July 6, 2017 brianradio2016

Oh, hi there. Welcome back. How was your 4th?

While most of us were mentally checked out ahead of the U.S. holiday weekend, an interesting tidbit quietly crept onto our phones. It appeared via an out-of-sight snippet in a new beta version of the Google app—the virtual brain that controls the Google feed (formerly known as Google Now), the Google Assistant, and other important Android functions.

As the sharp-eyed sleuths at Android Police first noticed, a string of code in the updated app plainly suggests Google is preparing for its Assistant to move beyond phones and Home and make its way into the world of Chrome OS. And let me tell you: That matters—more than you might think.

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July 6, 2017 brianradio2016

On Patch Wednesday of this week, Microsoft said it released 14 non-security Office updates, covering such fascinating topics as improved Dutch translations in Word 2013, Danish translations in Access, and Finnish and Swedish translations in Excel. Typical first Tuesday stuff.

Microsoft neglected to mention that it also shipped a fix for the bugs introduced by last month’s patches to Outlook 2010. Dubbed KB 4011042, the neglected fix appears to be a non-security patch that fixes bugs created by a security patch—a red flag for many advanced patchers.

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July 6, 2017 brianradio2016

Another day, another global malware attack made possible by a Microsoft security hole. Once again, attackers used hacking tools developed by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), which were stolen and subsequently released by a group called Shadow Brokers.

This time around, though, the late-June attack apparently wasn’t ransomware with which the attackers hoped to make a killing. Instead, as The New York Times noted, it was likely an attack by Russia on Ukraine on the eve of a holiday celebrating the Ukrainian constitution, which was written after Ukraine broke away from Russia. According to the Times, the attack froze “computers in Ukrainian hospitals, supermarkets, and even the systems for radiation monitoring at the old Chernobyl nuclear plant.” After that, it spread worldwide. The rest of the world was nothing more than collateral damage.

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July 6, 2017 brianradio2016

Sleek tablets and 2-in-1s get all the attention these days, but they still take a back seat to traditional clamshell laptops for outfitting business employees. Take Toshiba’s flagship Portégé X30 (technically called the X30-D), which combines peak performance with all the amenities that a traveling executive could want in a lightweight fold-open package.

I tested a souped-up X30 that costs $2,109 and includes just about every option available, from the high-performance Core i7 7600U processor that runs between 2.8GHz and 3.9GHz to its 16GB of RAM and 256GB solid state storage system. It also includes a 13.3-in. touchscreen that supports 1920 x 1080 resolution. (Toshiba doesn’t offer an X30 model with a 4K display.)

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July 6, 2017 brianradio2016

As Apple more and more morphs into a smartphone company (albeit a wildly profitable smartphone company), a number of products in the Apple lineup are being allowed to wither and die. Other products are ready for an imminent update. Here’s a list of Apple products that you shouldn’t buy.

July 6, 2017 brianradio2016

From the launch of the Free Software Movement in 1983, to the growing popularity of Java today, open source software is fast becoming a serious threat to proprietary software everywhere. By its very essence, open source fuels enterprising organizations, because unlike cookie-cutter solutions available from proprietary systems, it enables greater innovation and differentiation, helping companies stand apart and encouraging healthy competition at a lower cost.

Low cost and differentiation

It’s no wonder that many of today’s business and government organizations rely on open source software, such as Linux, as a low-cost alternative that can be customized to suit particular needs pretty quickly. In fact, it’s estimated that more than half of software acquired over the next several years will be open source. And we’re not only talking about operating systems and productivity tools, but also about smart software application tools like machine learning.

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July 5, 2017 brianradio2016

Microsoft’s browsers last month continued their free fall, again shedding a significant amount of user share, an analytics company reported today.

According to data from California-based Net Applications, the user share of Internet Explorer (IE) and Edge — an estimate of the proportion of the world’s personal computer owners who ran those browsers — fell by nearly a full percentage point in May, ending at a combined 23.2%.

May’s decline was the largest since January, and could signal a resumption of the precipitous plunge IE and Edge experienced in 2016, when the browsers lost more than 22 percentage points, almost half their total share at the start of that year, and ceded the top spot to Google’s Chrome.

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