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Monday, December 28, 2015

Bits and Pieces as the Year draws to a end notes that the top selling piece of audio hardware this past Christmas was…an old-fashioned turntable with built-in amplifier and two speakers. Congratulations, we’re back in 1962, although the electronics have hopefully improved over my old portable recorder player. 

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In a nod to modernity, this device includes a USB port so that you can use your computer to make MP3s and a line-in port so that you can amplify your portable digital player.  This probably means a complementary CD burned with the Audacity software. That you have to learn to use yourself.  

So if you got one of these, it’s time to mine the trove of records you got from inheritance from dead relatives, living relatives downsizing, checking the local used CD and LP stores and their on-line counterparts, and maybe a purchase or two of some of the new issues on 180 gram vinyl. 

If you wonder what is the next step beyond vinyl, that step is to go to open-reel tape recorders. The kind of tape recorders our parents grew up with in the 1950’s and 60’s.  You can still get them as refurbished units for over a grand. Apparently they’ve become quite chic among audiophiles with the bucks to buy one. 

The last one I owned was a relatively cheap Akai that I bought in 1984 for $250. I had to unscrew part of the capstan in order to change speeds, but the fidelity was OK. I gave it to a relative. 

Onto other topics. An analyst who kept make predictions that Apple’s stock would crash and burn has received his walking papers. 

Obviously he should have gone into bloviating about politics. There you can blog without paying any consequences for wrong decisions.

Oh, by the way, if you wondered what came in second in Amazon’s sales of audio hardware, that would go to a very nice Yamaha receiver that works with AirPlay. Share your iPhone’s audio selections!  It sells for $380 plus tax and shipping.

As for your editor, I have a good turntable from Radio Shack that I need to use. My radio receiver these days is either my Safari or Chrome browser or iTunes Internet Radio.  My speakers at best are a 10 year old set of Creative Labs 2.1 computer speakers. I have thin walls in my condo complex and a good set of Monoprice headphones. I have friends on the HOA board next door and I intend to keep them.


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog






Saturday, December 26, 2015

Installing Windows 10 over a Linux drive

Hi, these are my experiences installing Windows on a PC that only ran various distress of Linux before. Read this end to end before beginning.

To begin with, this is what I used . Your computer set up will vary.

The Windows & Linux computer is a ZT Systems Pentium Pro. It originally came with a 1 TB SATA drive with Windows 7 installed on it. 

I scrounged 3 more disk drives to install onto this system:

A 500 GB PATA drive. This became sda in linux terms. 

The 1 TB SATA drive. This became sdb in linux terms.

A 300 GB SATA drive. This became sdc in linux terms.

A 500 GB SATA drive. This became sdd in Linux terms and I installed Windows onto this drive.


What did I need to acquire Windows 10?

As I wrote, this ZT Systems Pentium Pro came with Windows 7 when I bought it in 2010. I tried to upgrade it from Windows 7 to Windows 10, but I screwed up. So I set up four different versions of Linux. 

Drive #1, sda, has Zorin OS 9 Ultimate. It has worked wonderfully and I wholeheartedly endorse Zorin OS for those of us who want to use Linux either as a Windows XP replacement or in addition to Windows. I have used Zorin 9 Ultimate, which cost less than $20, and Zorin 9 Core, which I installed on a friend’s old Window XP Dell laptop.

Drive #2, sdb, has Kubuntu 15.10 installed on it. I wanted the latest version of Ubuntu/Kubuntu so I could run the latest version of forked-daapd on it. I have written about forked-daapd here. 

Drive #3, sdc, has LinuxMinut 17.2 KDE installed on it. I like LinuxMint.

Now to the main attraction, Drive #4, sdd. I installed Windows 10 on this 500 GB SATA drive

Now as to acquiring a legit copy of Windows 10, I need two items.

The first was a authentic Windows 7 or 8 license from Microsoft. It’s on an adhesive label stuck on the outside of my PC. I took a picture of it with my camera so that I would not need to contort myself to see it.

The second was  the Windows 10 .iso disk image. This was easy. I Googled for “Windows 10 ISO” and Microsoft’s Web site popped up

Microsoft will make you go through several steps, such as confirming the version you want and the language you want to install it in. You finally end up with a Web address from which  you can download the Windows 10 ISO for 24 hours.

Depending on how good your Internet connection is, you can start to download the ISO. 

 How to make installation media from the Windows 10 ISO

I used my Mac and an external $30 DVD burner to make a DVD installer.

