Although I gave up on Microsoft’s Windows Phone a couple of years ago I still have plenty of good memories of me and my nifty Windows Phone. In fact if you are in a nostalgic mood you can browse my Windows Phone articles here.
All is not lost for Microsoft in the smartphone world. Even though I gave into Apple empire for both myself personally and my organization all is not lost. That’s because Microsoft has been publishing apps at an amazing rate during the past two years and many of them are simply top notch.
One of my favorite Microsoft Apps is “Outlook”. Why do I recommend trashing Apple’s default mail app and installing Outlook?
Innovation and Consolidation
The Microsoft Outlook app is a mobile productivity powerhouse, bringing your email, attachments, contacts and calendars into easy reach. Outlook’s built-in analytic engine automatically surfaces important email (across multiple accounts) based on your communications, and quick swipe controls allow you to easily triage your email. It’s a great mobile email app, and works with Exchange, Office 365, Outlook.com, Gmail, Yahoo Mail and iCloud email accounts.
Also included with Outlook is your calendar, files (OneDrive, Box, Dropbox & Google Drive) and contacts. If you are using Apple’s default apps you have separate programs for each of these. With Outlook – you have one app to control them all.
Of course if you rely on Microsoft Outlook on your desktop this is the perfect companion app on your smartphone or mobile device.
You can learn more about Microsoft’s Outlook app here.
Over the past couple years, we have focused much attention on Ransomware, and that’s for good reason. However old threats are still here to make our digital lives miserable as well. One of the oldest surviving threats we continue to deal with is adware.
There’s no denying that adware is a big problem. In fact 2016 saw a huge spike in Mac OS malware, mostly due to bundled adware. Google has tried tackling this problem by kicking known adware distributors out of the Play Store.
Google is perhaps the most aggressive trying to battle adware today because Android especially has seen a great deal of adware in recent years.
Earlier this year, a number of Android phones were discovered to have been infected with powerful adware. The “infection” took place somewhere between the factory, and the business that ordered them. That means some Android phones were purchased with adware pre-installed!
Avoid Download Portals
Desktops also continue to be targeted. One of the popular ways of infecting desktop PCs are through download portals. Many people continue to unwittingly use download portals that bundle adware and other unwanted programs with legitimate apps that people are looking for.
Unfortunately, these download portals show up at the top of search results and trick searchers into thinking they’re getting the best version of the app. When you are looking for a specific app take the time to go directly to the software provider’s website. If you do not – and you simply click on the first link in the search results you may be using a download portal which usually will give you a boatload of unwanted apps, in addition to the one you actually wanted.
* Yes – I know I used the words “download portals” five times in this section. That’s because I want you to remember what they are – so you can avoid them.
Keeping Alert for Adware
As with any other type of malware, the best way to deal with adware is to be aware if them – and what they are. Here are four things to watch out for.
If Ads Abound on Your PC – Don’t Panic But You Do Need to Act
If you’ve been infected with adware, you’re going to be seeing a lot of ads. Pop-ups, in-app ads, browser takeovers, and all sorts of other annoying behaviors might happen.
Different types of adware behave differently.
However one thing that they all have in common is that they will show you a huge number of ads. You’ll notice more ads, more insistent and pervasive ads, and ads outside of the locations where you usually see them. If you’ve been seeing any of this stuff, download anti-adware software right away.
Just don’t get it from…
Third-Party App Stores
If you stick to Apple’s App Store, the Google Play Store, the Chrome Store, and other first-party, controlled app stores, you will be much safer than if you use third-party options.
The same rule for desktop and laptop software applies. Unless the app isn’t available from the Windows or Mac app stores — and you can’t find it on the developer’s website — avoid third party software download sites.
Watch for the Warnings
Believe it or not, you will often be warned right before you download adware. It’s those small print terms and conditions that often go ignored. Take the time to read them if you really – really want that free app. There’s a good chance that they contain something useful. They’ll often tell you that you’ll be getting something else in addition to the software you’re looking for.
