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6 zero-days make this a 'Patch Now' Patch Tuesday (www.computerworld.com) 06/11/2021 02:27 PM

Microsoft this week pushed out 50 updates to fix vulnerabilities across both the Windows and Office ecosystems. The good news is that there are no Adobe or Exchange Server updates this month. The bad news is that there are fixes for six zero-day exploits, including a critical update to the core web rendering (MSHTML) component for Windows. We've added this month's Windows updates to our "Patch Now" schedule, while the Microsoft Office and development platform updates can be deployed under their standard release regimes. Updates also include changes to Microsoft Hyper-V, the cryptographic libraries and Windows DCOM, all of which require some testing before deployment.

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WWDC 2021: What we think we know about an M1X MacBook Pro (www.computerworld.com) 06/04/2021 12:37 PM

Will they, or won’t they? Business-class Apple users are waiting with bated breath in hopes the company will introduce a new breed of Macbook Pros based on M-series processors at Apple’s online WWDC event next week.

Why it makes sense

Apple only unveiled its plans to put its own processors inside Macs at WWDC 2020. One year later and you’ll find these chips inside the MacBook Air, Mac mini, the all-new and colorful iMac, and the 13-in.  MacBook Pro. This leaves just two Mac models without an M-series chip: The Mac Pro and the larger 16-in. MacBook Pro. (There are expectations Apple will add a 14-in. MacBook Pro to the line-up, too.)

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Why inquisitiveness matters as much as IQ (www.computerworld.com) 06/04/2021 07:00 AM

Tiger Woods and Roger Federer took very different paths to the pinnacle of success in their sports. Woods was a golf prodigy who was beating adults at the game at age five and who broke 70 on a regulation golf course before he was a teenager.

In contrast, Federer experimented with soccer, basketball, and various racquet sports before becoming serious about tennis in his early teens. He was winning national junior tournaments at 15.

David Epstein contrasts the two superstars in the introduction to his book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in A Specialized World. He notes that while early starters tend to advance more quickly, they are also more prone to burnout and emotional problems related to the intense pressure they experience at an early age. They can also become so invested in a defined skill that they fail to notice when the market has moved on.

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Patch Tuesday: The rules of updating Windows (and Microsoft apps) (www.computerworld.com) 06/07/2021 11:24 AM

Patch Tuesday week is that time of the month when I get verklempt, — excited,and in a tizzy over the release of this month’s raft of security updates. Will we get fixes for remote code execution attacks? Fixes for privilege escalations? Will we get…? Oh, you don’t get verklempt, excited, and in a tizzy? You actually dread Patch Tuesday?

Let me help you out. When you install updates from Microsoft there are some fundamental rules to keep in mind.

First, when patching you should never ever lose data. Several years ago, when Microsoft rolled out the feature release version of Windows 10 1809, some users reported losing files and folders during the process. The problem caused Microsoft to pause the feature update to investigate what was triggering the issue. As it turned out, the root cause was not the update — it was the timing and rollout of a feature in One Drive. As Microsoft noted in a blog post at the time, the culprits involved three different scenarios with Onedrive — in particular, a setting called known-folder redirection. Although the issues were not widespread, the damage and loss of trust in the Windows update process was immense; even now, users remember that issue when updates arrive. Microsoft revised the 1809 release to deal with the problem and loss of data did not recur afterwards.

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The smart worker's guide to using a Chromebook offline (www.computerworld.com) 06/07/2021 06:00 AM

Stop me if you've heard this one: A Chromebook is just a glorified browser in a box. Or this one: It's like a "real" computer but without all the good stuff — and it's practically useless offline.

You see where we're going with this, right? Those are all wildly inaccurate myths that have plagued Chrome OS since its start. To be fair, some of them did have nuggets of reality back in the platform's earliest days, when it was still a small-scale, beta-like project within Google. But for years upon years now, Chromebooks have been capable productivity tools that offer ample advantages over traditional desktop operating systems and work just as well as any other computers offline.

