No, freezing eggs is not like Nazi Germany

Freezing Worker Eggs: Are Apple and Facebook Playing God? (Germany, France, Switzerland)
[Via The Moderate Voice]


Over the past year and a half, as the scale of the global mass surveillance being pursued by the National Security Agency in collaboration with America’s tech giants has become clear, these corporations – Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft – have become objects of derision for Americans and people around the world. Now it seems there is new cause to look upon these firms with suspicion. Over the course of the past few days as news emerged that Apple and Facebook have instituted plans to pay for female employees to freeze their eggs for later use, columnists in other nations have expressed concern that they are blithely playing God with life itself. Worldmeets.US has translated columns from three countries on the subject, all outlining the likely ramifications of these policies:


This is just insane. Apple offers up to $20,000 for infertility treatments. They just increased the infertility procedures they will pay for/ That is all that is going on here.

Making it easier to have more children!

These procedures include all sorts of things, up to in vitro fertilization. As part of most in vivo fertilization protocols, many eggs are harvested at once, so that they only have to be retrieved one time. After the procedure, any extra eggs are frozen, to be used if the procedure does not work the first time.

So, Apple will pay for the eggs that are frozen, instead of the patient being forced to do this out of pocket. Making it easier for women to use in vitro fertilization to have more children.

This is not eugenics and not fascism. Apple is not forcing women to have their eggs frozen. It is not part of any genetic manipulation of eggs. 

It is an added benefit used mainly by those who want to have children. It is not preventing children from being born. It is providing added choices for FERTILITY! To have more children.

Just as Apple also provides money for adoptions. And for 18 weeks paid maternity leave. And 6 weeks paid paternity leave.

Funny how a significant benefit for women to have more children is turned by the media into an exercise of Godwin’s Law.

Making it easier for hospitals to use data to help patients


Commodity data analytics for health care
[Via O'Reilly News and Commentary]

Analytics are expensive and labor intensive; we need them to be routine and ubiquitous. I complained earlier this year that analytics are hard for health care providers to muster because there’s a shortage of analysts and because every data-driven decision takes huge expertise.

Currently, only major health care institutions such as Geisinger, the Mayo Clinic, and Kaiser Permanente incorporate analytics into day-to-day decisions. Research facilities employ analytics teams for clinical research, but perhaps not so much for day-to-day operations. Large health care providers can afford departments of analysts, but most facilities — including those forming accountable care organizations — cannot.


So, a hospital system that has put together a data analytics package that not only works for itself for day-to-day operations – for example, helping doctors determine if a patient is likely to be readmitted and knowing what to do to help – but is working to get other systems to use it.

It works no matter what the electronic health records software a hospital uses, analyzes data in ways different institutions need.

Will be interesting to see how this plays out. I’ve had a lot of interactions with a healthcare system that has moved to electronic records in a big way. And the speed of making decisions because the data are available has been amazing.

Things that might take a week and a couple of different visits can be done right there. Instead of hours spent trying to schedule an diagnostic procedure that needed to be done after hours, the office made the appointment at another facility within minutes.

Heck, I called my insurance company with a question. I was talking with a human being within 30 seconds who had answered my question within a minute and actually went on to check out some other things that they came up with themselves, just to check.

I do not expect things to be perfect but I can see glimpses of how much better the system can be.

The new iMac is what the Mac Pro used to be

New iMac 

Apple’s matchless iMac with Retina 5K display is its most expensive ever
[Via MacDailyNews]

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“Apple yesterday launched its most expensive-ever iMac, the $2,499 iMac with Retina 5K display, a desktop that will appeal to not only professional creative customers but also well-heeled consumers who want the very best money can buy, analysts said,” Gregg Keizer reports for Computerworld. “‘Clearly, it’s a good machine for creative professionals,’ said Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research, in an interview yesterday. ‘But it’s also for those where money is no object, who want a very good PC.’”

“‘It’s both a niche product and a premium mass-market product,’ said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. ‘It’s for professionals who don’t need the absolute best, like a Mac Pro, but also for prosumers who just want the best,’” Keizer reports. “Not surprisingly, Apple spent much of the iMac’s time in the spotlight yesterday touting the display, which offers 5120-by-2880-pixel resolution. ‘This is the world’s highest-resolution display,’ boasted Philip Schiller, Apple’s top marketing executive, who presented the 5K Retina iMac at Thursday’s event.”


