The MacValley blog
Welcome to the MacValley blog, your first stop for all the latest MacValley news and views.
The MacValley blog
Editor: Tom Briant
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Saturday, January 30, 2016
So this column will try to do something tricky: explore what’s ailing Apple without going off the deep end. Here’s my ice-cold take: Apple is doing quite O.K.
The author has confidence in this bad-news forecast, but NOT because he has any special insight into Apple’s business. It instead derives from the all-too-predictable ways in which Wall Street analysts revise their forecasts: A downward revision is far more likely to be followed by another downward revision than it is by an upward one.
research has shown that analysts are both slow to react to new information (especially bad news) and loath to deviate far from the consensus of their fellow analysts. Both factors conspire to make it look as though analysts are piling on when bad news begins to mount.
Needless to say, this avalanche of downward revisions causes a stock to decline even further. And that, in turn, often leads analysts to downwardly revise their forecasts yet again. The picture that emerges is of a downward spiral of bad news, downward revisions and price declines.
But the iPhone is far from in trouble ...... because of iOS.
What’s keeping Tim Cook up at night? The economic challenges all over the world.
Unfortunately, Apple’s customers, people who buy iPhones, are probably the last ones to realize global economic weakness is spreading. Cook’s remarks simply confirmed what everyone has known or suspected for months—namely, there’s a breakdown occurring in commodity-dependent economies and a broad repricing of currencies.
The true job of Apple, or any technology company, is to use components such as chips and software to solve complex problems, and by so doing make the world a better place. That is their mission, and that is all that matters. Profit, and stock price appreciation, dividends, and buybacks, flow from that and only that.
Enterprise, Cloud, App Store, iTunes, Software Services revenues are a large part of why I've long said that Apple and Google are a couple of the best ways to invest in the App Revolution.
Hidden Facebook tricks you need to know
Facebook's best-kept secret is a second website that's amazing for talking to your friends
A Computer Has Beaten a Human Champion at Go. What Next?
On May 12, 2014, Wired magazine ran an article headlined “The Mystery of Go, the Ancient Game That Computers Still Can’t Win.”
At that time, computer experts said it would take 10 years to make a computer better than the human world champion.
Go is a board game that’s orders of magnitude more complex than chess.
On January 27, 2016, Google announced that AlphaGo, a program built by its DeepMind artificial intelligence lab, had defeated the European Go champion, without a handicap, in a five-game match last October. The score: 5-0.
The next test will come in March, when AlphaGo challenges the world champion, Lee Sedol, in a five-game match in Seoul.
Go is a constrained environment (as is Chess), albeit a vast one, in which both contestants have access to perfect information, albeit too much information to fully process, and share the same perfectly defined goal. Real life is not a game, and no algorithm yet devised could begin to approach the mental flexibility required to navigate it in the way that humans do.
One of the most prevalent forms of malware out there right now is called ransomware, a virus that encrypts a user's files, leaving them scrambled unless the victim pays for the decryption key.
It’s a criminal business model that has proven extremely profitable.
Including, now, the head of the NSA's most elite and secretive hacking unit.
In an unprecedented talk on Thursday at the USENIX Enigma security conference in San Francisco, Rob Joyce, chief of NSA's Tailored Access Operations (TAO), downplayed the importance of zero-days and the degree to which nation-state hackers like those in his unit depend on them.
“If you really want to protect your network you have to know your network, including all the devices and technology in it,” Rob Joyce said. “In many cases we know networks better than the people who designed and run them.”
Once you use a cloud company you are essentially handing your data over to them and relying on their security, so he warned due diligence is even more important than usual.
AW comment: That includes even Apple’s iCloud.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Sunday, January 24, 2016
I recently got an e-mail from a fellow MacValleyite complaining that Apple Mail would not receive Yahoo! Mail any more. They use Snow Leopard 10.6.8.
