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Published: Mon, 23 Apr 2018 19:18:47 -0700

Last Build Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2018 19:18:47 -0700

 



Microsoft boosts anti-phishing skills of Chrome, the IE and Edge killer

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 05:02:00 -0700

Microsoft has ceded a major asset of its Edge browser to rival Google by releasing an add-on that boosts Chrome's phishing detection skills.

The Redmond, Wash. company had little choice, according to one analyst. "Phishing is a huge problem, and people are going to use the browser they use," said Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft. "They're doing this to protect the Windows ecosystem."

Dubbed "Windows Defender Browser Protection" (WDBP) the free extension can be added to Chrome on Windows or macOS, and after a post-launch fix, Chrome OS as well. Like the defenses built into Edge, the add-on relies on Microsoft's SmartScreen technology that warns users of potentially malicious websites that may try to download malware to the machine or of sites linked in email messages that lead to known phishing URLs.

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11+ Mac keyboard skills to learn today

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 04:42:00 -0700

If you happen to be multilingual, a developer, a statistician or a data scientist, it’s likely you already know how to unlock additional symbols when typing on your Mac. But if you aren't, you’ll need to take a moment to learn.

How to type a check mark

Want this? √ Type Option and v (or type Option-4 for a cent sigil).

How to type a copyright symbol

The Mac shortcut to type a copyright (©) symbol is Option + g.

To infinity and beyond

Tap Option + 5 to reach infinity: ∞

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Walmart’s mobile checkout trial is a major advance

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 03:00:00 -0700

When Walmart rolled out its mobile Check Out with Me program last week, it made a meaningful first step toward the retail nirvana of full in-aisle mobile checkout.

Some quick background: For more than a decade now, ever since mobile applications were first taken seriously in retail, the ultimate goal has been to do away with checkout lanes and have all purchases paid either as you go (think loading items into smart carts that total prices or purchasing through the shopper’s own mobile device) or all at once but through a mobile-armed associate in whatever aisle the shopper’s last item was grabbed. 

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Picomanagement, defined

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 03:00:00 -0700

Programmer pilot fish for a big electronics company has a small software fix for one of his programs.

"I needed to push an incremental update to one of my applications that solved a minor issue in how it reported data errors," says fish. "It wasn't a show stopper -- in fact, the problem was so minor it had been around for several years and I only addressed the issue when I remembered it existed.

"So I told my manager I was going to submit the change to be pushed out through our corporate IT group, and she told me she wanted to have a meeting.

"We had a 30-minute meeting discussing the issue when she decided she needed to add her boss.

To read this article in full, please click here

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Windows 10 Redstone: A guide to the builds

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 02:36:00 -0700

Microsoft never sleeps. Even before the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update was rolled out, the company began work on the next major update to Windows 10, code-named Redstone 4. As it did with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft has been releasing a series of public preview builds to members of Microsoft's Insider Program.

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Confused about mobile platforms? You’re not alone. Here’s clarity.

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 03:00:00 -0700

What in the heck is going on?

The world of mobile and IoT operating systems used to be pretty stable and comprehensible. Suddenly, however, surprising events and weird changes have left everyone scratching their heads.

Here are the questions I’m hearing about these operating systems — and the answers.

Will Pixelbooks run Windows?

All of a sudden, Chromebook-using IT pros and developers are wondering whether Google’s Pixelbook will soon dual-boot into Microsoft Windows.

A sharp-eyed Reddit user discovered some comments in the Chromium Gerrit that’s leading some to speculate about a coming dual-boot feature. (Gerrit is a team code collaboration tool that integrates with Git.)

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N.Y. AG's scrutiny of cryptocurrencies unlikely to stymie a thriving industry

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 13:30:00 -0700

States and the federal government are increasing their scrutiny of cryptocurrencies in an attempt to bring more transparency to a market where buyers and sellers are anonymous and regulatory oversight is light.

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether, LiteCoin, and Ripple skyrocketed in value last year as investors sought to get in on what many see as the future of global currency – one that for trade and commerce knows no borders. Bitcoin generated massive hype among investors as its value surged more than 1,900% to nearly $20,000 last year, before tumbling back down below $11,000.

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Useful R functions you might not know

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 13:14:00 -0700

Almost every R user knows about popular packages like dplyr and ggplot2. But with 10,000+ packages on CRAN and yet more on GitHub, it's not always easy to unearth libraries with great R functions. One of the best way to find cool, new-to-you R code is to see what other useRs have discovered. So, I'm sharing a few of my discoveries -- and hope you'll share some of yours in return (contact info below).

