Apple, during its Worldwide Developer Conference, fulfills the promise of replacing and improving the ‘trashcan’ Mac Pro from 2013 — introducing a powerful, versatile, and an easily customizable desktop, the Mac Pro.
“The Pro’s certainly striking. Looks-wise, it’s a more direct descendent of the shiny metal Power Mac G5 tower of yore than the more recent trashcan Pro. There are plenty of tweaks, of course. It appears a bit smaller than the G5, while the vent holes have been made much larger, for a kind of cheese grater design, at first glance — an effect that’s only enhanced by the prominent handle up top,” TechCrunch describes.
The Mac Pro includes a stainless steal fortified skeletal frame that supports the interior and an easily detachable stainless steel casing —it provides users 360-degree access to different mounting ports for convenient configuration.
There’s also a choice of replacing the standard stationary legs with wheels for people whose work station moves along with them.
Moreover, the Mac Pro comes with new Intel Xeon processors that will have up to 28 cores and can run at maximum frequencies without strain with up to 300W of power.
There is also a six-channel memory across 12 DIMM slots that could potentially provide an impressive 1.5TB of system memory — that is if all slots are filled. Even more, there are eight PCI Express slots, with four of them being double-wide to accommodate larger expansion cards.
Along with this Mac Pro, Apple is launching a custom expansion module called the MPX module that contains 2 GPUs — making it the world’s most powerful graphics cars. If that isn’t enough, it can be paired with AMD’s Radeon Pro Vega 2 or Radeon Pro Vega 2 Duo. These are all customizable depending on user preference. Nonetheless, having the capability to place four GPUs could result in 128GB of HBM2 graphics memory in total.
The MPX Module is a giant quad-wide PCIe card that fits two graphics cards and has its dedicated heat sink, and also has a custom Thunderbolt connector to hook into that backbone.
All of those performance possibilities powered by a supply that maxes out at 1.4kW — all of which are systematically cooled.
Learning from the thermal corner issues from the 2013 Mac Pro, Apple installed three large fans at the front of the 2019 Mac Pro and another blower inside the architecture to pull the heat out. All of which, Apple claims to be relatively quiet.
Lastly, there’s an I/O module that adds two additional Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB-A ports, and a 3.5mm audio jack. There’s also an optional “Afterburner” that’s targeted for massive video and graphics editing.
Alongside the Mac Pro, Apple is selling a separate monitor called the Pro Display XDR — a 32-inch display and the first 6K monitor screen to hit the market with over 2 million pixels in its arsenal.
The screen has a unique configuration that is covered with a new type of matte coating. It allows more vibrant and high-quality images projected on the screen with over 1000 nits of screen brightness.
Furthermore, the back side features the same cheese grater design found on the new Mac Pro and includes four Thunderbolt 3 ports. But more interestingly, the screen rotates vertically to serve an even wider set of possibilities.
If fully utilized with all of Apple’s recommendations, the Mac Pro could easily become one of the most powerful desktops a user could get their hands on.
The Mac Pro starts at $5,999 and will only go up drastically as you upgrade components — which you’ll need to since the base configuration is relatively underpowered for that price, mainly because these work stations are used for heavy duty processes.
“As it turns out: $33,720.88 is likely the bare minimum — and that’s before factoring in the four GPUs, which could easily jack that price up to around $45,000,” The Verge estimates.
Moreover, if you’re thinking of purchasing the Pro Display XDR, it’s going to cost an additional $5,000 or $6,000 with the optional matte coating. That is with the exception of the stand that costs another $1,000. All in all, the complete set, with the best configurations, would cost you a total of around $50,000.
In the end, Apple remains to be a provider of high-end products that promise great possibilities and performance but also comes with high-end prices.
‘Pavlok’ SmartTech Bracelet Stops Bad Habits with Electric Shocks
Studies suggest that it takes 21 days to make or break habits. The truth is, it’s not the longevity that most people struggle with — it’s the consistency. Enter Pavlok, a wearable tech that uses aversive conditioning — a kind of negative reinforcement — to keep you from your bad habits now available in Amazon.
How does it work?
Pavlok is made of two parts: a one-size-fits-all wristband and an app that is available in Android and iOS. The band uses electric shocks, ranging from low to high setting, to enforce negative stimuli when you engage in your bad habits. It is the digital form of snapping your wrist with a rubber band when you bite your nails or sneak a quick cigarette break.
According to its Amazon webpage, Pavlok has sold more than 50,000 users since its official launch in 2015. Behavioral Technology Group Inc., the company responsible for the product, has since released two versions of Pavlok. It has also released a new product called Shock Clock, an alarm clock that zaps its user awake.
