It was the iPad that put Apple in the enterprise

Apple’s iPhone has become pervasive in the enterprise, but it’s important to note that what really turned the company’s business computing fortunes around wasn’t the smartphone, but its bigger brother – the iPad.

The iPad sparked the IT revolution

Apple’s iPhone transformed the industry, but it is important to remember that when the company shipped the first iPad in April 2010, iPhones weren’t as powerful as they are today.

That year’s model was the iPhone 4, information about it was leaked when a prototype was left in a California bar and the release was marred by complaints about phone reception, "antennagate."

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Wonder if they'll ever tell HIM what's going on...

This IT pilot fish has been supporting a customer remotely through a VPN that's usually pretty solid -- but definitely not always.

"Every now and then it disconnected me randomly," says fish. "Then it continued disconnecting me repeatedly every 30 to 60 seconds.

"I went through the usual litany of rebooting, trying a different computer, trying a different network, etc. Every time I got the help desk involved, they pulled a bunch of different logs that basically just said 'disconnected' without any cause given.

"After several rounds of changes that miraculously fixed it, then suddenly stopped working again, the issue got escalated to a high-enough tier that an answer was forthcoming.

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When it comes to mobile, you pretty much have no privacy rights

As law enforcement continues to battle for access to mobile devices, police are being advised to not even look at a suspect's phone. The idea is that a phone that authenticates via facial recognition could fail to unlock for the officer repeatedly and then default to password/PIN.

This advice, contained in a series of vendor slides accessed by Motherboard, refers to iPhone's security lockout, which kicks in after five failed biometric authentication attempts. On the one hand, this could be an issue with FaceID. Unlike finger scans, it's hard to determine when one facial-recognition ends and a second begins. If someone looks at the phone and looks away and looks again, does that constitute two attempts? What if the person just looks at the phone for a relatively long time? Will the phone eventually conclude this should constitute more than one failed authentication attempt?

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Microsoft releases a big bunch of bug fixes for older versions of Win10

Remember how patches always came on Tuesdays?

Looks like we’re back to getting patches – sometimes large patches – on random days of the week. Let’s look at them chronologically.

Windows 7 Servicing Stack tag team

Microsoft has a mess on its hands because the Win7 update installer isn’t smart enough to update itself before installing new updates. I talked about that last week. Those of you still using the, ahem, most popular version of Windows have been treated to a roller coaster ride of behind-the-scene antics trying to get this month’s Monthly Rollup chicken to match up with this month’s newly refurbished “KB 3177467-v2” Servicing Stack egg.

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What we think we know about Apple’s Oct. 30 iPad Pro launch

Who sends out an invitation with more than 350 different image designs? Apple, that’s who, and this is precisely what the company has done inviting media to its next big iPad Pro and Mac reveal, set to take place in New York on Oct. 30.

'There's more in the making'

Apple on Thursday invited selected media to a special event at the plush surroundings of the 2,000+ capacity Brooklyn Academy of Music on Oct. 30 at 10 a.m. ET.

We’ve since discovered that more than 350 iterations of the brightly colored Apple logo image on the front of the invitation exist. The slogan is "There’s more in the making."

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Policies and paper trails -- our new best friends

This IT pilot fish works with lots of sensitive data -- and that means really sensitive, such as child abuse investigations.

"Until a few years ago, I had access to all that data, so I could write ad-hoc reports against it," says fish. "We 'systems' people were given access to everything, so we could troubleshoot application problems for the users.

"Then one day I was called into the CEO's office. He told me that according to the logs, I did a search against the Child Welfare data for a particular family on a date and time six months earlier -- and wanted to know why I did the search."

As best fish can recall, he was doing the search to troubleshoot a particular report that one caseworker was trying to run. To do that, he used his own workstation to duplicate the steps that the caseworker took to get to the error.

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Google's most enthusiastic users have good reason to be wary

If you're reading this column, there's a decent chance you're among Google's most enthusiastic users — y'know, the type of person who's super-tuned in to the company's latest launches and is always eager to try out the exciting new app or service of the moment.

And if you are such an individual, there's also a decent chance you're feeling a bit dispirited and let down right about now. The truth is, I can't blame you. I feel that way myself.

