The Next Track, Episode #97 – Jerry Ewing on Progressive Rock

The Next Track Blue Flat Button2 400pxJerry Ewing, editor of the UK’s Prog magazine, discusses the history of progressive rock, and presents his new book Wondrous Stories.

Listen to The Next Track: Episode #97 – Jerry Ewing on Progressive Rock.

Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at The Next Track website. You can follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast, to keep up to date with new episodes, and new articles from the website.

Is Your Smart Speaker Spying on You?

As more people install smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod in their homes, questions whether these devices present a security risk have begun to surface. Is your smart speaker spying on you? Does it put your privacy at risk? The fact that you have a device that is actively listening to everything you say — waiting for command words, like “Alexa” and “Siri” — opens up the possibility of your data being misused, or even intercepted by hackers.

As with all “smart home” devices, the convenience of the technology is not without risk. For example, if you buy a security camera, or even a baby monitor, the devices ship with default passwords that are well known by hackers. If people don’t change the password, then it’s possible for hackers to access them. While many, even most people may read the instructions and change the password, countless others ignore this advice and simply leave the default settings, potentially letting malicious people have eyes on their home. This is dangerous in two ways: the first is that your activities can be recorded, and the second is that these cameras can show when you are not home, allowing criminals to know when it’s safe to burglarize your house.

With voice activated smart speakers, it’s a bit different.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Theater Review: Macbeth, by the Royal Shakespeare Company

Given the price of theater tickets, it’s not uncommon to depend on reviews to help make your decisions. In my case, living just outside of Stratford-upon-Avon, I get tickets for all the Royal Shakespeare Company’s productions of Shakespeare plays, and many, if not most, of the other plays they perform. (Though after having been disappointed by a number of plays in the Swan Theatre, where they present works by Shakespeare’s contemporaries as well as recent plays, I’ve decided to sit out a number of them.) Many people trust the opinions of theater critics, perhaps more so than, say, movie or book critics, because of that cost.

But we buy tickets well in advance in order to get good seats, and often all we know about a play is who is directing it; in some cases, we know who the lead actors are. With the current Macbeth, which opened this week, the play was announced (if I recall correctly) last September, with tickets sold starting in October, so we essentially trust the RSC to put on good productions.

And this one is essentially sold out; you may find the occasional return, but the draw of Christopher Eccleston in the lead role and Niamh Cusack as Lady Macbeth was enough to provide the best sales the RSC has had, most likely, since another ex Doctor Who (David Tennant) played Richard II in 2013.

When previews started for Macbeth, I heard some distressing comments from some RSC-loving acquaintances: people who are generally upbeat about all RSC productions were very down on this play. Some greatly disliked it, and others felt it was weak overall. The press hasn’t been very kind; press night was Tuesday, and good reviews are scarce, with the majority coming in – on the standard scale of five stars – at two or three stars. I don’t recall seeing so many negative reviews of an RSC show since the 2016 production of The Two Noble Kinsmen.

At the same time, the National Theatre in London is running its own Macbeth (it turns out the play is on the GCSE curriculum in the UK this year, which explains why there were so many teenagers in school uniforms at the theater last night) which has also been savaged.

Of the four big plays – the others being Hamlet, King Lear, and Othello – this one is my least favorite. I’ve often found it a bit confusing, and it’s a very subtle balance to get a Macbeth and Lady Macbeth that work well together. For example, a version with Kenneth Branagh that was broadcast to cinemas in 2013 was visceral and powerful, but I didn’t care for Alex Kingston’s Lady Macbeth (curiously, another Doctor Who alumnus).

Read more

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 23: Which Hard Drive Is Best for Your Mac?

We look at the three different types of hard drives you can use with your Mac: hard disks, fusion drives, and SSDs. We also discuss a cryptocurrency miner in the Mac App store, a new device that can crack any iPhone, and rumors of new Mac laptops.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.