Windows 10 Shines with These 11 New Features

OK – I admit it. I am a Windows 10 apologist. I believe Windows 10 is the future of the modern operating system. Although there is still much to improve Windows 10 is well on it’s way to being the first truly modern operating system. I can prove this by talking a little bit about 11 great new featured brought to us bu Windows 10.


Groove Music Player

It looks like Microsoft will compete with Apple’s Garageband home music creation software with a new Groove Music Maker app. The sizzle reel showed an app for mixing instrumental and vocal tracks, plus apply basic effects like reverb.

A Better Windows Defender

Microsoft has been focused heavily on improving the security of Windows 10, and it looks like that’s getting a further upgrade with a redesigned Windows Defender coming in the Creators Update.

In addition to virus protection, the app also includes firewall and network protection, computer performance and health, and family safety features.

Rich Tab Previews with Edge

Microsoft Edge will get a feature designed to make it easier to flip through a bunch of browser tabs. The video shows a user able to scroll through a horizontal carousel of rich tab previews that show the contents of pages before they’re opened.

Tabs in Edge

In a similar tab management vein, Edge will also get a feature that looks like a way for users to save their browser tabs to access later. It’s reminiscent of features like Apple’s Reading List in Safari, which also lets users keep a list of articles and sites they want to hold on to for later.

Collections of Maps

Microsoft’s Maps app is getting a new section called Collections, which appear to be exactly what they sound like — groupings of places. It also seems like there will be some mechanism in the app for sharing those collections between friends, but it’s not immediately clear how that will work.

New Live Tiles

The new Start menu shows a new Cortana live tile, along with an icon for a Battery Level Live tile.

The former seems like a good way for people to get contextual information from Microsoft’s virtual assistant, and the latter seems like a useful tool for people with laptops and tablets.

Customizing Accent Colors

People who want to further customize the way Windows looks will be able to pick from a full palette of accent colors, rather than the handful of swatches that Microsoft allows today. It also looks like Windows will tell users when the color they picked might be unreadable.

Windows Store

It looks like the Windows Store will get support for selling in-app purchases directly from its home screen. Microsoft is showing both Minecraft IAPs and digital items from League of Legends in this screenshot, which could mean that there’s a partnership afoot between the two firms.

That would make sense, considering that Windows and Devices Group chief Terry Myerson name-checked the League of Legends World Championship on stage at the event on Wednesday.

Gaming Limits – Yes Gaming Limits

It looks like the Windows Store will get support for selling in-app purchases directly from its home screen. Microsoft is showing both Minecraft IAPs and digital items from League of Legends in this screenshot, which could mean that there’s a partnership afoot between the two firms.

That would make sense, considering that Windows and Devices Group chief Terry Myerson name-checked the League of Legends World Championship on stage at the event on Wednesday.

Better Quick Actions

 It looks like the Action Center, which houses notifications and quick access to settings, will also start giving users the chance to get access to files they have been working with on other devices.

It seems like an attempt to better compete with Apple’s Continuity features in MacOS and iOS, which also let people pick up where they left off on their iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Macs.

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Recent DDos Attack Exploits Internet of Things (IoT)

Last week I wrote about the cyber-attack that took out huge portions of the Internet has now led to a major product recall. Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology, a Chinese electronics company, has acknowledged that weak default passwords on many of its devices were partly to blame for the October 21 attack.


The components maker, which builds parts for everything from security cameras to digital recorders, said it would be recalling millions of Web-enabled cameras that were sold in the U.S. The company described the attack as a major blow to the Internet of Things movement, saying it has shaken customer confidence in the level of security of all Internet-capable devices.

Despite the surprise and devastation achieved during Friday’s attack, it was not inevitable. In fact, Hangzhou Xiongmai reported that it first became aware that some of its cameras had a security flaw last year. The company issued a firmware update to fix the issue last September and urged customers to change the password from the default setting.

Only devices that were sold before April 2015 failed to update their firmware. Those devices were still using the default password and were connected to the Internet when they were exploited.

