!


20 Completely blank desktop with solid color desktop


Just move your desktop’s pointer icon to the top to temporarily bring back the Menubar and to whichever side you moved the Dock to bring it back.

Now for the Desktop & Screensaver shortcut I promised you earlier. It’s the same as the one for Windows, right-click on an open spot on the desktop. You can read all about customizing your wallpaper, and where to find almost anything you want for it, at my article here


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog
















Monday, July 24, 2017

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Wrap-up for Sunday 7-22-2017

You Should Update Your Apple Devices Immediately to Fix a Major Security Flaw
Apple has released a new software update for iOS and MacOS. For users of iPhones, iPads and Mac computers, downloading the patch is critical to avoiding a potential hacking.
The update fixes a key vulnerability referred to as Broadpwn.
Buried deep in Apple’s official iOS 10.3.3 security notes is something startling: iPhones have been vulnerable to hackers taking complete control of them simply via WiFi. The hack, dubbed ‘Broadpwn’
Some older iPhones aren’t protected from Broadpwn (at least not yet) because iOS 10.3.3 doesn’t work with them.
The billion-dollar palaces of Apple, Facebook and Google
There is the Foster project, Apple Park in Cupertino, 2.8m sq ft in size and reportedly costing $5bn, at its centre a mile in circumference, visible from space, a metal and glass circle that is now nearly complete. There are the planned Google headquarters in Mountain View and London by the high-ego, high-reputation pairing of Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick. Facebook has hired the New York office of OMA, the practice founded by Rem Koolhaas, to add to the Frank Gehry-designed complex in Menlo Park that was completed in 2015.
Apple Park looks like the sort of splendid monument that empires build for themselves.
If Apple Park seems aloof and extraterrestrial – despite the fact that quite a lot of its landscape is open to the public – then Facebook and Google want you to know how much, like street jugglers or mime artists, they want to engage you. But there are also similarities between all these projects, such as the all-embracing nature of their ambitions. Each campus is a self-contained universe where everything – the species of vegetation, the graphics, the food in the cafe, the programming of events, the architecture, is determined by the management.
How the iPhone Was Born: Inside Stories of Missteps and Triumphs
‘Baby Driver’ Stirs Nostalgia for iPods
macOS 10.12.6 update rolling out on the Mac App Store
Apple has released the final version of the latest macOS 10.12.6 software update. Mac users running macOS Sierra can find the update through the Mac App Store.

macOS 10.12.6 will likely be the last version of macOS Sierra before Apple ships macOS High Sierra later this fall. macOS 10.13 is currently available in both developer and public beta versions for testing.
Apple releases iOS 10.3.3 update for iPhone and iPad
Apple has released the iOS 10.3.3 software update for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The update focuses on bug fixes and performance improvements for all devices running iOS 10.
Bug fixes abound in macOS Sierra 10.12.6, iOS 10.3.3, and watchOS 3.2.3 updates
Apple released a slew of software updates for nearly all of its systems; you can now download macOS Sierra 10.12.6, iOS 10.3.3, watchOS 3.2.3, and tvOS 10.2.2 to any of your compatible devices.
Apple's App Store Turns 9 With Big Changes on the Horizon
Apple's big cash cow — OK, one of them — is celebrating its ninth birthday. 

The world got its first look at Apple's App Store on July 10, 2008. Since then, it's generated an estimated $100 billion in revenues, of which about $70 billion has been paid out to developers and $30 billion has gone to Apple.
Apple bans VPN-based adblockers from App Store
It's the end of the line for VPN-based adblockers that target ads in third-party apps (although, according to Apple, these apps were always on shaky ground).
The developer behind the popular adblock apps Adblock and Weblock is now finding that Apple is rejecting app updates because they violate the App Store Developer Guidelines.
Apple has been quick to point out though that contrary to earlier reports, is not a change in policy, but instead just a case of Apple enforcing existing policies.
Sarahah Is the Summer’s Smash-Hit App, But it May Not Last
Sarahah pitches itself as a social network that lets users receive anonymous messages. “Sarahah” is the Arabic word for candor or openness.
Despite its optimistic premise, users already report that the app has become a breeding ground for cyberbullying and hate speech.

