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Tom Briant

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Onyx: Mac Maintenance Made Easier

Onyx: Mac Maintenance Made Easier: ""



Make your life easier and use Onyx!


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog


Restore Smart Searches to OS X Finder's Sidebar

Restore Smart Searches to OS X Finder's Sidebar: ""



Add some functionality back to the Finder’s sidebar that Apple took away in 10.7 and afterward. But you can do it!


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog


Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Wrap-up for Sunday, December 25, 2016


Apple Mac Users Should Upgrade Their OS Immediately To Avoid This Serious FileVault2 Exploit

you’re probably going to want to apply the latest security update as soon as possible. Researchers have discovered a vulnerability that takes advantage of a security hole in macOS FileVault2, which makes it possible to retrieve a user’s clear text password.
Apple's new MacBook Pro has battery problems, Consumer Reports says
Consumer Reports does not recommend buying the new MacBook Pro from Apple Inc. appl a first for the magazine in regards to the tech giant's popular laptop computers, and said issues it found with the devices' battery life was the reason. In a review published Thursday, Consumer Reports said it purchased three models of MacBook Pro laptops and found "battery life results were highly inconsistent from one trial to the next."
Apple working with Consumer Reports to pin down inconsistent MacBook Pro battery test results
Whether or not the truth of the inconsistent battery results some are seeing on the MacBook Pro comes down to flawed tests, flawed software, or flawed hardware is unfortunately not something we can definitively say right now.
The New MacBook Pro: The Complete Filmmaker Review
We put Apple’s newest MacBook Pro through in-depth testing to see how it holds up for filmmaker needs.
AW comment:  This is the most thorough review of any Apple product that I can remember.
Also has better advice on which Apple laptop to buy than other reviews I’ve read.
The 11 most important differences between Macs and PCs
You get better customer support with a Mac.
Apple prides itself on design … but Microsoft is catching up.
Macs tend to be safer against malware, viruses and hackers.
Macs are usually more expensive than Windows PCs.
Windows is better for hardcore PC gamers.
11 Apple Watch tips every owner should know
How to turn on iOS parental controls in 20 seconds
The best lenses for iPhone photography
You can buy add-on lenses for your iPhone, and take pictures that would not be possible without them.
The Ampware iPhone case charges your phone on the go using a built-in crank

It allows you to recharge your iPhone, even when you don’t have access to electricity.
In theory, you could conceivably hit the trail without even carrying a charging cable, provided you don’t mind turning the crank on a regular basis.

Apple Airpods Review:  Wireless that Wows, Earbuds that Don’t
While Apple Earbuds fit most people’s ears, they don’t fit the ears of this author.  He wrote:
“Despite great battery life, wireless performance, and good sound, too much of my time with AirPods was spent fighting to keep them in my ears.”
“That might not be the case for you, however. In fact, Apple’s betting it won’t be. So if you share Apple’s wireless dream, and EarPods fit you pretty well, there’s a good chance you’ll like AirPods, too. Just make sure you try them on first.”
How To Take 360 Degree Photos On Your iPhone 7 Or iPhone 7 Plus: Quick User Guide
Taking 360-degree photos on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is fairly easy and straightforward, so a quick guide and some tips and tricks are all you need.
The first 13 apps you should download for your new iPhone
Top 2016 Smartphones With The Best Camera: iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S7, Google Pixel, And More
Here is a list of smartphones with the best camera for 2016. To make things a little interesting, let us begin from the top.
10 awesome iOS 10 tips that will make you an iPhone power user
First look: IBM's Watson Analytics comes to the iPad
IBM today announced Watson Analytics Mobile for iPad -- an app that can be used along with a free personal or paid enterprise Watson account.
Most features are available to free-account users -- except for analyzing Twitter hashtags, although if you're new to Watson, you'll get a 30-day trial of that.
If you've ever wondered how much information can be squeezed out of a four-year old iPhone, you might be surprised.
Recently, information was leaked from a law firm that shows the depth of information that could be taken off an Apple iPhone 5 running iOS 8.
This is why you should really encrypt your iPhone
Since it’s encrypted with your password or fingerprint, an iPhone is useless to anyone looking to force their way into the data stored on it. But is that really so? Not quite.

