Printing Office Documents From Your iPad

Microsoft’s recent inclusion of their Office line of products (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) on the iPad has certainly been a winner for Microsoft. However, a major bummer with the app was that you had to transfer the document after you were done editing or creating it to a PC in order to get the document printed. You simply could not print from the iPad.

However this is the new more open and responsive Microsoft. You can see that Microsoft has paid attention to this major complaint because it has already updated all the Office Apps with the ability to print documents directly from Word, Excel or Powerpoint on your iPad. It is important to remember that you still need to have Airprint (ready) Printer for this to work.

Word-print-options

You can select specific slides or pages you wish to print, and not just that, in Excel you can also print a set selection of cells making the feature a welcome addition to an already an productive application.

And that’s not all in this update! Microsoft has also added AutoFit in Excel which allows you to adjust the width of rows and heights of columns to help you reshape the cell sizes based on the data requirements, giving your sheet a very professional look. 

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Operation Clandestine Fox

imagesYesterday I published not one – but two articles about a new threat affecting Internet Explorer, versions 6 through 11. However I did not mention how to protect yourself. So here you go.

In order to protect yourself from the flaw — dubbed “Operation Clandestine Fox”  the best thing you can do is stop using Internet Explorer until Microsoft patches it. Other browsers, such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, do not have the problem. 

Sometimes you may still need to use IE, even if you decide to start using Chrome or Firefox. This is because there are some websites that simply perform better on IE, and sometimes certain tasks will not work on third party browsers. So regardless if you use another browser there is an adjustment in IE you can make to protect yourself.

The first thing you will want to do is make sure you are running either IE10 or IE11.This is because ever since IE10, the browser has offered an Enhanced Protected Mode (EPM). With this enabled you will not be vulnerable to the bug.

epm

This is very easy to setup. In your browser select the “Tools” option, then select “Internet Options” then select the “Security” tab and finally check the “Enable Protected Mode” which will require a restart of your browser.

This is the easiest, fastest way to protect yourself until Microsoft releases a fix which should be available no later then May 13 which is their regular “patch Tuesday”. of course everyone is waiting to see if XP will get the fix. My guess is XP will be left out.

 

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US CERT Issues Warning & KB 2963983

Department of Homeland Security recommends avoiding Microsoft browser until vulnerability in IE6 to IE11 is fixed.

 

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The Department of Homeland Security’s US-CERT team has issued an official advisory, warning Windows customers that they should not use any modern version of Internet Explorer, from IE6 to IE11. It’s important to note that Microsoft’s Security Advisory 2963983 lists the exploit as a problem even with IE11 running on Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1. It isn’t clear from Microsoft’s list if the problem also affects Windows 8, Windows RT, and/or Windows 8.1 Update, although Server 2003, Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, and Server 2012 R2 running with their default settings aren’t vulnerable.

As Microsoft notes, this is a drive-by class security hole: Your machine can be compromised if you simply visit an infected site.

FireEye first caught and dissected the vulnerability, publishing an extensive examination on Saturday:

The vulnerability affects IE6 through IE11, but the attack is targeting IE9 through IE11. This zero-day bypasses both ASLR and DEP… Threat actors are actively using this exploit in an ongoing campaign which we have named “Operation Clandestine Fox”… for many reasons, we will not provide campaign details. But we believe this is a significant zero day as the vulnerable versions (IE 9 thru 11) represent about a quarter of the total browser market.

The attack vector is quite ingenious in loading a Flash SWF file, using it to selectively spray memory, and looping back to a JavaScript program in IE. The program takes advantage of the IE bug to run a complex series of programs that ultimately lead to the breach. Flash itself doesn’t contain the bug, but it’s a handy foil for the IE exploit.

FireEye notes that disabling the Flash plug-in in IE will prevent this particular exploit from functioning. Since Flash is baked into IE10 and IE11, it appears that disabling Flash will only work in IE6 though IE9. But note that the security hole still exists in IE, even without Flash. It’s entirely possible that someone will come up with a nearly identical exploit that uses some other handy fixed-size heap allocation.

