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Tom Briant

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Wrap-up for Sunday, March 20, 2016

One year later, Apple's 12-inch MacBook has become my favorite laptop

Apple's computer OS is simply better at tasks that benefit a small pick-up-and-play laptop, from instantly (and reliably) waking from sleep to easy app switching through multi-finger touchpad gestures to simple file previews via a tap of the space bar. It does lack a touch screen, something standard on nearly every new Windows laptop in its price class, but the especially intuitive multitouch touchpad gestures make up for a least some of that missing functionality.

That's why, despite testing and using nearly every new laptop or 2-in-1 hybrid released over the past year, I find myself returning again and again to the 12-inch MacBook. It's become my default go-to for those times when I need a laptop that's quick and easy to pick up and use.

There's a simple reason serious photographers love iPhones despite their flaws

The best smartphone camera in the world lives on an Android. But as a photographer I'm going to stick with the iPhone.

Whereas Android shooters tend to err on the side of bright overexposures, iPhones go darker, preserving details. And by keeping that saturation, contrast, and brightness under control, iPhones leave a lot more room for editing after the fact.

13 ways to fix your iPhone or Mac with common household items

Stock Mac Apps That Apple Quietly Made Useful

The fact is, some of the stock apps aren’t great. Some of them are.
And many apps for OS-X used to be pretty bland, but have seen some big improvements over the years.

How to send self-destructing messages — and other iPhone messaging tricks

Setting Hourly Alarms on Apple Devices

Various ways to set an hourly alarm to remind you to get out of your chair and exercise a little (and be less sedentary)

14 apps every modern gentleman should have on his phone

iOS 9.1 Jailbreak is here – Some things you need to know 

A discussion of the benefits and the risks, and the limitations of jailbreaking an iPhone.

And reasons why most people DON’T need to jailbreak their iPhones.

A Fully Functional Computer for $79? Yep

A Brief History of Robot Law

A new paper by Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington, paints a surprisingly colorful picture of this history, which Calo dates back to a 1947 plane crash involving an Army fighter plane on autopilot.

So far, courts have mostly treated robots as mindless machines and held humans responsible for their actions. What’s changing now, Calo says, is that robots are becoming more capable of acting and thinking for themselves. “What’s exciting about robotics today, in part, is that they’re able to solve problems in ways people wouldn’t, and that’s not something courts have encountered or even imagined,” he says.

Based on his historical review, however, Calo worries that judges are too attached to an outmoded view of robots as machines that “do the specific bidding of people.” Unless they update that view, their decisions may not all be wise and just.

an important guideline for dealing with AIs. We need to understand and internalize that no matter how well they imitate or outperform humans, they will never have the intrinsic empathy or morality that causes human subjects to opt not to flip the switch.

A really good rule for the use of AIs would be: “Would I put a sociopathic genius in charge of this process?”

How to Get College Credit Without Going to College Classes

Compared to the usual route, competency-based education (CBE) is an often faster and cheaper path to a diploma, designed by colleges and universities with busy working adults in mind.

students in competency-based education programs prove they’ve mastered the material through tests or projects.

There are at least 40 colleges and universities that offer competency-based education programs.

There’s no limit to the number of credits you can earn through many of these programs, but there’s one caveat: Depending on the program, credits might not be transferrable to other colleges or universities, so watch out for that if you plan to transfer credits.

It’s never too late to get that degree, especially when you have a cheaper, faster, and more personalized option than the traditional butts-in-seats model.

JOHN McAFEE: Here's what it means to be a 'cybersecurity expert’

A very interesting article.

Edward Snowden Interview on Apple vs. FBI, Privacy, the NSA, and More

A very good interview.

John Oliver has the only explanation for the Apple vs. FBI case worth watching

The video is at the end of the article.  It’s very good.

San Francisco lawmakers use a secret messaging app to keep chats from prying public eyes

Telegram, a self-destructing messaging app, has become popular among San Francisco public officials as a way to evade public records laws, says a report in The Information.

Telegram rose to notoriety after it was apparently used by ISIS members to spread propaganda. Telegram shut down almost 80 such channels last November.

Former CIA Head: The FBI is wrong about Apple

The former head of the NSA and CIA, General Michael Hayden, has a counter-intuitive view when it comes to the stand-off between Apple (AAPL) and the FBI: He sides with Apple.

“You can parse this problem in a lot of ways. Constitutionally: does the government have a right to order it? I’m not a constitutional lawyer. I’ll let those guys settle that. Privacy? He’s dead. Never his phone. I don’t think it’s a privacy issue. I’m looking at it as a security issue,” he said. “I think on balance, America ends up in a less secure place if we somehow weaken what now appears to be very unbreakable encryption in the iPhone.”

