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Well, he was half-right -- it WAS plugged in...

Flashback to the late 1980s, when this IT pilot fish working for a large city's Board of Education gets a call about a green-screen terminal that has stopped working.

"Over the phone, all indications told me there was no power going to the terminal," says fish. "There wasn't even the 60-cycle hum you hear when the transformer is energized.

"But the caller confirmed that it was plugged in and there was power to the outlet.

"Off I went to visit the caller several blocks away.

"It was plugged in, all right -- to an extension cord. And the extension cord was not plugged into an outlet..."

Sharky would love to visit your desk to hear your true tale of IT life, but that's not in the budget. So send me your story at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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How deception technologies use camouflage to attract attackers | Salted Hash Ep 26
Host Steve Ragan reports from the show floor at RSA 2018, where talks with Chris Roberts, chief security architect at Acalvio Technologies, about the benefits and misconceptions of deception technologies.
Google details how it will overturn encryption signals in Chrome

Google has further fleshed out plans to upend the historical approach browsers have taken to warn users of insecure websites, spelling out more gradual steps the company will take with Chrome this year.

Starting in September, Google will stop marking plain-vanilla HTTP sites - those not secured with a digital certificate, and which don't encrypt traffic between browser and site servers - as secure in Chrome's address bar. The following month, Chrome will tag HTTP pages with a red "Not Secure" marker when users enter any kind of data.

Eventually, Google will have Chrome label every HTTP website as, in its words, "affirmatively non-secure." By doing so, Chrome will have completed a 180-degree turn from browsers' original signage - marking secure HTTPS sites, usually with a padlock icon of some shade, to indicate encryption and a digital certificate - to labeling only those pages that are insecure.

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Will Apple play nice with others to make Siri smarter?

We’re going to hear lots about embedded vision product development during the Embedded Vision Summit, but the first announcement may have implications for Apple's machine learning systems.

Apple and embedded vision

We know Apple is interested in embedded vision and machine learning following its acquisition of PrimeSense and introduction of ARKit.

We also know this because it has already placed embedded vision solutions such as scenes and items recognition within the Photos app.

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FAQ: Microsoft 365 explained

Microsoft has spent considerable marketing and promotional capital on its newest by-subscription suite, Microsoft 365, since late April, trumpeting it as the firm started to roll out the latest Windows 10 feature upgrade and continuing the huzzahs during Build, its annual developers confab.

Why? What's so important about yet another cluster of software?

Computerworld has an answer to that question, and many others, about Microsoft 365, the less-than-a-year-old effort that may define how the Redmond, Wash. company approaches the business of selling business software for the next decade.

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Businesses join to create enterprise standard for blockchain networks

A blockchain standards group made up of hundreds of businesses and tech development members has unveiled its first specification for enabling the development of peer-to-peer, decentralized networks explicitly for automating corporate transactions.

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) last week released the Enterprise Ethereum Client Specification 1.0, an open-source framework to speed business transactions, boost privacy for contracts and create a faster, more efficient business transaction workflow.

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Overboard

IT pilot fish at a maritime support company gets a call from a field employee whose laptop has been running slowly for some reason.

"After an attempt by the help desk to clean it off and speed it up, the employee called again," fish says. "He was asking to have a newer laptop that he had found at the project site reassigned to him.

"The machine had been left by a project engineer who had moved on to another project. Supposedly it had water damage, but seemed to be working. Oddly, it had never been returned to us, and just left at the project.

"It took a little research, but we found that the project engineer had been sent a replacement laptop, and hadn't been asked to return the brand new 'water damaged' one.

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Yet another bunch of Microsoft Surfaces don’t work with Win10 version 1803

Microsoft made Windows 10 version 1803 available for download - and pushed to “seekers” - on April 30. It started sending the OS out to the unprotected masses on May 8. Shortly after, we started hearing complaints from Surface Pro (2017) owners that the upgrade to 1803 froze their machines. By May 11, we figured out that Surface Pro (2017) hardware with Intel SSD6 solid state drives were failing because, somehow, somebody at Microsoft forgot to test them.

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Easy mobile security the Faraday way

Have you heard about those special bags, cases and wallets that protect your electronics from hack attacks?

It’s a signal-blocking container, basically a tinfoil hat for your gadget.

Tinfoil hats are associated with conspiracy theorists concerned about secret government mind-control programs. But when it comes to your wireless gadgets, they really are out to get you.

