Computer Blog


IDG Contributor Network: The coming virtual desktop/gaming war: Why your 2025 PC will be in the cloud


[Disclosure: AMD and Microsoft are clients of the author.]

This week Google launched their cloud gaming service called Stadia which is built on AMD’s processor and graphics platform. Given AMD also supplies core technology to both Sony and Microsoft, this should provide a faster port of console games that are cross-platform to this new service, as well as the promised support for PC games, giving the platform a strong first mover advantage.

The thing with gaming, however, is that it pushes the performance envelope as much if not more than workstations do and if you can do games in the cloud successfully, particularly First-Person Shooters, there is probably little else you can’t do because of the extreme performance requirements Games have.

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A short collection of Safari tips for iPhones, iPad


If you use an iPad or iPhone, then you probably use Safari and may not have come across all of these.

A little Safari history

Safari was introduced at Macworld San Francisco in 2003 by Steve Jobs who modestly claimed it to be the “First major new browser in five years,” which it sort of was, and sort of wasn’t.

Three times faster than Internet Explorer for Mac, Safari included a range of enhancements that were at the time quite new, such as integrated search.

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Flashback Friday: Power play


This division of a paycheck company has 180 users working in a converted warehouse with very dirty power, says a net admin pilot fish working there.

“Our IT budget allowed most of the things we needed — except a UPS for the server room,” fish says. “After carefully studying the electrical requirements, I came up with what seemed to be the best and most cost-effective solution: a UPS unit costing $12,000.”

By fish’s calculation, the new UPS will handle all the site’s current needs and allow for plenty of growth. And he’s pretty pleased that he has solved the problem.

Fish sets up a meeting with the division bean counter and gives him the full pitch in glorious detail: what the site has, what it needs, how much it will cost and — most important — that this will eliminate the power issues the site regularly suffers from.

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Making sense of Google's hardware pivot


It's rare for a piece of tech news to truly catch me off-guard these days — to actually make me open my eyes wide, mutter something along the lines of "crikey," and then scratch my gorilla-head as I try to make sense of what happened.

Well, lemme tell ya, my fellow primate: That very thing went down last week when word broke that Google was moving dozens of employees off its laptop/tablet hardware team and into other roles within the company. The news got a bit buried amidst all the Android Q beta brouhaha, but as first noted by Business Insider, the shift affects both hardware engineers and program managers whose pending projects have been called off. It's part of a broader series of hardware-related "road-map cutbacks," the site's sources reported, and is seen as being a first step in Google's plan to "pare down" its product lineup.

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9 ways Apple’s credit card could disrupt everything


Apple is expected to introduce a credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs. How could it make this card a must-have item for its premium customers?

How Apple can thrive

While the attention is focused on Apple’s surprise product release salvo and its forthcoming video streaming services launch on March 25, there are also claims the company will introduce its own credit card with Goldman Sachs, whose CEO, David Solomon, is expected to attend the Apple launch event.

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Throwback Thursday: Don’t make us hungry. You wouldn’t like us when we’re hungry.


User calls support pilot fish with PC problems, and he goes to work sorting out her issues. But after a minute or so, she says, “Can you hold on for a second?” and puts down the phone.

Fish waits. After a few seconds, he hears people in the background begin singing “Happy Birthday” and then cheering — after which he’s pretty sure he can make out the sounds of people eating cake.

Fish keeps waiting. A few minutes later, he finally hears the user picking up the handset again.

But before he can say, “Hello, welcome back,” the user hangs up.

“I guess I wasn’t invited to that party. No cake for me,” sighs fish.

“For the record, I have no plans to burn down the building, which will undoubtedly make my boss very happy.

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What we know about Apple’s new H1 AirPod chip


Apple’s new edition AirPods carry a brand-new piece of proprietary silicon the company calls the H1 (Headphone) chip. What do we know about it?

What we know about the H1 chip in Apple’s new AirPods

While the new AirPods look exactly like the previous models – little white spikes that dangle out your ears -- they bring useful enhancements: 50 percent more talk time, support for hands-free Siri, faster device syncs, better sounding music playback, power management improvements – and just about all of these improvements depend on Apple’s new H1 chip.  

