Monthly Archives: July 2022

  • Got a cell phone? Are you getting more spam calls?

    Even though “supposedly” the industry is trying to clamp down on spam calls, I get more, not less. Lately I’ve received calls where clearly the spam technology isn’t working and they end up being calls with “dead air”.

    If you have an iphone you can opt to REALLY block all unknown phone calls and ONLY those people in your iphone contact list with the following settings:

    Go to Settings > Focus > Do Not Disturb > move the toggle next to Do Not Disturb > to ON position and tap on the People tab. On the next screen, tap on Calls From option, located under “Also Allow” section. On the next screen, select All Contacts option. After this, your iPhone will only allow Calls from people who are listed on your Contacts List. All other Calls from unknown Callers or Callers with hidden Caller ID will be automatically silenced.

    If you don’t have someone on your contact list, when they call it will go to your voice mail.

    Androids may be a little different depending on the model, but you should be able to google and find instructions.

    Bottom line what are you doing to stop being annoyed with spam calls, spam texts and anything else related to spam?

     

  • It’s Happy Sysadmin Day!

    It’s the 23rd annual sysadmin day and I’d like to include everyone who handles their own technology in their home as part of that “happy” appreciation. Personally I think home technology is sometimes more confusing and harder to do than business tech. Too often vendors assume that home users don’t need options, or need set up to be hidden by or only done with apps and phones.

    So pat yourself on the back for having one of the hardest jobs on the planet: Keeping up with home technology!

    In other news – I didn’t realize that 2022 is the year that George Jetson was born! In two days he will be born!

    “Meet George Jetson….. His Boy Elroy……..Daughter Judy…….Jane his wife.”

    Theme song here

  • Beware of used printers

    Normally when I purchase refurbished technology I have had zero problems.

    Normally with printers we have purchased new, but lately it’s been impossible to find the models we want either locally or online sold new. So, thought I, I’d go to plan B. Refurb laptops, refurb’d desktops, refurbed Alexas, you name it I’ve always had good luck.  Until recently that is. At least with printers I am having lousy luck.  I have tried twice now to purchase a certain model of printer (Lexmark) that supports two trays (one letter, one legal), is made to fit near a desk and twice now I have purchased either a used or a refurbished model from Amazon and Ebay and both of them had issues.  The first one had a bent chassis so that tray one could not be sensed and itiwouldn’t print. Well, It would if you shoved a screwdriver in the slot to make it “think” the tray was lifted. The other wouldn’t lay down black ink on half of the printing.

    Both fortunately are available for sending back but it’s still been frustrating to try to get certain printers that due to supplies are really hard to find right now and when you try to go with plan B – which is let’s try renewed/refurb’d – which NORMALLY never let’s me down – it’s not coming through this time.

    Printers. The BANE of our existence. We have been saying that we are going “paperless” in our society and yet we still use paper.

    Bottomline, I’d stay away from refurbished printers for a while as I keep sending them back.

    (and don’t get me started on brands that demand you install their ink)

  • MS-DEFCON 4: July updates make some hot and bothered

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    ISSUE 19.30.1 • 2022-07-26
    MS-DEFCON 4

    By Susan Bradley

    Access bugs ruin a quiet July, but we can still lower MS-DEFCON to 4.

    To any reader of this alert who is sweltering in a heat wave, my sincere condolences. I can slightly relate, as I’m having the normal July heat wave in my neck of the woods.

    The big difference is that my area of the country is used to this weather. Thus I’m inside an air-conditioned home, remotely accessing office workstations and servers to perform the monthly maintenance tasks while some of you are … well … just really hot and really uncomfortable. Fortunately for us, this month’s Windows and Office updates were mostly well behaved.

    Anyone can read the full MS-DEFCON Alert (19.30.1, 2022-07-25).

  • Solo collaboration: Office’s untold advantage

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    ISSUE 19.30 • 2022-07-25

    MICROSOFT 365

    Peter Deegan

    By Peter Deegan

    Modern Office app “collaboration” features are hyped by Microsoft for businesspeople to share a document. But all those features — comments, tracking, versioning, and multi-computer access — are available and useful for solo, personal work, too.

    Using the collaboration tools on your own is an easy way to become confident with those features without embarrassing yourself — nobody is looking over your shoulder. The same tools are useful to help you manage a complex document by leaving notes and reminders to yourself. The also help you recall deleted text and access the latest version from wherever you are.

    I’ll focus on Word in this article because it has the most comprehensive collaboration features. The same tips apply generally to Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and even a little bit for Outlook.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (19.30.0, 2022-07-25).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.

  • Make semiconductor chips without wasting water? Intel says it can.

    PUBLIC DEFENDER

    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    Semiconductor manufacturing requires water, and a lot of it. But the Intel Corporation, one of the world’s largest operators of fabrication facilities, announced recently that it’s on track by the year 2030 to deliver to local communities 100% as much clean water as its plants use — and that the company is already generating more than 100% in some countries.

    How is that possible? If fabs require water to run their manufacturing processes, how could a chip maker end up with more water than it uses?

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (19.30.0, 2022-07-25).

  • Do we really want (or need) Windows 12?

    PATCH WATCH

    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    The famous old idiom “moving the deckchairs around on the Titanic” is sometimes applied to technology.

    Even though the saying usually implies the futility of a particular action, it often conjures up to me a technology company doing something — anything — to encourage us to purchase more of their product — or at least the latest, so-called greatest version. In my experience, it’s not what we really want but what the vendor thinks we need.

    Case in point? Rumors are flying that Windows 12 is just around the corner.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (19.30.0, 2022-07-25).

