Windows 10 Insider Previews: A guide to the builds
Thu, 21 Jan 2021 14:57:00 -0800

Microsoft never sleeps. In addition to its steady releases of major and minor updates to the current version of Windows 10, the company frequently rolls out public preview builds to members of its Windows Insider Program, allowing them to test out — and even help shape — upcoming features.

Microsoft numbers Windows 10 releases using a YYH1/YYH2 format, with the YY standing for the last two numbers of the year and H1 or H2 referring to the first or second half of the year. So the most recent version of Windows is officially referred to as Windows 10 version 20H2, or the October 2020 Update. The next feature update, due in the spring of 2021, will be version 21H1.

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Android's consistency crisis
Thu, 21 Jan 2021 08:05:00 -0800

Back in Android's earliest days — way, way back in the prehistoric era of 2010 and the years around it — the platform was a promising but messy piecemeal effort. It was fresh, it was packed with power and potential, and it was absolutely exciting. But it also had virtually no standards surrounding it, and it consequently felt like a mishmosh of conflicting interface styles and design patterns.

In those early days, in fact, that was a frequent criticism you'd hear from folks on the Apple side of the fence: Android was inconsistent. It was disjointed. It wasn't, ahem, an elegant user experience.

And you know what? In many ways, they were right. Android had a lot to offer from the get-go and presented some intriguing advantages over Apple's then especially locked-down and tightly controlled approach, but design and interface consistency were certainly not strengths of the platform at that point. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is either delusional or forgetting what, exactly, the experience of using a Gingerbread-era Android device was like. Powerful? Yup — you'd better believe it. But polished? Yeah — not so much.

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How mixed reality (and Hololens) boosted productivity at Lockheed Martin
Thu, 21 Jan 2021 06:20:00 -0800

Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author.

Mixed reality (MR) in the consumer market has been less than exciting, but it’s been a big hit in business — particularly in manufacturing and training. Lockheed Martin was one of the first companies to embrace this technology (along with other aerospace firms like Boeing). In a presentation this week, Lockheed Martin execs explained where the technology — which relies on Hololens — worked and where it could work in the future as it evolves. They also contrasted HoloLens I and II, saying the latter was far more useful over a more extended time.   

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What's in the latest Chrome update? Password inspections, less annoying site permission requests
Thu, 21 Jan 2021 04:23:00 -0800

Google earlier this week released Chrome 88, adding capabilities to the browser's password manager; streamlining permission requests from sites that asked, say, to switch on the microphone; and for enterprises, ending support for an add-on that called up Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) to render old intranet websites and legacy apps.

The Mountain View, Calif. search giant also paid out more than $81,000 in bounties to security researchers who reported some of the 36 vulnerabilities addressed in Chrome 88. One of the bugs was marked "Critical," Google's top-most threat level (and resulted in a $30,000 reward to its finder, researcher Rory McNamara). Nine others were tagged as "High," the second-most-serious ranking. A number of the bounties — 10, including three of those labeled "High" — had not yet been assigned a dollar amount, so Google's final payout will certainly be higher than the acknowledged total.

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Chrome vs. Edge vs. Firefox: Which is the best browser for business?
Tue, 19 Jan 2021 03:00:00 -0800

What’s the most important piece of productivity software in the business world? Some might say the office suite. But if you look at the time spent actually using software, the answer may well be the web browser. It’s where people do most of their fact-finding and research.

But that’s only a start. These days, web apps like Google Docs, Gmail, Outlook Online, Salesforce, Asana, Jira, and countless others are accessed via the browser as well. So browsers have become your window to work as well as your window to the world.

Which is the best browser for your business? To find out, we’ve put the three leading cross-platform browsers — Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox — to the test. We looked at the basics, like overall interface, speed, and HTML compatibility. Then we moved beyond that to safety and privacy, the availability of extensions, syncing data and settings across multiple devices and platforms, and extra features. We ended up comparing the tools each vendor provides for IT to deploy, manage, and configure its browser.

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(Insider Story)

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Review: M1 Mac mini shows a bright future for Apple Silicon
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 08:49:00 -0800

Apple’s first M1-powered Mac mini is short on flaws and big on promise, and it absolutely sells the company’s migration to its own Apple Silicon processors on its own.

What is the Mac mini?

Apple announced three Macs powered by Apple Silicon last week: the MacBook Air, 13-in. MacBook Pro and the Mac mini.

All three use an M1 chip, running an optimized operating system (Big Sur) and equipped with features such as unified memory, which helps boost and improve graphics performance.

