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Tom Briant

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Editor's Year-End Summary for 2014

Everyone has year-end business to clear up. In some cases, business will post year-end entries to the accounting systems. Inventories will be taken.

In other cases, people will get over year-end colds & flu brought in from work, school, or the mall. Student still snuffing will work on terms papers. 


In my cases, I’ll post accounting entries tomorrow for payroll. I avoided the malls and got my flu shot at work, so I haven’t come down with any diseases. I don’t have any papers to write for a class. I do have to write my year-end round-up for the MacValley Blog.

This is my personal view. If you would like to respond to it, my e-mail address is at the top of the page. 500 words in plain text, RTF, Word, Pages, or OpenOffice format. Pictures submitted separately from article, please. 


The Single Biggest Event relating to  Apple in 2014

The iWatch marks the biggest event for Apple in 2014. Portable health monitoring is the next big frontier for Apple to tackle. Of course, it’s expensive to begin with. So were the iPod and iPhone at their inceptions. 

Screen Shot 2014 12 28 at 11 17 51 AM


Will other companies want to imitate Apple? Of course. I expect a flood of Android imitations. 


The Second Biggest Event relating to Apple in 2014

The introduction of the low-end iMac and the low-end Mac Mini mark the first time Apple has attempted to compete in terms of price in some time for the desktop computer market.  


The Third Biggest Event relating to Apple in 2014

The high-end iMac with the 5K display puts Apple ahead of its Windows competitors, such as Dell and Lenovo. If you want to do high resolution photography or CAD, this is your option. 

Screen Shot 2014 12 28 at 11 32 53 AM


Now for a few quickly selections from the Editor

1. LibreOffice 4.x 

This app doesn’t have the sexiest user interface, but it does solve the problem of “HELP! I’ve got old files that I need to read and save in a modern format!” In particular, it solves the problem of what to do with old ClarisWorks/AppleWorks word processing and spreadsheet files. 

If you’ve got old WordPerfect files, this is the program that can open them. Lotus 1-2-3? This is it. Database files in .dbf format? This is it. About the only old format it doesn’t open is Wordstar 3.3

This is a perfectly good word-processing/spreadsheet/presentation/database office suite. For a $5 or $10 donation, it doesn’t get much better than this. 


2. Synergy 1.6.2

 This software project has gone from a freebie that no one could figure out how to set up, to a $10 program that works very well. If you need to knit together disparate systems, from OS X 10.6 on up with Fedora Linux and Windows 8 so that they only use one keyboard and pointing device on your physical desktop, this is your answer. 

Between Windows and OS X, you can even drag files from one screen to another. You share a clipboard between Windows, OS X, and Linux so you can copy and paste text and pictures between platforms. 

You don’t  have to fiddle with the terminal, not even in Linux. 


In Conclusion

Apple is in a very strong position financially and possibly could become the first company valued at a trillion dollars. The whole world waits to see what the Apple Watch will bring. Rumors persist that Apple will bring out a 12” iPad Pro “next year”. So we’ll see what happens. 


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog












Saturday, December 27, 2014

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Year-End Wrap-up

2014: The year Apple got me to dump Android

Android is a great mobile platform, I've been using it since the very first phone appeared a few years ago.

If that's the case, then why drop it? For me the answer is simple. The evolution of iOS has been just as significant and it fits my wants and needs better than Android now.

On Android the distinction between smartphone and tablet use has always been clear.

The iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air I own work the same in the ways that matter, and I can use the same apps on both.

This is so significant it can't be overstated

On Android I often had to stop and think about which device I was using and thus which app to use for a given task. Then I had to figure out the app interface for either the Android phone or tablet. The two devices were never running the same version of the OS, and often the OEM had customized the operation in a different way on the phone and tablet. Far too often this caused the UI to be different, even on the same app.

What Impressed Me Most About The iPhone 6 Plus Is Something Nobody Really Talks About

The speakers on the iPhone 6 Plus are incredibly loud, clear, and vibrant.

with the iPhone 6 Plus, you don't get that shallow, tinny sound I've experienced with other phones.