Hangzhou Xiongmai has now agreed to recall up to 4 million products. While the company primarily makes components for industrial and commercial devices, such as surveillance equipment for banks, stores, and residential areas, most of the devices it sells in the U.S. are for personal and consumer use. That might explain why so many devices were running old firmware using the default password.

Dealing with the Internet of Things

Friday’s attack managed to take out huge parts of the Internet throughout the United States including popular sites such as Twitter and Netflix, by targeting Dyn Inc., a New Hampshire-based company responsible for providing much of the domain name service infrastructure in the US. The group responsible for the attack was able to overwhelm Dyn’s servers with a distributed denial of service attack.

To achieve their goal, the hackers used a malware tool known as Mirai to take control of IoT devices, such as security cameras, using Hangzhou Xiongmai’s hardware components to form a botnet. Once under the hackers’ control, the botnet was able to generate fake network traffic from tens of millions of IP addresses, overwhelming Dyn’s ability to respond.

This was one of the largest and most sophisticated attacks against a major Internet infrastructure provider in history. And the use of IoT devices, rather than laptops or desktops, may represent a chilling new development in the annals of cybercrime.

Such devices are expected to proliferate in the coming years, and many continue to lack sufficient security safeguards. Friday’s attack may prove to be only a glimpse of what’s to come.

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Microsoft Surface Woes in New England

Microsoft has a problem in New England.

New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick has spent his career destroying the hopes and dreams of the competition. If that was not enough he is now angry with Microsoft and their Surface tablets.


Microsoft entered into a $400 million deal with the NFL back in mid-2013, beating out Apple and other tablet makers. The goal was simple: To bring the NFL into the 21st century and provide coaches and players with the most up-to-date information possible, in real time, on the field field during games.

The deal has been a mixed bag. The NFL started using Surface Pro 2 tablets during the month in which Microsoft launched a much improved Surface Pro 3, and on-air commentators, players and coaches continued to refer to the devices as iPads for years, giving Apple free publicity and rightly upsetting the big wigs at Microsoft.

Things have only gotten worse.

That is because this week, Coach Belichick went on an extended rant about his bad experiences with Surface, and declared that he would no longer use the devices.

The most heated issue prior to this latest problem occurred back in January, when the Patriots lost the AFC Championship by two points to my Denver Broncos who of course went on to win Super Bowl 50. The morning after the loss, Belichick complained about the many ways and times in which the Surface tablets the Patriots were using kept failing, most notably during a Broncos touchdown drive.

You can read my article that I posted after that great AFC championship where I wrote about the Surface problems on the Patriot’s sideline that day.


Coach Belichick caught on video throwing his Surface tablet during a game earlier this season.

The malfunctions were so bad that the NFL required the Patriots to shut down all of their Surfaces during that drive, while the suddenly surging Broncos were not required to do so. So they were blind, so to speak, while technicians tried to solve the problem.

Belichick didn’t actually blame the Surface tablets for the loss but he repeatedly noted that these kinds of issues were “common”.

“I’m done with the tablets,” Belichick said this week, and about 10 days after he had an infamous on-field hissy fit in which he tried to destroy one of the failing devices. “They’re just too undependable.”

“I just can’t take it anymore,” he noted, adding that he would “stick with [paper] pictures,” which “several other [NFL] coaches do as well,” presumably for the same reason.

Is the Surface a Victim of Circumstances? 

Bill Belichick is 64 years old, and while many will believe that age and perhaps technology phobia plays into his worldview, don’t be fooled. Say what you will about the man, but he is among the winnigest of NFL coaches in history and his team has been the most feared adversary in the league for the past decade and a half.

To be fair, the Surface failures often involve communications equipment, which Belichick has explained is complex, with numerous on-field systems often interfering with each other. There are days when the game starts and the equipment is still not working, he says, despite hours of testing.

Not Ready for “NFL” Prime Time?

