The MacValley blog


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Tom Briant

The MacValley blog

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Senior Correspondent Arnold Woodworth's Weekly Web Wrap-up for 3-13-2018

I love iPhone apps that actually put effort into explaining their software updates — here are the best and worst offenders



Apple’s Tips on Avoiding iTunes and App Store Phishing Email Scams

Scammers are crafting more sophisticated and realistic looking emails to trick you into handing over your credit card number and other personal information, so Apple has a new support article with tips on how to spot them.



How to Discover Free iOS Apps on the App Store With IFTTT



Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo, Google Home and more: We put 7 speakers to the test



10 best smart speakers compared

And the verdict is ... 

Smart speakers have different purposes. If all you want is a gizmo that will answer questions, tell you a joke and turn up the heating, the Amazon Echo Dot is enough. The Echo Spot is a tremendous alarm clock because of its highly visible clockface and compact size. But the best device, by far, for audio quality is Apple HomePod. Its smarts aren’t so advanced, but it’s easier to upgrade the software than the hardware so this is a device which will keep improving. Still, the Sonos One is a lot cheaper and sounds pretty spiffy – two together as a stereo pair are the HomePod’s main audio challenger.



How To Reset Your HomePod To Factory Settings

This article explains two different ways to do this.



HomePod vs. Sonos One: Which should you buy?

Overall, I’d easily choose HomePod over the Sonos. And that’s not just because I’m an Apple fanboy. The speaker sounds better, so much so that even Sonos’ CEO admits it. I find it easier to use.



Three Things I Learned After One Month With Apple's HomePod

1.  Siri is a pretty good DJ

2.  Siri is still way more useful on your phone

3.  It’s all about the sound

The HomePod is a music machine first and foremost, and that becomes immediately evident when listening to it alongside other smart speakers. Music sounded generally richer and more open on the HomePod compared to cheaper alternatives like the second-generation Amazon Echo or even the Echo Show, both of which sounded shallow alongside Apple’s speaker. The difference is harder to discern when comparing the HomePod against other premium speakers, like the Google Home Max and Sonos One, both of which also sound fantastic.

Ultimately, the decision to purchase Apple’s HomePod should come down to whether you’re willing to spend considerably more money for great sound but inferior voice controls compared to an Amazon Echo or Google Home device. (There’s also a chance Siri could be improved with software updates down the road.) Plus, you’ll have to commit to Apple Music to get the most out of the HomePod, since other services like Spotify are only compatible via AirPlay.



Apple HomePod: 6 things it can't do



The Apple Home Pod costs $248.40 to build, according to

Which is more than double the cost of competing products.



2 Out of 3 Apple Devices Ever Sold Are Still in Use



Apple iOS 11.2.6 Is Causing New Problems

A deep dive from PiunikaWeb has found iOS 11.2.6 has problems with math. As such you shouldn’t trust your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to do important calculations.

Credit for spotting the issue first goes to former Apple employee Ryan Jones.



Apple-approved Mac Store app mined crypto-coins

Annoyed users have forced an application to stop mining crypto-coins on Apple's Mac computers.

Last week the app was updated to include code that generated coins for the Monero crypto-currency.


The updated version of Calendar 2 started to generate complaints by people who said the option to opt out did not work and that the mining code sucked up so much of their computer's processing power that other applications slowed down.



Apple today announced it signed an agreement to acquire Texture, the digital magazine subscription service by Next Issue Media LLC, which gives users unlimited access to their favorite titles for one monthly subscription fee.

Texture brings over 200 of the world’s best magazines to life.

“We’re excited Texture will join Apple, along with an impressive catalog of magazines from many of the world’s leading publishers,” said Eddy Cue.



Working Smarter with macOS Preferences

Actually a few good hints.



I'm selling my iPad Pro because my iPhone X does everything I need

I bought Apple's 10.5-inch iPad Pro last year when it launched because I thought I'd use it for work, taking notes and watching movies.

Now I'm selling it, because I bought an iPhone X and found out it does everything I need from an iPad, and more.

The 5.8-inch screen on the iPhone X is big enough for everything I thought I needed a larger screen for.

What once fit wonderfully into my lifestyle is no longer needed. Funny it was cannibalized by an iPhone.



The 25 Best Productivity Apps For 2018



The Apple Pencil is perhaps a perfect stylus for drawing and writing on the iPad Pro, but some people (like me) may find its slim, slippery shape uncomfortable to hold for any length of time.  Adding the Pencil Case from Ztylus gives the Apple Pencil a thicker profile ... protects the Apple Pencil, and the thick barrel makes it easier to grip.



How to track back-to-back workouts with Apple Watch



How to use Face ID on iPhone and what to do when Face ID doesn't work



How to maximize the reliability of Face ID on the iPhone X: four tips



How to use iCloud for Windows

Keep photos, contacts, notes, and other data on your iPhone or iPad in sync with Windows by using iCloud for Windows.



Apple confirms it now uses Google Cloud for iCloud services

Apple has confirmed that it uses Google’s public cloud to store data for its iCloud services in its latest version of the iOS Security Guide.

Apple had previously used remote data storage systems provided by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.



