Computer Blog

 

Is Apple’s new 27-inch iMac a good fit for business?

 

Apple has introduced what may be the penultimate 27-inch iMac configuration powered by an Intel processor, but is this a good fit for your business?

The Apple Silicon transition thing

Enterprise purchasers shouldn’t be put off that Apple intends migrating its Macs to use of Apple Silicon because, at present at least, they know what they are getting with Intel-based kit and have been promised support for Macs based on those processors for “years to come”. While that’s a slightly opaque commitment, it should cover standard enterprise Mac usage cycles.

In other words, counter-intuitive as this may sound to Mac users focused on the new, the bright and the shiny, these iMacs may make a better investment than the first-generation Apple Silicon Macs, simply because you know what you’re getting and existing software and services should perform fine on these new Macs.

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Wayback Wednesday: There’s always a smart aleck around

 

Manufacturing facility’s help desk software generates reports for the general manager and each department head, says a pilot fish on the scene. It’s the typical thing: Each time a ticket is opened or closed, the user requesting the work and the higher-ups all get a copy via email.

One day the IT boss gets a call from one of the department managers. “I got a ticket for a tech installing a printer ribbon,” manager says.

OK, says IT boss, what’s the problem?

“The tech had to come back the next day and adjust the ribbon, and I got a second ticket,” manager says. “Am I going to be charged for this?”

After a lot of back and forth, the department manager says, “Oh, never mind; forget about it.”

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The inherent irony of Chrome OS

 

Ah, Chrome OS. How far you've come.

I found myself contemplating the state of Google's Chromebook platform this week as I read over a new interview detailing some of the specifics of the upcoming Chrome OS Windows app support system — and something amusing occurred to me:

When you think about Chrome OS in a bigger-picture, evolutionary view, the software's current state is almost hilariously ironic — not necessarily in a bad way, mind you, but in a way that's both funny and also quite revealing of how Google's vision for computing has progressed over the years.

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All together now

 

It’s a Saturday in the early ’90s, Solaris 2 is less than a year old, and this pilot fish sysadmin at a company running it on about 25 machines is having his monthly Solaris patching party. Attendees: one fish.

Fish is cautious and paranoid, good qualities in a newbie sysadmin, so he always patches one of the less important machines first, just in case something crazy happens. On this particular Saturday, something does.

He has three packages to add. The first won’t install because it requires that another package be installed first. Perfectly normal. But when he tries to install that required package, he finds that it too requires that another package be installed first. OK, no biggie. There were three packages to add, and fish just got hold of the task by the wrong end. Unless, of course, that final package requires that the first package be installed before it can be installed. Which is, indeed the case: an infinite loop.

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Memory-Lane Monday: Wherefore art thou CIO?

 

This city-government IT group reverts to using two-way radios because staffers aren’t answering their cellphones when needed, reports a pilot fish on the scene.

So fish dusts off the old call-sign sheet, but the new staff members want better call signs than the stodgy “Tech1,” “Tech2” and so on. One, who is ex-military, suggests using each person’s initials but in military-letter speak, where A is Alpha, B is Bravo, C is Charlie and so on. Under this system, Dave Doe becomes Delta Delta.

And it might have worked, says fish, if it weren’t for the CIO’s initials. “We really didn’t think he was going to answer to ‘Juliet Romeo, are you out there?’ — and none of us were sure we’d have the guts to ask it on the channel.”

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Apple’s retail technology play

 

Apple Retail taught the company a great deal concerning the future of retail, and a quiet technology acquisition shows it intends to go with the retail flow as it invests in a system that turns iPhones into POS payment systems.

Apple Pay and Apple Payments

While we already use Apple Pay to purchase items contact free using iPhones and Apple Watch, when it comes to taking payments most retailers rely on third-party payment systems. Square, Izito, PayPal Here, Sumup and other providers work to fill the gap – usually using some form of dongle.

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Redefining productivity and compensation in an AI age

 

This week I ran into an interesting product that could substantially speed up writers who do a lot of repetitive work. It's called ActiveWords, and it's now in its fourth generation. It works by allowing you to connect elements to acronyms you create.   For instance, if you must use the same charts in different responses, such as for product support, you type a few letters and instantly the chart pops into in the email.

