What’s The CIA Got To Do With Apple’s MacBook?

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Apple is the undisputed leader in the iOS and MacOS technology that were later soon adapted by Google with their very own Android version. But Apple’s got a certain touch of class to it, far from the wide-range Android-based smartphones, computers, and laptops sold by different phone and PC manufacturers. Even with computers and laptops, many people covet those sleek and fancy MacBooks and iMacs.

However, some covert controversy surrounds Apple’s MacBooks and it involves the Central Intelligence Agency. Rumor has it that the agency infected fresh from the factory MacBook units for some major spying right under our noses.

The Central Intelligence Agency is able to permanently infect an Apple Mac computer so that even reinstalling the operating system will not erase the bug, according to documents published by WikiLeaks.

In its second release allegedly from the CIA’s arsenal of hacking tools, WikiLeaks also said that it appears that since 2008 the US spy agency has been able to insert it bugs onto new and unused iPhones by intervening in Apple’s supply and distribution network.

The release follows the initial publication on 9 March by the anti-secrecy group of thousands of pages of instructions and code from what it called the entire CIA arsenal of hacking tools.

The documents are generally believed to be genuine, although the CIA has not acknowledged this.

(Via: https://www.rte.ie/news/2017/0323/862109-wikileaks/)

If this is true, this has clearly broken the trust placed by consumers on Apple and even on the government. Consumers are being spied upon without them knowing and it is a clear violation of their right to privacy, among others.

The CIA’s user guide for Screwdriver, released as part of WikiLeaks’ ‘Dark Matter’ drop, describes the tool as “a mechanism for executing code on peripheral devices while a Mac laptop or desktop is starting up.” Ordinarily, an Apple Firmware password would prevent any changes being made during the startup phase.

However, Screwdriver allows the CIA to infect the very core of the computer making it a stealthy tool undetectable by antivirus software.

The malicious code, implanted by the Screwdriver, attacks the computer’s Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI), the firmware that loads the computer’s operating system (OS). EFI resides outside of the hard disk space on the machine, making it much harder to detect.

The implant code is stored on the firmware of an Apple Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter, a small compact device used for transmitting data (similar to a USB cable), and when it’s plugged into the Thunderbolt port on Macs, it infects them.

Once inserted into “any Mac laptop or desktop with a Thunderbolt port,” the implant code then scans all internal and external hard drives looking for a volume with a specific name – FILER. If this is found, the code will execute, allowing the CIA to take control of the computer, potentially monitoring and transmitting everything that occurs on the machine.

(Via: https://www.rt.com/viral/382093-wikileaks-cia-apple-sonic-screwdriver/)

How can the CIA get away with something like this? And how can Apple allow the CIA to do this to their customers – people who paid a dear price to own a shiny Apple MacBook? So, what does the company have to say about this matter?

On March 7, WikiLeaks released thousands of documents it said were from the CIA, revealing tools the agency used to infiltrate smartphones, computers, televisions and other electronic devices. After concerns that the document dump opened up the devices to additional security risks, WikiLeaks head Julian Assange said he would contact the makers of the affected devices to share information with them.

Apple said it has not received information from WikiLeaks “that isn’t in the public domain.” In the statement the company sent, it also said: “We have not negotiated with Wikileaks for any information. We have given them instructions to submit any information they wish through our normal process under our standard terms.”

The company added: “We are tireless defenders of our users’ security and privacy, but we do not condone theft or coordinate with those that threaten to harm our users.”

(Via: http://www.siliconbeat.com/2017/03/24/apple-latest-alleged-cia-hacks-iphones-macs-old-fixed/)

These are serious allegations hurled by Wikileaks to both Apple and the CIA. Wikileaks also caught the attention of everyone with all their exposés last election and more people now actually believe in them. If Apple’s new MacBooks indeed come with bugs, then they should do something about or take responsibility for such a crime together with the CIA.

The blog post What’s The CIA Got To Do With Apple’s MacBook? is republished from The Mac Zealots Blog

From https://maczealots.com/whats-the-cia-got-to-do-with-apples-macbook/

How Prepared Is America For Disasters During The Trump Era

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Over the years, we have witnessed out fair share of disasters – both natural and man-made. These disasters have taken lives and displaced many, even leaving them scarred for life. While the country tries its best to respond as efficiently and effectively possible when disaster strikes, other factors can get in the way of public service.

Although politics should be far from everyone’s mind when talking about disaster preparedness, we can’t ignore the fact that it plays a major role in the creation of helpful policies and in ensuring that these agencies and services get the funding they need.

The executive order on climate change President Donald Trump announced Tuesday afternoon is an explicit attack on President Barack Obama’s efforts to fight climate change.

But it also implicitly denies we’re at risk from climate change in the first place.