I then checked my own Apple Mail running under 10.11.2. I found that Apple Mail had stopped receiving Yahoo! Mail early in January. I could find nothing to fix the problem. So I knew I needed an alternative to access Yahoo! Mail.
I need Yahoo! Mail because I have ATT U-Verse and Wireless service. ATT has contracted with Yahoo to use their e-mail as ATT’s e-mail. That’s how I get my notification each month that my U-Verse bill is ready to be paid.
I can’t ditch Yahoo! Mail without switching Internet Providers. That’s a hassle for the future.
So, what alternatives did I find to Apple Mail for receiving Yahoo! Mail. I found three of them.
The first was to use Yahoo!’s Web client. I just used Safari to log into Yahoo.com and Yahoo! Mail came right up.
The second was to download and install Mozilla’s Thunderbird e-mail client. Thunderbird has the advantage of working with both IMAP and POP3 e-mail providers. It has many add-ins. The only criticism I’ve read about concerns its esthetic appearance. It still looks the same as it did 10 years ago.
If you want an e-mail client with an up to date appearance, may I suggest Nylas N1? It is advertised as an “extensible, open source mail client”. If you want to try the latest e-mail client, this is it.
Right now, it’s free. It’s easy to set up your e-mail accounts. It only supports IMAP from what I could tell. Right now the developers want to encourage as many other developers as possible to make plug-ins for this app. It is NOT compatible with the Thunderbird plug-ins, though.
That’s my off the cuff suggestions for getting Yahoo! Mail if Apple Mail has stopped working on this account for you.
Editor, MacValley Blog
Apple users should update their iOS right now
Apple patched a security flaw in its latest update
Apple's iOS 9.2.1 update applies to iPhone 4s and later models, the fifth generation iPod Touch and later, and the iPad 2 and later.
The 10 best iPhone apps you should use in 2016
25 hidden iPhone features that are really, truly hidden
Even the savviest iPhone users will learn a few things from this article.
Apple's Advantage Over Android Embarrasses Google
Two issues here:
First, iOS allows you to control - much better than Android OS - which apps are allowed to transmit your personal data to corporations.
Second, from a security point of view, from patching bugs and exploits, to giving users new features and useful extras, Android falls far behind Apple in its ability to keep users safe.
16 Apple Security Advances to Take Note of in 2016
A very good slide show.
Apple iOS 9.2.1 Has A Nasty Surprise
iOS 9.2.1 doesn’t actually address the software’s most high profile problem: frozen battery charge levels.
the battery bug (which freezes the reported battery level regardless of further drain or charge) is still there.
Google paid Apple $1 billion in 2014 just to stay as the default search engine on the iPhone
A top Apple analyst agrees iPhone sales will fall, but says that's a huge buying opportunity
sales of the iPhone will experience their first ever year-on-year decline when the company reports its quarterly earnings report next week.
But Gene Munster says the poor demand for the current iPhone 6S and the negative Wall Street reaction is setting up Apple's stock for a big pop by September, when the new iPhone 7 is expected to roll out.
The Women Behind NIX Hydra are Taking on Aggressive Male Video Gaming
Four years ago, Lina Chen and Naomi Ladizinsky's plan to shake up the gaming world on behalf of girls seemed exceedingly improbable, even to them.
Early this year, their Los Angeles company, Nix Hydra, a rare gaming firm founded by women to create games for girls and women, will launch Egg!, a more complex successor to their wildly popular 2013 mobile pet game, Egg Baby.
The long-haired, soft-spoken co-founders of Nix Hydra are now in an enviable position, with just over $5.6 million from investors…
Chen and Ladizinsky now employ 34 people, 60 percent of them women
The US military has enlisted academics to fight a new enemy: Twitter bots.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) held a special contest last year to identify so-called "influence bots" — "realistic, automated identities that illicitly shape discussion on sites like Twitter and Facebook.”
With 8.5% of all Twitter users being bots, per Twitter's own metrics, it's important to weed out those bots who go beyond just trying to sell you weight-loss plans and work-at-home methods, and cross the line into politics.
