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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Wrap-up for February 6, 2016

Battling Postpartum Depression with an iPhone
"I am so grateful that I documented the good moments during such a dark time, because they remind me that even when we’re in pain, there is beauty. Those amazing moments were real, lovely, and aren’t cancelled out just because I was struggling."
Buying a Refurbished iPad is Actually a Good Idea
According to Apple, before a model gets their "certified refurbished" stamp, it will undergo a thorough test and inspection process. The device is cleaned, the battery is replaced, and all parts identified in the testing process as problematic are swapped with new ones. After Apple deems it worthy, it gets a new serial number (indicating the refurbished status), and is re-packaged with a new box, cables, and documentation.

To further ease your mind, refurbished iPads come with a 1 year limited warranty.
Apple's gigantic iPad Pro outsold Microsoft's entire Surface lineup last quarter — and it was only on sale for 6 weeks
Apple's newest iPad model, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, outsold Microsoft's entire line of Surface tablets last holiday season.
Here's the real story behind that mysterious 'Error 53' message on your iPhone
It's actually a smart security measure from Apple designed to protect all the personal stuff you keep on your iPhone tied to Touch ID like credit cards in Apple Pay.
Here's all the progress Apple's made on its spaceship campus — the 'best office building in the world’
An Expanding Universe of Space Apps

Start with the official NASA app, which is easy to navigate and is free on iOSand Android.
It’s educational, fun and enlightening to browse through the news and recent images from NASA’s many missions.

Check out EO Science 2.0 AR from the European Space Agency (free on iOS and Android).
EO Science 2.0 AR won’t keep you occupied for long: While it’s visually attractive, it doesn’t contain much real science or explanation — you’ll have to search online for that information to better understand the maps. But the app is a lot of fun and will excite younger users.

And that’s just for starters.

Apple Beefs Up Its Security Team By Hiring Zero-Day Exploit Team
Last summer, Xeno Kovah and Trammell Hudson unveiled a serious zero-day vulnerability in OS X letting malware creators completely brick your Mac without any way to reset it to its factory status.
Thunderstrike 2 infected Thunderbolt devices like Ethernet adaptors or external DVD drives. If you reboot your Mac with an infected Thunderbolt device plugged in, the Mac firmware will execute the option ROM on the Thunderbolt accessory before booting OS X. It then bricks the firmware, rendering the Mac unusable.
And it looks like Apple didn’t just fix the vulnerability — it has also hired the team behind this exploit to work on security.
It makes sense that Apple would hire these security experts. Many tech companies hire hackers to fix security holes before they become public. It’s a great way to make sure that your products remain as secure as possible.
Silencing Noisy Web Pages
The most recent version of the Safari browser for OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) includes controls that let you quickly mute audio coming from any open tab in Safari's window.
The App Bubble is dead, long live the App Revolution!

So the App Bubble has popped. But the App Revolution is just getting started. And I'm still betting on the App Revolution in many ways, including holding onto my long-held App Revolution stocks like Google, Facebook and Netflix.

I believe that over the next five years, the great fortunes in the App Revolution will be made, just as the companies that survived the Great Dot-Com Bubble eventually created great fortunes.

We'll want to continue to own the dominant App Revolution companies that have created platforms like Google with Android and Apple with iOS or that have become de facto standards like Netflix with TV and Facebook with social and messaging.

Apps are already a trillion-dollar industry and will only grow from here.
Scientists have found a troubling health trend among people who check social media a lot
Not getting enough sleep — trouble sleeping at night.

Nootropic Brain Drugs Rise in Popularity for Today’s Cutthroat Corporate Climbers

Nootropics, from the Greek “noos,” for “mind,” are chemical supplements that claim to improve cognitive function, increase alertness and strengthen memory and recall.

“Other employees will burn out and ask me, ‘How did you deal with that crazy week?’ ” Andrew said. “It’s like a secret weapon.”

Besides a small dose of caffeine, Rise, which is manufactured in United States, contains two ingredients. The first is L-theanine, an amino acid most commonly found in green tea, which supposedly improves cognition and acts as a mood-booster. The second is bacopa monnieri, an herb that is meant to increase memory performance—Rise is, by weight, more than half bacopa.