As Bloomberg reports, the order — which you can read here — rolls back Obama’s executive orders and guidances that the government consider the costs of climate change–related disasters in planning and policymaking.

This is backward. If climate change is real — regardless of the cause — why not prepare for the costs and damage of it? We can already see the impacts. In January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told Vox that abnormally high tides in parts of the country have turned “from a rare event into a recurrent and disruptive problem.” There’s a clear need, the agency wrote, “to support preparedness planning … about future changes in sea level and associated coastal risks.”

The Obama administration made supporting preparedness a priority. And Trump is doing away with that priority.

(Via: http://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/3/28/15087568/trump-climate-executive-order-disaster-weather)

Threats of disaster will remain a constant reminder for all of us to be prepared all the time. From our own homes to the schools and offices, we should have a disaster preparedness plan in place. And we have no choice but to always remain on our toes as global warming and climate changes mess up with our weather systems and make natural disasters worse than they did in the past.

That proposal is “the cornerstone for adaptation planning throughout the government,” according to Christy Goldfuss, managing director for the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality under Obama and now a vice president at the Center for American Progress.

Its effects ranged from the mundane to the radical. For example, the order directed the General Services Administration, which manages federal buildings, to make sure the government wasn’t signing long-term leases in areas likely to get inundated with floods, Goldfuss said. It also allowed different federal agencies to coordinate more far-reaching programs, like the relocation of communities most threatened by climate change.

But there are also some who do not share the same sentiments as President Trump and acknowledges the threat of climate change as something that is real and even more dangerous than what the administration gives it credit for.

Senator Dick Durbin, the ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, called Trump’s decision “a security disaster.”

“Climate change is doing more damage to American military assets than any bombing raid,” Durbin said in a telephone interview. “General Mattis is a realist when it comes to national threats. I hope that in a quiet moment he’ll pull the president aside and explain the reality of climate change and national security.”

Former officers echoed that criticism. David Titley, a retired rear admiral, said the national security risk was beyond doubt.

“The Department of Defense will be operating in an environment fundamentally changed by climate,” Titley, now a member of the advisory board at the Center for Climate and Security in Washington, said in an email. “Our bases and training ranges will be at increasing risk, and conflicts that may have remained as regional brush fires may burst into international crises.”

(Via: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-27/trump-said-to-toss-obama-s-orders-to-prepare-for-extreme-weather)

President Trump may not see the value and importance of addressing climate change issues but we are still hoping he will not compromise everyone’s safety by pulling out funding for these agencies that prepare for such eventualities. He may live in his high tower and feel comforted by his millions of properties, but in the end, they won’t be able to protect him in case Mother Nature gets fed up and unleash her fury to mankind.

Climate change may be a novel concept for him but as the highest elected official in the land, he must take all threats seriously and enforce security and protective measures to prepare for any possible disasters. By ensuring the safety and security of the public from all sorts of threats, that’s the best way for him to repay the trust entrusted to him by many – making his presidential win possible against all odds.

How Prepared Is America For Disasters During The Trump Era was first seen on The Mac Zealots Blog

From https://maczealots.com/how-prepared-is-america-for-disasters-during-the-trump-era/

Less GPS Use: It’s Okay To Get Lost At Times Too

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We fear chaos and confusion in our lives. Whenever possible, we try to organize things and the things we have to do so we don’t get lost throughout the day. This is most especially helpful when traveling, especially during long travels. The GPS (Global Positioning System) comes in handy, so you can get to your destination the fastest way possible without any fears of ever getting lost.

Back in the days, getting lost is a common complaint among drivers since there was no GPS yet and the most you could do was to bring a map – which is only efficient if you have someone else with you to check it out while you are driving. But recent studies reveal that too much reliance on GPS may not be good for our health after all.

Using a GPS to reach your destination may be throwing your brain off track, new research has revealed.

A study published in Nature Communications found that frequent GPS use might actually be making you a worse natural navigator, as relying on technology to get from Point A to Point B doesn’t engage your brain the same way navigating on your own does.

In the study, 24 participants navigated a video simulation of London, England with and without a satellite navigation system. When participants didn’t rely on technology, their hippocampi (responsible for mental maps of our surroundings) and their prefrontal cortex (responsible for decision-making) became more active when choosing which streets to venture down. Their brains didn’t experience this same activation when they used the GPS, and actually looked identical whether they arrived at a fork in the road or were simply continuing along the same path.

(Via: https://www.civilized.life/articles/gps-navigational-skills-study/)

Our forefathers survived traveling thousands of miles on foot and never worried about getting lost. In case they did back then, then that means it is just but a new discovery. It is simply how the brain process and retain information.

“We show that, specifically when new streets are entered during navigation, right posterior hippocampal activity indexes the change in the number of local topological connections available for future travel and right anterior hippocampal activity reflects global properties of the street entered,” said the researchers.