Cellebrite is a well-known Israeli security firm that’s an expert in hacking smartphones including Apple’s flagship product.
ZDNet has inspected leaked files that showcase the power of Cellebrite’s software. ZDNet received earlier this year a series of “large, encrypted files purportedly belonging to a US police department as a result of a leak at a law firm,” which synchronized its backup systems over the internet without a password.
Cellebrite says it can’t hack passcode on the iPhone 4s or later. iOS 8 was the first iOS release to come with password encryption. Starting with the iPhone 5s, Apple also included a secure enclave co-processor in the phone to make phone-hacking even harder, if not impossible.
2016: Apple's year of ups and downs
20 years ago Apple re-hired Steve Jobs by buying his struggling startup for $400 million

The whole 'Mac vs. PC' thing is so over, and 'Android vs. iPhone' is close behind

Because so much of what we do these days is based in the browser and in the cloud, Mac versus PC is no longer a lifestyle decision like it was back when boxed software ruled all.

It's just a matter of taste. Even Microsoft knows it.

And in the exact same way, because of the rise of the App Store model, iPhone versus Android is barely a thing anymore to most people. That's why analysts now believe that iPhone versus Android is "stable" — nobody cares anymore.

The operating system wars are over.
After many years of being a Mac faithful, I've been using Windows 10 for the past year

They can both win. Windows and Apple have their die-hard fans, sure, but they can happily coexist.

The same goes for the mobile platforms, too.

Apple and Google both won. Apple's iPhone is ridiculously profitable, while Android dominates with something like 87% of the market. Each of them got exactly what it wanted from the smartphone business. Apple is selling a lot of profitable iPhones; Google gets its web services and search engine in front of more people.

Everything you need to know about the $3,000 Surface Studio — Microsoft's first desktop PC
Here are the countries with the fastest average internet speeds
The U.S. is in 12th place.
Driverless cars will kill at least 128 different types of jobs
Taxi drivers.
Police departments will downsize because driverless cars will obey traffic laws (eliminating a large source of revenue for cities).
Just to name two out of several economic effects.
Artificial intelligence is going to make it easier than ever to fake images and video
Here's a chronological list of data breaches. 900 million records lost so far and still counting.
Hackers get around AI with flooding, poisoning and social engineering
Machine learning technologies can help companies spot suspicious user behaviors, malicious software, and fraudulent purchases -- but even as the defensive technologies are getting better, attackers are finding ways to get around them.
L.A. County hacking investigation results in charges against a man in Nigeria. Now what?
Getting hacking suspects into courtrooms has often been impossible in high-profile cases, especially when a government such as China, Russia or Iran could have been involved in directing the attacks.
38 Crucial Tips to Prevent Card Fraud (Infographic)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Gifts to get yourself once you get your new Mac home

I have written about what you should give the person getting a new Macintosh. Now I would turn my attention to those of you who received a new Mac for the holidays.


First, I would suggest you download LibreOffice 5.x for those instances when someone sends you a file in an format last used in the ‘90s. 

This could include Appleworks & Clarisworks, the precursors to today’s iWork. LibreOffice will open word processing, spreadsheet and presentation

Files for this line of compact office suites written for the old PowerPC Macs.


LibreOffice will also read old Word for Windows and Word for Mac formats that the latest versions of Word will not open. It will also open Wordperfect for DOS &

Windows and Mac files. So this is a very handy piece of software to possess. You may use iWork or Office for Mac as your main office suite, but sometimes you need some help.


Second, if you have audio &video files in oddball formats that DVD player & QuickTime Player won’t open, you will need VLC 2.x. This piece of software opens an

Amazing number of audio and video formats past and present. It will also play commercial DVDs and allow you to take snapshots of individual frames of the DVD.


Third, for Mac owners, I would recommend getting The Unarchiver. You will find this in the Mac App Store under the top free apps listing. It will open more archive formats than the

Buiilt-in macOS archive software.


Fourth, when you want to remove an app with all its preference files, use an application such AppCleaner. It is a free basic app. Other apps such as the paid AppDelete will perform additional

Functions. But to just get rid of an app, AppCleaner works fine.