DARPA says you can expect a lot more evil propaganda bots on Twitter in the years to come.
Are Routers the New Frontier for Hackers?
Neil deGrasse Tyson has a message for moon landing conspiracy theorists
Some people will never believe that men went to the moon, regardless of what evidence is presented. About this, Neil said:
“…how remarkable it is that there are some humans among us who are so struck by our advances in science and technology that they’re in denial that it’s real. What a compliment that is to our moving technological frontier."
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
New study shines light on one of the iPhone's biggest advantages over Android
Android fragmentation is an issue that continues to rear its ugly head. Time and time again we see problems arise that call Google's Android strategy into question, and fragmentation has to be at the top of the list for consumers.
Apple Keeps Leaving Macs Open To Malware -- But Whitehat Hackers Have Your Back
Apple employed a Gatekeeper for its Macs to do one job: keep unsigned, unverified software out. It might be time to fire Gatekeeper, or hire a new one, as its failures have again been shown up by Patrick Wardle, ex-NSA staffer and head of research at bug hunting firm Synack.
Wardle is presenting his findings at the Shmoocon conference today in Washington D.C. He is releasing a tool, Ostiarius, on his Objective-C website that will help fill the gap Apple left open by checking all file executions and blocks unisigned code originating from the Web.
Gatekeeper flaw remains exploitable four months after its discovery
A security researcher says flaws in Apple's Gatekeeper application validation system remain available to exploit, despite Apple patching some vectors he disclosed on September 30 in security updates released in November and December.
Until Apple addresses this, Wardle suggests Mac users only download applications from the Mac store where possible, and otherwise be careful what they download from the internet. If you have to download an app from outside the Mac store, he said, make sure it's served over an encrypted connection (meaning the file is served over the HTTPS, a standard that's becoming increasingly important). At the very least, it will prevent an attacker from inserting malicious code inside a legitimate app on its way to your computer.
A proposed bill in New York doesn't demand backdoors in smartphones but will seek to ban the sale of smartphones whose encryption can't be bypassed by the manufacturer.
This tool is not easy to find.
This stunning map shows the flow of traffic across the globe using the anonymous network Tor
The map shows:
*The use of Tor has been steadily increasing since about 2008.
*Nearly all traffic is between Europe and the U.S.
*Tor traffic to Japan started to become significant around March of 2013,
peaked around April of 2015 and then declined a lot.
*Occasionally there is a brief (i.e., a few days) spike in Tor traffic to a specific place,
such as Hong Kong, Australia or Brazil.
Everybody still has a PC. Everybody still uses the internet.
It simply means that the technology is so common and widespread that it's no longer revolutionary. It's taken for granted.
So: The mobile revolution is over. the smartphone is normal now. Even boring. It's not revolutionary.
"Despite knowing that Bitcoin could fail all along, the now inescapable conclusion that it has failed still saddens me greatly. I will no longer be taking part in Bitcoin development and have sold all my coins."
Why has Bitcoin failed? It has failed because the community has failed. What was meant to be a new, decentralised form of money that lacked "systemically important institutions" and "too big to fail" has become something even worse: a system completely controlled by just a handful of people.
If you haven't heard much about this, you aren't alone. One of the most disturbing things that took place over the course of 2015 is that the flow of information to investors and users has dried up.
In the span of only about eight months, Bitcoin has gone from being a transparent and open community to one that is dominated by rampant censorship and attacks on bitcoiners by other bitcoiners. This transformation is by far the most appalling thing I have ever seen, and the result is that I no longer feel comfortable being associated with the Bitcoin community.
Cryptography and privacy enthusiasts reacted to Chaum's statements with shock, disbelief, and-in some cases-outrage.
Chaum's suggestions are not to be taken lightly. He's an inventor of key concepts undergirding identity-cloaking software such as the Tor web browser, a bulwark of the crypto community.
