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Tom Briant

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth has articles for your weekend reading

f You Were Apple, You'd Ignore Low-End Smartphones, Too

when you look at smartphone revenues and profits, there appears to be no upside for Apple in chasing the low end.

430 million units of low-end smartphone sales have resulted in very little profit for anyone but possibly Samsung.

Apple earned far more profit than everyone else -- including Samsung -- despite the competition releasing a flurry of seriously good smartphones. The competition has never been stronger.

Advertisers Are Cranky Because Apple Protects Our Privacy

Advertisers Not Thrilled With Apple’s Practice Of Protecting Its Users’ Data

That makes Madison Avenue very mad, according to a new AdAge article

Apple Is Already Building Its Next Massive Business And No One Seems To Have Noticed
Apple is building a national shopping infrastructure.

Apple is building a mobile retail marketing infrastructure across the U.S. It's called iBeacon.

The Smartphone App Wars Are Over, and Apple Won

Apple releases iOS 7.0.6 with security connection fix

U.S. Air Force deploys 5,000 Apple iOS devices to replace BlackBerrys ahead of phaseout

MIT lists the 50 smartest companies (and Apple isn’t among them)

10 iOS Business Programs Topping Apple's App Store

When You Fall in Love, This Is What Facebook Sees

When You Fall Out of Love, This Is What Facebook Sees

Undeterred by a court decision earlier this year, the FCC is redoubling its efforts to defend net neutrality, to stop broadband providers like Verizon from favoring one kind of Internet traffic over another.

How the Feds Can Take Even Legally Earned Bitcoins

If you are paid in cash for mowing the lawn of a notorious drug dealer, the money is yours to keep even if the dealer obtained it illegally. But if the dealer pays you in Bitcoins, the government may seize them from you someday when you least expect it.

This is Bitcoin’s nemo dat quod non habet problem, that being Latin for an old principle of English common law: “No one gives what he does not have.” If the drug lord didn’t legitimately own the Bitcoins in question because he got them via crime, then he can’t legitimately give them to you. You must give them up even if you’re not at fault. The same principle is at play when certain unwitting art buyers are forced to surrender works that were seized by the Nazis in World War II.

There is certainly a possibility that bitcoin gets truly destroyed by pirates or by a better, future digital crypto-currency. But as more and more merchants and their customers simply start using bitcoin to instantly transfer wealth to each other and make payments and as all the services and applications and developers that are right now at work to make that transfer of wealth even easier using bitcoin - well, there's also the possibility that bitcoin holds its value because it is such a good means of exchanging value that the self-fulfilling cycles are commencing in front of our eyes.

Why Facebook Bought WhatsApp In One Chart

WhatsApp message volume growth is still accelerating. Has probably now overtaken SMS.

A Bunch Of People Say They Are Ditching WhatsApp Now That Facebook Is Buying It

Why would Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pay $16 billion for WhatsApp? Because, at a time when fewer people actually talk on the phone or send emails, experts say messaging is becoming a dominant mode of human communication.

Google was reportedly willing to outbid Facebook for WhatsApp

Facebook and WhatsApp: The worst deal since Bank of America bought Countrywide

it looks to me like a very bad deal.
this move makes Facebook appear desperate. I consider this deal to be a defining moment in Mark Zuckerberg's tenure at Facebook.

Facebook is not a buy, sell, short, or hold. Until such time as Facebook tests longer term support or resistance again, it is a stock to avoid.

Everyone Who Thinks Facebook Is Stupid To Buy WhatsApp For $19 Billion Should Think Again 

Is WhatsApp really worth $19 billion?  The short answer is: No one knows.

Is WhatsApp was worth $19 billion to Facebook?  I think the answer is yes.

The bottom line:  This is a very bold move.

In Korea, they punish banks for ID theft
Companies held responsible when customers' data stolen

Reporting From the Web's Underbelly

"The work that he's done exposing Eastern European hackers has been seminal," said Tom Kellermann, vice president for cybersecurity at Trend Micro, a computer security company. "But Brian needs a bodyguard."

How Target Managed an Historic Data Breach!8043B3F3-E0EE-4C78-B748-5156C4957F9B

the Neiman Marcus breach is almost certainly not the work of the same hackers who stole 40 million credit card numbers from Target, said Aviv Raff, an Internet-security expert.