Choose a ColorBrewer palette from an interactive app. Need a color scheme for a map or app? ColorBrewer is well known as a source for pre-configured palettes, and the RColorBrewer package imports those into R. But it's not always easy to remember what's available. The tmaptools package's palette_explorer creates an interactive application that shows you the possibilities.

To read this article in full, please click here

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IDG Contributor Network: Still looking forward to the promise of the converged desktop

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 11:27:00 -0700

One of the most exciting days I had at work was the day I came into the office, sat down at my desk, logged into my PC…and there in glorious detail were all my emails, voice mails (with pictures of the senders and text describing content), instant messages and all my social media feeds.

All my communications in one place, and easy to manage. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. That was back in 1989 (I was only joking about the social media, which obviously didn’t exist back then). I was co-running a telephony lab for IBM and, sadly, a few months later transferred to another IBM site. They took away my PC and gave me a color terminal, and I was back to the dark ages – they were literally dark, because my new, larger office had no window and I felt like I was in prison.

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Allo, goodbye: The craziest thing about Google's latest messaging pivot

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 09:11:00 -0700

Stop me if you've heard this one: Google has a new plan for fixing its mess of messaging apps and bringing clarity, consistency, and order to an area that's been chaotic for far too long.

As reported in a novel-length story by The Verge last night, Google is "pausing" all work and investments in Allo — the standalone chat service announced with great fanfare in 2016 — and moving the entire Allo team over to Android Messages, the company's current default SMS app for Android devices.

To read this article in full, please click here

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IDG Contributor Network: Could interference threaten the wireless future?

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 08:21:00 -0700

There are over five billion mobile phone subscribers, and an even greater number of wireless devices competing for access in the unlicensed bands. Every tech giant--from Amazon to ZTE--wants to be the leading force in mobile platforms, networks, and cloud services in what could be a winner-takes-all contest.

Unfortunately, spectrum crowding threatens dreams of a future filled with ubiquitous access to content and services. As connectivity is extended to “things” (both indoors and outdoors) and consumers get their first taste of ultra-high definition TV and broadcasts in virtual reality, the growth in demand for wireless access could overwhelm spectrum resources.

To read this article in full, please click here

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18+ Apple product secrets we didn’t know before

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:49:00 -0700

Apple’s 2018 Environmental Responsibility Report reveals dozens of fascinating details about the company's products, including deep insights into the care and attention it puts into their design.

‘Climate change is undeniable’

Apple’s report includes a sizeable collection of interesting data concerning the company’s efforts to reduce the impact of its business.

Apple is a huge business and it understands that even small reductions in its environmental footprint can have huge consequences, even as it moves toward closed-loop manufacturing processes.

To read this article in full, please click here

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You won’t believe why the Win7 Monthly Rollup, KB 4093118, keeps installing itself

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:14:00 -0700

Yesterday, I talked about the weird bug that makes April’s Win7 Monthly Rollup, KB 4093118, re-install itself over and over, even when Windows Update says that it’s been installed successfully. Windows sleuth abbodi86 has discovered the source of the problem, and it should give you patching pause.

To understand how we got into this mess, you need to understand the bugs that Microsoft introduced in the March Win7 patches and their kludgey patches. Installing either the March Monthly Rollup (KB 4088875) or the March Security-only patch (KB 4088878) may knock your machine off the network. As Microsoft says:

To read this article in full, please click here

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What's in the latest Chrome update?

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 04:55:00 -0700

Google this week released Chrome 66 for Windows, macOS and Linux, patching 62 vulnerabilities, banning older site certificates issued by security giant Symantec, and refusing to run auto-play content unless the volume was muted.

Chrome updates in the background, so users only need relaunch the browser to install the latest version. (To manually update, select "About Google Chrome" from the Help menu under the vertical ellipsis at the upper right; the resulting tab either shows the browser has been updated or displays the download-and-upgrade process before presenting a "Relaunch" button.) Those new to Chrome can download it from this Google site.

To read this article in full, please click here

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If you can't take the heat...

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 03:00:00 -0700

It's 1988, and this pilot fish is the entire IT team for the 250 users in the IC design department of a chipmaker in Arizona. But his biggest problem isn't his very tech-smart users.

"Occasionally I had to do a 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift to get all the big-box computers updated," says fish. "This was Arizona in July, so I parked in one of the few shaded spots -- that way my car wouldn't be 140 degrees at 1 p.m.