Many technologists have a "knee jerk" reaction to the phrase "back door" access to encrypted data.
"I agreed to allow the term 'backdoor' to be used in the article to refer to access in general, not as deliberate weakening of a system," Chaum told Fortune. "This probably was my big mistake."
companies possess doorways of their own ...... to spy on users. Even companies that purport to uphold strong, end-to-end encryption can do this.
However concerned you are about this possibility likely depends upon your level of paranoia.
Count Chaum among the unsettled.
Chaum got to work formulating an alternative. In his scheme, such a company would instead have to enlist third party contractors (think data centers) operating independent infrastructure across multiple jurisdictions, all of whom would have to work in unison to have any chance at undermining the integrity of the system. This dispersion of control serves to limit, ideally, the potential for abuse. Imagine the two-man rule for nuclear missile launches, but with added complexity and greater division of power. It takes unanimous agreement and simultaneous key-turns to meddle with or unmask a user.
One of the true powers of Chaum's system is its obstruction of traffic analysis.
Two-factor authentication is an important way to help keep your online accounts safe — but it's not perfect.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Apple iOS 9.3 Released, It Has 3 Great New Features
Smart Education Upgrades
3D Touch Matures
The snag in all this good news? Apple has currently only made iOS 9.3 available to developers.
Juniper Research said that the Apple Watch accounted for 52% of smartwatch shipments globally in 2015. And that’s particularly impressive considering that the watch didn’t even launch until April of 2015.
Let's be clear: the MacBook isn't suddenly going to suit everybody, but almost one year down the line there are now five good reasons why you should reconsider using one.
iPhone 7 Leak Confirms Apple's Massive Design Gamble
leak after leak is confirming my theory 19 months ago that Apple is about to abandon the headphone jack…
Unsurprisingly the news has met a hostile reception. An online petition against the move has netted over 200,000 signatures in 24 hours and even polls on Apple-specialist websites have been divided.
So what can Apple do to convince users it knows best? Actually a lot.
Apple advertisements from as long ago as 1976
Why Apple's Investors Are Questioning its Future
The skepticism can be summarized as follows: the world worries that Apple will never find another iPhone.
That’s why there are lots of articles predicting Apple’s “doom”.
Investors fear that future products will require ... big investments and uncertain sales. Or that Apple will use its cash horde to make high-priced, or overpriced investments in unrelated fields.
The bottom line: Tech’s superstar is entering a world of low expectations, when it’s regularly beaten high expectations. It should be able to vault over the new, low bar with ease...
Apple Maintains Mac Sales Momentum Amid Overall Worldwide PC Market Decline
Amid an overall decline in worldwide PC shipments, Apple is the sole manufacturer that saw positive shipment growth
49 Open Source Office Tools
Example 26: GIMP (stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program)
Replaces Photoshop (and saves you $239.88 per year)
The GNU Image Manipulation Program, or Gimp for short, is a very popular, high-quality photo authoring and editing program with features that rival Photoshop. It supports numerous image file formats, including tiff, jpeg, gif, png, psd and others. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X
Example 28: OpenOffice
Example 29: LibreOffice
The both Replace Microsoft Office (and saves you $99 per year and up)
Example 33: Gnumeric
Replaces Microsoft Excel (and saves you $99 per year and up)
How to see all the companies tracking you on Facebook — and block them
How the Internet of Things Limits Consumer Choice
In theory, the Internet of Things-the connected network of tiny computers inside home appliances, household objects, even clothing-promises to make your life easier and your work more efficient.
Except when the companies that make these connected objects act in a way that runs counter to the consumer's best interests...
the story of a company using copy-protection technology to lock out competitors-isn't a new one.
As the Internet of Things becomes more prevalent, so too will anti-competitive behavior-which undercuts the purpose of having smart objects in the first place.
The Internet of Things is on track to become a battleground of competing standards, as companies try to build monopolies by locking each other out.
There's no reason not to cut the cord in 2016
Cheaper alternatives to cable TV.