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The new 'Get Windows 10' announcement arrives for Win7 in KB 4493132


Those of you who discovered a new optional patch, KB 4493132, on your Windows 7 machines this morning can breathe a sigh of relief. Although Microsoft’s official documentation says the nagware “patch” (if you can call it that) should come through automatic update, in fact every report I’ve seen so far says that KB 4493132 is playing nice, sitting in the “Optional” list in Windows Update.

The KB article itself has almost no information:

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A flicker of excitement


Pilot fish is the non-IT IT guy for about 30 fellow cubicle farmers — the person the others turn to before calling IT with a problem. Comes one morning when fish is late, and one of his neighbors with a flickering CRT monitor can’t wait to ask for fish’s help. So when fish does arrive, he sees three guys from IT gathered around that flickering monitor, stumped. They have changed the monitor, the graphics card, the refresh rate, all to no avail. 

Fish enters his neighbor’s cubicle, moves his new desk fan one foot to the right, and — voilà! — the flicker is gone. 

The three IT guys all leave without comment.

Sharky is a big fan of true tales of IT life. Send me yours at You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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3 areas worth watching in Android Q


Six days into its life, we're still trying to figure out what Android Q is all about — what will come to define this latest Android release and end up having the most impact on us, as nose-breathing mammals who rely it on to power our cellular telephony gadgets.

We won't truly know Q's defining features until the software's further along in its development and all of its elements have been revealed, but having used it for several days now, some intriguing areas of progress are coming into focus — areas where Google is clearly working on refining the user experience and, in small but potentially significant measures, turning Android into an even more effective productivity tool.

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Apple's new iMacs: Better for consumer and enterprise pros


Apple’s newly updated iMacs have plenty to offer enterprise and consumer users, not least of which are its faster processors and much-improved graphics performance.

At the movies

It is interesting to note that Apple chose to announce these new Macs with nothing but a press release, even though they’ve not seen significant update since WWDC 2017.

This likely reflects the importance with which the company sees the launch of its disintermediated video streaming service in March 2019.

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BrandPost: Why Cloud Fax Is the Best Protocol for Rapid and Reliable Data Transfer


Why do so many people in the business IT community still make fun of fax?

And no, we’re not questioning whether fax is worthy of a few jokes.

Of course it is.

In an era of smartphones and instantaneous, cloud-based data transfer, most companies’ fax setups rely on paper, ink drums, and the twentieth-century telephone network. Ha, ha.

office space faxing thats be great eFax Corporate

No, we’re asking why we still hear fax jokes at all (while people long ago stopped making snarky remarks about, say, mimeograph machines and tape recorders). Have you guessed the answer yet?

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Heavenly tech support


Pilot fish is helping his pastor fine-tune the church LAN when he notices that the day-care facility next door has a wide-open and unsecured Wi-Fi connection.

Fish’s pastor wants to connect to the day-care center’s printer and print a document saying, “This is from your neighbors. You need to tighten the security on your Wi-Fi.”

Fish suggests that they instead print a document that says, “This is from God. You need to go to church. There’s a really nice one right next door.”

“Too bad the pastor overruled me,” says fish.

Sharky wants your true tale of IT life. If you can’t send it directly to my printer, email it to me at You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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How Apple is about to improve iWork


Many enterprise users will be interested to learn that Apple has introduced significantly faster iPad mini and iPad Air models – they may also be interested to learn about new features the company will soon introduce in Pages, Keynote and Numbers that make its free productivity suite even more useful for enterprise professionals.

iWork is about to become even more useful

Look around, and you’ll frequently find tablets, mostly iPads, in use in real-world business scenarios.

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W-I-D-E area network


Pilot fish is working at the Washington headquarters of a federal bureau, one that may or may not do investigations, but one that definitely has offices all over the world.

Fish wants to print a document, but the color printer in his office area is out of toner, and none will be available until the next day.

So he opens the print manager, sees his printer in the list, and changes his print command to the next printer down. And he adds a page with his office room number, his phone number and his email, asking whoever finds the printout to contact him and let him know where to find the doc so he can pick it up. The next morning, there’s an email waiting for him: “This is the Legal Attache Office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. When can we expect you to come pick up your printout?”

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What to expect at WWDC 2019 - Pt 1


Apple has announced WWDC 2019 will take place in San Jose, California, in early June. What can we expect to see at the show?