I used a single-sided 4.7 GB DVD to make the installer. A CD is too small.

Now if you use OS X 10.10 Yosemite or below, you can use the Disk Utility to burn a DVD.

If you use the latest and greatest version of OS X, 10.11, you’ll find that the Disk Utility doesn’t include the ability to burn a DVD from the graphic interface. 

To burn a DVD from 10.11 El Capitan, I did the following:


1. Plug in the external DVD burner. Mine just needs the USB 2.0 cable plugged into a  USB port for power and data.

2. Pop in a blank DVD disk. You’ll hear some humming. Then you’ll see this message on your screen:


You inserted a blank DVD


3. Click on “OK” to open the Finder. 

4. You want to go to the folder where you put the Windows 10 Disk Image. In my case, it was the Downloads folder.

5. Find the disk image with the .iso extension. You want to click on it ONCE to select. Don’t double-click on it. You don’t want to open it up.


The Downloads folder with the disk image highlighted


6. Now to the important part. Go to the File Menu of the Finder. You will see a menu similar to this appear.


Burn disk image to DVD


I have highlighted the important command, “Burn Disk Image xxx” which ONLY appears after you insert a blank DVD into the DVD burner AND you select the disk image you want to burn. Click on this command.


7. You will now see this window open up on your screen:


Burn the DVD in the drive



Click on Burn to proceed.


Wait a few minutes and the disk should pop out.


8. Take a Sharpie and label the disk as “Windows 10 install disk” with the date, too.


9. Now I put it into my PC’s DVD drive and restarted the machine. I got a message on screen to press any key to continue booting from the DVD. Press a key,  the letter W for instance, to start the installation process.


Problems I encountered along the way


I encountered several problems along the way. This is how I fixed them. In one case, I needed to buy a $20 program which worked beautifully.


You’ll need to reformat your drive as a Windows drive. I started out to do this from the Windows graphics interface. Pick the drive and then format.

It should have been simple, but it wasn’t. I needed to do some work on the drive’s boot record. For that, I needed to go to the command line.


Go to this article at the Windows Club Web site.  This will walk you through the steps you need to take to fix your Master Boot Record so that you can install Windows 10. 


The other problem I encountered was that I had successfully installed Windows 10, but then I tried to set it up with the Linux Multi-Boot menu.


I used the Boot Repair Disk Utility initially. It’s free and I got it here. You’ll need it, so download it and burn it to a CD or DVD.  

My initial experience was that it set up the Linux drives perfectly, but ignored the Windows installation.

To cut to the chase, I went to and bought their Easy Repair Essentials for $19.75. Go to the System Repair CDs page. 

You download yes, yet another ISO which  you burn to a CD/DVD or install on a USB flash drive. 

You boot up from the DVD/CD/USB flash drive and go through the steps. It will locate your Windows installation and make it bootable.

After you can boot into Windows, but can’t boot into the Linux installations….Now Try the Boot Repair Disk. I got all four of my drives in the Grub Menu. Now I’m happy.


Now why did I turn to Because I’d used the donation ware version of their Easy BCD software with great results. I knew I could trust them. 

$19.75 is a paltry sum to pay. I make $20/hour. I have high blood pressure. A solution like Easy RE is worth the time and money. 

You might solve the problem by Googling for several hours, but at what cost? Follow my late mother’s advice and Make It Easy on Yourself. Buy EasyRE if you can’t get Windows to boot up. It works. 


Well, that’s it for now. Always remember to BACK UP if you want to format a disk that might contain valuable data. 


Tom Briant

Editor,MacValley Blog










Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Wrap-up for December 26, 2015

How to Set Up Your New iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

How to Set Up Your New Apple Watch

Apple Watch Users Discover Another Way to Go ‘Hands Free

Mr. Forrest, a manager at Freebirds World Burrito in Thousand Oaks, Calif., was cutting meat when the timer on his watch started buzzing and beeping. With his hands covered in meat juices, Mr. Forrest sniffed out a solution: He silenced the alarm with his nose.

“It definitely works,” said Mr. Forrest. “Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.”

He said he has used the tip of his elbow to control his Apple Watch, but prefers his nose.

21 useful apps we love right now

Most of these apps work on both iOS and Android.
A few are Apple only.  A few are Android only.