The hackers moved unnoticed in the company's computers for more than eight months, sometimes tripping hundreds of alerts daily because their card-stealing software was deleted automatically each day from the Dallas-based retailer's payment registers and had to be constantly reloaded. Card data were taken from July through October.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A layman's comments on Tesla and Apple

The closest I’ve come to a Tesla is two  lanes over on the 405 and 101 freeways. They look very stylish. I see no lag in performance compared to a Porsche or Lamborghini. Of course, on the 405 North at 5  in the afternoon, my Dodge Neon is moving about as fast as they are. But I digress...

I don’t think it would make sense for Apple to buy Tesla. The idea that two makers of bright, shiny, battery powered luxury goods should merge is a Wall Street fantasy. Here’s my admittedly layman’s opinion of the whole idea.

First, selling Teslas is not as easy as selling Macs and iPhones. If Apple wants to open a new Apple store in a mall in Texas, I’m sure the mall management would happily cooperate. Right now, though, Tesla can’t sell its cars in Texas. Here’s why.

The automobile dealers have a stranglehold on new car sales in many states. Tesla wants to sell its cars through its own stores, just like Apple sells Macs, iPhones and iPads. They can’t in Texas and Arizona. Tesla doesn’t offer franchises. That’s why you can’t go to Keyes Tesla on the Van Nuys Boulevard Mile of Cars. 

I also believe that making cars is a lot different than making consumer electronics. The cars weigh much more than an iPhone or a Mac. You can’t just hire a bunch of Chinese workers to work in a factory right next door to a dormitory to ramp up production of a popular item.  And you can’t ship them by the 747 load as you can an iPad.

It would make good sense for Apple and Tesla to cooperate on battery technology. Wringing more performance out of a lithium-ion battery is a common goal. The fact that one wants a battery big enough to power a car selling for $70,000 at a sales volume of thousands of units per year, while another wants a battery light enough to power a featherweight tablet computer selling at $600 in the millions of units per quarter-could prove a problem in a merged company. Just sharing some engineering ideas, though, makes sense.

It is my prediction-don’t buy or sell any stock based on this-that the most we’ll see from this kerfluffle is Tim Cook in a Tesla SUV playing tunes from his iPhone through the  AirPlay equipped Tesla sound system. 

And if Apple’s Mergers and Acquisitions guy visits a Victoria’s Secret store; we’d see the rumors of a merger between the two companies. I anticipate this to happen about the time Apple brings out a lady’s watch

This is your editor in his Costco undies signing off.


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog




Sunday, February 16, 2014

NIsus Writer Pro for half price!

If you have wanted to buy Nisus Writer Pro for half price ($39.50), now is the time. They are running a deal with that ends tonight at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time. Which means you have just a few hours to buy it. 


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog

If you haven't checked your Kickstarter account lately, Do So Now. Kickstarter has been Hacked!

If you haven’t checked your Kickstarter account lately, do so now. They’ve been hacked recently. 

Kickstarter states that no credit card data was compromised. Just to be safe, though, Change Your Password.


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog


Weekend Roundup from Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth

Apple Has Simple But Brilliant Cure For Spam Email

People have often used disposable accounts as a means of fighting spam, but Apple's system would enable you to continue checking a single inbox for all your communication.

7 Little-Known Tricks To Get More Out Of Your iPad

Greenpeace Praises Apple for Improving Supplier Working Conditions

A look at Apple's R&D expenditures from 1995-2013

Apple delays Mac Pro shipping date again, this time to April

Here's What To Do If Your iPhone Gets Stolen

Will iPads in the Classroom Make the Grade for Students and Teachers?
Santa Barbara Unified School District is rolling out 1,200 iPads to three elementary schools and an alternative high school.

Senate Introduces "Kill-Switch" Bill For Mobile Phones

This is something that iPhones and iPads have had for years.

Four Democratic senators have proposed a bill that would mandate mobile device manufacturers to build in a way to remotely wipe and disable stolen phones. Though the Senate bill proposes giving all consumers a kill-switch option, they are not required to enable it.

14 Apps Every Entrepreneur Needs

This is how in-app purchases should be handled

Our Love Affair With the Tablet Is Over

I wasn't the only one swooning in the presence of the iPad and its imitators.

Now - three years and 225 million tablets later - I'm starting to see how misplaced that passion was.

What I realize now is that it has been the phone all along. What we are witnessing today is a merger of phones and tablets.

