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Tom Briant

The MacValley blog

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Week Web Wrap-Up for 5/30/2015

Apple’s secret weapon: Incredible customer service

In this regard, Apple reigns supreme. Over the last 14 years, Apple has elevated customer service into a science. Today, the company stands shoulders above the competition when it comes to alleviating the stresses that accompany a faulty tech product.

There are a few overarching reasons behind Apple’s stellar customer service that are worth highlighting.

First off, Apple retail stores are everywhere.

To Apple’s credit, impeccable customer service was one of the key driving forces behind the creation of Apple’s retail stores.

On to the second point: Apple retail stores only specialize in one thing — fixing Apple products.

Apple critics love to talk about the Apple Tax, the idea that Apple users needlessly pay more for a product when suitable and cheaper alternatives are abundant. Such arguments are misguided as they tend to focus more on technical specifications while wholly ignoring other metrics such as build quality, resale value, and yes, customer service.

Controversial Apple iOS 9 Feature Will Damage Google

According to 9to5Mac, next week Apple will unveil ‘Proactive’ as a key new service built into iOS 9.

Proactive won't deliver a killer blow all on its own, but its ability to provide iOS users with the sort of instantly usable contextual data that many users will often search for will inevitably reduce the number of times Google search will be needed.

11 things you didn't know about texting on your iPhone

How to make texting on your iPhone as private as possible

This 50-year-old theory is the reason we all use iPhones and iPads

Moore's Law

Here's the best use we've seen yet for the Apple Watch's secret port

Drawing shows interesting surprise location of the port.

And there's a company that is planning to create a "wrist strap battery" so your Apple Watch will work for two days, not just one.

Cost:  $249 -- almost as much as the cheapest Apple Watch

It's NOT available yet.

Apple Watch charges faster with secret port, but not by much

it'll be relatively easy to build straps that add battery life and other functionality.

Reddit users discovered a bug that locks people out of the Messages app and forces iPhones to reboot when they receive a specific string of English and Arabic characters in a text.

The bug crashing iPhones with a single text also affects Apple Watches and iPads

Look at the ridiculous level of detail Apple takes to make sure the letters on its keyboards can be seen in the dark

Apple Watch user fined $120 for skipping songs while driving

Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak explains the biggest difference between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

He said Jobs had "a very futuristic forward vision, almost a bit of the science fiction, 'Here’s what life could be,' but Bill Gates had more of an execution ability to build the things that are needed now, to build a company now, make the profits now, in the short-term.

"I think that was the biggest difference between them," he said.

Wozniak said that while the late Jobs may now be the more celebrated figure in the story of the rise of personal computers, Gates was the one who really understood how to make money.

This OS Almost Made Apple an Entirely Different Company

Steve Jobs' return to Apple in 1997 almost didn't happen.  Apple almost bought Be Inc., the maker of the Be Box.

BeOS was an insanely fast and efficient operating system for its time.

Its capabilities don't sound like much today but, back in the late `90s, it was able to wow computer users who were used to waiting minutes for Windows to boot and were lucky if they could play even a single video at a time.

How European tech startups get featured at the top of Apple's App Store

Apple Pay’s weakest link

You’re only as secure as your weakest link. That bit of wisdom has hit home for Apple Pay of late.

The weak link is not in the transaction side of things.

What the fraudsters have gone after is the process of installing a credit card into an Apple Pay-equipped iOS device. And that part of the process is implemented by the issuing banks, not by Apple.

Good News for App Developers - Google is Indexing Apps for iOS

Not all iOS apps will be able to get in on App Indexing right out of the gate. Instead, Google has said it will be working with an initial group of test partners.

If you are an iOS app developer and want to become a part of App Indexing, Google has an App Indexing iOS Interest Form you can submit.

What the Heck Happened to Google?

Larry Page abandoned Google's second core philosophy, "It's best to do one thing really, really well," and started doing just about everything.

Steve Jobs taught Apple: to focus only on what it does best, choose products carefully and say "no" to everything else. Funny thing is, that used to be one of Google's principles too - before the kids took over the candy store.

Google just took the lead in the dangerous game called 'Race To Zero'

The price of using "cloud computing" services is going down to zero.

IRS system mined for over 100,000 taxpayer records by fraudsters

weak authentication used by the IRS to protect access to taxpayer data is likely at fault.

To obtain a transcript online, all that was needed to start the process was a Social Security number and an active e-mail address. Once the e-mail address was confirmed as legitimate, the system would then ask a number of questions about personal, financial, and tax information—including date of birth, tax filing status, and address—before providing the transcript for download.

This sort of authentication, called knowledge-based authentication, is highly vulnerable to fraud. It's based on information that never changes, and such data is widely available to anyone willing to pay for it from stolen financial information marketplaces. The transcripts that were fraudulently downloaded were likely made accessible due to leaked Social Security numbers and other personal data from any one of the many recent data breaches, including those at health insurers Anthem and CareFirst.

The IRS will be "sending a letter to all of the approximately 200,000 taxpayers whose accounts had attempted unauthorized accesses, notifying them that third parties appear to have had access to taxpayer Social Security numbers and additional personal financial information from a non-IRS source before attempting to access the IRS transcript application," the agency said in its statement.

IRS data theft: 5 things you need to know 

1. The IRS will send you a letter if your records were at risk.
2. The IRS will offer you free credit monitoring, but that is in no way a catch-all
3. The IRS already knew it needed to do a better job at securing taxpayer data.
4. Personal identity-verification questions are a poor security practice.
5. Your information isn't much safer with the government.

Five Steps to Secure Your Data After I.R.S. Breach

The people who keep us safe from hackers fear new regulations could put them in jail

A firestorm has erupted in the computer security community represented by the twitter hashtag #wassenaar.

New restrictions were proposed by the US Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).

The new regulations will outlaw tools that security researchers need to do their jobs, which is to find and fix security holes before the bad guys find them and use them.

The good news is that these new rules are not yet set in stone. BIS is accepting comments on them until July 20. And it will likely get an outpouring.

Here's how much thieves make by selling your personal data online

The dark web is where the marketplaces for stolen data exist.

*Bank credential: $1,000 plus (6% of the total dollar amount in the account)
*U.S. credit card with track data (account number, expiration date, name and more): $12
*EU, Asia credit card with track data: $28
*Hacking into a website: $100 to $300
*Counterfeit social security cards: $250 and $400
*Counterfeit driver's license: $100 to $150

Healthcare companies are having to pay the most with the average price for a lost data record coming to $363. And retailers' cost per record went from $105 in 2013 to $165 in 2014.

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