Why I Returned My Apple Inc. iPad Pro

After spending a few days with a new iPad Pro, I decided to return the iPad Pro and continue plugging along with my trusty iPad Air 2.

iPad Pro is hardly the ideal productivity device for what I do

I love my iPad Air 2 as a consumption device, so I was hoping I could at least justify keeping the iPad Pro as a "bigger, better" iPad Air.

Sadly, I couldn't make that case to myself either.

How Tim Cook created a $25 billion beast of a business in 2015 in a market where Apple used to struggle

it wasn't until mid 2014 — when Tim Cook cuddled up to IBM to announce a new partnership to focus on selling more iOS devices to businesses — that Apple woke up and smelled a big new market.

IBM has now created 100 iOS apps for all sorts of business needs.

Locating Missing Mac Mail

How to “Rebuild” a “Mailbox” in Apple Mail

The only 9 apps released in 2015 that we're still actually using

11 apps 'The 4-Hour Workweek' author Tim Ferriss uses every day

100 podcasts that will make you smarter and more successful

How to Track Data Use, and Choose the Right Smartphone Plan

The average amount of mobile data consumed, or the bytes transferred over a cell-phone network, keeps growing every year. In 2014, American wireless subscribers consumed an average of 1.9 gigabytes a month, up from 1.2 gigabytes in 2013. That number is expected to rise to 11 gigabytes in 2019.

Heavier use comes with higher costs: Some carriers, like AT&T and Verizon, charge overage fees of $15 a gigabyte.

Each of the big American carriers offers an app or web tool for monitoring data consumption. But they were generally time-consuming or poorly designed.

Instead, the quickest way to monitor your data use is by simply using your phone. Each carrier has a hidden code that you can punch into your phone to get an update on data use.

For AT&T subscribers, the method is simple. You place a phone call to *DATA# (*3282#). AT&T will send a text message showing the amount of megabytes you have used out of your monthly allotment. It showed that so far this month I have used 464 megabytes out of 3 gigabytes.

Place a call to #DATA (#3282) and Verizon will show a report of your data use, both domestically and internationally.

Sprint customers can send a text message containing the word “Usage” to the number 1311 and get a text message with a data report.

T-Mobile subscribers can place a call to #WEB# (#932#) to receive a quick data summary.

Getting Gmail Verification Codes Without a Smartphone, or a Phone at All

Google has devised several ways besides text messaging to provide its 2-step security codes.

For Parental Controls, iPhones Beat Androids

“You’re giving your kid a lot of power when you hand them a smartphone, and kids’ digital savvy often outstrips their judgment,” said Caroline Knorr.

While it may be tempting to save money by buying cheaper Android devices for children, parents who want tight control over their children’s activities on smartphones will be better off buying iPhones for the family. Apple’s parental controls were detailed and took a while to set up, but they accomplished all of the restrictions that I wanted. The Android system was sorely lacking in features for regulating minors and only offered incomplete solutions for a small number of restrictions.

A key part of Family Sharing is a feature called Ask to Buy. With the feature enabled, whenever a child tries to download an app or make a purchase inside an app, the parent’s iPhone receives a notification and a detailed description of the content. The parent can then choose to allow or deny the purchase.

The feature should come in handy for parents who don’t want their children to rack up hefty credit card bills with in-app purchases.

Why millions are broadcasting their lives for fun and profit on Periscope

Periscope, the live-broadcasting app that lets users hit the "record" button to put almost anything - from views of exotic destinations and discussions about how to get ahead at business to the mundanities of daily life - online in an instant. The videos disappear 24 hours later.

Its push-to-broadcast simplicity and unvarnished aesthetic has attracted a range of stars - and would-be stars - hoping to capitalize on the increasingly dramatic shift of media consumption to mobile devices.

Like having your own reality TV show

I registered my drone. Here's why you should too

as required by a new Federal Aviation Administration rule.

the entire registration process took somewhere between two and three minutes.

there have only been a few serious accidents involving drones so far. But drones aren't toys, though they are increasingly marketed that way. The fact that drones will be a popular Christmas gift this year is no coincidence. 

More than anything, the FAA's drone registration is a way for it to send a clear message that it takes drones seriously - and all drone operators should too.

These incredible undersea cables are what connect you to the worldwide web

Nearly all of that data actually travels on submarine cables stretching hundreds of thousands of miles along the ocean floor.

This animation shows just how many stretch from coast to coast to coast, carrying tweets, YouTube videos, phone calls, and banking transactions as they go.

Take a moment to appreciate just how pervasive undersea cables are, how they survive more than 25,000 feet below the water, and ultimately help you access this article on a distant server.