Fifth and Sixth, I would recommend either Onyx or Cocktail. These two utility apps allow you to adjust preferences that Apple only lets you change through the Terminal default command. Now you

Can do it through a graphic interface. These commands include changing the screenshot’s file format and which directory to store it in.


Onyx and Cocktail come in versions specific to each macOS release. You don’t use the one written for macOS Sierra with OS X El Capitan!


Onyx is free and Cocktail costs $19. Try them both (Cocktail has a generous test period) and see which one you prefer.


Finally, I”d get Firefox and Chrome in addition to Apple’s own Safari. If you do work on other computers and OS besides macOS, these two browsers can be worth their weight in gold.


That’s my recommendations. If you enter a request for recommendations on Google, you’ll get all kinds of suggestions. 


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog





Saturday, December 17, 2016

Gift from the Computer Literate to Give to the new computer owner

In my last column, I gave advice for non-computer literate people on what to give someone with a computer. 

Now I will give advice to those of us who do know their way around computers on what to give computer owners, particularly new computer owners.


First, get them a backup drive. Get them two backup drives. Having a backup of your Mac or Windows or Linux machine is of utmost importance.  If you own a Mac, use one of those drives with Time Machine to keep an hourly backup. Use the other one with Super-Duper or Carbon Copy Cloner to keep a frequently updated clone of your system. If your system fails due to hard drive/SSD malfunction, you can swap in this clone drive to resume work almost immediately.

Second, give them a USB wired keyboard and a USB wired mouse or trackball. It doesn’t have to be the fanciest keyboard and mouse.  $20 will buy an Amazon Basic keyboard and mouse. You want a wired keyboard because some functions, such as switching between boot up volumes using the Option/Alt key and switching into Safe mode, require a wired connection.

Macs don’t require a special keyboard. Just substitute the Windows key for the Command key. I wrote an article here about using the Keyboard Preference Pane to switch the Windows key with the Alt key if you want the same keyboard placement as a real Apple keyboard

Besides, your new computer user may not like the touch of the notebook’s internal keyboard. Some people cannot get used to the trackpad on a notebook. So just plug in a wired keyboard & mouse combo and they can type away in comfort.

I’m not rejecting wireless keyboards, though, I use my favorite Logitech 2.4 Ghz wireless keyboard and mouse now and I am very happy with them. It’s just at certain times; you’ve got to have that wired connection.

Third, get some USB flash drives. Get some novelty figures and get some roomy drives, too. A Batman, a Snoopy, and some 64 GB drives make for great stocking stuffers.

Fourth, consider an Uninterruptible Power Supply if the recipient lives in an area with fluctuating power. I should warn you that an Uninterruptible Power Supply is heavy, as it contains a sealed heavy-duty battery. The unit charges the battery on a trickle charge while the battery runs circuitry to provide uninterrupted power. A word of warning, though: Don’t plug high wattage devices into the UPS’s sockets. High wattage devices mean laser printers. I think of laser printers as high-tech waffle makers.

Fifth, get them a good set of speakers or a nice set of headphones.  If your recipient, like me, listens to music through their computer using iTunes or Spotify or Pandora; they’ll appreciate a good set of speakers. If you have to live with them in close quarters, you’ll appreciate them having a good set of headphones so they don’t share their taste (?) in music with you. 24 hours a day.

Sixth, they’ll need a container of wipes, like those Lysol/Vons wipes you buy in a pop-up plastic container. The computer owner needs to wipe up spills and crumbs to keep away unwanted vermin. You can plunk this on their computer desk the day after Christmas or Hanukkah. 

Seventh, and this comes from my friend Quin of QAL Consulting in Indianapolis, IN, get some cans of compressed air. You will find these very handy in getting rid of crumbs.

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Wrap-up for 12/15/2016

WatchOS Update Pulled After Reports Of Apple Watch Problems

Apple has suspended its latest software update to Apple Watch after users complained that it made the smartwatches useless.

Earlier this week, Apple released watchOS version 3.1.1 as an upgrade, but it immediately set off alarm bells with users who complained that the software was faulty.

