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Tom Briant

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Wrap-up for Sunday, June 12, 2016

The 20 best smartphones in the world

Apple wins again — as usual.

23 iPhone-only apps that will make your Android friends jealous

These secret codes let you access hidden iPhone features

RANKED: The best keyboard apps for your iPhone

Google Gboard is the best keyboard app.  Apple’s keyboard app is in 5th place.

Why I have finally taken off the Apple Watch for the last time

In the week since I stopped wearing it, I have missed precisely one thing: the Dark Sky weather app “complication” in the top left-hand corner of the watch face. It’s a small thing, but it was something I habitually checked every morning

Tellingly, after a week of wearing an old-school digital watch, it is the only thing I find myself trying to do. Every single other use case – checking notifications, setting timers, or recording physical activity – has seamlessly, painlessly, slipped back to the state it was before the Apple Watch arrived in my life.111

the watch is too slow to act as a speedy alternative to your phone; the user interface is too fiddly to use on the move; the notification model is too limited to do anything other than encourage you to pull out your phone repeatedly; and Siri sucks.

But the saving grace for Apple is that the broader problem isn’t the company’s fault. It’s that smartwatches are a solution in search of a problem. A technology created, not to serve consumer demand, but to serve the need of device manufacturers to fill the revenue hole created by declining smartphone growth. You don’t need one, and neither do I. It just took me nine months of wearing it to realise.

Your Apple Watch mileage may vary

No one can force you to continue to wear an Apple Watch if you find it useless. Your experience, however, does not magically cancel out everyone else’s.

The Macalope has already linked to pieces by Steven Aquino and Molly Wattexplaining why they still rely on the accessibility features of the Apple Watch. Rachel Viniar still wears her Watch for other reasons.

Could the Apple Watch replace the iPhone?

A very interesting chart of reasons that users stop using “wearable” devices.

consumers by and large are still waiting for the killer app for wearables, and mass adoption likely won't occur until that happens.

Apple And Android Finally Have A New Dividing Line

The Android versus Apple duel circling is back to its original battleground: a seamless experience versus customization.

Apple, as it always does, will make an excellent overall experience. Android manufacturers meanwhile will focus on customisation with modularity.

Using Google Now for iOS

the iOS version does not have the On Tap feature. The full Google Now on Tap experience works on devices running at least Android 6.0.

However, you can still use the basic Google Now service on the iPhone, as long as it has been enabled.

Holding down the iPhone’s home button summons Apple’s Siri assistant or the iPhone’s older Voice Control feature instead of On Tap results.

Taking OS X Security Seriously

Q. The thought of ransomware aimed at the Mac makes me nervous. What other Mac threats are out there and who makes OS X antivirus software?

A. Keeping your Mac updated with the latest security patches from Apple and using strong passwords (that are frequently changed) can help protect your system.  And Apple has additional suggestions for safer computing.

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team has an extensive online guide to protecting oneself, as does the consumer-oriented site from the Federal Trade Commission.

Political candidates opposed to free trade say Apple should make phones in the United States. Let’s see what that would look like.

“No tech product from mine to assembly can ever be made in one country,” says David Abraham, author of The Elements of Power, a new book about rare earth metals. The iPhone is a symbol of American ingenuity, but it’s also a testament to the inescapable realities of the global economy.

Apple Campus 2: June 2016 Construction Update

New video of Apple’s mammoth new spaceship campus is impressive

The spaceship has landed: Apple's $5 billion campus is starting to look stunning

What is Apple actually doing besides building that ridiculously expensive new headquarters?

According to rumors gathered by the author, several things.

Apple is currently able to read the contents of data stored in its iCloud backup service, something at odds with Cook’s claims that he doesn’t want his company to be capable of accessing customer data such as mobile messages.
Apple has not denied reports it is working to change that.

But redesigning iCloud so that only a customer can unlock his data would increase the risk of people irrevocably losing access to precious photos and messages when they lose their passwords. Apple would not be able to reset a customer’s password for them.