Neat Video

9 crazy things that could happen after the singularity, when robots become smarter than humans

What Everybody Googled in 2015

People love to google other people. That’s the main takeaway from Google’s annual list of the year’s most popular searches.

Average Internet Speeds Up, But U.S. Still Has Work to Do

South Korea's 20.5 Mbps average Internet speed topped Akamai's list for the third quarter of the year, a figure nearly four times the worldwide average. The United States didn't even make it to Akamai's top 10 list, but it was certainly close with an average Internet speed of 12.6 Mbps (highest of any country in North or South America, at least).,2817,2496861,00.asp

Oregon police bust crime ring attempting to ship $750K+ worth of iPhones to Hong Kong

Tipped off by a suspect buying hundreds of iPhones with Apple gift cards, police in Oregon have cracked down on an organized crime ring that they say was shipping handsets to Hong Kong where they were to be sold on the black market.

The relatively high cost of Apple's devices combined with the company's limited worldwide distribution network — Apple retail stores operate in just 16 countries — provides lucrative arbitrage opportunities for smugglers.

"Backdoor" computer hack may have put government data at risk

But it's not yet clear whether hackers have taken advantage of the opening, or what damage might have been done.

Secret Code Found in Juniper's Firewalls Shows Risks of Government Back Doors

tech giant Juniper Networks revealed in a startling announcement that it had found “unauthorized” code embedded in an operating system running on some of its firewalls.

The security community is particularly alarmed because at least one of the backdoors appears to be the work of a sophisticated nation-state attacker.

“The weakness in the VPN itself that enables passive decryption is only of benefit to a national surveillance agency like the British, the US, the Chinese, or the Israelis,” says Nicholas Weaver

“This is a very good showcase for why backdoors are really something governments should not have in these types of devices because at some point it will backfire,” Prins says.

Green says the hypothetical threat around NSA backdoors has always been: What if someone repurposed them against us?

The first backdoor Juniper found would give an attacker administrative-level or root privileges over the firewalls.

The second backdoor would effectively allow an attacker who has already intercepted VPN traffic passing through the Juniper firewalls to decrypt the traffic without knowing the decryption keys.

Congress Slips CISA into a Budget Bill That's Sure to Pass

CISA had alarmed the privacy community by giving companies the ability to share cybersecurity information with federal agencies, including the NSA, “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” That means CISA’s information-sharing channel, ostensibly created for responding quickly to hacks and breaches, could also provide a loophole in privacy laws that enabled intelligence and law enforcement surveillance without a warrant.

Even in its earlier version, CISA had drawn the opposition of tech firms including Apple, Twitter, and Reddit, as well as the Business Software Alliance and the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

Friday, December 25, 2015

MacValley's post-Christmas message to all of you

Now that the chocolate buzz has started to recede and the guests have started to go home, now it’s time for a post-Christmas message of peace, joy and hard looks at each other. 

To begin with, if you feel your Christmas spirit has drained out of you like anti-freeze out of the engine at Jiffy-Lube, go to Britain’s Spectator magazine to read this article. You won’t agreed with half of them, you won’t know what he’s talking about for some of them; but I’m sure you can come up with a list of twenty things of your own. Have at it. You need a good laugh and probably a decent gin and tonic. 

With regard to the election, just about every candidate now leading in the polls will fizzle out by Labor Day 2016. This is because only idiots who can’t work an answering machine respond to unsolicited telephone polls. 

If you get an unsolicited call from someone who says they’re from the IRS, ignore it. The IRS will mail you the bad news in an official Treasury Department envelope. You have to phone them. The scammer will want you to pay them through a PayPal account. Uncle Sam is not that advanced.

For Heaven’s Sakes, call the IRS about this or talk to your tax preparer. Don’t hand over money to a scary voice on the phone.

Now for some good news. If you have an official Microsoft license for Windows 7 or 8 in your possession, you can upgrade to Windows 10. 

I had wiped out my Windows 7 installation and substituted Linux, but Microsoft let me download the Windows 10 .iso, burn a disk through the Finder, and do a clean installation of Windows 10. More on this topic to follow.

Now for some bad news. Keep OS X 10.10 Yosemite on at least one of your drives or partitions until after tax season. I speak from experience of last year, when Turbo Tax 2014 failed to install on Yosemite. Fortunately, I kept an installation of 10.9.5 on an external drive. Here are Apple’s own instructions for installing OS X onto an external drive of some sort. 

