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Tom Briant

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Wrap-up for Tuesday May 30 2017

Just a Common Soldier
A very appropriate poem for Memorial Day.
It was written 25 years ago.
These secret codes let you access hidden iPhone features
Apple hints you should wait to buy that MacBook Pro
It's as if there's an upcoming event where it could launch new models.
If you needed a clue that Apple might be launching new Macs at WWDC, you just got it.
Apple will soon make the Mid-2011 MacBook Air and Late 2011 MacBook Pro obsolete, meaning the two models will no longer be accepted for official repair in Apple Stores from June 30. 
Also set to be included in the obsolescence list is the Mid-2009 17-inch MacBook Pro, which is the last 17-inch computer Apple has made.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak believes that Apple’s time as an innovative company may be coming to an end. As Woz explains it, this isn’t to say that Apple won’t continue to deliver exciting new products, but rather that the next great leap forward in the tech space will likely emanate from a completely different company: Tesla.
Woz also intimated that Apple, not to mention other tech giants like Google and Microsoft, may simply be too big for its own good.
Check this web page for a daily list of free iOS apps.
Each app is free for only a limited time.

If you use iCloud for email, calendar events, or contacts with any apps other than those made by Apple, and you haven’t upgraded the security on your account to use two-factor authentication (2FA), syncing and other interaction will fail starting June 15.
2FA is a simple way to make it much more difficult for someone to access your account with just your password from anywhere in the world. Your first factor is a password.
How iCloud Photo Library matches up to Google Photos
With Google Photos, your entire photo library is available on Google’s servers, to be processed and analyzed in whatever way Google sees fit. In contrast, images in iCloud Photo Library are encrypted and Apple can’t see them when they’re off your device. There are a lot of advantages to Google’s approach, which I’ll get to shortly, but if you’re someone who feels uneasy about giving Google access to your personal data, Google’s approach will be a huge turn-off.
MacBook Pro graphics failures addressed by Apple repair program
Some MacBook Pro models are subject to regular system crashes, but owners will be pleased to hear that after a long wait, Apple has kicked off a repair program.
In May 2017 Apple announced that it is reducing the range of models eligible for a repair. So if you still haven't done so, visit the site as soon as possible and check if you qualify.
MacBook Pro v Surface Pro 5
In the end which one to buy will come down to personal preference in terms of touch capabilities, keyboards, and whether you want Windows 10 or OSX. Either device is a quality product, but they are both expensive.
Tips for working out with Apple Watch
Review: Apple's Beddit Sleep Monitor Offers a Comprehensive Look at Sleep Quality
The product being reviewed is not an app for the Apple Watch.
Instead, it’s a device that connects to your Apple Watch.
Earlier this month, Apple purchased its first company that develops health-related hardware, Beddit. Beddit makes an iPhone-connected Sleep Monitor that tracks a wide range of sleep-related metrics, from heart rate and sleep time to room temperature and respiration.
In my testing, the Sleep Monitor never picked up movement or measurements that weren't mine, and it never failed to monitor me.
So is it accurate? For the most part, yes.
The 20 best Apple Watch apps (that we’re actually using)

Halide — a brand-new iPhone camera app designed by Sebastiaan de Withand developed by Ben Sandofsky — rises to the challenge.
There’s a free app from Apple that can help you earn $100,000 a year
Want to make up to $100,000 by learning to code? There’s an app for that. And it’s free!

Apple launched a free coding curriculum for high school and college students to help more people grab a slice of the $51 billion mobile app industry.
Why CIOs must understand Apple’s Neural Engine plan
An interesting prediction about future Apple smart phones.
Your iPhone will know you better than you know yourself, but no one else will know what your smartphone knows.
The information will reside only on your smart phone, NOT in corporate computers.
Apple understands that gathering such information while preserving privacy can only really work at device level.
Apple will leap frog competitors in its attempt: because its solutions will be device-based, rather than being hosted in the cloud they have personal privacy and security at their core.
Apple is allegedly developing a Neural Engine chip, which will be dedicated to performing artificial intelligence (AI) computation on mobile devices.
Mossberg: The Disappearing Computer
Tech was once always in your way. Soon, it will be almost invisible.
This is my last weekly column for The Verge and Recode — the last weekly column I plan to write anywhere. I’ve been doing these almost every week since 1991, starting at the Wall Street Journal, and during that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know the makers of the tech revolution, and to ruminate — and sometimes to fulminate — about their creations.

