Are Aliens Watching Us?

Interesting video In Inquisitor from NASA’s Gemini 12 spacecraft in 1966 showing a few UFO’s hovering nearby.

Not one UFO but two glowing objects were spotted by UFO researchers this week in a NASA photo dating from 1966 — almost 50 years ago — showing the final mission of the Gemini space project. But were these UFOs actually alien spacecraft keeping a watchful eye of the progress of human history as mankind took its first baby steps into space? Or is this latest UFO “discovery” just a flaw in a NASA photo from five decades ago?

Ancient Astronaut Theorists want to know. Even the Bible provides plenty of evidence of extraterrestrials visiting earth.

The Sickest Ford

Sickest. That’s the word Chris Ziegler used to describe the new Ford GT.

The latest GT uses a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 making over 600 horsepower. Designed to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the car will go into production late next year for sale in “select global markets” — and needless to say, it won’t be cheap.

The GT will be made of aluminum and carbon fiber. No word on the price tag. Sickest is meant in a good way.

Ford GT

Sickest, indeed.

5 Ways I Keep My Mac Clean And Secure

We live in an insecure world. It’s been said that in a capitalist society, everyone is out to get your money. If not your money, your stuff. If not your stuff, your privacy. Here are a few basic steps I take to keep my Macs clean from trackers and hackers.

First on the list is a password and a non-administrative, non-root user account on my Mac. Complex passwords. When I walk away from my Mac it goes into lockdown mode and requires a password to re-enter. Safari’s password maker can help create a good one with multiple components– upper and lower case letters, numbers, symbols (more of the former, less of the latter two).

Second on the list is the Mac’s built-in firewall. By default, the firewall in OS X is turned off (which should tell you something about Apple’s confidence that Macs are not easy to hack). It’s in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall. Set and use the options in the Firewall, including Stealth Mode. Then, in Advanced settings, set logout after x-number of minutes of inactivity, and require an administrator password to access system-wide preferences.

Third on my list is Onyx, a free Mac utility which helps to keep your Mac running just a bit better by checking the system file structure, and performing a number of maintenance tasks which should run automatically late at night (when my Mac is turned off).

There’s the added bonus of dozens of hidden and useful tweaks and features to customize OS X which can be turned on with a click, off with a click.

Fourth, there’s Cookie, a Mac utility which cleans browser tracks before, during, or after every browser session for Safari, Firefox, and Chrome (and other Mac browsers). Once setup, Cookie works automatically in the background to both manage and eliminate standard web cookies, Flash cookies, local storage options, web browser history, and much more.

Finally, I use Little Snitch. Think of it as reverse firewall. Instead of watching every incoming port, Little Snitch watches apps already on your Mac and tracks where and when they try to ‘phone home’ and make an internet connection without your knowledge. The controls are simple to setup and use (a bit annoying at first because many apps make network connections you don’t know about) and the security yet another layer for the semi-paranoid.

The number of hackers (mostly scripts and random access attempts) trying to get into your Mac seems to grow daily, so a few layers of security surely won’t hurt.

Nikola Tesla’s Predictions

Some of these are downright scary. Matt Novak compiled a list of predictions from genius Nikola Tesla (obviously influenced by extraterrestrials, as Ancient Astronaut Theorists believe).

We might complain that it’s 2015 and we’re still waiting on our hoverboards. But if Nikola Tesla were alive today, he’d probably wonder where the hell our fuel-free, super fast airplanes were. And who could blame him?

The January 30, 1926 issue of Collier’s magazine included an interview with the legendary inventor. In it, Tesla relayed his amazing predictions for the future — a world of flying machines, wireless power, and female superiority.

Female superiority? Alright, that explains Taylor Swift. Here’s Tesla’s thoughts on telecommunications.

When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.

We shall be able to witness and hear events—the inauguration of a President, the playing of a world series game, the havoc of an earthquake or the terror of a battle—just as though we were present.

When the wireless transmission of power is made commercial, transport and transmission will be revolutionized. Already motion pictures have been transmitted by wireless over a short distance. Later the distance will be illimitable, and by later I mean only a few years hence. Pictures are transmitted over wires—they were telegraphed successfully through the point system thirty years ago. When wireless transmission of power becomes general, these methods will be as crude as is the steam locomotive compared with the electric train.

Tough to argue with that perspective. He also thought we’d print newspapers in the home.

9 Things You Should Have Done Before 50

I like lists, but this is a whimsical list at best. From Ann Brenoff who probably compiled the list on a rainy Sunday afternoon just before a nap.

There are some things we are too young for and other things we are too old for. But there are some clear demarcations of things we should have done by the time we hit 50.