The elements could be web pages, paragraphs of text, pictures – pretty much anything you regularly use – and it is much faster than cutting and pasting. 

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Despite an unexpected monkey wrench, now is the time to install the July Windows and Office patches

 

11 essential business management insights from Apple’s Q3

 

Flashback Friday: Oh, did I say 30 DAYS?

 

This pilot fish gets an email from a user who can’t open the program used to track equipment calibration, so she takes the short walk to the user’s desk. There, she finds that the user is getting a “data file not found” message when he tries to open the program.

Says fish: “I opened the sample data so I could determine the name and location of the file the program needed.”

Turns out the data files are on the network drive, which is backed up daily, so fish asks when the user was in this program last.

“About a month ago,” he says.

Fish has already swapped the tape in for the nightly backup, so she checks to see if the two-week-old tape already in the drive has the file. Sure enough, it’s there, and fish restores the file and returns to the user’s desk — and now he can open the program and see his data.

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Microsoft Patch Alert: July 2020

 

July tends to be a leisurely month in Windows and Office patch land, and this one’s no exception.

We had a bit of a thrill July 15 when Outlook stopped working on millions of PCs all over the world, but Microsoft fixed the bug four hours later by updating its servers.

Folks who pay for Windows 7 Extended Security Updates felt rightfully miffed when the new .NET Framework 4.8 patch, KB 4565636, refused to install. Microsoft took nine days to fix the bug and re-ship the patch.

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Why Android and Chrome OS's next step could be colossal

 

For years now, we've been hearing — and seeing — how Chrome OS and Android are coming together.

The saga has stretched on since the dawn of time — or, uh, at least since about 2015, when the Chromebooks-are-doomed chorus started confidently crooning about the inevitable pending "merger" of Chrome OS and Android. At the same time, of course, those of us who were watching things closely anticipated a far more nuanced alignment of the platforms — nothing quite as dramatic as an only-one-can-survive duel, admittedly, but a far more realistic scenario and one we'd been seeing take shape for some time.

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Qualcomm hints at (slight) 5G iPhone 12 delay

 

Apple CEO Tim Cook defends the App Store business

 

Apple CEO Tim Cook will appear today with leaders from Google, Amazon and Facebook for a Congressional anti-trust hearing, which will be broadcast live on YouTube.

What is the hearing about?

The House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee is investigating online platforms and market power; today’s hearing will see the business leaders answering difficult questions concerning their alleged market dominance.

Cook’s opening remarks to the committee have already been made available.

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Wayback Wednesday: Priorities

 

A large manufacturing space that has been converted into a cube farm for several dozen office workers has two printers, says a pilot fish working there. “One day,” he reports, “I sent a job to the printer that’s closer to my cube, waited a few minutes, then walked over to get the printout. There was a hand-lettered sign on the printer that said it wasn’t working.

“Since we have desktop notification software installed, I wondered why the IT folks hadn’t sent out a notice. But I didn’t give it much more thought than that.

“Two months later, the printer is still broken. However, a notification pops up on my computer: One of the ‘men’ on the foosball table in the break room had snapped off! Less than ten minutes later, another broadcast was sent out stating one of our IT guys had repaired the foosball table.

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The Windows 10 'End-of-Service' myth

 

Windows 10 version 1809 Home and Pro hit "End of Service" on Nov. 10. But users on version 1809 have been reporting for more than a month that they’re getting pushed onto Win10 version 2004. 

This is a hard push – there’s no “Download and install” invitation (see screenshot below). You wake up one morning, your version 1809 machine takes forever to get started, and surprise! it wakes up running Win10 version 2004.

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Apple iPhone 12 launch: Normal, not normal

 

It looks like the new normal is some way off, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that Apple’s iPhone 12 introduction will probably be a little different this year.

The big reveal

Are you going to the big reveal of the new device? I don’t think so; the pandemic suggests Apple will introduce its new device remotely, just as it held WWDC. I don’t think it will want to risk the health of partners and employees any more than it did in June.