Now, as I prepare to retire at the end of that very long and world-changing stretch, it seems appropriate to ponder the sweep of consumer technology in that period, and what we can expect next.

Just because you’re not seeing amazing new consumer tech products on Amazon, in the app stores, or at the Apple Store or Best Buy, that doesn’t mean the tech revolution is stuck or stopped. In fact, it’s just pausing to conquer some major new territory.
I expect that ... the computer ... will fade into the background. In some cases, it may entirely disappear, waiting to be activated by a voice command, a person entering the room, a change in blood chemistry, a shift in temperature, a motion. Maybe even just a thought.
Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone breaks all the rules
The phone, unsurprisingly, is running Android, but you also won’t find any bloatware on this device, a rarity outside of Google’s own smartphones.
It will be in production “real soon now”.
this is what we believe:

• Devices are your personal property. We won’t force you to have anything on them you don’t want to have.
• We will always play well with others. Closed ecosystems are divisive and outdated.
• Premium materials and true craftsmanship shouldn’t be just for the few.
• Devices shouldn’t become outdated every year. They should evolve with you.
• Technology should assist you so that you can get on with enjoying your life.
• Simple is always better.
We got a look inside a vast Icelandic bitcoin mine
Assuming you're getting a good deal on electricity — and ignoring all other costs — Streng says one bitcoin costs about $260 to mine. One bitcoin is currently worth $2,197.
But there are a lot of other costs, including hardware, production costs and staffing.
A very interesting graph of BitCoin price vs. time from 2012 to now.
Fidelity CEO has 4 reasons bitcoin still isn’t mainstream
Abigail Johnson says bitcoin is grappling with technological and regulatory issues, as well as what to use it for in the first place.
The cryptocurrency universe keeps expanding
For the first time since Bitcoin was founded, it now makes up the minority of the entire cryptocurrency market at about 47.9% of all coins and assets.
Bitcoin has three new competing cryptocurrencies.
Here's how Artificial Intelligence (AI) has changed in the last 20 years
On May 11, 1997, an IBM computer called Deep Bluedefeated the reigning world chess champion, Garry Kasparov, capturing the attention and imagination of the world. The six-game match lasted several days and ended with two wins for IBM, one for the champion, and three draws.