Some I’ve done, some I will, some I haven’t, some I won’t. Here’s the official Spoiler Alert!

  • Owned a matching set of big fluffy towels (seriously; that was #1)
  • Burned your candles (won’t happen)
  • Used your good china regularly (everyday)
  • Presever photo albums and scrapbooks from youth (too long ago)
  • Made peace with the past (working on it)
  • Found a best friend you can call 24/7 (she lives here)
  • Learned how to enjoy things by yourself
  • Been dazzled by a masterpiece (she married someone else)
  • Made a difference (still working on that)

Recharge A Smartphone In Minutes

Latest from CES is a charger that boosts a smartphone battery from near zero to full within minute. Leo Kelion:

A Samsung smartphone has just been recharged from being nearly out-of-juice to full capacity in less time than it takes to boil a kettle.

The Israeli start-up behind the demo, Storedot, has shown off a similar feat before.

But a previous demo posted online eight months ago involved a battery many times thicker than the handset itself as well as an outsized charger – making the tech impractical for real-world use.

This time round the phone involved is no bigger than normal, and the charging dock is pretty slim-line as well.

Progress.

2 Reasons iPad Sales Are In A Funk

Much has been written about Apple’s iPad in the past year, particularly regarding slumping sales, and dropping marketshare. Yet, the iPad remains the most used tablet on the planet. What gives? There seem to be two basic reasons iPad sales have fallen, yet iPad usage remains the highest among all tablets, despite marketshare losses the past two years.

The first reason has to do with the iPad itself. The diminutive device was an unqualified home run, quickly selling more units than the Mac, and selling much faster than the iPhone in the early years.

iPad sales plateaued, then dropped. What happened?

People keep their iPads longer than they keep their iPhones. That would account for slowing or plateauing sales. What about the drop? iPad usage remains very high among all tablets, but Apple has yet to offer the same compelling reasons to upgrade as frequently as iPhone users upgrade.

The iPad, after an initial wave of tremendous success, has fallen back into a more predictable pattern of sales and usage– much like the Mac. Apple’s iPad sells more than double the numbers of the Mac which is selling at record levels each quarter. Both are successes, one is merely falling into a pattern of sales, much like the other.

The second reason has to do with economics. An iPad supposedly does less than a Mac notebook, and that’s certainly true when comparing powerful applications such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite and others which play well to professionals and the enterprise.

Chromebook

From a pricing perspective, there’s little doubt the iPad faces stiff competition from new $200 Chromebooks and Windows PC notebooks. Granted, the quality of such devices falls below that of an iPad, and Apple’s tablet has far more applications from which to choose, but money is money, and $200 to $300 is throwaway money for tech gadgets these days, and the nearly three-year-old iPad mini starts at $249, and a well equipped iPad Air 2 can top $800.

That doesn’t mean the lack of killer new features or competition from cheaper Chromebooks or Windows PC notebooks will kill the iPad, but both forces will keep the iPad from becoming the success the iPhone enjoys now. Still, Apple’s slowing iPad business accounts for nearly double the revenue of the Mac product line.

Funk, yes. Flop, no.

An Insane Wireless Router

Add this to the ‘Must See To Believe‘ category. Bryan Bishop exposes the weirdest looking router of the year. From CES, of course.

The router in question is the D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router, and make no mistake: as these things go it’s more than solid. Six antennas, support for the latest 802.11 protocols, and speeds up to 3.2Gbps

Other than the number of antennas, specs are mostly pedestrian. What else?

But mostly it just looks bonkers. Think about it. Sitting on the corner of your desk. Plotting. Scheming. Biding its time. Waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that there really is a wireless router that would want to murder your entire family before diving through a transdimensional wormhole to plot the demise of an entire civilization.

But this would be the one.

Weird Router

5 Jobs To Make More Money Than Doctors

Interesting set of lists from Erika Rawes. That doctors and other professionals in the medical field make a lot of money each year isn’t news, but the list of those jobs that pay more is.

Jobs that can earn more than that $156,530 amount if they are on the higher end of the wage scale, in the 75th or 90th percentile. Higher-earning workers in each of these jobs may end up with a bigger pot than a doctor when all is said and done.

Spoiler Alert!

  • Sales (real estate, pharmaceutical)
  • Air Traffic Controllers
  • Engineering Managers
  • Petroleum Engineers
  • CEOs (is that really a ‘job’ in the same sense?)

Why Oil Prices Are Dropping

Brad Plumer:

The supply of oil keeps growing — thanks in large part to the US shale boom. Yet demand for oil keeps sagging, due to weak growth in Asia and Europe.

Basically, there’s a lot more oil getting pumped out right now than anyone needs, and a lot is just getting stockpiled away for later. That’s causing the price to drop.