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Android's oft-forgotten time-savers

 

I sure do love me a good time-saver. And sometimes, the best time-savers of all are the ones that are right under the surface of our favorite apps and services, just waiting to be seen — or maybe remembered.

I'll admit it: Even as someone who uses and thinks about Android almost constantly, as part of both my life and my job, I frequently find myself surprised by how often I stumble onto something that I knew about at some point but long ago forgot to keep using. It happened to me with some of the Gmail tips we talked about last week, and now it's happened to me again with a powerful shortcut system built right into Android and supported by tons of different apps.

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We’ll fix this, inshallah

 

As more and more people start to work from home in response to the pandemic, this pilot fish tech consultant is mainly dealing with remote-connectivity issues, like accessing LAN resources over the VPN.

And that’s the case with the employee of one client that fish is helping, but as fish’s remote support software is downloading, the guys says, “We may have a little problem to solve first.”

The little problem is clear to fish as soon as the user’s screen comes up. “Why,” fish asks, “is your screen all in Arabic?”

The answer is that he is taking classes at a local college to learn the language, and he wanted to modify his machine to allow a secondary Arabic keyboard, which would allow him to write papers for class in Arabic. But instead he converted his machine to Arabic as the first language.

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Addigy CEO is bullish on Apple Silicon and Macs in the enterprise

 

Memory-Lane Monday: I guess looks are everything

 

A large plotter is being moved from one building to another at this government agency, and pilot fish in that building gets orders to do the installation.

He goes downstairs to program the network information into it, then goes back to his desk to set up the print queue. That done, he calls the user to have him print a drawing to test it.

User tells fish that he’ll meet him in the lobby in about 10 minutes, and fish figures he wants to finish something he’s working on. Fish waits but still gets to the lobby ahead of the user, who walks in after another minute — through the front door.

Sorry, fish says, have you been out? If I’d known, I’d have arranged this for later.

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How AI helps scientists fight COVID-19

 

Artificial intelligence is useful for sorting through massive amounts of data and identifying anomalies within that data. Given the swaths of data healthcare workers and scientists are sorting through due to the coronavirus pandemic, Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies have proven helpful in everything from predictive modeling to vaccine research and reading X-rays. InfoWorld senior writer Serdar Yegulalp joins Juliet to discuss how AI/ML tech is helping fight COVID-19 and how these technologies could be used by scientists, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals alike in the future.

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Windows Update is a bifurcated mess

 

This week’s “Preview” patches led to some bizarre, unexplained, and self-contradictory behavior. Here’s what we’ve been able to piece together, based on what actually happened – not on what Microsoft says is supposed to happen.

Two general sets of “Preview” patches arrived on Tuesday:

They’re Previews, which means the fixes on offer are still in testing. Normal users shouldn’t go anywhere near them. 

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At Microsoft Inspire, the new Edge browser took center stage

 

Disclosure:  Microsoft is a client of the author.

In the new Microsoft, Azure has – to a certain extent – taken over the center stage from the company's Windows Server platform, and the new Chromium Edge Browser has taken center stage from Windows. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this result as the market rapidly turns from focusing on local hardware to using the Cloud as its primary place to do computing. 

As a result, each new browser update now feels a bit like what the old Windows refresh cycles used to feel like – but without the old compatibility drama. 

Microsoft Inspire took place this week, so let’s talk about the browser's new features, mostly focused on business users (now mostly working from home) that look compelling. 

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WiPro exec: 'Apple is primed for continued success in the enterprise'

 

A recent WiPro survey finds 59% of IT leaders would choose a Mac if given the choice, because doing so delivers recruitment, productivity and staff retention benefits. Given the apparent popularity of Apple-in-the-enterprise tech, I spoke with WiPro’s GM Apple Practice and Interactive Experience, Michael Vollmer. (His comments echoed those of Jamf CEO Dean Hager.)

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Flashback Friday: How about a shark?

 

This pilot fish makes sure that PostScript printers in remote offices are working correctly by sending a test image to them periodically. