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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Wrap-up for Sunday 3-19-2017

Just What Was in That iOS System Update?
Where does Apple officially tell you about all the things that change in iOS upgrades?
You can see a list of the new features, added apps, bug fixes and other tweaks Apple has made to each version of its iOS mobile operating system by visiting the iOS Downloads page in the support area of the company’s site.
Why iPhone users should NEVER say 108 to Siri
One-Zero-Eight (108) is the number for emergency services in India.
Other numbers in similar pranks are: 112,110, 000 and the US number 911.
Man dies while charging iPhone in bath
A UK man plugged his iPhone into an outlet via an extension cord and appears to have rested the charger on his chest in the bath.
How to back up your iPhone before installing iOS 10.3
Although it's not likely you'll run into trouble with the new OS, better safe than sorry. Here's a quick refresher on manually backing up your data.
Two sets of instructions:
One for backing up to iTunes.
The other for backing up to iCloud.
You can now save as much as $330 on Apple’s 2016 MacBook Pro
If you act now — there’s no telling how big Apple’s current supply is — you can pick up the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro in either Silver or Space Gray for $1,269. The sticker price represents 15% in savings and is a solid $230 off the normal list price of $1,499.
If you’re looking for a little bit more horsepower and bang for your buck, you can also pick up a refurbished 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage for just $1,869. This is $330 cheaper than you would otherwise pay for a new machine with the same specs from Apple’s online store.
Lastly, for anyone curious about what buying a refurbished MacBook Pro entails, here’s what Apple has to say about the process:

“Apple Certified Refurbished Products are pre-owned Apple products that undergo Apple’s stringent refurbishment process prior to being offered for sale. While only some units are returned due to technical issues, every unit is evaluated to ensure it meets Apple’s quality standards.” 
MacBook Pro Touch Bar: cool effects, worryingly easy to hack
Fortunately, this hack was done by the good guys, not the bad.
As for the specific details regarding how the attack was implemented, that information will be made available to Apple so that they patch up any existing security holes before the public gets a look at how it was all accomplished.
Rachel Zirin; I love my Apple Watch
Last November, I decided to buy myself the Apple Watch Series 2 hoping I wouldn’t lose interest. I hoped that it had apps and settings that were better than the Fitbit. The Apple Watch cost me about $400 and I have to say it was the best thing I ever did.
The Apple Watch is still the best designed smartwatch
As things stand today, two years after its release, the Apple Watch still presents the best balance between looks, size, function, battery life, and price.
Apple simply designed its way around the shortcomings of smartwatches better than everyone else.
For the immediate future at least, the Apple Watch looks like the best designed smartwatch that any of us can get. For many of us, its greatest limitation is that it’s locked inside Apple’s walled garden, remaining a toy only iOS users can have. But that’s by design.
Apple Watch can tell you when you’re going to get sick
You'll know when you're about to get sick, and know what to do about it
Data captured by the Apple Watch is already being used to provide warning of poor heart health, but in conjunction with A.I. it already seems capable of identifying other problems early.
"Whereas the average medical study struggles to recruit 100 patients, building our study on Apple Watch has let us recruit 10,000 participants in under a year. And unlike the average electronic medical record system, Apple provides clean APIs that let us easily access heart rate, step count, workouts, and more. All in all, we now have about 30 billion data points," Cardiogram co-founder, Brandon Ballinger, told me. used data gathered from 66,317 people who are part of the study to figure out which workout routine works best to improve resting heart rate (they turn out to be running and elliptic exercise). has developed Cardiogram, a free app for iPhone/Apple Watch that organizes your heart, sleep, and activity data to make it more actionable.
The best writing apps for your Mac, iPad and iPhone
All of the apps featured are available for both Mac and iOS, as I feel it’s important that you can work on the move as well as at a desk.
Clickbait Headline of the Day: WIRED magazine
Brian Barrett’s piece for Wired claims that Amazon's Alexa is superior to Apple’s Siri.
How the Internet Is Saving Culture, Not Killing It
The internet taught a whole generation that content was not something you really had to pay for.
But now something surprising has happened.