So good night to all. I’ve got Jim Svejda on turned up for holiday music.  Time for the decent booze. 

Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Voice









Tom's Top 5 tips for malfunctioning holiday computers

Good Christmas Day to all. Here are 5 tips for holiday computer hardware.


1. If it doesn’t work at first, turn it off, wait five minutes, and then turn it back on. 

2. If you’re giving someone a gift that requires Wi-Fi access, make sure you’ve got the 
Wi-Fi router name and password ready to pass out. You probably should have done this last night, instead of this morning in your pajamas.

3. If you intend to share a wired connection to your router, make sure you’ve got a long cable. Murphy’s Law states that the length of the connection is always shorter than the cable. 

4. For God’s Sake, keep the holiday goodies away from the computer hardware. You don’t want to spill egg nog or mimosas or whatever holiday beverages you enjoy into the keyboard or innards of that new $750 laptop!

5. If the error message  you see on the screen mystifies you. just type it into Google and press the ENTER key. You could also copy and paste it into the Google entry box. Someone at some time encountered this same problem as you did and posted it on-line. 


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog







How to Set Up and Get to Know Your New PC, Mac, Android, or iPhone

How to Set Up and Get to Know Your New PC, Mac, Android, or iPhone: ""



Advice from Enjoy!


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

35 Items In Your Home That You Can Get Rid of Right Now

35 Items In Your Home That You Can Get Rid of Right Now: ""



It’s the end of the year, my fellow nerds. Here’s some tips on what to throw out by January 1st, 2016.


Tom Briant

Editor, Macvalley Blog

20 Mac Power User Tricks - How to - Macworld UK

20 Mac Power User Tricks - How to - Macworld UK: ""



You may know some of these, but you probably don’t know all of them. 


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Kurt Masur Dies at 88; Conductor Transformed New York Philharmonic - The New York Times

Kurt Masur Dies at 88; Conductor Transformed New York Philharmonic - The New York Times: ""



I know this isn’t Mac or even computer related. But I write this blog and I want to pay tribute to a great man and a great musician. 


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Wrap Up for December 18, 2015

The 25 best iPhone apps of 2015, according to Apple

The 27 best apps of 2015 for doing your job

A big Mac initiative by Apple is showing signs of failure

Sketch, a popular Mac app that lots of designers actually liked better than Adobe Photoshop, has left the Mac App Store.  In a blog entry, Sketch developer Bohemian Coding said that there were several reasons why it took the app off the Mac App Store.

Apple forces developers to remove parts of their apps to comply with app-store rules.

Worse yet, it seems as if developers just aren't making a lot of money from the Mac App Store.

The real issue isn't so much Apple's 30% cut, because plenty of developers gladly pay that. It's worth it to have Apple handle hard problems like payments and updates, while also getting the app out in front of more customers.

It's more that Apple is asking developers to make a lot of compromises, on the app itself and on control of their relationship with customers, that they don't have to accept at all if they only choose to publish the app itself.

Finding the perfect email app is hard, especially when the app you love dies

This author loved to use MailBox to read and send E-mails.
To his dismay, the publisher has decided to stop supporting MailBox.
And the author has yet to find another E-mail app that’s anywhere near as good.

Apple has been making a lot of bad design choices lately

The Internet’s Loop of Action and Reaction Is Worsening

there’s also a way in which social networks seem to be feeding a cycle of action and reaction. In just about every news event, the Internet’s reaction to the situation becomes a follow-on part of the story, so that much of the media establishment becomes trapped in escalating, infinite loops of 140-character, knee-jerk insta-reaction.

The spiraling feedback loop is exhausting and rarely illuminating.

The Internet wasn’t supposed to be this ugly. In its earliest days its pioneers harbored grand ideas about the web’s expanding our democratic discourse.

The Internet can make how we talk to one another better or worse. And for now, and maybe for the foreseeable future, we’re leaning toward worse.

IBM's hair dryer hackathon for women in tech doesn't sit well with women in tech

Several social media comments from Women -- working on much more important stuff than hair dryers.

Recovering a Stolen Gmail Account

Google has two plans of action for compromised Gmail accounts, and the one you use depends on whether you can still sign in to the hacked account.

The latest cyberthreat is stealing your house

Deed fraud on the rise in New York, Chicago, Detroit

Interesting story about one person whose home was "sold" fraudulently.