It comes down to size. The vast majority of the hundreds of millions of people who use tech every day are just fine with having two primary computing devices: One for your pocket and one for your desk.

Essential Tips To Make Google Search Better And Faster

Why Traffic To These Google Alternatives Is Soaring

Don't Post an "Over the Top Snark" on Social Media
You WILL pay the price

The Facebook Comment That Ruined a Life
A young man's violent threat on Facebook lands him in jail, and limbo.

7 ways to protect your credit card number

in one of the biggest breaches of bank secrecy, Barclays had stolen and sold the confidential personal and financial data of up to 27,000 clients to the highest market bidder, in most cases rogue traders who had seen Glengarry Glen Ross one too many times, and who would then use Jordan Belfort-inspired tactics to sell money losing investment products to those unlucky thousands who had entrusted their data to the bank.

Why You MUST NOT CONSENT To Electronic Medical Records

The data accessible to attackers included a combination of names, social security numbers, dates of birth, and possibly addresses, the organization said. For the affected patients, medical information was also accessible, and for some employees, bank account information was exposed.

The attackers appeared to be operating from IP addresses in “China and elsewhere”, the organization said.

approximately 405,000 former and current patients', employees' and some employees' beneficiaries' information was accessible to the unauthorized parties.

Bitcoin core developer to Mt. Gox: 'Bitcoin is not broken'

Bitcoin Flash Crashes, Drops By 80% In Seconds

There's a lack of understanding at major exchanges about how bitcoins are sent

Bitcoin hit by denial of service attacks as regulators prepare clampdown

Major Online Marketplace Silk Road Hacked — Someone Stole All Its Bitcoins
The anonymous marketplace for illegal drugs has been hacked.

A dangerous mistake lies at Bitcoin's intellectual core

Calibrating monetary policy to the needs of the economy is an enormous undertaking.
Bitcoin is designed to take this job away from central bankers and give it to a simple algorithm instead.

putting money creation beyond the reach of meddling central bankers ...... ignores the ebbs and flow of economic cycles

we need central bankers who can adjust monetary policy to promote prosperity when people behave in unexpected ways.

The software behind Bitcoin is a remarkable technical achievement but those who tout such systems as a way of saving capitalism are profoundly wrong. Governments should be wary of allowing any virtual currency, unless they first find a way of putting central bankers back in charge.

FINANCE PROFESSOR: Bitcoin Could Harm Nations

with currency and the ability to create it, control it, dispense it, and regulate it being at the very core of sovereign power – Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, if unchecked, could be an existential threat.

the vital role of currency management-- needed to spur economic growth -- is reserved for central bankers.

If not controlled and tightly regulated, Bitcoin -- a decentralized, untraceable, highly volatile and nationless currency -- has the potential to undermine this longstanding bond between sovereign and its currency.

Compared to fiat currency, virtual currency has several distinct weaknesses.

Up until recently, Bitcoiners pointed to open-source code and five years of existence as proof that software was failsafe. However, in recent days cyber hackers proved otherwise by cracking the code, exploiting a software flaw, triggering a chain reaction, forcing three of the largest exchanges -- representing over seventy percent of all trading volume -- to halt investor withdrawals.

In reality, Bitcoiners are not central bankers but high-risk commodity traders.  To suggest they can do the equivalent work of dedicated and experienced central bankers is farcical.

Bitcoin fixed-supply formula has one major fatal flaw; it fails to acknowledge that human behavior, not mathematical formulas, drives markets.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Warning! The Spammers are getting way too good!

Good Morning All:
Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth received  a piece of spam asking him to change his Apple ID. This spam looks very, very authentic. 
If you have the slightest doubt about a message, DON’T OPEN IT! Instead, 
I received a spam that looks like it's an authentic Apple E-mail.  I think a warning on the MacValley Blog is in order.
The "From" field was "".
The subject line was "ID: 123456789"  (not the real number).
I think the intent was to deceive me into thinking the E-mail was about a new Apple ID.
It said "You have a new message!"
It had a link that said "View Message".
I carefully examined the link to find out the URL -- WITHOUT clicking the link.
The URL was
I don't know what sort of web site it is, other than it is from outside the U.S.
I don't remember ever seeing spam of such good quality before.
At first glance, it looks like the aesthetic yet minimalist look that Apple always strives for.
I was tempted to click the link right away but, being somewhat paranoid of spam,
I examined it more closely first.  I'm glad I did.

