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May 2015

What Is Your Networking Doing?

If you have ever sit and watched your disk lights, or network indicator light blinking while you were completely idol, you may have wondered "what the heck is going on?"  A recent article on Packet Sniffing by Susan Bradley at Windows Secrets is really worth the read. Susan is an accountant who has gone completely over to the dark side and is a highly respected technology consultant, specializing in Microsoft server products.  Nice job Susan, we always appreciate your work.

Apple Releases Upgraded iMac and MacBook Pro

Apple has announced updates to its 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display lineup and a new $1,999 configuration of the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display, confirming a recent rumor that said new models of the computers would be released as early as Wednesday. The refreshed MacBook Pro and iMac models are available through the Apple Store, Apple Online Store and authorized resellers now.  An improved processor and graphics processor is included in the iMac with a new Intel i5 in the MacBook Pro. I would view this is more of a nice refresh for those needed to purchase, but, unfortunately, nothing really earth shattering.  We should also see a new X OS with the June developers conference but as of yet, mostly speculation.

 

Microsoft 10 Release 10122 is available

On May 19, 2015 Microsoft released its latest Insider Preview of Windows 10. There are a number of new features such as improved Edge, Start and Continuum improvements. For more detail read this...

Microsoft 10 Editions Update

Hopefully you have downloaded an Insider copy of Windows 10 and been playing with it. One of the benefits, as of this moment at least, is that Microsoft has stated that whoever get in on the Insider evaluations will be able to continue to use the software after its release at no charge and will continue to get early updates as they become available - so awesome for IT folks and those testing products before they go live.

Microsoft has just release information on how and what versions of Windows 10 will be available. Ed Bott's Blog at ZDnet article on this subject is a much better read than trying to tunnel through the Microsoft "legalized" version. For production use, IT professionals need to know the new licensing Network and Server license requirements for Windows 10. No more trying to use Home Edition at work to save a few bucks!!!

Microsoft Windows 10 Insider Preview

Microsoft has released Music Preview and Video Preview apps for Windows 10, which you can download here. Another highlight released in April, according to Gabe Aul's blog mail, is Microsoft Edge, aka Project Spartan, which is also available in the latest build of Windows 10 Preview, I am on Build 10074, and you should be too, as the older 9xxx builds expired mid-April. Be sure to check out exciting new features like built-in Cortana, ink capabilities, Reading List and Reading View. Microsoft is absolutely making the most of preview users comments and has accordingly renamed "Windows 10 Technical Preview" to "Windows 10 Insider Preview" to emphasize that fact.  The new name shows Microsoft's plan to  continue to offer Insider builds of Windows even after the release Windows 10 to the general public. Which is great, because tech support will get new code before the users and can better determine if there is application conflicts or network issues.

Those wanting to participate in the Windows 10 Preview (uh, Insider Preview) you can download the ISO from here. Remember this code is not for production yet, so use on systems that are less operations critical. I am running in a VM, as I do all my production systems as well, and it works great. In fact it is running under VMware Fusion on my MacBook Pro beautifully at the moment!

April 2015

Apple Watch Defect Slows Production

A defective key component of the Apple Watch prompted Apple to limit availability of the watch, the WSJ.com reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The part, made by one of two key suppliers, involved the Watch's taptic engine. That's the part that jolts the user's wrist, say when he or she has been sitting too long, or another notification comes in.

Apple relies on haptic feedback or touch in lieu of noisy rings to provide users with notifications that are less intrusive. According to the Wall Street Journal, some taptic engines supplied by AAC Technologies Holdings Inc., of Shenzhen, China, started to break down over time. That prompted Apple to scrap some finished watches. The report offers one possible explanation why some people must wait until the summer to get the watches they ordered, even though Apple began shipping the high tech timepieces on April 24.

Don't freak out to much, as this is not the first time we have had either hardware issues, remember the infamous iPhone "Antennagate" of 2010,or software issues, most users will not forget, or forgive, the Map diabolical of 2012.

With Steve gone, there is some support to a recent article that Apple was becoming more like Microsoft in that most Microsoft users joke about not buying version 1.0 of anything but waiting for at least version 3.0 for the product bugs to be worked out. Sad but true, it is a new age at Apple.

Looking for Java and JavaScript Programmer

I usually do not post job offerings, but I know there are a number of techs who visit this site regularly and I have a good friend who has had difficultly finding a qualified programmer. So, if you are a skilled Java and JavaScript programmer looking for a job I may have a solution for you. Full time, international company, good opportunity.  Contact me if interested and I will put you in touch. The position requires you to be on-site with the team, so you would have to locate to Kentucky or Michigan - as to pay and benefits, I have no clue, I will have them follow-up with you. Include your resume, experience, etc. and I will pass it along.