I’m in the market for a new computer. While still very productive with my early 2008 Mac Pro, it  is beginning to slow down some. I looked at the new Mac Pro, because that is what I have always used for work – that is, the top of the line Macs with respect to speed, etc.

The current Mac Pro is just way too much muscle for me and way too expensive.

So I looked at the new iMac. And it fits exactly what I need. At close to the price I have always paid. 

Now when to pull the trigger?

Unbreakable Apple encryption – 80 milliseconds may be key

System Lock 

 Why can’t Apple decrypt your iPhone?
[Via A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering]

Last week I wrote about Apple’s new default encryption policy for iOS 8. Since that piece was intended for general audiences I mostly avoided technical detail. But since some folks (and apparently the Washington Post!) are still wondering about the nitty-gritty details of Apple’s design, I thought it might be helpful to sum up what we know and noodle about what we don’t.


Nice explanation of how Apple has secured the iPhone. No backdoors. Apple holds no keys. The phone takes your password, mixes it with a specific number for each phone (UID), and runs it through a slow derivation function to get the passkey used for all on phone encryption. What does the slow derivation function do?

The Apple Key Derivation function ‘tangles’ the password with the UID key by running both through PBKDF2-AES — with an iteration count tuned to require about 80ms on the device itself.** The result is the ‘passcode key’. That key is then used as an anchor to secure much of the data on the phone.

Apple used a dedicated line on the chip to put the key into the secure enclave. Software can put it in when you change a password but cannot extract it out. The only thing that can be done is to brute force the password by trying every single combination.

Now, normally, the authorities can use a class F supercomputer, capable of trying a billion passwords a second. This means that even if your password mixed lower case, upper case and special symbols and was 8 characters in length – 96 possible characters and a whopping 7.2 quadrillion possible combinations – the class F could find it in less than 3 months.

The authorities know that any phone they want to crack can be with a brute force approach. Well, that used to be true.

See that 80 ms requirement. Since the only thing to do is brute force the password, that 80 ms becomes important, as I wrote before. It slows down even the Class F. Instead of a billion tries a second, it can only do 12.5. 

This means that even an 8 digit passcode using only numbers would now take 3 months. Instead of instantly.

Before, they could just ask Apple to crack it for them. Because it held a backdoor key. But now Apple no longer can do that.

It means that pretty much no one can get the data off your phone, especially if you use even a simple password with 6-8 characters.

And Apple lets you use a passcode up to 37 characters long.

The only way to get an iPhone cracked is to get a warrant requiring the owner to open it. No more being able to use a third party to do it for the authorities.

So we are back to what used to be the status quo.

Apple wins at Global Thermonuclear War by refusing to play the game the FBI wants it to.

 War Games (1983)

iPhone Encryption and the Return of the Crypto Wars
[Via Schneier on Security]

Last week, Apple announced that it is closing a serious security vulnerability in the iPhone. It used to be that the phone’s encryption only protected a small amount of the data, and Apple had the ability to bypass security on the rest of it.

From now on, all the phone’s data is protected. It can no longer be accessed by criminals, governments, or rogue employees. Access to it can no longer be demanded by totalitarian governments. A user’s iPhone data is now moresecure.

To hear US law enforcement respond, you’d think Apple’s move heralded an unstoppable crime wave. See, the FBI had been using that vulnerability to get into people’s iPhones. In the words of cyberlaw professor Orin Kerr, “How is the public interest served by a policy that only thwarts lawful search warrants?”

Ah, but that’s the thing: You can’tbuild a backdoor that only the good guys can walk through. Encryption protects against cybercriminals, industrial competitors, the Chinese secret police and the FBI. You’re either vulnerable to eavesdropping by any of them, or you’re secure from eavesdropping from all of them.

Backdoor access built for the good guys is routinely used by the bad guys. In 2005, some unknown group surreptitiously used the lawful-intercept capabilities built into the Greek cell phone system. The same thing happened in Italy in 2006.


