Tag Archives: Microsoft

Tighten Up Internet Security

Over the past month, there has been a strange phenomenon. Companies, both large and small, started revealing that they had fallen victim to hackers who had compromised social media channels, websites, and online security. Everyone from Evernote to Microsoft had a story to tell. So the question is, are companies forgetting the importance of Internet security?

The surge started on social media, specifically Twitter. As most people with a Twitter account noticed, the beginning of February brought with it a fresh, new phishing attack. Through direct messages and the ploy of a possible questionable picture (“Did you see this pic of you? lol”), plenty of passwords and information were captured from both experienced social media professionals and the casual user.

Then another surge occurred, this time involving hacking into corporate Twitter accounts, such as those belonging to Burger King and Jeep. Whether due to poor passwords or expert hacking from accused group @DFNTSC, it was a PR mess for both companies. Naturally, as is the way with the Internet, parodies arose, with MTV and BET leading the charge and pretending to hack into each other’s accounts in a similar style to the legitimate hacks. Maybe they hoped to get a larger following (Burger King gained 30,000 followers in the hour following its hacking incident), but it was a rather obvious PR move regardless.

On a more serious level, companies like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Evernote have all recently reported security compromises. Some, like Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, claimed that no data was stolen, but all reported symptoms that suggest the attacks originated in malware from China. Twitter and Evernote, on the other hand, feared their own hacks so much that they had users set new passwords to make sure nobody fell prey to the attack.

The bottom line is, it seems that both companies and individuals might need a reminder that Internet security is not to be taken lightly. With the spotlight shining brightly on big data, companies with private information cannot afford to be hacked. So spend the money on better passwords, stronger firewalls, and a well-trained IT team, because this will not be the last wave of hackers. Consider this your warning.

Author: Zack Smith


Bill Gates Reaches Out with Reddit AMA

No matter where you stand in the Apple vs. PC war, the name Bill Gates means something. Actually, it means a lot of things, and being able to talk to the cofounder of Microsoft in real time about his current thoughts on technology and philanthropy is priceless to the many people who have grown to idolize the tech giant. So when Bill Gates appeared on Reddit to do an AMA (Ask Me Anything), the online community was ready with the questions they always wanted answered.

To make sure as many people knew about the AMA as possible, Gates posted a picture of himself announcing his handle and the soon-to-happen AMA. Additionally, a YouTube video was published to raise awareness of the event that answered some of the more popular questions, from “How much money is in your wallet?” to “Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?” ($100 and a horse-sized duck were the answers, for those of you who are wondering.)

Gates immediately weighed in on SOPA and similar proposals, giving his opinion but not taking a side. When asked about the ongoing Bing vs. Google competition, Bing was obviously his favorite. When asked to compare Windows 7 to Windows 8, the answer was “higher is better.” Other tech responses revealed that Gates’s current computer is a Surface Pro and that he still occasionally codes C, C#, and Basic. One of the most poignant responses of the session was Gates’s wondering why code has not gotten simpler and urging kids in school to start learning these programming languages.

But the bulk of the session was focused on Gates’s philanthropy work. On measuring the success of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates cites the progress that the foundation has made in reducing the deaths of children under the age of five. He considers the foundation’s greatest achievement to be the distribution of vaccinations for diarrhea and pneumonia. Half of the foundation’s money is contributed to global health issues like these and others, such as polio vaccinations. Following the thread, it is obvious that Gates’s passion lies in continuing his work to improve worldwide health and quality of life.

Gates is one of many famous people to participate in a question-and-answer session over the past year. Reddit’s following exploded during President Obama’s AMA before the Presidential Election in 2012, showing its communication value. Since then, the public eye has been fixed on the site, and influential people are using it to reach out to their fans and followers.

The Reddit AMA was a good portal into the mind of one of the most influential people this century has seen, and it showed both Gates’s tech savvy as well as his momentous work in improving the world. So what did the man who has it all sign off with when asked what was left on his bucket list? The only thing left to do: Don’t die.