Spartan now in Windows 10 Pro Technical Preview

Windows 10 Pro Technical Preview Evaluation Copy. Build 10049 is out and ready for you to try. Not only is Cortana included,  but so is the new Spartan Browser is ready to preview at last. If you have not download the software yet, you can find it here https://insider.windows.com/. Note that Microsoft is distributing this as a preview copy only, warns about using in production mode, and when the final product is released you will have to update to that. The good news for nearly all Windows 8, and perhaps Windows 7 users, is that we expect Windows 10 to be free.

So far I am very impressed with Windows 10 and look forward to the final release. Perhaps less impressive is the Microsoft 2016 release. A few new goodies, but mostly tighter integration to the Cloud, Microsoft's Cloud, of course. And, I am currently previewing the Office for the Mac upcoming release and not at all happy with the responsiveness - hopefully that will get fixed before release. Office for the Mac is still not on par with the Windows Version - come on guys this is not rocket science, make them feature compatible!

March 2015

WeChat is all the rage in China!

 

My son-in-law Shane Howard, CEO, http://www.customcollegerecruiting.com/, just got back from Shanghai China, where he is working on recruiting young talent to play college ball in the U.S. It was a great trip and good things are ahead for CCR. But, as we were discussing the trip, he demonstrated the hottest App in China to me, called WeChat.  You can download from your favorite app store and then share your contact list to get contacts who use We Chat already. If you have none, which you may not in the States, find a friend to try it and and then share with others. I think you will like it as a real time chat and talk app. I have been using the Zello app, but it is pretty dated compared to WeChat, so I am giving the new app a spin. You can also download WeChat for your PC too, http://www.wechat.com/en/, Let me know how you like it, let me know if there is anything you don't like. Again, this app is pretty new to the US, so I am checking it out...

 

Android for Work and Samsung's Knox Attempt to Push Apple iOS from the Workplace

 

Apple displaced the much loved Blackberry as the mobile device of choice for business users. Now Google is attempting to push iOS devices aside with new features and functions targeting security and safety in the workplace. Announced this month, Android for Work adds new security and management capabilities, plus the ability to do corporate deployments of Android apps from the Play Store. Android for Work containers; which run business apps in a separately managed workspace on your device, are part of the Android 5 Lollipop OS and support any Google Play store apps. But Android 3.0 Ice Cream Sandwich through 4.4 KitKat requires users to install the Android for Work app, which can run only apps that have the Android for Work APIs implemented. Either way, you will need a compatible mobile management server to handle the policies applied to apps running in the container, such as enforced VPN use or copy-and-paste restrictions.

Samsung has been developing its own version of an Android security suite called Knox for more than a year and hope the take a strong portion of the business market. In both cases Apple is well entrenched and liked by the masses. Can't beat the Apps, and that is what the war is all about.

 

Bye Bye Internet Explorer

 

Microsoft has officially announced that it will discontinue Internet Explorer with the release of Windows 10. IE, as it is generally referred to was one of the most widely used Internet Browsers simply because it came free with the Windows OS, but it has never been a rich environment to work in was always considered a "me too" product. Now Microsoft has created a newer Browser to be more competitive in the new mobile device market.

 

Apple OS X is Susceptible to DLL Attack

As Apple computer market share increases, they are becoming more of a target for would be attackers. A new threat has been reported. The actual DLL hijacking vulnerability is an attack vector that has been used against Microsoft Windows operating systems since 2010. Now there is a similar attack that works against OS X by bypassing personal security products and even Apple's Gatekeeper. Gatekeeper is the built-in anti-malware technology that Apple has integrated into OS X since the 10.7.5 Mountain Lion release in 2012. According to the discoverer of the vulnerability, for DLL hijacking to work against OS X, all it takes is for an attacker to place a malicious DLL in a specific location on a system. He added that the attack is very stealthy and is able to abuse legitimate functionality in the operating system, making it difficult to patch against. Because Apple equipment seems to be the preference of higher-level, more affluant, users hackers are seeing this as a rich area to harvest.

Apple Declares Death to Ports - But How Will You Respond?

Apple just announced its latest MacBook, and it makes the MacBook Air look huge!. But if your one of those people who need lots of ports, this MacBook may be a shock for you. There is  only a single USB-C port and it does everything from charging, to sending video out and transporting data. Yes it is the only port on the computer meaning owners cannot charge the computer and an iPhone at the same time. It’s not possible to output video to a monitor and input data from an external drive. So plan on a hub and even those I found have limitations, especially if you are traveling.

I was glad they kept the MacBook Pro intact. This is my choice as I simply need more power. I use my laptop as a full powerful desktop workstation with external monitor and a 15-port USB connected to a Belkin Apple Dock.

 

How Fast Is Your Internet Connection?