Apple's strong principles bend to China's police state

Chinese iCloud Users Warned The Government Could Access Their Data

Following an order from the Chinese government, Apple is about to open a Chinese data center where, from 1 March 2018, the keys for Chinese iCloud accounts will be stored.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ... now fear that the Chinese authorities will start trawling through the iCould data of journalists, dissidents and others at will, and imprisoning many of them.



What price privacy when Apple gets into bed with China?

Apple’s website contains the following bold declaration: “At Apple we believe privacy is a fundamental human right.” What ancient English adage does this bring to mind? Answer: “Fine words butter no parsnips.” In other words, what matters is not what you say, but what you do.

Apple is moving the personal data and content of its mainland Chinese users to a place inside the country’s borders to comply with China’s sweeping new cybersecurity law which requires foreign companies to store all of the data they generate from China inside China’s borders.

Henceforth, cloud services in China have to be operated by Chinese companies.

... everything that Chinese Apple users store in the cloud will be accessible to the Chinese state.

So what’s new? In one sense, nothing: we’ve known for ages that there are no bargains that western tech companies will not make with an authoritarian state in order to gain access to the fastest-growing market in the world. But until now, Apple has laid claim to the moral high ground in this area.

Corporations can blather on all they like about corporate responsibility and human rights, but, in the end, maximising shareholder value is all that counts. And Apple is determined to get to that trillion-dollar valuation no matter what.



How to Merge and Remove Duplicate Contacts in macOS and iCloud

Detailed step-by-step instructions.



Stolen Apple iCloud Account IDs Reportedly Being Sold For $15 Each

Compromised iCloud accounts are among the most valuable of those traded on the dark web, so Apple users must make sure they protect themselves against fraud and phishing attacks.

One of the biggest reasons Apple users need to beware of phishing attacks is that compromised iCloud accounts are among the most valuable of those traded on the dark web at $15 per account.

Think about the value of your Apple ID data: Not only is your account the golden portal into all your personal data, but it unlocks all manner of other valuable items: credit card details, online purchasing, passwords for your websites and more.

That’s why every Apple ID user really should think about the value of the data they are trying to protect and create tough alphanumeric passcodes, even if they do need to spend significant time memorizing those codes.



Video: How to backup, erase, and factory reset your iPad



Video Interview:
The rationale for buying an iMac Pro

Apple expert Michael deAgonia told Computerworld Executive Editor Ken Mingis he's getting a new iMac Pro this month, and went on to explain why.
In a word: video.

Thus ensued a debate between DeAgonia and IDG Enterprise video producer Chris Hebert – in his Mingis on Tech debut – on the merits of spending high-roller money on a computer.

Chris Hebert figures the entry-level iMac Pro offers the best bang for the buck.



Apple will keep repairing your vintage iMacs in a new pilot program

The new offering will allow Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers to keep repairing both 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac models released in mid-2011. Because of the rate at which Apple devices age out, these seven-year-old machines will soon be considered “vintage” starting in March, but happily, that no longer means that they’re ineligible for service.

Generally speaking, you can have Apple repair or replace parts in your Mac up to five years after manufacturing ceases for a particular model. That means that computers made in mid-2011 are approaching this date.



Apple may extend 2011 iMac repair window in surprisingly pro-consumer move

In a move that many will see as surprisingly pro-consumer, Apple has reportedly extended the period during which it will repair 2011 iMac models through the end of August this year.



Apple Launching Pilot Program Allowing Repairs of Soon-to-Be Vintage Mid 2011 iMac in United States

Apple today internally announced it is launching a new pilot program that will permit Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers to continue offering repair service for 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac models released in mid 2011, despite the fact they will be classified as vintage starting next month.

The pilot program will be available in the United States only between March 1, 2018 and August 31, 2018, subject to parts availability from Apple, according to the company's internal memo obtained by MacRumors. After the pilot ends, repairs will only be available in California and Turkey, as required by law.



Apple iMac Pro review: The return of the king

The most powerful Mac ever; Stunning design; Gorgeous screen


The iMac Pro is Apple's attempt to take back the workplace, and it's come out swinging. Not only is it the most powerful Mac ever made, it's managed to fit in all that power without sacrificing any of Apple's world-class design aesthetic. If you can afford it, you won't regret it.



It's time to update your iPhone — Apple just fixed a big text message bug

Apple released iOS 11.2.6 to fix a bug in which a Telegu Indian language character could crash iMessage and other apps.


Anyone who owns an iPhone should update now to avoid being prone to the attack.



How to clear your private data from your iPad before you sell it

1. Make sure you have a backup
2. Turn off Find My iPad
3. Reset your iPad

Read the article for detailed instructions for each step.



5 reasons why iPad Pro won’t make you ask ‘What’s a computer?’

“What’s a computer,” a young girl asks in Apple’s latest change-the-world TV spot for the iPad. It’s a vision that fits well with the lazy Sunday afternoon Apple presents as the girl totes the device around parks and diners.

But for work?

I’ve used the tablet as my primary work device since 2015, and while it’s seen some impressive improvements over the years, it’s still not ready to fully usurp the MacBook. Here’s why.