“When forced detours require replanning of the route to the goal, bilateral inferior lateral prefrontal activity scales with the planning demands of a breadth-first search of future paths.”

These results will help shape models of how hippocampal and prefrontal regions support navigation, planning, and future simulation.

The hippocampus appears to produce two maps of the environment. One tracks the straight-line distance to the destination and is encoded by the frontal region of the hippocampus, the other model is in the rear of the hippocampus and tracks the “true path” to the goal.

While navigating, the hippocampus flips between these two maps depending on the information you need.

(Via: https://mybroadband.co.za/news/science/203680-using-gps-switches-off-part-of-the-brain-needed-in-navigation.html)

So, what happens when you ignore your instincts and rely on technology to find the solutions for you?

A reliance on satnavs could make the brain disinterested in learning directions. When the brain has something telling us where to go, this kind of brain activity will switch off and the brain will be unresponsive to the street network. This can affect the brain in the future and make GPS users learn slower or follow and create routes unaided, the Reuters reported. The study hopes that satnav users will realize that the technology has its uses and limitations.

Using GPS devices while driving can even cause the brain to abandon common sense altogether. These might have actually happened to you when you followed Waze to a dead end instead of relying on your instincts to turn at a different corner to reach your destination. The findings of the study can shed light on accidents caused by GPS glitches where this reliance on technology make travelers insist on following the device rather than common sense.

(Via: http://www.counselheal.com/articles/36523/20170324/why-easier-lost-details-connection-satnav-use-brain-activity-video.htm)

The human body is equipped to overcome obstacles it may come its way in your day-to-day. From physical and manual labor to challenges that require you to think, your body will help you figure things out. But as we increase our reliance on technologies that aim to make our life easier, we may also be unconsciously changing the way our brain works and it might not be a good idea after all.

The following post Less GPS Use: It’s Okay To Get Lost At Times Too was first seen on The Mac Zealots Blog

From https://maczealots.com/less-gps-use-its-okay-to-get-lost-at-times-too/

Exploring The Great Outdoors

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The city is full of interesting things to see and do, you’ll never run out of things to do for days on end. There is always something up your alley if you just know where to look. And it makes working and living bearable for many. Despite the many preoccupations, though, we may feel suffocated at times and feel the need to get out and get a breather.

If you are not a fan of the great outdoors, now is the time to make an effort and start exploring the nearest one from where you are. With all the progress the world is making, a big chunk of these lands are now being converted into something else for a profit. So, get out of your comfort zone and see the world with a new set of eyes. Appreciate the beauty of nature and the great outdoors before there is nothing left for you to explore.

“In recent years, numerous experimental psychology studies have linked exposure to nature with increased energy and heightened sense of well-being,” reads an article from Rochester University. “Other studies suggest that the very presence of nature helps to ward off feelings of exhaustion and that 90 percent of people report increased energy when placed in outdoor activities.”

But what if not everyone likes hiking, camping or the beach? Are they just left to sit on the couch only to reach for their sunglasses when the glare through the window pane is too bright to see the computer screen?

Absolutely not. If hiking or camping isn’t your favorite pastime, fear not. For the people who prefer to avoid endangering their lives for fun, plenty of ways remain to enjoy the outdoors.

(Via: http://www.collegiatetimes.com/lifestyles/how-to-enjoy-the-great-outdoors-if-you-hate-hiking/article_76fd5cb4-0f4b-11e7-8871-efaaa268e383.html)

If you only open up your mind to all the possibilities, it is easy to understand why nothing beats communing with nature any time of the day. Outdoor exploration is also a big business where big companies can milk lots of money from.

“Outdoor recreation is a huge economic driver in Utah and Colorado, and we felt it wasn’t being respected,” said Sam Mix, outdoor marketing manager for Osprey Packs, which is headquartered in southwest Colorado. “Public lands are where our customers go to recreate. Without these big wide-open spaces, we’d have no business and no reason to exist.”

Made up of 1,200 companies, the Outdoor Industry Association is based in Boulder, Colorado, with an outreach office in Washington, D.C. The group estimates that consumers spend about $120 billion on outdoor recreation products each year, ranging from apparel to tents, bicycles and camping gear.

(Via: http://www.sacbee.com/news/nation-world/national/article141225133.html)

Since the weather and the season affect your chances of enjoying a day or two out in the outdoors, always take advantage of the good weather whenever you can. Nothing can rejuvenate the senses than getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoying the breeze and solitude that nature brings.

Those commercials and other anti-pollution efforts coincided with the beginning of the modern environmental movement. The “Crying Indian” public service announcement, in fact, premiered in April 1971, on the first Earth Day.

