Microsoft quietly cuts off Win7 support for older Intel computers

If your PC doesn’t run Streaming Single Instructions Multiple Data (SIMD) Extensions 2, you apparently won’t be getting any more Win7 patches. At least, that’s what I infer from some clandestine Knowledge Base documentation changes made in the past few days.

Even though Microsoft says it’s supporting Win7 until January 14, 2020, if you have an older machine — including any Pentium III — you’ve been blocked, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

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Android's sharing system is morphing into an unpredictable mess

When it comes to technology, it's often the smallest details that make the biggest impact.

Sure, splashy elements like Android's split-screen mode and notification channels made for great new-release bullet points when they came along (in Android 7.0, Nougat and Android 8.0, Oreo, respectively) — but let's be honest: How often does either actually affect your day-to-day life? If you're like the vast majority of Android phone-owners, the answer is probably "pretty darn rarely."

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Deloitte: Apple’s Health Records an ‘inflection point’ for healthcare

Think of it as meeting the needs of the company

Flashback almost three decades, to when this pilot fish is hired as a systems analyst -- and gets an unpleasant surprise.

"When I started with this company, I nearly quit because there were so many meetings!" says fish. "I was told this was necessary to keep everyone informed about what the company was doing.

"After three years, our CIO held a large meeting and told us that, in order to empower us, we were to reduce the number of meetings held. So suddenly I found myself going for weeks without a single meeting.

"Fast forward a few years: We got a new CIO, who informed us that we needed to be in step with the company and to insure we were all informed they would hold meetings each week. More meetings were added, and soon I found myself attending meetings at the same frequency I was when I joined the company.

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IDG Contributor Network: AI Windows patching, a new HoloLens and Office updates: the changes they are a-coming

This last week had a couple of interesting changes announced and rumored from Microsoft (disclosure Microsoft is a client of the author). The first was some needed changes to Office that will likely upset a lot of people. The second was the announcement of a Generation 3 HoloLens. (What happened to generation 2? Well, like Windows 9, Microsoft pretty much just skipped it.) And third was the application of AI in the patching process that could dramatically reduce the expense and aggravation attached to it. Let’s talk about each in turn. 

Office updates

Starting with the new Office updates; first a new simplified ribbon designed to help people better focus on their work and more naturally collaborate with others.  It is also more customizable, so the most used features will be easier to access. The appearance of the product better uses the improved graphics performance on newer PCs, so the product will look more modern. And finally, search has been improved with a stronger AI back end that will provide recommendations and a better connection to Microsoft Graph. Microsoft Graph is a new capability in across Microsoft applications that improve user onboarding, helps manage employee profiles, helps with document conversion, and improves email syncing. 

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IDG Contributor Network: How successful wireless companies create the next growth wave

Every successful wireless company rides several different growth waves. Wave after wave, time after time. Those who are not successful ride one growth wave up then down again. This is crucial for long-term success. We can learn some important lessons of exciting growth companies, and others who rode their one growth curve up then down again.

Let’s start with the handset side of the wireless industry.

Over several decades, Motorola was the number one handset maker in the wireless industry. They had been in wireless for decades. If you recall all those TV shows from decades ago, where actors would talk on wireless phones mounted in their cars. That was Motorola in Los Angeles in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

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Win10 Update Facilitation Service joins Update Assistant V2 to make sure you get patched

You can look at the new KB 4056254 Win10 Update Facilitation Service and the re-emergence of Win10 Update Assistant V2 from two different perspectives. On the one hand, you have those poor hapless Win10 users who accidentally munged Windows Update. On the other hand, you have folks with bazookas and flamethrowers who want to keep some semblance of control over updating their machines.

Both groups now face two different Microsoft initiatives to reset Windows Update.

Susan Bradley was looking at some new KB articles over the weekend and stumbled onto KB 4056254, an announcement for a, uh, service known as the Windows 10 Update Facilitation Service. (If you have a hard time thinking of Win10 as a service, try wrapping your mind around the concept of a forced patching bulldozer as a service.)

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Apple’s iOS 12 will save thousands of American lives

Apple will introduce support for a new iPhone technology that will help save thousands of U.S. lives when it ships iOS 12, the company announced.

Help me, I’m here

The first 911 call was made on February 16, 1968.

Since then, usage has grown exponentially.

Today, over 650,000 calls are made in the U.S. each day, and over 200 million emergency calls are made in that country each year. Over 80 percent of these calls (handled by around 6,300 U.S. 911 call centers) come from mobile devices.

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Wait, how can you be unclear on the concept of HEAT?

Consultant pilot fish is called in to deal with this company's newly installed WAN network equipment. The problem: It's overheating in a big way.

But the reason turns out to be no big mystery after all. "The client had an old available computer room with a raised floor," says fish. "But it was quite dirty underfloor, and no cyber-cleaning was considered.

"The new nationwide network equipment and racks were installed. But to negate the problem of the cabinet's top-mounted rack fans dragging crud up from under the floor, it was decided to reverse the top-mounted fans to push the air down into the rack equipment.