The used phone market is cannibalizing new iPhone sales: that's why Apple is heading into a 'third straight year of flat-to-declining units’

On Apple's last earnings call, CEO Tim Cook announced some good news: "Apple's active installed base reached 1.3 billion devices in January and is at an all-time high for all of our major products. 

"1.3 billion devices represents an astonishing 30% growth in just two years." 

But Cook also announced that new iPhone sales declined 1%.

Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi believes he has figured out why it is that the "installed base" can grow at 30% while new unit sales are sagging. The base is being fuelled by used, second-hand and resold devices. New iPhone replacement sales are essentially flat, and all the growth is in the second-hand market, Sacconaghi says.

If Sacconaghi is right, it means new iPhone sales are being cannibalized by older phones that still work well.



How Capture One Completely Changed My Photography Workflow and Streamlined My Creativity

In this article, the author describes how new software improved his professional photography work flow.



5 tips to make macOS more efficient on the go



Siri co-founder believes Apple’s strategy with Siri is misguided (recall that Apple acquired Siri in 2010)

Siri co-founder Norman Winarsky recently opined that Apple’s goals for Siri are simply too broad. In other words, Winarsky believes that Apple — to its own detriment — wants Siri to be good at many things instead of focusing on just a few areas.



Apple macOS malware soared 270% over the past year - with four major threats found in 2018

Mac malware increased by 270% in 2017, compared to 2016, a report by MalwareBytes has revealed, with four new major Mac vulnerabilities uncovered in the first two months of 2018.



Meet Coldroot, a nasty Mac trojan that went undetected for years

A Mac malware that can silently, remotely control a vulnerable computer and steal passwords from a user's keychain has gone largely unnoticed by antivirus makers for two years -- even though the code is readily available to download.

Patrick Wardle, chief research officer at Digita Security, revealed  in a blog post Tuesday details of Coldroot, a remote access trojan.

The malware masquerades as a document, which when opened, presents a prompt for the user's password. In the hope that a user will naively enter their credentials, the malware will silently install and contact its command and control server to await instructions from an attacker.



Apple’s Swift Programming Language is now Top Tier

Apple's programming language Swift is less than four years old, but a new report finds that it's already as popular as its predecessor, Apple's more established Objective-C language.



GitHub Survived the Biggest DDoS Attack Ever Recorded

1.35 terabits per second of traffic hit the developer platform GitHub all at once. It was the most powerful distributed denial of service attack recorded to date—and it used an increasingly popular DDoS method, no botnet required.

GitHub briefly struggled with intermittent outages as a digital system assessed the situation. Within 10 minutes it had automatically called for help from its DDoS mitigation service, Akamai Prolexic. Prolexic took over as an intermediary, routing all the traffic coming into and out of GitHub, and sent the data through its scrubbing centers to weed out and block malicious packets. After eight minutes, attackers relented and the assault dropped off.

About 100,000 memcached servers, mostly owned by businesses and other institutions, currently sit exposed online with no authentication protection, meaning an attacker can access them and send them a special command packet that the server will respond to with a much larger reply.

The infrastructure community has also started attempting to address the underlying problem, by asking the owners of exposed memcached servers to take them off the internet, keeping them safely behind firewalls on internal networks.

Until memcached servers get off the public internet, though, it seems likely that attackers will give a DDoS of this scale another shot.



Sophisticated malware attacks through routers

It's likely the creation of a government surveillance agency.

Security researchers at Kaspersky Lab have discovered what's likely to be another state-sponsored malware strain, and this one is more advanced than most.

It has been nicknamed Slingshot.  Read the article for technical details.

While text clues hint that English speakers might be responsible, the culprit isn't clear. 

It rivals the Regin malware GCHQ used to spy on Belgian carrier Belgacom.



'Highly advanced' Slingshot malware remained hidden for six years

Researchers have discovered a "highly sophisticated and complicated" malware threat that has managed to remain hidden for at least six years.



Google Has Killed Tons of Firms by Demonitization



Facebook's algorithm has wiped out a once flourishing digital publisher

The digital publisher LittleThings is shutting down.

Facebook's recent algorithm tweak throttled its traffic severely, causing its profit to plummet.



Identity Theft Soars in 2017



Interesting video introduction to Bitcoin.

Play the video.  Ignore the written article on the web page.

The video has some info about investing in companies that sell computers to Bitcoin mining companies.

Right now, the video says that the best way to speculate in Bitcoin is to buy Bitcoins, not company stocks.

Not Bitcoin futures, not Bitcoin ETFs.  Just Bitcoins.



Artificial Intelligence (AI) vs Lawyers: The Ultimate Showdown

A new study has shown that AI can already work faster than lawyers on certain non-core legal tasks such as reviewing legal contracts.

Unfortunately for us humans, the AI predicted the outcomes with 94 percent accuracy, compared to 85 percent for the lawyers, on average. Additionally, the AI had a 100 percent accuracy rate for one document where the best result from a human was just 96 percent.

What’s more, the challenge took the LawGeex AI only 26 seconds to complete, while the human lawyers took more than an hour and a half on average.

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