“That’s a really tough call for a company that says its products ‘Just work,’” says Chris Soghoian.

“It puts control on the customer but also responsibility on the customer,” he says. “This will likely be an option, not the default.”

AW comment:  This article includes several interesting ideas for dealing with the conundrum.

Apple is making so much clean energy, it formed a new company to sell it

Apple has announced plans for 521 megawatts of solar projects globally. It's using that clean energy to power all of its data centers, as well as most of its Apple Stores and corporate offices. Apple says it generates enough electricity to cover 93 percent of its energy usage worldwide.

Apple has told the FERC that it meets the legal criteria for selling electricity at market rates because it is not a major player in the energy business and thus has no power to influence electricity prices.

Thieves stole $16,000 worth of iPhones from an Apple Store with one simple tool: a blue shirt

You don't need to be a genius to rob the Apple Store, but it helps if you dress like one.

Pelosi Claims Government Created the iPhone, Not Steve Jobs or Apple

AW comment:  Like Obama said:  “You didn’t build that”.

How your smartphone is making you miserable without you even noticing

For this study, participants were asked to maximize their smart phone interruptions for one week and then minimize the interruptions for one week.

"Participants reported higher levels of inattention and hyperactivity when alerts were on than when alerts were off. Higher levels of inattention in turn predicted lower productivity and psychological well-being.”

You'll be happier if you focus on what you're doing right here, right now - and that means putting your phone away whenever possible.

There’s still plenty of money to be made through the App Revolution

This App Revolution is indeed the one I kept telling people to “get in front of,“ as I promised it would create trillions of dollars of market valuation in the years and decades ahead.

two stocks I’ve said were the purest and safest ways to invest in the App Revolution — Google and Apple — and we’re talking about trillion dollars right there.

Interesting lists of companies that are already successful in the app revolution.

One of the most intriguing speculative arguments in physics and computer science isn't really about physics or computer science at all. It's about the brain - or more precisely, about consciousness - and it's been going on for decades. Its central question: Is the brain fundamentally like a computer?

The side that says no relies on some seriously outlandish thinking.

On the more conservative side, there are researchers like Scott Aaronson, a respected theoretical computer scientist at MIT. His view, which is more widely accepted, is that because the brain exists inside the universe, and because computers can simulate the entire universe given enough power, your entire brain can be simulated in a computer.

But there's a dissenting view, advanced most forcefully by the mathematical physicist Roger Penrose: That your consciousness emerges from mysterious, exotic physics acting inside your neurons.

In essence, Penrose argues that human consciousness has certain features and abilities that conventional computers can not replicate.  The most salient evidence he points to is the capacity of large groups of mathematicians to move toward true solutions for computationally unsolvable problems. (Aaronson disputes this evidence.)

If, as Penrose suggests, humans demonstrate the ability to circumvent some basic limits on computation, the brain must interact with systems that exist outside the logical, algorithmic universe. And the quantum world is the most likely candidate.

A neurologist reveals the biggest myth about the brain

The claim that humans use only 10% of their brains is FALSE.

Why the Maker Movement Matters: Part 1, the Tools Revolution
Just like the internet before it, the Maker Movement is revolutionizing manufacturing, with implications for startups and jobs.

my guess is that most people who aren’t directly involved think of it as fringe and hobby-minded, artsy-and-craftsy and hip rather than a serious economic, technological, and city-development force. I’ve come to disagree, and let me lay out some of the reasons why.

We see the “assembled in China” labels on Apple computers and phones and over-interpret what that means. The labels conceal the reality that the most valuable parts of a Mac or iPhone come not from China but from richer countries like Japan, Germany, South Korea, and very significantly from the United States.

The maker movement ... has made it surprisingly easier for new companies, in manufacturing, to start. Why? It has to do with tools. A tools revolution is changing manufacturing.  3-D printers.  Less expensive laser cutters. Simplified computer controls.  

Then there are organizational changes; maker-spaces and shared-work site where people can use advanced machinery for free or at very low cost; and the rise of collaborations among universities, community colleges, established companies, and local financiers in fostering hardware entrepreneurs.