Suppy, meet demand.

How To Hide The Clutter On Your Mac’s Desktop

Desktop clutter on a Mac is much like whatever clutters our real desktops. Files, folders, and whatever else that crosses in front of our eyeballs during the day. The Desktop, whether on a Mac or in front of your chair, is where everything goes until you’re ready to file it away and clean up the clutter.

Recently I came across Deskflag, a free app which hides whatever is on your Mac’s Desktop in a unique and clever way. Hide everything, or hide what you choose.

Deskflag

At the other end of the pricing scale is Camouflage, a one-click way to hide your Mac’s Desktop clutter.

Click the Menubar icon or use the hotkey combo and whatever is on your Mac’s Desktop disappears. It’s still there, of course, just hidden, making Camouflage good to look organized, or to hide cruft and clutter before a presentation.

Camouflage

On the low end of the price scale is Screen Curtain which works much like Camouflage, but costs less, is more customizable, and has the added benefit of being the clutter remover that I use.

Screen Curtain hides what you don’t want visible, making it of good use for presentations, and when you need less distraction while working on a specific app, or to make screenshots with an uncluttered background (that’s what I use it for).

Screen Curtain

This app lets you setup a customized background, fill the screen, cover all open Spaces or Screens (multiple displays), and even choose a custom background image or photo.

All three apps have the added benefit of helping you to feel clean and uncluttered by removing the mess from your Mac’s Desktop. Much like scraping everything off your real desk and into a box or desk drawer.

788-horsepower Cadillac Coupe de Kill

Keith Griffin has details on a 196-mph LSR 1970 Cadillac Coupe de Ville.

Thanks to a 500-cubic-inch Cadillac engine with MegaSquirt EFI, and a 106mm Precision turbo, it’s estimated the Coupe de Kill has more than 788 horsepower and 770 ft/lb of torque. In your face, Dodge Charger Hellcat!

A few specifications: 4,200 pounds, quarter mile in 10.9 seconds at 127 mph.

788-HP Cadillac

More power and less weight than a standard Coupe de Ville. Mean, no?

Amelia Earhart And The Coconut Crab

James Cave:

The largest terrestrial arthropods in the world, coconut crabs can grow as big as nine pounds and three feet wide, and they can live as long as 120 years. They’ve been known to shred trash cans, eat cats and tear up gardens. They’re so avaricious that one theory to explain Amelia Earhart’s demise says she didn’t drown, but crashed on the remote Nikumaroro atoll and was eaten by coconut crabs that then scattered her bones.

What does a coconut crab look like?

Coconut Crab

I suspect Amelia Earhart died of fright. Coconut crabs are named such because they can crush a coconut with a pincher.

An Utterly Magical Way To Resize Photos Without Rescaling

Every now and then I come across a graphic design or photo app that you must try to believe. So it is with iResizer 3, billed as an intelligent resizer, a very clever Mac app which can resize a photo without rescaling the subject in the photo. That means you can change the aspect ratio of a photo or image without distortion, even changing the spacing between subjects on a photo without distortion.

Here’s a visual example. Take a photo with a subject, mark the subject as a zone, resize the photo’s aspect ratio without distorting the subject.

iResizer

Here’s another example but this time the image goes in a different direction, starting with 4:3, solidifying the important subject a zone, then stretching the image to a 16:9 ratio.

More iResizer

The key to using iResizer is to identify the important subject as a zone. The rest of the photo can be resized while keeping the zone subject the same original aspect ratio.

That means you can change the space between two main objects on a photo, resulting in a tighter image, or even remove an unwanted object from a photo.

Here’s an example of both.

iResizer Again

The process is simple but quite a bit of trial and error is required, but it works well with zone objects that retain their original shape while the background image is altered. Obviously, more trial and error is required to remove an object from a photo than to change the spacing between two zone objects.

That’s about the only caveat I encountered. Trial and error takes time and diligence, but the results can be worthwhile when you need to alter an image but don’t want to hire a Photoshop guru to do the work.

iResizer’s developer gives you an option to download a trial version, too, and I found the Mac App Store version, as of today, to be half the price of buying direct.

A Box Of Rocks

Emanuel Maiberg on a Wallmart shopper’s discovery in a Sony PlayStation 4 box. Rocks.

A Walmart employee told the unlucky shopper, Igor Baksht, that the console was previously returned, so he opened the Grand Theft Auto V bundle to make sure everything was there before wrapping and gifting it to his 13-year-old niece.

“Just to make sure everything was inside, that all the contents were inside, all the games were inside,” Baksht told ABC 7News. “When I opened it, I said, ‘Oh my God.'”