"Wonder why there were massive heating problems?

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Why has Apple put Mac users in the Mojave desert?

Dark Mode in macOS 10.14 Mojave looks really nice. I think Mac users will like it. But why has Apple chosen to leave the mountains to name the next-generation of its platform after a desert? With so many Mac users concerned about the future of the platform, is someone at the company trying to tell us something?

Your Mac life

Named after the Mohave tribe who once owned it, the Mojave desert has its own set of creation myths. The world was created there, and the brother of the subsequently murdered Creator led the people to a new way of life.

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Win10 (1803) declared 'fully available,' throwing Windows Update for Business under the bus

After 45 days in the unpaid beta testing phase, Microsoft surprised most of the patching world yesterday by declaring that Windows 10 April 2018 Update is ready for deployment in the enterprise. By doing so, Microsoft simultaneously raised the ire of almost everyone in the patching industry, demonstrated how out-of-touch its metrics have become, and completely destroyed the underpinnings of “Current Branch for Business.”

Win10 version 1803 entered the unpaid beta testing phase (officially known as the “Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) branch” or, previously, “Current Branch”) on April 30. Yesterday, Microsoft declared that Win10 1803 is ready for business deployment:

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Failure, redefined

Programmer pilot fish is hired by this organization because he can write a mix of C and scripting languages to pull information from databases and generate web pages -- pretty straightforward stuff.

But that's not what he finds when he starts work. "The new job I was hired for used a big vendor's interfaces and coding tools," fish says. "It was a major enterprise-wide conversion, and the vendor consulting staff was essentially learning to do their jobs as we did ours -- and at our expense.

"Their applications were that new and untested. Nothing worked and the vendor's consultants couldn't seem to give us good answers when things failed."

It's soon clear that things are failing a lot -- which means a lot of try/test/fail/retry cycles. And even when things appear to be working correctly, a high percentage of the time they still aren't right.

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Which Android phones get regular security updates? Here's a hint

Is your company part of the GDPR 'mobile loophole'?

Mobile tech, and especially mobile brought into companies through BYOD, has unique challenges for companies that need to comply with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) — and that’s virtually all companies, not just the ones in Europe. The regulations compel companies to manage personal data and protect privacy, and they provide individuals to have a say in what and how data about them is used.

GDPR has several disclosure and control requirements, such as providing notice of any personally identifiable data collection, notifying of any data breaches, obtaining consent of any person for whom data is being collected, recording what and how data is being used, and providing a right for people whose data is being collected to see, modify, and/or delete any information about them from corporate systems.

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WWDC: Industry experts praise Apple's Health Records API

Throwback Thursday: Well, no, not exactly

Pilot fish is configuring a new router to replace a loaner from the telco. It's for running a secure tunnel to allow a branch office to connect to HQ's VoIP.

"When we finished the setup on our side, we needed the remote router to be powered down and then back on," says fish. "I phoned a user at the other end and asked her to restart the router.

"I described it to her and she seemed to know what to do. We exchanged cell numbers in case there were issues."

And that turns out to be a good thing. A few minutes later, when fish tests the connection, he gets nothing. No ping to the other side. No activity at all. Dead in the water.

Everything seems OK on fish's side, so he calls the user at the branch office again.

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Everything you need to know about Apple's iOS 12 Screen Time beta

Apple listens. It has heard the complaints that people and their children are spending more time glued to their digital devices than they do to each other. And at WWDC, it introduced its new iOS Screen Time feature aims to help us become aware of our digital habits as a first step to empowering us to control them.

What is Screen Time?

Set to ship in the fall with iOS 12, Screen Time is Apple’s first attempt at dealing with the emerging problem of digital addiction.

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Not so fast!

Pilot fish who's a computer science professor gets a call from a former student stumped by a database problem -- one that should be pretty easy to solve.

"This was not one of my most stellar students," fish admits. "It seems they had set up a database for a new state agency and the system was running very slowly.

"I did a small amount of consulting on the side, so I agreed to take a look."

Turns out the database is rather strangely organized. The explanation? Former student tells fish it's set up for ease of data entry.

And for retrieval? "No problem," former student says. "We created an index for every field so you can look up anything quickly. We even created Soundex codes for every last name, and created an index for the Soundex codes too."

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How to get smarter missed call reminders on Android

It's easy to forget sometimes, but these powerful little computers we carry in our pockets are also phones — you know, devices with numbers that can make and receive those crazy old things called voice calls.

Go ahead and take a minute to absord the shock of this revelation. Gasp, guffaw, get a comically exaggerated expression of surprise on that stunning face of yours — whatever does the trick. I'll wait.

Back? Okay, good. Listen, I know: Nine times out of 10, when we talk about Android tips, we talk about ways to be more efficient and productive with tapping around on our screens and getting things done. But today, I want to share a handy little enhancement I've encountered for making the phone portion of your smartphone more useful and easier to manage.

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WWDC: Accessibility has become a requirement

Apple made a range of announcements at WWDC 2018 that put accessibility at the core of the company's mission. So, developers no longer have any excuse to avoid using the accessibility tools the company provides.