Here's what the E-mail looked like.
I carefully replaced the link with words "View Message" that don't have the link.

Screen Shot 2014 02 10 at 6 09 19 AM
If you have doubts about the authenticity of a URL, just hover your mouse on the URL in the message. You’ll see a little yellow rectangle pop up with the real URL!
How to spot the URL
Tom Briant
Editor, MacValley Blog

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekend Roundup

Has Apple's Innovation Engine Run Out of Steam?

I think that the time is right for the Cupertino giant to unveil a new product, and prove to the world that innovation is alive and well at Apple HQ.

Apple Preps Sapphire Plant for Tougher iPhone Screens

Apple quietly builds out networks for content delivery

Apple has in a short time bought enough bandwidth from Web carriers to move hundreds of gigabits of data each second.

Growing discontent among bitcoin enthusiasts with Apple Inc. could finally result in a shift away from the company's signature iPhones and iPads.

Why Apple Just Removed A Popular Bitcoin App From The App Store

Bitcoin remains a murky proposition from a legal perspective
Apple is waiting for legal clarity with Bitcoin before it starts approving apps that do Bitcoin transactions

Bitcoin - Revolution Or Trap?

In 2008, a mysterious person or group using the apparent pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto unveiled a new digital currency called Bitcoin.

Nakamoto, whoever he (or she, they) was, disappeared in 2010. But by then the Bitcoin community had taken on a life of its own. Hundreds of users began to mine Bitcoins with increasingly sophisticated computers, and the number of merchants and individuals willing to accept, store, and transact in the currency rose steadily.

Bitcoin’s Achilles heel is that it has to be stored somewhere, and no place is 100 percent secure.

Bitcoin drops sharply as Mt. Gox halts withdrawals

The company said an increase in flow of withdrawals requests "has hindered our efforts on a technical level. To understand the issue thoroughly, the system needs to be in a static state".

Bitcoin Is Becoming Serious; And Serious Means Accountability -- as of November 2013, when the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held its first hearings on bitcoin.

Mt.Gox has been the dominant Bitcoin exchange pretty much since the beginning. In its brief history, it has suffered several bad setbacks. Gox made some changes, came back up and a great deal was forgiven. Not this time.

It's too late for Mt. Gox to get its act together.

What Facebook knows about you

Here's How You Can Hide From Anyone On Facebook

people are better at protecting their privacy than companies would like

Every time social networks force openness on their users, people become much more guarded in what they share, leading internet giants to push for yet more openness.

Eventually you realize you’ve been giving away too much so you pull the plug and start over-protecting your privacy.

exposure and subsequent public debate over data collection from western spy agencies’ only boosts users’ caution. And they are increasingly demanding tools that allow them to protect themselves better.

Dems Introduce Bills to Bring Back Net Neutrality

With Net neutrality struck down by an appeals court, legislators have taken up the fight.

You can now shop on Amazon by taking photos

Amazon's app for iPhone added "Flow," an image recognition tool designed to allow consumers to add a product to their shopping cart by merely pointing their phone's camera at it.

Google agrees landmark search deal in EU antitrust case

Programmers in Belarus, a former Soviet republic closely allied with Russia, were suspected of inserting malicious code that could be used for cyber attacks

a potential target of cyber attacks for identity theft and privacy violations” of Americans

The software currently is used in all medical facilities and insurance companies in the United States.

Belarus, for those who are unaware, is one of the hotbeds of cyber theft and scam.

Fraud hits one in three data-breach victims
Number of identity fraud victims increased by half a million in 2013

This article has five tips for reducing risk.

Mandatory "Vehicle-to-Vehicle" Communications Coming To U.S. Cars

The U.S. Transportation Department said Monday it plans to propose requiring all new cars and trucks to eventually communicate with one another

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

North Korea's home-grown OS looks a lot like Apple's OS X | PCWorld

I’m not sure whether Apple should regard this as a compliment or cringe at being chosen by the worst regime on Earth.

In any case, now the North Koreans have joined in to copy Apple. 


North Korea's home-grown OS looks a lot like Apple's OS X | PCWorld: ""


Microsoft names Nadella CEO, Gates out as chairman - Feb. 4, 2014

It’s for real this time. Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates are out at Microsoft, and a new guy takes over as CEO.