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WWDC: Apple digs deep to secure its platforms (www.computerworld.com) 06/08/2021 11:45 AM

Apple’s WWDC announcements included plenty for enterprise professionals. One area that deserves  particular attention relates to the variety of privacy improvements the copany is making, because they offer significant benefits for the security conscious.

Putting you in control of your data

The main thrust of Apple’s recent work on privacy is information. The argument is that everyone should know about data collection, what it means, and which apps collect what information — and have at least some understanding of how that data is used.

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Ransomware revisited: As attacks worsen, tried-and-true defenses falter (www.computerworld.com) 06/08/2021 07:00 AM

Beef? Beef?!

It’s come to this: a ransomware attack has come between me and my Wendy's quarter pounder! As much as I'd like to say that there's nothing to this problem for my favorite fast food lunch, I can't. A ransomware attack on the world’s largest meat processor, JBS, forced nine US beef plants to close their doors on June 1.

It’s not a laughing matter. If major companies such as JBS and Colonial pipeline can get hammered by ransomware, there's nothing stopping a low-life hacker from using Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) to take your business out.

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Google's 15 funniest flip-flops with Android, Chrome OS, and beyond (www.computerworld.com) 06/10/2021 09:00 AM

Now you see it; now you don't.

As any Android fan can tell you, Google's become a bit notorious for changing its mind. One day, we hear about how some new app, feature, or idea is the way of the future and the answer to all of our pressing problems — and the next day (or so it often seems), that notion is mysteriously gone and forgotten.

The best fickle flipples are when Google doubles up and does another 180 soon thereafter and ends up going back to the thing it initially sold us on and then abandoned. It's enough to make even the most stable tech enthusiast bemused and befuddled.

With a handful of fresh about-faces getting added into the mix in recent months, I thought it'd be a fine time to look back at some of Google's most memorable, amusing, and occasionally groan-inducing U-turns here in the land of Android and other associated apps and services.

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Microsoft's plan to remake Windows — what that might mean (www.computerworld.com) 06/10/2021 07:27 AM

Oh, great.

Microsoft is going to upend Windows again. Just great.

Come June 24, according to Microsoft, the company will unveil or display or reveal all or something or not much at all about the "next generation" of Windows, whatever it'll be called — say, Windows 10 21H2, Windows 10 something-something, Windows 11, Windows 12 or ... wait, we just got a massive headache. We need to lie down for a bit.

Scuttlebutt — one of the most underrated words in the English language — has been bubbling for months about Microsoft's next stab at Windows, at least concerning its user interface (UI) changes, the project dubbed "Sun Valley." Whether there will be substantial under-the-hood alterations or modifications, or a slew of new features and functionality, hasn't been made clear, even by those predisposed to speculate.

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WWDC: Why iCloud+ will help secure the enterprise (www.computerworld.com) 06/10/2021 03:22 PM

One of the biggest surprises of WWDC 2021 was Apple’s introduction of iCloud+, an upgraded version of its existing service available at no additional charge that provides secure emailing and VPN-style security for users.

iCloud just became a useful business tool

The introduction of these features will transform iCloud into a very useful remote business tool, though it will be interesting to see whether all these features will be available to enterprise folks making use of Managed Apple IDs for their business tools. For the present let's assume they will, given the deep value they promise to those in that sector.

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Podcast: WWDC 2021 recap: iPadOS overview, enterprise improvements and unnannounced iOS 15 features (www.computerworld.com) 06/10/2021 02:27 PM

Apple announced updates to its operating systems, including iOS, iPadOS and macOS at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday. iPadOS has new productivity features, but do the updates justify the company's decision to put an M1 chip in the iPad Pro? And although Apple previewed macOS Monterey, a Mac hardware announcement was noticeably absent. Computerworld executive editor Ken Mingis and Macworld executive editor Michael Simon join Juliet to recap WWDC, answering viewer questions and discussing enterprise improvements and unannounced new iOS 15 features.

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When making business decisions, think like a poker player (www.computerworld.com) 06/11/2021 07:00 AM

Pete Carroll must forever live with the consequences of a good decision gone bad.