I'm not talking about the usual "Holy moly, Google's watching my every move!" kind of concern. No — if you're a Google superuser, you're well aware of the company's business model and the options available to you in that regard. What I'm talking about is the pattern Google has established of drawing its most dedicated users into new services with lofty visions and grand promises — and then, once said users have thoroughly invested in adopting those services and integrating them into their lives, changing its tune and abandoning the efforts entirely.

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IDG Contributor Network: What is now important in a new laptop and why you should care

I was at a huge monitor launch event put on by Dell (disclosure: Dell is a client of the author) in New York last week. One of the things they, and other OEMs spoke about was how millennials are avoiding companies that equip their employees with old out-of-date hardware. The report they showcased was at a firm that I’m not allowed to mention (it dominates its industry and should be easy to guess). At this firm they brought in a bunch of high-quality interns (top of their class kind of thing) and put them on a very visible project with deep implications for the firm. At the end of the project the firm was so impressed it generated offers for all the interns who promptly turned them all down. The reason was the firm had supplied the interns with old laptops and they didn’t want to work for a company that didn’t equip their employees with the best tools.

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Apple’s accessibility solutions are empowering lives

Accessibility matters, not just to humans but also to enterprises seeking to build diversity in the workplace. How much difference do Apple's accessibility tools make? I spoke to people who use these solutions to get a sense of their value.

Apple's accessibility features empower everyone

Apple makes a big deal out of accessibility.

This commitment has won it awards and recognition from major groups, including the American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and the National Association of the Deaf. 

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Throwback Thursday: Well, he was busy, OK?

Hurricane Ike's storm surge hits this Gulf Coast chemical plant and inundates it, reports a pilot fish working there.

The aftermath: lots of cleaning up -- and counting up.

"The total number of desktop computers was being earmarked to be written off," fish says. "But laptop computers were put on a list to be verified that the users had evacuated with their laptops."

That's the prescribed procedure. Turns out it worked pretty well, since all but one of the laptops made it out safely.

And whose laptop is the only one that's reported lost?

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Microsoft Patch Alert: October’s been a nightmare

This month’s bad patches made headlines. Lots of headlines. For good reason.

You have my sympathy if you clicked “Check for updates” and got all of the files in your Documents and Photos folders deleted. Even if you didn’t become a “seeker” (didn’t manually check for updates) your month may have been filled with blue screens, odd chicken-and-egg errors, and destroyed audio drivers — and Edge and your UWP (“Metro” Store) apps might have been kicked off the internet.

You didn’t need to lift a finger.

Worst Windows 10 rollout ever

Hard to believe that Windows 10 version rollouts could get any worse, but this month hit the bottom of a nearly bottomless barrel. Some folks who clicked “Check for updates” wound up with a brand spanking new copy of Win10 version 1809 — and all of the files in their \Documents, \Pictures, \Music, \Videos and other folders disappeared. I have a series of articles on that topic, arranged chronologically:

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Apple Watch Series 4: A review

Some say discretion is the better part of valor, which means the discreet yet useful Apple Watch Series 4 may be the bravest thing of all.

Apple's brave little watch

What is the nature of a wristwatch?

For most of us, it’s something we wear and look at when we need the time. A smartwatch adds an indefinable number of additional features, and at their best, these don’t get in our way and are there only when we need them to be.

That’s certainly the message when it comes to one of the flagship features of the watch, Siri.

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Back pay payback

This IT staffer is hoping his pay will go up after his annual review, but that depends on his manager actually doing the review, reports a pilot fish in a position to watch the story unfold.

"He finally got his review -- with the pay increase -- six weeks after the official deadline," fish says. "He received four weeks of retroactive pay at the higher level.

"When he went to question Payroll and HR about the missing two weeks, the mistake was identified and he received an additional week of retroactive pay at the higher level. That final missing week of additional pay was not received."

IT guy keeps pushing, and eventually the cause is tracked down. According to Payroll and HR, the review forms incorrectly list his anniversary date as a week later than it actually is, and his manager will have to push through the correction to the form.

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Thoughts on the ambition of Apple Watch

Siri Shortcuts, your Apple Watch, and various sensors and biometrics mean the wearable device will become critical to your identity, at work, at home, and at play.