The Twitter accounts stock-market investors need to follow in 2016
The New York Public Library Just Unleashed 180,000 Free Images. We Can't Stop Looking at Them.
The Flaw in ISIS's Favorite Messaging App
And what it says about the difficulty of encryption
For more and more lawmakers, encryption is that perfect, pitch-black night in which radicalized things go bump.
But according to security experts, that attitude attributes much too much power to computer scientists.
as a new paper on the secure-messaging application Telegram reminds readers, it's easier to market impenetrable encryption than it is to implement it.
Telegram uses a custom protocol, MTProto, to secure its messages, a decision that breaks a cardinal rule of cryptography: Don't try to design your own, not if you can use an established approach instead.
The impenetrable encryption that lawmakers fear? Privacy advocates should be so lucky.
Why Are Digital-Privacy Apps So Hard to Use?
Protecting your data usually means navigating a miserable user experience.
Truly private online communications have been available for some time, but most require a high level of technology know-how. Those uncomfortable setting up a PGP key to encrypt their emails, for example, have for decades been left without an option to communicate securely.
Modern hackers can do much more than steal. They can even turn a machine against its owner, taking a device hostage and demanding money to return it.
Known as ransomware, the viruses that carry out these attacks are multiplying.
These attacks can be incredibly lucrative: One researcher found that a hacker made more than $1 million in a single day off of hapless users desperate for their data back.
A recent spate of attacks on police computer systems showed the sophistication of modern ransomware: When small police departments in Massachusetts, Tennessee, and New Hampshire were hacked, they found their vital databases encrypted and inaccessible. All three departments paid ransoms ranging from $500 to $750 to regain access to their data.
The average ransom ask is $300.
The recent explosion of ransomware will only continue as more everyday objects are connected to the Internet.
Hackers are stealing millions from home buyers and sellers with a crafty scam
Monday, January 4, 2016
Shirley, this one’s for you.
Live Long and Prosper
Seriously now, he was using the CP/M OS?! 5 1/4 floppies?
George Takei, any words of wisdom?
Editor, MacValley Blog
Make sure you read 9toi5Mac’s post on these monitors. It’s nice to have a selection of USB-C monitor, but where is
Apple’s own USB-C Monitor?
Editor, MacValley Blog
Lenovo has announced several new monitors that support USB-C. Unfortunately, from the comments, it appears that you still need an external power supply to support this new monitor.
What I’m more interested in is where to find adaptors for my two DVI/VGA monitors when I upgrade my Mac in 2018 or whenever.
Editor, MacValley Blog
(h/t to 9to5Mac and Anandtech)
This MagSafe style USB-C gadget would appear to solve the problems caused by tripping over the charing cable for your MacBook.
Unfortunately, it’s not available today. You’ll have to wait until April 2016.
Editor, MacValley Blog
(h/t to 9to5 Mac)
Sunday, January 3, 2016
Now I have Windows 8 and 10 running under Parallels on my Mac Mini. It’s handy to have them available in my Mac.
Editor, MacValley Blog
The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist's Companion for the 21st Century: Richard Polt: 9781581573114: Amazon.com: Books
First, it was vinyl records, then it was reel to reel tape, now it’s typewriters!
I’m sticking to my Mac Mini, though.
Editor, MacValley Blog
15 secret features hidden in your iPhone
With Taps on the Wrist, Apple Watch Points to the Future
Should you buy an Apple Watch now?
I’m tempted to say “no” for most people. Most of what it does, your phone already does better. And the Apple Watch, even with recent sales, is pricier than competing smartwatches that do similar things. By that logic, you should wait until next year, when Apple’s relentless drive to innovate will have improved the watch’s hardware and software. Or wait until 2019, when the fifth generation of the device has unimagined new features.
But after eight months, I’m convinced that people will eventually view a smartwatch as an essential purchase. And waiting endlessly for the “next great thing” means missing out on all the small ways that the watch already can improve your life. So unless you want to be one of those people who hang on to their BlackBerrys forever, go ahead and get one. You won’t regret it.
