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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Wrap-up for Monday, 1-29-2018

We visited the flagship stores of Apple and Microsoft in New York City — and the winner was obvious
Apple's product strategy and aesthetic brilliance gave its store an edge over Microsoft's. Each of the items in Apple's Fifth Avenue store was intuitive, and the minimalist design never made me feel overwhelmed.
While Microsoft's store wasn't as coherent as Apple's, it gave customers more opportunities to be surprised by items they might not already own.
Apple is testing a new feature to give you access to medical records on your devices
The new tool will be stored in Apple's Health app, allowing the user to add a health provider in the health records section. A few taps and boom, you have access to your records, provided your health care provider has an agreement(more on that in a minute).
Of course, there's a big risk in having that much personal information available on a device, in an age where hacks and device theft are pretty commonplace. Apple says the information — which will include allergies, lab results, and medications — will be encrypted and protected through your personal passcode.
Apple wants to gather all your medical records in the Health app
Apple’s future Health Records feature is not available yet, but Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai, Penn Medicine and others are already testing the feature with their patients.
What putting medical records on an iPhone means for your privacy
According to Apple, your health data does not touch Apple's servers (unless you want it to), and instead comes straight from your health provider. As far as protecting the data is concerned, the company insists that your medical records are encrypted both in transit and at rest.

This is important, because if Apple wants people to trust it with the details of their "allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals," as CNBC reports, then it needs to ensure that data is secure.
While the benefits of having your medical history at your fingertips may be numerous, so are the potential pitfalls. After all, it's not hard to imagine what could go wrong. As the notorious 2014 hack of celebrity iCloud accounts made clear, Apple can't necessarily guarantee the safety of your data.

Sure, that incident involved targeted phishing, but for many people, a jealous ex is part of a valid threat model — and that's exactly the type of person who would be able to bluff their way into an iCloud account.
Essentially, like so many things in life, proceed with putting your medical records on your smartphone at your own risk.
I advised users to wait before upgrading. Given the extra time that has passed since, I’d reiterate this advice. Even its biggest core feature - HomePod support - is for a product that won’t be released for nearly two weeks. There is no rush. 

Especially with Apple already beta testing iOS 11.3, an update Tim Cook has confirmed will be The Big One…
Apple releases iOS 11.2.5 with HomePod support, minor macOS, tvOS, and watchOS updates
Apple today released iOS 11.2.5, macOS 10.13.3, tvOS 11.2.5, and watchOS 4.2.2 to the general public. Each of the new operating system releases includes bug fixes and stability improvements, following Apple’s rush to address Spectre and Meltdown processor vulnerabilities in an earlier release.
watchOS 4.2.2 is now available for Apple Watch
Release notes simply mention ‘improvements and bug fixes’ without noting any specific changes.
7 ways to use your Apple Watch to get fit
1. Improve your sleep
2. Stand and deliver
3. Use the calorie count as guide
4. Share the load — we run more when our friends do
5. Green means go
6. Create micro goals
7. Listen to your heart
iOS 11.2.5 out for iPhone and iPad, patches annoying 'text bomb’ bug
Time for the second iOS 11 update of 2018. Yes, iOS 11.2.5 is out.
Here's the brief rundown according to Apple's release notes:

     iOS 11.2.5 includes support for HomePod and introduces the
     ability for Siri to read the news (US, UK, and Australia only).
     This update also includes bug fixes and improvements.
This upgrade will extend the life of your MacBook Air for years
If the only problem with your older computer is the battery, there's no reason to spend the money on a new one. Instead, you can buy a replacement battery and fix the problem yourself.