Empowerment matters

The focus is highly visible in the latest Mac and iOS releases (available this fall), which bring a range of smaller accessibility improvements.

What’s important about that is that in doing so, Apple is solving problems other platforms have not yet begun to address at a core platform level.

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Good thing they didn't do any programming, huh?

IT pilot fish is part of a team working under a contract where there's a very specific stipulation: These contractors can't write code -- that's the job of a different contractor.

"But we were allowed to do prototyping," says fish.

"So we developed a prototype for functionality the customer needed, using SQL Anywhere as a front end to an Oracle database.

"The customer used our prototype for about four years while their developer contractor worked on the 'real system.'"

Sharky really needs your real, true tales of IT life. Send me your stories at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt every time I use one. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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Make sure Windows auto update is temporarily turned off, and watch out for SMBv1 fixes

In May, we saw a host of bugs introduced by the Patch Tuesday “security” patches. By the end of the month, patches for those patches killed almost all of the bugs – even the inability of Win10 version 1803 to run on certain kinds of solid-state drives, including the one in some Surface Pros.

We also saw Microsoft push Win10 version 1803 onto machines that were specifically set to avoid it. I haven’t seen any official response to Microsoft’s inquiry into the reports, but we now have a sighting of a Win7 machine being pushed onto Win10, in spite of its settings.

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WWDC: When Apple Watch became a platform

Apple’s watchOS 5 plays to the strengths of Apple Watch and opens up some new and interesting ways to develop for and make use of the device.  

The enterprise case for Apple Watch

Apple always says its goal with the Apple Watch is to deliver brief and meaningful interactions at exactly the right time.

This dedication to context and convenience means that when the company ships the next iteration of the OS, it will make its solution much more essential to anyone who needs to stay up to date while remaining focused on the matter at hand, or who needs to stay in touch while leaving the phone behind.

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IDG Contributor Network: How new CEO Hans Vestberg will transform Verizon Wireless

Over the last decade, Verizon Wireless has been a rapid growth engine. The iPhone and Android revolution gave them the chance to strengthen their competitive position and they saw success and growth. However, over the last several years as growth in this smartphone segment started to slow. Going forward, what path should Verizon take?

Watching the company over the last several years this question was real and growing. Verizon growth has not been as strong as it should have been. So, how could they continue to show growth? That’s what investors, workers and customers are looking for. They need to create the next growth wave to ride over the next decade.

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6 tips for planning SharePoint hub sites

Hub sites are the newest intranet building block in Office 365. They are now available to all Office 365 customers, including enterprise, education, and government.

In the new flat world of modern SharePoint, each unit of work gets a separate site collection. Hub sites allow us to eliminate the inflexibility and governance limitations of “dreaded” subsites, while providing a way to replicate one of the key benefits of subsites — a way to create a shared experience among related sites. Hub sites can help kill subsites, but not without a little planning.

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Useful R functions you might not know

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.

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Review: Windows 10 April 2018 Update shows promise, but ultimately disappoints

Apple’s 2018 iPad, a review

I use my 9.7-inch iPad Pro a lot, so when Apple introduced its entry-level 2018 iPad with Apple Pencil support, I knew I had to try it out. I’ve been using the new model this month, and I wanted to share the biggest thing I’ve noticed about it, which is:

Nothing

“Nothing, Jonny, really?”

You heard me right. I have been using the 2018 iPad to do everything I usually use the Pro for: taking notes, writing stories, working on images, sketching, communications, research, watching movies, listening to Apple Music, even playing my favorite game (which is still Rome: Total War, for some reason).

I’ve noticed nothing.

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Microsoft PowerPoint vs. Google Slides: Which works better for business?

If you’re going to give business presentations, odds are you’ll be choosing between Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides, the two best-known presentation applications. They’re both solid, useful tools — and both have changed a great deal over the years. Given all their changes, you may want to reconsider what you’re using today.

To help you choose, I put them through their paces by building a presentation that many business professionals might create: announcing a new product or service line. In each program I started by looking for suitable templates, then created a new presentation; added slides; juiced them up with graphics, video and animations; collaborated with others on it; and finally, gave presentation itself.

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(Insider Story)

Review: Samsung's new Galaxy S9 phones make excellence routine

Let’s face it: the changes you’re going to see in smartphones every year are pretty incremental. With some significant exceptions (I’m looking at you, user interface of the iPhone X), today’s phones aren’t all that much different than the phones of three years ago. Faster, yes, More memory, sure. Better cameras, absolutely. Smaller bezels, it’s true.

But different? Well, no. Not really.

The two most significant changes are the rise of “plus” or XL supersized models and watertightness. The latter is a terrific feature, and one that’s saved me thousands of dollars. But as much as I like a lot of screen real estate, I still have trouble wrapping my head (and hands) around today’s plus-sized phones.

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Which project management software solution would be best for you?

Recently IT Central Station produced a new report on what real users think of the various project management tools out there. This includes an overview of the best solutions and a summary of the top 10 vendors.