If history is any lesson, that suggests Sarahah’s meteoric rise may prove unsustainable. Anonymous messaging platforms like Yik Yak, Whisper, and Secret have consistently struggled to control malicious behavior, leading to declining use and, for Yik Yak and Secret, ignominious closure.
Wacom's New Bamboo Sketch is the Perfect Stylus for iPhones and Non-Pro iPads
It isn't a better option than the Apple Pencil for iPad Pro users, but for the iPhone and other iPad models, it's worth checking out.
For iPad Pro owners, the Apple Pencil is the best stylus on the market and it's not really worth considering any alternatives, including the Bamboo Sketch. There's no comparison, especially with iOS 11 improvements that allow the Apple Pencil to be used system-wide. 

If you have the money to spend on a high-end stylus and have an iPad Pro, buy the Apple Pencil. If you don't have an iPad Pro and need a stylus that offers enough precision for note taking and fine sketching, the Bamboo Sketch is a great option.
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-Inch Review: The Ecosystem That you Always Needed
With the smart keyboard and an Apple Pencil, the iPad Pro delivers on an ecosystem like no other. For starters, the Pencil delivers on precision touches and helps in making quick notes and even keynote presentations. For professional graphic designers, the Pencil will deliver on even the minutest of detailing jobs.
7 signs your design style is out of date
1. You think serifs are a thing of the past
2. Your flat design is falling flat
3. Your templates are looking like… templates
Just to name a few.
How to: turn your iPhone into a document scanner, and when you shouldn’t
Closing unused apps on your iPhone won't improve its battery life.
iPhones are very expensive but 'a safe bet,' says Woz
I always thought Apple products were supposed to be exciting, revolutionary even. The mere thought that the iPhone represents merely a safe bet borders on the depressing.

People used to buy iPhones so that they could show them off, not think of them as Linus does a blanket. 
This best-selling productivity app could change the way you take notes
Notability was voted the best note-taking app for Apple's iPad.
It’s like Google Docs, but on steroids. You can create your own sketches, use your own handwriting, and also import PDFs, photos, and website screengrabs. Once you've imported them, you can write and draw directly on them.
Notability for iPad and iPhone costs $9.99
How to Import Videos from an iPhone to a Mac
A simple five-step procedure.
iPad Pro 10.5 Review
When you take that stunning display, good battery life, the accurate Pencil and the huge number of apps available on the App Store, the iPad Pro 10.5-inch is an exciting proposition. But it’s one that won’t feel completely ready until iOS 11 hits.
The 5 Best Apps for Sketching on an iPad Pro
Even with its stunning display and intuitive Pencil stylus, you won't be able to get much out of it without finding the right drawing apps.
These five apps are the best to get you started
Photoshop Sketch
Inspire Pro
The Easiest Ways To Get Around On Your iPad
AW comment:
This article should have been called “5 Useful Hints for Your iPad”.
They’re good hints.
Using an iPad Pro as Part of a Photography Workflow
This review from Tony and Chelsea Northrup should give you a good idea of the viability of such a workflow and help you decide if now is the right time to add a dedicated tablet.
Google's Brilliant iPhone App Sucks On Android
Google’s simple yet impressive iOS app, Motion Stills, is finally available for Android users, but it’s a very different beast from the original version.
Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro (2017) review
The 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro is still expensive, but it's undoubtedly better value for money than last year's model.
Some Apple Watch Models Requiring Repair Can Be Replaced With Apple Watch Series 1 Models
So if you’re eligible and your Apple Watch needs a repair, go to your nearest store and check out if you’re up for a replacement.
Jay Blahnik on what separates Apple Watch from other fitness trackers
It's been a rough year for wrist-worn wearable activity trackers. What was once a vibrant and competitive field is now a graveyard of failed devices like the Pebble, the Basis Band, the Nike FuelBand, and many more.
Getting people to change their behavior is hard. A third of wearables users stopped using their device after six months.
Jay Blahnik, Apple's director of fitness and health, spoke about the company's design philosophy. He said the Apple Watch takes a distinct approach from other wearables.
iBooks Author vs Fake News: the fight we deserve
What news is NOT considered “fake” by anyone? News that has clear, corroborating photo, audio, or video evidence.
When the mainstream media says you did something these days, maybe you did it, or maybe you didn’t.

But when multi-media says you did something, guess what? There’s no dispute.

So when Apple CEO Tim Cook says we need to fight back against fake news, he appears to forget that Apple itself has created what ought to be one of the finest weapons against it.
The author has written many times before about the power and uniqueness that Apple’s free digital publishing software brings to anyone with a story to tell.
iBooks Author represents the evolution of storytelling for which society is longing.  And yet, Apple doesn’t promote it.
More people using software like iBooks Author means one step closer to unity, between political sides, on things that are actually true.  One step closer to retiring the term “fake news” and re-defining what it means to report information to a ever-skeptical public.  One step closer to a new definition of “book” to be carefully and thoughtfully-written text, surrounded and defined by corroborating multi-media of all types.
How to: turn your iPhone or iPad into the ultimate book reading tool
Straight out of the box, Apple's iPad is a decent reading tool — but it could be far better.
But there are some non-Apple apps that can make it a much better reading tool.
3 tricks Steve Jobs used that will help you give better presentations
How did the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs manage to get people to treat his keynote speeches like rock concerts?
Three key factors: powerful storytelling, an emotional connection and obsessive preparation.
Ditch the PowerPoint, and tell a story.
     Although presentation slides are
     is still critical, don’t treat them
     like tele-prompters that you
     read directly from.
Connect with your audience emotionally.
Rehearse twice as much as you think you need to.
How Steve Jobs Misled a Room Full of Tech Media and Changed the World
During his very first iPhone presentation at MacWorld in 2007,
Apple didn’t have a fully functional iPhone, and couldn’t get
one in time for MacWorld.
This article tells the story of how his team of experts
improvised a few partially working iPhones just barely
well enough for him to do the presentation.
Media Praise for Initial Coin Offerings Is Dangerous
It's bad enough that some investors view initial coin offerings (ICOs) as a digital get-rich-quick strategy.

But it's irresponsible for the Wall Street Journal to encourage this idea.
On July 7, WSJ ran a story on its website with the headline, "Forget an IPO, Coin Offerings Are New Road to Startup Riches.”
Bitcoin was developed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis as an alternative to fiat currencies and a rigged financial system.

So Bitcoin's value derives from how well it ultimately fulfills that role.
But ICOs are very much tied to the companies that create them. If the startup fails, so will the cryptocurrency.
ICOs Are the Wild West of Startup Investing
Ethereum co-founder warns ICOs are ‘a ticking time-bomb’
Initial coin offerings (ICO) are the hot new way to raise money fast — so hot, in fact, that the co-founder of the ethereum network thinks the system needs to cool off before it implodes.
Opinion: Stay away from bitcoin and ethereum — they are complete garbage

Bitcoin is pure speculation.
I have a pretty good idea how many potatoes I can buy with my dollars next week. Bitcoins? Good luck with that.
Bitcoin and three other investments that look like classic bubbles but actually aren’t
Bottom line, Jeff Kleintop says that there doesn’t seem to be any classic bubbles forming among the ones most commonly referred to as potential candidates. “But remember that bubbles are sometimes only seen in hindsight,” he said, “which is why we always counsel diversification.”
Why bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies could plunge 75% -- and still be in a bull market
According to buy-side analyst Chris Burniske, bitcoin BTCUSD, +1.14%  and the rest of crypto market could plunge 75% from these levels and still be in a bull market.
AW Comment:  A very odd way to interpret the graph of Bitcoin price vs. time.
When Bitcoin Exchanges Get Hacked, Don't Blame Bitcoin
When a Bitcoin exchange is hacked, many in the mainstream financial media assume the hack resulted from a flaw in the cryptocurrency itself. So that's the story that gets out. And the Bitcoin price falls.

Yet the Bitcoin protocol has never been hacked.

The hackers aren't attacking Bitcoin itself, but exploiting weaknesses in the security of the Bitcoin exchanges. Unfortunately, this happens with alarming frequency…

According to a report commissioned last year by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, one-third of all Bitcoin exchanges were hacked between 2010 and 2015.
The frequency of Bitcoin exchange attacks is concerning, but should not be misinterpreted as a reason to dismiss Bitcoin.

That would be like giving up on the U.S. dollar because a bank was robbed. If criminals successfully rob a bank, the problem is with the bank's security, not with the money stored in the building.
"Bitcoin itself, and most of the other cryptocurrencies, have never been hacked or even really had any downtime”  said Chris Wilmer, founder of the blockchain-focused academic journal Ledger.
Credit and debit cards are not much better. In recent years, these older forms of "digital money" have become relatively easy prey for hackers.

