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A flicker of excitement

Wed, 20/03/2019 - 10:00

Pilot fish is the non-IT IT guy for about 30 fellow cubicle farmers — the person the others turn to before calling IT with a problem. Comes one morning when fish is late, and one of his neighbors with a flickering CRT monitor can’t wait to ask for fish’s help. So when fish does arrive, he sees three guys from IT gathered around that flickering monitor, stumped. They have changed the monitor, the graphics card, the refresh rate, all to no avail. 

Fish enters his neighbor’s cubicle, moves his new desk fan one foot to the right, and — voilà! — the flicker is gone. 

The three IT guys all leave without comment.

Sharky is a big fan of true tales of IT life. Send me yours at You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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Facebook’s blockchain cryptocurrency could mean big money – and kill 'fake news'

Wed, 20/03/2019 - 10:00

Facebook is developing its own cryptocurrency for payments, according to at least two reports, a move that has the potential to make the social network billions of dollars while also helping to eliminate fake news and bots.

Although the social media giant has not publicly commented on reports from Bloomberg and The New York Times, it did acknowledge it's exploring the distributed ledger technology (DLT).

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What's in the latest Chrome update?

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 22:03

Google last week issued Chrome 73, an update that added support for desktop "Progressive Web Apps" on Macs and consolidated settings - both old and new - that let users opt out of Google's services.

Chrome 73 also patched 60 vulnerabilities; security researchers who reported nine of them were paid a total of $13,500 in bug bounties. Other flaws' rewards had not yet been calculated by Google.

Chrome updates in the background, so most users can just relaunch the browser to install the latest iteration. 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 process before presenting a "Relaunch" button. Those new to Chrome can download version 73 in versions for Windows, macOS and Linux from this Google website.

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As Teams turns two, Microsoft adds compliance and meeting features

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 16:50

Microsoft has unveiled a raft of new capabilities for its Teams collaboration tool, including customized backgrounds for video calls, live text captions and integration with its Whiteboard “digital canvas” tool. 

Those are just three of the features announced as part of a major update to the application at the Enterprise Connect event in Orlando, Fla. on Tuesday, alongside added security and compliance features. 

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3 areas worth watching in Android Q

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 16:16

Six days into its life, we're still trying to figure out what Android Q is all about — what will come to define this latest Android release and end up having the most impact on us, as nose-breathing mammals who rely it on to power our cellular telephony gadgets.

We won't truly know Q's defining features until the software's further along in its development and all of its elements have been revealed, but having used it for several days now, some intriguing areas of progress are coming into focus — areas where Google is clearly working on refining the user experience and, in small but potentially significant measures, turning Android into an even more effective productivity tool.

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Apple's new iMacs: Better for consumer and enterprise pros

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 14:49

Apple’s newly updated iMacshave plenty to offer enterprise and consumer users, not least its faster processors and much-improved graphics performance.

At the movies

It is interesting to note that Apple chose to announce these new Macs with nothing but a press release, even though they’ve not seen significant update since WWDC 2017.

This likely reflects the importance with which the company sees the launch of its disintermediated video streaming service in March 2019.

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BrandPost: Why Cloud Fax Is the Best Protocol for Rapid and Reliable Data Transfer

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 13:00

Why do so many people in the business IT community still make fun of fax?

And no, we’re not questioning whether fax is worthy of a few jokes.

Of course it is.

In an era of smartphones and instantaneous, cloud-based data transfer, most companies’ fax setups rely on paper, ink drums, and the twentieth-century telephone network. Ha, ha.

eFax Corporate

No, we’re asking why we still hear fax jokes at all (while people long ago stopped making snarky remarks about, say, mimeograph machines and tape recorders). Have you guessed the answer yet?

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When Windows 10 feature upgrades collide

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 10:00

A pair of Windows 10 feature upgrades will soon collide, with one just beginning to get traction on PCs as its successor readies for release.

It's unclear how Microsoft will handle the dilemma, which traces its roots to the debacle last year when the company was forced to pull the fall feature upgrade after it deleted user files without permission.