“Perfect for keeping track of large amounts of bugs, tasks queries and releases for fixes. The SaaS does the job it is supposed to: helps you keep track of your projects,” reads one review of a popular solution.

“I would love if it allowed for tasks to have the start/end date separate from the time required,” reads less positive feedback for a different solution.

Based on between 43,832 and 808 comparisons—dependent on product—this report provides independent, unbiased feedback on the most popular project management solutions available in the marketplace now.

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(Insider Story)

Review: The iPhone X is the best phone for business, period.

Ten years ago, the original iPhone ushered in a new world for mobile computing and sparked the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement at work. Soon after it arrived, iPhones were showing up everywhere in the office, forcing companies to quickly scramble to figure out how to manage them.

iPhone X Michael DeAgonia

The iPhone X, with its distinctive "notch" at the top and the inky blacks of an OLED display.

That sleek (and deceptively simple) device not only debuted a new touchscreen that would radically change how people interact with technology, it also shook up carrier control, set a new target for Apple’s competitors to aim for and created a platform for countless mobile app developers. Oh, and it eventually gave birth to a highly successful tablet boom with the iPad.

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OneNote vs. Evernote: A personal take on two great note-taking apps

Review: Google’s Pixel 2 phone is the smart (and safe) choice for biz

One of the great attractions of Google’s Pixel phones is that they are almost iPhone-like in concept: The same company is in full control of the hardware, software and ecosystem. And, often, a new phone is accompanied by a new release of the Android operating system, with the promise that it will get prompt OS updates for at least the next few generations. With other phone manufacturers typically taking weeks or months to roll out Android updates, the Pixel’s first-in-line status for new features and security fixes makes it an attractive choice for the enterprise.

The just-released Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL from Google showcase the brand new Android 8.0 (Oreo) operating system in what could reasonably be called a reference design, with hardly any carrier cruft or manufacturer UI overlay. The hardware is unmistakably made by HTC, as were the earlier Pixels, and if the $1.1 billion that Google splashed out to hire a bunch of HTC engineers means that we can expect more phones like these, it would be money well spent.

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Review: Windows 10 Fall Creators Update from A to Zzzzzzzz

After six months of waiting, the next major upgrade to Windows 10 is almost here. Known as the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, it will begin rolling out to the public on October 17.

The upgrade touches countless parts of the operating system, from OneDrive file storage to Cortana, the Edge browser, security and more. I’ve been tracking its progress for the last half year and putting it to the test with serious use in the last several weeks. Here’s a deep-dive, hands-on look at what’s new. (IT pros: Don't miss the "What IT needs to know about the Fall Creators Update" section.)

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My first week with Apple Watch Series 3

I’ve been using Apple Watch since the first version shipped.

I’ve grown so accustomed to using one that some of the things you might like about owning one yourself have become so much part of my daily life that I neglect to mention them here.

That’s the thing about Apple Watch — it weaves itself so intimately inside your daily experience that you begin to use it unconsciously. Just like a watch.

I use the device’s health, Activity, heart and fitness tracking features. I use it for Apple Pay, Maps, Siri questions, Messages, and (of course) for checking the time.

When it comes to third-party apps, I find things like local information, foreign translation and travel-related apps the most useful.

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Review: 3 digital whiteboard displays for business collaboration

Whether your business team is designing a next-gen widget or developing an online campaign, you need a place to get together, brainstorm and map out a strategy. In years past, a dry-erase whiteboard was typically where such ideas were recorded, with some obvious drawbacks. For starters, somebody had to capture all those great ideas from the whiteboard before it got erased. Worse, remote meeting attendees couldn’t see the on-board action.

people using Google Jamboard interactive display Google

Today, however, such collaboration can be done with a special large display that users can present from, write on and share with meeting participants halfway around the world. With a laptop or mobile device connected wirelessly or via video cable, the touch-sensitive display acts as a giant tablet where participants can interact with each other and an array of digital materials — and easily save the results to turn into action items.

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(Insider Story)

Learn the coolest new features of Android's Oreo

From notifications to picture-in-picture mode, walk step by step through the new features of Android's latest update with Computerworld blogger and Android expert JR Raphael.

WifiInfoView is a great Wi-Fi utility for Windows

The other day, I was at a coffee shop where the Wi-Fi seemed slow. I didn't run actual speed tests, as that would have just added to the network load. Instead, I fired up the excellent WifiInfoView program from Nir Sofer.

Windows, like many operating systems, provides a pathetic amount of Wi-Fi information. Without sufficient technical data, we are left to guess at the root cause of slow Wi-Fi. WifiInfoView is the motherload of techie information about your Wi-Fi environment. I ran the program just to check on the signal strength, but I learned much more.

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Review: 4 online backup services keep your data safe

In the 15 years that I’ve been running a small company, I have survived several malware attacks. The only thing that kept me in business was a reliable backup of my data.