Credit card breaches at retailers are almost routine now. There was Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) in 2013 and Home Depot (NYSE: HD) in 2014. There was Neiman Marcus and Wendy's Co. (Nasdaq: WEN) in 2016. And this year Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG), Arby's Restaurant Group, and Kmart Corp. were hit.
How to Protect Your Bitcoin from Hackers:
Bitcoin owners have several ways to store their digital currency that don't involve Bitcoin exchanges.
AW Comment:
   BitCoin has become so popular that
   it’s beginning to have trouble serving
   the needs of all its users.
   The “BitCoin Community” is arguing on
   how to change BitCoin to be able
   to serve billions more users.
   That community uses the phrase
   “Scale Up”, which comes from the
   dot-com world of companies rapidly
   growing from small to large.
END Comment.
Bitcoin's internal debate over how best to scale the cryptocurrency is coming up on a deadline in two weeks that will either resolve the issue or tear the community in half…
Nearly everyone in the Bitcoin community agrees some sort of scaling solution is needed. But they vehemently disagree on which path is the right one. And the growing uncertainty over how that debate gets resolved has put increasing pressure on the Bitcoin price.
It's possible the two warring sides will each try to implement their favored solution. That would create two incompatible versions of Bitcoin, something called a "hard fork."

Two competing versions of Bitcoin would cause havoc on the Bitcoin markets and almost surely cause a steep drop in the price of both versions.
The good news is that, if a compromise called “SegWit2x" resolves the Bitcoin civil war, the Bitcoin price will soar.
Move over Bitcoin, the blockchain is only just getting started
Bitcoin isn’t just reinventing money, it's the underlying platform being used to build a huge and versatile trust network
The blockchain is a decentralised electronic ledger with duplicate copies on thousands of computers around the world. It cannot be altered retrospectively, allowing asset ownership and transfer to be recorded without external verification.

Investors have now realised the blockchain is bigger than Bitcoin.
Tech can help us do many things — losing weight is NOT one of them
Quantifying everything [with a fitness tracker] proved one undeniable fact: Once your body adjusts your metabolic rate to your daily routine, you are in for an impossibly difficult struggle with your own DNA. We are hard-wired to store energy under a wide variety of conditions. One doctor told me, “It’s like fighting gravity.” I’m there now. And I can tell you from firsthand experience, fitness trackers have no place in this battle.
10,000 steps per day is good for you. It offers some health benefits to all but the most physically fit. But the devil is in the details. There is a huge difference between casually walking 10,000 steps and purposefully walking 10,000 steps. If you want to get measurable health, lifestyle, and fitness benefits out of walking, you need to purposefully walk, not saunter.

Purposeful walking means walking about as fast as you can.
Author’s Note: This article is about consumer-grade fitness trackers. Purpose-built sports trackers and specialized training tools are clearly useful and yield extraordinary results.
A programmer figured out how to automate his job and work 2 hours a week -- but he's not sure it's ethical
An anonymous programmer said he was starting to feel guilty about how he quietly turned his whole job into less than two hours of work a week by writing a bunch of scripts.
One programmer best summarized the Hacker News's point of view:
"The only thing he is doing wrong is under-utilizing his own talents and potential productivity, for which the optimal solution is for him to find a better job."
A famous techie created an $88 device that will let you 'hack' your car so that it can do new things
Called Panda, the device sells for $88 and can plug into a vehicle's OBDII port to access data typically only available to vehicle manufacturers. George Hotz also released a software tool called Cabana that will allow car enthusiasts to reverse engineer their cars using the data compiled by Panda.

Why would you want to do that?

The idea is to let people "hack" their cars the same way they can tinker with and customize a computer.
A male engineer explains why so many men in Silicon Valley behave so badly toward women
The big money Silicon Valley often throws at young engineers who are right out of college stimulates this "frat house" mentality.

"It's like, here you go, you're 21 years old, here's a $100,000 signing bonus," said the engineer. "Then they think they are hot sh-t. They think, 'Now people are going to respect me. Now women, who may have ignored me, they are going to respect me."