The 14 scariest hacks of 2015

A serious zero-day vulnerability was found in Mac OS X.

A hacker built a $30 gadget that can open car locks.

Just to name a few.

Here's what MacKeeper is — and why you should avoid it

accidentally exposed the details of over 13 million users, according to a researcher.

many users claim that the software doesn't work as advertised.

A Bad Review Is Forever: How to Counter Online Complaints

A good story of a restaurant owner who got bad reviews, made some changes and then got good reviews.

“The minute you see a bad review, look for a shard of truth,” Barbara Schenck said. “Is this something you can improve? Look for what you can fix.” But don’t fight fire with fire by getting into an argument with a reviewer, she added.

NASA, Google reveal quantum computing leap

In an experiment, a quantum computer outperformed a conventional machine by 100 million times

The researchers see it as a promising step, but it comes with some caveats -- not the least of which is that the computer was engineered for the specific optimization task it was tested with.

Quantum computers rely on fundamentally different principles to today's computers, in which each bit represents either a zero or a one. In quantum computing, each bit can be both a zero and a one simultaneously. So while three conventional bits can represent any of eight values (2^3), three qubits, as they're called, can represent all eight values at once. That means calculations can theoretically be performed at much higher speeds.

researchers emphasized that quantum computing is still in the experimental stages and has yet to be commercialized. Rupak Biswas, deputy director of exploration technology at NASA Ames, likened the state of quantum computing to the early development of conventional computers during the 1930s and 40s.

Some scientists have taken issue with D-Wave, which built the quantum computing system at NASA Ames, because they say the machine is not a true quantum computer. They say it uses some quantum computing technology, but that it does not entirely meet their definition because it can only solve a limited range of problems.

This epic slideshow tells you everything you need to know about bitcoin and blockchain right now

two utterly different framings of what surveillance is about: the law-enforcement framing, and the surveillance-studies-style framing. James Comey has come out repeatedly with these sort of talking points from the law-enforcement framing. I don't believe they ultimately stand up to close scrutiny.

It involves a whole bunch of related beliefs, starting with the fact that privacy and security are in opposition with one another, and that there are all these "bad guys" out there, and technology has been a boon to them, because now they have encryption at their disposal.

"We run the risk of going dark." That's the phrase that James Comey uses. A world of dark, locked closets. I think the entire framing is this sort of discourse in fear, to make people believe that we need this almost father figure to protect us, and that we're going to have to give up some civil liberties to do so, but that's somehow for the social good.

I don't think any of it ultimately makes sense, starting from the beginning, that privacy and security are routinely in opposition to one another, and going on through the presumed effectiveness of denying the population access to effective privacy tools, that that will somehow help in a fight against terrorism.

journalism is quite threatened by the possibility of being continually surveilled. It's surprising to me that journalists aren't fighting harder to ensure that they have good and easy access to the tools for privacy.

in a world in which journalists are denied access to sources that can speak up free of fear of governmental intrusion, I think this shuts down an enormously important aspect of what makes democracy work. I don't think you can have a healthy democracy without healthy journalism, and I don't think you have healthy journalism without the ability to conduct a private conversation.

I made a phone call the NSA probably can't listen to with this free app

It's called Signal, and it's an incredibly easy-to-use app for iPhone and Android that allows both encrypted text and voice communications.

It's end-to-end encryption — meaning there is no middleman to intercept — and it just works. 

"I use Signal every day," Edward Snowden tweeted.

There are now programs that anyone can use to extort money from you

Ransomware as a service is a variant of ransomware designed to be so user-friendly that it could be deployed by anyone with little cyber know-how. These agents simply download the virus either for free or a nominal fee, set a ransom and payment deadline, and attempt to trick someone into infecting his or her computer. If the victim pays up, the original author gets a cut — around 5% to 20% — and the rest goes to the "script kiddie" who deployed the attack.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Cristael's column from December 2010 about Hanukkah

Our late President of MacValley’s birthday is tomorrow. In honor of that occasion and of Hanukkah, here is a column she wrote for the MacValley Voice in December 2010


Tom Briant

Editor MacValley Blog





Hi Tom --


Here's the column for December, along with a photo that will be emailed separately. I can't think of a headline for this one, so I'll leave that up to you & Wayne. 







In my first year of teaching third grade in Paradise Hills, one of my Jewish mothers came to our classroom for a special event. She brought with her a mystery box, and she also brought some cookies that smelled so good. Both teacher and kids knew that we were all in for a special treat. 