10 things Apple won't say

The $3 Million iPhone: How Technology Has Raised Our Standard Of Living

We've heard a lot about income inequality and the end of the middle class in the last couple of years.

There's no questioning the math. You can pick from almost any chart you like, but I'll take one that Business Insider has used many times: wages as a percentage of GDP.

a lot of us are carrying, in our pocket, a computer that would have been unspeakably costly in 1991.

Here's Why You Should Never Let Your Kids Play With Your Smartphone

BlackBerry Is Working With Boeing On A Phone That Self-destructs

The Boeing Black device encrypts calls and is aimed at government agencies and others that need to keep communications and data secure.

Google unveils 'fully functional' driverless car

How Social Media Is Changing Our Brains And Reshaping Our Relationships

Daniel Siegel says:

The right hemisphere of the brain is used more for nonverbal communications (gestures, expressions, etc.) during face-to-face contact.

The left hemisphere of the brain is used more for verbal communications, including text and "social media".

"There's nothing inherently wrong with social media.  But if it is replacing time for face-to-face, then that could be a big problem."

The US Navy Tweeted An Intense Holiday Card

The Webcam Hacking Epidemic

Remote Access Tools (RAT) are software that allow a third party to spy on a computer user from afar, whether rifling through messages and browsing activity, photographing the computer screen, or in many cases hijacking the webcam and taking photographs of whomever is on the other side.

There's a real threat of being watched and recorded where you live, and without your knowledge or consent.

At web sites like, individuals, often men, trade and sell access to strangers' computers, often women, gained via RAT.

The National Security Agency, too, is involved. The agency has budgeted tens of millions of dollars for an aggressive effort to scale its hacking operations and "own the net," a proposition that, as The Intercept reported, envisions indiscriminately infecting millions with malware that has the capability for remote video surveillance by webcam.

Why Hacker Gang 'Lizard Squad' Took Down Xbox Live And PlayStation Network

‘Lizard Squad,’ The Hacker Gang That Shut Down PlayStation Network And Xbox Live For 2 Straight Days, Is Now Reportedly Attacking Tor

Anonymous To 'Lizard Squad': Stop Attacking Tor

Hacker Gang 'Lizard Squad' Says It Has Stopped Attacking PlayStation Network And Xbox Live — And Will Never Do It Again

A Hacker Group Has Shared 13,000 Passwords To Sites Like Amazon, Walmart

Forget the Sony Hack, This Could Be the Biggest Cyber Attack of 2015

Sony to show 'The Interview' in theaters 

plans to show once-canceled movie in limited release

The cancellation provoked considerable backlash among actors, directors and screenwriters.

Sony's 'The Interview' grosses $1 million in ticket sales from 331 theaters on Christmas Day.

"The Interview" was originally intended as a broad, wide-release Hollywood comedy set for more than 3,000 screens. But the studio on Dec. 17 scuttled those plans after hackers threatened violence against movie theaters and most exhibitors declined to screen the film.

Some theaters across the country hosted sold-out showings as many moviegoers trekked to the cinemas out of a sense of patriotism and support for free speech after the movie's rocky ride to its release date, while some went mostly for the comedy.

How A Cisco Exec Vanquished An Internet Troll And Saved 25 People

Web sites authored by anonymous trolls who make libelous accusations against innocent people are very hard to get shut down.

Surya Panditi managed to get 24 such sites shut down.

But the article doesn't say how.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Set Up and Get to Know Your New Mac

Set Up and Get to Know Your New Mac: ""


Set Up and Get to Know Your New Mac

The link below will take you to LifeHacker’s guides to setting up your Mac and adding new stuff to it. 


Happy Holidays, from Halloween through Lunar New Year, y’all.


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog




Set Up and Get to Know Your New Mac: ""


Thursday, December 25, 2014

I need the administrative password for this Mac I bought on eBay! What do I do now?