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Review: iPad Air 2020 is a bundle of powerful joy
Mon, 09 Nov 2020 08:46:00 -0800

The all-new iPad Air is a beast. It has the power you need to get all but the highest-end tasks done. It’s also Apple’s most adaptable system, capable of doing almost everything you need, and it's the iPad to get this season.

What’s inside?

The new iPad Air uses an A14X processor (Apple Silicon). It offers a 10.9-in. display, has a Touch ID sensor underneath the top and one of the side buttons, and offers a 12-megapixel rear camera. In contrast, the last generation iPad Air offered a 10.5-in. display, used an A12 Bionic chip, carried an 8-megapixel rear camera and had the familiar Touch ID Home button system.

The design echoes the squarer design of earlier iPhones, but the tablet is light and durable with its 100% recycled aluminium frame. It has slim bezels, flat edges that make it easy to hold, particularly as the tablet weighs just under one pound. That slight weight makes a real difference if you hold it for extensive periods.

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Google Sheets vs. Microsoft Excel: Which works better for business?
Mon, 17 Aug 2020 03:00:00 -0700

Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel are the two best-known spreadsheet applications available today. Both are polished and very useful — so much so that it’s easy to cling to the application you’re currently using without learning how the other has improved over the years. If you (or your business) chose one spreadsheet app and rejected the other years ago, there may be good reasons to reconsider.

To find out where Sheets and Excel stand today, both individually and compared to each other, I tested them by trying out the most common tasks users perform, including starting a new spreadsheet, inputting data and formulas, formatting cells, creating charts, adding extras such as data from external sources, and collaborating with others.

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(Insider Story)

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1. Wi-Fi 6E is coming to the Apple enterprise

Apple will introduce a faster form of Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, into iPhones starting with the iPhone 13 series, according to the analysts at Barclays. What is this? Why does it matter? And what might this mean for your enterprise?

A year in eight days

Given that most Apple users haven’t yet installed Wi-Fi 6 routers in their homes and offices because of the cost of that equipment, news of a follow-up standard may not seem terribly important —particularly after the traumatic year that is the first week of 2021, one of the more benign highlights is that the Wi-Fi Alliance has begun certifying Wi-Fi 6E devices.

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2. Apple may put (self-developed) 5G modems in iPads next year

Apple’s world-class silicon design teams may be close to introducing internally-developed 5G modems inside iPads as soon as 2021, a report claims.

Apple has invested billions in 5G development

The report suggests the first Apple-developed 5G modems may be made available inside new mini-LED iPad Pro models starting in 2021.

The fresh speculation matches the 2019 prediction that, “it seems possible the company will ship its first 5G modem in an iPad or other device, rather than deploying it across all its mobile products at the same time.”

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3. Why just about everyone is wrong about 5G
The next generation of mobile broadband will neither solve all our problems nor cause new ones.
4. WFH? Tips for better Wi-Fi network performance

Whatever platform you use, you’ll want to optimize Wi-Fi performance when you work from home, as it’s hard to stay productive when your network crawls.

Start in the right place

Never ignore the basics:

  • Move your router so it is not on the floor and isn’t behind any large objects.
  • Update the software on all your equipment, including your router, printer and any other connected device.
  • Restart everything, including disconnecting your router from power for a moment or two.
  • Consider extending your network, or replacing it with a mesh network of some kind.

Change your Wi-Fi password

Changing your Wi-Fi password will knock all your devices (including those you've forgotten about) off the network; this is a good thing, as you can reintroduce them as and when you need them.

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5. At this point, 5G is a bad joke

Who doesn't want more bandwidth?

I sure do, and I currently have 300Mbps to my home office via Spectrum cable. What I really want is a Gigabit via fiber optic to my doorstep. Maybe I'll get it someday. But, what I do know for a fact is I'm not going to get Gigabit-per-second speeds from 5G. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever.

At the moment, there are a lot of things the telecomms are telling you in one ad after another that's just not true. I know – shocking news right? But, even by their standards, 5G is pretty bogus.

Let's start with the name itself. There is no single "5G." There are, in fact, three different varieties, with very different kinds of performance.

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6. Edge computing and 5G give business apps a boost

Over the past decade, advances in cloud computing have driven a centralized approach to system administration and operations, while the growth of mobile computing, SaaS, and the internet of things (IoT) have driven computing toward a distributed architecture. With the rollout of 5G and edge computing technologies, companies are now looking to take advantage of both approaches while boosting performance for their applications.

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