The thing that resonates with me is that the complexity and unreliability of using a Surface outweighs its benefits when considering the fast paced – high stakes of NFL games. High end technology, like Microsoft’s Surface tablets are complex and can become unreliable which will drive coaching staffs crazy as the game moves on – even if their tablets are locked up or rebooting.

“It’s basically a problem every week,” Belichick said. “For me, it’s a personal decision. I’m done with the tablets. I’ll use the paper pictures from here on, because I have given it my best shot. I’ve tried to work through the process. But it just doesn’t work for me, and that’s because there’s no consistency to it.”

Unfortunately Microsoft’s Surface may be “trusted by the pros,” as Microsoft’s Surface NFL web site claims. It’s just not trusted by the best head coach in the NFL.

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DDoS Attack Exposes Growing Concerns

Early this morning, a large distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) directed at the Internet performance management company Dyn caused Web site outages for a number of its customers, including Twitter, Reddit, Spotify and SoundCloud.


Services were restored to normal by 9:20 a.m. Eastern Time.

Question – What is a DDoS?

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. They target a wide variety of important resources, from banks to news websites, and present a major challenge to making sure people can publish and access important information.

Why Are Reports Like This a Concern?

While today’s DDoS attack was resolved relatively quickly, a number of news sites described it as having shut down “half the Internet” for users on the East Coast. In addition to customers, such as Twitter and Reddit, Dyn’s client list includes large sites such as, CNBC, Etsy, RedHat and Zillow.

The scale and scope of DDoS attacks have been growing dramatically over the past year or so. Last month, for example, the KrebsOnSecurity Web site was temporarily brought down by a recording-breaking DDoS attack generating traffic levels of up to 620 Gbps. Shortly afterward, the France-based hosting company OVH sustained a DDoS attack that was nearly twice as massive as the one on Krebs’ site.

A Growing Concern

Security experts are blaming the rise of increasingly massive DDoS attacks on the rapidly expanding number of network-connected devices on the Internet of Things (IoT). Earlier this month, researchers identified a 12-year-old vulnerability in the OpenSSH security utilities suite, noted that weak protections on IoT devices has helped to create the “Internet of Unpatchable Things.”

The size of these DDoS attacks has increased so much lately thanks largely to the broad availability of tools for compromising and leveraging the collective firepower of so-called Internet of Things devices which often include poorly secured Internet-based security cameras, digital video recorders (DVRs) and Internet routers.

What all these connected devices have in common is the existence of security vulnerabilities caused by a flawed software design or gross negligence on the part of their manufacturers that all often use the same factory passwords for all their devices.


Question – What is The Internet of Things? 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

A thing, in the Internet of Things, can be a person with a heart monitor implant, a farm animal with a biochip transponder, an automobile that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when tire pressure is low — or any other natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address and provided with the ability to transfer data over a network.

IoT has evolved from the convergence of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), microservices and the internet. The convergence has helped tear down the silo walls between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT), allowing unstructured machine-generated data to be analyzed for insights that will drive improvements.

The security of the internet is a complex and often overwhelming challenge. What at one time was simply computers connected together via the internet is now smartphones, mobile devices and technologies of every type from your refrigerator, HVAC system and medical devices such as heart pacers.


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The Ctrl Key in Word Allows You to Master the Paragraph

wordtricksSlow Tech News Cycle = A Tech Tip!

In order to create professional looking documents, you need to understand the formatting tools. All of these great Microsoft Word formatting tools are a mouse-click away – on the Ribbon. For instance, you can format blocks of neat paragraph with the Paragraph group on the Home tab. But we often overlook another important tool that could speed up our work across a multi-page Word document.

The shortcut key.

The time it takes you to remove one hand and reach for the mouse adds up across the day. Keyboard ninjas know the time-saving benefits of shortcut keys. Microsoft Word has lots of them.

Some shortcuts are essential, and then you can tie some of them to muscle memory with a bit of practice each day. Here are a few paragraph-formatting commands you should exercise with because manipulating a paragraph into shape is the basic job on any document.

Use the Ctrl key to call them up.