Good Morning! I hope you enjoy this bright, if windy, Christmas morning here in Los Angeles. I don’t know if you received a shiny new Mac still in the shrink wrap this morning, or whether you received a used Mac purchased on eBay that has some of the previous user’s stickers on the lid. 


This is my guide to a situation you may encounter the first week of ownership.


So you got a used Mac. It came with lots of neat software already installed, but the previous owner didn’t tell you what the administrative password is. If the machine runs 10.6, 10.5, or 10.4; I’ll bet they didn’t include the install DVDs, either.


You’ll need the administrative password to install software such as printer drivers and run utility software.


So what do you do? Fortunately, this situation has occurred before and people have documented the steps necessary to remedy it. 


You have two choices. The hard one allows you to change the password set up by the original user. It takes a bit more UNIX voodoo than the second method. If you want to use it, go here to MacYourself. 


The second method still takes some UNIX voodoo, but the command lines are shorter.


Here’s the recipe for method #2:


Make sure you’re in a calm frame of mind. You’re working at the root level of your Mac and you can trash the whole thing if you feel upset.


Turn  off the Mac by pressing the Power button.


Count to 10.


Read this before proceeding: You’re going to restart your Mac by pressing the Power button. 


As soon as you hear the “bong” of the start-up chime, hold down the Command and S keys simultaneously. Your screen will turn black and a lot of white text will scroll down the screen. This is normal. You’re in Single User mode.


At the prompt, you will want to type in the command so that you can modify files. In 10.6, Apple is kind enough to give it to you as a on-screen hint.


The command is /sbin/mount -uw /


Note the space between “mount” and “-uw” Note the space between  -uw and the final trailing slash!


Press the Enter key. You should return to the prompt.


Now here’s the secret sauce. You want to trick your Mac into setting up a new administrative account where you can change the administrative passwords of the other accounts.


Type this command rm /var/db/.AppleSetupDone 


Now press Enter.


If it didn’t work, note this: The rm is the command followed by the things you want to modify. In this case, you’re deleting the file that tells your Mac on bootup that you’ve gone through the initial setup. Your Mac will go through the initial setup all over again.


Now you won’t erase the files on your computer, but the Keychain login for the old account will be destroyed. 


Now did you include the “.” before AppleSetupDone? Did you type AppleSetupDone in exactly that way, using capital letters where required? UNIX is picky about capitalization! Did you put a space between “rm” and “/var/db/.AppleSetupDone” ?


When you’ve run that command, now type reboot and your Mac will restart to begin the setup process. 


Go through the setup process and set up a new administrative account by default. Write down the password to this account!


Now for the graphical portion.

Now that you’ve got access to  your Mac through the new administrative account,  you want to change the password on the previous user’s account.


Go to System Preferences. You want the Users or  Accounts preference relating to administrative matters. 




System Preferences you want Accounts


Now in Accounts, you go to your new Account. You will notice that it’s the only one not dimmed. To work on the other accounts,  you need to click on the little lock icon in the lower left-hand corner and enter your password for this account (You did write it down, didn’t you?)


Other Accounts greyed out



Now that you’ve entered your user password, you can access the other accounts. 


List of active accounts


So click on the account whose password you want to change. You will see the following screen:





Click on the “Reset Password” button to change the password. You will see the following screen:


Password Reset screen


Now notice the box with the key icon in it immediately to the right of “New Password” That is Apple’s Password Assistant, which can offer you tips on a secure password


Screen shot 2014 12 25 at 9 20 15 AM



You will now need to log out of this session as the new user and log back in as the old user with the new password you assigned. 

You can keep the new administrative account or get rid of it. It’s your choice.



None of what I’ve written above is original. These techniques have been on the Web for some time. I would like to thank Ant & Franky P. of I would like to thank those at who gave me the tip on tricking your Mac into setting up a new administrative account from scratch. 

I did test the tips out myself on my 2006 CoreDuo 10.6 MacBook. They worked perfectly.

Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog




















Sunday, December 21, 2014

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Roundup

10 Secret Features Hidden In Your Mac

11 Tiny Design Features That Show Apple's Insane Attention To Detail

20 iPad Apps That Will Make Your Android Friends Jealous

A note from analysts at Morgan Stanley estimates Apple could sell up to 70 million iPhones this quarter. 
If the average selling price of the iPhone is $605, then that would be $42.3 billion in revenue.

Apple Pay may be easy to use, but security is its biggest strength.

Unlike using a credit or debit card, Apple Pay doesn't show merchants your payment information when you buy something.

Instead, it uses a digital account number called a "token" to tell the merchant you're good for the purchase.

45% of Americans said they had received a letter from a retailer or cardholder saying their payment information had been leaked.

That's staggeringly high.

Here's What People Don't Get About Apple Pay: It's Not Just Changing Payments

Apple already has a way for merchants to push these offers: Passbook. 

"The marketing is done through Passbook," said Philbin. "Apple Pay is just the payment functionality."

If Apple Were A Worker Cooperative, Each Employee Would Earn At Least $403K

Apple found not guilty in iPod antitrust lawsuit

Apple was found not guilty in an iPod antitrust case that was brought against it almost a decade ago. The decision comes after a week-long trial that accused the Cupertino company of forcefully locking in consumers into iTunes software and preventing them from using other services thanks to the now-defunct FairPlay DRM.

Here's How Much You Have To Buy To Make Amazon Prime Worth It

This person wrote:
"I disagree with some in the Cloud Industry who say calling the storage devices you carry with you and your home storage a personal Cloud is wrong. But they don't want to call it outsourced storage. It's semantics. Key is it's sitting somewhere else out of your control. There are too many people out there who want to put another conquest notch on their hacking skills by tapping into big companies. There are things you can do every day to protect your stuff from evil doers even if you use their Cloud. Be a little paranoid combined with a big dose of common sense/diligence.",_Hacks_Will_Be_Solved

Sony Pictures Entertainment said it would cancel the Christmas Day release of "The Interview," the subject of recent hack attacks and violent threats against the company and theater owners

FBI says 90% Of Cyber Security Systems Out There Would ***NOT*** Have Been Able To Block The Sony Hackers

How The Hackers Broke Into Sony And Why It Could Happen To Any Company

5 ways the Sony hack will change how America does business

Here's How Cyber-Warfare Started And Where It's Going

In 2007 a computer worm called Stuxnet was detected for the first time by virus-scanning software

At least three more versions followed, seeking to wreak havoc upon Iran's uranium-enrichment facility

Despite the opportunity, the world has yet to see a sequel to Stuxnet.

A cyberwarrior needs only a computer and an internet connection to wreak havoc.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to be your family's tech-support hero during the holidays | PCWorld

How to be your family's tech-support hero during the holidays | PCWorld: ""



If you’re going out to see relatives and they’re tech-challenged, read this article and see this video. Gordon’s portrayal of the stereotypical drunk uncle is priceless, too.


Tom Briant

The Computer Uncle and Editor, MacValley Blog

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Roundup from the Web

The Best iPad Apps Of The Year, According To Apple

How to download Apple’s iWork apps on older Macs for free

Diehard Microsoft fans abandon Windows Phone for iPhone

Apple and IBM Just Showed Everyone The Future Of Enterprise Mobile Apps

How to turn Apple’s best keyboard into a fully-functional PC

Important note:  Apple's best keyboard is a relatively old model.

7 Reasons Why You Should Buy An Android Phone Over An iPhone

Android has more hardware options, but do you really need them?

Apple ends its arguments in the DRM trial, but it’s far from over

The entire complaint hinges on exactly why Apple hardened its digital rights management software in iTunes and iPods nearly a decade ago.

Earlier in the trial, Apple had argued that such third-party players, including one made by RealNetworks, attempted to hijack the iPod and created all sorts of issues for users that would damage a user's music library and the performance of their iPod. That's become a point of contention where Apple's said it was trying to protect users from buggy software, while the plaintiffs have accused it of shutting out competition.