History of Pavlok
Maneesh Sethi, the CEO, and founder of Behavioral Technology Group, Inc. claims to have the idea for Pavlok when he created an experiment back in 2014. He shared in a blog post that he hired a girl from Craiglist to slap him whenever he went on Facebook. Based on his experiment, he increased his productivity and concluded that aversive conditioning worked for him.
In 2014, Sethi put up Pavlok on crowdfunding website Indiegogo to create their initial prototype. It targeted to get funding of $50,000 and walked away with more than $250,000 with a total of 1,763 backers.
Despite success in crowdfunding, Pavlok’s popularity soared only on May 20, 2016, when it was featured on the last episode of Shark Tank‘s season 7. Sethi refused Kevin O’ Leary’s offer because he doesn’t want to work with him. Even though Sethi’s venture on the popular hit show was amiss, he continued working on his digital aversive conditioning technique.
Users on Amazon and blogs have mixed reviews with this unconventional wearable tech. Testimonials are available on Pavlok’s website, boasting success on breaking bad habits like nail biting, stopping cookie addiction, and eating too many sugary snacks.
While others swear by the results, others felt that Pavlok’s expectations fell short. With Pavlok 1, users have to manually zap themselves when they engage in a bad habit. Users reported that after some time, they learned to ignore the electric shocks or forget to zap themselves.
As an improvement, Pavlok included a feature which would allow your friends to zap you when they caught you red-handed. Aside from that, they integrated an IFTTT feature, which would allow users to input conditions for when they will receive their shocks. For example, if you are trying to remove your nail biting habit, you can simply input Pavlok to zap you when you lift your hand to your mouth. Of course, it only works when you use the hand which has the Pavlok device.
Future of Wearable Tech
Pavlok is just one of the hundreds of wearable tech designed to improve users’ quality of life. Apple is set to release Apple Watch OS 6, which includes a menstrual cycle tracker. It is a much-awaited update after the launching of Apple Watch Series 4 last September 2018.
Starkey, a company focused on producing hearing aids, launched Livio AI last year as well. It is a hearing aid marketed for people who do not need any hearing aids. It features integrated sensors to detect noisy environments and lessen them, thereby reducing the user’s exposure to noise pollution. It also boasts an almost perfect language translation app that lets you understand 27 languages.
With the rise in popularity of these products, wearable tech has a bright future.
Facebook Live Fail: Pakistan Minister In Cat Filter
Another Facebook Live fail: Pakistan’s Minister of Information and three other officials turned into cartoonish cats when volunteer accidentally turns on Facebook’s Camera Effects feature.
A serious government press meeting has turned into the newest internet meme. Last Friday, Shaukat Ali Yousafzai, 10th Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s Minister of Information conducted a press briefing looking like a cat. Accidentally, a cat filter was applied on Press Trust India’s (PTI) Facebook Live session coverage.
Viewers saw various government officials with pink cat ears and cartoonish whiskers. It took a few minutes before the representatives of PTI realized the mistake, despite prompts from viewers via comments on the video. After the press briefing, PTI immediately deleted the video. However, screenshots of the incident have now gone viral.
Mr. Yousafzai addressed the amusing event through a statement to the AFP news agency. He says, “I wasn’t the only one – two officials sitting along me were also hit by the cat filter.”
PTI has since released a statement through Twitter, identifying that the mistake was done by a hardworking volunteer.
In Facebook Live, applying filters is one click away. Clicking on the magic wand at the lower left corner of your phone’s screen will enable different kinds of templated masks, borders, and other effects to your video. The first option on the screen would be the most recent filters you have used.
Facebook Live on Important Events
According to a report, there are nearly two billion users per month who watched Facebook Live sessions in 2017 from its launch in 2016. It has since then become a tool favored by users. Since then, users have used Facebook Live to share important events such as weddings, birthday parties, and family reunions.
With this kind of user engagement, governments are also noticing Facebook Live’s potential in reaching out to their voters. The Pakistan Government is not the only one using Facebook Live to stream official proceedings. Local and National governments use this tool to engage with their constituents through broadcasting events such as the signing of a bill into law and debate proceedings in the US Senate, to name a few.
Facebook has since then developed additional tools related to public policies. This is what Katie Harbath, Facebook’s Public Policy Director, presented in the 2016 Government Social Media Conference held in Reno, Nevada. During the event, Harbath also shared that a good number of viewers in a Facebook Live session about Canada’s budgetary hearings; something that wasn’t expected at that time. In the 2016 US elections, the live-streaming video of the Presidential race (Hillary vs. Trump) had 47 million live views reaching 1.7 million viewers.