No matter where you’re getting an app, make sure to at least browse the terms and conditions first. You just might save yourself the hassle of trying to deal with the problem later.
Avoid Free Versions of Software
If you found a place to download Microsoft Office for free, run the other way. You’re not going to get high-end, fully featured apps without paying. Someone might be offering it, but they’re probably offering a few other things that they aren’t telling you about, very likely adware – or worse.
Even apps that are normally free often carry some sort of adware. Ironically a number of illegitimate anti-virus apps have been discovered to come bundled with malware.
Always be very careful about where you get your software.
What to Do If You’ve Been Infected
Here are some warning signs to watch out for.
Have you noticed a lot more pop-ups than usual lately? Or advertisements that you can’t close? If you see a new toolbar (these are very popular), a new default search engine (also a common symptom), new programs that you don’t remember installing, or new bookmarks in your browser, you are then more likely infected with adware.
Do your best not to interact with any of these ads, as that may make the problem worse. Close — force close, if you need to — those apps and download an anti-adware application as soon as possible. Here are three choices that will help you rid your computer of adware for free.
With one of the best reputations in the game, Malwarebytes is a company you can trust to clean up your computer. Its AdwCleaner software specifically targets adware and browser hijackers, as well as “potentially unwanted programs,” which could include toolbars and other questionable downloads.
AdwCleaner is free, and all you have to do is download it and run it. It doesn’t get much easier.
Another company with a great reputation, BitDefender is at the forefront of anti-malware tech. This lightweight antivirus app protects you from all sorts of mayhem, including adware and spyware. It also packs anti-phishing and anti-fraud features for additional protection.
While you get more features out of the paid version of this app, the free option is still a great way to go.
While some of anti-adware software out there only works on Windows computer, Malwarebytes’ anti-malware software will protect your Mac from attacks. This extremely lightweight client is great even if your Mac is starting to get old and slow down.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Macs don’t get adware. They do. So download this now.
As with any type of malware, the best way to deal with adware is to not get infected in the first place. Make sure you have an up-do-date antivirus solution running on your computer, watch out for suspicious-looking sites, and remember that the best things in life aren’t free. Especially when it comes to software.
One of the most common types of ransomware, “Locky” all but disappeared late last year. Sadly however this very dangerous cyber threat has reemerged and is worse then ever. Everyone should make themselves aware of this particular cyber threat – because once your data is infected – you may never see it again.
The New Locky Brings a New Infection Mechanism
This current wave of SPAM comes in the form of emails that pretend to be payment receipts with various subjects. According to an article by My Online Security, the email subjects include Receipt 435, Payment Receipt 2724, Payment-2677, Payment Receipt_739, and Payment#229, where the numbers change.
These emails include a PDF attachment with a name like P72732.pdf. When these PDFs are opened, the target will be prompted to open an embedded Word document as shown below.
If a user opens the file, the Word document will open and the target will be greeted with the typical Malicious word document prompt. That is the prompting to enable the macros by clicking on Enable Content in order to properly see the document.
When the macros are enabled, the macros are currently downloading an encrypted Locky binary from http://uwdesign.com.br/9yg65, decrypting the file, saving it to %Temp%\redchip2.exe, and then executing the file to begin the encryption process. Redchip2.exe currently has a 7/55 detection on VirusTotal.
Just like previous variants, Locky deletes Shadow Volume Copies using a Scheduled Task and appends the .OSIRIS extension to encrypted files. You can see the task used below.
While encrypting files it will routinely send status updates to the Command & Control servers located at 220.127.116.11/checkupdate and 18.104.22.168/checkupdate. When done it will display the ransom note to let the victim know that they have been infected.
Unfortunately, at this time there is still no way to decrypt files encrypted by Locky.
Protecting Yourself Against Ransomware
As I continually recommend you should never open an attachment from a sender that you did not request. This goes for hyperlinks in email messages as well that you did not request. If you receive email messages from “lenders” or “creditors” regarding payments etc that include documents call the lender and speak to someone. Do not open the attachment p or click on the hyperlink unless you are 100% certain of its legitimacy.
Things can go wrong in the world of computers. Sometimes a operating system (OS) upgrade, like the new Windows Creators Update can go wrong or your PC can get sluggish and start misbehaving over time.
In the past this often meant finding a “tech person” to look at the PC and “format” it. While this may still be necessary from time to time, thanks to Windows 10 and it’s new Fresh Start feature you may be able to improve your relationship with your PC quickly and on your own. Saving yourself time and money.
Life Before Windows 10
In the Windows 8 period, a feature was added to the operating system called Reset and Refresh. The choice was simple. Reset meant your device was returned to a pristine installation of Windows 8 with none of your files, settings, or apps remaining on the device. The experience after the reset would be just like powering up your device for the first time. On the other hand Refresh would keep your files and Windows Store apps installed but system settings and desktop software would be removed. This options was great for a quick fix due to corrupted settings or something like that.
In the Windows 10 Creators Update those two options are now called Reset this PC and Fresh Start but they have now reversed roles in a couple of ways.
Option 1 – Reset this PC
To access this setting just go to Windows Settings>Update & security>Recovery and then select Get started.
You will then be presented with two options:
Option 1 – Keep my files. Apps and Settings are removed but your personal files are retained and available in the reset system.
Option 2 – Remove everything. files, apps, and settings are removed. This results in a completely pristine state just like the day you started it up for the first time out of the box.
Option 2 – Fresh start
The starting point for Fresh start is in a non-standard location – the Windows Defender Security Center app under Device performance and health tab. Although now that I am looking at that written down – it does make sense because this option is all about improving device performance and health.
To get started just select the Additional info link.
Here you will see the explanation of what Fresh start will do on your system. Your personal files and some settings are always retained in this option. Take note that apps you installed will be removed along with Office, third-party anti-virus software, and pre-installed desktop apps.
That last one is key about Fresh start because this includes OEM software that is pre-installed on many devices out of the box.
To begin the Fresh start process just select Next and follow the subsequent prompts.
Fresh start gives you a truly clean start because the latest version of Windows 10 is downloaded from Microsoft and not pulled from the standard restore partitions that many systems have these days for reinstalling the operating system.
In the above dialog box you will see that Windows Store apps that were pre-installed by the device manufacturer will be restored in this process just like the standard Windows 10 inbox apps.
So if you are experiencing any unresolved issues on your Windows 10 device then these two feature options could help sort that out. I recommend you start with the Reset this PC option which will use your devices recovery media. If that does not help or you want a much cleaner install with a fresh copy of Windows 10 then Fresh start is the one to use.
Microsoft yesterday touted operating system-wide power savings in a recent preview of Windows 10, claiming that the technology will reduce notebook battery consumption by 11% on laptops equipped with the newest processors.
The technology, temporarily tagged as “Power Throttling,” was enabled on all copies of Windows 10 Insider build 16176, which Microsoft released Friday. Insider is the beta program Microsoft runs for both enthusiasts and businesses, which I participate in. Microsoft relies on Insiders to learn how the OS will change for the next feature upgrade, as well as for testing the upgrade prior to deploying the final code when it is shipped several months later.
Power Throttling Explained
Microsoft stated when explaining their new ‘Power Throttling,’ that when background work is running, Windows places the CPU in its most energy efficient operating modes, meaning work gets done, but with as minimal possible battery usage as possible.
Like other such technologies, Microsoft’s is meant to recognize foreground tasks — such as active apps — as well as persistent applications, like music streaming applications, then give them full access to the processor. Other apps, or even individual processes within an app, that are classified as “background,” are restricted in how they impact the CPU’s power usage. For instance, they may not be allowed to kick the processor into its higher-frequency, higher-power, higher-consumption mode.
What You Will Need
Power Throttling works only on Intel processors with that firm’s Speed Shift, a feature of sixth-generation and later CPUs, including “Skylake” and the newer “Kaby Lake.” Sadly this means if you have an older laptop you will need to pick up a new one to enjoy longer battery life through Speed Shift & Windows 10.