WarGames was a prescient movie. The scene above could almost be used today, with authorities complaining about iPhone security.

We have fought this battle many times. Personal security always wins and the authorities find other ways to legally do their business.

All this means is that the authorities can no konger go around the user and seek out third parties to threaten, third parties who seem to have no skin in the game,

But, in the post-Snowden age, this approach has signifiant and detrimental effects on the business models of the third parties. Now they do have skin in the game as countries where they sell their goods become suspicious.

So, Apple takes the very smart path – simply remove itself. The only way for it to win is to not play the game.

Now the FBI and others still have lots of access to data – anything on the cloud or in teleco servers.  They just need to get a specific court order to access a smartphone from Apple.

Distributed democracy wins again. For now.

Why upgrade to iOS 8 when I’m getting a new iPhone 6 anyway?

iPhone 6 - najlepsze gry 

Apple iOS 8 adoption around 50%, iPhone 6 adoption sets record
[Via MacDailyNews]

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“Within the first twenty-four hours, iOS 8 update appeared to be slower than its predecessors. A few weeks in, this continues to be the case says analytics firm Fiksu,” Benjamin Mayo reports for 9to5Mac. “After twelve days, both iOS 6 and iOS 7 had comfortably crossed the 50% mark for iOS usage. By contrast, iOS 8 is yet to hit the 40% mark according to Fiksu’s measurements. An independent study from Mixpanel says iOS 8 is closer to 50%, but it is still far behind iOS 7’s rate of uptake.”

“Meanwhile, iPhone 6 adoption is record-setting,” Mayo reports. “The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s followed near-identical growth path, but the iPhone 6 is more than double that rate. As of 17 days since release, the iPhone 6 has touched the 4% level. For comparison, the combined share of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c was about 3% in the same period.”


I think that may be why it is slower in adoption. I did not upgrade to iOS 8 because I knew I was going to be getting an iPhone 6. I love the new phone. Fits in my pocket fine. Love ThumbID.

Activating at home was painless and lawless.

Only problem is how thin it is. It kept slipping out of my hand because I actually have to hold it rather than let friction  keep it in my hand.

Tom Lehrer demonstrates that what many call traditional today was once radical

(h/t to my mother who not only turned me on to Tom Lehrer but whose own inability to follow the New Math I was being taught often resulted in exasperated rants but helped me learn as I tried to explain it to her. plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose)

Parents complaining about  the math being taught to their children seems to be a constant refrain probably  going back to Hammurabi.

It continues today. Anyone with a sense of humor, a sense of history and who grew up in the 60s should get a smile on their face and a wry shake of the head.

For those following the contretemps of Erick Erickson’s rant about current math approaches 9my bold)

The traditional method of subtracting, borrowing and carrying numbers, is derisively called the “Granny Method.” The new method makes no freaking sense to either my third grader or my wife.


This is maddening and angering and frustrating. This is why so many parents are so upset. They cannot help their children. The math makes no sense and seems to offer no practical purpose other than it is new. The teachers privately concede the uselessness of it.

As we can see from the video above – a Tom Lehrer song from the early 60s  bemoaning the very approach of borrowing in subtractions that Erick claims is traditional – what was radical 50 years ago is now just the way it is supposed to be.

It is the Granny method because it was actually first taught to people who are now grandparents. Then it was the radical New Math.

His second paragraph could probably be reused by parents in every generation ever. I know that it could have come right out of the mouth of any parent when I was a child. To this day my mother and I laugh about number lines and negative numbers.. 

But all the problem is demonstrating is simply another strategy for subtracting, one that we actually all pretty much use in our heads to figure out things like change back, etc. – I gave him $5 for a $3.62 coffee. $3.62 to $4 is $0.38 and 4 to 5 is $1 so i should get back $1.38. Nobody uses the granny method on their head to figure that out.

It is humorous that what he learned as a child is now the traditional way, not the radical New Math it was depicted at the time.

What Erick sees as traditional was actually once so radical that satirical songs could be written about it. People laughed at what he now thinks is traditional. I bet his parents ranted about the very thing he now sees as traditional.

And I bet that Erik’s daughter will be bemoaning the way her children are being taught math rather than the traditional way of counting up subtraction.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.


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