 

The Internet will never be as fast as I want it. At least not until I can get my answer before I actually ask the question, but we are getting pretty good access across the country. But, maybe not actually what we are paying for or being told we are getting. Before you blame you computer, or your router for slow access - test your connection yourself. A recent article from www.windowssecrets.com tells you just how to do this.  I suggest you regularly test you speeds from your wireless and wired devices and if the speed is consistently slower than you expect try turning off your cable router, wait three minutes and then reconnect. Be sure to turn off all other routers and devices and then turn them back on after your cable router reboots so as to refresh all IP addresses. If speed continues to be less than the advertised rate you are paying for, give them a call.

 

Microsoft Releases Preview for Mac Office 2016

Microsoft, at long last, has at released a preview of the next iteration of its office software designed for Mac users, Mac Office 2016. Office 2016 for Mac is the company's first major Mac release since Office 2011, and it brings new versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as Outlook and OneNote with redesigned Retina-optimized interfaces, new features, and a heavy focus on collaboration and cloud integration. This release is free to use by all Mac users who download the software until mid-2015 when the product will be officially released. It appears that Office 2016 for Mac will only be released as an Office subscription product, meaning you have to renew each year to continue to use the product. So, those of you who want a one time only pay solution - keep your Mac Office 2011 disc handy.

What Apple Will Not Be Releasing This Quarter

We are all waiting for the Apple to release the Apple Watch and let us know all the promised features that will not be delivered. But what else is Apple not delivering? It seems that Apple will delay production of a larger display iPad. First, absolutely nothing is for sure from Apple, until Apple makes its official announcement, and so far we are dealing with rumors and "leaked" information.   Many users are excited about a 12.9-inch iPad, especially business users. However, having a larger iPad does not mean it will perform as, say a Microsoft Surface Pro in that it will be both a tablet and a laptop. Until the Mac OS and iOS are fully integrated (if that ever happens) it is still just a larger iPad. Apple has pushed the larger iPad release to around September, which makes sense as that time frame is also when they release updated iPhone versions.  Mid-year seems to be when new computer models are released and first of year for the Watch and other surprises.

February 2015


IF This Then That, Is One of My Favorite Tools.

I first talked about ifttt a few years ago when it first debut. At that time it was somewhat of a hackers tool meant for geeks to bridge between mobile and other applications. Today IF from www.ifttt.com is a very sophisticated app that is a free website and service that lets you automate simple tasks in your digital life, such as "if there is an upcoming event on my Google Calendar, then send me a text message reminder with the event name, time, and address," or "If someone tags a photo of me on Facebook, then save a copy of that photo to Dropbox." I strongly recommend you download IF from your favorite app store, or visit the website from your computer and get started. There are a number of canned "recipes", as IF calls them, or you can learn to quickly create a few of your own.  IF can be used by management or IT departments to create canned recipes that can bridge applications or create automated events. Amazing, wonderful tool, check it out. Click for review... 

How Can I Protect My Business From Cyber Attacks?

 

I am an avid viewer of Scorpion and waiting on CSI Cybercrime to begin in March. Not a surprise I know. It is not uncommon for my wife to lean over and ask me "Is that real? Can a hacker really do that?" More often than not, the answer is "yes, they can." As TV show writers become more tech savvy, and the news reports the "how" of current cyber crime events, hacking (meaning the bad use of this term) has become a much more accepted occurrence. You can purchase expensive anti-virus and anti-malware software, but I hope you understand that these tools alone will not protect you 100%. They are simply necessary evils that you must avail yourself of, because the courts might hold you liable for negligence if you choose to not install these applications, and thereby put individuals financial information at risk.  Just as Target and others have found out, having great security software installed - will not protect you. 

 

There is nothing I can suggest to keep you 100% protected. I do suggest that if you are a person with political connections - use them to get your representatives more active and stopping cyber crime by enforcing terrible punishments for committing the crimes to begin with. By the way, these are not high school geeks, hacker geeks, or even the cyber mafia. White collar cyber criminals are the most vicious and financially dangerous criminals out there. Just saying. Until law enforcement realizes that locking up cyber criminals is more important to society that petty drug arrests, we will get close to solving the real problems.

 

Now that the rant is over, what are some simple things you as a business owner can do to mitigate risk?  First, start with removing email services to anyone in the company who does not need it to represent your company and do their job. Anyone and everyone else can check mail on their phones, tablets, or wait until they get home. Heaven forbid! Those who do need to access email for business purposes should be held under very tight restraints. Start with an Internal Control Policy that office email and associated servers WILL NOT be used for any other purpose than business. If you do not take this first step - well you deserve what you get. What can I say. More that 90% of all mail attacks come from personal email. No one loves you, you have not inherited an fortune from that distant recently deceased relative, and no good deed goes unpunished, so you cannot help, for a small share, the Nigerian Prince who wants to smuggle millions out of his country.