Digging Deeper for Missing Mac Mail Messages
What to do if the “Rebuild” command does not recover your “missing” E-mails.
Tip: How to Cut Old Passwords Out Of Apple’s Keychain
There’s no easier password manager on a Mac than Apple’s Keychain: It’s been built into OS X and its Safari browser for years; it’s enabled by default; and, since (also by default) it stores your passwords only on your Mac, there are no worries about having them In The Cloud.
This article explains how to use Apple’s Keychain Access app to delete outdated passwords.
The 20 best smartphones in the world
iPhone 6S is in first place.
iPhone 6S Plus is in second place.
The 11 most beautiful apps of the year
I tried using the internet anonymously for a week, but I caved after a few minutes
you have to give up some of the best parts of the internet if you want to be anonymous online. I barely lasted a few minutes.
Several important web sites just don’t work with Tor.
The ultimate guide on how to use Snapchat, explained by a 23-year-old
The technology trend predictions that people at TheVerge.com got wrong in 2015
They thought the Apple Watch was going to bring wearables into the mainstream. It didn’t.
They didn’t think Samsung could design a better watch than Apple.
They worried that ad blockers would be the end of the world. They weren’t.
Several other mistaken predictions.
Into "Cloud Porn"? There’s a Hashtag for That
Photos of planes themselves — images of their nose, bellies, engines — are #planeporn.
there are generally no hard rules about how to take these various photos. Most of the names are self-explanatory.
Unlike hashtags for broad subjects such as travel (#travelgram, #travelingram, #instatravel), hotels (#hotellife, #hotelview, #hotelliving) and airports (#airportlife, #airportselfie, #airportflow), more precise hashtags let you browse photos whose theme or composition speaks to you.
The 10 most popular free online courses for professionals
The Most Popular Online Course Teaches You to Learn
The world’s most popular online course is a general introduction to the art of learning, taught jointly by an educator and a neuroscientist.
“Learning How To Learn,” which was created by Barbara Oakley, an electrical engineer, and Terry Sejnowski, a neuroscientist, has been ranked as the leading class by enrollment in a survey of the 50 largest online courses released earlier this month by the Online Course Report website.
The course is “aimed at a broad audience of learners who wanted to improve their learning performance based on what we know about how brains learn,” said Dr. Sejnowski
The Achilles heel of the "massively open online courses” (MOOC) phenomena has been that while enrollments have been huge, the number of students who actually complete courses for credit has remained low. That has led traditional educators to argue that the new technology would fail because students are generally less motivated to complete coursework online.
The completion rate — or “stickiness” — of the “Learning How to Learn” course has been above 20 percent, said Dr. Sejnowski, roughly twice the average for most MOOCs.
Keeping Up With Firefox Updates
While this schedule — which makes for a Firefox update about every six weeks — can be helpful for plugging bugs and security holes, it can cause user fatigue from seeing frequent requests to restart the browser because it has just updated itself again.
Quashing Clones on Facebook
If someone has duplicated your Facebook account, the company has a series of steps to take to report it, including legal ones.
Impostor accounts are not uncommon on Facebook, and the company does not allow them ...... you can report it from Facebook's fraudulent-profile page.
Identity theft in any form can have serious repercussions if the impostor was trying to get financial or other personal information for additional crimes. If you want to see what was posted by the impersonator during the ruse, Facebook advises first contacting a lawyer or local law enforcement official to discuss your options. The site has a list of operational guidelines for law enforcement authorities that details how the company handles these requests and the legal documents required to pursue the case.
The Macalope points out some areas where Apple hasn’t done its best. Does this mean Apple will implode in a cloud of dust like one of those Vegas casinos you see on TV from time to time?
No. It just needs to fix some things. It’s not going out of business.
Tom Briant (not the Macalope)
Editor, MacValley Blog