Apple’s Ridiculous Censorship of the Nudity in a game called "Papers, Please"

I Asked Jeff Bezos About The Tough Questions — No Profits, The Book Controversies, The Phone Flop — And He Showed Why Amazon Is Such A Huge Success

On his FirePhone failure:
Experiments are, by their very nature, prone to failure. A few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn’t work.

companies that are making bets all along, even big bets, but not bet-the-company bets, prevail. 

On investor relations:
We meet with investors who have low portfolio turnover. Many investment funds have very high portfolio turnover. They’re not really investors — they’re traders.

On when Amazon will deliver regularly with drones:
That’s a difficult question to answer. Technology is not going to be the long pole. The long pole is going to be regulatory.

On Outer Space:
We need the frontier. We need the people moving out into space.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Roundup

7-year-old boy cleverly thwarts Apple's iPhone security measures

He quietly reached for his father's iPhone, grabbed his right hand and pressed his large thumb onto the fingerprint scanner.

The Best Smartphones In The World

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+ are (again) first and second.

Months after Apple launched its much-hyped iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the company remains unable to meet the huge demand from consumers. 

Lots of speculation about why in this article.
The reader comments to this article contain better speculations than those of the pundits quoted in the article.

The complete history of Mac OS X gets broken down in one brilliant illustrated guide

Want to see how OS X has evolved over the years? If so then you should check out this complete guide posted over at Git-Tower

A Life-Changing App That Every iPhone 6 Owner Should Download

One of the best things about the new iPhone is that it comes with a step tracker built in ...... track how much you walk in a day.

But, even better is Pedometer++, a super simple application that tracks steps. It also tracks elevation changes, providing a look at how many flights of stairs you've climbed in the day.

Every single person who owns an iPhone 5S, 6, or 6 Plus should download Pedometer++. It's free. If you like it, and you want to be generous, you can "tip" the developer $0.99, $2.99, or $5.99 through an in-app payment.

Apple Retailers Teaching Free 'Hour of Code'

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week, Apple and will again present Hour of Code workshops across the United States.

The nonprofit said it is joining forces with Cupertino to encourage folks of all ages to learn the basics of computer programming. It's the second year that the and Apple have hosted such workshops.,2817,2473171,00.asp

The Best Programming Languages Every Beginner Should Learn

Woz Shoots Down 'Myth' of Apple's Garage Origins,2817,2473137,00.asp

Apple removes sexually-explicit 'After School' app

Its removal comes after Apple representatives were in "direct contact" Wednesday evening with Tom McCurdy, Pinckney Community School's assistant superintendent for curriculum, assessment and technology.

Feds dig up law from 1789 to demand Apple, Google decrypt smartphones

The FBI has made it no secret that it hates Apple and Google's efforts to encrypt files in your smartphones and tablets.
Now court documents have emerged showing just how far the Feds are willing to go to decrypt citizens' data.

It's an interesting legal tactic, but the Feds may find out the hard way that the All Writs Act has its limitation. The argument used by Apple and Google over encryption is that, even if they wanted to help the Feds, they can't do anything about it – because modern iOS and Android encrypts data in a way that only the owner can decrypt.

In both cases, the seized phones—one of which is an iPhone 5S—are encrypted and cannot be cracked by federal authorities. Prosecutors have now invoked the All Writs Act, an 18th-century federal law that simply allows courts to issue a writ, or order, which compels a person or company to do something.

ACLU attorney Alex Abdo, in comments to Ars Technica, argued that the government should not be using an 18th century law to address a technological issue that could not possibly have been imagined by those who penned it.

Why You NEED Unbreakable Encryption

How to invest in the Social Communications Revolution

The endgame is total empowerment of the end user.

social communications platforms are creating a more prosperous future with more freedom for all of us.

All forces can be used for good or evil, and over the last decade, with the incessant snooping and spying from the NSA and other long-existing divisions from what I call the Republican/Democrat regime, we’ve already seen much of the downside of social networking gone mainstream.

This concept we’re hitting on can also be called, “Virtuous Entropy.” The whole point is that it isn’t centralized or controlled in any way, but at the same time, that chaos is natural and outright prosperous.