Passing environmental laws is one thing; changing cultural attitudes is something else again. Change can be a long process.

It’s encouraging to know that during the past 40 years, litter in the U.S. has declined more than 61 percent. Still, about 52 billion pieces of litter clutter the landscape of our beautiful country. Yours and mine. That’s a lot of bags to fill.

(Via: http://www.dailyjournal.net/2017/03/29/drinkers_contribute_most_to_littered_world/)

With threats of climate change and global warming just lurking on the horizon, we should all make an effort to clean up our act not just when visiting the outdoors but even in our daily city life. After all, it is still us who will suffer in the end and we might lose the chance to ever appreciate nature in the years to come.

The blog article Exploring The Great Outdoors was originally published to https://maczealots.com/

From https://maczealots.com/exploring-the-great-outdoors/

To Vape Or Not To Vape?

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There are so many vices nowadays that one can easily get lost trying to remember them all. From drinking to smoking, they have all leveled up and are far more classy and techy over the years. Teens and the youth these days have different preoccupations than what kids did 10 to 20 years ago. Well, they have technology to thank for that.

For instance, when you say smoking, you not always pertain to smoking cigarettes or a good old cigar. E-cigarettes like vapes are now trendy and with the numerous juice flavors to choose from, it can take your smoking experience to the next level. It also looks awesome to blow circles and show off your vaping skills to your friends to make you look cool but smoking vape has its health implications.

You’ve seen them on television, in celebrity photos and in magazine ads — cool superstars vaping on electronic cigarettes. Their high-tech gadgets seem to be available everywhere, from shopping malls to the 24-hour convenience mart. Is it any wonder that teens are being tempted to try out the vaping craze?

Yet scientists are disturbed by the fascination teens have with this nicotine-dispensing alternative to smoking. And with good reason. Data from a growing number of studies indicate that electronic cigarettes are not harmless.

Chemicals in e-cigarettes can damage lung tissue, provoking inflammation. That damage can reduce the ability of the lungs to keep out germs and other harmful substances, new studies show.

Yet teens seem largely unaware of — or unconcerned by — the emerging data on these risks. Their use of e-cigarettes has now surpassed that of conventional cigarettes. In the past year alone, e-cigarette use by U.S. middle-school and high-school teens has tripled. That’s the finding of a new government survey released last month.

(Via: https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/vaping-may-harm-lungs)

While some claim that smoking vape isn’t as dangerous or addictive as regular cigarettes, it appears that the majority are mistaken and it can be just as bad as good old smoking a pack of cigarettes daily. How safe it is to use remains to be a hot topic during debates and arguments.

For the past five years or so, though, a growing number have turned to an alternate – and apparently safer – form of smoking: the electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette.

It is an electronic device that vaporizes a fluid, usually flavored and often containing nicotine. E-cigarettes come in various types, some called vaporizers, some looking like a traditional cigarette. They serve the same purpose as smoking; users call it vaping.

The safety of e-cigarettes is a debatable issue. Proponents tout them as being free of tar and other chemicals that make true cigarettes dangerous. Medical professionals have no proof they are harmful. Public Health England determined in August 2015 that e-cigarettes were much safer and advised smokers to start vaping.

Although not all e-cigarettes include nicotine, opponents say it is an addictive drug and caution the long-term effects of this alternative product will not be known for a while. University of California researchers reported in December 2015 that they found vapor “damages DNA in ways that could lead to cancer.”

E-cigarettes appear to be popular among young people, who may be at risk, according to the surgeon general’s 2016 report. It said in part: “E-cigarette use among U.S. youth and young adults is now a major public health concern.

(Via: http://www.observer-reporter.com/20170309/clouds_still_hang_over_e-cigarettes)

While many are becoming more aware of the dangers of vaping, e-cigarette companies have now found a new ally in the person of President Trump.

That’s poised to change under President Trump. His campaign platform of slashing burdensome regulations and cultivating a friendlier business climate presents a major opportunity for vaping enthusiasts.  While Trump hasn’t mentioned  the FDA’s regulations specifically in any of his speeches, that isn’t stopping e-cig crusaders from making sure America has its first cloud-chasing president.

Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist is best known for his Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which challenges members of Congress to promise not to raise income or business taxes during their time in office.  He’s now taken on the role of a vaping folk hero.

Norquist is in early talks with Trump administration officials to make sure the FDA’s rules are delayed at least two years so Congress has time to pass bills nullifying the Obama-era regulations.  Trump’s nomination of Georgia Congressman Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services was an early sign that the vaping community has an ally in the White House and might finally find some relief after years of continued assault.

(Via: https://heatst.com/life/why-president-trump-could-be-good-news-for-the-e-cig-community/)

Vaping is still bad no matter what your perspective is. Even though it is receiving support from the administration does not mean it is any better. The smoker’s health will still be compromised if they keep on puffing these fancy e-cigarettes.

