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12-inch MacBook Review: Beauty With Compromises

12-inch-macbook

When Apple unveiled the next step in the MacBook, some were impressed, some were unhappy and some were hysterical. The mixed first impressions were due to the concerns that the super thin and light design would garner less performance, less battery life and make the 12-inch MacBook a tablet with a keyboard.

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att-logo

The Federal Communications Commission has slapped AT&T with a $25 million fine over the misuse and disregard for security on customer data, affecting over 250,000 people in the United States.

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Comcast

Comcast has kept away from the battle for the data speed, but is taking the fight to Google Fiber in Atlanta.

After keeping data speeds across the country below 100Mbps in most places, with a few lucky Xfinity customers grabbing a nice 300Mbps contract in very competition areas (of which there are few), it looks like Comcast is willing to compete heavily in Atlanta, one of the few places Google Fiber is available.

It is another showing that Google Fiber’s plan to make U.S. broadband a more competitive market is working. First AT&T setting up shop in Austin, Texas with 1Gbps internet service, now Comcast jumping on board to compete in the state of Georgia.

Comcast is promising a lot with this new deployment, but we cannot believe everything they say. In terms of deployment, Comcast claims this is no short measure, it will bring 2Gbps across the whole city.

This is an even better deal than Google Fiber, assuming Comcast goes through with it.

There are subtle hints of extra charges however, like the “professional-grade” equipment Comcast needs to install to give customers 2Gbps. We are sure homeowners will be given a lengthy bill after the installation, probably taken out the bank account before the customer can verify any of this professional help occurred.

Comcast is planning to move into 18 million homes by the end of 2016 with its fiber network.

This is not a late April Fools joke, although the actual likelihood Comcast offers competitive fiber optics in Atlanta with the same set-up requirements Google Fiber already offers is slim. Prepare for the light sprinkles of installation prices, monthly additional costs and lack of deployment to areas of low competition.

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game-of-thrones-season-5

Dish Network knows it is in for some hefty competition this year when it comes to internet TV, with Apple readying up a service with Disney support and Sony launching PlayStation Vue in three states with 84 channels, Sling TV is starting to look a bit like Netflix when it comes to live TV content.

A new deal might spark interest, HBO and Dish announced it will bring its pay TV service for an extra $15 per month on top of the $20 per month for the starter package. It is the same price as cable and HBO’s own subscription service, which will start on Apple TV, iPhone and iPad one week before the Game of Thrones premiere.

That means instead of going to a new interface to watch HBO, Sling TV customers can get all the channels in one place. Hopefully, this is an incentive to bring more customers onto Sling TV, allowing them ESPN, AMC and HBO all under one roof.

Sling TV’s starter pack made it seem like TV would not be a-la-carte, but with the new bundle additions Dish is trying its best to make sure it can offer at least some way to buy little parts of the TV service, instead of paying for hundreds of unnecessary channels.

HBO’s willingness to work with Dish will not be for the good of Sling TV customers though. It is clear the pay TV broadcaster wants to get on as many networks as possible before the premiere of Game of Thrones, meaning over 50 countries will receive the broadcast at the same time and it will be available on HBO and Sling TV.

That means it is highly likely when Apple launches its own internet TV service, HBO will also be available on it. Any other TV service will add HBO soon enough, although it is sticking to the $15 per month package, unlike a lot of TV channels that have given ground to move to internet TV.

This might put HBO out of a few services, but it doesn’t matter. It is the most watched TV channel in the U.S. and its content is famous worldwide, meaning if customers can get it, they will, it doesn’t matter who is the provider.

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elon-musk

Elon Musk is planning something new for Tesla Motors, announcing on Twitter the introduction of a new product line on April 30, a month from now.

Considering the two known projects Tesla is looking to launch in the near future include: the Model X and a battery pack for homes, we are guessing the latter will be announced next month.

Tesla’s stock has been sliding rapidly down in the past few months, from a high of $270 to $180. Several analysts claim the Model X could be the failure of Tesla financially, plus the failures in China bring less excitement for the future of the electric car.

Gas prices dropping are also a signal that electric cars will not be mainstream for a few more years. Even Elon Musk claims that in the short term interest in electric cars might decrease, as drivers find the cheaper prices a good deterrent for buying into a new type of car.

The home battery pack could be a smart way for Tesla to weather the storm of setbacks to the Model S in China and the Model X when it launches later this year. It would open up other avenues for Tesla to look into, instead of just making cars.

