The importance of local backups.

MySpace lost all your pictures, audio and video files from 2003 to 2015.

A “cloud” is just another person’s computer. No matter whether your store data in iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive or AWS. Remember to keep your own local copies of everything important to you.

Get in touch if you’d like help understanding this, copying your data from FaceBook, securing it, and storing it safely.

Text or call 415-843-1622

Thank you for reading.

Where’s the Mystique?

Apple’s event invitations have mostly had an awesome sense of Mystique around them.

From the most subtle and very best “The first 30 years were just the beginning. Welcome to 2007” to unveil the incredible iPhone, to “It’s not a Mac” for the original iPod, to the awesomely clever “We’ve got a little more to show you” for the iPad Mini in 2012, to the completely confounding “Hey Siri, Give us a hint.” for the iPhone 6s, Apple’s marketing team is top of the worldwide heap for giving clever, cryptic and hilarious in hindsight clues to it’s new product/service introduction events.

What then, explains when the marketing team “phones it in”, and gives away the mystery and surprise? “It’s almost here” for iPhone 5 in 2012, “Let’s talk iPhone” for the iPhone 4s in 2011, or the picture of the actual phone for the iPhone 3gs event in 2008?

Far be it for me to advise Apple on how to play it’s game, it’s obviously the biggest and most succesful company the earth has ever known, but investigating why and how it plays us game makes us all better players.

This March 25th, Apple is once again showing it’s cards: “It’s Show time” for an event that is highly rumored to be about a TV show/channel subscription service.

Personally, I like the mystery for than the obvious teaser, but what do you think? Prefer to know, or to wait?

Text or call your thoughts to 415-843-1622

21 Lessons

Yuval Noah Harari’s third book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, is a fantastic follow up to his first two, “Sapiens” & “Homo Deus”.

Head over to your favorite library (mine is San Francisco), or your favorite book store (mine is Apple Books), and pickup all three of his books, read in order if you can.

Here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite parts:

Lesson 4

EQUALITY

Those who own the data own the future

If we want to prevent the concentration of all wealth and power in the hands of a small elite, the key is to regulate the ownership of data. In ancient times land was the most important asset in the world, politics was a struggle to control land, and if too much land became concentrated in too few hands – society split into aristocrats and commoners. In the modern era machines and factories became more important than land, and political struggles focused on controlling these vital means of production. If too many of the machines became concentrated in too few hands – society split into capitalists and proletarians. In the twenty-first century, however, data will eclipse both land and machinery as the most important asset, and politics will be a struggle to control the flow of data. If data becomes concentrated in too few hands – humankind will split into different species.

The race to obtain the data is already on, headed by data-giants such as Google, Facebook, Baidu and Tencent. So far, many of these giants seem to have adopted the business model of ‘attention merchants’.2 They capture our attention by providing us with free information, services and entertainment, “and they then resell our attention to advertisers. Yet the data-giants probably aim far higher than any previous attention merchant. Their true business isn’t to sell advertisements at all. Rather, by capturing our attention they manage to accumulate immense amounts of data about us, which is worth more than any advertising revenue. We aren’t their customers – we are their product.

Another great part:

“First, if you want reliable information – pay good money for it. If you get your news for free, you might well be the product. Suppose a shady billionaire offered you the following deal: ‘I will pay you $30 a month, and in exchange, you will allow me to brainwash you for an hour every day, installing in your mind whichever political and commercial biases I want.’ Would you take the deal? Few sane people would. So the shady billionaire offers a slightly different deal: ‘You will allow me to brainwash you for one hour every day, and in exchange, I will not charge you anything for this service.’ Now the deal suddenly sounds tempting to hundreds of millions of people. Don’t follow their example.”

Differential Privacy in a google product.

Hell froze over.

Kudos to whomever at Google is responsible for google’s decision, revealed today, to enable differential privacy for its tensor flow machine learning service.

Most of us first heard of differential privacy when Apple, almost three years ago, introduced it as the technology that would enable Apple to intelligently learn about and help you organize your data with them (think: “Siri show me pictures of trees”), without being able to personally identify that you take a lot of pictures of trees. (Googles smart reply feature in gmail, in stark contrast, reads and personally associates every word YOU have written in email to provide its suggestions).

With Google’s Tensor Flow service now offering Differential Privacy, developers could build a service to reply to emails, sort photos, or drive you, without the need to personally identify you with the data required to accomplish this task.

The outstanding questions then, are, will differential privacy spread throughout Google and make Google into a new different company that actually values and protects users privacy like DuckDuckGo? Will it destabilize google core business? Will it highlight googles opposing data collecting behavior to users? or will it enable a new company to rise and display Google by using Google’s own technology?