[ Related: How to clean up your Windows 10 act ]

According to AdDuplex, a Lithuanian company whose technology is embedded in thousands of Windows Store apps, Windows 10 October 2018 Update - 1809 in Microsoft's yymm labeling format - powered just 21% of surveyed Windows 10 systems as of Feb. 25.

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Heavenly tech support

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 10:00

Pilot fish is helping his pastor fine-tune the church LAN when he notices that the day-care facility next door has a wide-open and unsecured Wi-Fi connection.

Fish’s pastor wants to connect to the day-care center’s printer and print a document saying, “This is from your neighbors. You need to tighten the security on your Wi-Fi.”

Fish suggests that they instead print a document that says, “This is from God. You need to go to church. There’s a really nice one right next door.”

“Too bad the pastor overruled me,” says fish.

Sharky wants your true tale of IT life. If you can’t send it directly to my printer, email it to me at You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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How Apple is about to improve iWork

Mon, 18/03/2019 - 17:34

Many enterprise users will be interested to learn that Apple has introduced significantly faster iPad mini and iPad Air models – they may also be interested to learn about new features the company will soon introduce in Pages, Keynote and Numbers that make its free productivity suite even more useful for enterprise professionals.

iWork is about to become even more useful

Look around, and you’ll frequently find tablets, mostly iPads, in use in real-world business scenarios.

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Microsoft cheat sheets: Dive into Windows and Office apps

Mon, 18/03/2019 - 17:29

Need to get up to speed on the latest features in Excel 2016? Wrestling with an old version of Word? Looking to get more out of Windows 10? Computerworld’s cheat sheets are easy-to-use guides to help you navigate Microsoft's core productivity apps.

Here's a one-stop resource where you can find in-depth stories on several generations of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook for Windows, focusing on what's new in each major release. We've also got guides for SharePoint, OneNote, Microsoft Teams and Windows itself.

Microsoft's subscription-based office suite, Office 365, is continually updated with new features, and the company recently released Office 2019, its latest non-subscription office suite. We'll be publishing new cheat sheets to cover those products, but we're willing to bet that many companies and individuals will stay on older versions of the standalone software for some time to come. We've got you covered here.

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Slack rolls out enterprise key management, but has no plans for end-to-end encryption

Mon, 18/03/2019 - 16:28

Slack has given large business customers control over the keys used to encrypt and decrypt data created in its team collaboration application. 

The enterprise key management (EKM) feature was initially unveiled at the company’s Frontiers event in San Francisco in September, ahead of a closed pilot project; it is now available to all customers of Enterprise Grid, which is targeted at company-wide deployments at large organizations. 

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IBM launches global blockchain-based payments network

Mon, 18/03/2019 - 16:01

IBM today unveiled Blockchain World Wire, a real-time global payments network based on distributed ledger technology (DLT) for regulated financial firms.

The blockchain-based network will offer a new way for near real-time  cross-border payment exchange and international settlement. (The settlements can be done in five to 10 seconds.) The network is currently able to transfer funds to more than 50 countries using 47 digital coins backed by fiat currencies.

[ Further reading: What is FinTech (and how has it evolved)? ]

IBM claims its World Wire is the first blockchain network of its kind to integrate payment messaging and clearing and settlement on a single unified network while allowing participants to dynamically choose from a variety of digital assets for settlement.

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W-I-D-E area network

Mon, 18/03/2019 - 10:00

Pilot fish is working at the Washington headquarters of a federal bureau, one that may or may not do investigations, but one that definitely has offices all over the world.

Fish wants to print a document, but the color printer in his office area is out of toner, and none will be available until the next day.

So he opens the print manager, sees his printer in the list, and changes his print command to the next printer down. And he adds a page with his office room number, his phone number and his email, asking whoever finds the printout to contact him and let him know where to find the doc so he can pick it up. The next morning, there’s an email waiting for him: “This is the Legal Attache Office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. When can we expect you to come pick up your printout?”