These supplements aren’t new, or even terribly experimental. Bacopa, L-theanine and caffeine can all be bought on their own as over-the-counter supplements at local health food stores or pharmacies. What Mr. Brandt is doing is packaging them in a way that makes the concept of a brain-booster more, well, easy to swallow: a nice bottle, no-bullshit packaging and a simple subscription delivery.

“I try to promote brain health so people don’t develop a disease,” Dr. Isaacson said. “In that context, I’m comfortable. But when it comes to trying to game your system and push yourself to new heights … I don’t know. This is, in some ways, uncharted territory in the medical field.”

Dr. Isaacson worries that in the rush to alleviate “symptoms,” nootropics bypass causes.

Interest in pushing the brain beyond its natural limitations is advancing rapidly, even while the medical community is grappling and debating.

Noots bristle at the idea of a lobbyist-laden D.C. body popping up at any moment and taking their stacks away. But as the Nature piece points out, what we’re experimenting with here—the human brain—is possibly the most sensitive and mysterious organ in our body.
The Government Might Subpoena Your Toaster

Law-enforcement officials say they’re running out of ways to spy on criminals and terrorists. Maybe they’re not looking in the right places.

The government could rely on the fast-expanding network of sensors, microphones, and cameras that have broken free from their usual homes in computers, tablets, and smartphones, and taken up residence in smart TVs and intelligent thermostats, networked security cameras and children’s toys, car dashboards, and kitchen appliances.

Scammers and Spammers: Inside Online Dating's Sex Bot Con Job

the widespread use of sexbots — artificially-intelligent programs, posing as real people, intended to seduce lonely hearts into paying for premium service. Bloggers poured over the data, estimating that of the 5.5 million female profiles on the site, as few as 12,000 were real women — allegations that Ashley Madison denied.

A whopping 59 percent of all online traffic — not just dating sites — is generated by bots, according to the tech analyst firm, Are You a Human.

Keeping the automated personalities at bay has become a central challenge for software developers. "It's really difficult to find them," says Ben Trenda, Are You Human's CEO.

The fact that AI con artists are up to such tricks isn't surprising or new. But what's truly phenomenal is the durability of this online hustle, and the millions of saps still falling for it.

The government likes to wail that encryption is the devil and is causing its surveillance efforts to go dark, but a new report by Harvard University debunked that notion; at worst encryption might cause some dim spots, but overall surveillance opportunities are brighter than ever and will even grow. In part, that’s thanks to the Internet of Things.

the "going dark" encryption debate rarely includes discussions of the “ever-expanding ‘Internet of things,’ where telemetry from teakettles, televisions and light bulbs might prove surprisingly, and worryingly, amenable to subpoena from governments around the world.”

The report said “If the Internet of Things has as much impact as is predicted, the future will be even more laden with sensors that can be commandeered for law enforcement surveillance; and this is a world far apart from one in which opportunities for surveillance have gone dark.”

The paper is the result of more than a year of work by a panel of 12 authors, including an esteemed cryptographer, a former federal judge, and a former NSA general counsel.

The authors run down four main factors that will keep those new areas from going dark without state intervention. First, they argue that end-to-end encryption is incompatible with the data collection needed to make money from online services like Gmail and Facebook. They also argue that the modern web is too fragmented for comprehensive encryption to exist at a broad scale. Even if content encryption became widespread, it wouldn't protect metadata, the so-called "front of the envelope" information that can't be encrypted and provides crucial information to investigators looking to map criminal networks. Finally, the authors point to networked sensors and the so-called "Internet of Things," as persistent sources of surveillance data that police can tap into in the future.

The clock is ticking on a time bomb that could blow up a free internet: the TPP

After years of secrecy, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement has finally been released to the public. The shadowy process and overreaching scope of the deal have sparked an international outcry; it’s been roundly condemned as an attack on worker’s rights, the environment, public health, small businesses and startups.

But perhaps the biggest concern is over the impact that it will have on the internet.

Text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Download a Zip file of all 30 Chapters (excluding Annexes) [ZIP, 3.15MB]


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