Outlook Just Got Even Better on iOS

My favorite Calendar /Email app on the iPhone is Microsoft’s “Outlook”. This one app handles my email, my calendar and my cloud storage. This awesome app just got even better.

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Microsoft today announced a new scheduling assistant on Outlook for iOS. This new feature works similar to the scheduling assistant which is already available in Outlook on the desktop. Before scheduling a meeting, you can now easily see your coworkers’ availability and find a time that works for everyone. Also, Outlook team has made this process so simple to use on Outlook Mobile.

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After you create an event from your calendar, add your coworkers to the People field, tap the date picker. Times that work for everyone show in white, yellow indicates availability for one or more people in the group, and red indicates times with no availability. Next, tap the time picker and just drag and drop until it turns green—indicating everyone is available at that time. Once the time and date are finalized, you can complete the other fields and tap the checkmark at the top to save and send your event.

The feature is currently available on Outlook for iOS when connected to Office 365 or the latest versions of Exchange. This feature will be coming soon to Android and Windows 10 mobile as well.

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FBI Probes More Emails from Clinton’s Private Server

This is not a political blog. We cover technology. In an example of just how technology is tangled in our lives is the current presidential election. This year’s presidential election has been tied up and may hinge on something that we should all be aware of.

Email management.

I have spoken about it, I have written about it, and I have taught classes on it. Over the past 20 years we have all become so comfortable with it that we often use it unwisely. Countless people have lost their job over it. This included General David Petraeus who in the November of 2012 was forced to resign as Director of the CIA. Although there were other behaviors that resulted in this resignation, General Petraeus’ email management played a role as well.

Of course we all use email, both at home and at work for many topics. Most will not get you in trouble. However it is easier then you may think to get in legal trouble.

Who Our Next President Is May Rest on Email Management

Now less then 2 weeks from the election for the presidency of the United States one of the candidates is answering questions about her email management and the conversations found.

The FBI has uncovered new emails related to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, prompting federal authorities to investigate them.

The FBI discovered the emails as part of an “unrelated case,” FBI Director James Comey said in a letter to a congressional committee that was later tweeted on Friday.

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These emails “appear to be pertinent” to the FBI’s original investigation into Clinton’s private server use, which the agency wrapped up back in July, Comey said. Clinton, now the Democratic nominee for U.S. president, used the private server while she served as Secretary of State.

Comey said he agreed to allow the FBI to determine if the newly uncovered emails contain any classified information, “as well as to assess their importance” to its original investigation.

The FBI can’t say whether the emails are significant or how long the agency will take to probe them, he added.

On Friday, the FBI confirmed that a letter was sent out to members of Congress but declined to offer further comment.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, said on Twitter the FBI had essentially reopened its investigation into Clinton’s private email server use.

“She was entrusted with some of our nation’s most important secrets, and betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information,” he said in a statement.

He’s asking the U.S. director of national intelligence to suspend all classified briefings with Clinton until the matter is resolved.

Clinton and her presidential campaign have yet to respond to the FBI’s new investigation.

In July, the FBI concluded that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her use of a private email server, but the agency didn’t recommend filing any charges against her.

The FBI said Clinton’s server faced ongoing cyber threats from possible hackers, including phishing email attacks and failed login attempts. However, the agency found no evidence confirming that the server was ever compromised.

The letter from FBI’s director didn’t mention how the newly uncovered emails were obtained or where they came from.

However, recently stolen emails from a Clinton aide have been published through WikiLeaks and include allegedly thousands of private messages between U.S. officials and her staff.

The Fate of a Nation

What happens in the next 2 weeks no one knows. The course of the the most powerful nation this world has ever seen may rest on…. email.

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Newsletter Edition – Issue #26

This week’s newsletter is available. Be sure to subscribe by sending us an email and you will receive your very own issue every other Friday morning.

You can browse the newsletter by using your mouse! Isn’t technology awesome!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 About.com, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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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