When Will Power Throttling Be Available?
The first opportunity most users will have to apply Power Throttling will be with 2017’s second feature upgrade. Microsoft has not revealed a release timetable, but most expect it to appear this fall.
Microsoft’s big new Windows 10 Creator’s Update is starting to roll out to Windows 10 PC’s everywhere. I have been using this for several weeks now, in a beta release and recently received the official upgrade. I am running the new operating system on both my Microsoft Surface 4 and Microsoft Surface Book.
So what’s included in the update? here is a rundown:
This might seem like a small thing but I really like this new feature. Anyone knows that staring at a bright screen at nighttime can be bad for your health. This new feature enables you to change the screen temperature and even schedule it from dusk to dawn, or any hours you choose. I wonder how many headaches this will save.
Windows Defender Advanced Treat Protection (ATP) Service
ATIP is a service to help businesses detect and respond to advanced attacks, beyond what you get in Windows Defender. Creators Update beefs up those abilities by enabling sensors to detect threats that hang out in system memory or kernel-level exploits. IT admins can add their own alerts, and the remediation actions support will reduce response time. This will be part of the Windows 10 Enterprise version only.
Windows Upgrade Analytics
From within the Windows Analytics Dashboard, you’ll get more telemetry on device-health of PCs. The Operations Management Suite will be integrated directly with the dashboard for a more secure way to analyze those insights.
Better Privacy Controls
Microsoft released a new web-based privacy dashboard, which lets you control and see Microsoft’s activity such as location, search and browsing. When Creators launches you’ll also be able to opt into one of two levels of data collection: Basic or Full. At Basic, Microsoft will not collect data about installed apps, error reports or whether Windows is running right.
A new Unified Extensible Firmware Interface conversion tool that will reduce the need for IT professionals to manually convert Windows 7 devices using legacy BIOSes. The tool will be integrated with other management tools such as System Center Configuration Manager.
Unified Update Platform (UUP)
The UUP reduces the size of update downloads across tablets, smartphones, PCs, IoT devices and Hololens through the use of differential download technologies. That means a differential download package will contain the changes that have been made since the last time the Windows device was updated. Microsoft says the technology can shrink the download file size by up to 35 percent.
Virtual Machine Display Scaling
Hyper-V Virtual Machines aren’t always scaled the way you might want. Creators Update brings a new Zoom option in the View menu, which allows you to override the default scaling and set it to 100, 125, 150 or 200. This also led to a fix a problem in which certain virtual machines wouldn’t display the remote desktop connection bar after entering full-screen mode.
Stop Bloatware Installation
Windows 10 users will be able to turn on a feature that will prevent the installation of classic Win32 apps, making the only source for app downloads the Windows Store. If someone tries to install a Win32 app they will get a dialog pop-up that says apps from Microsoft’s store are safe and reliable. There’s also an option to allow people to download them anyway, after seeing the warning.
Container-Based Isolation in Edge
Microsoft built a new security feature into Edge browser, a container-based isolation technology codenamed Barcelona. Windows executives have named Barcelona the Windows Defender Application Guard, which will use virtualization-based security to isolate potentially malicious code into containers.
Workplace Augmented Reality & HoloLens
HoloLens keeps getting more interesting. The $5,000 headset will let you project 3D virtual objects into real-world space. That means being able to plan out a workspace before you buy the equipment or furniture. With Creators Update, Microsoft added a new Capture 3D tool, which lets you scan a 2D image of an object from your computer and project a 3D model in your physical space. The HoloLens is likely to be joined next year by $299 competitors from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo.
Registry Editor Enhancements
You can use shorthand notation for HKEY names in the address bar. For example, you can use “HKCR”, “HKCU”, “HKLM”, and “HKU” instead of typing or pasting the respective full name “HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT”, “HKEY_CURRENT_USER”, “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” or “HKEY_USERS” into the address bar.
