How Eclipse Chasers Are Putting a Small Kentucky Town on the Map

This is a very good article on the coming solar eclipse on August 21st:

People on mountaintops will see it sweeping across the landscape, a cloak of darkness careening in their direction at more than 2000 miles per hour. This is the moon's innermost and darkest shadow, the umbra. Mabel Loomis Todd, a 19th-century eclipse writer, described it "like a wall, swift as imagination, silent as doom."

Things will get weird, and fast. The chirp of crickets may replace that of birds. Fireflies may emerge; bats may flit. Cows may low and jangle back to the barnyard. Pigs may wallow, flowers close. Chickens may return to roost or—as happened when an eclipse passed over Easter Island in 2010—freeze in place, standing flamingo-like on one leg.

A gust may sweep across your face as the wind shifts direction. Even here in August, you may shiver as the temperature sinks 10 degrees. Anybody who brought telescopes or binoculars that aren't filled with nitrogen may be disappointed as the plunge causes lenses to fog.

My Mac Pro Wish List

Apple did something actually courageous last month when they invited five journalists to their headquarters in Cupertino and revealed the company's future plans regarding the long neglected Mac Pro. To any long-time Apple watcher, this was dramatically out of character of the company to reveal any future plans regarding a specific product and to openly discuss how a current product failed to meet customer needs. While they were a slightly coy in their apology, any apology at all is a huge admission on their part.

Much has already been written about this and by better writers than I, so I'll leave you to go read all about it. However, I am one of the professionals that so many bloggers and podcasters have been talking about who use and a Mac Pro. I own a 6-core version of the 'trashcan' Mac Pro I bought when Apple released it in late-2013, but didn't receive mine until late-March of 2014 despite having ordered it on New Years eve in 2013. Yes, they took that long to ship out to customers.

In my opinion, the current Mac Pro design is irresponsible. "Whoah, wait just a minute Joel, those are harsh words"! you may be saying. Yes, they are. Let me explain.

Iressponsible

I want to say it again: the trashcan design was irresponsible. That may seem like an odd word to use to criticize the product with but the design pushed the responsibility of expanability onto the user and out of the hands of Apple's design team. Rather than make tough choices of how large to make the case to accomodate storage drives, or expansion cards, or the many options a 'cheese grater' Mac Pro offered its users, Apple's designers essentially said, "Trying to solve this problem is too hard. We want to make a symmetrical, beautiful design that looks nice sitting on a lightly stained maple table in one of our many stores around the world. Lets just take the easy way out and make a pretty, compact shape and lazily stick a bunch of ports on the back and push the responsibility of delivering a working, useful professional workstation back onto the customer."

What is the result of this design decision?

This photo:

Pardon the dust.

In the photo above, my Mac Pro is connected to the following:

  • Ethernet -> Wall Outlet (Internet & my home network [gigabit])
  • USB -> Lightning -> iPhone
  • USB -> Lightning -> iPad
  • USB -> KVM Switch
  • USB -> External Storage Drive 1
  • Thunderbolt -> Thunderbolt Dock (for more Thunderbolt & USB ports)
  • Thunderbolt -> Displayport Monitor
  • Thunderbolt -> External Storage Drive 2
  • Thunderbolt -> External Storage Drive 3
  • Thunderbolt -> KVM Switch
  • Thunderbolt -> (my only open port)
  • HDMI -> unused
  • 3.5mm Line In -> spare audio cable for old headphones I sometimes use.

So yes, while the 2013 Mac Pro was a beautiful visual design, in practice, the design falls flat on its face...hard. I would wager that almost no customers who bought one of these machines, don't also have a similar cable situation going on behind it.

Now, I can see how the old cheese grater design might have also had a few cables coming out of the back of the case....but the case design was meant to sit under a desk where those cables could be made to be out of sight. The 2013 Mac Pro design was meant to be put on your desk, as if on display. And while this may work great on a lightly stained maple table in an Apple Store, this ends up being horrible in customers' homes.

So What Do I Want Instead?

  • A big, rectangular, aluminum case

Just give me something I can put under my desk, and allows you to refresh every 6-12 months with new processors, graphics cards, RAM, and SSDs on your store. Something that I can have cables coming out of, under my desk, tucked away out of sight.

  • Minimum of four INTERNAL SSD slots

Hell, you can even go crazy and give me six. I wont complain. If I can buy SSDs off Amazon and plug them in via PCI-E or even SATA - I'm fine with that. The alternative is losing half my desk space to external storage enclosures and cables going everywhere - which is what I have now and I hate it.

  • An NVIDIA modern, gaming graphics card.

And I don't even want to play games on it. Gaming cards are what drives the industry. They're the best cards. New versions of them are released constantly. Just give us an internal PCI-E accelerated slot, like modern cards require and whatever the latest 1080 card NVIDIA is making right now. And 12 months from now, we can swap it out for a new card if we need be. If you're too slow to update your Mac Pro lineup, you wont hear us complaining constantly because we solved the issue ourselves freeing you up to continue squeezing every ounce of functionality and practicality out of the rest of your product line sacrificed on the altar of thiness in Jony Ive's white world.

Clinton Campaign Chairman's Email Breached Via Phishing Attack Which Used Bitly Link and Fake Google Login Page

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchieral, writing for Motherboard:

On March 19 of this year, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta received an alarming email that appeared to come from Google.

The email, however, didn’t come from the internet giant. It was actually an attempt to hack into his personal account. In fact, the message came from a group of hackers that security researchers, as well as the US government, believe are spies working for the Russian government. At the time, however, Podesta didn’t know any of this, and he clicked on the malicious link contained in the email, giving hackers access to his account.

In short, John Podesta received a Bit.ly link to his Gmail address. He clicked the link, which took him to a fake Google login page, and he entered his login & password.

Eric Geller, writing for Politico:

According to the cybersecurity firm SecureWorks, the fake Google domain in that link — first reported Thursday by Motherboard — matches one the hacker group “Fancy Bear” has employed in a wide-ranging spear-phishing campaign that has also targeted major U.S. political institutions, Clinton campaign figures and other top officials.

“The Google-spoofing domain in the Motherboard article is one we observed used by Fancy Bear,” SecureWorks researcher Tom Finney told POLITICO in an email.

Security researchers have long tied Fancy Bear to Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU.

Motherboard’s story included a redacted screenshot of the malicious Bitly link’s analytics page that showed the link redirecting to Fancy Bear’s fake Google domain. POLITICO independently reviewed the bit.ly link’s analytics page and confirmed with SecureWorks that the domains matched.

Fancy Bear customized spear-phishing links for each target, encoding their email addresses within them.

In June, SecureWorks first described Fancy Bear’s months-long campaign, which it said targeted staffers at the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

The same month, security firm CrowdStrike also pointed the finger at Fancy Bear for the DNC hack.

Security firms ThreatConnect and Fidelis subsequently linked Fancy Bear to the DCCC intrusion, as well.

Over time, Fancy Bear has relied on one IP address to host several fake Google domains, including the one used to target Podesta and another to go after Clinton staffer William Rinehart. Finney confirmed that SecureWorks had found another Bitly link made for Rinehart.