I'm recommending Egoway's battery replacement pack because it's positioned as a kit; instead of just selling a battery. has a set of step-by-step guides for every MacBook Air battery replacement, and I cannot recommend their guides highly enough.
I had an Apple Store experience from hell — and it's clear there are larger problems with Apple's retail presence
One person’s misadventure of trying to get her iPhone repaired.  In the end, she got a new iPhone, but only after problems and confusion and a lot of wasted time.
She wrote:
“ the overall problems with Apple's retail experience were too clear to ignore.  The lack of signage indicating where to stand and who to talk to is extraordinarily frustrating. Having no clear points of contact or direction is confusing.
The biggest issue I had: In Apple's world, every employee seems charged with helping every customer and every other employee, all at once. Nearly every time I spoke with an employee during my weeklong Apple odyssey, they interrupted me to talk to someone else or were interrupted by a customer or fellow employee. That made me feel as if no one was listening to me or taking my concerns seriously.”
AppleCare+ for HomePod will cost $39, covers AirPort products
The coverage includes AirPort products and “adds up to two incidents of accidental damage from handling for HomePod, each subject to a $39 service fee”.
Just this morning Apple announced that HomePod will go on sale Friday January 26 for $349 in the US and starts shipping February 9.
After spending an hour demoing Apple's new HomePod smart speaker, I can say one thing with confidence: it sounds incredible.
Inside HomePod are seven tweeters spaced evenly around the base of the device and a woofer on top. Apple was aiming for a consistent sound all the way around.
Overall, HomePod is both louder and better-sounding than I expected. The bass was strong without being too heavy, vocals were crisp and clear, and the overall sound felt somehow bright and energized.
HomePod only works if you have an iOS device.
There's also the major, almost crippling, limitation on the music side: The device can work with any music streaming service as a typical Bluetooth speaker would, but the Siri part — the "smart" part — only works with Apple Music.

For Apple Music users, this is fantastic.  But for anyone who isn't an Apple Music user, you'll have to control the music from your phone. You can still use HomePod for its other features, but you'll lose out on about half the device's capabilities.
HomePod vs. Amazon Echo vs. Google Home Max vs. Sonos One: Speaker showdown
When it comes to speaker quality and privacy, HomePod has no competition.
What really matters to me is how the music feels in the room — and the price I'll have to pay.
On those fronts, Apple has achieved a monumental feat.
Amazon's Echo retails for under $100 and its speaker-and-microphone array are built more for replying to spoken queries than blasting music. The HomePod retails for $350 and was built for audio above all else.

The Google Home Max is an embarrassment of a speaker for its cost: In isolation, the Max sounds decent enough, but when put in a ring against the cheaper Sonos One and HomePod, it's obvious just how much compression it puts on vocal and mid-tone tracks in the interest of big, booming sound.
While the HomePod has the edge on being the superior speaker, there's no doubt that the Sonos One can hold its own.
In the battle between Sonos and HomePod, the latter is unquestionably the better speaker.  But is it almost double-the-price better.
Read the article for the author’s opinion on what improvements HomePod needs.
Apple HomePod Hands-on: Sounds Great, But Siri Needs Work
When it comes to playing music, the HomePod excels, but in the demo I attended, Apple's speaker didn’t blow away the competition. The HomePod was set up on a credenza next to the Sonos One, the Google Home Max, and the second-generation Amazon Echo; the HomePod definitely sounded the best of the group, but the Sonos One — which costs half as much — kept pace.
On songs such as "Hotel California," the HomePod had a fuller sound, especially in the bass, but the Sonos had clearer and more present vocals. The same songs played on the Google Home Max sounded oddly muddy.
Up close with Apple HomePod, Siri’s expensive new home
If it were only a question of quality, Apple’s HomePod, which, after a months-long delay finally ships on February 9, should be an unqualified success. Its audio quality is excellent, especially considering its size.
It is, in all an excellent hardware package that, unlike most of the other smart speakers, uses its own microphones to adjust audio for each listening environment.
The HomePod setup process is as easy and fast as you would expect from an Apple device.
The combination of Siri and a smart speaker is quite compelling.
What Apple has here is an ultra-high-quality speaker and the first physical instantiation of Siri without a screen.
Apple's new $350 'HomePod' smart speaker is available to buy right now — here are 7 things you should know before buying it
The first ads for Apple’s HomePod are all about music
AW comment:  I think these are some of the worst ads Apple ever made.
I’m not buying Apple’s HomePod for two main reasons
The problem with Apple's new HomePod for me boils down to:

• The HomePod is only intended for people who use Apple Music, Apple Mail, Apple Maps, and Apple everything else.
• Siri, as we all know, is not good. And Siri is the way you interact with HomePod.
Apple Macintosh Then & Now, How the ‘Mac-hine’ Has Evolved
An interesting historical summary of Mac Computers.
Apple's 8 years of iPad: a revolution in iOS computing
Sales of Apple's new "big iOS device" were far higher than analysts had expected. They looked at existing tablet customers, mostly a small niche of people drawn to various fragments of Microsoft's Tablet PC project, and saw very limited potential for a new tablet.
A primary reason why analysts are so frequently wrong about Apple is that they look at the company through the distorted lens of the status quo.
iPad was targeted expressly at iPhone users who wanted to expand their iOS experience.  This strategy clearly paid off.
By keeping its iPad and Mac lines distinct, Apple has set clear expectations for each, and made each very good at different things.
At no point will iPad focus on trying to be a Mac for global iOS audiences who increasingly don't know anything about the Macintosh.
This 1983 Demo Says So Much About Apple’s Past, Present, And Future
The author wrote:
On the evening of January 26, 1983, as a technology-smitten Boston University freshman, I attended the monthly meeting of the Boston Computer Society, which included a demo of Apple’s brand-new Lisa system. Though I know that I came away enormously impressed, I don’t exactly recall the event like it was yesterday.
Now, thanks to the miracle of the internet, I can relive every minute of that 1983 meeting. It was videotaped at the time by BCS member Glenn Koenig, who–with the help of the Computer History Museum–has digitized his work and made it available, along with other vintage BCS meetings, on YouTube.
AW comment:
The presentation of the LISA (precursor to the Mac) begins at about 35 minutes into the video in this article.
The author continued:
What I didn’t realize until I watched the video is that seeing the meeting all over again wasn’t just an act of personal nostalgia. Between them, the IIe and Lisa, and the way Apple explained them to us BCS members, are full of lessons that remain resonant in the era of the iPhone.
One thing that doesn’t come up during the demo is the Lisa’s starting price: a daunting $10,000, or about $25,000 in current dollars.
More than three decades after its demise, the Lisa isn’t exactly forgotten, but it’s most famous for being unsuccessful and short-lived. That strikes me as being terribly unfair, especially after watching the BCS video. Though it was a commercial failure, it bulged with ideas that went on to transform personal computing and that remain as relevant as ever. Any of us who attended that 1983 meeting would have instantly recognized this century’s Macs–and, for that matter, its Windows PCs–as being, essentially, souped-up Lisas.
Face ID Is Unstoppable
Apple got it right, too. I can confidently say that Face ID is the best biometric security technology I’ve ever used, and I’d also argue that it’s the best on the market. Two months after getting my iPhone X, I’ve practically forgotten what it’s like to hold my thumb over a sensor or to type in a passcode to unlock my phone. Face ID is so fast and dependable, my phone is almost always ready to use when I glance at it. I could almost forget that this is because Apple is identifying and cross-checking the most minute details of my face every time I use it. If I thought facial recognition was creepy six months ago, I think it’s incredible now. Face ID works so well, I stopped thinking about the privacy implications last Thanksgiving.
Apple's iMac Pro vs 2013 Mac Pro (Part 2) - photo editing comparison
iMac Pro vs 2013 Mac Pro (Part 3) - video editing
iMac Pro vs 2013 Mac Pro (Part 4) - 3D rendering and thermals
Why I’m keeping the iMac Pro
The more that I use the iMac Pro, the more that I come to appreciate how good it really is for my workflow. In this post and hands-on video, I consider five reasons why I’ve decided to stick with Apple’s professional-grade all-in-one.
Making Lemons Into Lemonade
How a less than desirable situation for me this weekend turned into a chance to improve my business and my approach.
I somehow managed to actually lose my iPad.
The moment of realization that my iPad was ... lost for good is not a moment I would wish on my worst enemy.
Unlike many other purchases, the iPad almost instantly proved it’s worth.  It truly did make the jump from “nice-to-have” to a business critical tool for my business. So, in addition to the pain and frustration of losing a perfectly well functioning device, I was forced to double down on that pain by going out to buy a replacement.
But, like most apparent setbacks in life, if one looks closely, there is always a silver lining.
When I lost my iPad, not only did I lose the physical device, but I also lost the incredibly detailed Foliobook layout I had built on the device. The countless hours and days I had spent putting together the perfect presentation all vanished in a puff of smoke. While I was able to replace the device, it also meant that I needed to rebuild my iPad presentation… from scratch.
But again, as annoying a way as this was to spend several non-returnable hours of my life, was it really all bad? Actually… no.
The point is that having to suffer through that little bit of pain, gave me a great opportunity to have a fresh look at every single image I am using to define my brand. It forced me to look with fresh eyes at how effective I am at relating my message to clients. And that is something we all need to be doing on a daily basis.
Remember to check this web site every day for new bargains on apps for iPhone and iPad.