Latest watchOS update bricks some Apple Watches

Unfortunate users that installed the update—which launched on Monday and promised various bug fixes—were left with watches displaying a red exclamation mark on the screen and a link to The issue appears to mostly affect the Apple Watch Series 2, although not every user has experienced problems with the update.

Apple pulls watchOS update after reports of bricked watches

The first swimming app designed for the Apple Watch, MySwimPro, was recently named the Apple Watch App of the Year, as selected by Apple Store editors.

MySwimPro delivers customized workouts and instructional video content to swimmers, both amateur and advanced, who are trying to achieve their fitness goals.

A University of Michigan accelerator company secured a number one spot as a part of Apple's recent announcement celebrating the Best of 2016 for apps

MySwimPro, the top fitness app for swimmers in over 150 countries and a member of the U-M's Desai Accelerator 2016 cohort, was named the Apple Watch App of the Year.

iOS 10.2 includes new emoji, the TV app, and a big pile of other tweaks

After seven betas and a couple of months of testing, Apple has released the final version of iOS 10.2 to all devices that run iOS 10. This is the second major update released for iOS 10 since it came out in September and, like iOS 10.1 before it, this release adds a couple of new features and provides an extensive list of fixes for existing ones.

iOS 10.2 Update: The 5 Best Features For Your iPhone

New TV app
New Emoji
Cable TV Single Sign-On
Preserve Camera Settings

Here's what every symbol on top of your iPhone means

11 iPhone apps I can't live without

Apple’s $30 earbuds are way better than the new $160 AirPods

Aside from being wireless, there’s not much that justifies AirPods’ high price. Here are 5 reasons you should buy EarPods, Apple’s wired in-ear headphones, instead of AirPods.

Apple's MacBook options are a frustrating mess

Shopping for a MacBook used to be really simple. Want the thin one? Get an Air. Doing a lot of work? Get the Pro.

But Apple has made things tricky since the good ol' days.
Comparison shopping between the three latest models of MacBook (MacBook Air, MacBook and MacBook Pro) is complicated.
It was much simpler in years past.

2016 Apple MacBook Comparison Guide

Last week, Apple came under fire from a mob of outraged customers crying outtheir brand new Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro laptops don’t seem to last nearly as long as the 10 hours the company promises on its website.

In an effort to curb criticism, the Big A has made an executive decision to ‘fix’ the issue by axing the ‘time remaining’ estimate that shows up in the status bar once you click the battery icon.

New MacBook Pro Users Report Improved Battery Life on macOS 10.12.2

Apple released macOS 10.12.2 yesterday with stability improvements and fixes for several key bugs, including major graphics issues plaguing some late 2016 model MacBook Pro users. 

What the changelog did not mention is that Apple also removed the "time remaining" battery life indicator following an increasing number of battery life complaints, likewise among new MacBook Pro users. 

What it may have also failed to mention is that macOS 10.12.2 appears to have led to battery life improvements for some users. A growing number of MacRumors forum members using the new MacBook Pro claim to be experiencing longer battery life after updating to macOS 10.12.2, despite experiencing less-than-desirable battery life while running macOS 10.2.1 just days earlier.

How to Fix (Hopefully) the MacBook Pro Battery Life Problem

Consumer Reports has been testing all three MacBook Pro models in our labs, and we noticed a problem, too. We haven't yet identified the root cause, but in our experiments, a few easy-to-do adjustments have really helped.

Antoinette Asedillo dug around online, did some experiments, and cobbled together some tactics for boosting battery life. By using a combination of these adjustments, she was able to get all three versions of the MacBook Pro to show more consistent results. And battery life got to the same ballpark figures that previous MacBooks achieved.

To be safe, back up your computer before giving any of her adjustments, Asedillo suggests

Apple employees break their vow of secrecy to describe the best — and worst — things about working for Apple

Apple has a strict code of secrecy that it expects all employees to live by. Anyone who breaks it is fired. Unsurprisingly, employees rarely speak publicly about what it is like to work there. 

Luckily, there are several Quora threads written by former and current employees devoted to answering questions about life inside Apple.