Facebook Live Fails
Going viral has been a big part of internet culture. The more you have a “fail,” the more infamous you can be. Pakistan Minister’s cat filter fail is not the only incident of Facebook Live fails that has turned into a meme. In 2018, Ted Cruz broadcasted a Facebook Live with his video in portrait mode with his camera phone set up horizontally.
Brands, even with their social media teams, are also not immune to the internet fails. Buzzfeed had a major fail back in 2016 when they had a Facebook Live interview with the then-president Barack Obama. After a lengthy introduction by host Chris Geidner, while waiting for the President, their live video feed stalled and failed to capture the interview which disappointing 35,000 Facebook viewers. The live stream of the event on Youtube, however, went well.
Consequently, there are now Youtube tutorials to help guide users on how to optimize Facebook Live and avoid these fails.
Aside from Facebook Live fails, the social media giant has been under fire since due to violent or disturbing live streams that are surfacing in the platform. Facebook has issued stricter restrictions to lessen the spreading of such videos.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called for support through his opinion piece in the Washington Post last May 30. He shared that Facebook, in collaboration with French officials, is creating an independent body that can help improve their content review systems. Through this initiative, Zuckerberg hopes that they can lessen, and in the future, eradicate harmful content.
AMCA Breach: 20 Million Victims, 19 Class Actions
More than 20 million and not 200,000 have fallen victim to a massive data breach that has seen medical clients using the services of healthcare billing company, American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA), to pay for their laboratory tests in different blood testing labs across the U.S. were confirmed by the SEC filings of affected medical institutions amidst the earlier claims of AMCA that there were fewer victims.
The data breach was a result of a cyber attack that aims to phish for financial information from the website of the AMCA. The exposed data belongs to Americans who paid laboratory services at several clinical and blood testing labs and institutions and used the AMCA billing portal.
What happened in the AMCA breach?
Data that were stolen from the victims include their names, phone numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and other bank details. The said information was auctioned off by the hacker in several financial hacking forums.
According to DataBreaches.net, the organization who first reported about the incident, AMCA officials, following the notification of the breach confirmed that their system has been compromised and has remained undetected for more than eight months. AMCA corroborated that the breach took place between August 1, 2018, and March 30, 2019.
Notifications have been sent by several of AMCA’s corporate partners and clients to their customers following the disclosure of the security breach that has seen information from millions of Americans compromised.
The list of impacted testing laboratories includes Quest Diagnostics (11.9 million patients), LabCorp (7.7 million patients), BioReference Laboratories (Opko Health subsidiary, 422,600 patients), Carecentrix (500,000 patients), and Sunrise Laboratories (undisclosed number of patients).
However, neither the AMCA nor its five clients have yet to notify ALL impacted citizens by the breach making them vulnerable to a lot of cyber crimes and their financial data could be used by anyone who gets hold of the information against the persons of those who still don’t know that their financial information is floating around the internet.
The companies involved in the breach are facing several lawsuits
Appropriately, the lawsuit came into the direction of AMCA, Quest, and LabCorp regarding the incident. More than 11 class-suite actions have been filed against the three companies for their inability to protect consumer data. The 11 lawsuits were recorded at The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on June 3. Since then, eight more lawsuits were filed against the companies in federal courts from New Jersey, New York, and California.
According to litigation experts, “If many cases are filed in federal court, any of the lawyers on any of those cases can file a motion with the JPML [..] to centralize the various federal cases that have been filed by sending all of them to a single judge for coordinated pre-trial proceedings.”
“Healthcare companies are especially susceptible to data breaches not only because they aggregate a tremendous amount of important and sensitive data, but also because they tend to be less focused on cybersecurity protection than other industries,” said John Yanchunis of Morgan and Morgan, one of the firms who filed lawsuits against Quest Diagnostics.
“These companies, like Quest Diagnostics, know they are at an increased risk and yet have not taken the proper steps to protect their patients’ data. We will fight for justice on behalf of those impacted by this breach,” added Yanchunis.
Lawmakers are demanding an explanation
The U.S. government, led by attorneys general from Connecticut and Illinois has also opened an investigation on the matter. Furthermore, lawmakers and other politicians have sent letters to the responding companies to ask for an explanation of why an eight-month data breach remained undetected and to demand accountability from them.
In Washington, US Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) also sent a letter to Quest Laboratories demanding the company explain its vetting process for selecting AMCA as a billing vendor, and what requirements a third-party vendor has to pass. Democratic New Jersey Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez also sent letters to AMCA, Quest, and LabCorp, seeking official answers on how a breach of this severity went undetected for eight months.
“The months-long leak leaves sensitive personal and financial information vulnerable in the hands of criminal enterprises. Moreover, such breaches force victims to contend with identity theft that may lead to irreparable harm to their credit reports and financial future,” said the letter sent by the NJ senators.
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