iPhone X: The five worst features in Apple's best phone
There’s a lot to like, but Apple needs to rethink some things for 2018's iPhones.
Face ID needs improvement.
Battery life needs improvement.
Need to make it easy to check if the alarm is on like iPhone 8.
Apple made iPhone X more complicated to use, not simpler.
I'm a longtime MacBook user and tried Microsoft's new Surface Book 2 for a week — here's what I learned
The Microsoft hardware is spectacular.
Windows 10 is a great operating system that's both powerful and complex.
After using the Surface Book 2 for a week, I was left with the feeling that Windows 10 is an incredibly powerful, flexible, and capable OS that does much more than I need it to. This can be good at times, but it can also feel overwhelming.

It's a double-edged sword. The learning curve is steeper with Windows 10 than it is with macOS, which remains a relatively simple, straightforward OS.
Windows 10 gives its best only if you use Microsoft's software and services.
Microsoft’s suite of software products is the only one that takes advantage of all the hardware and software perks built into the Surface Book and Windows.  If you're already using Microsoft's software, then by all means, go for it.  But my attachment to Google software products prevents me from making the jump to Microsoft’s Surface Book 2.
The MacBook Air: A Decade’s Worth of Legacy
10 years ago, Steve Jobs introduced the MacBook Air.  Here’s the history of the product.
Apple highlights project to teach film production skills using MacBook Pro, Final Cut Pro X
Apple supplied the teams with a variety of hardware to create their films, including the MacBook Pro, iMac, iPad, the RED Raven camera, while Final Cut Pro X was provided to edit together the final product. Apple Retail experts were also provided to help the filmmaking process.
A team of 10 students from Hollywood High School created the film 'The Box' for the project, a story where a boy is transported to another world when he climbs inside a cardboard box.
Four things my old MacBook Pro can do better than my newer model
Instead, my old MacBook Pro is making my new model feel less useful.
My old MacBook Pro has a better keyboard.
My old MacBook Pro has a real esc (short for escape) key, not the poor imitation on the touch bar.
My old MacBook Pro has the better MagSafe power connector.
My old MacBook Pro has more ports (see the photo in the article)
How to permanently display the function keys for certain apps in the MacBook Pro Touch Bar
It’s an option in Apple’s “System Preferences” app.
How to fix macOS Touch ID after High Sierra update
Some upgrades to macOS High Sierra have reportedly caused Touch ID to stop working. If that's happened to you, the author has the fix.
Apple Releases Minor tvOS 11.2.5 Update With Bug Fixes and Security Improvements
Steve Jobs Knew How to Write an Email. Here's How He Did It
How Apple Built a Chip Powerhouse to Threaten Qualcomm and Intel

For several years, Apple has been steadily designing more and more of the chips powering its iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple Watches.
Today, Apple packs its devices with custom components that process artificial intelligence tasks, track your steps, power game graphics, secure Face ID or Touch ID data, run the Apple Watch, pair AirPods to your phone and help make Macs work the way they do. The result: a chip powerhouse that could one day threaten the dominance of Qualcomm Inc. and even, eventually, Intel.
Mike Olson says that by designing its own chips, Apple cuts component costs, gets an early jump on future features because it controls research and development and keeps secrets away from frenemies such as Samsung.
Apple’s push into the complicated and pricey chips business makes sense so long as the company is selling 300 million devices a year.
Apple watchers believe it’s just a matter of time before the company designs the entire CPU, at which point Intel would lose its fifth-largest customer.