Apple’s Brief Hits the FBI With a Withering Fact Check

APPLE’S LATEST BRIEF in its battle with the FBI over the San Bernardino iPhone offered the tech company an opportunity to school the Feds over their misinterpretation and misquotations of a number of statutes and legal cases they cited as precedent in their own brief last week. Many viewed Apple’s arguments as a withering commentary on the government’s poor legal acumen.

Edward Snowden said "Today I learned that #Apple has way better lawyers than the DOJ.”

But the tech giant didn’t stop there. It also pointed out a number of technical errors the government’s forensic experts made.

Apple's latest legal filing: 'The Founders would be appalled’

While Apple’s brief focuses on the law, it doesn’t ignore the broader context of the encryption debate. This is bigger than the FBI and Apple disagreeing about if and how to break into Farook’s iPhone, in other words, and even top officials that used to work for the government can see the risk.

Good laws come with limits. In its earlier motion to dismiss the court order, Apple complained that the All Writs Act, since it’s designed to fill in the gaps between statutes, doesn’t have that limiting principle.

Link to PDF of FBI brief of 9 March, 2016

Link to Apple’s Response to above FBI brief

6 Powerful Quotes from Apple’s Newest Court Filing

Android, iOS on Opposite Sides of Encryption Divide

Most Android phones are not encrypted, either by user choice or manufacturer design. About 95 percent of all iPhones are encrypted, compared with less than 10 percent of Android phones.

Why? Google has been slow in mandating full-disk encryption. The feature generally is turned off by default in Android smartphones that have it.

"When it comes to security threats on mobile devices, there is no comparison. Studies show that as much as 97 percent of all mobile malware targets Android, while iOS suffers from functionally none," said Alex Pezold, CEO ofTokenEx.

"This is deeper than just encrypting data. Android phones are outright sitting ducks to a degree," he told LinuxInsider.

Apple has simplified the process of encrypting its devices and their contents, but it requires using a passcode.

"This is something more than 64 percent of smartphone users do not do," said Navroop Mitter.

JOHN McAFEE: Hacker group Anonymous just declared war on Trump — here's why he'll soon have a different view of cybersecurity

As a longtime observer of Anonymous, I have never seen preparations to this extent for any prior hack in the group's history. Its level of assurance in the success of its attack, in spite of giving advanced notice, indicates that it wants the world to watch an event of serious proportions.

I am personally conflicted by this coming event. Anonymous is partly composed of the very talent that America needs to protect itself from a near certain cyberwar with China, Russia, or some other potentially hostile state. Its core beliefs embrace personal privacy and freedom, which coincide with my own beliefs. And the group has supported our government in times of crisis and was instrumental in crippling ISIS in its social-media campaigns.

On the other hand, I cannot help feeling sympathy for Trump. I am fully aware of what Anonymous is capable of, and I fear that Trump is not.

The company protecting Trump's websites isn't afraid of an Anonymous cyber-attack

"We see [distributed denial-of-service] attacks all the time," said Matthew Prince.

How far have we come with HTTPS? Google turns on the spotlight

HTTPS is widely considered one of the keys to a safer Internet, but only if it's broadly implemented. Aiming to shed some light on how much progress has been made so far, Google launched a new section of its transparency report dedicated to encryption.

Included in the new section is data that highlights the progress of encryption efforts both at Google and on popular third-party sites.

U.S. seeks ideas from professionals to hobbyists on use of available technologies in terror attacks

In an earlier time, DARPA pulled together small groups of technical experts to help it see how potential adversaries might use available technology.

But today, "the easy availability in today's world of an enormous range of powerful technologies means that any group of experts only covers a small slice of the available possibilities," said John Main, who is heading the program for DARPA, in a statement.

Reader Comment:
What will DARPA do when they find that the terrorism our nation faces now as well as in the future is just another tool our own government uses to control it's citizens? Terrorism definition: the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. The only way to defeat terrorism is to refuse to be intimidated and refuse to live in fear. "The only thing we have to fear...........”

Several major news sites are hosting ads infected with devastating computer viruses

A number of major news sites have inadvertently hosted ransomware that could infect visitors' computers and permanently encrypt files.

The ransomware was discovered by security researchers at Trustwave.

Security researchers at Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 on Wednesday announced they had discovered in the wild a method of infecting nonjailbroken iPhones with malware by exploiting design flaws in Apple's digital rights management technology.

The flaw has been exploited since 2013 largely as a means to pirate iOS software, but this is the first time it's been used to infect iPhones with malware.

This article has details on how the malware attack works.

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