When it comes to my data (if not my pants), I’m a belt and suspenders kind of person: In addition to periodically copying my two key work folders onto an external hard drive, my system automatically backs up my computer’s contents to an encrypted cloud-based backup service at 1 o’clock every morning.

If I’m attacked or my main computer goes south, I won’t lose my company’s 40.9GB of data, even if some catastrophe destroys both the computer and the external hard drive. More than once, I have used the backups to save my digital bacon by retrieving a deleted file, and the online backup has the added convenience of letting me use just about any connected device to access a document and show it to a client during a remote meeting.

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Review: Asus VivoBook W202 with Windows 10 S

When Microsoft announced its new Windows 10 S operating system in May, the company put security front and center. To keep rogue programs from entering an organization’s digital ecosystem, the OS runs all software in a protected container and allows only apps that have been vetted by the Microsoft Windows Store and comply with Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP) standards to be installed.

Although Microsoft pitched Windows 10 S as an OS for the education market (think of it as Microsoft’s answer to Google’s Chrome OS), IT leaders and analysts immediately saw its locked-down nature as promising for business as well. The value-add for companies is lower-priced systems that operate in the familiar Windows environment while restricting the software an employee can load.

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(Insider Story)

Windows users just got yet another reason to get a Mac

PC users looking to upgrade to a secure and modern OS may want to take another look at the MacBook Pro, as you can now use its Touch Bar with some of the most widely used Windows applications.

Keeping Parallel

Parallels Desktop 13 launched this week. The software makes it really easy for any Mac user to run Windows on their Mac, it even downloads a copy of Windows 10 for you (though you will need to purchase the OS from Microsoft).

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From SharePoint to Yammer: What’s the best social software?

The best thing is “the ease at which any employee can curate content and the ease in which people can discover meaningful and important information to get their job done,” wrote one user about a popular enterprise software solution listed in this independent report from IT Central Station.

While another user suggested: “The improvements could be more flexibility to manage files and to have a sync file area more intuitive and which respects the characteristics of other similar solutions.”

This unbiased overview lists the top five social software solution according to users’ top ratings. It also provides in-depth profiles on the top 10 vendors).

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(Insider Story)

Microsoft Excel vs. Google Sheets: Which works better for business?

Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets are the two best-known spreadsheet applications available today. Both are polished and very useful — so much so that it’s easy to cling to the application you’re currently using without learning how the other has improved over the years. If you (or your business) chose one spreadsheet app and rejected the other years ago, there may be good reasons to reconsider.

To find out where Excel and Google Sheets stand today, both individually and compared to each other, I tested them by trying out the most common tasks users perform, including starting a new spreadsheet, inputting data and formulas, formatting cells, creating charts, adding extras such as links to external data sources, and collaborating with others.

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(Insider Story)

Review: How SharePoint, Confluence, IBM Connections and Yammer compare

Web-based tech can help companies in a variety of ways: agile information sharing, tighter integration and better productivity. It can also save time, improve collaboration and even lead to greater transparency.

For IT, DevOps and business professionals, the ROI from enterprise social software often comes from the analytics capabilities, which can uncover actionable data that's both accessible and easily integrated into corporate systems.

Microsoft SharePoint, Atlassian Confluence, IBM Connections and Microsoft Yammer all fit the bill in some ways. But is one better than the others?

At IT Central Station, users who have evaluated and shared feedback on enterprise social software discuss how the solutions they use deliver these requirements.

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(Insider Story)

Testing an AmpliFi mesh point as a Wi-Fi extender

When mesh router systems started appearing last year, I purchased a Ubiquiti AmpliFi system for someone whose house was a worst case Wi-Fi scenario. The internet entered the home in the basement on the south side of the house, while the bedrooms are on the second floor in the north side.

I liked the AmpliFi line, sight unseen, because unlike most other mesh systems, it did not require you to register with Ubiquiti and it did not phone home with who knows what data about your network. Still, in October of last year, I griped that the AmpliFi mesh system lacked remote control. This is no longer true. 

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Slack vs. Yammer: Which is the best?

Slack may attract zealots but it is by no means the only workplace collaboration tool out there. There is the recently launched Microsoft teams, for example, or Flock (its CEO recently told us recently he was “stumped” by Slack’s success) and, of course, Yammer.

In fact, Cal Henderson told IDG Connect in an interview this year that: “the existence of competitors is good in a number of ways.” When we started, we were convincing customers to switch to a whole new category, now the rise in players in the space “validates the whole category,” he said.

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(Insider Story)

Review: In Office 2016 for Windows, collaboration takes center stage

If Microsoft were to have a motto for Office 2016, it could well be the old coaching adage "There is no 'I' in "team." The suite offers considerable collaborative and teamwork features that turn Office from a tool for a single person into one that helps people work together.

If you work by yourself and will use Office as a standalone product, you'll find far fewer changes from Office 2013. That's not necessarily a bad thing – Office is already so stacked with features that adding new ones just for the sake of it could harm rather than help its usability.

How successful has Microsoft been in adding collaboration features? And how useful are the handful of non-collaborative features added to the core of Office? That's what I'll cover in the rest of this review.