The 'most personal device ever'

Apple has described the Apple Watch as its “most personal device ever.” That’s not just because it sits against your skin and you can purchase snazzy new watchbands for it; it’s also because its sensors assess all sorts of personal data about you:

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The Pixel Slate reality people seem to be missing

Reading coverage of Google's newly announced Pixel Slate — the two-in-one device that's both an Android-like tablet and Surface-like Chromebook — the clear and consistent theme you see is that Google just dramatically changed course with its computing vision.

I've lost count of the number of tweets, analyses, and hands-on assessments I've come across expressing that sentiment — that the Pixel Slate represents a whole new beginning for Chrome OS in terms of both its Android-reminiscent interface and its positioning as a best-of-both-worlds tablet platform.

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Leadership, demonstrated

This company's CIO has a shiny MBA to go with his limited grasp of technology, and he puts both on display in the series of weekly incident review meetings he decides to launch, says an IT pilot fish whose attendance is required.

"These meetings consisted of non-technical upper-management types grilling the poor techs over every detail of any failure during the previous week, from broken laptops to major software outages, with no regard to severity -- all were considered class 1 outages," fish grumbles.

"During a discussion about network latency and a failed router, the CIO blurted out, 'Is latency bad? Why do we have latency? Is this bad? Can we fix latency?'

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Stats make iOS a hard OS to ignore

The latest version of Apple's mobile operating system — iOS 12 — was released just a few weeks ago, and yet it's already installed on 53% of relatively newer iPhones (introduced since September 2014) and 50% of all iPhones. Bottom line: It's the fastest acceptance of any Apple OS.

This is more than a minimally interesting statistic. It illustrates the key difference between Apple mobile devices and Android mobile devices: Although there are more Android users on the globe, Apple's users are much more of a community. That means many things from an Apple marketing perspective, but for IT, it means far greater security.

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IDG Contributor Network: CEO Hans Vestberg is changing Verizon leadership to focus on 5G

It sounds like new Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg is making some serious leadership changes. I think this is exactly what he needs to do. The reason is his desire for Verizon to be a leader once again in the coming 5G wireless revolution. If they want to be a leader, not a follower going forward, then they need to make some serious changes. Good goal. Next question, will he be successful?

Over the last decade, Verizon has been a mixed bag of successes and failures. Over that time, they have generally rewarded investors and had happy customers. They are the highest priced competitor, but their network is no better than AT&T. They used to be a leader in the wireless and telecom space, but that was a long time ago.

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It looks as if Microsoft has stopped pushing this month’s Win7 Monthly Rollup, KB 4462923

A second bad driver — this one for audio — gets pushed out by Windows Update. Protect yourself!

Don’t know about you, but I’m well beyond fed up with all of the pushed Windows bugs. If you installed your Patch Tuesday patches last week like a good little lemming, Microsoft may have put you in an inescapable loop of blue screens, or turned off your audio.

If either of those plagues hit you, there’s a complex series of manual steps you can take to work around the problem, combined with two new patches that may help if you can get your PC to boot. That’s assuming you haven’t already bought a new machine, or taken the busted one in for repair.

First, the HP blue screens. I talked about the symptoms on Thursday: After installing the latest Win10 1803 or 1809 cumulative updates, HP machines sprouted WDF_VIOLATION blue screens. If you reboot, the BSOD comes back. Ends up that the BSODs weren’t caused by the cumulative updates — at least not directly — but were, in fact, caused by a bad keyboard driver update that was pushed out the Windows Update chute at the same time as the cumulative updates.

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Apple goes shopping

As we race to the close of the company’s fourth quarter, it seems pretty clear that Apple has taken some of its repatriated cash assets and done what anybody does when they receive a windfall — the company has gone shopping!

Acquisitions everywhere

In the last few weeks, we’ve seen/learned about:

That’s a heap of acquisitions/potential acquisitions spanning music, entertainment, data analytics, power management (and more), and machine imaging.

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The banana problem

This pilot fish carries his mobile phone in a pouch on his belt, so it's handy but he's not likely to sit on it.

"As I was walking home, I slipped and took a hard fall," says fish. "When I finally managed to get up, I found that my phone was now shaped like a banana.

"That's what insurance is for, I thought to myself. So I limped home, drove to the phone shop, showed the banana phone to the clerk and asked for assistance in filling out the insurance claim.

"The bubbly clerk said, 'Just dial this number from your phone.' I pointed to my banana-shaped phone and said, 'I don't think that's going to happen.'