“What has changed is that the maker movement has figured out a group of technologies and tools which enable us to manufacture in low volume,” Venkat said.

Nanobots are waiting in the wings to cure cancer and clean up ocean pollution

In 1956, Arthur C. Clarke wrote “The Next Tenants,” considered to be the first work of fiction broadly describing what is today known as nanotechnology.

Today, experimental nano-bots are being tested for curing cancer, cleaning up ocean pollution and performing eye surgery.

Hackers are using this nasty text-message trick to break into people's accounts

The article describes how hackers trick you into giving them your “two factor authentication” (2FA) code.
If they succeed in tricking you, they can break into your accounts.

NSA Couldn't Hack San Bernardino iPhone

So says Richard Ledgett, the NSA's deputy director.

If Ledgett is right, the NSA couldn't have helped even if it wanted to.

No One Will Save You From Cellphone Tracking

Nearly everywhere your cellphone goes in the world, it is tracked.

If you’re carrying your phone while it does all these things, then you are tracked, too.

A police department or law enforcement agency can back-request historical CSLI whenever they want—and they don’t need a warrant to do so. This ease of access makes CSLI one of the most common forms of government surveillance.

“When it gets to the Supreme Court, the justices probably won’t care that most of the circuits said it was a search,” said Kerr.

That’s exactly what the EFF hopes will happen.

How to Run a Russian Hacking Ring
It’s not that different from running any other business.

John McAfee’s investment firm hires hackers to protect it — from hackers

“Alexandre Fichet, designer of the first bank vault safe famously stated ‘No one unschooled in the art of picking locks can design and build a decent safe.’ It is with this principle in mind that we have enlisted world renowned hackers to advise in the development of our cybersecurity technology through our Hacker Advisory Board,” John McAfee said.

A hacker told us how someone could take down the power grid without using a cyberattack

"Is a cyber attack that shuts down power for weeks or months possible? Sure," Cris Thomas (aka Space Rogue) said. "Is it likely? Highly unlikely in my opinion."

Here's why:  Accomplishing it by hacking is enormously difficult.  Besides: There’s another way that doesn’t involve hacking.

S government study showed that there are about 55,000 electric substations - most of which have little security beyond fences - 30 of which are deemed "critical." If just nine transformers of those 30 were messed with, it would be lights out for quite a while.

This incredibly creepy technology 'knows' if you’re a bad person based on how you look and act

It was developed by a startup company called “Faceception”, which claims it has found a way to isolate human behaviors by capturing physical identifiers in a photo or video, and that it has managed to distinguish about 20 groups, ranging from from champion poker players to terrorists.

The company claims its software can scan hundreds of faces in seconds.

Subverting Our New Space Overlords
Governments and hedge funds are pulling economic data from daily satellite images of ports, farms, and even mall parking lots—here’s how they might be fooled.

Complex financial information is hidden in plain sight all over the planet, according to James Crawford, CEO of Orbital Insight. The number of ships docked at a Malaysian port, even the color of a wheat field in western Nebraska, are actually signs.

James Crawford’s company, Orbital Insight, is one of a new breed of market-research firms pioneering the use of high-resolution satellite imagery.

Visual evidence captured by satellites is now subject to narrative interpretation for the purpose of extracting potential financial insight—and this potential financial insight can then be sold to paying customers. This, in fact, is Orbital Insight’s operating business model.

A Walmart hoping to look better-attended than it really is, for example, could spoof the satellites with a parking lot full of fake cars, or a new residential building could be playfully designed so that its roofscape looks like a neighborhood park, throwing off the watchful eyes of Terrapattern.

Those eyes soaring high above the clouds might always be watching us, in other words, but they needn’t always understand what they see.

How to prevent your identity from being stolen when you move
Most people don’t realize the possibility of an identity-related crime during a move is high

When you move to a new residence, scammers have more opportunities to steal your personal info that they can use to steal your identity.
This article provides several hints on how to deal with the increased danger during and after a move.


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