On Feb. 1, 2015, Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks trailed the New England Patriots 28-24 with 26 seconds left in Super Bowl XLIX. Seattle had the ball second down and goal on New England’s one-yard line with Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch in the backfield. New England had the worst record in the league that year of allowing opponents to score within two yards of the goal line. All the stars were lined up to give the ball to Lynch and let him barrel into the end zone.

But to nearly everyone’s astonishment, Carroll called for quarterback Russell Wilson to pass. The throw was picked off by Patriots’ cornerback Malcolm Butler, who fell on the ball, enabling New England to run out the clock for a stunning and unlikely win.

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The needed evolution of videoconferencing (www.computerworld.com) 06/11/2021 08:47 AM

Disclosure: Many of the vendors mentioned are clients of the author.

I’ve been covering videoconferencing long enough to watch three significant efforts in the 1980s, ‘90s, and 2000s fail spectacularly for pretty much the same two reasons: proprietary hardware and software and too little interoperability.  You wouldn’t buy a cell phone from that only connected to another phone from the same vendor, right?  Yet, it is not unusual for the hardware and software from one videoconferencing vendor to only work with hardware from the same vendor. 

Though it seems like this market is stuck in the last century, times are changing. Lately, I’ve been working with hardware from vendors like Poly that work with both Zoom and Microsoft Teams. (Teams appears to be making moves towards Zoom, which is consistent with its current effort to embrace interoperability and open source. 

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Securing the Apple mobile enterprise takes context (www.computerworld.com) 06/11/2021 12:44 PM
Gmail for business: The best tips, time-savers, and advanced advice (www.computerworld.com) 06/08/2021 03:57 PM

Warning: If you're still using your inbox in its out-of-the-box state, you're almost certainly missing out on some promising possibilities.

Gmail has the potential to be a finely tuned, thoroughly polished framework for email-handling efficiency. The service is practically overflowing with helpful features and interface-enhancing opportunities. But by default, many of its best options and arrangements aren't activated or available — or always even easy to find.

It doesn't take much to change that, though — and to turn Gmail from a mess of untapped potential into a thoughtfully refined home for your business email needs. Check out my in-depth business user's guide to Gmail for a complete overview of how the service works and then browse through the more specific sets of tips below for even more advanced knowledge.

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BrandPost: 5 Ways Microsoft Can Improve the User Experience (www.computerworld.com) 06/09/2021 06:41 PM

Microsoft has revolutionized work for decades now. It’s thanks to them in part that so many organizations have continued to function despite the chaos of a global pandemic. Modern knowledge workers rely on Windows devices to communicate, collaborate, and simply work from anywhere; they are the backbone for the modern digital workplace. Indeed, research tells us that an overwhelming 90% of IT roadmaps are defined by Microsoft updates, policies, and technology.

Yet as a Microsoft user and expert, I can’t help but reflect on the gaps in Windows devices that have a negative impact on their users’ digital experiences. Not only that, they have also caused some of the worst security breaches and cost companies millions to maintain. And so, herein are my personal five asks of Microsoft to make a good experience, great.

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What's in the latest Chrome update? A JavaScript jolt from the new Sparkplug compiler (www.computerworld.com) 06/08/2021 12:38 PM

Google is claiming that Chrome 91, the version that launched May 25, is up to 23% faster than its predecessors thanks to a new JavaScript compiler dubbed "Sparkplug."

The speed improvements made to Chrome will also apply, if they haven't already, to other browsers that  rely on the Chromium project's technologies, including the V8 JavaScript engine. Microsoft's Edge is the most popular non-Google browser based on Chromium.

"An important component of delivering a fast browser is fast JavaScript execution," wrote Thomas Nattestad, product manager for Chrome, in a May 27 post to a Google blog.

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BrandPost: How to Modernize IT Support for Improved User Experiences (www.computerworld.com) 06/09/2021 06:39 PM

We’ve all heard: “It’s probably easier to just jump on a screen share and I can sort it.” Far from being the personal touch, IT support over screen share is just a terrible user experience.