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Microsoft OneDrive cheat sheet

Mon, 18/03/2019 - 10:00

Microsoft’s cloud storage service, OneDrive, can back up your personal and work files online. It’s built into Windows 10. With it you can sync files on your Windows 10 PC to the cloud and to your other Windows PCs, smartphone or tablet (with the OneDrive app for Android or iOS installed on either). It can even sync your cloud files to your Mac (via the OneDrive desktop app).

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(Insider Story)

What to expect at WWDC 2019 - Pt 1

Fri, 15/03/2019 - 11:31

Apple has announced WWDC 2019 will take place in San Jose, California, in early June. What can we expect to see at the show?

What is WWDC?

Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) is the company’s annual developer event at which its engineers speak with the company’s vast dev community, explain what’s new within its operating systems and provide deep insight into how its systems can be used to build third-party services and products.

WWDC 2019 is the thirtieth ever such event and is expected to host 6,000 people with thousands more watching news and talks from the show online.

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Echo chamber

Fri, 15/03/2019 - 10:00

Pilot fish gets a panicked phone call from the central control supervisor at a busy international airport. The VT420 dumb terminals are double-displaying every character typed, so that “exit,” for example, is being displayed as “eexxiitt.” Of course, when users hit Enter after typing “exit,” they get an error message regarding the unknown command “eexxiitt.”

The terminals are used to enter commands to do things such as starting up and shutting down the central control software — thus the panic.

Fish takes a look and sees that there’s a setup menu that lets you control the behavior of the terminal. One of the menu options — about three levels deep — is “Turn on Local Echo.” The sole purpose of Local Echo is to repeat each character typed on the keyboard.

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Windows 10 quick tips: Get the most out of Cortana

Fri, 15/03/2019 - 10:00

Microsoft's digital assistant Cortana is one of the major additions to Windows 10 — and it's a winner. Turn it on and Cortana alerts you to upcoming meetings; searches your PC and the web; tells you about the weather, news, and sports; and a lot more.

To help you get the most out of Cortana, I've put together some of my favorite tips for using it — including using Cortana to manage your Google Calendar, identify the music you're listening to, and track packages and flights.


  • This article assumes that you're already familiar with the basics of Cortana. If you want help getting started, see the Cortana section of Computerworld’s “Windows 10 cheat sheet.”
  • Keep in mind that there have been six major updates to Windows 10 since its initial release in July 2015. This article reflects how Cortana works if you’ve installed the Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809), so if you haven’t installed that update, what you see and read here may vary slightly from what you see in your version of Windows 10.
[ Further reading: Cortana explained: How to use Microsoft's virtual assistant for business ] Get a direct answer to your question

When you ask Cortana a question, it will typically show you the answer via a listing of web links; you then open the search results in your browser. That's what happened, for example, when I asked, "What was the coldest day of the year in 2015 in Boston?"

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Windows 10 to automatically uninstall faulty monthly updates

Thu, 14/03/2019 - 21:17

The next iteration of Windows 10 will self-diagnose start-up failures and if necessary uninstall recent updates to get the PC up and running, Microsoft quietly announced in a support document earlier this week.

"If Windows detects that your machine cannot start up successfully, it will try to diagnose and resolve failures due to disk issues, system file corruption, invalid registry keys, or other such causes," the document said. "If all these steps are unsuccessful and your machine is still unable to start up properly, Windows will determine if the startup issue was introduced after recent driver or quality updates were installed. If so, these updates may be uninstalled automatically to get the device back to a workable state.

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Android Q's quietly important improvements

Thu, 14/03/2019 - 16:10

Oh, hey! Wouldja look at that? Android Q is here!

Well, sort of: The first Q developer preview — apparently now being called a "beta" right out of the gate — landed with a thump on these rusty ol' nets of inter Thursday afternoon. The software is far from finished, of course; this is merely an early peek at what Google's cookin' up for its next big Android version, provided mostly as a way for developers to get a head start at preparing for the release's actual arrival later this year (sometime between July and September).

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