At first, Walmart wouldn’t take the console back because it had no proof of how it came in, but on Christmas Eve afternoon, the store manager agreed to the return and gave Baksht his money back.

It’s hard to believe that Walmart would accept a PS4 and sell it to another customer without ever checking its contents, but apparently this kind of thing happens.

Caveat emptor, folks.

Top Muscle Cars Of 60s And 70s

From Odometer, where else?

  • 1964 Pontiac GTO
  • 1967 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake
  • 1968 Dodge Charger R/T
  • 1968 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi
  • 1969 Chevy Camaro ZL1
  • 1969 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet
  • 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS
  • 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible
  • 1973 De Tomaso Pantera
  • 1965 Shelby GT350 (Mustang)

I never owned a muscle car.

The Year In UFO’s

There’s an end-of-year article every day this week, so why not one about UFO’s and ET sightings? Lee Speigel:

2014 was also a year in which the debate continued over how Earthlings would react if it was revealed that we’re not alone in the cosmos. Even former President Bill Clinton said he wouldn’t be surprised if aliens would someday visit Earth.

Someday?

An Easy Way To Add 1,000 Text Effects To Your Mac

How many ways can you turn text into a logo with special effects? On a Mac, there are many apps which do just that, including TypeStyler and Art Text, as well as Photoshop and many other graphic design apps. Here’s an easy and inexpensive way to save time and money and turn text into special effects logos.

This one is cleverly entitled Text Effects and that’s what it is. A bunch of special effects for text, over 1,000 text effects design templates that plug in to Adobe Photoshop and other Mac graphic design tools.

As is usually the case, a screenshot is worth a thousand words.

Text Effects on Photoshop

Wait. What? Isn’t that Photoshop?

Yep. Text Effects is a template app. All it does is add effects to Photoshop (seems to work on Pixelmatr, too) via Photoshop Actions. Just select the text effect you want to use, save it to your Mac, and open it in Photoshop.

Here’s what it looks like within Text Effects.

Text Effects App

The Text Effects app contains more than 1,000 different text effects design templates which can be imported into Photoshop as actions. That makes them fully customizable, too.

There’s little question that Text Effects is a good value. It’s less than $5.00. There’s no trial version so you’ll have to buy on the faith that within a thousand Photoshop Actions there’s bound to be a few you could use in your design project.

Frankly, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more such Actions packages made available on the Mac App Store.

Foreign Cultural Norms That Americans Find Foreign

I love lists like this one. From Answers:

In China and most other Asian countries, they use a squat toilet as opposed to the porcelain throne that is popular in America.

Admittedly, I found that one hard to get used to.

Some countries like India do not provide toilet paper in the stalls. Instead, there is water available for you to splash on yourself using your left hand.

I don’t think that will ever catch on here. Others:

  • Public urination
  • Kissing on the cheek
  • Pay toilets (I’ve seen those)
  • Toilet paper bin (no flushing)
  • Rubbeband (used to unscrew a tight lid)

Yet Another Way To Do Notes On Mac, iPhone, iPad

An alien visiting planet earth from the nether regions of the galaxy might wonder what’s up with humans based upon all the notes apps for desktop PCs, notebooks, smartphones, and tablets. Either we’re a species of budding writers or we’re very forgetful. Either way, Mac, iPhone, and iPad users have plenty of notes apps from which to choose. Here’s one I like.

Notefile for Mac, iPhone, and iPad works much the same on each device, and comes with two ways to sync notes between devices.

What most of us who take notes truly need is quick access. Quick access to take a note, and quick access to view the notes we’ve already taken. Nightlife lives in either the Mac’s Dock or the Menubar so it’s accessible from within any Mac app.

Setup keyboard shortcuts to open Notefile quickly, and to navigate through your notes. The dropdown window is big enough to see all the notes you’ve collected, but small enough not to own the Mac’s screen. It comes with all the standard sharing features for Mail, Message, and others, but it’s one of few apps that can calculate math from within a note. That’s a handy and nice touch.

Notefile for Mac

Notes can be opened from text files in other apps, and exported as text files from Notefile. How much different is Notefile than simply using OS X’s (and iOS) Notes app or even TextEdit with iCloud? It’s more convenient, of course, syncs via iCloud and JuneCloud (the developer’s proprietary cloud service, which is free and seems to work faster than Apple’s own iCloud), and the interface is similar across all of Apple’s devices.

You’ll spend more for a fast food lunch for both Notefile versions, iOS and OS X, but what you get is a more convenient, easier to manage notes system that, frankly, is more Mac-like than Apple’s Notes app which makes you want to use it, which is a big step forward for a note taking app.