We tend to agree. There is so much work left to do.

Author: Zack Smith

Top 5 Tech Stories

In the upcoming week, here are some subjects you may find yourself talking about:

Two Apple rumors: The New York Times published an article that said a 7-inch version of the iPad was in the works, and another source leaked an image of the front plate of the upcoming iPhone. If true, the new iPhone would have a 4-inch screen.

Yahoo has a new CEO, again: Marissa Mayer is replacing Scott Thompson. She was one of Google’s most well-known executives, in charge of Google location products, and has a big challenge ahead of her: making Yahoo relevant again.

Microsoft has updated Office: Earlier this week, Microsoft released Office 2013 (or Office 15). It is Windows 8–compatible and allows users to switch between two interfaces––desktop and touch––allowing it to be used on tablets, including Microsoft’s upcoming tablet: Surface.

Google’s self-driving car: This car recently passed its Nevada driving test, having been road-tested in Carson City and Las Vegas, and Google predicts it will be available in our lifetime.

Also in our lifetime, the Internet Cat Video Film Festival: The public is encouraged to nominate their favorite videos by July 30. The festival will take place on August 30 at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Author: Susan Hallinan

Meet Microsoft’s “App Store,” the Windows Store

In a blog post on Microsoft’s new Windows Store blog, Antoine Leblond, VP of Windows Web Services, introduces a laundry list of details on the new Windows Store. Here are some highlights:

  • Microsoft’s focus on making it easier to find apps and its focus on better economic returns for developers sets it apart from both the Apple App Store and Android Market.
  • The app page and catalog will be exposed to search engines and have deeper linking, improving users’ ability to search for apps.
  • An integrated “get the app” function allows a consumer using a Windows 8 machine to get an app from a website using a button displayed on the toolbar.
  • The Windows Store will offer market-specific app catalogs covering 231 markets worldwide with developer opt-in for any or all.
  • Enterprise app support will allow companies to manage enterprise apps or offer their solutions to the larger app market. Enterprises can also control end-user app access on Windows 8 devices.
  • The Windows Store will allow trials and subscription services for in-app purchases.
  • Microsoft promises a more transparent app approval process, with access to reasons for failing and app acceptance guidance in plain English.
  • New apps will receive 70% of profits, and after $25,000 in revenue, the share of profits will increase to 80%, the best return for developers across any platform.

This leads to an interesting question: If app stores killed the brick-and-mortar, boxed-software business model and the availability of high-speed Internet and the app-ization of everything (turning small functions into bite-sized apps to complete one thing pretty well on a mobile or semi-mobile device), what change will come in the future––the death of the web browser and/or significantly increased use of cloud services? Either way, companies that “appify” their services or who make new app-centric services or offerings for the marketplace have a future … but for how long? As adoption continues and smart mobile devices penetrate deeper into every consumer lifestyle, “old” tech like the websites and native desktop apps we have come to know and expect will be the minority and the app-centric functions tied to cloud processing and storage will represent the future. Regardless, the Windows Store will take Microsoft, the leader in worldwide OS installs, into a stronger position in the marketplace by learning from some of the missteps and downfalls of the other app store ventures.

Look for the Microsoft Windows Store in late February 2012, when Windows 8 Beta hits the scene.

Author: John Carew

Technology News

In the upcoming week, these are some subjects you may find yourself talking about:

AT&T has activated its LTE (4G) service in New York City. When AT&T made an announcement earlier this month, it said that the rollout would begin very soon, but some users have noticed the LTE icon on their phones. AT&T has not announced the release, so the LTE connection may be temporary. This will not be changing the lives of people with 3G-only compatible phones, which includes all iPhones, but the new batch of Android phones will be able to take advantage of the blazing-fast speeds.

Google announced that its “Ice Cream Sandwich” operating system will be included in the much-anticipated Galaxy launch on December 8. This will be the last mobile operating system to have a mobile Flash feature. I think this is an interesting turn of events, considering Adobe very recently announced that Flash is being discontinued––I did not think its end would come so soon.