"So Ms. Bubbly filled out the online insurance form. When she clicked the 'Submit' button, she pointed to the screen and said, 'This is the claim number. You will need this, so just take a picture of the screen with your phone.'

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IDG Contributor Network: Microsoft’s massive and important pivot to transparency

(Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author.)

I’ve been following Microsoft almost since its inception largely because the firm recruited me early on, but I never even went to the interview, and viewed that potential career path as my biggest “road not traveled” alternative life scenario. But up through most of last decade, Microsoft was defined by a uniquely hostile employee environment particularly at executive levels and an antiquated proprietary lock-in strategy like the one that almost took IBM out in the early 1990s. That has changed massively under Satya Nadella who aggressively moved to both eliminate the crippling and nasty culture inside the firm and to make it a poster child for open source and rather than fighting competing platforms and approaches like Linux, embracing them.

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7 reasons iOS 12 adoption matters to you

Apple’s iOS 12 is already installed on over 50 percent of actively-used iOS devices (iPhones and iPads): This is why it matters:

You get new apps first, and old ones get better faster

There are real advantages to developing for mobile devices. The market is massive and massively diverse. There are viable opportunities to create niche interest solutions.

Development takes time, of course: and one thing that sucks so much time and resources from small development teams is the need to test software against multiple hardware and software configurations.

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Why we love metrics

The company where this pilot fish works has had its share of death march IT projects, so it launches a big effort to improve estimating and project delivery.

"As part of that effort, project time would be recorded to provide baseline data for future estimates," fish says. "Everyone was also trained in function point analysis so there would be some consistency to project sizing."

Not surprisingly, some programmers don't like the idea of their productivity being closely measured. But the hope is that the result will be better project size and time estimates -- and a lot fewer death marches.

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Apple Watch Series 4: A review

Some say discretion is the better part of valor, which means the discreet yet useful Apple Watch Series 4 may be the bravest thing of all.

Apple's brave little watch

What is the nature of a wristwatch?

For most of us, it’s something we wear and look at when we need the time. A smartwatch adds an indefinable number of additional features, and at their best, these don’t get in our way and are there only when we need them to be.

That’s certainly the message when it comes to one of the flagship features of the watch, Siri.

To read this article in full, please click here

Review: Google’s Pixel 3 has looks and smarts but isn't the best for biz

It’s going much too far to say that flagship Android smartphones have all become the same, but the differences between their hardware have become pretty narrow. Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, OLED screen, Gorilla Glass — if you were buying strictly off a spec sheet, it’s become fairly difficult to make a mistake if you’re picking from among the top four or five phones or vendors.

As nice as Google’s Pixel 3 and 3XL are, though, you’d be hard pressed to make the case for them as ideal machines for the enterprise.

Oh, they’re pretty enough — glass-encased, with big OLED screens. And they’re certainly capable, with top-end components (great screen, responsive feel, and long-lasting battery) and AI features that enhance an already excellent camera. Definitely crave-worthy and worth showing off to your colleagues, who’ll be envious until the next shiny thing comes along.

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(Insider Story)

Review: 6 Android apps that track your business expenses

Traveling these days is a hassle, no matter why you're going, or where — and the necessity to track your expenses along the way just adds to the irritation. A good app, though, can make things a lot easier — not only during the trip, but afterwards as well, when you have to report it all to your (or your company's) accountant.

The following six Android apps help users track and report on their expenses. Some are strictly for business purposes; others can be used for both personal and work finance tracking. All of these have been updated within the last six months and have earned a rating of at least 4 out of 5 stars on Google Play by at least 100 users.

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Review: Windows 10 October 2018 Update delivers modest but useful tweaks

The big twice-a-year Windows 10 update is here ... except this time, it’s not so big. The Windows 10 October 2018 Update, a.k.a. version 1809, is perhaps the least impressive of the major updates since Windows 10 was introduced. It sports no big, new capabilities like Timeline, the flagship feature of the Windows 10 April 2018 Update. Still, it’s got some good sleeper features, a hidden gem or two, a few bombs, and a host of useful if not groundbreaking features.

The release will be rolled out to Windows 10 users in phases, so it might be some time before you see it arrive on your computer. In fact, the rollout was scheduled to begin on October 9, but after some users who upgraded to version 1809 reported problems including the loss of all files in their \Documents, \Pictures, \Music, and \Videos folders, Microsoft paused the rollout. If you want to delay the update even longer and then install it on your own schedule, here's how to block it temporarily.

