The MacValley blog


Welcome to the MacValley blog, your first stop for all the latest MacValley news and views.


Tom Briant

The MacValley blog

Editor: Tom Briant


Click here to email Tom

Click here for Tom's profile



To search the blog posts please use the box below

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Web Wrap-Up

I’ve been wearing an Apple Watch for two and a half weeks, and I have to tell you, this is not a watch; it’s an iPhone extender.

When Apple reinvents a category of products, our initial analysis is stuck in the old paradigm. I remember in 2007, when Apple came out with the iPhone, that commentators were arguing that no one would want to watch movies on its tiny screen.

Most people won’t appreciate the on-your-wrist factor until they wear the Apple Watch for a while. In the past I’d miss phone appointments all the time: I’d have a call scheduled, I’d be engrossed in research while listening to music, and I wouldn’t hear the reminder about the appointment in Outlook or on my iPhone. Apple’s vibration reminder gets me to look at my watch every time.

Apple Watch Is Not User-Friendly

Configuring the Apple Watch was not at all intuitive for me.

With a traditional watch on one wrist and an iPhone always with me, I struggled to find a compelling use for my Apple Watch. The slow app performance, the draining of my iPhone’s precious battery during the necessary tethering between the two devices, and having to charge the watch every night, made it a gadget whose novelty quickly wore off.

I traded in my big iPad for an iPad Mini and I can't believe what I was missing

I was an early iPad adopter.  But recently I've noticed that I started using it less. The real reason I wasn't using it much anymore was simple — it's just too big

So I got a refurbished 32GB iPad Mini 2 for $299 from Apple.  I love this thing. It feels natural in my hands in both landscape and portrait orientations, and never really feels cumbersome. Typing is more natural, gaming feels more intuitive, and reading even feels closer to the experience of a book. 

And you still get a much larger screen than your phone to watch videos and play games.

While my old big iPad increasingly spent its time gathering dust in my room — or never leaving my backpack — my iPad Mini is a constant companion.

11 secret features hidden in your Mac

Steve Wozniak sells his home inspired by the technology company's legendary design for $3.9 Million.

Lots of interesting photographs.

Tim Cook gives the Government a Strong Warning

When Apple announced it would implement strong encryption on its iOS mobile operating system, for example, one senior US police officer said the iPhone would "become the phone of choice for the pedophile."

Speaking at an event hosted by Washington nonprofit EPIC honouring him for "corporate leadership" on Monday, Cook rejected this analysis emphatically. "Like many of you, we at Apple reject the idea that our customers should have to make tradeoffs between privacy and security," the CEO said. "We can, and we must provide both in equal measure. We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy. The American people demand it, the Constitution demands it, morality demands it."

The US government is pleading with tech companies to move away from strong encryption. President Obama hasn't called for an outright ban, but he wants to be able to track communications when possible.

Some governments have also requested that they be given "back doors" that can give them access to online services, but Cook disagreed with that idea: "If you put a key under the mat for the cops, a burglar can find it, too. Criminals are using every technology tool at their disposal to hack into people’s accounts. If they know there's a key hidden somewhere, they won't stop until they find it ... Removing encryption tools from our products altogether, as some in Washington would like us to do, would only hurt law-abiding citizens who rely on us to protect their data. The bad guys will still encrypt; it's easy to do and readily available."

Cook also took the opportunity at the EPIC awards dinner to attack companies like Google and Facebook. "Our privacy is being attacked on multiple fronts," he said. "I'm speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They're gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetise it. We think that's wrong. And it's not the kind of company that Apple wants to be."

Tim Cook's attacks on Google and Facebook reveal a giant problem for Apple's future

Google and Facebook respond to Tim Cooks privacy statements.

Ben Thompson, an independent writer/analyst, thinks Cook is being disingenuous at best, and at worst setting up Apple for trouble in the long run.

Thompson wrote "This may sound like semantics but the difference is significant: Google and Facebook do know a lot about individuals, but advertisers don’t know anything — that’s why Google and Facebook can charge a premium!"

First, people have demonstrated they don't mind trading off a little data for a fantastic, free service like Facebook or Google.

Second, and more important, there's a much bigger problem for Apple if it really wants to avoid collecting data on its users. The future of computing will rely on careful collection of data from users.

Apple writer John Gruber John Gruber admitted that privacy alone isn’t a selling point:
"Apple needs to provide best-of-breed services and privacy, not second-best-but-more-private services. Many people will and do choose convenience and reliability over privacy. Apple’s superior position on privacy needs to be the icing on the cake, not their primary selling point."

For now, Apple is doing well. But in the long run, this could be a problem. As Thompson says, "to collect less data is to, in the long run, deliver a worse product — and that would be antithetical to Apple’s mission."

The First Lawsuit Involving the Apple Watch has been Filed

Apple has been sued by a Missouri patent troll for infringing their acquired patent relating to a smartwatch.

Mac attack! Nasty bug lets hackers into Apple computers

Macs purchased one year ago or before, apparently, leave a door open.

When a Mac goes into sleep mode and wakes back up, it allows direct access to the BIOS. It's a weird quirk that lets someone tamper with the code there. That's what was discovered recently by Pedro Vilaça, a curious independent computer security researcher in Portugal.