Microsoft is moving away from its disastrous XP operating system, announcing that as of 2014 it will no longer issue security or software updates. At the same time, it offered previews of its Windows 8 operating system. Microsoft, like other software companies, is thinking past the PC, and the new operating system will be usable on tablets and mobile devices.

Author: Susan Hallinan

Microsoft’s High Hopes for Windows 8

On June 1, Mike Angiulo, corporate VP of Windows Planning, stated that Windows 8 offers “huge opportunities for our hardware partners to innovate with new PC designs.” Innovation, on a PC running Windows? The Windows market has not seen any real innovation between hardware and software since Windows 98 in 1998. Other leaders in the personal computer market, specifically Apple, have provided innovative interaction between hardware and software with virtually every major new release. Microsoft’s Windows 8 venture presents a few interesting technical points that are worth considering:

Multi-Device Support
Windows 8 is expected to support touch-friendly interfaces flawlessly across tablets, desktops, and laptops. This is the first significant push by a software company to move a mobile OS to non-mobile hardware.

Supports Dual-Processing Architectures
According to Microsoft’s Angiulo, Windows 8 will support both x86- and ARM-based architectures.

Legacy Hardware Support
Based on the information presented on June 1, it appears that Windows 8 will be supported by legacy Windows 7 hardware. In addition, Windows 8 will already have many of the Windows 7 features baked in and back-supported.

CNET posed an interesting question: Did Windows Phone 7 have “the kind of consumer impact that warrants this elevation?” The article goes on to state that “Windows Phone 7 commands only 1 percent of the U.S. smartphone marketshare”––a measly number to be hedging a new OS release against.

A closing thought: Apple will launch iOS 5 at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next week and release iOS 6 next year, just in time for the Windows 8 launch. Will the two new operating systems clash in a head-to-head death match, or will Microsoft’s newest stepchild cower, forlorn in a corner, while Android, Apple, and maybe even RIM or––gasp––HP steal the spotlight at the 2012 laptop/desktop/tablet/smartphone party?


Author: John Carew

Has Desktop Publishing Deteriorated Graphic Design?

Today if you ask prepress technicians what percentage of files they receive are “print ready,” they will most likely say something around one percent! While alarming, this number is not that far off. I can remember when I sat in that chair and experienced the same thing. One month we decided to do a test and mark down every file that came in. It was a simple evaluation: either the file was OK to print or needed changes. Ironically it wasn’t until the last week of the month, on Friday afternoon, that we received a file––our very last in the test––that was perfect! What this proved to me was that nearly every file that comes in needs some sort of change before it can hit the printing plates. Now that last sentence is telling. We were working at a shop that was primarily traditional offset litho. Some may argue that any file can be printed digitally, and they are not too far off, but why should we accept subpar file structure?

John Carew wrote last Tuesday about image quality and how we as a society are accepting low-quality images because of their ease of use. This theory is directly related to my discussion of subpar file structure. Desktop publishing has basically given anyone who owns a computer the ability to become a graphic designer. Although desktop publishing represents a great technological advance, it has diluted industry standards. You can basically track back to the widespread adoption of Microsoft products (Word, Publisher, PowerPoint, and Excel) and see the overall quality of graphic design deteriorate. It has forced our industry to accept files in any program available and puts the onus on us to make them work. God forbid that what a client designed on screen in Word doesnt match what comes off the press.

Basically what this all boils down to is industry-specific education and client management. We as industry professionals have to educate our clients on best practices. We must let them know when we have to make changes to their files and tell them what it’s going to cost. Accepting files in Word and fixing them for free without telling the client isn’t doing anyone justice. We as manufacturers are losing out on revenue, and the clients are thinking that everything is OK and will continue making the same mistakes. Do yourself a favor and communicate with your clients. Offer them your services, and discuss the best ways to arrive at an aesthetically pleasing piece. Remember, we are only as good as the end product, and if we start with garbage, you know what will come out!

So, keep this link on your toolbar––it’s a great reference tool!  http://goo.gl/XGoBG