The Paragraph dialog box gives you more fine-tuned controls. But these shortcut keys can be time-savers in their own right.

Are you on solid ground with Microsoft Office shortcut keys? Can you quickly format a paragraph with confidence?  If you can master this tip you will begin to master the formatting of your document.

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Galaxy Note 7 Banned from Flights

This is a first. A smartphone has been banned from flights. Samsung’s much maligned Galaxy Note 7 has been finally put out of it’s misery with Samsung recalling these devices.


The US Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration have now banned the device on all flights ‘to, from, or within” the United States – even if they’re turned off, and regardless of whether they’re on carry-on or checked luggage.

n fact, you can’t have a Note 7 at all if you’re so much stepping onto a flight, and if you try to sneak one in on checked luggage, you can face fines. Airlines are to deny boarding unless you rid yourself of your $900 device.

If you somehow do sneak a phone onto a plane, you will be instructed to keep the device off and on your person at all times, not in luggage.

The ban goes into effect today, October 15, at 12 PM ET. That’s not exactly much time to get the word out to every flier. Given 1 million people are apparently still using their Note 7’s, the TSA is going to have a field day with confiscated devices.

You can read statement in full at the source link below. And if you haven’t done so already, please just exchange your phone for something less incendiary already.

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Newsletter Edition – Issue #25

Check Out Issue #25 of our Bi-Weekly Newsletter.

You can scroll through this issue with your mouse. Of course signing up to receive your very own copy in your inbox is the best way so you never miss any technology news!

If you are interested in subscribing just email us. It’s Free! 

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Turn Your Smartphone Upside Down

Even with today’s advanced batteries, the quest for better battery life rages on. With the bigger screens of modern devices, you might have trouble getting through half a day with your battery.

Developers have come up with all sorts of tricks to squeeze a bit more life out of device batteries. Here is one tip for saving battery life that you may not be aware of.

Image result for iphone upside down

Turn Your Smartphone Upside Down

The secret is that when your iPhone is face down, incoming notifications don’t turn on the screen. This means that when you’re sitting at your desk for hours not looking at your phone anyway, setting it face-down can be a big battery booster. Of course, there are times when you want to glance at notifications, and can certainly keep your phone face-up when that’s the case.

Screens are one of the biggest battery drainers, so you should see an improvement in battery life when practicing this nifty little tip. It does require motion sensing to be turned on in your Settings. Browse to Settings > Privacy > Motion & Fitness and make sure Fitness Tracking is enabled. If it’s turned off, your iPhone will turn the screen on no matter if it’s face-down or not.

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Halloween Marks the End of Windows 7 Sales

Image result for goodbye windows 7Soon, Windows 10 will be the only Windows operating system (OS) you can officially buy.

Come the end of this month, original equipment manufacturers (OEM) like Dell or HP will no longer be able to create and sell new computers with Windows 7 or 8.1 pre-installed. Instead, they will all have to use Windows 10.

End of Sales

Every version of Windows has a lifecycle, which begins with the release of the product and ends when Microsoft no longer officially supports it. One milestone within the product lifecycle is called end of sales. This refers to the date when a version of Windows is no longer provided to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Toshiba, Dell, or HP. This means that they won’t be able to pre-install the OS on any new systems they produce.

Windows End of Sales

The end of sales date for Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate was back in 2014. For Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8.1, the cut off point is at the end of this month: October 31, 2016. Microsoft gave their customary one year announcement for this, so it won’t come as a surprise to the OEMs. In fact, Microsoft extended the date for Windows 7 Professional because of the general public’s disliking for Windows 8.

However, that end date is now fast approaching. From November 2016, every new Windows system that an OEM produces will run Windows 10.

Image result for goodbye windows 7

End of Windows 7 – Really?

Don’t panic. This doesn’t mean that you suddenly won’t be able to buy new systems with Windows 7 installed, though that will eventually be the case. Although OEMs can’t produce new computers with 7 or 8.1 come Halloween, there’s nothing to stop them from selling Windows 7 and 8.1 systems still in stock.