Trackpad on Touchscreens with a Virtual Touchpad
You can now send your tablet display to a second screen via a virtual touchpad. To activate it, you connect to a monitor, open Action Center and tap Project Quick Action. When you press and hold the taskbar you can then select Show Touchpad Button to bring up a black box on the bottom right corner. You can tweak the trackpad’s settings in Settings > Devices > Touchpad.
New Display Settings
Windows 10 will now know when sunrise and sunset happens. And it will use that knowledge to automatically adjust the amount of blue light emitted at night. Microsoft is also simplifying the options to let users switch resolution easier and improve DPI.
Edge Browser Improvements
These include the addition of a tab preview bar that lets you glance at the rest of your tabs without leaving the page you’re on. You’ll also be ablet o save and restore whole sets of tabs. Microsoft will also now black untrusted Flash content by default.
3D in PowerPoint and Paint
3D in Windows 10
Creators Update brings 3D capabilities to Microsoft PowerPoint and the venerable Paint program. Microsoft launched a new online database/community for 3D elements called Remix3D. From here you can find and share 3D creations, which Microsoft calls mixed reality. It could help you add some serious flair to your next business plan pitch to the executives.
Easier Team Collaboration
By pinning individual contacts to your taskbar, you can save yourself some clicks with the Creators Update. With one click you can decide to send text, email, or even share files with one person or your team. You can also relay messages from smartphones to desktops.
Windows Insiders like me accept some level of risk in trying out early builds of the operating system. So as Microsoft ramps up to the official Creators Update rollout there will be minor fixes and tweaks. So the various improvements include changes to automatic brightness, log in failures, system crashes caused by ejecting SD cards. The company also rolled out a ton of improvements to Sticky Notes, including languages support and time recognition.
In the first major update for over two years, Google Earth has added several new features in addition to updating the satellite imagery for a significant portion of the globe. The update also adds 3D maps of specific locations, facts about random places, and guided tours. Also you no you no longer need to download and install the application. Google Earth now loads in-browser, with all of its features ready to go. This improvement alone will probably intice many more people to check it out.
The Whole Wide World
The Google Earth redesign introduces some very cool new features.
First up is the Knowledge Graph. Knowledge Graph is the technology behind the bite size bits of information displayed directly in Google search. Meaning that each time you search Google Earth for a specific location, an informative snippet will display with details of the particular place.
The next feature is “interactive guided tours,” created by scientists, non-profits, and other “storytellers.” The feature, called Voyager, showcases different aspects of the world around us. For instance, you can tour the Tanzanian Gombe National Park, led by primate expert Jane Goodall. There are several different habitats on offer, as well as interesting partners to assist with content creation, such as the BBC and Sesame Street (for child-specific experiences).
The addition of 3D view is excellent. Instead of the flat satellite imagery we are used to, you can now explore almost any location in 3D.
And there is more. Google Earth now has a “I’m feeling lucky” button. It works just how you would expect: one-click takes you to a random location. Additionally, Google Earth users can now directly share locations with a simple link.
Exploring with Google Earth
Google Earth’s massive update really brings some great improvements to what was already a great service. Check it out.
Never played StarCraft: Blood War? If you were a gamer in the late 1999’s you no doubt remember this classic. Blizzard, the gaming company is releasing the original StarCraft for free. I suggest, if you remember this game or if you just want a look at what gaming in the late 1990’s looked like check this out – while it is free.
Why is it free? Blizzard is probably hoping to create some buzz around StarCraft: Remastered, an updated version of the game due later this year. That version will feature 4K graphics support and improved online matchmaking for multiplayer sessions.
To get the original, at no charge and with no strings, use these download links (these begin the download immediately):
(Keep in mind that freebies tend to melt the Interwebs, so don’t be surprised if you encounter a download delay or other issue. This is not, to my knowledge, a time-limited offer, so you should be able to get it at some point, even if you have difficulty initially.)
Interestingly, this is a newly patched version of StarCraft (1.18), the first patch the game has seen in over eight years. You can get a full rundown of the updates in this post on Blizzard’s StarCraft forum.
What’s more, this version includes not only the core game, but also the Brood War expansion pack. (Don’t be confused by the installer, which mentions only the latter during setup.)