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MDM comparison: VMware AirWatch vs. IBM Maas360

The mobile device management (MDM) market is crowded, giving companies numerous options for locking down both devices and data. But picking out the best solution isn't always an obvious choice.

Given the variety of MDM solutions available to enterprise companies, how do VMware AirWatch and IBM MaaS360 compare? What insights can real users share about their MDM experiences? Which features really matter, and how can companies evaluate which tool is best suited to meet their enterprise mobility needs?

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(Insider Story)

Toshiba Portege X30 review: The clamshell strikes back

Sleek tablets and 2-in-1s get all the attention these days, but they still take a back seat to traditional clamshell laptops for outfitting business employees. Take Toshiba’s flagship Portégé X30 (technically called the X30-D), which combines peak performance with all the amenities that a traveling executive could want in a lightweight fold-open package.

I tested a souped-up X30 that costs $2,109 and includes just about every option available, from the high-performance Core i7 7600U processor that runs between 2.8GHz and 3.9GHz to its 16GB of RAM and 256GB solid state storage system. It also includes a 13.3-in. touchscreen that supports 1920 x 1080 resolution. (Toshiba doesn’t offer an X30 model with a 4K display.)

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Microsoft to tighten screws on traditional Office, Gartner predicts

Microsoft will continue to pressure businesses to adopt Office 365, said a pair of Gartner analysts, by barring all but subscribers from accessing Office 365's online services.

The restriction will go into effect in about two-and-a-half years, said Gartner analysts Michael Silver and Stephen Kleynhans, who authored a for-clients-only report in April.

Their forecast was couched as an assumption that enterprises should build into their IT planning and budgeting. "By YE20 [year-end 2020], it [Microsoft] will announce that only Office 365 ProPlus will be supported for accessing Office 365 online services," wrote Silver and Kleynhans. "Office traditional will not be supported."

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The best workplace perks in IT

The offerings run deep at Computerworld's 2018 Best Places to Work in IT. Comprehensive health insurance is just table stakes.

Microsoft quietly cuts off Win7 support for older Intel computers

If your PC doesn’t run Streaming Single Instructions Multiple Data (SIMD) Extensions 2, you apparently won’t be getting any more Win7 patches. At least, that’s what I infer from some clandestine Knowledge Base documentation changes made in the past few days.

Even though Microsoft says it’s supporting Win7 until January 14, 2020, if you have an older machine — including any Pentium III — you’ve been blocked, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

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Android's sharing system is morphing into an unpredictable mess

When it comes to technology, it's often the smallest details that make the biggest impact.

Sure, splashy elements like Android's split-screen mode and notification channels made for great new-release bullet points when they came along (in Android 7.0, Nougat and Android 8.0, Oreo, respectively) — but let's be honest: How often does either actually affect your day-to-day life? If you're like the vast majority of Android phone-owners, the answer is probably "pretty darn rarely."

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Deloitte: Apple’s Health Records an ‘inflection point’ for healthcare

Which iPhones, iPads support Apple's iOS 12?

Apple earlier this month told iPhone and iPad users that if their devices are currently running iOS 11, they will also run the upcoming iOS 12, an upgrade slated to ship this fall.

According to Apple, the new mobile operating system will be supported on these devices:

  • iPhone X iPhone 6/6 Plus and later;
  • iPhone SE iPhone 5S iPad Pro;
  • 12.9-in., 10.5-in., 9.7-in. iPad Air and later;
  • iPad, 5th generation and later;
  • iPad Mini 2 and later;
  • iPod Touch 6th generation.

[iOS 12 will also be pre-installed on the new iPhone(s) Apple unveils this fall.]

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UC Berkeley puts blockchain training online; thousands sign up

UC Berkeley in 2016 saw the potential for teaching about blockchain with a primary focus on bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies the technology underpins.

At the time, about 70 students signed up.

Next month, the university will kick off an online professional certificate program for blockchain, a three-month, two-part course focusing on cryptocurrencies and permissioned blockchains aimed at equipping students for careers in developing the distributed ledger technology for businesses.

So far, 7,400 students have already signed up.

"We've had other online courses that have done well, mainly STEM-related content... but I'd say this course's early results show very impressive enrollments," said Suzanne Harrison, director of design and development at UC Berkeley.

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Think of it as meeting the needs of the company

Flashback almost three decades, to when this pilot fish is hired as a systems analyst -- and gets an unpleasant surprise.

"When I started with this company, I nearly quit because there were so many meetings!" says fish. "I was told this was necessary to keep everyone informed about what the company was doing.

"After three years, our CIO held a large meeting and told us that, in order to empower us, we were to reduce the number of meetings held. So suddenly I found myself going for weeks without a single meeting.

"Fast forward a few years: We got a new CIO, who informed us that we needed to be in step with the company and to insure we were all informed they would hold meetings each week. More meetings were added, and soon I found myself attending meetings at the same frequency I was when I joined the company.

