• Apple announces new Mac products

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    ISSUE 20.05 • 2023-01-30

    APPLE NEWS

    Will Fastie

    By Will Fastie

    The MacBook Pro and Mac mini are upgraded to new versions of Apple’s M2 system on a chip.

    All models became available last Tuesday.

    There’s not a lot of news here. The move to the M2 series of Apple silicon was inevitable and expected for both product lines, so the new products are not much of a surprise. But it’s important to keep up, because Apple silicon keeps evolving.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.05.0, 2023-01-30).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • How to choose and use the best PowerToys for Windows 10/11

    WINDOWS

    Lance Whitney

    By Lance Whitney

    Microsoft packs a lot of cool tools into its free PowerToys offering. Here are some of the best.

    Microsoft’s latest incarnation of PowerToys has been around for a few years. Geared for Windows 10 and 11, PowerToys aims to add more features and flexibility to Windows.

    But now there are more than 15 individual tools in PowerToys. How do you know which ones are worth trying? Let’s check out what I think are the best of the bunch.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.05.0, 2023-01-30).

  • Volume² — a comfortable, useful addition to Windows

    FREEWARE SPOTLIGHT

    Deanna McElveen

    By Deanna McElveen

    Have you ever stumbled across a program that is so sleek, so well executed, and so simple that it feels as if it’s always been a part of Windows?

    A program you just know must be on all your computers, or they won’t feel like Windows?

    Alexandr Irza, a talented developer from Ukraine, created Volume². It’s a free, open-source program that seriously upgrades the volume controls of your Windows PC. I always enjoy listening to a little music while I write these articles, and I can’t stop playing with my new volume controls!

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.05.0, 2023-01-30).

  • Passwords don’t work — until they do

    ON SECURITY

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Let’s get real. We all would love it if every website requiring credentials would just launch to our desired page without our having to enter in a password or do any sort of authentication.

    The process of entering a password or passphrase that is unique to every website is essential for security, but untenable. We usually counter our inability to remember more than a few passwords by using a Password Manager program (hopefully your display is not surrounded by Post-It™ notes). Password managers work great, until they are no longer safe.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.05.0, 2023-01-30).

  • Printers can drive you insane

    After months of print spooler patches hardening the print spooler so that attackers can’t use printers to gain a toe-hold into the network and then launch ransomware, printer vendors are having to go back and redo printer drivers/or you are having to install more modern drivers to deal with these issues.

    Show me a Patch Tuesday and probably SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE has hit a printing issue.

    I’ve had to reinstall/touch every printer in the office or home during the course of a year.  Yesterday I was fighting with an HP printer getting it to work reliably doing remote printing. But at first I couldn’t even get the Color Laserjet to recognize that it WAS a color printer in the first place.

    I showcase in this video the spot I found to get the device to “update now” and recognize it was a color printer.

    Now I’m trying “basic” printer drivers. I have to wait until tomorrow when the person is there to test if remote printing will now behave.

  • Microsoft you have made this confusing

    Just bought a new workstation. HP small form factor (with the largest power brick ever) with a Windows 11 Pro downgraded to Windows 10 Pro so I KNOW it supports Windows 11. Joined it to the domain. Started to install Win11 as the first business rollout of 11.  I’ll use Fences program and corral icons so the user won’t be annoyed, and it will be like his Windows 10.

    So for grins I go and run the WhynotWin11 just to test.

    And it says the 12th generation i7-12700 is not supported.

    Huh?

    But it is clearly listed on this page as being supported.

    AND it states in the web sites it’s licensed for Windows 11. But as Microsoft still hasn’t fixed their “official” application to work in a domain I can’t use their official tool while the workstation is on a domain.

    Note that while Microsoft is now pushing 22H2 to “unmanaged” pcs (that means you, the huddled masses), I don’t consider it still quite ready for prime time.  The fix for the remote desktop not working (which impacts some but not all Windows 11) is in the PREVIEW release of KB5022360.  (This update addresses an issue that affects mstsc.exe. It stops responding while connecting to a RemoteApp and Desktop Connection.) So until that rolls into next month’s security update, 22H2 still isn’t ready for letting home users remote into their workstations.

    Microsoft when you start selling Windows 12 make this process easier of determining which ones are and are not supported?

    As a kind reminder – don’t forget to use either group policy, registry keys or incontrol to select the version you are on.

  • MS-DEFCON 4: Patching weather is clearing

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    ISSUE 20.04.1 • 2023-01-24
    MS-DEFCON 2

    By Susan Bradley

    In general, the January updates have been well behaved.

    So far, I’m not seeing any trending issues with them; accordingly, I’m lowering the MS-DEFCON level to 4. But that’s not to say we haven’t seen some other issues related to other types of updates. In addition to describing those, I’ll discuss a vulnerability in a part of your computer you may never think about.

    Two issues recently impacted Start menus and shortcuts but were unrelated to one another.

    Anyone can read the full MS-DEFCON Alert (20.04.1, 2023-01-24).

  • “What can I use my old computers for?”

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    ISSUE 20.04 • 2023-01-23

    SUPPORT

    Randy McElveen

    By Randy McElveen

    I will be the first to admit that I have a problem letting go of things. I just cannot throw things away, especially electronics.

    In this article, I will give you some “tips for pack rats” about how to repurpose old computers. I’m sure I will get around to doing these things with my basement full of computers — someday.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.04.0, 2023-01-23).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • Is the woman in this video real or a deepfake? Now find out.

    PUBLIC DEFENDER

    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    There’s been an explosion in artificial intelligence (AI) that can create fake videos and compose passable writing samples. These computer-generated outputs are now good enough to fool the average person, who may absorb social media with an uncritical eye.

    The major media have exhaustively (but superficially) written about these AI programs. So I won’t bore you with the mind-numbing details of exactly how they work.

    Instead, I’ll tell you how to detect them and — hopefully — protect yourself against fakes of all kinds.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.04.0, 2023-01-23).

  • Get started, but stay original, with Microsoft Designer

    MICROSOFT 365

    Peter Deegan

    By Peter Deegan

    There is and will continue to be a lot of hype about Microsoft Designer.

    As usual, the reality of a Microsoft product is somewhat different. Microsoft’s focus is making everything quick and easy, which sounds great. But any moderately experienced Office user knows the trap. Too many docs, sheets, and slides have a tedious sameness to them because they rely on the same templates and design helpers.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.04.0, 2023-01-23).

  • Microsoft to lay off 10,000 workers

    MICROSOFT NEWS

    Will Fastie

    By Will Fastie

    Microsoft will reduce its worldwide workforce by 5% due to economic uncertainty.

    On January 18, 2023, Satya Nadella sent to all Microsoft employees a letter titled Focusing on our short- and long-term opportunity. The note contained his explanation for the contraction of the workforce.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.04.0, 2023-01-23).

  • When is the right time to buy a Windows 11 computer?

    HARDWARE

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    The other day, I retired the last Windows 7 computer in our office, the one that had been used by our office manager.

    She didn’t like change and rarely went online. She used the computer only for some key business applications. (She carried a flip phone.) In other words, this is a case in which I wanted to make the transition as smooth as possible.

    So I took an older Windows 10 computer that wasn’t eligible for Windows 11, put the Start10 application on it, installed the Office classic menu, and ported her preferred background image to the “new” PC. I put the icons on the desktop in exactly the same place. I did everything possible to make the new computer look and behave as much like the old one as I could. And I didn’t tell her the computer had changed.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.04.0, 2023-01-23).