I’m excited about a more prosperous future with more freedom for all. Aren’t you?

Why Google Glass and Apple Watch matter so much

wearables are going to be so much bigger than anybody realizes. What you see and consider a wearable computer today isn’t what the Wearables Revolution is all about.

Google Glass isn’t just about the thing you wear on your head. It’s about a new way of interacting with the web using your voice and gestures. the technology/concept of low-interactivity interfaces become ever easier to use...

Likewise for Apple’s upcoming Apple Watch.
the Apple Watch requires a smartphone hub for you to tie into and for heavy interfacing. But for quick interaction with the Web and for the things you use your smartphone everyday for, the new less-intensive interface is much more important.

I’m sticking with Google and Apple in part because they’re about to create the platforms upon which the Wearables Revolution will arise.

40% Of LinkedIn Users Earn More Than $100,000 A Year

5 privacy fixes your Facebook News Feed needs by New Year's

Experts Are Divided On Stephen Hawking's Claim That Artificial Intelligence Could End Humanity

Peer-to-peer loans imperil banks, and cryptocurrencies may finish the job

Wall Street's greatest threat isn't from regulation or another meltdown - it's from technology.  So-called cryptocurrencies, including the best known one, bitcoin, will eventually dislodge the power banks, brokerages and other financial institutions have over the system.

There's just one problem: It isn't going to happen anytime soon. This stuff is not ready for prime time.

cryptocurrencies may be the biggest end-game threat, but not the biggest immediate threat. That distinction goes to a new breed of banking that isn't really technology focused at all. It's called peer-to-peer lending. Simply put, it's a platform where people who want to invest money lend it to people who want to borrow.

Sony staffers received a new email from hackers Friday, this time threatening their families, from the group who calls itself the Guardians of Peace or the "GOP."

Hacking Experts Call Sony Cyber Attack ‘Unparalleled And Well Planned Crime’

Squirrels AirParrot 2 (for Mac) Review & Rating |

Squirrels AirParrot 2 (for Mac) Review & Rating | ""


Friday, December 5, 2014

Finder labels too subtle? Create garish folder icons instead | Macworld

Finder labels too subtle? Create garish folder icons instead | Macworld: ""


Thoughts from an old man on kids learning how to code

I note that Apple will offer children an Hour of Code on December 11th. I have some thoughts on this whole push to expose kids to some computer program coding. 


First, I think in principle it’s a great idea. All of us in any size, sex, gender, age and computer proclivity in general have to deal with a lot of code in our lives as it is. From ATMs to Spotify to our damn cars, code is everywhere and we all should have some understanding of it. 

To quote a very smart person, Arthur C. Clarke, “Any form of science sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.”


So before we think it’s a bunch of nerds reciting spells, ala Harry Potter, we should all gain some exposure to coding. It’s a process of writing code, testing it, and seeing where it failed. Then you go back and try it again.

To quote another person, Thomas Edison, “It’s 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

But it would help a lot of people if they could understand loops and if/then/else statements. 

Second, no matter what  your mother thinks, it’s very unlikely that you will write the next version of Windows or Office. What’s more important is that you know how to write a macro for Office so that you or your boss don’t have to keep doing the same thing over and over again.  For instance, learn  how to use the mail merge feature in Word. That will introduce you to variables.

I went to school to learn programming. The most involved programming I ever did professionally was to rewrite printer drivers in BASIC-80 so that the client’s printed checks and invoices looked acceptable. But I needed to understand a lot of principles in order to do that. 

So, by all means, learn how to code a simple program as a start.

Third, I would also suggest that if we teach girls to code, we should teach them the basics of accounting. Accounting and coding go way back together. Take an extension course in the basics of accounting. Seriously, you should know what an asset, liability, and owner’s equity are. You should know the difference between a balance sheet and an income statement. Don’t become the person on the sweat shirt: “How can I be out of money when I have all these checks left?”


Tom Briant, age 59

Editor MacValley Blog






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