As for where this leaves Windows XP users, while the general exploit approach apparently works on XP systems — as suggested by the inclusion of Server 2003 SP 2 on Microsoft’s “affected programs” list — FireEye hasn’t uncovered in-the-wild exploits with IE6 thru IE8. (Also, XP won’t run IE9, IE10, or IE11.)

Clearly, XP users would be foolish to be running IE right now.

Will Microsoft patch IE on XP systems? It’s an interesting question, because the flaw is in IE, not XP. A related question: If Microsoft fixes IE6, IE7, and IE8 running on Server 2003 SP 2, will the same fix work on XP?

As for where this leaves Windows XP users, while the general exploit approach apparently works on XP systems — as suggested by the inclusion of Server 2003 SP 2 on Microsoft’s “affected programs” list — FireEye hasn’t uncovered in-the-wild exploits with IE6 thru IE8. (Also, XP won’t run IE9, IE10, or IE11.) Clearly, XP users would be foolish to be running IE right now, but that’s been true for many years.

Will Microsoft patch IE on XP systems? It’s an interesting question, because the flaw is in IE, not XP. A related question: If Microsoft fixes IE6, IE7, and IE8 running on Server 2003 SP 2, will the same fix work on XP?

This latest security flaw will certainly tests Microsoft’s mettle relating to their seriousness regarding ending XP support.

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XP’s First Scare

And so it starts for all of you XP users out there…

It's time to seriously think about shutting your old XP computer down.

It’s time to seriously think about shutting your old XP computer down.

Microsoft confirmed over the weekend that Internet Explorer (IE) versions 6 through 11 are susceptible to a newly discovered vulnerability, and that cyber attackers have already exploited the flaw. Microsoft said it is investigating the bug, and it pledged to release a fix.

Microsoft will release the patch through either its monthly security update or a special out-of-cycle release. Whichever route Microsoft chooses, however, Windows XP users will be out in the cold – unpatched. As of this month, the company no longer supports the OS. In March, XP still accounted for more than a quarter of Internet users, according to the web-tracking firm Net Applications.

Microsoft has recently acknowledged that cyber criminals have already exploited the bug, but is only aware of a few “limited targeted attacks”. The flaw allows remote code execution if a user visits a malicious website, which means an attacker could theoretically gain the same system privileges as the legitimate user.

Here we are only a few weeks past it’s end of life and security concerns are already starting to plague the 13 year old OS.

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The Burial of Atari’s “E.T”

Not much was expected of video games in the early 1980's but this game was so bad it is considered by many the worst video game ever created by mankind.

Not much was expected of video games in the early 1980’s but this game was so bad it is considered by many the worst video game ever created by mankind.

Here is an amazing news event telling the story how old tech, especially disastrous tech products never really die. This story begins back in 1982 with the release of the movie “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”. This film turned into an immediate classic at the very time that the video game market was exploding. At the center of the blossoming video game market was Atari. If you are my age (late 40’s early 50’s) your family either owned an Atari system or one of your friends did.

The popularity of “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”  found the video game maker rushing our a game based on the hit film.  Video games at this time were a very different animal then what we have come to expect during the past 2 decades. Most games released in the early to late 80’s were simple and not that good. However this rushed video game based on the 1982 movie was simply and truly unimaginably horrible. In fact the game was so bad that during the 1983 video game crash, it was reported that thousands of unsold “E.T.” game cartridges were buried in the New Mexico desert.   According to a 1983 New York Times article on the subject, Atari actually dumped 14 truckload of gaming gear into an Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill.

Many considered this story of a mass burying of the left over – unsold Atari “E.T” cartridges as somewhat of a urban legend. However fast forward to this weekend. In an effort that was partially financed by Microsoft — those cartridges (along with other relics of the period) were successfully uncovered. Microsoft’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb was on hand at the site and captured a few pictures of the unearthed “E.T.” cartridges along with a few other period-correct titles like “Centipede.”