For example: It’s not a conspiracy theory to believe that companies you’ve never heard of are tracking your location.

In the past two weeks, we’ve learned that a company called Securus Technologies sold the real-time location data of millions of people. It got this data from another company called LocationSmart, which itself was buying the data from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

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What is blockchain? The most disruptive tech in decades

Blockchain is poised to change IT in much the same way open-source software did a quarter of a century ago. And in the same way that Linux took more than a decade to become a cornerstone in modern application development, Blockchain will take years to become a lower cost, more efficient way to share information between open and private networks.

But the hype around this seemingly new, secure electronic ledger is real. In essence, blockchain represents a new paradigm for the way information is shared and tech vendors and companies are rushing to figure out how they can use the distributed ledger technology to save time and admin costs. Numerous companies in 2017 began rolling out pilot programs and real-world projects across a variety of industries - everything from financial services to healthcare to mobile payments and even global shipping.

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Windows 10 Redstone: A guide to the builds

Microsoft never sleeps. Even before the Windows 10 April 2018 Update (version 1803) started to roll out, the company began work on the next major update to Windows 10, code-named Redstone 5 and due to be released this autumn. As it did with the April 2018 Update, Microsoft has been releasing a series of public preview builds to members of Microsoft's Insider Program.

What follows is a list of every preview build of Redstone 5, 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. After that you’ll find summaries of all the preview builds that led up to the Windows 10 April 2018 Update (Redstone 4), the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (Redstone 3) and the Windows 10 Creators Update (Redstone 2).

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Tech Talk: As GDPR looms, companies rush to comply

For many companies, GDPR has become a four-letter acronym.

The European Union's new General Data Protection Rule – which applies to virtually any kind of data that can be used to identify a person – goes into effect May 25. And companies around the world are rushing to make sure they're in compliance, or at least can demonstrate that they're hard at work trying to meet the EU demands.

GDPR is designed to protect personal privacy, (hopefully) make companies more secure from data breaches and force them to get their collective hands around all the data they collect, use and distribute. 

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Android apps: Best of the best

Trying to find the right app for any given area on Android is a lot like trying to order dinner at a restaurant with way too many options on the menu. How can you possibly find the right choice in such a crowded lineup? With the Google Play Store now boasting somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 gazillion titles (last I checked), it's no simple task to figure out which apps rise above the rest and provide the best possible experiences.

That's why I decided to step in and help. I've been covering Android from the start and have seen more than my fair share of incredible and not so incredible apps. From interface design to practical value, I know what to look for and how to separate the ordinary from the extraordinary. And taking the time to truly explore the full menu of options and find the cream of the crop is quite literally my job.

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Tech Talk: Prepping for GDPR
CSO's Michael Nadeau and Steve Ragan join Computerworld's Ken Mingis and IDG Communications' Mark Lewis to look at what the new EU privacy rules mean. They offer insights on how companies can prepare – and what happens if they don't.
6 tips for faster Apple iPhone charging

Apple will allegedly introduce a fast-charging system inside the box with every iPhone sold later this year. While we wait for this magical moment in iPhone history, I’ve put together six tips for faster charging using the technology you have.

What’s the rumor about iPhone charging?

Images purported to show a prototype of the new charging device began circulating this week. The illustrations (above) show the European version of the more powerful charging wall charger, which (it is alleged) delivers 18-Watts of power and hosts its own USB-C socket.

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Success at last!

This pilot fish changes jobs, moving from a small software company to a large state college -- and there's a bit of culture shock.

"It was summertime, which means daily thunderstorms in this part of the country," says fish. "Daily thunderstorms mean daily power interruptions. It didn't take long to discover that none of the computers in the IT department had battery backups.

"This surprised me, as the small company I'd come from had been using battery backups since the 1980s."

So fish asks around, finds out it's the hardware manager who's in charge of providing equipment and asks him for a UPS. "Sure," the guy says cheerfully, "it will just take a few days."

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Patch update: Monthly Rollup previews arrive for Win7, 8.1, along with updates for Win10 1607, 1703

We just got a smattering of patches that seem to be in the "Oh yeah, we forgot" bucket. Windows 7 and 8.1 received Previews (which you should never install, of course). Win10 1607 (out of support for Home and Pro on April 10) and 1703 got the usual laundry list of minor fixes.

I bet Win10 1709 and 1803 updates will be out soon.