The way President Trump is acting right now, it is confusing to determine whether he still sees himself as a businessman or the leader of this great nation. The policies he is pushing for in congress aren’t always for the best interest of the majority of the people of the land. And the sad part here is that most of the people who will be affected negatively by his administration’s policies are the very people who put him into power.

To Vape Or Not To Vape? was first published on https://maczealots.com/

From https://maczealots.com/to-vape-or-not-to-vape/

Eradicating Poverty: No Easy Feat

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Poverty exists in all societies – whether you live in a first-world country or a struggling third-world nation. Unequal distribution of wealth, resources, and opportunities leave the poor below the poverty threshold. Almost all of them rely on the government for living and welfare subsidies to make it through the day. Some end up living on the streets because they can no longer afford even low-cost housing or rent when they can barely feed themselves or their family.

All governments throughout the world aspire to eradicate poverty or at least offer livelihood or employment opportunities for people to help them get back on track. Administration after administration, the government is making little progress to wipe out poverty and the problem appears to get worse each year as the population increases and the prices of commodities continue to rise.

“The reduction of poverty is never an easy topic to tackle, it’s not a popular one, and it’s one, quite frankly, that makes people uncomfortable because there are no easy answers,” said Clarke, who spoke of his own upbringing in a welfare-funded household in Sydney Mines.

“It’s important we speak with one collective voice — we as Nova Scotians are resilient, we embrace the opportunities for change although change is never easy in this province, but traditional approaches have not worked, and that’s why we as a community have to be that voice.”

It is a collective effort of every community to work hand in hand and help each other rise from poverty and eventually experience progress.

“We are making progress, but I believe the community recognizes the immense amount of work yet to be done,” said Bernard.

“We want to help the people that are most in need by improving access to employment, childcare, early childhood education, and access to affordable housing — it takes a lot of work to break the cycle of poverty and it’s hard to engage the community when the community feels helpless.”

(Via: http://www.capebretonpost.com/news/local/2017/3/22/no-easy-answers-to-poverty-in-cape-breton.html)

Poverty is also a problem experienced in various states in the country no matter how progressive the U.S. may appear on the global arena. And the budget cuts being pushed by the Trump administration will definitely make matters worse.

Its State and Regional Community Assessment Report is intended to help lawmakers and nonprofits make wise choices regarding funding and programs to help Nebraskans who are struggling to meet basic needs. And those Nebraskans aren’t just those who one might call “the poor.”

Sixty-two percent reported delaying medical care due to cost, and we know delaying medical care generally ends up creating more costly problems later. Sixty percent had issues with affordable family medical care, 58 percent with dental care and 56 with eye care.

Health and disability issues created a barrier to employment for someone in their household for 51 percent of respondents looking for work.

Access to health care feeds into employment opportunities which feeds into housing, child care and lifestyle choices. Being poor is expensive precisely because these choices become fewer and harder.

The dismantling of the Affordable Care Act and the Congressional Budget Office’s estimation that its replacement – in its current form — could leave 14 million uninsured after the first year and 24 million after a decade, will put an even greater strain on the social services provided at the community level, making an understanding of Nebraskans’ needs as highlighted in this report even greater.

(Via: http://journalstar.com/news/opinion/editorial/editorial-tackling-the-issues-behind-poverty/article_2bb3d15c-86bd-5f67-a0a0-6415582d9dd0.html)

We may not be able to realize the solution to overcoming poverty in our generation but there is no harm in trying. The government should make policies that help the poorer population and addresses the issues they face on a daily basis, so they can become functional members of society once more and no longer rely on the state for help. Providing health care and education for all can make a big difference in the lives of the people making them more self-reliant and capable of providing for their needs.

It is everyone’s moral responsibility to help a person in need if you have the capacity to help. The world will be a much better place to live in if there are less greed and more love and understanding for everyone.

Eradicating Poverty: No Easy Feat See more on: https://maczealots.com/

From https://maczealots.com/eradicating-poverty-no-easy-feat/

Are Weird Computers Here To Stay?

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Gone were the days when we had to do most things manually. Today, there is usually a tech device that can make your life easier and do something for you, so you no longer need to get your hands dirty. Computers can do that for you. Almost all sorts of technologies these days are powered by computers. From big businesses to the privacy of your home, computers are used for a lot of reasons, and there are certainly still a lot of passionate debates about them.

But over the years, we see the launching of weird technologies that will make you wonder whether they will indeed work. Many times we doubted the durability and sustaining power of these technologies, but apparently, many of them are still here now and even changed the way things are done these days. For instance, the birth of smartphones and other smart gadgets allowed us more freedom and flexibility in accessing the web even without the use of an actual computer or laptop, hence the rise of individuals opting to work at home and leave their conventional 9-5 office job without sacrificing their pay and job security.