What is WWDC?

Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) is the company’s annual developer event at which its engineers speak with the company’s vast dev community, explain what’s new within its operating systems and provide deep insight into how its systems can be used to build third-party services and products.

WWDC 2019 is the thirtieth ever such event and is expected to host 6,000 people with thousands more watching news and talks from the show online.

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Echo chamber


Pilot fish gets a panicked phone call from the central control supervisor at a busy international airport. The VT420 dumb terminals are double-displaying every character typed, so that “exit,” for example, is being displayed as “eexxiitt.” Of course, when users hit Enter after typing “exit,” they get an error message regarding the unknown command “eexxiitt.”

The terminals are used to enter commands to do things such as starting up and shutting down the central control software — thus the panic.

Fish takes a look and sees that there’s a setup menu that lets you control the behavior of the terminal. One of the menu options — about three levels deep — is “Turn on Local Echo.” The sole purpose of Local Echo is to repeat each character typed on the keyboard.

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Android Q's quietly important improvements


Oh, hey! Wouldja look at that? Android Q is here!

Well, sort of: The first Q developer preview — apparently now being called a "beta" right out of the gate — landed with a thump on these rusty ol' nets of inter Thursday afternoon. The software is far from finished, of course; this is merely an early peek at what Google's cookin' up for its next big Android version, provided mostly as a way for developers to get a head start at preparing for the release's actual arrival later this year (sometime between July and September).

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Apple has a right to charge for space in its digital malls


Apple’s competitors appear to be focusing their energies on undermining the 30% business model that supports its services, with Spotify and others arguing that Apple is taking too much cash and limiting competition.

This isn’t just about music

Think about it and it should be pretty clear this isn’t all about the music.

After all, Apple pays higher music streaming artist royalties than its competitors and is not arguing that those royalties be cut.

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IDG Contributor Network: Hands-on with HoloLens 2: It’s even better than I thought!


[Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author.]

A couple of weeks back I wrote that HoloLens 2 was the beginning of a computer revolution. Last week I was able to spend some time with HoloLens 2 and I’m pleasantly surprised that the device was actually better than I thought it would be.

I’ve been involved with HoloLens since it was a targeted prototype for Lawrence Livermore Labs, where they pretty much had to assemble it on your head (and it was tethered)! Now it could actually be successfully deployed by someone other than an expert.

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Throwback Thursday: Safety first


Contractor is doing some construction work in this data center and wants to keep everything safe, reports a pilot fish there.

“They needed to rope off the area where the work was being done,” fish says. “They tied the rope to the safety cover of the emergency power off switch.

“Of course, somebody ran into the rope and knocked the cover off. This set off the alarm.

“So the workman pressed the button to turn off the alarm.

“Well, the alarm was shut off — along with the entire data center.”

Your story is safe with Sharky. Send me your true tale of IT life at You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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IDG Contributor Network: Urgent updates for Windows and IE for March Patch Tuesday


This is a big month for Microsoft updates. With 64 reported vulnerabilities addressed in this month’s Patch Tuesday release, the focus is on the two zero-days for Microsoft Windows. Both Windows 7 and Windows 10 platforms are affected, leading to a “Patch Now” recommendation for both Windows and browser updates.

Both of the reported zero-day vulnerabilities relate to how a core Windows system driver (Win32k) handles objects in memory and both issues could lead to arbitrary code execution on the targeted machines. Unusually, we don’t have a critical update for Adobe, and Microsoft Office has a few, low rated updates that can be scheduled into a standard release cycle.

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CorelDRAW returns to the Mac


If you’re in the market for a powerful, capable, high-end design suite, then you’ll be pleased to hear that CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2019 is available not only for Windows, but once again for the Mac for the first time since 2001.

CorelDRAW comes back to the Mac

While its appearance is rather late, the return of the Canadian firm’s graphic design suite is a welcome reflection of the expansion of Apple’s Mac since the software was taken off the platform at the beginning of the century.

Corel, which worked with Apple on the project, said it took two years to develop the Mac version. This is feature-identical with the Windows version, including the capacity to open CorelDRAW files created in old versions of the suite on Windows on the Mac.

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March 2019 Windows and Office patches poke a few interesting places


Patch Tuesday has come and gone, not with a bang but a whimper. As of this moment, early Wednesday morning, I don’t see any glaring problems with the 124 patches covering 64 individually identified security holes. But the day is yet young.