Here's the roundup:

KB 4103713 - Win7 Monthly Rollup preview. Doesn't solve the network driver uninstallation bug, but does add a new "SMB1 access auditing on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1." You have to turn on the auditing with a registry change.

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Why Linux apps on Chromebooks are a really big deal (really!)

It may have gotten lost in the shuffle of all the Android P news at Google's I/O conference last week, but fear not, dear friends: Chrome OS has definitely not been forgotten.

Google's been making steady progress in advancing its Chromebook operating system over the past several months, particularly around its efforts to further align Android and Chrome OS and turn Chromebooks into all-purpose productivity machines and Android tablet replacements. Practically every week, in fact, there's some new and noteworthy feature being added into the platform (something we've talked about a great deal in my weekly newsletter as of late).

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How Apple’s iPad, Swift and VoiceOver teach the blind to code

Microsoft's Surface Hub 2 puts Teams collaboration at its core

Microsoft has unveiled its updated Surface Hub digital whiteboard, improving collaboration capabilities with software and hardware features.

The Surface Hub 2 - set to launch in 2019 - features a 4K, 50.5-in. multi-touch display and contains 4K cameras that rotate with the devices, integrated speakers and far-field microphones. The modular design allows for up to four Surface Hub 2 screens to be connected in portrait or landscape view, while rolling stands allow individual screens to be moved around office spaces.

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Solving a blockchain conundrum: Biometrics could recover lost encryption keys

Blockchain could one day solve the online privacy problem by encrypting or scrambling personally identifiable information and issuing each person a random string of bits – a private key – created explicitly for unscrambling their data.

The person holding the blockchain private key could issue various public keys controlling who has access to the personal data on the blockchain. So, for instance, if a car rental agency needed to verify you have a driver's license, you could use a public key to give them access to that information. You could later revoke access to that information.

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Throwback Thursday: Why comments were invented

Request comes to pilot fish to provide employee data for the company-wide address book. That's no big deal.

"Time to code: 60 minutes," fish reports. "Affected employees: 8,000."

Flash forward two years: Senior executives get new cell phones that should be able to import the company-wide address book. Problem: The phone numbers are formatted for human beings to use, not cell phones.

New request: Change address book format so cell phones can dial the phone numbers automatically.

"Time to code: 10 minutes to comment out old code and add new code," says fish. "Affected employees: 8,000. Employees who actually need this data: 10."

Now it's another eight months later: Senior execs decide they're bored with having the entire company directory on their cell phones.

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Lots of little Microsoft patches, but nothing for this month’s big bugs — and no Previews

Third Tuesday of the month and it’s time for bug fixes and Monthly Rollup Previews, right?

Well, no. May’s Third Tuesday brought a big bag of .Net Framework Previews, microcode patches for Win10 1803 and Server 2016, and a Win10 1803 upgrade nag, but no respite at all for the major problems introduced by this month’s earlier patches.

The .Net Framework Previews

Unless you’re testing your own .Net-based software to make sure it won’t explode next month, you don’t need to think about these. There’s the usual assortment of Previews for .Net Framework 2.0, 3.0, 3.5, 4.5.2, 4.6, 4.6.1, 4.6.2, 4.7 and 4.7.1 for all the usual versions of Windows and Server.

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What an Apple phishing attack looks like | Salted Hash Ep 32
How can you tell the difference between a legitimate email and a phishing attack? Host Steve Ragan shows what an Apple phishing attack looks like, screen by screen, showing the difference between the real and the fake.
FAQ: How Edge's Application Guard and isolated browsing work

Microsoft two weeks ago quietly added a security feature to Windows 10 Pro that initially was available only in the operating system's most expensive edition.

Dubbed Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG) - and linked to Windows 10's default browser, Edge - the anti-malware, anti-exploit technology was designed to make the Web a safer place for employees, an important goal in times when ransomware runs rampant and hackers pinch customer or worker credentials, or personal information, with near impunity.

"Now, like Windows 10 Enterprise users, Windows 10 Pro users can navigate the Internet in Application Guard knowing their systems are safe from common web-based attacks," Jason Silves, a program manager at Microsoft, wrote in an online post when the feature began beta testing late last year.

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(Insider Story)
Well, it's secure, all right...

This small IT consulting outfit gets a contract with a very, very big company -- which is a very big deal, says a pilot fish at the consultancy.

