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Updated: 2 hours 36 min ago

Top-level executive support, redefined

8 hours 17 min ago

It's the late 1990s, and this multinational company's US division is developing a new system for its call center, says a pilot fish who's hired to be the systems manager there.

"The CIO and the cheapskate US division president clashed on the new custom system," fish says. "The CIO wanted to use the Oracle and AS/400 system that was being developed by the UK office, because it was being designed as a strong business application.

"The president wanted to use a system being developed in the Mexico office -- in FoxPro, which was already being phased out at most IT shops, and certainly wasn't enterprise-grade enough to develop the company's primary business application in."

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Mastering your Outlook inbox

8 hours 17 min ago

The truth is, I hate Outlook. But in the Windows environment, there's no better email, calendaring and contacts package than Microsoft Outlook 2016. When I think about why I hate the software, it comes down to a set of frustrations around key areas like a lack of focus on inbox management, a tacked-on search facility with a terrible user interface, and the absence of two-way syncing with non-Microsoft sources of calendars and contacts.

Conquer junk mail with SpamBully

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(Insider Story)

24 keyboard shortcuts Mac users need to know

Tue, 22/05/2018 - 21:25

I’m sure most Mac users know Command-C means copy and Command-V means paste, but there’s a host of other useful shortcuts that make a Mac user’s life much easier. I’ve assembled this short collection to illustrate this truth:


Closes the active window you are currently in. Use Option-Command-W to close all currently active app windows.

[ Further reading: 40 tips to get the most from your Mac (and macOS 'High Sierra') ]


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Slack adds Actions feature, highlights dev community growth

Tue, 22/05/2018 - 17:44

Slack users can now create action points directly from a message post in the app with the introduction today of a new Actions feature. 

Announced as Slack kicked off its first Spec developer conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Actions deepens integration with third-party apps such as project management tool Asana and issue-tracking app Jira. 

[ Further reading: 10 tips for preventing Slack burnout ]

An Asana task can be created by clicking on the context menu in the right hand corner of a Slack message, for instance; it will capture relevant data directly from the message menu such as due date, what needs to be done and the project involved.

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Will Android P lead to faster upgrades? 3 words to remember

Tue, 22/05/2018 - 17:33

Stop me if you've heard this one before: A new version of Android is right around the corner — and with it comes some lofty talk about how this'll finally be the year Android manufacturers start taking upgrades seriously.

That's the story with Google's upcoming Android P release, thanks to the software's integration of Project Treble — a new "modular base" for Android that makes it easier for manufacturers to process updates. In short, Treble keeps the guts of Android in their own standalone layer within your device's storage. The hardware-specific code needed to make the device run properly, meanwhile, lives in a totally separate lower layer. It's kind of like a fancy cake, only with less unsaturated fat than the kind you normally buy.

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WWDC: The evolution of Apple’s Siri

Tue, 22/05/2018 - 16:15

Siri became a built-in element of iOS way back in October 2011, when Apple announced its inclusion inside iPhone 4S and iOS 5. Apple’s AI has seen numerous improvements since then, so I thought it might be interesting to explore the evolution of Siri at WWDC since launch.

WWDC is important for the evolution of Siri

Apple’s big developer conference isn’t just about wowing the crowd with consumer-focused improvements, it’s also about sewing new seeds developers can choose to use to build their own solutions and businesses.

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

Tue, 22/05/2018 - 11:00

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 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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Google details how it will overturn encryption signals in Chrome

Mon, 21/05/2018 - 21:45

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.

[ Further reading: What's in the latest Chrome update? ]

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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IDG Contributor Network: Microsoft’s new Surface Hub 2: potential game changer for conference rooms

Mon, 21/05/2018 - 17:00

The idea of collaborative screens for conference rooms has been bouncing around for some time. The promise of integrating video conferencing and digital white boards into a single offering certainly looked compelling but adaption has lagged expectations. Much of this is tied to three problems, the solutions can be very expensive to buy and install, the devices can be very difficult to setup and use, and people are creatures of habit and current habits don’t include using digital white boards. This last has been particularly problematic because no CEO likes seeing expensive technology go unused yet that has often been the case after these things are installed.  

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Will Apple play nice with others to make Siri smarter?

Mon, 21/05/2018 - 16:40

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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IDG Contributor Network: Charter Spectrum Mobile joining wonderful world of wireless

Mon, 21/05/2018 - 14:32

Competition in the wireless industry is growing and changing. Comcast, Charter and Altice are moving into wireless. Comcast launched one year ago. Charter Spectrum is getting ready to launch in the next few months. Altice will do so next year. So, the wireless industry is under a new wave of competitive and transformational pressure. Let’s take a look at whether Charter and Altice will be as successful as Comcast in wireless.

Wireless could help Charter stabilize their customer numbers short-term and help show growth long-term. The question is, do they have the competitive fire in the belly that it takes to succeed in wireless?

Many companies like Facebook,, Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, Cox and others tried this several years ago and failed. This time around could be different.

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FAQ: Microsoft 365 explained

Mon, 21/05/2018 - 11:13

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?

[ Further reading: How to handle Windows 10 updates ]

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

Mon, 21/05/2018 - 11:06

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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Mon, 21/05/2018 - 11:00

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

Sun, 20/05/2018 - 19:42

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

Sat, 19/05/2018 - 11:00

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

Fri, 18/05/2018 - 22:39

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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Tech Talk: As GDPR looms, companies rush to comply

Fri, 18/05/2018 - 12:00

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.

[ Further reading: Will blockchain run afoul of GDPR? (Yes and no) ]

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

Fri, 18/05/2018 - 12:00

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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6 tips for faster Apple iPhone charging

Fri, 18/05/2018 - 11:36

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’ve got.

What’s the rumor?

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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