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Why you should install macOS Mojave and how to use it

Apple’s macOS 10.14 Mojave is available now, and after months of using it, I think most Mac users should upgrade if they can.

The very quick TL;DR review

Mojave is an incredibly stable OS. It’s fast and mostly familiar — you should be flying through your tasks within a few minutes of installation.

A slightly deeper look

I’ve been lucky enough to have used Mojave for months. I have been using it on my Mac for all my work. I’ve encountered very few bugs — some third-party apps were a little unstable at the beginning of the test period, but it has been a long time since I encountered anything particularly egregious.

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Samsung's Note 9 takes DeX to a new level for business

Samsung's Note 9 flagship enterprise smartphone has arrived with a bunch of hardware upgrades that make it one of the most advanced smartphones ever, but enterprise users might be more interested in a clever upgrade for DeX, the innovative Samsung software that allows a smartphone to be paired with a TV or monitor for a virtual desktop.

galaxy note 9 s pen Christopher Hebert/IDG

The Galaxy Note 9's S Pen comes in new fashionable colors to match the phone.

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Review: 5 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)

Apple's VP of education writes on the future of teaching

There’s a pressing need to improve the traditional education system, bringing transformative technologies and teaching practices into play to boost active learning and create a framework that supports life-long education, argues Apple's vice president of education, John Couch, in his latest book.

Rewiring Education

Couch's Rewiring Education is a passionate criticism of many of the less-efficient aspects of current U.S. education policy. It looks at why the status quo fails so many students and how the manner in which they are taught in U.S. classrooms needs to improve in order to facilitate active, life-long learning.

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Review: 6 data recovery tools for USB flash drives and more

As USB thumb drives and memory cards have grown larger and cheaper over the years, it's become easier to trust more data to them. Cloud storage services notwithstanding, flash drives have remained a common way to store data and transport files from one computer to another — and it's all too easy to accidentally erase data from one or have it hiccup on you.

That’s where file recovery tools come in; they restore deleted files from hard drives and other storage devices. For this roundup, we tested how effectively six tools recover data from USB flash drives.

Most data recovery tools work similarly: Through their interfaces, you select the storage device (flash drive, hard drive, SSD, memory card) from which your files went missing. Then you pick another storage device (such as your computer’s own hard drive or SSD) where the recovery tool will save your recovered files to.

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(Insider Story)

Why two Apple HomePods really are better than one

Apple recently updated its HomePod software, introducing AirPlay 2 and support for stereo pairing. I’ve been using these features since they arrived, and this is what I think so far:

What are the improvements?

Apple’s iOS 11.4 update introduced HomePod 11.4, which brought two significant new features to HomePod systems: AirPlay 2 and stereo pairing support.

AirPlay 2

AirPlay 2 lets you control music playback around your home using Siri, HomePod and AirPlay 2 supporting speaker systems from third-party manufacturers. So long as all your systems are on the same Wi-Fi network, you get multi-room playback and controls.

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Review: The BlackBerry KEY2 gets things done

“You’re reviewing a BlackBerry?” my 16-year-old asked, incredulously. “What is this — the 1980s?”

First of all, kid, you need to check your timeline: BlackBerries first came out in the ‘90s, not the ‘80s. Second of all, well, yeah. Point taken. This is not a phone for teenagers. This is a phone for Getting Stuff Done.

BlackBerries are not cool. They may actually be the definition of anti-cool, although the company would vastly prefer the word “iconic.” When the folks from BlackBerry and TCL (the Chinese company that actually builds the device) debuted the phone for the press a few weeks ago, scarcely a sentence was uttered that didn’t include some form of the word “icon.”

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(Insider Story)

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

 

Windows Server 2019 remains in release limbo

Almost lost in the noise about Microsoft yanking Windows 10's latest upgrade from distribution was the Redmond, Wash. company's decision to do the same thing with the newest Windows Server editions.

Both Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server 1809 remained in limbo as of Monday.

"We have temporarily removed all media for Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server, version 1809," the company said in an Oct. 12 update to a blog post. "If you have already downloaded media, please don't install it and wait until more information is available to proceed. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."