"On a daily basis, a large text data file needs to get loaded into a very fast database, and that information is used to deal or not deal with certain customers," fish explains. "And this all has to happen in real time."

The big client is very security conscious, and it won't let the consultancy download the data from the client's site. Instead, a third-party site is used, and access is through a secure connection with a totally inscrutable password.

And on the first day, everything works fine. The big client puts the data on the site and fish's company downloads the data, then keeps checking back periodically to see if anything has been added or changed.

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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 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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10 annoying things about Android P (that'll hopefully be fixed soon)

All right, gang: The honeymoon's officially over. We've oohed. We've ahhed. We've talked about Android P's most noteworthy productivity features. Now it's time to step back, get real, and talk about some of the software's less impressive elements — because the truth is, for all of its positives, Android P has an awful lot of, well, awful stuff.

Now, let's be clear: Perspective here is critical. This is only the first public beta of the Android P release, so these sorts of rough edges are absolutely to be expected. We'll hold onto hope that Google will iron out the kinks and get all these details fixed up and figured out by the time the final Android P software rolls around later this summer. Otherwise, we might find ourselves feeling a bit of Lollipop déjà vu.

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Location-based services move beyond mobile and into enterprise apps

GPS has been with us for many years, and this is what most consumers think about when they hear the term location-based services (LBS). While the satellite-based routing capability needed to help us get directions will remain an important capability for the foreseeable future, location-based services is morphing into something that is well beyond what the original creators envisioned.

Indeed, as we progress to a more autonomous world, the future will be driven by a required knowledge of location, both internally and externally to our immediate environment. This includes in-building and other enclosed spaces, something GPS is not capable of providing. Further, location will be used as a filter for providing many forms of additional related data. Knowing what’s around us is the only way we can operate autonomous “things” as well as mobile devices doing real work. Finally, the notion of what is a map is changing dramatically as high-resolution images, environmental factors, and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) capability make their way into location-enabled apps.

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Get a hands-on, inside look at the dark web | Salted Hash Ep 25
Reporting from RSA 2018, host Steve Ragan helps dispel the hype and confusion surrounding the dark web, as he talks with Alon Arvatz, co-founder at IntSights.
10 Apple accessibility solutions everyone should know

Apple is putting its weight behind Global Accessibility Awareness Day, taking the opportunity to point to its decades-long record in developing software solutions that make its hardware usable by everybody.

Tim Cook’s commitment to making products accessible to everyone

Earlier this year, Apple said:

“One in seven people around the world has some form of disability, whether that be a physical disability involving vision, hearing, or loss of physical motor skills, or a more hidden, invisible disability.”

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The best places to find Windows 10 ISOs

Installing and repairing Windows operating systems requires access to known, good, working and virus-free installation and supporting files. Typically, these collections can run into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of items, and are organized within a complex hierarchy of file directories (folders, in Windows-speak).

That probably explains why the ISO format, originally developed to capture the contents of an entire optical disc (such as a CD, DVD or even Blu-ray disc), makes such a good container for something as big and complicated as Windows. When you go looking for a Windows download for installation or repair nowadays, it’s quite likely that what you’ll find is best described as a “Windows ISO.”

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(Insider Story)
Smarter than you thought

Systems analyst pilot fish and his longtime programming partner are joined by a new hire, and it's soon clear that she has little grasp of systems -- but she does know how to throw lots of jargon around at managers.

"That insured that she was included in many meetings, which kept her too busy to program," sighs fish. "Because of this she soon became our manager.

"One day she called for a meeting, and my co-worker and I knew something was up due to her deer-in-the-headlights look. It turned out she had committed to design a system in six months that would track a product from when it was made to delivery to a customer.

"After she described it, my co-worker and I explained there was no way that could be done in so short a time. She frantically said we needed to put something together to demonstrate next week. Couldn't we just throw a web page together and hook up a database or something?!?

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5 Mac Terminal tips you’ll want to use

Apple’s Terminal application is supremely powerful on your Mac, and while you should be wary when using it, you can benefit from some super-useful Mac tricks if you do.

What is Terminal?

The Terminal application can be understood as a text-based user interface with which to control your Mac using command line tools. These are very powerful, and they enable you to change lots of the ways your Mac usually behaves.

Be warned

Terminal is unforgiving. You don’t need to fear it, but you should be very, very careful to use precisely the right code when entering instructions for your Mac — particularly if using any command including the word "sudo".

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