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Getting hands-on with industrial control system setups at RSA | Salted Hash Ep 31

Host Steve Ragan is joined on the RSA 2018 show floor by Bryson Bort, CEO and founder of SCYTHE, to talk about the ICS Village, where attendees can learn how to better defend industrial equipment through hands-on access to the equipment.

Mingis on Tech: What makes a 'Best Place' to work in IT?

There's a reason many of the organizations on Computerworld's latest list of the 100 Best Places to Work in IT show up routinely: They've realized that an engaged IT worker who's encouraged to think (and act) outside the corporate box is often a happy IT worker.

And happy workers are less likely to walk out the door, taking much-needed tech skills with them.

As Val Potter, Computerworld's Managing Editor for Features, explains, companies have found value in encouraging a healthy work/life balance; offering skills training and career growth; providing recognition and rewards programs; allowing for access to top management; emphasizing team work; and giving back to the community.

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Which Macs will run Apple's macOS Mojave?

Apple removed several years' worth of Macs from the list of supported systems when it unveiled macOS 10.14, aka "Mojave," earlier this month.

As the Cupertino, Calif. company has done before, its two-year cycle scratched out Macs that had been able to run the immediate predecessor, macOS High Sierra. Apple's odd-even cadence has alternately retained the prior year's models (odd-numbered years, odd-numbered editions) and dropped models (even-numbered years, even-numbered editions).

In 2016, for instance, macOS Sierra (10.12) struck 2007's, 2008's and some of 2009 Macs from support. Last year, High Sierra (10.13) stuck with the same models as Sierra.

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Win10 Update Facilitation Service joins Update Assistant V2 to make sure you get patched

You can look at the new KB 4056254 Win10 Update Facilitation Service and the re-emergence of Win10 Update Assistant V2 from two different perspectives. On the one hand, you have those poor hapless Win10 users who accidentally munged Windows Update. On the other hand, you have folks with bazookas and flamethrowers who want to keep some semblance of control over updating their machines.

Both groups now face two different Microsoft initiatives to reset Windows Update.

Susan Bradley was looking at some new KB articles over the weekend and stumbled onto KB 4056254, an announcement for a, uh, service known as the Windows 10 Update Facilitation Service. (If you have a hard time thinking of Win10 as a service, try wrapping your mind around the concept of a forced patching bulldozer as a service.)

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Apple’s iOS 12 will save thousands of American lives

Apple will introduce support for a new iPhone technology that will help save thousands of U.S. lives when it ships iOS 12, the company announced.

Help me, I’m here

The first 911 call was made on February 16, 1968.

Since then, usage has grown exponentially.

Today, over 650,000 calls are made in the U.S. each day, and over 200 million emergency calls are made in that country each year. Over 80 percent of these calls (handled by around 6,300 U.S. 911 call centers) come from mobile devices.

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Wait, how can you be unclear on the concept of HEAT?

Consultant pilot fish is called in to deal with this company's newly installed WAN network equipment. The problem: It's overheating in a big way.

But the reason turns out to be no big mystery after all. "The client had an old available computer room with a raised floor," says fish. "But it was quite dirty underfloor, and no cyber-cleaning was considered.

"The new nationwide network equipment and racks were installed. But to negate the problem of the cabinet's top-mounted rack fans dragging crud up from under the floor, it was decided to reverse the top-mounted fans to push the air down into the rack equipment.

"Wonder why there were massive heating problems?

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Good work, and good works, at Cloud for Good

For philanthropically minded people who have crossed into IT from the liberal arts world and want to work from home, Cloud for Good, the No. 1 small organization on Computerworld’s 2018 Best Places to Work in IT list, seems like a perfect employer.

The premium Salesforce.org partner is a B corporation, which means it’s a for-profit business certified by the nonprofit B Lab as meeting certain standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. It was founded by Tal Frankfurt, who learned Salesforce when he was working as a fundraiser, trying to better manage donors, participants and volunteers at a nonprofit for at-risk youth in Israel. Gradually, other nonprofit colleagues asked him about how to use the platform, and he started consulting.

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Pariveda Solutions: Everyone has a path to VP

Lots of companies talk up career development, touting their commitment to mentorship and training. At Pariveda Solutions, the goal is a bit more lofty: The 500-person management consulting firm promises to grow individuals to their fullest potential, including achieving vice president status after participating in a years-long, intensive grooming program.

Not every Pariveda employee wants to be a vice president, of course, and not every professional will get there. However, the company’s commitment to continuous learning and the development of IT talent with an eye toward leadership and business acumen, not just technical chops, is what sets it apart from other companies in the business. It also contributed to Pariveda’s ranking as the No. 13 small company on Computerworld’s 2018 Best Places to Work in IT list.

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Workday is a great place to work, and it wants to stay that way

It’s not much of a secret that Workday is a great place to work. In addition to being ranked by Computerworld as the No. 4 large company among the 2018 Best Places to Work in IT, last year it came in at No. 7 in Fortune’s list of the best companies to work. The challenge may be holding on to what has made the young company great as it grows.

