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    DOWNLOAD — Free Version: On this week’s all-star episode, we feature commentator/podcaster Jeff Gamet, Managing Editor for The Mac Observer. Gene and Jeff do a pop culture segment, anticipating the movie version of “Wonder Woman,” the introduction of General Zod on the “Supergirl” TV show, and other movie and TV-related topics. The tech segment will cover expectations for Mac notebook upgrades at the 2017 WWDC in June, whether actor Jeff Goldblum might have become the voice of Siri, the Microsoft Surface Laptop, and whether you can trust the cloud.

    You’ll also hear from ethical hacker Dr. Timothy Summers, President of Summers & Company, a cyber strategy and organizational design consulting firm. Tim will offer a comprehensive look at the recent WannaCry ransomware attack that targeted hundreds of thousands of institutions and businesses around the world using Windows XP. This attack targeted a Windows flaw that has been patched by Microsoft. You’ll also learn more about the ongoing prospects of bitcoin, the controversial digital currency that is still regarded as a viable alternative payment method by some. The ransomware attack required bitcoin payments to free up compromised PCs.

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    Why is AT&T’s Customer Support So Bad? Let Me Count 19 Ways!

    May 25th, 2017

    Before two companies merge, promises are made. It’s often about “synergy,” being more efficient, being more competitive. Quite often, it’s more about eliminating competition, gaining more control over a market.

    At the end of the day, however, these mergers may end up doing more harm than good. Consider all those airline mergers. Nowadays, flights are crowded, fares aren’t quite as cheap, and you have to pay extra for luggage, something that was once free. And bad food has become worse, if that’s possible.

    Besides, it’s not as if you can just fly on a competing airline. In many cases, there isn’t one.

    And don’t get me started about poor customer service, because that’s a given in a combined company.

    So The Night Owl was offered a discount with AT&T Wireless in connection with one of my part-time gigs. So I went to AT&T’s partner site to apply as an existing customer.

    Three months later, still no discount.

    Continue Reading...

    The Slowness of WWDC Speculation

    May 24th, 2017

    As I write this column, we’re only days away from the WWDC keynote, which is scheduled for Monday June 5th. Tech pundits have been looking at Apple’s media invitation for the event, desperately seeking clues, but guesses about what’ll happen are only narrowly focused.

    Obviously, Apple may surprise us in some ways, but these events tend to be very predictable in most respects. By the time the day of the keynote arrives, most of the expected announcements are fairly obvious. There will be a few surprises, no doubt, but not as many as there used to be.

    This is particularly true of hardware. When new gear is due, dealer supplies will suddenly dry up. But that sometimes happens even when we’re between product cycles as inventories fluctuate. Besides, new hardware at a WWDC is not always a given. But this year, with a dearth of new iPads and Macs, things may change.

    So I’ve culled a few of the most probable product intros.

    Continue Reading...

    The Mac-with-Touchscreen Argument Revisited

    May 22nd, 2017

    Just the other day, I read an article from a somewhat confused pundit that started with some accurate statements. But it then went off the rails.

    So it correctly pointed out that Mac sales were up in the March quarter, whereas Microsoft Surface declined. This despite the arrival of the $2,999.99 Surface Studio all-in-one, a touchscreen-based PC that the critics claimed that Apple should emulate.

    Things start to go astray in this article when the reader was informed that PCs with touchscreens are the only success stories on the Windows platform. This is the sort of claim that’s difficult to pin down, because PC makers don’t routinely break down sales by model or model configuration. The percentage of machines with touchscreens may indeed be higher as a product mix, so therefore you’d think they are more popular. But most people buy the cheaper models that don’t offer such extras.

    Besides, I’ve read other reports claiming that 2-in-1 PCs aren’t doing so well, perhaps because they are more expensive, and that’s not where the market has moved.

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    Newsletter Issue #912: The 4K TV Revolution: Full Stop!

    May 22nd, 2017

    You may not recall this, but HDTV was actually demonstrated in the U.S. in the late 1980s. After the standard became official, it took a while for broadcast stations to begin to adopt the technology. The first was WRAL-TV, a CBS affiliate in Raleigh, North Carolina, which began transmitting digital HD on July 23, 1996. But it took until November, 1998 for HDTV sets to go on sale.

    It must have seemed strange for a TV station to be offering a technology that benefited nobody, except manufacturers and professionals, for 28 months. Over the next decade, TV sets offering 720p and, later, 1080i and 1080p resolution, blanketed the country. They got cheaper and cheaper until you could buy a decent set with a huge flat screen for only a few hundred dollars. But the original HD sets were CRT and they were very expensive.

    Once HDTV was ever-present in people’s homes, and many people had more than one set with high-definition capability, manufacturers had to find ways to persuade you to buy new sets. But a well-designed TV can easily survive for eight or 10 years before requiring major repairs, meaning a long replacement cycle. A standard definition CRT set that I bought around 1994 lasted 20 years before it was put out to pasture.

    Continue Reading…