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1,500 Windows 10 Insiders may have been bitten by file-deletion bug

Up to 1,500 beta testers may have had files deleted by a bug in Windows 10, all without triggering an examination by Microsoft, according to data from the company.

The bug, which erased user files in the Documents, Pictures, Music and Videos folders, forced Microsoft to take the unprecedented move of pulling the Windows 10 1809 feature upgrade from public distribution. Four days after announcing 1809's release, Microsoft barred access to the upgrade via Windows Update, told those who had installed it to stay off their PCs and warned users who had downloaded but not installed it to trash the disk image.

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It was the iPad that put Apple in the enterprise

Apple’s iPhone has become pervasive in the enterprise, but it’s important to note that what really turned the company’s business computing fortunes around wasn’t the smartphone, but its bigger brother – the iPad.

The iPad sparked the IT revolution

Apple’s iPhone transformed the industry, but it is important to remember that when the company shipped the first iPad in April 2010, iPhones weren’t as powerful as they are today.

That year’s model was the iPhone 4, information about it was leaked when a prototype was left in a California bar and the release was marred by complaints about phone reception, "antennagate."

To read this article in full, please click here

Wonder if they'll ever tell HIM what's going on...

This IT pilot fish has been supporting a customer remotely through a VPN that's usually pretty solid -- but definitely not always.

"Every now and then it disconnected me randomly," says fish. "Then it continued disconnecting me repeatedly every 30 to 60 seconds.

"I went through the usual litany of rebooting, trying a different computer, trying a different network, etc. Every time I got the help desk involved, they pulled a bunch of different logs that basically just said 'disconnected' without any cause given.

"After several rounds of changes that miraculously fixed it, then suddenly stopped working again, the issue got escalated to a high-enough tier that an answer was forthcoming.

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Linux apps on Chrome OS: An easy-to-follow guide

Google's Chrome OS platform sure isn't what it used to be.

The software that started out as a strictly web-centric entity — with everything revolving around the Chrome browser and apps that could operate inside it — is now one of modern computing's most versatile operating systems. Contemporary Chromebooks still run all the standard web-based stuff, of course, but they're also capable of connecting to Google's entire Play Store and running almost any Android app imaginable. And if that isn't enough, many models have recently gained the ability to run Linux apps as well.

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When it comes to mobile, you pretty much have no privacy rights

As law enforcement continues to battle for access to mobile devices, police are being advised to not even look at a suspect's phone. The idea is that a phone that authenticates via facial recognition could fail to unlock for the officer repeatedly and then default to password/PIN.

This advice, contained in a series of vendor slides accessed by Motherboard, refers to iPhone's security lockout, which kicks in after five failed biometric authentication attempts. On the one hand, this could be an issue with FaceID. Unlike finger scans, it's hard to determine when one facial-recognition ends and a second begins. If someone looks at the phone and looks away and looks again, does that constitute two attempts? What if the person just looks at the phone for a relatively long time? Will the phone eventually conclude this should constitute more than one failed authentication attempt?

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Why Microsoft and Google love progressive web apps

Progressive web apps just got real.

Though progressive web apps, or PWAs, have been around for about three years — an initiative mostly driven by Google — they got real this week when Google released Chrome 70.

The new version of Google’s web browser comes with a robust roster of new features. But the biggest news is new support for PWAs that work with desktop Windows. (Mac and Linux support should appear in Chrome 72.)

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Critics warn Microsoft it needs to fix broken update process

The latest fiasco to befall Windows 10 - Microsoft two weeks ago pulled the fall feature upgrade from distribution and urged those already with a copy not to install it - has triggered calls for the company to get its act together.

"Microsoft really needs to get a handle on this. They're running out of time," said Chris Goettl, product manager with client security and management vendor Ivanti, when asked his reaction to the show-stopping problem of deleted user files. "If Microsoft wants to continue down this track of the Windows 10 [rapid release] model, its upgrades and updates must be of better quality than they have been."

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Microsoft releases a big bunch of bug fixes for older versions of Win10

Remember how patches always came on Tuesdays?

Looks like we’re back to getting patches – sometimes large patches – on random days of the week. Let’s look at them chronologically.