View image on Twitter

There is actually a documentary titled, “Atari: Game Over” about this amazing story  scheduled to air later this summer and is set to air exclusively on the Xbox network.

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Considerations for the Surface

Picture 81I was just thinking about the Microsoft Surface Pro 2. I know that makes me a little weird, but it is – what it is.  The sales for Microsoft’s Surface line have been up and down and no one really knows how good or bad they are. But I can tell you this. I own a Surface Pro 2 and I really like it. I have been using a Surface Pro since October 2012, when they first arrived on the scene.

With this hybrid tablet/laptop the person wanting to merge fun and work really can, with one device. With the Surface Pro I am able to use it in both my offices, on my easy chair, on the deck relaxing, on vacation and in meetings. It has enough power to act as a really good laptop and is small enough, especially with the magnetic keyboard removed to act as a tablet.

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With the keyboard attached you really can get some serious work done on your Surface Pro tablet. Unlike the iPad you have no limitations here. Any Windows application can be installed and it acts just like a laptop or PC, just a lot smaller and mobile.

Now do not get me wrong, there is a place for the ipad and in fact I use one. But my use of the iPad is limited to email, reading articles and a game from time to time. When there is real work to be done especially when mobile, I turn to my Surface Pro every time.

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Investigating Kepler-186f

The fictional USS Enterprise orbiting a "Class M" planet in a habitatal  zone.

The fictional USS Enterprise orbiting a “Class M” planet is a habitable zone.

The question of whether life exists on other planets will always remain a curiosity as we continue venturing into space. The continued popularity of my favorite TV show for example, “Star Trek” is just one example of our fascination with the possibility of life on other worlds.

We could be stepping closer to answering this question as NASA has recently found the first Earth-Size planet in the ‘habitable zone’ of another star.

According to NASA, the Kepler Space Telescope found an Earth-sized planet orbiting a star in the habitable zone. This is important because it is in this zone where the range of distance from a star to a planet [in orbit] where liquid water is capable of collecting on the surface which of course leads to the possibility of life.

A sketch of Kepler-186f [SOURCE: NASA]

A sketch of Kepler-186f [SOURCE: NASA]

The new planet has been dubbed Kepler-186f, and it is about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. It orbits a star, which is classified as an M dwarf, or red dwarf — half the size and mass of our sun.

Kepler-186f orbits its star once every 130-days and receives one-third the energy from its star that Earth gets from the sun. This puts it near the outer edge of the habitable zone.

The brightness of its star at high noon is only as bright as Earth’s sun appears about an hour before sunset. Further, NASA isn’t quite sure yet, but it believes Kepler-186f’s surface is rocky.

Kepler-186f is not alone over there. It has four companion planets, called Kepler-186b, Kepler-186c, Kepler-186d, and Kepler-186e. These other planets make their way around their sun every four, seven, 13, and 22 days respectively and they are too hot for any life, that we know of to exist on them.

Kepler-186f is 10% bigger and occupies its star's 'habitable zone' where temperatures would allow liquid surface water

Kepler-186f is 10% bigger and occupies its star’s ‘habitable zone’ where temperatures would allow liquid surface water

Size is another important key here. While planets have been discovered in the habitable zone before, they have not been the same size as Earth. The four companion planets, for example, all measure less than 1.5 times the size of Earth. Also, previously discovered planets in the habitable zone were were at least 40 percent larger in size than Earth.

With Kepler-186f being about the same size as Earth, we can have a clearer idea of behaviors, topography, etc. But as of right now, its mass and composition are unknown.

Unfortunately, whether it contains life is also unknown at this time. But Just like Captain Kirk and his crew it is always worth investigating when discovering new planets in these “habitable” zones.

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Windows XP Lives in Virtual Mode

It's not perfect but Windows XP will live on in Virtual Mode.

It’s not perfect but Windows XP will live on in Virtual Mode.

