Computerworld
Will Apple Silicon slow enterprise Mac deployment?
Fri, 25 Sep 2020 06:55:00 -0700

Apple’s decision to migrate Macs to Apple Silicon opens up interesting opportunities for enterprise IT but also poses some challenges, not least of which is further balkanization unless the company ensures its products play nice with others.

The good, the bad and the FUD-ly

The good side of the move to Apple Silicon on enterprise Macs is better interoperability with those growing fleets of iPhones and iPads and the opportunity for new innovation.

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What is IFTTT? How to use If This, Then That services
Fri, 25 Sep 2020 06:18:00 -0700

You’ve no doubt heard of software as a service. Those who are deeply into IT will nod their heads in recognition when acronyms such as IaaS (infrastructure as a service) and PaaS (platform as a service) are tossed around, too. But here’s one “*aaS” you might not have heard of yet: everything as a service. And it’s the future, according to Linden Tibbets, CEO and co-founder of IFTTT.

But what exactly is IFTTT? And how does it relate to the idea of everything as a service? Here’s what you need to know.

What is IFTTT?

IFTTT derives its name from the programming conditional statement “if this, then that.” What the company provides is a software platform that connects apps, devices and services from different developers in order to trigger one or more automations involving those apps, devices and services.

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Tech event calendar 2020: Upcoming shows, conferences and IT expos
Fri, 25 Sep 2020 06:10:00 -0700

Tech Events

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Microsoft steps up Teams: Finally, the next generation of remote conferencing
Fri, 25 Sep 2020 03:00:00 -0700

Disclosure: The companies mentioned are clients of the author.

This week, I attended Microsoft Ignite, and one of the sessions that caught my attention involved Microsoft Teams. The video conferencing market has been gravitating to two main offerings of late: Teams and Zoom. Large companies often use Teams, while Zoom is more common with smaller companies, charities and individuals. 

Let’s talk about video conferencing, both from the perspective of the latest Microsoft Teams updates and what I expect to come next.

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Flashback Friday: You’re welcome
Fri, 25 Sep 2020 03:00:00 -0700

It’s sometime around the turn of the millennium, and this pilot fish is part of the small corporate IT staff for a regional engineering firm.

“Part of our job was general user support for the marketing and sales staff, most of whom were issued laptops to use,” says fish. “Of course, there was no training on how to use them.

“So one Sunday morning around 8 a.m., I get a phone call at home from one of our VP of sales gurus. He was sitting in a hotel room a good distance away, trying to access his email. Nothing worked, and he needed help now — never mind that we were not supposed to provide support from home or work overtime.”

But the VP doesn’t want to hear it, so fish starts troubleshooting, and soon determines that the VP’s hotel room has digital phones and his laptop has an analog modem.

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How to protect your privacy in Windows 10
Fri, 25 Sep 2020 03:00:00 -0700

There has been some concern that Windows 10 gathers too much private information from users. Whether you think Microsoft's operating system crosses the privacy line or just want to make sure you protect as much of your personal life as possible, we're here to help. Here's how to protect your privacy in just a few minutes.

Note: This story has been updated for the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, version 2004. If you have an earlier release of Windows 10, some things may be different.

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How to set up a work-from-home ‘office’ for the long term
Thu, 24 Sep 2020 11:24:00 -0700

Working from home is hardly a new phenomenon, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it an unplanned requirement for many office and knowledge workers. Even as the coronavirus crisis eventually recedes, many employers will have discovered that they don’t need large office buildings, and many employees will have discovered that they don’t need to be in the office every day or spend hours commuting.

But many people have set up makeshift home offices for the pandemic that won’t work well for the long term. In addition to having the right equipment, the physical setup — the ergonomics of the workspace — is critical, especially around avoiding repetitive strain injuries that a bad setup can cause. I suffered such RSI issues 20 years ago and narrowly avoided a relapse a year ago, so I know what it takes to get back to and stay in a workable status.

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10 hidden tricks for making the most of Android gestures
Thu, 24 Sep 2020 03:00:00 -0700
Windows 10 Insider Previews: A guide to the builds
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 16:45:00 -0700

Microsoft never sleeps. Even before Microsoft made the Windows 10 May 2020 Update (version 2004) generally available to users, the company began working on upcoming feature updates to Windows 10. As it did with version 2004, Microsoft has been releasing a series of public preview builds to members of Microsoft's Windows Insider Program.

After years of using “Redstone” in its code names for upcoming releases, Microsoft switched to a new format with version 1903, released in May 2019. The code names now use a YYH1/YYH2 format, with the YY standing for the last two numbers of the year and H1 or H2 referring to the first or second half of the year. So Windows 10 version 2004, which was released in May 2020, was code-named “20H1” (for first half of 2020). The next feature update, due in the fall of 2020, is code-named 20H2.

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Next perpetual version of Office to debut in 2021
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 13:51:00 -0700

Microsoft will create at least one more Office suite, the company said this week during its annual Ignite conference.

The next perpetual licensed Office will be released for both Windows and macOS in the second half of 2021, Microsoft said in a Tuesday post to a company blog.

Office's perpetual version is the one that a company purchases once with an up-front payment, typically as part of a volume licensing deal, rather than "rented" by paying monthly subscription fees. A perpetual license payment provides the rights to run the application suite as long as one wants, even long after Microsoft stops serving security updates if the user is willing to take risks. It can be installed on just one PC or Mac, and so is tied to that device, not to its current user.