"Turned out we had a senior sales-dude who had decided that was his spot. He would leave business cards with nasty notes if you parked there. Some young designers who came in early had a contest going for how many of the cards they could collect.

To read this article in full, please click here

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9 Android settings that'll strengthen your security

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 09:30:00 -0700

You might not know it from all the panic-inducing headlines out there, but Android is actually packed with powerful and practical security features. Some are activated by default and protecting you whether you realize it or not, while others are more out of the way but equally deserving of your attention.

So stop wasting your time worrying about the Android malware monster du jour and which security company is using it to scare you into an unnecessary subscription, and take a moment instead to look through these far more impactful Android security settings — starting with the core elements and moving from there into some more advanced and easily overlooked options.

To read this article in full, please click here

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The gift that keeps on giving: Win7 Monthly Rollup KB 4093118 installs over and over

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 08:11:00 -0700

Last week, Microsoft quietly re-released its buggy April Win7 Monthly Rollup patch, KB 4093118. You may recall the patch as a reaction to the Carnak the Magnificent situation we had with the original version of KB 4093118.

With the re-release earlier this week of the original Carnak patch, KB 4099950, it’s not clear to me what the recommended installation sequence might be. But this much I know for sure. People all over the internet are complaining that this new version of KB 4093118 installs itself over and over again.

To read this article in full, please click here

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Office 365: A guide to the updates

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 05:31:00 -0700

Office 365 subscribers always have the latest version of Microsoft Office — currently Office 2016. They also get more frequent software updates than those who have purchased Office 2016 without a subscription, which means subscribers have access to the latest features, security patches and bug fixes. But it can be hard to keep track of the changes in each update and know when they’re available. We’re doing for you, so you don’t have to.

Following are key updates to Office 365 for Windows since Office 2016 was released in September 2015 — all the 2017 updates and the most important ones from 2016 and late 2015, with the latest releases shown first. We’ll add info about new updates as they’re rolled out.

To read this article in full, please click here

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The global tech cycle depends on iPhones, IMF claims

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 04:38:00 -0700

Apple’s iPhone has become a key factor for global economic growth, claims the International Monetary Fund (IMF) — but the boom times may be over, it warns.

'An iPod, a phone, Internet Communicator and economic saviour'

Noting that in 2017, global smartphone sales reached 1.5 billion units (one smartphone for every five people on the planet), the IMF World Economic Outlook April edition makes lots of observations around Apple, the iPhone, technology, and the post-smartphone era.

To read this article in full, please click here

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Throwback Thursday: Just a basic project

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 03:00:00 -0700

Consultant pilot fish gets the order to build an online store for one of the company's major clients. "I'm told to use an off-the-shelf e-commerce system to save time," he says. "When I ask for the specifications, I'm told it's a basic shopping cart, nothing special.

"This worries me, but foolishly I move forward."

After scoping out the project, fish reports to his manager that he can get the off-the-shelf system ready for customer review by a particular date.

Shortly after that, fish learns that the sales rep has promised the entire site by that date, including migrating all data.

And fish still has no specifications or feature list, nor has he been told what data he needs to migrate.

To read this article in full, please click here

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10 Chrome extensions to juice up Gmail

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 00:47:00 -0700

There are tons of Chrome extensions that enhance and add features to the Gmail interface. The extensions in this article are the ones we’ve come to like the best. They do everything from making handy little interface tweaks to adding sophisticated functions to Gmail. Some have been around for several years, while some were released a few months ago — but all can be useful additions to your Gmail experience.

To be clear: We don’t recommend installing these extensions all at once — too many extensions installed on any browser can slow its performance. Instead, consider our list and choose the ones that give you the features you want most in Gmail.

To read this article in full, please click here

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Windows 10: A guide to the updates

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 23:47:00 -0700

The launch of a big Microsoft Windows 10 update like the Fall Creators Update isn’t the end of a process — it’s really just the beginning. As soon as a major update is released, Microsoft quickly gets to work on improving it by fixing bugs, releasing security patches, and occasionally adding new features.

Here we’ve summarized what you need to know about every Windows 10 update being released to the public. First come updates to the currently shipping version of Windows 10 — version 1709, known as the Fall Creators Update — with the most recent updates on top. (Note that the Fall Creators Update is on a phased rollout, so you may not have received it yet.) Below that are updates to version 1703, known as the Creators Update. For each build, we’ve included the date of its initial release and a link to Microsoft’s announcement about it.

