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eThinker Newsletter March 2018 

     Most people know why we celebrate St. Paddy's Day--any excuse for a party. But do they know what they're celebrating? According to The History of St. Patrick's Day by Tech Times, we're actually celebrating his death. Patrick, who was NOT Irish, was the priest who converted Ireland to Christianity. After his death in 461, the day became a minor feast day. It was so minor, and so low-key, that pubs in Ireland were traditionally closed on March 17 until the 1970s.
     All that passed when America, invigorated by the fresh and rowdy blood of Irish immigrants, began to make it a special day. St. Patrick's Day parades were seen as early as the 18th Century. And while Ireland itself continued to mark its patron saint's day by closing the pubs, the American Irish--along with the Irish wannabes--celebrated by turning it into one long pub crawl of eating and drinking and dancing and drinking and singing "Oh, Danny Boy" and drinking.
     It also became a day of wearing green, and for some, dying your hair green, which is something you do to keep the leprechauns from pinching you. Why? Because leprechauns can't see you if you're wearing green. Contrariwise, you can see leprechauns if you drink enough green beer, though they will probably be riding pink elephants.
     So go on, enjoy yourself, party hardy on March 17, which this year falls on a Saturday, giving you one day to recover in time to resume work on Monday. Just make sure you have the designated driver or a taxi on hand. We want you back in the real world when the green-tinted glasses come off.


Paul Fountas
MicroComputer Resources, Inc.
Bill Gates Sees Danger in Cryptocurrency,
Says Privacy Doesn't Trump Law
     Most news about cryptocurrency, such as BitCoin, has been neutral and even positive, with the chief concern being the risk of losing your shirt if you invest too heavy in it, as if it were no more than a volatile stock getting ready to crash. But in a recent chat, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates called it bad and even deadly.
     Cryptocurrencies have "caused deaths in a fairly direct way", since they enabled anonymous trading in drugs online, Gates wrote in a Reddit Ask Me Anything chat. 
     A Reddit user responded that cash is used to buy dangerous drugs too, but Gates stuck to his original point. "Yes -- anonymous cash is used for these kinds of things but you have to be physically present to transfer it, which makes things like kidnapping payments more difficult."
     Interestingly enough, it was the anonymity of cryptocurrency that seemed to concern him the most. "The main feature of cryptocurrencies is their anonymity. I don't think this is a good thing. The government's ability to find money laundering and tax evasion and terrorist funding is a good thing," he wrote.
     He was also critical of tech companies who refuse to aid law enforcement, valuing the privacy of their clientele to the point "that even a clear mass-murdering criminal's communication should never be available to the government." Such hard-line policies (such as refusing to unlock the iPhone of one the terrorists in the San Bernadino massacre) may invite government intervention, Gates warned.

Privacy, Schmivacy: Phones Can Be Hacked
   One of the reasons the U.S. Justice Department dropped its lawsuit against Apple two years ago was that the government no longer needed the company to break into the iPhone of one of San Bernadino terrorists, because someone else gave them the means to do so.
     That someone was Cellebrite, and late last month, the Israel-based company announced that it now has the ability to unlock any iPhone, up to and including iOS 11 and the iPhone X. The company will not be marketing the tool to be used by outside agencies, even law enforcement. Devices must be shipped to the company to be unlocked.
     For obvious reasons, it's not saying anything about its methods, since Apple is anxious to protect its encryption code, and would quickly plug the holes should it find them. Nor was there any mention in the TechRepublic article on what steps Cellebrite makes to ensure that its services aren't sold to criminal elements.
     Finally, Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Adam Schwartz speculated that Cellebrite was hoarding iOS vulnerabilities that it wasn't disclosing to Apple. If true, that makes the company a serious security risk for Apple device users. It's not that long ago that the National Security Agency did the same with Microsoft vulnerabilities. That knowledge was hacked and resulted in cyberattacks against Windows users.

In This Issue
Bill Gates Sees Danger in Cryptocurrency

Privacy, Schmivacy: Your Phone Can Be Hacked

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Tips and Tricks
Desktop clutter can be stressful. If your monitor is so crowded with icons it's hard to see the wallpaper, then it makes it hard to find anything or to get anything done, and it can even raise your anxiety level. Here's seven steps to Desktop Zero.
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On a different note, check out this video on the dangers and methodology of phishing attacks, and you might want to pass it on to your employees so they can be on their guard. As nothing in life is free, you will first have to sit through a commercial, but you'll find the interview by TechRepublic's Dan Patterson worth it.
Fun Facts
As if there weren't enough cats in the world, a website called CryptoKitties lets you adopt and breed digital ones using blockchain technology. Exactly what you do with them isn't apparent, and "ether," the cryptocurrency used in buying, trading and breeding your cartoon cats, is highly inflationary--stud fee for one cutie was $14,000! Some people have too much time on their hands, and too much money.
Quotable Quote
"A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart."
--Jonathan Swift

To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.
--Reba McEntire