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 CTO.org - News Archive - February 9, 2018
Commentary: In an ad featuring the "Miracle on Ice" US hockey team from 1980, the players discover their forebears came from many different places.

Commentary: The speaker maker takes to Twitter to offer Apple a playlist. A very funny playlist. A very funny playlist you can't easily play on a HomePod.

A surprise settlement ends the case before it reached the jury. Here'-™s an inside look into how it went down.

Musk's intrepid Tesla Roadster, launched by SpaceX, is now being tracked by the Virtual Telescope Project as it ventures beyond the moon's orbit.

The Russian Federal Nuclear Center reportedly catches scientists trying to make money by using computing power to process cryptocurrency transactions.

A new project called "Shipping with Amazon" is reportedly coming soon, but some analysts don't see it as a big threat to shippers.

Elon Musk is betting big on the reliability of transatlantic shipping companies to meet his 2,500 car-per-week goal by next month.

That amazing one-off modern Lancia Stratos tribute from 2010 is finally getting a limited production run thanks to an ex-Pininfarina employee.

New hardware and software design will reduce the effect of Apple's performance management software on the iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus. The HomePod reviews are here, and AirPower could come in March.

Even as Apple and Google abandon the 3.5mm port, Samsung may stick to its guns.

Michael B. Jordan plays Marvel's best villain yet in this dazzling fusion of high-tech superheroics and gloriously unapologetic blackness. It's the Wakanda I want.

Jennifer Salke, who shepherded hits like "This is Us," will lead Amazon's Hollywood arm after its leader was fired following sexual-harassment claims.

A new chapter in space is under way. But there's more historical depth to Elon Musk's rocket dreams than you may realize.

This isn't the long-desired "dislike" button. Instead, Facebook is trying out a feature that lets some people mark comments as "offensive" or "misleading."

We got our hands on the limited-edition Note 8 that caused a predicament for Samsung and the Olympic Committee.

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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.


Apple'-™s HomePod ships today. If you have one, I believe you will be thrilled at the presence and sound stage delivered by the diminutive device. But the product also has some potential as an enterprise product, as business tech migrates to iOS.

Collaboration is complicated

Collaboration is a big word. It spans everything from email to presencing systems, conferencing and document sharing, team management, scheduling, secure messaging and more.


Last year's blockchain pilot projects are rapidly becoming this year's live implementations in a variety of industries, and even sectors that have until now been vexed by the distributed ledger technology are following suit.

Case in point: Governments, which are moving to regulate blockchain technology and the cryptocurrencies it underpins.

Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin" that live in open networks, have so far inhabited a " regulatory gray area, because there's no way for a central authority to track users. The distributed ledgers, however, are useful because they can enable cross-border transactions over peer-to-peer networks in real time, anywhere in the world '-" without a central governing authority such as a bank or credit card company.


This city's IT department has hired a contractor to help out on the help desk for a few months, and that's surfacing some longstanding problems, reports a pilot fish on the inside.

"The contractor is backfilling for a help desk technician," fish says. "He will be here for two to six months. HR wants to give him a Visitor badge instead of a real ID.

"HR and the parking manager also want him to park in visitor parking and pull a ticket that IT has to validate every day -- twice if he leaves for lunch."

IT management points out that this is silly and there must be a better way than adding extra time (and cost) to the contractor's work day to get parking validation.


Microsoft Office may be the de facto productivity tool for millions of workers worldwide, but it's no monolith. Rather than a single, towering smooth-black Office, there's a whole Stonehenge of options: Office on the iPhone, on iPad, Office on Android smartphones, Office on personal computers, Windows and macOS, Office with a handful of applications, Office with fistfuls'.

But when you get down to it, there are really only two kinds of Office. One, which most label Office 2016, is the stand-alone suite that traces its roots back to the last century. (Its successor is Office 2019.) The other, Office 365, is the subscription service that debuted in 2011.


Clear skies ahead
Smart apps for smooth business travel

Image by Thinkstock

It sometimes seems as if business travel is expressly designed to raise blood pressure. Cancelled flights, long security lines, or simply failing to puzzle your way through airport terminals or the city you'-™re visiting can throw a monkey wrench into your schedule.