Windows 7 Servicing Stack tag team

Microsoft has a mess on its hands because the Win7 update installer isn’t smart enough to update itself before installing new updates. I talked about that last week. Those of you still using the, ahem, most popular version of Windows have been treated to a roller coaster ride of behind-the-scene antics trying to get this month’s Monthly Rollup chicken to match up with this month’s newly refurbished “KB 3177467-v2” Servicing Stack egg.

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Tech event calendar 2018-19: Upcoming shows, conferences and IT expos

Tech Events

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What we think we know about Apple’s Oct. 30 iPad Pro launch

Who sends out an invitation with more than 350 different image designs? Apple, that’s who, and this is precisely what the company has done inviting media to its next big iPad Pro and Mac reveal, set to take place in New York on Oct. 30.

'There's more in the making'

Apple on Thursday invited selected media to a special event at the plush surroundings of the 2,000+ capacity Brooklyn Academy of Music on Oct. 30 at 10 a.m. ET.

We’ve since discovered that more than 350 iterations of the brightly colored Apple logo image on the front of the invitation exist. The slogan is "There’s more in the making."

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Policies and paper trails -- our new best friends

This IT pilot fish works with lots of sensitive data -- and that means really sensitive, such as child abuse investigations.

"Until a few years ago, I had access to all that data, so I could write ad-hoc reports against it," says fish. "We 'systems' people were given access to everything, so we could troubleshoot application problems for the users.

"Then one day I was called into the CEO's office. He told me that according to the logs, I did a search against the Child Welfare data for a particular family on a date and time six months earlier -- and wanted to know why I did the search."

As best fish can recall, he was doing the search to troubleshoot a particular report that one caseworker was trying to run. To do that, he used his own workstation to duplicate the steps that the caseworker took to get to the error.

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Blockchain to generate more than $10.6B in revenue by 2023

Driven mainly by financial technology (fintech) investments, blockchain has seen a fast uptick in adoption for application development and pilot tests in a number of industries and will generate more than $10.6 billion in revenue by 2023, according to a new report from ABI Research in New York. 

That revenue figure is expected to come mainly from software sales and services.

Driving much of the interest in blockchain are multinational corporations rolling out proofs-of-concept and pilot programs, moves that have bolstered the credibility of and investment in the distributed ledger technology, according to ABI Research director Michela Menting, the report’s lead author.

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Atlassian revamps Jira Software, adds roadmaps tool

Atlassian has overhauled its Jira Software Cloud issue-tracking application, adding a simplified user experience, new third-party integrations and a product roadmap tool.

The Australian company has been laying the foundation to update Jira for a while, breaking down the application, created in 2002, into smaller microservices and moving it to the Amazon Web Services cloud. The latest stage in Jira’s redevelopment is to modernize the user experience and interface.

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Google's most enthusiastic users have good reason to be wary

If you're reading this column, there's a decent chance you're among Google's most enthusiastic users — y'know, the type of person who's super-tuned in to the company's latest launches and is always eager to try out the exciting new app or service of the moment.

And if you are such an individual, there's also a decent chance you're feeling a bit dispirited and let down right about now. The truth is, I can't blame you. I feel that way myself.

I'm not talking about the usual "Holy moly, Google's watching my every move!" kind of concern. No — if you're a Google superuser, you're well aware of the company's business model and the options available to you in that regard. What I'm talking about is the pattern Google has established of drawing its most dedicated users into new services with lofty visions and grand promises — and then, once said users have thoroughly invested in adopting those services and integrating them into their lives, changing its tune and abandoning the efforts entirely.

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Windows 10 Redstone: A guide to the Insider Preview builds

Microsoft never sleeps. Even before the Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809) started to roll out, the company began work on the next major update to Windows 10, due to be released next spring. As it did with the October 2018 Update, 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, Microsoft is changing it up with the next release, which is code-named "19H1" (for 2019, first half) rather than "Redstone 6." What follows is a list of every preview build of Windows 10 19H1, starting with the most recent. For each build, we've included the date of its release, a summary of what’s in the build and a link to Microsoft's announcement about it.

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Office 365: A guide to the updates

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

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

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Apple’s accessibility solutions are empowering lives

Accessibility matters, not just to humans but also to enterprises seeking to build diversity in the workplace. How much difference do Apple's accessibility tools make? I spoke to people who use these solutions to get a sense of their value.

Apple's accessibility features empower everyone

Apple makes a big deal out of accessibility.