HyperDrive adapter saves you from MacBook Pro dongle hell

Kickstarter project solves 2016 MacBook Pro USB-C issue in one elegant package

A Silicon Valley startup named “Branch" created a new hub called the cPro.  It is undoubtedly one of the most important accessories for the new MacBook Pro. The cPro is a form fitted, all aluminum hub for the new MacBook Pro, that was designed from the ground up to contour and hug the notebook. The cPro gives the notebook access to an HDMI port, 3 super-speed USB 3.0 ports, SD & Micro SD card slots, and a USB-C charging port. Branch has even returned that orange/green charging light that was so beloved in the charger cable of the previous generation MacBook Pro.

Apple Just Stopped iPhones Literally Speaking Your Passwords Out Loud

The vulnerability, found by Turkish patent attorney Davut Hari, has been patched in iOS 10.2.

If you own an iPhone, you should download Apple's new troubleshooting app right now

Apple Support, Apple's latest app, collects help support documents, troubleshooting tips, and direct access to repair shops like Apple Stores in one place.

You can download it from the US App Store right now.

Most of the information available on the app can also be found online, but Apple has done a great job of collecting it in one place.

How to Change Which Apps Track Your Location on iPhone

11 paid iPhone apps on sale for free today

Apple's 2016 report card: Grading all the new hardware Apple released this year

Camera+ is one of the best photo apps for iOS and now it’s even better because it supports the iPhone 7 Plus’ dual camera as well as support for taking and editing RAW photos.

The update, which is free for existing users ($2.99 for new users), is one of the most significant the app has seen in quite some time.

A big feature addition is RAW support. The RAW format is preferred by professional photographers because it allows for more granular control over colors, color balance, and brightness.

The Gadget Apocalypse Is Upon Us

Remember gadgets?  They were little electronic things that did stuff for you.

For 30 or 40 years, through recessions and war, through stability and revolutions, they were always there, one gadget after another, from transistor radios to TRS-80s to Walkmen and Gameboys, then iPods and Flips, GoPros and Fitbits. We were sure gadgets would always be with us, because they had always been with us, and it was good.

But no. Winter is coming for gadgets. Or maybe winter has already come for gadgets.

What happened to gadgets?

Suddenly, out of nowhere, the Thing That Does Everything emerged from Cupertino, Calif. That was almost 10 years ago now. You know what I’m talking about: the iPhone. We knew the Thing was going to be big, but we didn’t know it would be this big. When the Thing threatened to eat up all the gadgets, nobody thought it would really happen.

5 Geeky Ways to Know Why iPhone is Better Than Google Pixel

Google Drive update makes it a little easier to switch from iPhone to Android
New backup method lets you bring your contacts, calendars, and photos with you when you jump ship.

The story behind the story: Switching your data between platforms is one of the biggest barriers for would-be switchers, and Google and Apple have each been working to make it easier for people who want to make the jump. Apple’s Move to iOS app is a little more comprehensive, moving messages, bookmarks, and mail accounts in addition to contacts, calendars, and photos, but the new Google Drive backup method is certainly an easy way to get started with your new Android phone.

Google just made it super easy to ditch your iPhone and switch to Android

As part of Google’s ongoing effort to make the switch from iOS to Android that much more seamless, the search giant recently introduced a new Google Drive feature designed to assist users who want to transfer their content over from their iPhone to an Android smartphone.

The entire process is extremely straight forward as it simply uploads a user’s important iOS data to Google’s cloud whereupon the data is then pushed back down to a new Android device. From start to finish, the transfer process only consists of two steps.

Google warns that the backup process could take several hours, so users are advised to initiate the process with their device plugged in and Wi-Fi turned on.

Naturally, Apple has its own tool — an Android app called Move to iOS — that makes it just as easy for Android users to transfer all of their data over to an iOS device.

It looks like Adobe Flash’s days are finally numbered

As the open, slicker HTML5 standard has grown, browser makers have begun phasing Flash out of existence.

Now Google is poised to finish things off. The company has been open about its desire to de-emphasize Flash in Chrome.

Worried About the Privacy of Your Messages? Download Signal

BY the time you finish reading this column, you would be foolish not to download the messaging app Signal onto your smartphone and computer.

The free encrypted messaging service has won the acclaim of security researchers and privacy advocates, including Edward J. Snowden. All have said that Signal goes above and beyond other chat tools in keeping electronic communications private.