Microsoft never sleeps. Even before the" Windows 10 Fall Creators Update" was rolled out, the company began work on the next major update to Windows 10, code-named Redstone 4. As it did with the Windows 10 Fall Creators 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 4, starting with the most recent. For each build, we've included the date of its release and a link to Microsoft's announcement about it. We've also kept the list of all the preview builds that led up to Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and the Windows 10 Creators Update, which are below the builds of Redstone 4.


Google's Chrome OS platform is on the brink of yet another potentially massive expansion. That much we've established.

What we didn't discuss in Tuesday's "Chrome OS takeover" column, though, was a significant secondary effect that could result from this coming evolution.

In case you haven't been paying attention, what we're talking about here is the ongoing alignment of Chrome OS and Android" and the fascinating changes that are happening as a result. In short, the presence of Android apps on Chrome OS is redefining the platform's possibilities and limitations. Those new parameters, combined with the accompanying advancements in hardware, are effectively turning the Chromebook into the next-gen "Android tablet."


I'-™ve been using a HomePod system this week. I'-™m planning to write more about it, but today I wanted to discuss what everyone considering connected smart home devices should think about first: privacy and security.

Your life on view

Smart home devices communicate with each other.

They also communicate with their manufacturers, and this means significant insights can be gathered by anyone who succeeds in monitoring this informational flow.


Every so often, Microsoft feels the need to turn its Windows support world upside down.

In 2016, it surprised users by telling them that PCs equipped with newer processors would only be supported by Windows 10. Older OSes, including the venerable Windows 7, would see their effective support lifespans shortened.

It must be time on the calendar for another disturbance in the support force.

Last week, Microsoft announced a slew of changes to Windows 10 support, again acknowledging that its rapid development and release tempo is still being resisted by its most important customers, enterprises.


Pilot fish at this big distribution center is called in to investigate a PC in the shipping area that -- according to the trouble ticket -- is "making a loud noise."

"When I arrived, I found an ancient PC with a monochrome monitor that was hooked up to a similarly ancient dot-matrix printer," says fish. "All of this was hooked up to a UPS that was shrieking due a dying battery.

"The computer had an old DOS-based menu that had been up for so long that the screen had severe burn-in and probably could have been read by people using their fingertips."

Fish types a few commands. The hard drive whirs and clunks and finally responds. The PC is running a version of DOS that's 20 years old.


Have you ever used a spreadsheet to track a project, emailing updated versions to your team members to keep them apprised of where things stood? Of course you have.(Insider Story)


Microsoft is ramping up efforts to win over customers from its cloud content storage rivals, offering free usage of OneDrive for Business platform in a new promotion.

Under the deal announced Tuesday, current customers of Box, Dropbox or Google can switch to OneDrive and use the service for free for the remainder of their existing contracts. The offer is valid until June 30 and is available for organizations that are not currently OneDrive for Business or Office365 customers. Those making the switch must also commit to moving a minimum of 500 users to the platform.


Many Surface Pro 4 customers are angry as hell. Not only are their screens getting the shakes; their batteries are dying prematurely and, in some cases, their TypeCovers turn into boat anchors.

Surface Pro 4 screen flicker problems persist. Per the Flickergate website:

We are customers of Microsoft who have invested $1500+ on new Surface Pro devices which have developed screen flickering, rendering the devices unusable. The flickering normally occurs 1 year after purchase when the warranty is already expired. This means that owners are forced to pay $800 for an out-of-warranty exchange from Microsoft. However, many users experience the same flickering on their refurbished Surface Pro replacements. " " 2000+ customers have complained on Microsoft'-™s support forums and this number is growing by the day. " However, Microsoft has not acknowledged the issue. " " We recommend potential buyers to AVOID surface pro devices until Microsoft has fixed this problem because there is a high chance that your device will become unusable within a year.


In response to public demand, iOS 11.3 introduces a new battery management system that puts users back in control of their iPhone.

Background noise

Apple faced fury (and multiple lawsuits) when it was revealed that the company has been throttling device performance on older devices.

Apple said this was to prevent unexpected shut downs as the batteries inside its products inevitably fade. However, many of even Apple'-™s most loyal users felt this built-in obsolescence was a step too far from the firm.


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BYTE is starting a new series, to bring back the issues you loved in print from 1975 to 1998. Initially we have the first two issues and four others from 1984, 1985 and 1986.

Security experts urge companies to implement two-factor authentication, VPNs, and graduated permission levels to better protect customer data from hackers.

Microsoft admits that it doesn't encrypt all server-to-server communications, opening the way for the NSA and others to access the data flow.

Affordable Care Act site has faced a relatively low volume of attacks, compared with other federal websites.

Google's Gmail app for iPad and iPhone gets new features and iOS 7's design language.

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels announces PostgreSQL database service, new instance types, use of solid state disk to speed I/Os.

As software eclipses hardware, it's dawning on enterprises that they need API programs. Here's where to begin.

Authors Guild's claim of copyright infringement gets shot down in a surprise ruling.

The goal is allow home monitoring devices and mobile health apps communicate more easily healthcare providers.

Google's personal assistant software gets upgraded to better manage owners' lives and understand natural language requests.

Android smartphones owners can now pay for goods and services by tapping their device to Isis terminals at 1.3 million locations nationwide.

LinkedIn pushes customized content with the integration of news curation app Pulse for desktop and mobile versions.

Hacker grabbed 860,000 passwords for fun, but promises not to leak or use them to harm people.

VMware wants to move into cloud computing? Guess what, Amazon's moving into desktop virtualization.

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Acer's Swift 7 is the thinnest laptop in the world.



HTC and Valve'-™s Vive was the first virtual reality headset that really made me jump on the VR hype train. Not only could you escape into virtual worlds, but thanks to its motion tracking sensors, your movement in the real world was translated into the digital. Like Facebook'-™s (FB) Oculus Rift, the Vive'-™s display resolution made individual pixels clearly visible in certain situations, killing any sense of true immersion.



CES 2018 had more than its fair share of wacky items and compelling gadgets, but one of the biggest trends to emerge, once again, from the popular tech expo was voice-enabled devices. And, of course, it was all about Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.



Here are seven items at CES 2018, some of which address legitimate use cases and some of which may be closer to mad-scientist territory.



At CES 2018, Sennheiser announced two new products that focus on recording or playing back 3-D audio.



Honda wants to change your perception of robots. And it's hoping to do so with four new concept robots.



At CES 2018, Ford announced it is working with a city in which it will operate its self-driving cars. The automaker wouldn't identify the city but did say how autonomous vehicles can change the way people live.



Intel is betting that Volocopter 2X will be one of the first passenger-carrying drones to operate in the U.S. A prototype of the pilotless two-seat helicopter-like drone was shown off at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.



AMD CEO Lisa Su told Yahoo Finance that the Austin, Texas-based computer and graphics chip company is quickly working to resolve and address a recently-discovered security flaw that affects AMD computer chips.



Nvidia rolled out a slew of updates for its GeForce line of gaming products at CES 2018 including massive computer screens and cloud game streaming.



It's hard to figure out which of the connected household devices on display at CES 2018 is worth buying, but it's even more difficult to know if they are secure from hackers. A security expert visits exhibits and tries to help.



Nicomi Stewart, a mother in Rochester, New York, is '-'disgusted'-" after an automated call sent to her phone from the city'-™s school district mispronounced her daughter'-™s name as a racial slur.



You may soon get to say a lot more on Twitter. The social media giant announced it is testing a longer character limit. The change will extend the current 140 characters to 280 for all languages except Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Users won'-™t see this change right away, though. Only a small percentage will be testing it at first, and according to the company, it is just a test and there is no guarantee this change will be available to everyone. Via Business Insider:" http://www.businessinsider. ...



Mac OS High Sierra (macOS 10.13)." As the new name suggests, it'-™s just a refinement of last year'-™s Mac OS Sierra. In fact," you" could sum up what's new in an article about as short as" this one.



Want to add some cool sound effects or music to your YouTube video (or any video)?



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