This isn't an easy hack. An attacker first needs administrative access to a machine. But what this means is that if a Mac gets hacked with a low-level computer virus, it can bury so deep you'll never find it.

Tod Beardsley, a security research manager at cybersecurity firm Rapid7, stressed that most Mac users aren't likely to get hacked because of this bug. He said the flaw is "certainly surprising . but the bar of difficulty is pretty high."

New security flaw found on Apple Macbooks shipped before mid-2014, making them vulnerable to hacks when they enter into sleep mode.

This new security flaw essentially pertains to MacBooks shipped before mid-2014, when they are allowed to go in 'Sleep Mode', as its BIOS protection (FLOCKDN) is deactivated. Once BIOS protection is deactivated, firmware becomes vulnerable to attackers as it allows them to alter the EFI (extensible firmware interface).

MacBooks shipped before mid-2014 which allow the computer to go in sleep mode are vulnerable, however, newer Macs remain immune to this flaw.

I just discovered Spotify after years of managing my music with iTunes and I'm never going back

For over a decade, iTunes was my music hub. No longer.

I finally tried Spotify Premium for the first time last month at the behest of my colleague Ben Gilbert, who also ditched his music collection in favor of Spotify. And unless Apple's upcoming streaming service is truly novel and remarkable, I can't see myself returning to iTunes.

That old Apple mantra, "it just works," has not applied to iTunes for quite some time.

Here are some other reasons why I find Spotify so valuable:

• Unlike iTunes, which encourages you to collect the music you like and listen to it again and again, Spotify urges you to explore and discover new things.
• You can listen to almost any song at any time with Spotify. With iTunes, you can preview these songs, but you'd have to buy them outright if you want them on all your devices.
• Spotify has a better system for getting music on and off your devices.

There are plenty of other reasons why I love Spotify now, but it all boils down to one simple fact: It feels like Spotify truly loves and cares about music.

Education’s importance is incontrovertible – teaching is my day job, so I certainly hope it is of some value. But whether it constitutes a strategy for economic growth is another matter.

In fact, the push for better education is an experiment that has already been carried out globally. And the long-term payoff has been surprisingly disappointing.

Clearly, something other than education is needed to generate prosperity.

the fastest growing nations must be doing something in addition to providing education.

Most of the skills that a labor force possesses were acquired on the job. What a society knows how to do is known mainly in its firms, not in its schools. At most modern firms, fewer than 15% of the positions are open for entry-level workers, meaning that employers demand something that the education system cannot – and is not expected – to provide.

When presented with these facts, education enthusiasts often argue that education is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for growth. But in that case, investment in education is unlikely to deliver much if the other conditions are missing.

They couldn't make it on their own.

Walt Mossberg, one of America's two most famous tech columnists, shot himself in the foot. He left the "Wall Street Journal."

And then you've got David Pogue, Mossberg's nemesis, who left the "Times" for Yahoo and was promptly buried in the tsunami of bogus information on that site. He went from being one of the two experts to a nobody.

So what have we learned...

Just because you're a star don't think you're bigger than the enterprise.

Bottom line... ReCode had the best tech news in the business. Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher built a team of experts. But nobody cared, nobody went to the site, they thought their minions would follow them but it turned out they were aligned more with the "Wall Street Journal," their former home, than the writers themselves.

A lot of little things go into making a successful site. Why did AOL triumph? IT WAS EASY!

You've got to make it easy. You've got to make it forwardable. You've got to make it accessible. You've got to either break news or explain it or both.

Good reader comments here.

Microsoft is taking over my iPhone

Microsoft altered its mission last year to make people more productive no matter what device they use. Part of that process is making sure it has great apps on your home screen, even if those apps were originally made by third parties. And so far, it's picking nothing but winners.

Ray Kurzweil thinks we'll all be cyborgs by 2030

Social media apps are tracking your location in shocking detail

If you’re like most, you probably don’t want to broadcast your whereabouts at all times. But a lot of social media apps are tracking your location and making it easy for others to do the same.

Thanks to a new Google Chrome extension called Marauder's Map we now know that you can get some pretty creepy location data from the messaging app.

This hacked toy can open many garage doors in seconds

Even your children's old toys can be ideal for hacking into your home.
Samy Kamkar, a security researcher, has found a way to hack a common Mattel toy to turn it into a universal garage door opener.

The inner workings are complex but efficient, due to the fact that it only needs to work its way through a few thousand possible passcode combinations.  It was able to open a garage door in under a minute, brute forcing its way through the four different frequencies Kamkar found in susceptible garage doors.

U.S. officials suspect that hackers in China stole the personal records of as many as 4 million people in one of the most far-reaching breaches of government computers.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing the breach, detected in April at the Office of Personnel Management.

Described as one of the largest thefts of government data ever seen

Whoever was behind the latest theft of personal data from US government computers, they appear to be following a new trend set by cybercriminals: targeting increasingly valuable medical records and personnel files.

This data, experts say, is worth a lot more to cybercriminals than, say, credit-card information.

Medical information can be worth 10 times as much as a credit card number.

No comments:

Post a Comment



Blog Archive