And now more than ever, we may need it. That’s because hacks are on the rise — look at how the activist group WikiLeaks posted a trove of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, for all to see.

Signal is one of many encrypted messaging services, but it stands out for its uncompromising security and ease of use.

There is no logical reason to skip using Signal. The app is free for Android and iOS, and for computers it is a free add-on for the Google Chrome browser. Plus, it’s easy to install and so architecturally secure that you can have the confidence to say whatever you want without fear of being spied on.

Another benefit is that Open Whisper Systems is a nonprofit that relies on donations and grants, not a business that might eventually have an incentive to share your information with third parties like advertisers.

The most mysterious technological object on the planet should have been destroyed at least three times.

First, the device made it through a violent shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea. Then, it sat submerged in salt water on a sandy cliff 200 feet below the surface of the ocean for more than two millennia. After it was hauled back to dry land in the year 1901, the object was forgotten for nearly a year. A lump of corroded bronze and shredded wood, it was left to rot in an ordinary crate in the open courtyard of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

It should have disintegrated. It almost did.

It came to be known as the Antikythera Mechanism. In the decades that followed, with ever more sophisticated technology to guide them, researchers would begin to understand how the peculiar device once worked. Today, the mechanism is often described as the world’s oldest computer—more precisely, it seemed to be an analog machine for modeling and predicting astronomical and calendrical patterns.

Yet the mystery of the mechanism is only partly solved.

The oldest known analog computer is the device found at Antikythera.

“Before the Antikythera Mechanism, not one single gearwheel had ever been found from antiquity, nor indeed any example of an accurate pointer or scale,” Jo Marchant wrote in her book. “Apart from the Antikythera Mechanism, they still haven’t.”

The author also writes about how challenging searching for information about the Antikythera device is, and how future search engine algorithms might make it easier.

The "end of work" is our opportunity to be human

While some academics predict the “end of work,” tech mogul Marc Andreessen has called the idea of a jobless future a “Luddite fallacy” and MIT economist David Autor thinks this is just another case of “automation anxiety.” Autor argues that computers cannot replace humans for tasks that require “flexibility, judgment, and common sense.” He also cites historical evidence that computers and humans actually prove to be complements in the workforce, not substitutes.

I agree with Andreessen and Autor. But I think this goes deeper than tech and labor economics. Even if advancements in AI and machine learning make computers capable of flexibility and common sense, human work won’t go away.

“The economic problem, the struggle for subsistence,” Keynes writes, “always has been hitherto the primary, most pressing problem of the human race -- not only of the human race, but of the whole of the biological kingdom from the beginnings of life in its most primitive forms … Thus we have been expressly evolved by nature -- with all our impulses and deepest instincts -- for the purpose of solving the economic problem. If the economic problem is solved, mankind will be deprived of its traditional purpose.”

Stanford physicist Savas Dimopoulos muses aloud, “Why do humans do science? Why do they do art? The things that are least important for our survival are the very things that make us human.”

A robot economy is our opportunity to be human.

So for the first time in history, the majority of mankind will have the luxury of asking themselves: what should I do? And when no longer buttressed by the universal survival paradigm, that moral question regresses to an existential one: who am I?

The end of work is our opportunity to be human -- not just to survive, but to live.

5 ways you are screwing up your iPhone battery

A good article on the dangers of “cloud computing”.

Biggest Tech Failures and Successes of 2016

Three Technologies That Needed Fixing

Faulty lithium-ion battery cells were blamed for two high-profile product safety hazards this year: exploding hoverboards and Samsung Galaxy Note smartphones.

During the presidential campaign, Facebook, Twitter and Google faced mounting criticism for letting fake news propagate on their platforms, potentially influencing Americans to cast their votes based on misinformation. When the web resembles the Wild, Wild West, the consequences can be dire.

All virtual assistants, including Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, continued to be subpar this year.

Four Technologies That Were Fixed

Great improvement over the last year: Wi-Fi.

Virtual reality still has a long way to go before it becomes mainstream. But it has made significant strides.

Though none of the encrypted messaging services are perfect, this year marked significant progress toward offering tools that strengthened consumer privacy.

Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live have made mobile live video streams simple to shoot and extremely popular.