No matter the results, the news that Google has followed Apple into Differential Privacy is a victory for regular computer users all over the world. Privacy is a fundamental human right.

What’s new and great in Technology this week?

A week after Apple’s Education focused event, I’m pleased to share the great news in technology this week.

After 18 months as a tool exclusively for iPad Pro, Apple this week made an iPad that starts at $329 ($299 for Schools) that will work with the Pencil.

If you’ve never tried the pencil, I’d urge you to go try it, there’s no stylus, at any price point I’ve seen, on any device that has the reaction time, features, or ease of use that the Apple Pencil has.

It’s sheer brilliance, and is the closest digital writing or drawing tool to writing on paper yet made. To make this available to people whose budgets for iPads are under $300 is fantastic.

That the iPad also comes with an advanced Apple designed chip, can run incredible apps like Swift playgrounds, business tools like Outlook, Word, Excel and more makes this iPad a phenomenal starting point.

If you’d like to know the advantages an iPad Pro offers over the new iPad, please do get in touch.

 

 

Caching for All!

A really great feature added to MacOS server a couple of versions ago, was the ability to become a cache for iCloud content, staff and family backups of phones, iTunesU content and more.

Enabling a Mac with OS server powers, and caching, meant your business, organization of family could get faster backups, app downloads, iCloud restores and much more, quicker and without consuming bandwidth, which has become to be more closely metered by several internet providers.

Good news came with High Sierra, because ANY mac, not just Mac’s running MacOS server, can now cache content. That means if you’ve two iMacs in your house, or Fifty MacBooks in your office, they can all turn on caching, and make iCloud backups, restores, app installs and more mac faster. (For those of you concerned about privacy and security, as I am, rest assured, because this is an Apple designed service, all data stored on those cache’s is unreadable to users, administrators and owners of those computers).

 

MacOS High Sierra Content Caching
MacOS High Sierra Content Caching

If I owned a Cafe, I’d immediately Enable a caching server on my network, my customers would see iCloud running especially quickly when in that cafe, and would start to favor that location to work, rather than on Starbucks sluggish (by comparison) network.

 

Phishing, Passwords and Apple Security

Some news making waves this week, reported on both Daringfireball.net and atp.fm, highlights the fact that any iOS app can popup a dialog requesting a password for your AppleID, (or theoretically any of your accounts).

While this is true, and it’s also true that phishers, and spear-phishes are getting very advanced in finding ways to trick people into giving away their passwords, I believe the important message to spread is: What a great job Apple is doing to pro-actively protect it’s users. Nonsense? Contrary to that article? Read on to understand my point of view, then tell me your arguments.

Two Factor Authentication.

Banks for many years, have required, a second, third or further way to verify you are who you say you are. As far back as 2001, I recall my bank asking me a second or third question when I attempted to login on a new device, or from a new location. These usually took the form: What is your favorite car? MacLaren (obviously) and such.

The sensationalist report about the kind of phishing that malicious App developers could do is just a reminder, that you should use, and services should offer Two Factor authentication for every service you use that holds any kind of personal information. From Photos to location, notes.

What makes Apple so Special?

Implementing two factor authentication for users of other services, like Google, Facebook etc has always been cumbersome and complex, with users having issues like this, and others that made them disable it.

It takes an mistake to improve, so, after some celebrity iCloud accounts were accessed in 2014, (these accounts were phished too, the bad guy found ways to get all the information he heeded to get into the accounts), Apple implemented one of the simplest two step verification systems in 2015.

In 2017, Apple made Two Factor Authentication mandatory for any device running iOS11 or High Sierra.

And so, If you are a user of Apple’s current software, you are instantly protected by two factor authentication, and EVEN if you get Phished, or give you iCloud password to your best friend, they will not be able to access your account without your explicit and subsequent consent.

This is what you’ll see on your Trusted Devices if someone tries to access your iCloud account:

Two factor Authentication pop up

iPad two factor Authentication Pop up
iPad two factor Authentication Pop up

How is this superior to others who do Two Factor Authentication with Text Message? Many researchers have already revealed how other Two factor authentication, done by phone or text message can easily be compromised.

Between the fact that Apple has now mandated two factor authentication, made it easy to use, and made it virtually invulnerable to compromise. (A user would have to click “allow, then copy the code that Apple presents  by hand (no copying and pasting of this code is possible).

With all of these facts, I believe that Apple should be praised for how well it protects users, compared to Microsoft, Google, Amazon and others. Do you disagree? I welcome discussion, it’s how we grow, please share your thoughts here, on twitter or by email, phone etc.

If we’re going to complain about Apple, how about we ask why Siri can speak on the new Apple Watch, but can’t read our emails to us, nor Wikipedia articles. Try that on iPhone or iPad, it’s life changing.

Thank you for reading.