  • The worst software in the world

    COMMENTARY

    Will Fastie

    By Will Fastie

    If I were grading the various apps in Microsoft’s Casual Games collection, they’d be lucky to get a D.

    It’s not because the games themselves are bad. It’s because they are all based on the same underlying game engine, one designed with multiple capabilities. The emphasis on the engine has diverted attention away from the games themselves, which have been in general disrepair for some time.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (19.30.0, 2022-07-25).

  • Got an older computer?

    Summertime maintenance tip for an older computer:

    Open it up.

    Seriously, open up the computer case and take a look inside. Chances are it may look a bit like this:

    That’s the actual inside of a Windows 7 computer that  I had at the office. Even if you decide to keep an older Windows 7 or 8.1 or … in a few years a Windows 10 after it’s end of life occurs, make sure you take the time to give your computer some physical maintenance to the computer hardware itself.  You will probably find dust bunnies like crazy inside any computer that’s been sitting on or near the ground.

    Dust can cause your computer to overheat.  It can also cause symptoms like…

    • Computer refuses to turn on at all?
    • Computer works for a while and then randomly shuts off without warning?
    • Laptop keyboard gets hot after several hours of use?
    • Computer seems to slow down and runs sluggish the longer it is running?
    • Strange buzzing or whistling noises suddenly start coming from your computer?

    So open up that case and see what’s in there.  Even if you don’t plan to upgrade the RAM or hard drive make sure you review how clean it is inside.

    Then take alcohol and clean the keyboard. Or consider investing in a new one. Often when someone asks me for advice about buying a computer, I tell them to go to a physical store and try out the keyboards of laptops. Often each manufacturer puts a unique “spin” on their keyboards. The Apple like flat keyboards don’t work well for me.  Other brands can have a wrist rest area that is so huge that it makes the keyboard uncomfortable.  The youngsters at the office that have Apple devices love their Apple keyboards so much that we buy them an apple keyboard and mouse for their Windows devices. (Tip get this software for those Apple keyboards on your windows devices)

    Bottom line, this summertime tip — clean up the inside of your desktop style computer and clean that keyboard. You will find that both are really dirty and ….. well…..quite disgusting.

  • Microsoft rolls out macro blocking again

    Microsoft announced they are once again beginning the rollout to block macros in Office files downloaded from the Internet.

    Personally I would make sure that you aren’t using any Office macros in files that you haven’t removed the “mark of the web”. Remember to right mouse click a file, go into properties and see if there is an “unblock” button. When in doubt you can upload a suspicious file to www.virustotal.com just to be sure it’s not a malicious file.

    Updated July 20, 2022: We’re resuming the rollout of this change in Current Channel. Based on our review of customer feedback, we’ve made updates to both our end user and our admin documentation to make clearer what options you have for different scenarios. For example, what to do if your users have files on SharePoint or files on a network share. Please refer to the following documentation:

    If you ever enabled or disabled the Block macros from running in Office files from the Internet policy, your organization will not be affected by this change.

    Thank you.

    VBA macros are a common way for malicious actors to gain access to deploy malware and ransomware. To help improve security, we are changing the behavior of Office applications to now block macros in files from the internet. Learn more in this blog post.

    This change only affects Office on devices running Windows and only affects the following applications: Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, and Word.

    Key points:

    • Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID 88883
    • Timing: We will communicate a new timeline via Message center.
    • Action: Review and assess impact

    How this will affect your organization:

    Previously, it was possible for end users to enable these macros by simply clicking a button on the Trust bar.

    Now, with this change, once a user opens an attachment or downloads from the internet an untrusted Office file containing macros, a message bar displays a Security Risk that the file contains VBA macros obtained from the internet with a Learn More button.

    VBA Macros Blocked Trust Bar
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    The Learn More button goes to an article for end users and information workers that contains information about the security risk of bad actors using macros, safe practices to prevent phishing and malware, and instructions on how to enable these macros (if absolutely needed).

    What you need to do to prepare:

    Enterprises should evaluate their use of macros in files obtained from the internet to determine how this new default behavior will affect their users.

    To learn more about how to get ready for this change and recommendations for managing VBA macros in Office files, read this article for Office admins.

  • Apple is out with security fixes – July 2022

    💻 macOS Monterey 12.5 – 56 bugs fixed
    📱 iOS and iPadOS 15.6 – 39 bugs fixed
    💻 Security Update 2022-005 Catalina – 38 bugs fixed
    💻 macOS Big Sur 11.6.8 – 32 bugs fixed
    📺 tvOS 15.6 – 28 bugs fixed

    Safari 15.6 – 3 bugs fixed

    watchOS 8.7 – 27 bugs fixed

    (see also here)

    Bazzmanzam called it and jinxed it.  I’ll be keeping an eye on any side effects and report in the next alert.

  • Welcome to assistive and adaptive technology

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    ISSUE 19.29 • 2022-07-18

    ACCESSIBILITY

    Chris Husted

    By Chris Husted

    The future of technology is in your hands, hands-free.

    Whether people know it or not, many of the latest features that make using the phone in their hand so much easier all came from developing “assistive and adaptive technology” (AAT), that branch of research and development specifically dedicated to help disabled people with their daily lives.

    More than 13 million Americans use assistive technology devices, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But with the population aging, the number of people with vision impairment and age-related dexterity issues is growing. Chances are, you already use assistive technology or know someone who does.

    Stephen Dawes, a senior systems analyst for the local government Calgary, Canada, has lived the history of assistive and adaptive technology related to computers. He also foretells an interesting future.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (19.29.0, 2022-07-18).
    This story also appears in our public Newsletter.