Self-driving cars are prone to hacks — and automakers are barely talking about it

Today's self-driving cars rely on spinning sensors called lidar that can cost more than $10,000 each. But it took Jonathan Petit just $43 and a laser pointer to confuse and defeat them.

Carmakers have to ensure that clever hackers can't cause the cars to go haywire.

How Many Times Has Your Personal Information Been Exposed to Hackers?

Read this article to learn which parts of your identity may have been stolen in some of the major hacking attacks in the last three years and what you can do about it. Not all attacks are included here, and many attacks go undetected, so think of your results as a minimum level of exposure.

Yahoo Suffers History's Biggest Known Data Breach

A hacker stole information from more than one billion Yahoo email accounts in August 2013, the company announced Wednesday, December 14, 2016.

Earlier this year, Yahoo announced that information from 500 million user accounts was stolen.

Here's Why Feds Are Winning The Fight To Grab iPhone Passcodes And Fingerprints

There's mounting evidence showing the government is winning in its fight to force citizens to hand over smartphone passcodes and fingerprints.
Going against previous rulings, last week a Florida court of appeals decided a suspect could be compelled to hand over their iPhone passcode. And the decision comes at a time when Californian police are pushing on in earnest to force fingerprints onto cellphones to crack them open, according to numerous court documents uncovered by FORBES.

A court in Florida has said a suspected voyeur can be made to reveal his iPhone passcode to investigators.

Previously, a judge said the defendant could not be made to reveal the code, citing constitutional protections.
That decision has now been reversed by the Florida Court of Appeal's Second District.

The trial court had decided that Mr Stahl could be protected by the Fifth Amendment, which is designed to prevent self-incrimination.
However, Judge Anthony Black's formal opinion to the court quashed the decision.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Holiday Eating Tips from My Cousin

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet

 table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see

 carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum



2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And

 quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even

 rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year

 but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in

 every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic

 or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's

 later than you think. It's Christmas!  


3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of

 gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of

 your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.  


4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk

 or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports

 car with an automatic transmission.  


5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control

 your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is

 to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?  


6. Under no circumstances should you

 exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you

 have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll

 need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate

 of food and that vat of eggnog.  


7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like

 frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position

 yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before

 becoming the center of attention.

 They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're

 never going to see them again.


8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or,

 if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always

 have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor



9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the

 mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have

 some standards.  


10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party

 or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread

 tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.  



Remember this motto to live by:

 Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of

 arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to

 skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body

 thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a



Saturday, December 10, 2016

8 Gifts you can get the computer enthusiasts in your life that they'll appreciate

If you have someone in your life whose life revolves around their computer and you don’t know what to give them…this is Uncle Tom’s list of 8 non-computer items a computer enthusiast will find helpful. 


I’ve used computers personally for close to 30 years now. This is what I’d find useful as a gift:


1. Brother P-Touch labeler and extra batteries and label tape. The enthusiast will have lots of items that look identical and they’ll need to know which one is which. Your gift helps distinguish them at a glance.

2. Power strip. You can never have enough outlets. Get one with a long cord, too.

3. A shredder that can handle DVDs and CDs. 

4. A $50 Amazon gift card. They’ll need to order something after the holidays.

5. Stand alone physical kitchen timer with a loud annoying bell. This is for when they’re engrossed on-line, yet doing laundry or cooking at the same time.

6. Ream of copy paper. Occasionally they’ll need to print something. Sometimes they’ll even need to print it on nice paper for someone else to look at.

7. A box of Zip-Loc style bags and a box of snap-top containers. This goes well with Present #1.The enthusiast will have lots of small items they need to keep separate from each other. 

8. A box of personalized Post-It or Sticky type notes. The P-Touch is for permanent labeling situations. Your enthusiasts will need to make quick temporary notes on many occasions.  


Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog




Our late MacValley President's birthday and a special column she wrote for December

Our late MacValley President, Cristael Bengtson, was born on this day. I miss her. She kept MacValley the physical group going until the end


This is a column she wrote in December 2010 for the Hannukah season. You feel you are one of the third graders smelling the delicious cookies and hearing about Hannukah for the first time. 



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.  






Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog




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