There are a few patches of note.

Two zero days

Microsoft says that two of this month’s security holes — CVE-2019-0797 and CVE-2019-0808 — are being actively exploited. The latter of these zero days is the one that was being used in conjunction with the Chrome exploit that caused such a kerfuffle last week, with Google urging Chrome browser users to update right away, or risk the slings of nation-state hackers. If you’ve already updated Chrome (which happens automatically for almost everybody), the immediate threat has been thwarted already.

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How do you say ‘zapped’ in French?


It’s the big iron days of the ’70s. Pilot fish and co-workers are installing a very large IBM mainframe. The power distribution units require large 208-volt cables and connectors.
A co-worker is sitting on the raised floor and connecting power cables when he picks up one of the heavy rubber cables and says, “Look at the connector writing; it’s in French.” 

Curious, fish reaches down and grabs the cable to see what it says. But when he pulls it up, the metal connector hits the raised floor framework and sparks fly everywhere. Fish naturally drops the cable immediately, then gets his volt-ohm-milliammeter and discovers that the metal shell of the connector is 208 volts.

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Apple’s Box security scare shows the risk of shadow IT


Until enterprise IT truly understands that its own internal systems need to be as easy to use as any iOS app and as easy to learn as an iPhone, potentially damaging data breaches will take place, threatening business confidentiality. Apple is not immune.

Apple and the human interface

The news is that information from some of the world’s biggest names in business – including Apple, Edelman and Discovery Channel – could have been accessed through Box Enterprise, which offers companies bespoke company name-based file archiving and sharing services using this URL construction:


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13 handy hidden shortcuts for Gboard on Android


I've been thinking a lot about thumbs lately.

Why, you might wonder? Simple: Whenever I watch unsuspecting strangers use their phones in public (it's not as creepy as it sounds, I swear), I can't help but notice how many people rely solely on their thumbs for on-screen typing.

Me? I've never been a two-thumb typing man myself. I'm also not a full-time swiper, which is another common type of mobile tech typist you see in the wild these days.

More than anything, what I've learned by observing other people's smartphone-using habits is that there is no universal "right" way to type on a smartphone. There are several distinct styles, and what's most natural for one person is gonna feel impossibly awkward to the next. Like so many things, it ultimately boils down to personal preference.

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BrandPost: 3 Buried Costs of Your Company's Legacy Fax Machines


It’s 2019 and for one reason or another, your company still has fax machines in the office that you have to support. If I asked you, right now, to list the costs of operating your company’s fax machines, what would you say?

I actually have a pretty good idea, because we at eFax Corporate ask this question all the time to businesses that approach us about upgrading their fax infrastructure from paper and the telephone network. Every corporate IT department immediately thinks of the easy ones: dedicated fax lines, fax paper, ink cartridges, that sort of thing. We all know that those add up, with phone lines costing on average $720 per year for each connected fax machine or printer, and laser printing costs of 2-2.5 cents per page.

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Managing up


Pilot fish is in charge of production of his company’s computerized call center systems. At the request of the engineers, he listens for about an hour to nearly completed systems, checking for cross-talk between lines, because he seems to have the best ears in the company. Eventually he expands this into an inspection protocol.

Boss asks for a cost-benefit analysis of the inspections. Fish produces a little table showing that most of the failures in the field were systems that never got inspected.  Boss, who has read too many quality books too lightly, declares that the numbers are too small to be statistically significant, and decides to end the inspections. “We’ve built quality in now,” boss explains. To which fish replies, “If there’s been no crime in your area for a year, would you favor closing the police station and ending the patrols?”

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IDG Contributor Network: Apple vs. Huawei: Who can dominate 5G?


Apparently, Apple is arguing in Washington that they can be the US champion for 5G, running against the juggernaut that is Huawei.

Before I get into why this is a bad idea, a little backstory: One of the more interesting jobs I’ve held was as a competitive analyst and, apparently, I was good at it…because I not only received a ton of recognition for my work, it formed the foundation for creating a successful analyst practice. One of the biggest problems with this job is that the executives that have power generally fall in love with their own strategies and tend not to be too fond of folks who point out they are idiots based on real market data.

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