I remember spending a lot of hours playing this back in the late ’90s. It may look a little tired and dated, but the gameplay is as solid and addictive as ever.
Apps that filter blue light have been around for ages. F.lux is a popular solution for both Windows and Mac, and there also several apps that will do it on your smartphone.
However, such third-party apps might become obsolete soon thanks to built-in functionalities. macOS just released Night Shift, and more recently, the Windows 10 Creators Update which is arriving soon brings with it new feature called Night Light will fill the same need.
If you’ve got the Creators Update already, you can start using it now. Head to Settings > System > Display. You’ll see a switch labeled Night Light on the right side. Click on Night Light Settings first to configure it to your liking.
Use the slider bar to choose a temperature of color. The further left you drag it, the warmer the color becomes. Warmer temperatures filter more light but greatly distort the colors, so you might not want such an extreme setting for color-sensitive work.
Enabling Schedule night light makes sense so you don’t have to toggle it on every evening. You can check Sunset to Sunrise and the colors will automatically change based on your time zone. If you want to set your own times instead (maybe you have an unusual work schedule), click Set hours and specify them.
To quickly enable or disable Night Light, open the Action Center with the Windows Key + A shortcut or by clicking the icon in the bottom-right corner of your screen. Click the Night Light panel to toggle it — useful if you’re watching a movie or something and need to disable it for a time.
I recently started a re-watch of “Star Trek” Voyager” and this of all the Star Trek franchises always has me thinking of my childhood, and the original Trek, and the life lessons I learned growing up.
Watching Star Trek when I was a little kid was one of my most formative influences in terms of my entertainment choices, and I’ve always felt that it taught me a lot about life in the process of just being plain fun. And so, listed here for your reading pleasure, are a few of what I think are the strongest points the series makes as a whole.
#1: Never judge a book by its cover
The idea that things aren’t always what they appear and that people shouldn’t rush to judgment has so many precedents in Star Trek that I could hardly list them all, but my favorite one is the Horta of Janus VI. Human miners and Kirk’s crew hunted down this grotesque and rocky slug-like creature so that they could destroy it after it killed several people. But in the end, it turns out that the Horta is an extraordinarily intelligent and sensitive creature that was only driven to murder because of the miners’ unwitting slaughter of thousands of her young. With some timely mind melding by Mr. Spock, Kirk and the Horta manage to reach an understanding and agreement that benefits everyone in the end. It just goes to show that no matter what the situation, appearance isn’t everything.
#2: Don’t take life too seriously
The characters of Star Trek are frequently put into dangerous and life-threatening situations, but one thing that never fails is Captain Kirk’s ability to laugh at himself and his mistakes once it’s all over. Hardly an episode ends without Kirk cracking a joke at somebody (usually Spock) to lighten the mood. Kirk’s unfailing ability to find the enjoyment in every situation he faced was something I always admired about him, and the few times when he does get too stuck in the mud for his own good, he always gets set straight once he recognizes the ludicrous nature of the situation (see “The Trouble with Tribbles”). It’s our job to take whatever life throws our way and make the best out of it that we can.
#3: Perfection isn’t what it’s cracked up to be
In the episode “This Side of Paradise”, Kirk and the crew discover a planet where colonists live a seemingly idyllic existence thanks to alien spores that allow them to let go of their cares and concerns and just enjoy life.
While this sounds great in theory, the flip side of it is that the colonists haven’t made any progress toward their mission since coming to the planet, which was originally intended to help all of humanity. As Kirk wisely notes at the end of the episode, perhaps paradise isn’t where humanity thrives: maybe we’re meant to struggle and better ourselves by overcoming the challenges and problems we face in everyday life. If we lived in a perfect world and didn’t have anything to strive toward, we wouldn’t really be human at all.
#4: There’s more than one way of looking at things
One of the constant highlights of Star Trek is the constant debate between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy about emotion versus logic. Kirk and McCoy often malign Spock’s seemingly unfeeling and cold deductions, but more than once Spock’s ability to act without the clouds of doubt, anger, guilt, or any other human emotions saved them and the rest of the crew where an ordinary man would have been paralyzed by indecision.