So, today Microsoft is having its conference in Shanghai to announce new Surface computers. What does that mean for lawyers though, whose Outlook calendars and pleading templates work just as well on a fourth-generation Intel i5 than on a seventh-generation i7? Does it really matter what the new computers are and how fast they can do things?

The answer is yes, but not because we need faster, better computers. It’s because between the hardware changes that are coming and the software changes, manufacturers are rapidly trying to change work culture to encourage mobility and remote working. We are right in the middle of a huge work culture change, which includes law practices, and it’s being driven in part by these new things coming out.

(Via: http://abovethelaw.com/2017/05/why-lawyers-should-care-about-these-weird-computers-coming-out/)

If you look back on the computers and technologies used about a decade or two decades ago, you’d likely find yourself scratching your head and wondering how we managed surviving on such primitive technologies. But back then, those devices were actually the best that the current technologies could deliver. These technologies advanced further as the years went by.

Today, Amazon unveiled the Echo Look — a $199 voice-controlled camera designed for the fashion-forward. The sleek device listens for your command and quickly takes photos and videos of the outfit you’re wearing. It’ll even use AI to judge your outfit. 

In a lot of ways, it’s at least a little creepy. You’re basically paying Amazon for a microphone and camera to put in your bedroom. And Amazon confirms that the photos are stored on its computers indefinitely, until you manually delete them.

And of course, with Amazon’s fashion algorithms still largely unknown, I’m not sure how much you’ll trust Alexa, the name of the Echo’s built-in virtual assistant, to dress you in the morning.

Still, it’s clear that Amazon knows its niche for this new product: In the era of the professional Instagram influencer, the Echo Look offers buyers a personal fashion photographer and, perhaps, the opportunity to up their fashion game. 

(Via: http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-echo-look-augmented-reality-computer-vision-2017-4)

People love taking selfies and posting it on social media. They take photography seriously now and it has helped create many wonderful and eye-catching posts on platforms like Instagram. The drawback here, though, is that we no longer know if those posts indeed depict real life or just made up for the sheer purpose of gaining likes or followers. Ordinary people aspire for the perfection of the photos posted by many social media influencers that it triggers feelings of depression, jealousy and insecurity. Then, there is the issue of artificial intelligence creeping slowly yet steadily into our lives yet most of us aren’t bothered about it at all.

Computers are definitely a staple in our everyday lives now and they continue to evolve over the years. Gone were the bulky boxes of yesteryears that defined the early years of personal computing technology. However, people who can’t help but reminisce of the good old times when what is obsolete now used to be the thing. It’s just normal human behavior.

People are always doubtful of new technologies. It’s a normal behavior for everything that is yet untested in the real world. Despite all these new advancements, there are chronic tech headaches that don’t seem to go away. It often has to deal with data storage and data loss. If you want to spare yourself from all these troubles, get an external hard drive for backup. Read this article to know why: https://harddrivefailurerecoveryblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/why-you-need-an-external-hard-drive/.

Are Weird Computers Here To Stay? is available on maczealots.com

From https://maczealots.com/are-weird-computers-here-to-stay/

Linux For Beginners

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If you are someone who only uses a computer or laptop to browse the net, watch Youtube videos or check out your various social media accounts, then your computing skills are likely on the average. While you know how to navigate the Internet and carry out basic computing tasks, you are clueless on more advanced computing terms and operations.

For instance, only a handful has a clear idea as to what Linux programming is and it is perfectly understandable especially if you are not a computer programmer yourself or a Linux user at the least. But if you want to widen your computing know-how, it pays to have some understanding of what the Linux operating system is all about.

The first thing you really need to do if you want to learn how to be productive on the Unix command line is to get access to a system and start working on the command line. One way to do this is to set yourself up with a “live” distribution of Linux — one that runs from a USB drive or DVD. That way you can both use the Linux desktop and open a terminal window to start trying commands. If you don’t mind sacrificing the existing OS on your system, you can install the OS directly on your disk, but using a live version gives you a chance to sample a number of distributions before you pick the one you want to stick with for a while. Knoppix, Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora, Elementary OS and others are easy to boot and use live. Not sure where to start? Some of the distributions that look really good in 2017 are described in CIO.

You can also get yourself a virtual (AWS) system at Amazon and use PuTTY to connect. AWS gives you some choices on the kind of system you want to set up. This makes trying out commands on the command line dead easy and you can access your AWS system from anywhere and simply cancel your system if at some point you don’t need it anymore.

(Via: http://www.computerworld.com/article/3185826/linux/how-to-learn-unix-linux.html)

And while many users patronize Apple or Windows laptops and computers, a growing number is embracing Linux, not just limiting itself to computing but also to other aspects of technology.