As an end user, when I have a glitch that’s irritating enough to report to the service desk, it’s probably disrupting my work. But these remote-control sessions tend to be scheduled later – not when the user has the issue. They also tend to be challenging to schedule and highly disruptive because the whole process requires the end-user to stop working and make small talk for 20 minutes.

Also, consider just how intrusive it is as a method. In 2021, endpoints are increasingly personal – we’ve all got browser tabs open that manage our personal lives, as well as emails containing confidential information. Aren’t we all entitled to some privacy?

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6 noteworthy new Chrome OS features to keep an eye on (www.computerworld.com) 06/08/2021 10:01 AM

Google's Chrome OS platform is in a near-constant state of change — and that means there's always something new and interesting in the works or maybe even lurking quietly in a corner of your Chromebook and waiting to be discovered.

Chrome OS updates show up every few weeks, in fact, and if you keep a close eye on Google's virtual kitchen, you can find some pretty tasty treats simmering and sometimes even ready to sample.

Here are six such fresh Chrome OS flavors either under development or already on their way to a Chromebook near you.

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Asana adds features to reduce distractions, improve video chats (www.computerworld.com) 06/09/2021 03:18 PM

Asana today unveiled a host of new features for its work management platform, aiming to eliminate distractions and boost worker focus — with an emphasis on asynchronous video communication.

“The rapid shift to distributed work has fueled distraction and destruction for a billion and a quarter information workers, with messaging and meetings at an all-time high,” said Alex Hood, chief product officer at Asana, stressing that the new features better align worker attention with intention.

Asana's Video Messaging, for instance, is designed to help users cut back on meetings and minimize video fatigue; with intelligent My Tasks, workers can better prioritize tasks; and with a Smart Calendar assistant, users can better focus on what they're doing.

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WWDC 2021: 20+ improvements for enterprise pros (www.computerworld.com) 06/07/2021 05:34 PM

Apple’s WWDC 2021 announcements lacked the edge of last year’s Apple Silicon announcement, and the sad lack of MacBook Pro news is a tough pill to swallow for those hoping for new hardware.  But there was plenty of interesting news for enterprise professionals using Macs, iPads, and/or iPhones.

Here’s a short tour of what CEO Tim Cook and other execs talked up at Monday's event:

Think remotely

Apple’s staff has been working primarily remotely for over a year and the company faces justifiable pushback from workers who want to continue to do so, rather than returning to a culture of presenteeism.

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WWDC: Universal Control on the Mac and iPad explained (www.computerworld.com) 06/09/2021 08:16 AM

I’ve always found it frustrating that I’ve been unable to use the same mouse and keyboard to control both computers when working across an iPad and a Mac simultaneously. Soon, I’ll be able to do precisely that thanks to a new feature called Universal Control, which Apple introduced this week at WWDC 2021.

What is Universal Control?

Universal Control lets you use your keyboard, mouse, and trackpad across all your devices. If you want to use the trackpad on your MacBook Pro to control what you do on your iPad, or even on another Mac, Universal Control is for you. And Apple says it has designed the feature to be easy to setup.

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US IT salaries start to grow as jobs growth remains steady (www.computerworld.com) 06/07/2021 06:00 AM

As the US IT jobs market remains steady in its post-COVID recovery, salaries have started to increase as organizations struggle to fill some positions. That’s based on a survey to be releasd June 15 by IT employment consultancy Janco Associates. Janco provided Computerworld a preview of that survey.

That salary survey shows that IT executives in large enterprises are getting the largest salary boosts, with a median rise of 3.2%. IT execs in midsize enterprises are seeing median rises of 1.2%. For lower-level positions, IT pros do better at midsize enterprises than at large ones: Middle managers at large enterprises are seeing 0.6% boosts, while those at midsize enterprises are seeing 1.3% rises.

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The ins and outs of data recovery in Windows 10 (www.computerworld.com) 06/09/2021 06:00 AM

Sadly, there are many reasons why data stored on disk drives in Windows 10 can — and sometimes does — go missing.