The mother and her two daughters took a beautiful menorah out of the mystery box, along with a lovely cloth to place the menorah on. And then they told the story of Hanukkah, of how the Jews had won a great victory in a war with the King of Syria. 

Right after the victory, the Jews rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem, in order to cleanse the Temple from the desecration it and the Jewish people had suffered under Syrian rule.

But the Jews quickly realized they had a problem. On the day of the rededication, it was found that sacred flame that was always kept burning in the Temple, had only enough oil left to last for one day.  

Yet, to the joy of all the Jewish people, that sacred flame miraculously burned for eight days, which gave the priests time to press, prepare, and consecrate fresh olive oil for the flame. All twenty-five kids listened with wide eyes as they were told the story of Hanukkah. 

Then mother and daughters lit the first candle in the menorah. And they sang a song of praise and thanks for the miracle of the container of the oil. 

Finally, they talked about the joy of the holiday, and all the fun they had as a family. When the daughters told about getting a present for each of the eight days of the Hanukkah holiday, all the kids said, “Wow! You get that many presents?” 

And the mother leaned over to me and said softly, “Yes, until the money runs out.” 

After the telling of the story of Hanukkah, the fun part started. All the children got to play ‘Spin the Dreidel’, substituting toothpicks for the ornamental coins or ‘gelt’ used at home. 

Mother and daughters also brought paper plates and napkins, so that the children got to eat some of the special cookies made for this holiday. Afterwards, everyone agreed they had all had a really good time. 

This was the beginning of what became a yearly tradition in my classroom. I always enjoyed having my Jewish mothers come to our classroom. It was a special time when my third grade children not only enjoyed a little bit of the fun of this wonderful Jewish holiday, it was also a lesson for all my third-graders in valuing diversity, and in seeing the good in everyone. And above all, it celebrated peace. And isn’t that what this Holiday Season is all about. 

In this special season, we wish the Happiest of Holidays to each and every MacValleyite, and throughout all the world may there be Peace.  


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Wrap-up for 12/6/2015

Why Apple Dumbs Down Your Smartphone

FDA regulations.

since many of the more sophisticated offerings help people diagnose their own illness, FDA says they meet the definition of being a medical device. That makes them subject to a regulatory scheme that was crafted more than 40 years ago, before these technologies were ever imagined. tested Apple's new stylus along with four different note-taking apps, to find the best software for hand-drawn text and image markup.

‘Freeform Canvas’ from OneNote gets the job done

I'd never used Notability before my Pencil tests, but it quickly became my favorite tool for marking up and sharing documents.

The other two apps don’t quite get the job done.

New drone flyover gives up-close look at Apple’s rapidly progressing Campus 2

This Is Phil Schiller's Grand Unified Theory of Apple

Apple iPad Pro Claims Its First Victim As It Destroys Google's Flagship
the iPad Pro has killed Google's Chromebook Pixel.
The iPad does everything the Chromebook does, and a load more.
Of course, the Pixel is just one of the devices that run Chrome OS, and I have long said that these devices are absolutely excellent if you need something to do basic surfing, email and writing. I use one all the time, although as I review the iPad Pro I am finding myself using that device more, but purely down to the number of apps. But when it comes to a $200 Chromebook vs. a $700 iPad, there’s no way Apple can win that battle. And when Google moves more Android apps on to Chrome OS then things might start to get interesting.

For now though, the iPad Pro has killed the Google Chromebook Pixel. Google’s over-specified device might be a work of art from design and performance perspectives but it can’t match the flexibility of the iPad, nor can it come close on weight. Even the screen isn’t the triumph it should be.
AW comment:
When I visited this page, it also had a neat video “Unboxing Apple’s iPad Pro: A Knife in the Heart of Laptops” that also showed the unboxing of some accessories.
Half a year later, the Apple Watch feels like a stalled platform
The main issue: I’m still only using it for a few tasks, and those haven’t changed at all.
The watch was designed as a sibling to the iPhone. Its capability feels constrained, because it is. Everything has been optimized for power efficiency. It relies on the iPhone for configuration, intelligence, and internet access. This has been a known issue since the beginning.