ON AUGUST 25, 1991, a Finnish computer science student named Linus Torvalds announced a new project. “I’m doing a (free) operating system,” he wrote on an Internet messaging system, insisting this would just be a hobby.

But it became something bigger. Much bigger. Today, that open source operating system—Linux—is one of the most important pieces of computer software in the world. Chances are, you use it every day. Linux runs every Android phone and tablet on Earth. And even if you’re on an iPhone or a Mac or a Windows machine, Linux is working behind the scenes, across the Internet, serving up most of the webpages you view and powering most of the apps you use. Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Wikipedia—it’s all running on Linux.

Plus, Linux is now finding its way onto televisions, thermostats, and even cars. As software creeps into practically every aspect of our lives, so does the OS designed by Linus Torvalds.

(Via: https://www.wired.com/2016/08/linux-took-web-now-taking-world/)

As the popularity of the Internet grows, so does that of Linux. While most users prefer more user-friendly OS like Windows and MacOS, the big part of the web runs on the Linux open source operating system – whether for commercial or non-commercial use. And we are talking about some of the largest companies in the world relying on Linux to run their business.

Anyone with computer know-how is free to make modifications to it to suit their needs. And as technology keeps on pushing forward and defying limitations, Linux will be one of the silent forces that powers it to keep on going forward.

Linux For Beginners Read more on: MacZealots.com

From https://maczealots.com/linux-for-beginners/

How To Recover Data When Your Hard Drive Fails?

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Nothing can be as annoying and scary as losing important data. As our technology keeps on pushing forward and we make use of it more and more in our daily life, we also transfer, save, and store important files on various gadgets that we own – whether it be the photos during the last holiday, your curriculum vitae, or even more important documents from school or work.

When you face such a situation, you may easily succumb to panic and lament the untimely disposal of your files and you may be wondering if it is possible to recover data even when your hard drive has already failed. While most technical problems require expert help from computer experts, you can actually recover lost data on your own. You’d be surprised that the web is full of helpful how-to guides for people who have the guts to do things on their own, no matter how challenging something may be.

Hard Drive is the most basic and integral part of any computer unit.  This primary storage hardware unit has a number of disks associated with it, each having its own memory reader as well as a writer head. Thereby, it is considered as a perfect option to salvage your data and maintain its integrity.

Like all other devices, this indispensable unit has a limited shelf-life; however, it is still prone to damage or crash, regardless of the model and make of the hard drive which the user is using.

It may happen when you start your system to resume work on your PC and see a Blue screen of death. It can also happen when you start up your system, it starts producing some abrupt electrical fizzing sounds. These are some of the situations that users can encounter. There are more hard drive failures too. And, for this, a proper analysis is required.

Even in such situations, you may assume that your priceless photos and videos, business-critical documents, and other important files are lost forever, and may run to a state of despair; however, there is a reason to look up as they can still be recovered.

(Via: http://www.valuewalk.com/2017/03/data-recovery-hard-drive/)

For your ease and convenience, you can refer to these hard drive recovery steps to save yourself from unnecessary stress and worries.

Step One: Assemble Your Tools and Examine The Drive’s Condition

The first thing to do is make sure you have the tools required to connect this drive to another computer safely. Ideally, you’ll have some kind of SATA/IDE to USB cable or USB drive enclosure or sled that you can mount the drive into and connect it to your computer easily.

Next, take a look at the drive itself. Is it damaged in any way? Are the pins bent or broken? Make sure that the drive is in good enough condition to actually use before you try anything in the first place that may damage it even further. If the drive is too physically damaged to attempt recovery, you may need more drastic measures that we’ll get to later. If everything looks good and you have the equipment required to connect the drive to your system, we can proceed.

Step Two: Grab Some Data Recovery Software and Connect the Drive

Before you do much else, make sure your antivirus and antimalware tools are up to date. You don’t know what you’ll find on this drive, and you don’t want it to start misbehaving once the drive is connected to an active system. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to download and install some data recovery tools. 

Recuva (Windows, Free)

FileSalvage (OS X, $80)

TestDisk (Win/OS X/Linux, Free)

(Via: http://lifehacker.com/5951822/how-can-i-recover-data-from-a-dead-or-erased-hard-drive)

If nothing else works, that’s when you throw in the towel and call the pros to intervene or risk damaging your hard drive even more and lose your precious data forever. But to save yourself from going through the same ordeal again, better back up your data or purchase an external hard drive if your budget permits. You can even count on the cloud to provide extra storage space. After all, better be safe than be sorry.