It would also interest investors who are not excited about the launch of the Model X, despite how much Elon Musk thinks it is the greatest car of all time.

Essentially, the home battery pack should be able to save a lot of money for the typical customer. Tesla will undoubtedly add some cool new features it has learned from its battery factory production and partnership with Panasonic.

Still, we don’t know for sure what it is going to be. Tesla might surprise us and announce a tablet, or a bicycle, or a scooter, or a smartwatch. Who knows?

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gcsb

New Zealand is one of the lesser known parts of the Five Eyes Defeat, a secret organization of five countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, U.K. and U.S., all focused on creating a global surveillance network under the guise of the ‘anti-terrorism act’, or Patriot Act in the U.S.

Things might become difficult for New Zealand in the next few years however, with an investigation by the inspector-general of intelligence and security.

It will look into eavesdropping, data collection and surveillance of New Zealand’s neighbors in the South-East Pacific by the Government Communications Security Bureau, reported by The Intercept a few weeks ago.

“The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities,” said inspector-general Cheryl Gwyn. “The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data.”

Several activists within New Zealand have pushed for Prime Minister John Key to reform the surveillance program, but Key has not shown any real understanding to what is happening, nor any move to go against the GCSB.

The GCSB essentially provided Pacific regional data for NSA’s XKEYSCORE surveillance system; the backbone of global surveillance. With one click, any informant from the Five Eyes Defeat can search billions of internet searches, emails, phone calls and even video material.

New Zealand is not the only country looking for full reform. Google, Microsoft and Apple pushed for The Obama Administration to remove certain acts from the Patriot Act, stopping the NSA’s collection of U.S. citizens information.

In Canada, several activists groups have called against the mass surveillance network setup. In the UK, investigators have called the GCHQ’s surveillance illegal, although there seems to be no move to reform the system right now.

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nsa

The tech world is once again asking The Obama Administration to push for the end of mass data collection by the NSA on U.S. citizens, following the end of the Patriot Act Section 215 on June 8.

In a new open letter signed by some of the biggest multinational corporations in the world, including Apple, Microsoft and Google, it asks for The White House to push through new frameworks for handling surveillance and data collection.

The current way of handling data collection is to collect everyone’s, bundling the criminals and the innocent. This allows the NSA to hold data for years, even if the person has no criminal history.

Microsoft and other tech companies would like to see a new framework where the ability to collect data is done through a warrant, similar to installing cameras in a person’s house, or wiretapping a phone.

President Barack Obama seems to agree, pushing legislation last year to change the way the NSA conduct intelligence programs. The bill passed Congress, but failed to get passed the Senate. This is disappointing, considering a new bill would have to pass through a Republican backed Congress, less likely to push for new NSA laws.

The huge backlash to NSA surveillance should be enough to make some difference when Section 215 of the Patriot Act is overviewed on June 8. Whether we will see real change is still up for debate, considering how much time the NSA and other four nations in the ‘Five Eyes Defeat’ have put into making a global surveillance network.

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cse-director

Canada’s own surveillance agency has not been documented as much as the U.S. National Security Agency and U.K. Government Communications Headquarters, but in a new report from The Intercept citing Edward Snowden’s leaked documents, it shows Canada’s covert operations stretch across the globe and are a major player in the Five Eyes Defeat.

The Communications Security Establishment is the main intelligence agency for Canada. In previous reports, we found that the CSE has been the figurehead pushing surveillance Canada.

It looks like the CSE has done more than just push mass surveillance at home. In the report, Canada is responsible for covert hacking operations that go beyond the usual attacks, in order to gain information on a certain region.

These attacks extend far beyond North America, moving into Europe, Mexico, the Middle East and North Africa. The CSE attacked, controlled and sabotaged computers from organizations, companies and governments in the areas aforementioned.

Some of the attacks are state sponsored hacks against government enemies, similar to the Iranian nuclear centrifuges attack sponsored by the U.S. and Israel.

The introduction of the anti-terrorist law pushed into Canada a few weeks ago shows the CSE wants even more control over surveillance, both nationally and overseas. The NSA—in a previous report—claimed the CSE was a vital part of the Five Eyes Defeat’s operations.

Similar to the UK, citizens are not defended by the constitution, meaning the CSE can get away with even more surveillance at home. Canada has shown the same type of apathy to surveillance, but some pro-privacy organizations have tried to take down the CSE through new laws to protect Canadian citizens.

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