The match was cast as the ultimate example of man versus machine. Yet, Kasparov himself is now a self-described proponent of artificial intelligence (AI), recently calling it a boon to humankind, “capable of providing us with endless opportunities to extend our capabilities and improve our lives.”
Much was learned in pitting AI systems against human opponents. Most significant is the realization that AI can best be used to fill the gaps in human ability and vice versa. AI technology has evolved significantly, but AI systems are not nearly as good as humans at common sense reasoning or thinking creatively and strategically. Such gaps will likely remain for decades to come.
8 great ways to earn passive income
Slide Show:
13 Amazing -- and Surprising -- Uses of Facial Recognition Technology
Reality Check: What Does, and Doesn’t, Protect Your Smartphone
Here’s a reality check on what does and doesn’t protect your phone. To reach our conclusions, we interviewed repair and warranty experts and teamed up with The Wirecutter, the product recommendations site owned by The New York Times, which tested screen protectors and cases.
It turns out that in most situations, all you need is a case or a screen protector, or a combination of both. And you should probably think twice about buying extended warranty, but consider an insurance plan if you are concerned about damage, loss and theft.
Screen protectors are an incomplete solution.  They protect your screen from scratches, but not impact from being dropped.
For overall device protection, a case, which covers the corners, edges and back of a smartphone, is your best bet. A good case will protect your phone from scratches and absorb impact in those areas when your device is dropped.
Skip the extended warranty.  They are usually overpriced.
Who Is Spying On Android Users, Why Do They Do It And What Are They Doing With The Data?
Android is a Google OS. Google has access to every part of the device down to the last sensor. “To better serve its customers”, Google collects, transmits, stores and processes overwhelming amounts of data including personal and sensitive information.
Can I Disable Data Collection?
Yes, you can. Google is a reputable company with a concise privacy policy. You have the right to opt out of data collection at any time.
Facebook does not have the deep OS integration enjoyed by Google services, yet the company wants access to as much of your personal data as Google.
Can You Disable Facebook Tracking?  Not really.
Birds, farms, zoos, candies and other time killers routinely install background services collecting your data and tracking your location and activities. No wonder your phone becomes sluggish with all of those running and spying on you all the time.
Can I Stop This?  Not really.
Compared to Apple's iOS, Android does not offer the best of security. 
What Google Knows About Your Online Habits
Google started as a search company in 1998, but now it's one of the biggest data collectors in the world.
The question is why Google needs this information? And how Google collects this data?
Key Takeaway: If you use Google Chrome, Gmail and Google Drive, Google has access to pretty much everything you do online. Google can scan your files, emails and browsing habits to serve you appropriate advertising. And if you want to prevent Google from tracking you, then simply don't use its services (Google search, Google Maps, Android, etc.), or stop worrying and get on with life.
Google now knows when its users go to the store and buy stuff
Google has begun using billions of credit-card transaction records to prove that its online ads are prompting people to make purchases – even when they happen offline in brick-and-mortar stores, the company said Tuesday.

The advance allows Google to determine how many sales have been generated by digital ad campaigns, a goal that industry insiders have long described as “the holy grail” of online advertising. But the announcement also renewed long-standing privacy complaints about how the company uses personal information.
Google executives say they are using complex, patent-pending mathematical formulas to protect the privacy of consumers.
The shocking details you reveal about yourself when you ‘like’ things on Facebook
You share far more than you intend when you ‘like’ products publicly on Facebook.
After 10 “likes”, advertisers know you as well as a colleague.
After 70 “likes”, they know you as well as a close friend.
After 150 “likes”, they know you as well as your parents.
After 300 “likes”, they know you as well as your spouse.
Advertisers once thought consumers would become desensitized to this lack of privacy, but studies show the opposite appears to be happening: There is a growing desire to be allowed to “opt out” of more invasive targeting.
Slide Show:
The Worst Hacks of 2017 -- So Far
You need to find your Social Security password now.
Your Social Security account is about to get more secure.
The Social Security Administration is beefing up its cybersecurity practices in an effort to protect online “my Social Security” accounts from unauthorized use and identity fraud. 

Starting June 10, when users log into the first layer of security (username and password) they’ll be prompted to enter either a cell phone number or email address, adding another level of security to the account sign-in process.
This extra layer of security, known as two-factor authentication, is an easy way to secure an account, although it also assumes that users have a certain level of tech sophistication.

Monday, May 8, 2017

News of Interest to Mac Enthusiasts

Arnold will be back soon. In the meantime, here are some articles for your edification.

What Apple could do with $200 BILLION dollars. As the Macalope writes, copy written by the stock analysts amounts to little more than acquisition porn. Right now, Apple will buy back its own shares, thus making Mr. Carl Icahn even richer than he was before. 

Don’t download Handbrake for macOS for awhile! Apparently a server for this app got hacked and was contaminated with malware. So wait a few days until they disinfect the server, then download Handbrake. 

Hardware showdown! Gordon Mah Ung of PCWorld compares the specs of 4 ultrabooks, the runway models of the computing world. He finds the MacBook aiR old, ugly, and unfashionable, compared to the other models. 

Speedup that laggard Mac! Here are’s instructions on how to clean up and speed up that older Mac that used to run like a Chihuahua after some steak, but runs like a snail right now. I tried out these instructions and my Mac Mini’s boot-up speed did increase. But, as always, make a backup first!

Tom Briant
Editor, MacValley Blog



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