How To Recover Data When Your Hard Drive Fails? Read more on: The Mac Zealots Blog

From https://maczealots.com/how-to-recover-data-when-your-hard-drive-fails/

Government Conspiracies: Just Like In The Movies

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The government is plagued with controversies throughout the years. Whether it involves the personal lives of government officials, scandals in office or issues on international relations, the government does not run out of interesting stories that the public may or may not know of.

From issues of infidelity and abuse of power to wiretapping issues, the government office is just as interesting as any popular movie plot. And just recently, President Donald Trump accused the former U.S. president Barrack Obama of spying on him last year just below the election took place.

There was high drama last week when Rep. Devin Nunes announced at the White House that he had seen evidence that the communications of the Donald Trump campaign people, and perhaps even Trump himself, had been “incidentally collected” by the US government.

If true, this means that someone authorized the monitoring of Trump campaign communications using Section 702 of the FISA Act. Could it have been then-President Obama? We don’t know. Could it have been other political enemies looking for something to harm the Trump campaign or presidency? It is possible.

There is much we do not yet know about what happened and there is probably quite a bit we will never know. But we do know several very important things about the government spying on Americans.

First there is Section 702 itself. The provision was passed in 2008 as part of a package of amendments to the 1978 FISA bill. As with the PATRIOT Act, we were told that we had to give the government more power to spy on us so that it could catch terrorists. We had to give up some of our liberty for promises of more security, we were told. We were also told that the government would only spy on the bad guys, and that if we had nothing to hide we should have nothing to fear.

(Via: http://www.globalresearch.ca/did-the-government-spy-on-trump-of-course-it-spies-on-all-of-us/5582235)

So, we now know that the government spies on various people for various reasons especially if you appear to be a threat to the people and to the state. The government can use any valid reason they can find to justify their actions and make it appear legal and within the bounds of the law.

Moreover, the conflict between parties never ceases to end and sometimes get the better of both the Republican and Democratic politicians.

In his earlier tweet, Trump threatened to “fight” GOP representatives who did not get behind his agenda, as well as Democrats, during midterm congressional elections next year.

The US president was quickly told the lawmakers will not bow to “bullying”.

“Freedom Caucus stood with u when others ran”, Labrador wrote.

Although many moderate Republicans outside of the Freedom Caucus also objected to the bill, Trump has pointed to the Freedom Caucus as the cause of the bill’s failure. “We must fight them, and Dems, in 2018!”

Trump voter Joshlyn Smith, a law enforcement officer from Riverside County, California, said the president needs to move past “the Twitter stuff” that often mires him in social media spats – and focus instead on the nation’s policy.

(Via: http://normangeestar.net/2017/03/31/president-trump-and-paul-ryan-press-republicans-for-lack-of-support/)

These controversies extend outside of the nation and affect international relations. It is known to the world that the U.S. is one of the most powerful nations in the world. However, America is also in conflict with certain nations and it is no secret from all.

As you can see, the big deal here is levying war against the United States and helping its enemies. Whatever anyone in Trump’s camp could have potentially agreed on with the Russians is highly unlikely to be construed as waging war against the U.S. And as we are not fighting a war with Russia, it’s hard to justify calling it an “enemy”. 

There are those who do consider the Russian cyberattacks related to the election an act of war. Russian military doctrine expert Alexander Velez-Green thinks the Russian leaders themselves are seeing things that way, taking advantage of the fact that U.S. policymakers are used to only viewing war as something “limited to the military arena”. Thus the Russians are using non-military efforts (hacking) to “devastating effect”.

What is their goal? According to Velez-Green, it would be “to cripple the United States, shatter NATO, and fill the void left by America’s absence.”

Interestingly, such Republican icons (and known warhawks) as Dick Cheney and John McCain have also publicly come out to say that the cyber attacks could be regarded acts of war.

The fact that there are serious implications to the defense of the U.S. in whatever happened was underscored by the recent resignation of President Trump’s National Security Advisor retired General Michael Flynn. He was forced to give up his post after it was revealed he misled the Trump administration over contact with a Russian ambassador. Subsequently, Flynn’s lawyer offered Flynn’s testimony to Congress in exchange for immunity, which in turn caused many to wonder whether Flynn has something explosive to say.

(Via: http://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/what-is-treason-and-how-its-prosecuted-in-the-us)

Politics and governance are not for the faint-hearted. You have to be a gutsy and confident person for you to be able to conquer public speaking fearlessly but also master the art of meeting and communicating with people – both the public and other local or international elected government officials.

And because politicians are also human, they are guilty of certain human frailties too. At times, these mistakes may be costly and tarnish their reputation forever. Furthermore, the pressure of the Internet and of social media can be too much for some, where all their actions are seen by people 24/7 and forever saved in the annals of Internet history.

The following blog article Government Conspiracies: Just Like In The Movies is courtesy of MZ Blog

From https://maczealots.com/government-conspiracies-just-like-in-the-movies/