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(Insider Story)
Note to IT: Google really wants its privacy settings left alone (www.computerworld.com) 06/04/2021 02:14 PM

The biggest difference in business models between mobile giants Google and Apple is that Apple sells hardware and software whereas Google sells information. So when Apple makes a big play out of protecting privacy—such as pushing back against encryption backdoors and government subpoenas—it's relatively easy for them. That's not primarily how they make money.

Google, though, has a business model that truly hates privacy. To Google, enterprise data privacy, along with consumer data privacy, is just something that deprives them of raw material that they can sell. In short, Google has to publicly say that it protects its customers' privacy while privately doing whatever it can to keep leveraging that data.

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Office 365: A guide to the updates (www.computerworld.com) 06/08/2021 05:45 PM

Office 365 and Microsoft 365 subscribers always have the latest version of Microsoft Office — currently Office 2019. They also get more frequent software updates than those who have purchased Office 2019 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 summaries of the updates to Office 365/Microsoft 365 for Windows, with the latest releases shown first. We’ll add info about new updates as they’re rolled out.

Note: This story covers updates released to regular Office 365/Microsoft 365 for Windows subscribers. If you’re a member of Microsoft’s Office Insider preview program or want to get a sneak peek at upcoming features, see the company’s “Release notes for Office for Windows Desktop (Beta builds)” page.

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Chewy Has Revolutionized Pet Care Customer Service (www.computerworld.com) 06/04/2021 10:05 AM

At the peak of the pandemic, pet shelters couldn't keep up with the demand of aspiring pet owners. But while it's great that so many people want to adopt, pet care is not something to jump into lightly. There are myriad challenges to adding a pet to your household, and with a job, a family, and a personal life to attend to, not everyone is fully prepared for all the work that comes with taking care of a pet. Fortunately, you're not alone.

The Pet Experts at Chewy have gone above and beyond opening a pet marketplace to become an invaluable resource for first-time and experienced pet owners alike. The people behind Chewy view pets (and pet parents) as family and are hopelessly devoted to providing the absolute best customer experience through every interaction.

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Windows 10 Insider Previews: A guide to the builds (www.computerworld.com) 06/08/2021 05:38 PM

Microsoft never sleeps. In addition to its steady releases of major and minor updates to the current version of Windows 10, the company frequently rolls out public preview builds to members of its Windows Insider Program, allowing them to test out — and even help shape — upcoming features.

Microsoft numbers Windows 10 releases using a YYH1/YYH2 format, with the YY standing for the last two numbers of the year and H1 or H2 referring to the first or second half of the year. So the most recent version of Windows is officially referred to as Windows 10 version 21H1, or the May 2021 Update. The next feature update, due in the fall of 2021, will be version 21H2.

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Nvidia Omniverse: Could it make today’s videoconferencing apps obsolete? (www.computerworld.com) 06/04/2021 06:48 AM

Disclosure: Nvidia is a client of the author.

This week, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang met with a bunch of analysts to talk about his Computex announcements, which weren’t as noteworthy as something he said at the end of his presentation. Jensen positioned Omniverse the same way he’d presented autonomous driving 20 years ago — as a worldwide game-changer.  Jensen was right about autonomous technology, which is redefining almost every form of transportation. And I think he is likely right again now. 

I think it is important because I doubt any of the videoconferencing vendors have this on their radar, yet it could make most, if not all, of their platforms obsolete. So let’s look at Omniverse and why it could make every videoconferencing product currently on the market obsolete.

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Windows 10: A guide to the updates (www.computerworld.com) 06/11/2021 04:04 PM

On May 18, Microsoft announced the availability of Windows 10 version 21H1, known as the May 2021 Update. But the launch of a major Windows 10 update isn’t the end of a process — it’s really just the beginning. As soon as one of Microsoft’s twice-yearly feature updates is released, the company quickly gets to work on improving it by fixing bugs, releasing security patches, and occasionally adding new features.

In this story we summarize what you need to know about each update released to the public for the most recent versions of Windows 10 — versions 2004, 20H2, and 21H1. (Microsoft releases updates for those three versions together.) For each build, we’ve included the date of its initial release and a link to Microsoft’s announcement about it. The most recent updates appear first.

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