And with that, a sense of entitlement can be born.
A Gamer Channel’s Mission: Send the Trolls Packing
Every week without fail, some viewers of Misscliks, a channel on the video game streaming platform Twitch, pipe up with sexist or misogynistic comments.
What sets Misscliks apart is its response to such behavior. Whenever a sexist remark pops up, the Misscliks community quickly jumps in to explain that the channel’s mission is to be a diverse space where underrepresented gamers can feel safe from harassment and bullying. Commenters who persist are given timeouts, or sometimes banned outright.

“Misscliks is an example of a space grown from the ground up to model a different and less toxic environment,” said Naomi Clark..
Misscliks was founded in 2013 by four women in the video game and e-sports industries.
There's a reason you should be terrified of iris scanners and iPhone facial recognition – but it's not the reason you think

Experts have said that iris scanning is a far more secure form of biometric authentication than, say, voice recognition, fingerprints.
But a German hacking collective called the Chaos Computer Club fooled Samsung’s iris scanner.
The simplest way to grasp the risks associated with biometrics is by understanding that passwords are secrets and body parts are not.
Technology and hackers are engaged in a global game of cat and mouse.
iCloud security flaw put iPhone, Mac passwords at risk
The security researcher said the bug could've gained access to an entire account's iCloud Keychain.
Alex Radocea said the flaw could have let an attacker punch a hole in the end-to-end encryption that Apple uses to ensure nobody can read data as it is sent across the internet.
It's all because of a flaw in how iCloud Keychain verified device keys, which Radocea was able to bypass.
No one still thinks iOS is invulnerable to malware, right? Well, knock it off
As platform's popularity rose, so did its allure to miscreants
Malicious mobile apps in Apple's App Store are mercifully rare compared to the comparative "Wild West" of the Google Play store. However, hackers have found other ways to get malware installed.
The number of iOS vulnerabilities patched in the first quarter of 2017 is already greater than the total number of iOS vulnerabilities discovered in all of 2016. Fortunately, Apple is still very fast at patching the OS and distributing updates.
Interesting discussion on PETYA virus damage
Residents of these states are most vulnerable to identity theft
The top five states all had more than 550 complaints about identity fraud per 100,000 residents, and Florida topped the list with 1,510.
Twitter continues court battle against U.S. government over surveillance
Twitter has been publishing transparency reports since 2012 on both the governmental and nongovernmental requests its receives to remove content or disclose information about an account, among other requests. In the reports, Twitter can only use broad number ranges related to national security requests, which is an administrative subpoena from the government, and FISA warrant, which are surveillance warrants granted under the United State Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The government has argued that technology companies need to use broad number ranges because releasing data on the number of requests “would impair national security interests and is properly classified.” 

However, the judge found that the government has not yet proved that the disclosure would be a “grave and serious threat of damage to national security,” and allowed the case to move forward.
Changes to iCloud Put Apple on Collision Course With Governments Seeking Access to Encrypted Messages
Apple has sent its top privacy executives to Australia twice in the past month to lobby government officials over proposed new laws that would require companies to provide access to encrypted messages.
China’s censors have a new power — erasing images in chat before they arrive
Displays of this new image-filtering capability kicked into high gear as Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo lay dying from liver cancer and politically minded Chinese tried to pay tribute to him, according to activists and a new research report.
When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Share Your Location Using a Smartphone
All the popular location-sharing tools are limited or flawed, and in some cases broadcasting your location may not be worth the effort or worth draining your phone’s battery life. Even worse, location tracking raises numerous privacy concerns about who can snoop into your whereabouts.

Yet security experts agree that on smartphones, it is now practically impossible to stop location tracking.
The new Snapchat map has raised privacy concerns among some parents and law enforcement officials, who said it was too easy for Snapchat users to add random people as friends, which could potentially let predators track a child’s location. A Snapchat spokeswoman said it was not possible to share your location with people who are not your friends on Snapchat.
After testing location-sharing tools for two weeks, here are my suggestions for the best times to use them.
Protecting Your Computer with Free Software
Several companies offer free basic versions of their more complete security suites to home users.
Security software can help block malicious code from invading your computer, but be on guard for more socially engineered attacks from email and other online sources. has a guide to spam and phishing lures, and other threats to avoid.
People who use the “Dark Net” to do illegal drug deals on the internet are no longer safe from Police.
Police have figured out a new way to combat this crime.
One of the greatest science fiction magazines is now available for free online is now home to a collection of Galaxy science fiction magazines.
A sister publication, If Magazine, came later, which can also be found on



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