Buying Windows 7

You’ll probably be able to find some decent discounts on older systems that have Windows 7 and 8.1 installed. OEMs will be trying to clear out their inventories. If you’re in the market for a new computer, then it might be worth waiting a couple of weeks for any price drops. Windows 7 Professional laptops are still available to buy and many of those same OEMs are still stocking similar products.

Supporting Windows 7

Windows 10 is obviously Microsoft’s priority, but many people simply prefer Windows 7 and have blocked the upgrade to Windows 10. If you buy a system with Windows 7 Professional, you don’t need to worry about being left in the dark. Though Microsoft won’t be developing any new features for the OS, they are still offering what they call “extended support” until January 14, 2020. This basically means that any major security flaws will be fixed, but nothing else will change.

Don’t get too worried about Windows 7 Professional no longer being installed by OEMs. You could always buy a separate copy of Windows 7 Professional from a retailer like Amazon, while they continue to have them in stock, even if your system doesn’t come with it.

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My iPhone 7 Review

Apple’s new iPhone has a couple of differences from the 6s. It has a faster CPU, no headphone jack, improved camera, and no home button. Only Apple can remove so much and call it innovation. Is there truth here? Is there innovation with removing all of these things we have become so used to? At the end of the day is the iPhone 7 a worthy smartphone and is it superior to the iPhone 6s?

I upgraded from an iPhone 6s which means I am getting almost two years of refinement with the device and the processor. The good news is that the speed improvements are noticeable. On my 6s, apps were starting to feel a bit sluggish and opening the camera and switching between the camera modes highlighted this issue.

With the 7 everything is a bit snappier but at the same time, it also heats up more. The 6s would get hot under load too but it feels like the 7 reaches higher temperatures faster than the older phone. I will see if this continues to happen over time.

Goodbye Phone Jack


The big controversy with this phone is that there is no headphone jack. Apple suggests that they removed the headphone jack for the sake of innovation. If Apple really wanted to push everyone forward, they would have dropped the headphone jack and their proprietary connector and gone with USB-C for both headphone and charging; this is a change I would fully support. Instead, we have Apple pushing headphones that are either wireless or use their own adapter which is convenient since they recently bought a headphone company.



Apple has made a big deal about its cameras over the past few generations of devices and the 7 is no different. While the 7 Plus gets the better update with two cameras, the 7 gets optical stabilization and a larger sensor. The ability to take photos in low light is easily accomplished with the 7 and pictures in broad daylight look great. At the end of the day this is a very good camera and it certainly does what it needs to do but I can’t tell a huge difference between my old phone.

Home Button

I was a concerned when I saw the changes to the home button. Switching to the taptic engine instead of an actual button is actually a risk for Apple. However I am glad to report it’s not really an issue and actually it feels quite natural. Apple did a good job with this change and for anyone who was holding off on purchasing this phone because of the home button changes, go ahead and buy the phone as you won’t regret it.

Battery Life

Battery life with the phone is average and it can easily last a workday but I would happily take a slightly thicker phone for significantly longer battery life. On a long day at a the office the battery can come up a little short. If you run up against battery issues regularly with your iPhone7 I recommend giving this a try. It is worth the $99.

Waterproof, Sort of

Here is another improvement over the previous iPhones.

If you happen to fall in the pool, or spill coffee over your phone, this iPhone will survive. However don’t take it for a swim on purpose.  Apple says it’s not designed for that sort of water exposure. And keep it away from salt water.

If it does get wet, Apple advises wiping it with a dry cloth and ensuring it is totally dry before opening the SIM tray and leaving it at least five hours before charging it. Don’t try to blow dry it because it won’t like the heat. And don’t shove something into the Lightning port to dry it because the folk at the Apple Genius Bar won’t like that if something goes wrong.

Upgrade Worthy?

The iPhone 7 is a very good phone but if you have a 6s, it may not be worth upgrading. But if you have a iphone 6 (not the S) or earlier and you want to stick with Apple the upgrade is a good deal.

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