With Windows XP firmly in the rear view mirror some of you may find that some old applications will simply not run on Windows 7. Don’t panic and know that you really don;t have to go looking for an old XP computer on eBay. Windows 7 Professional has a little feature known as “Windows XP Mode”. By using this mode old XP applications will usually run OK on a Windows 7 computer. This does not come right out “of the box” and you need to find it and install it, but if you need to run an old XP application it is worth the time.

ENABLE HARDWARE VIRTUALIZATION 

First thing you need to do is, check if your CPU has hardware virtualization support enabled. This is a MUST HAVE for XP Mode to be enabled. To check if your CPU is supported, Intel and AMD both offer utilities to identify your CPU and what features it offers. If your CPU supports virtualization, this feature needs to be enabled in the BIOS.

Check here if you a Intel processor.

Check here if you have a AMD processor.

Not sure what processor your PC has? You can usually find this out by right clicking on your “My Computer” icon and selecting “properties”.  It is usually listed in the basic information area on “system”.

DOWNLOAD WINDOWS VIRTUAL PC AND VIRTUAL XP FROM MICROSOFT

You can download both here.

xpm-user

  • Install Virtual PC mode first then Virtual XP mode. Both installations are straightforward.
  • Launch the XP Mode. Supply a password for local XP Mode user that XP Mode automatically creates on the virtual machine.
  • Turn ON or OFF the automatic updates option.

When the installation is complete XP Mode will launch in Desktop Mode. This is where you will have complete access to the XP environment.

Be aware that XP Mode It is a completely separate desktop environment from your Windows 7 installation. Both Windows 7 and Windows XP will share a common clipboard and nothing else. This means you cannot drag and drop files/folders from one environment to another. Instead, you can share a USB device between the environments.

There you go. Be aware that Virtual XP mode will use a lot of your system resources so I only recommend running it when you actually need it. Otherwise, once installed you can have acessed to all those old great XP programs!

 

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Disabling Automatic Videos in Facebook

facebook-videoRecently Facebook added a new feature in which videos play automatically in your news feed on both their mobile & desktop versions. Maybe it’s just me but I find this completely annoying.

I just had to find a way to turn this feature off and I am glad to report I found one. Doing this will also help you save the bandwidth and battery on your mobile devices and as a bonus will also help you avoid ads.

Unfortunately, there is no way to completely disable Facebook’s video ads on mobile/iPad. However, you can disable them when you’re not on Wi-Fi.

Here are the step below –

1. Disable Auto Play on the Desktop:

To disable all auto-playing videos on Facebook’s desktop version, navigate to your Settings page, and then click the Video tab on the left. Click the dropdown menu next to the Auto-Play Videos option. Remember: If you want to change this setting for your mobile devices, you need to update those settings separately.

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2. Disable Auto Play on Android Devices

Open your Facebook app, and tap the menu button at the bottom of your phone. Then tap the Settings button. You’ll see a screen labeled General Settings. Scroll and check the box next to “Auto-play videos on Wi-Fi only.”

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3. Disable Auto Play on iOS Devices

Navigate to your device’s Settings app, tap to open up your Facebook options, and then tap Settings. Under Video, slide “Auto-play on Wi-Fi only” to on.

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HBO Joins FireTV

amazon-fire-tvEarlier this month I picked up Amazon’s FireTV in hope that it would be the only streaming box I would need, replacing both my AppleTV and ChomeTV.

Although I was impressed with much of FireTV I was surprised and disappointed that HBO GO was not included.

Fast foreard to today when we learned that Amazon Prime Instant Video members will soon have access to HBO content. The two companies have apparently signed a multi-year licensing agreement.

The first wave of HBO shows and mini-series will be available starting on May 21, and content will continually be introduced in the coming years. The licensing deal includes access to “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” “Six Feet Under,” “Big Love,” “Deadwood,” “Family Tree,” “Enlightened,” “Eastbound & Down,” “True Blood,” and “Treme”. In addition previous series will be available as addition HBO shows roll out as the multi-year agreement progresses.

And in addition, and this is key to me, HBO GO will be available on Amazon’s Fire TV by end of the year. This is really good news to me because I need to clear some space in my entertainment center!

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