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
          —  Pablo Picasso

I’ve tested over 100 headphones in the past year, and I keep coming back to this $25 pair
Of the many inexpensive, beater-level earphones I’ve had lying around, the Xiaomi Mi In-Ear Headphones Pro have emerged as a personal favorite. They have a few clear flaws, but they still feel and sound better than I’d expect from a $25 earphone.
I compared the Xiaomis to Apple’s EarPods , which are the closest thing most people have to beater headphones today. As expected, the tighter-fitting Xiaomis sounded much more aggressive, with deeper bass response, a wider soundstage, and more space to capture fine detail. That bass was boomier with more subdued tracks, but again, if you fit the same niche as me, you’ll probably enjoy how hard-hitting the whole thing is.
Coincheck: Stolen $534 Mln NEM Were Stored On Low Security Hot Wallet
Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck, one of the largest in the country, was the victim of a massive hack resulting in a loss of 523 mln NEM coins, worth approximately $534 mln.

The coins were stolen via several unauthorized transactions from a hot wallet at 3:00 am local time on Friday, Jan. 26.
According to the exchange’s representatives, the hackers have managed to steal the private key for the hot wallet where NEM coins were stored, enabling them to drain the funds.
It has come to light that the funds were being stored on a simple hot wallet rather than a much more secure multisig wallet.
Hackers Invade YouTube Ads To Mine Cryptocurrency
Ads over YouTube carried a sneaky surprise: a cryptocurrency miner.

The mining software briefly invaded the video platform in an attempt to secretly siphon the computing power from any YouTube viewers who encountered the ads.
The culprit? Hackers who decided to abuse Google's ad network. The bad actors seeded the advertisements with web scripts that'll run over your browser to mine the digital currency Monero.
My Pacemaker Is Tracking Me From Inside My Body
Cloud-connected medical devices save lives, but also raise questions about privacy, security, and oversight. An Object Lesson.
Despite the growing number of pacemakers, not to mention the recent introduction of wireless cardiovascular devices like mine, their long-term effects, risks, and proprietary design are rarely discussed with new patients or their family members.
First, let’s save your life, the medical establishment might surmise, and later we can chitchat about how having a wireless, subdermal implant for the rest of that life might expose you to hacking, infections, and other health hazards.
to me, the idea that my hidden chest box “talks” to others in my sleep is the stuff of nightmares. It is impossible to know for sure whether my data is protected.
In 2013 Dick Cheney told CBS’s 60 Minutes that his doctors disabled his wireless pacemaker to thwart hacking and to protect him from possible assassination attempts.
Health providers can review my data from afar, and unauthorized hackers might have access to it, too. But it proved surprisingly difficult to access these medical records myself.
Data monitoring is threatening because those subject to it don’t know what information is being collected, for what reason, and by whom. And unlike iPhone or Amazon Echo users, I cannot just choose to stop using my connected pacemaker. In a way, my heart is no longer entirely mine: I share it with both Medtronic and with the U.S. hospital in which it was implanted.
In the future, will it be possible to “deactivate” my pacemaker — and me —  from afar?
Facebook’s crushing blow to independent media arrived last fall in Slovakia, Cambodia, Guatemala, and three other nations.

The social giant removed stories by these publishers from users’ news feeds, hiding them in a new, hard-to-find stream. These independent publishers reported that they lost as much as 80 percent of their audience during this experiment.
At the heart of this change is Facebook’s attempt to be seen not as a news publisher, but as a neutral platform for interactions between friends. Facing sharp criticism for its role in spreading misinformation, and possibly in tipping elections in the United States and in the United Kingdom, Facebook is anxious to limit its exposure by limiting its role.
Facebook doesn’t talk to you because Facebook already knows what you want.

Facebook collects information on a person’s every interaction with the site—and many other actions online—so Facebook knows a great deal about what we pay attention to. People say they’re interested in a broad range of news from different political preferences, but Facebook knows they really want angry, outraged articles that confirm political prejudices.

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