But on the other hand, Spock’s human friends are able to offer innovative solutions to problems the Vulcan was unable to think of by himself. The moral of the story is that there’s no one point of view that will get things done or that is completely and always correct.
#5: Embrace everything about who you are
In “The Enemy Within”, a transporter accident splits Kirk into two copies of himself: one ostensibly good, and the other evil. While it’s clear the “evil” Kirk is full of unrestrained aggression, desire, and many negative emotions, it also becomes apparent that without these feelings, the “good” version of Kirk is weak, indecisive, and unable to function as a commander.
In the end, only by reuniting themselves can the two halves make a full human being again. The lesson here is that while there may be many things we don’t like about ourselves, it’s never possible to tell when one of these traits could help us, or how it’s shaped who we are. We wouldn’t be ourselves without all of them.
#6: Good friends are the most valuable things there is
While they may bicker and argue much of the time over their differing points of view when tensions get high, it’s clear that Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, along with the rest of the crew of the Enterprise, are close enough to be called a family in many respects. In many situations where one of them has been in danger, such as Scotty being accused of murder, Kirk court-martialled for offing a personal enemy, or Spock disobeying orders to help a former commander, the other crewmembers never fail to leap to their defense in any way they can. It’s clear that these people would do anything for each other, and that they’ve always got each other’s back, and that’s more important than anything in this or any other universe.
#7: Violence is never the answer
More than once, when the crew of the Enterprise is faced with a crisis, the tendency of some of the human characters, Kirk included, is to immediately attempt a military solution, and often this is shown to have catastrophic results. Overall, the characters of Star Trek manage to talk their way out of a lot more situations than they do by fighting their way out.
Compromise and understanding is always the goal, and senseless violence is always condemned, even when it’s only simulated by a computer (see “A Taste of Armageddon”). It’s made clear in this show that violence only leads to more violence. Compassion and mercy for one’s enemies, as well as anyone else, is key to accomplishing any mission.
#8: With great power comes great responsibility
As the commander of a starship crewed by over 300 other people, it’s often made clear just how much pressure Kirk is under as a captain day in and day out.
It’s his responsibility to ensure the safety of all these other lives, and take the well being of every single person under his supervision into account when making any decision. He’s also stated more than once that a captain is by proxy responsible for the actions of everyone under their command. While this seems like a bit of an unfair burden for a person to place on themselves, the fact that Kirk commands the strength and firepower of this many people and a ship like the Enterprise means he has to make responsible choices about how and when to use them. It’s the same for anyone in life who has some measure of power, and it’s up to them to utilize it for the benefit of others.
#9: The good of the many outweighs the good of the one
This is a tried and true Spock-ism that can sound a bit odd at first. Doesn’t that just advocate for tyranny of the majority and denying a voice to the individual? But that’s not what the real meaning is here. What this saying really is about is the demonstrated willingness of Kirk, Spock, or just about anyone else on the Enterprise to sacrifice themselves, or put themselves in harm’s way, in order to save each other and the ship at large. The selflessness of the characters on Star Trek is something we could all take a lesson from: always consider the consequences of your actions, and make sure that you’re not just doing things for yourself, but for the benefit of others. Its utilitarianism at it’s finest, something I think we could do with a little more of in real life.
#10: Boldly go where no one has gone before
This is the most famous tag line in Star Trek for a reason, you know. The entire show is basically a giant metaphor for how humanity in general approaches the unknown. We can approach it with fear and trepidation, or we can embrace it and enjoy the wonder of discovery. Blaze new trails. Don’t get stuck in conventional thinking. Don’t be afraid to take some risks. And most importantly, always believe in a positive outcome. If there’s one thing I learned from James T. Kirk, it’s to never, ever give up, and that there’s no such thing as a no-win scenario. All you have to have is the tenacity, patience, and courage to look in the right place.
If you are a young parent you could do a lot worse then introducing Star Trek to your child.