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Google takes on Airtable, Microsoft Lists with Tables work-tracking app
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 08:39:00 -0700

Google has unveiled its take on the market for highly customizable work-tracking apps with the beta launch of Tables.  

Created in Google’s Area 120 project incubator, Tables combines spreadsheet and database functionality with a “no-code” approach that lets users create simple apps to meet individual needs. This could mean anything from a tailored timesheet forms to a support ticket queue or even serve as a lightweight CRM.  

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Microsoft's forthcoming Outlook for Mac should boost WFH
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 05:40:00 -0700

Microsoft has been watching what remote workers need and seems to have introduced some of these necessary features in the planned October release of Microsoft Outlook for Mac, which adds new tools, customizations and more for Mac users working in Outlook-based enterprises.

Feels like a Mac app

Microsoft moved fast to support Apple’s new operating systems this year, including the recent addition of support for use of Outlook (or Edge) as the default email client/browser on iOS and iPadOS 14.

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Pandemic gives VDI a new lease on life
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 03:00:00 -0700

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shift to working from home have brought about numerous technological disruptions, many centered around how organizations deliver IT services to their workforce. Technologies that were dabbled in before, like videoconferencing, have suddenly become standard practice.

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Wayback Wednesday: No good deed goes unpunished
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 03:00:00 -0700

This pilot fish’s post-college job for a credit card company largely involves typing data from telemarketers into a database and then printing out stacks of reports every night.

“One day, I got the bright idea to put my IT degree to good use and recommend putting the reporting data on the company intranet,” fish says. “That would save me the step of having to print and reprint reports every night at the end of my shift — and save a few trees.”

So fish develops a simple, cheap proposal: nothing new required except a new web server. Then he pitches the idea to his boss, who asks a lot of questions but eventually says OK. She pitches the idea to her boss, who green-lights it — so long as it stays within its tiny budget and actually delivers the benefits.

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Microsoft Teams gets custom layouts, new Together ‘scenes’
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 11:29:00 -0700

Microsoft will enable Teams users to overlay a presenter’s video feed when displaying content such as slides – part of its aim to improve meetings as the number of video calls rockets during the pandemic.  

The feature, due out later this year, is among a handful of updates to the Teams collaboration platform unveiled at Microsoft’s Ignite conference Tuesday. The company also highlighted enhancements to office-based meeting tools and new capabilities to promote employee wellbeing.

The custom layouts feature lets users place a video feed of a meeting presenter onto the foreground of a PowerPoint presentation,  thanks to the same artificial intelligence  segmentation technology used in Teams background blur and Together mode. This will enable meeting participants to view the presenter’s hand and face gestures, as well as allow for weather forecaster-style highlighting of content.  

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IT admins want one, and only one, Windows 10 upgrade annually
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 11:10:00 -0700

IT administrators voiced strong support for Microsoft's move to a fewer-than-two-upgrades-a-year Windows 10 cadence, even as many question the way the Redmond, Wash. developer has reduced the number of refreshes.

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Android 11's biggest letdown
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 08:55:00 -0700

Android 11's got plenty of good stuff going on, both on the surface and under the hood — but one of the release's most promising new additions is turning out to be one of its least compelling elements.

I'm talking about Bubbles, the long-under-development feature that first came into the picture as part of last year's Android 10 update but ended up getting pushed back to this year's release. If you haven't thought much about Bubbles since getting Android 11 (or since reading about the software, if you're using a non-Pixel phone and still waiting), well, I can't say that I blame ya.

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Apple’s Tim Cook shares his company's WFH experience
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 06:01:00 -0700

It still seems a little counter-intuitive that one of the world’s biggest technology firms was also one of the least amenable to remote working, but this, I’ve heard, describes the culture at Apple pre-COVID-19.

Now things have changed there, just as they have elsewhere.

Going back better

Speaking during a more extensive interview conducted at The Atlantic Festival, Apple CEO Tim Cook discussed his company’s experience around remote working, explaining that around 10% to 15% of company staff have been working at the office during the pandemic. The remaining 85% to 90% of Apple employees are currently working from home, he said, admitting that he does so himself, some of the time.

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How IT can keep remote workers’ Windows 7 PCs safe
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 03:00:00 -0700

In the time of COVID-19, with so many people working from home, it’s inevitable that many will be using Windows 7 devices. And that’s a big security problem for IT. As of January 2020, Windows 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft. That means no security patches — particularly dangerous at a time when many people are connecting to enterprise networks from their Windows 7 PCs.

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Maybe it’s therapeutic
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 03:00:00 -0700

This pilot fish is at a remote office to help a user, Barney, with a software problem, but he can’t help noticing that Barney periodically jumps in his chair. Fish finally asks Barney if he’s feeling OK, and Barney says he’s fine, but he periodically gets a mild shock from his desk.

It’s a mid-century steel-frame desk with a Formica top. This office has had some renovations, and fish wonders whether something was mis-wired. It’s not his area of responsibility as IT desktop support, but fish decides to just take a look.

Behind Barney’s desk he finds a large wire paperclip that had managed to contact the hot pole of a slightly loose plug in a power strip and the steel leg of the desk. As long as Barney’s contact was with the Formica desktop, nothing would happen, but when he brushed the steel trim around the edge, he’d get a shock.

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