TMA SoftStar News: May 2012

by Hank Friedman

Note: this article points to a large number of links to online resources. Instead of citing the links repeatedly throughout the article, I invite you to visit my web page containing all of the links referenced here, by going to /tma.htm

The Scale of the Universe

The Scale of the Universe is an incredible visualization of the Universe from its tiniest particles to the entire Universe itself. By using the right and left arrow keys on your computer, you can navigate to smaller and smaller (and larger and larger) objects. Astrologers in particular will enjoy seeing the relative size of the planets and the newly discovered bodies like Sedna, as well as just how far Sedna is from the Earth. Enjoy!

A Great Astrological Font Set

Zane Stein has created a complete set of fonts ($10) for the planets, all of the named Centaurs, most of the bodies beyond Pluto, Lilith, several asteroids, and the Galactic Center. The set works well with Solar Fire Gold 8, and you can use it in your letters, writings, etc.

Protect your Mac from Malware!

For decades, Macintosh computers were the primary choice of people who wanted to feel safe using their computers. The cyber-criminals, i.e. those who wrote viruses, spyware, and other malware, went after the Windows users, simply because there were so many more of them.

But over time, the market share of Mac computers kept growing, and now over 5% of computers using the Internet are Macs. As a result, malware authors have started to create malware specifically designed to infect Mac computers. For instance, the recent infamous Flashback malware has infected over 700,000 Macintosh computers, and has earned its creators over $10,000 a day since its original release. And its authors keep modifying it's code to thwart detection.

One of the reasons that Flashback was so successful was that Apple was a bit tardy in issuing a security update that would have protected Mac users. But in addition, half of all Mac owners are running Macs with older operating systems for which Apple no longer supplies any security updates, which leaves them completely vulnerable to these new threats. And three quarters of Mac owners don't run any additional anti-malware software at all, which is also needed for protection.

So the time has come for Macintosh owners to practice "safe computing". Here are four essential steps for keeping your Mac from being infected:

1. Always update to the latest operating system that Apple offers, so that you can get the necessary security updates that Apple issues regularly. (By September 2012, everyone who owns a Mac purchased before 2011, and who hasn't installed the latest OS, will no longer receive any security updates from Apple.)

2. When Apple notifies you that a new security update is available, install it immediately. (Macs don't do this automatically. At least 25% of Mac owners are one or two security updates behind and are therefore again unprotected from the latest threats.)

3. Get and install an anti-malware program for your Mac, because companies that are devoted to keeping your Mac safe work hard to look out for new malware, and may even release countermeasures before Apple does.

4. Be sure to install updates for your computer software too. Just recently, malware authors started exploiting a security hole in Microsoft Office for the Mac (the 2004 version). A free security patch was issued three years ago, but many Mac users haven't yet updated Office.

An odd side note: one anti-malware company found that 20% of the Macs they examined were riddled with PC malware. This malware was dormant, since it couldn't run on the Mac, but if the Mac was connected to a PC, the PC became infected. All the more reason to run an anti-malware program on your Mac.

For more information, I've added a link to a comprehensive article on this issue.

The Sirius 1.3 Update

Cosmic Patterns is releasing at UAC 2012 the latest update to Sirius. The new version, 1.3, has a greatly expanded time-change atlas, up to almost a million cities worldwide!

*All of the links mentioned in this article are posted on the TMA link page:


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