 

Studies have shown that the millions (yes millions) of people who have been defrauded or generally ripped off via email were first of all victims of their own greed.  Anyone who expects something for nothing, will become a victim. The Internet just lets it happen faster and more often. You cannot stop what they do at home, but you can stop them from opening malicious mail at work and causing your systems to become infected.

 

Once you curb email, do the same for social networking at work.  Want to make more money? Get more work done during the day. People are as addicted to the likes of Facebook and Instant Messaging as Tobacco users of a generation ago. The problem is you are loosing more productivity to unwarranted Internet use during a work shift that you were to those frequent cigarette breaks.  In stopping the personal use of social media coming into your office servers and systems you also reduce potential attacks and malicious threats.

 

Finally, if it is not yours - don't connect it to your property. Businesses that are allowing employees and other users to connect their personal devices to company owned networks are wasting perfectly good money on security software, because you have opened the backdoor and every window you have in the office and hung out a sign that said "Come on in and steal our stuff!"

 

The times have changed! Employees have computers at home, they have personal devices that access the Internet, they do not need to connect via your network. They do however, because they know that the Internet is a dangerous place and it is safer for them to connect via your network, than use their own computer at home.

Yes, you need security applications and firewalls. That's a given. But your real threat is how you police how your people use your resources, and you can fix most of that yourself, for nearly free, and sleep a lot better. You need to create, and enforce viable Internal Control Policies and Procedures for doing so. The key word here is enforce.

At the end of the day, it is your business, your assets, your recourses, your future, your decision...

January 2015

Microsoft Gets Windows Right!!!

 

I know, I use too many exclamation points! But, I am flat out excited about Windows 10. I have been on the Preview for Windows 10 pilot program, with most of our K2 presentation team, since they rolled it out, and I have been working exclusively with Windows 10 since December when the beta release seemed to be pretty stable. I can tell you, I had to sit behind one of my older Windows 8.1 systems today, and it felt absolutely archaic. Microsoft hosted a review webinar of the next release of Windows 10, due in a couple of weeks, which should be the last update before it is rolled out to a much larger audience and for final distribution.

 

Besides talking about the new Cortana desktop interface, Microsoft's PDA Assistant that competes very well against Siri, they also rolled out lots of other new offerings. Least of all the news that Windows 10 may be last OS update you will ever need. They announced that Windows 10 will be free to nearly all legit owners of Windows 7, 8, and 8.1. Sorry Windows XP users - I told you to upgrade, didn't I? 


The new Microsoft Surface Hub, a dynamic tool for creating and sharing information of many types, was a great release as well, and I have to tell you, watching all those potential business applications running on Windows Surface Pro devices was also amazing. Actually running Xbox and gaming apps from the Steam Community, on a Windows 10 PC, was pretty outstanding as well. I am not a gamer - but I could be. Then, I considered a firm full of young CPAs playing Xbox all day and night and realized that IT had a whole new set of headaches. Assuming the IT folks aren't huddled in back playing themselves.

Besides being free, future updates of Windows 10 may be free as well. What seems to be Microsoft taking a move from Apple's playbook, this could radically change the way the OS is updated. Of course the other option is that Microsoft charges annually to use the OS, and if you don't pay, you don't play,  This could be a pretty radical move as well of being an example of a vendor taking subscription based software a little too far.

Microsoft's HoloLens - The Future Has Arrived.

Only a few days after Google quietly announced it was dropping its ill received Google Glass, Microsoft Announces HoloLens. A headset and API tool that allows you to create and place 3D images right into your world. This I predict will first revolutionize Xbox and other game enthusiast. But the potential for business and industry are mind numbing. From Holo-Malls, to Holo-Designs (wow, all these new words I can trademark!) This should be revolutionary. O.K., I have been in love with the idea of programming a 3D world since Star Trek's Holo Deck. Any when Microsoft announced HoloLens this week, I was so happy. While I liked the Holo Deck better, I can see wearing these goofy lens for a few years until the Holo Emitters are rolled out.

Lots of new stuff coming from Microsoft, it was obvious that the presenters were focused and that management finally had a direction. So far it looks like the right direction. Please, please - don't screw this up!

16 Things You Didn't Know Your New iPhone Could Do

Many of you now have iPhone 6 or 6Plus with iOS 8. Even if you have an iPhone 5s with iOS 8, you may be able to take advantage of a few of the new tricks.
BuzzFeed has a great list of some of the new features at your fingertips. Enjoy.

 

Laptop with Dual Monitors

One of my favorite attendee questions at my conferences (www.k2e.com), here is how one CPA solved the problem, check it out.


Bob's Blogs from previous years. 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 2013, 2014

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