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog




Microsoft names Nadella CEO, Gates out as chairman - Feb. 4, 2014: ""


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth Sunday contribution to your reading

Steve Jobs’ First Demonstration of the Mac, Unseen Since 1984, Is The 'Stuff Of Tech-History Legend'

Ex-Apple Manager Explains Why Macs May Be Harder To Repair Than Ever

Apple iPhone Sets 13-Year-Old Student's Pants On Fire

the iPhone’s battery “shorted out” when the student sat on it. People should obviously use caution when placing their phones in their back pockets so as not to crush them and cause an electrical short.

Apple is going to start mass producing sapphire, but it’s anyone’s guess why

Why Duolingo Is Hands Down The Easiest Way To Learn A New Language

In mid-December, Apple named Duolingo—a piece of language-learning software—its 2013 iPhone app of the year.

the most remarkable thing about Duolingo: It doesn’t cost a cent. It’s free to download.

How To Keep Your iPhone From 'Ducking Up' Your Texts
Apple's auto-correct feature in action

Tablets Are The Undersung Device Powering A Huge Rise In Mobile Shopping And Buying

2014: The Year America Broke The Internet

A recent decision by a US Appeals court ended the regulation of the internet as we know it.

The ruling overturns the 20 years of treating the internet as a 'dumb' network that processed packets of information without prioritising them.

publicly traded corporations can reconfigure their traffic-shaping programs to their benefit – not yours. The packets of information travel across the network in a "non-neutral" way. The consequence of the non-neutral treatment of information packets is that ISPs like Verizon and Comcast would be empowered to pick and choose what internet services become successful and which internet services flop.

This affects your rights to receive content.

Why Bitcoin Loses And Will Continue To Lose To Credit Cards

Credit card companies do ALL of these things for customers that Bitcoin does NOT :

1. Allow your customer to pay businesses with debt. Note: This is extremely beneficial to businesses as well, as it makes goods a multiple more affordable without each business becoming a creditor to every customer. Think about that.

2. Provide customers with an INSANE level of highly sophisticated fraud prevention and recovery that makes your customer more likely to purchase from little old unknown YOU.

3. Rewards your customer for using their payment method. Bitcoin bonus points that let me go to Paris next year might be in the future, but they won’t come free.

Credit cards make customers happy. THAT is why they win, and businesses pay them to participate.

Marc Andreesson explain why Bitcoin has so many Silicon Valley programmers and entrepreneurs all lathered up, and what Bitcoin's future potential is.

Bitcoin ...... is a breakthrough in computer science that builds on 20 years of research into cryptographic currency, and 40 years of research in cryptography.

how to establish trust between unrelated parties over an untrusted network like the Internet.

The practical consequence of solving this problem is that Bitcoin gives us, for the first time, a way for one Internet user to transfer a unique piece of digital property to another Internet user, such that the transfer is guaranteed to be safe and secure, everyone knows that the transfer has taken place, and nobody can challenge the legitimacy of the transfer. The consequences of this breakthrough are hard to overstate.

Bitcoin is an Internet-wide distributed ledger.

The Bitcoin ledger is a new kind of payment system. Anyone in the world can pay anyone else in the world any amount of value of Bitcoin by simply transferring ownership of the corresponding slot in the ledger.

if you have the money or the asset, you can pay with it; if you don't, you can't. This is brand new. This has never existed in digital form before.

people can trade with Bitcoin (anywhere, everywhere, with no fraud and no or very low fees) and as a result it has value.

merchants are highly attracted to Bitcoin because it eliminates the risk of credit card fraud.

with Bitcoin, the huge hack that recently stole 70 million consumers' credit card information from the Target department store chain would not have been possible.

Bitcoin is pseudonymous, not anonymous.  Bitcoin is considerably easier for law enforcement to trace than cash, gold or diamonds.

Technology Knows You Better Than You Think

Self-Driving Cars Will Be Huge Targets For Hackers

Extortion Over $50,000 Twitter Handle Sets A Chilling Precedent

I Just Unfriended Everyone On Facebook, And Nobody Noticed Or Cared

How LinkedIn could hurt your job search

This person made a small change to his linked-in profile --- and automatically created a big problem with his job search

Business Sues Customer For $750,000 Over Negative Yelp Review

Online Education Is Trying Very Hard To Make Itself More Respectable



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