In the last few years, and with greater intensity in the last 12 months, people started paying for online content. They are doing so at an accelerating pace, and on a dependable, recurring schedule, often through subscriptions. And they’re paying for everything.
It’s difficult to overstate how big a deal this is. More than 20 years after it first caught mainstream attention and began to destroy everything about how we finance culture, the digital economy is finally beginning to coalesce around a sustainable way of supporting content. If subscriptions keep taking off, it won’t just mean that some of your favorite creators will survive the internet. It could also make for a profound shift in the way we find and support new cultural talent. It could lead to a wider variety of artists and art, and forge closer connections between the people who make art and those who enjoy it.
Mesmerizing maps show where the most educated Americans live
Gamer's death pushes risks of live streaming into view

Early on February 19, Brian C. Vigneault was nearing the end of a 24-hour marathon of live streaming himself playing the tank warfare video game World of Tanks when he left his computer to buy a pack of cigarettes.
He never returned.  During the break, Vigneault died in his Virginia Beach, Virginia, home.
Vigneault's friends wonder if the lengthy live streaming on Twitch, a website owned by Amazon that lets people broadcast themselves playing games, may not have helped. At the time of his death, Vigneault, 35, had streamed for 22 hours straight to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Two of his friends said that he often broadcast his game playing for long periods.
Vigneault's death followed reports of other players dying during or after lengthy gaming sessions in Taiwan and South Korea, intensifying a discussion about the health risks of a streaming culture that rewards people for staying online for long periods.
A book about technology addiction now has me terrified of product designers
Adam Alter is an NYU psychology professor and the author of the new book, "Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.”  It's a hard, thoughtful look at the ways smartphone apps and social media hijack our brains to crave what those apps deliver.

I am terrified.
There are incredibly smart people working to engineer apps that people can't resist. Alter says they wield "tremendous power."

And while Alter says most designers care more about creating a fast, frictionless app — not some darker Machiavellian pursuit — psychology research has found the end result is the same. Apps really can be too well-designed for our own good.
Researchers at the University of Michigan released a paper Tuesday explaining how audio tones can send false readings to devices through the devices' accelerometers. Accelerometers are those sensors in phones, fitness trackers, and tons of other tech toys that tell our devices where they are in space.
The results of the hacks the Michigan researchers demonstrated are minor. They caused a Samsung Galaxy S5 to spell out the word "WALNUT" in a graph of the accelerometer's readings (which the user wouldn't likely see), and they tricked a Fitbit fitness tracker into recording steps that no one was taking.
But the fact is, something as simple as sound waves can make your devices do something you didn't ask them to do. You probably don't like the sound of that.
The technical details are available in the PDF document at the link below.
Researchers show sound waves can be used to hack everything from phones to fitness trackers

University of Michigan researchers reveals that millions of gadgets that use accelerometers are at risk.

Researchers found the tiny sensors can be tricked, registering fake movement and giving hackers a backdoors into devices.

The team used a $5 speaker and precisely tuned acoustic tones to deceive 15 different models of accelerometers into registering movement that never occurred.  
The approach served as a backdoor into the devices - enabling the researchers to control other aspects of the system.
The key to the process is hitting the right note.

The researchers recommend ways to adjust hardware design to eliminate the problems. 

They also developed two low-cost software defenses that could minimize the vulnerabilities, and they've alerted manufacturers to these issues.
The university is pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property and is seeking commercialization partners to help bring the technology to market.
Sex Toy Maker Pays $3.75 Million to Settle ‘Smart’ Vibrator Lawsuit
Think twice about connecting those sex toys to the Internet: A vibrator company has agreed to pay up to $10,000 to U.S. customers who used a smartphone app that relayed their data to the firm's server.
Security researchers discovered the company was also using the smart phone app to harvest data about how customers used the vibrators. The apps collected information such as what temperature and intensity settings the owners used, as well as how often they used the toys.

While We-Vibe stressed that no customer data was hacked by outside parties, the data collection nonetheless led two customers to file a class action lawsuit against the company.
A hacker reveals the most secure thing you can do to your passwords
Don’t choose your own passwords.
Have computer software (such as LastPass and 1Password) create and manage your passwords for you.
Then trust the software to remember your passwords for you so you don’t have to remember them yourself.
You will need a “Master Password” to access the many passwords that will be created for you.
That Master Password should be a phrase, sentence or lyric that you can remember easily.
The greatest security is using a password manager app and two factor authentication together.
A hacker explains the best way to browse the internet anonymously
If you want to protect the anonymity of your internet address, a web browser called TOR is best.
TOR uses a network that is designed to hide the people who use it.
This is NOT the same as encryption.
To use encryption, a URL should begin with https, NOT http.  The extra “s” stands for secure.
There is a “plug-in” called “https everywhere” which makes a web browser use encryption with every web site that it can.
This is how Russian hackers broke into millions of Yahoo accounts without passwords, according to the FBI
Essentially, the hackers managed to get hold of a secret directory that contained Yahoo usernames, encrypted passwords, and other information. They then used that data to trick Yahoo into thinking their web browsers were already logged into Yahoo's online service — a clever technique that meant they never needed to actually decrypt any passwords.
Venezuela is cracking down on 'bitcoin fever’
"Bitcoin is a way of rebelling against the system," Caracas-based software developer John Villar told Reuters.
Now the Venezuelan government, long caught up in battles with the political opposition and in bloody struggles with rampant crime, has turned its attention to bitcoin users and producers.

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