To read this article in full, please click here

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Microsoft holds up Windows 10 feature upgrade after finding BSOD bug

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 14:34:00 -0700

Microsoft has postponed the release of the next Windows 10 feature upgrade for an unspecified period, saying that, among other things, the code harbored a bug that crippled some personal computers.

"In certain cases, these reliability issues [we discovered] could have led to a higher percentage of (BSOD) on PCs," wrote Dona Sarkar, the head of Microsoft's Windows Insider preview program, in a Monday post to a company blog. She was using the acronym for "Blue Screen of Death," the crash error screen made infamous by Windows.

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How to use a strong passcode to better secure your iPhone

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 12:32:00 -0700

With police departments and federal agencies lining up to buy technology from two companies whose products can bypass iPhone security mechanisms, experts said users concerned about privacy should use a strong passcode to help prevent unwanted access to data.

That's also true for enterprise users with iPhones that access potentially sensitive coporate data.

Simply put, complex passcodes are always better for security, according to Phil Hochmuth, IDC's program director for enterprise mobility. Common best practices for creating a hard-to-crack passcode includes using both upper- and lower-case characters, numbers and uncommon words.

To read this article in full, please click here

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How to get a cutting-edge web browser

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 10:15:00 -0700

Installing a pre-release version of your web browser promises at least two distinct thrills. The first one: You get to test new features sometimes months before mainstream users see them. How cool is that?

The second thrill comes from taking a risk. Installing pre-release software can cause data loss (perhaps even hair loss), excess battery drain on portables and other aggravations. As Google puts it on its Chrome Canary download page, it’s “not for the faint of heart.”

But let’s assume you’re up for the challenge and eager to see what’s next for your browser. Here’s what you need to know about pre-release versions of Chrome, Safari Technical Preview, Firefox and Edge.

To read this article in full, please click here

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What is Windows Hello? Microsoft’s biometrics security system explained

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 09:46:00 -0700

Windows Hello is a biometrics-based technology that enables Windows 10 users to authenticate secure access to their devices, apps, online services and networks with just a fingerprint, iris scan or facial recognition. The sign-in mechanism is essentially an alternative to passwords and is widely considered to be a more user friendly, secure and reliable method to access critical devices, services and data than traditional logins using passwords.

“Windows Hello solves a few problems: security and inconvenience,” said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “Traditional passwords are unsafe as they are hard to remember, and therefore people either choose easy-to-guess passwords or write down their passwords.”

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Patches for Win10 1703 and 1607, and a brain-twisting update to the Win7 IP bug fix

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 06:32:00 -0700

Yesterday, the third Tuesday of the month, Microsoft dumped another big bucket of patches:

  • KB 4093117 brings Win10 1703 up to build 15063.1058, many miscellaneous fixes, no known issues.
  • KB 4093120 brings Win10 1607 to build 14393.2214, a similarly large bunch of fixes, no known issues.
  • KB 4093113 is the regular Monthly Rollup Preview for Win7.
  • KB 4093121 is the similar Monthly Rollup Preview for Win 8.1.
  • The Update Catalog says there’s a new version of KB 4099950, the abandoned patch for fixing the NIC/static IP bug in Win7.

There are lots of oddities in this motley collection.

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Is Apple about to kill the SuperDrive on Macs?

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 05:24:00 -0700

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Wireless charging over distance just got a boost

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 03:36:00 -0700

Wireless charging at distance company Ossia has partnered with electronics manufacturer Molex to boost development of its first products, which it said should be available this year.

Unlike today's most popular wireless chargers, which require devices to rest on a charging pad, Ossia is among several companies developing trickle charging capability at distances of many feet. Some of these technologies, also known as "uncoupled wireless charging" can even charge through walls, or simply top off a device as you enter a room.

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Guess who didn't take care of it?

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 03:00:00 -0700

This software team built and supports a large, complex financial application for Microsoft and Oracle databases -- and one pilot fish is pretty much the only developer supporting it on the Oracle side.

"They wrote and tested everything against Microsoft SQL Server first, then ported it to Oracle," says fish. "Oracle was always an afterthought.

"The product had an interface layer for each database that made it a lot easier to support both platforms. But SQL Server and Oracle have significant differences, and we wrote a lot of database stored routines -- written for SQL Server, then ported to Oracle. That's usually where I came in."

One well-liked programmer (and long-time employee) named Fred is tasked with changing a particular module. He modifies a stored procedure for SQL Server, but doesn't make any changes to the corresponding Oracle stored function. Result: QA reports the Oracle interface as "broken."

To read this article in full, please click here

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