This commitment has won it awards and recognition from major groups, including the American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and the National Association of the Deaf. 

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Throwback Thursday: Well, he was busy, OK?

Hurricane Ike's storm surge hits this Gulf Coast chemical plant and inundates it, reports a pilot fish working there.

The aftermath: lots of cleaning up -- and counting up.

"The total number of desktop computers was being earmarked to be written off," fish says. "But laptop computers were put on a list to be verified that the users had evacuated with their laptops."

That's the prescribed procedure. Turns out it worked pretty well, since all but one of the laptops made it out safely.

And whose laptop is the only one that's reported lost?

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The best office apps for Android

The days of taking care of business exclusively in an office are over. You've got a powerful productivity gadget in your pocket practically 24/7, after all — and with the right set of apps, you can stay synced with the same spreadsheets, documents and presentations that are on your desktop and work with them seamlessly from anywhere.

Best of all? Achieving that level of connectivity on Android no longer requires a compromise. It's been a long time coming, but the bar has really been raised when it comes to office app quality in the Google Play Store over the past few years. The question now isn't if you can find a worthwhile set of office apps for your phone but rather which set of commendable offerings makes the most sense for you.

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What's in the latest Chrome update?

Google this week upgraded Chrome to version 70, following through on a promise made to disable automatic sign-in after users and privacy advocates complained about changes in the prior edition.

Chrome also sported patches for 23 security vulnerabilities as Google paid researchers $22,000 in bug bounties.

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

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Microsoft Patch Alert: October’s been a nightmare

This month’s bad patches made headlines. Lots of headlines. For good reason.

You have my sympathy if you clicked “Check for updates” and got all of the files in your Documents and Photos folders deleted. Even if you didn’t become a “seeker” (didn’t manually check for updates) your month may have been filled with blue screens, odd chicken-and-egg errors, and destroyed audio drivers — and Edge and your UWP (“Metro” Store) apps might have been kicked off the internet.

You didn’t need to lift a finger.

Worst Windows 10 rollout ever

Hard to believe that Windows 10 version rollouts could get any worse, but this month hit the bottom of a nearly bottomless barrel. Some folks who clicked “Check for updates” wound up with a brand spanking new copy of Win10 version 1809 — and all of the files in their \Documents, \Pictures, \Music, \Videos and other folders disappeared. I have a series of articles on that topic, arranged chronologically:

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Apple Watch Series 4: A review

Some say discretion is the better part of valor, which means the discreet yet useful Apple Watch Series 4 may be the bravest thing of all.

Apple's brave little watch

What is the nature of a wristwatch?

For most of us, it’s something we wear and look at when we need the time. A smartwatch adds an indefinable number of additional features, and at their best, these don’t get in our way and are there only when we need them to be.

That’s certainly the message when it comes to one of the flagship features of the watch, Siri.

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Back pay payback

This IT staffer is hoping his pay will go up after his annual review, but that depends on his manager actually doing the review, reports a pilot fish in a position to watch the story unfold.

"He finally got his review -- with the pay increase -- six weeks after the official deadline," fish says. "He received four weeks of retroactive pay at the higher level.

"When he went to question Payroll and HR about the missing two weeks, the mistake was identified and he received an additional week of retroactive pay at the higher level. That final missing week of additional pay was not received."

IT guy keeps pushing, and eventually the cause is tracked down. According to Payroll and HR, the review forms incorrectly list his anniversary date as a week later than it actually is, and his manager will have to push through the correction to the form.

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Review: Google’s Pixel 3 has looks and smarts but isn't the best for biz

It’s going much too far to say that flagship Android smartphones have all become the same, but the differences between their hardware have become pretty narrow. Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, OLED screen, Gorilla Glass — if you were buying strictly off a spec sheet, it’s become fairly difficult to make a mistake if you’re picking from among the top four or five phones or vendors.

As nice as Google’s Pixel 3 and 3XL are, though, you’d be hard pressed to make the case for them as ideal machines for the enterprise.

Oh, they’re pretty enough — glass-encased, with big OLED screens. And they’re certainly capable, with top-end components (great screen, responsive feel, and long-lasting battery) and AI features that enhance an already excellent camera. Definitely crave-worthy and worth showing off to your colleagues, who’ll be envious until the next shiny thing comes along.

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(Insider Story)