The company, founded in 2005 by David Duffield and Aneel Bhusri, makes cloud-based software for finance and human resources. Both founders came from PeopleSoft — Duffield was founder and CEO, and Bhusri held several senior leadership roles. From the very beginning, the Workday founders placed heavy emphasis on several core values, the first of which recognizes the value of employees — it is committed to hiring the best and treating them well. That value was so important, in fact, that Duffield and Bhusri personally interviewed the first 500 employees of Workday.

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Plante Moran: One firm, one focus on innovation

What does it take to create a challenging and engaging place to work? According to Paul Blowers, CIO of Plante Moran, there’s no secret sauce, but there are a few critical ingredients.

Recognizing and developing staff, promoting growth and camaraderie, and encouraging individual freedom are among the top principles Blowers and other company leaders emphasize to nurture an inclusive culture for Plante Moran, a professional services firm with nearly 2,500 employees, 71 of those in IT. And those initiatives contributed to the Southfield, Mich., firm being named the No. 3 midsize company on Computerworld’s 2018 Best Places to Work in IT list.

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Dignity Health: Compassionate patient care and passionate IT

Hello Humankindness. It’s the branding campaign for Dignity Health, but it gets to the heart of the health care provider’s culture and serves as a rallying force to keep IT employees happy and engaged.

“Hello Humankindness is our brand promise — we invest in it, we believe in it as individuals, and we align the culture in IT with that premise that we are here for the patients,” says Deanna Wise, executive vice president and CIO for the fifth-largest health system in the U.S., with nearly 60,000 employees and an IT staff of close to 1,500. “We empower people and encourage them to engage and participate and solve things. They feel like they have an ability to make a difference, and that ability to make a difference fulfills them in their jobs.”

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Best Places to Work in IT 2018

What makes an organization a good place for technology professionals to work?

For the 25th year in a row, Computerworld has surveyed large, midsize and small organizations across the U.S. to find out which ones are the Best Places to Work in IT. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot about what the companies and other organizations that have made our 25 lists have in common. We’ve seen what goes into becoming a Best Place to Work.

Salaries, paid time off, health insurance and retirement plans all contribute. But the things that seem to really set organizations apart are benefits that reflect an attitude: We value our employees, we listen to our employees, we empower our employees, we want our employees to be challenged and grow professionally, and we want them to enjoy both their work and their personal lives.

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Here comes BYOSD (bring your own smart display)

It’s easy to dismiss the smart-display market.

A smart display is like an Amazon Echo- or Google Home-style virtual assistant appliance, but with a screen that can show visual results, rather than just spoken ones, and facilitate video calls.

Right now, the only smart displays you can buy are Amazon’s creepy Echo Look, an appliance whose main function is to watch you get dressed, and the Echo Spot, which looks like a bedroom alarm clock with a tiny screen.

Don’t worry. Help is on the way in the form of smart displays that are less concerned about your outfits and more concerned with offering all-purpose help with whatever you’re doing.

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Google moves to end website installation of Chrome extensions

Google this week began barring Chrome users from installing add-ons offered by third-party websites, the last steps toward making the company's own market the only available source for browser extensions.

"We continue to receive large volumes of complaints from users about unwanted extensions causing their Chrome experience to change unexpectedly - and the majority of these complaints are attributed to confusing or deceptive uses of inline installation on websites (emphasis in original)," James Wagner, the extensions platform product manager, wrote in a post to a company blog.

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Why has Apple put Mac users in the Mojave desert?

Dark Mode in macOS 10.14 Mojave looks really nice. I think Mac users will like it. But why has Apple chosen to leave the mountains to name the next-generation of its platform after a desert? With so many Mac users concerned about the future of the platform, is someone at the company trying to tell us something?

Your Mac life

Named after the Mohave tribe who once owned it, the Mojave desert has its own set of creation myths. The world was created there, and the brother of the subsequently murdered Creator led the people to a new way of life.

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Win10 (1803) declared 'fully available,' throwing Windows Update for Business under the bus

After 45 days in the unpaid beta testing phase, Microsoft surprised most of the patching world yesterday by declaring that Windows 10 April 2018 Update is ready for deployment in the enterprise. By doing so, Microsoft simultaneously raised the ire of almost everyone in the patching industry, demonstrated how out-of-touch its metrics have become, and completely destroyed the underpinnings of “Current Branch for Business.”

Win10 version 1803 entered the unpaid beta testing phase (officially known as the “Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) branch” or, previously, “Current Branch”) on April 30. Yesterday, Microsoft declared that Win10 1803 is ready for business deployment:

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Microsoft proclaims Windows 10 1803 enterprise-ready in record time

Microsoft on Thursday declared that the latest feature upgrade to Windows 10 is fit for businesses, marking the fastest transition yet from consumer-only to enterprise-ready.

"Based on the update quality and reliability we are seeing through our A.I. approach, we are now expanding the release broadly to make the April 2018 Update (version 1803) fully available for all compatible devices running Windows 10 worldwide," wrote John Cable, director of program management, in a post to a company blog. "Enterprise customers can ... fully deploy Windows 10, version 1803 when ready."

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