But after months of use, it’s increasingly clear that this is what needs to change the most. The watch needs to be untethered from the iPhone for speed, independence, and direct access to the power of the cloud. Or it will never be more than a cute sidekick.
23 iPhone-only apps that will make your Android friends jealous
Should You Update to Apple OS X El Capitan?
This is a relatively recent upgrade.  Not all of the bugs have been quashed yet.
Many people should wait a while longer.
iPad Pro and its rivals are changing the tablet market

The transition to detachable tablets signals a shift in how people are using the touchscreen machines, from casual interaction to productivity
Apple's App Store has a copyright infringement problem, business owner claims

Brian Raub runs a travel review site called that employs 3 editors and 20 paid freelancers who review lake vacation spots across the country. The website's content is original and earns revenue through web advertising, but Raub was recently tipped off to a handful of paid iOS apps that repackage and resell content from his website.

Apple eventually pulled the 11 piracy apps from the App Store.

Why Developers Are Shunning Apple's Mac App Store

The choice of whether to be in the store or not often comes down to what a developer wants a specific app to do. And that choice often hinges on one word: "sandboxing."

Those restrictions were designed to reduce the risks of malware gaining access to your Mac's most sensitive bits. But they effectively tied the hands of software developers.

They also cite Apple's review process.

Developers point out that virtually all these problems are solvable - but they aren't sure Apple has any desire to solve them.

The toys that will actually teach your girls engineering skills

there are great STEM toys that offer exciting opportunities for girls to build a strong foundation of skills in science, technology, engineering, and math. The best STEM toys, like the toys in this guide, will always be the kind that offer a wide range of opportunities at varying levels of difficulty. Metaphorically speaking, these are the kind of toys that grow with a child.

Teens still don't think Facebook is cool but they use it more than any other social site
Controlling the Visibility of Your Facebook Profile
This article has several links to Facebooks instructions for controlling things like privacy settings and whether search engines (such as Google) are allowed to search your Facebook page.
Social media lessons businesses can learn from the Kardashians of the world.

Every social media web site is different
If staying on message is the first rule of corporate communications, it is also the cardinal sin of social media.
Different social media web sites should have different messages.
You don't want to see the same thing everywhere.

Don't disappear.  Always show up.
Companies can get a lot of mileage from posting five times a day on Pinterest, while two posts on Instagram is sufficient.
A restaurant chain can start the day with a tweet promoting its breakfast options and end with a post about its dinner menu.

And three more good tips.
How to Sell or Recycle Old Electronics

The author recently tried out three programs for getting rid of used electronics. The programs, Amazon, Gazelle and Best Buy, are available nationwide. Each one was simple to use and headache-free, and he even managed to get a decent amount of money his my old electronics.

Amazon’s trade-in program was his favorite of the three because it accepts such a wide variety of products

Best Buy says it teams up with responsible recycling companies like Electronics Recyclers International and Regency Technologies. Most gadgets can be dropped off for recycling free at Best Buy, though some states require consumers to pay a small fee to recycle certain items, like old TVs.

AW comment:  Don’t forget about Apple’s recycling program at

A chief scientist at Microsoft says we're less than five years away from computers understanding us perfectly

"In the next four to five years, computers will be as good as humans" at understanding the words that come out of your mouth, Huang says.

10 jobs robots already do better than you
The world's greatest minds have been terrified of AI becoming smarter than humans for 60 years
There are stil compelling criticisms about the whole idea of computational "intelligence." For one, neither hard science nor social science can agree on what intelligence is, and whether it's "computational" in the same way that binary computer code is. Perhaps, as the burgeoning field of embodied cognition is discovering, our bodies are involved in our thinking in crucial ways — which would create some obstacles for creating a computer with general intelligence. 

That's the crazy thing about artificial intelligence and the Singularity. Right now it's a thought experiment. But if it ever comes to fruition, life on Earth will be changed forever.
NSA Surveillance Programs Are Far From Over Despite New Limitations
this individual decision is not likely to meaningfully change the overall level of surveillance and observation of the electronic behavior of American citizens. This is for several reasons. Firstly, this program is a tiny sliver of the collection of electronic data — by both companies and governments — about Americans living in the modern world. The “S” at the end of “governments” is key, because if anyone believes the U.S. government is the only one trying — and likely succeeding — to access these vast troves of electronic information, they are missing out on a major part of the challenge of thinking about surveillance. Additionally, the rise of embedded computing and “the Internet of Things” will only make this omnipresent data creation, collection, and centralized storage more pronounced.
as security guru Bruce Schneier suggests, the modern surveillance state “…is robust. It is robust politically, legally and technically.”What he means is that losing any one program does not seem likely to fundamentally change the level of insight the surveillers have into the lives of the surveilled.



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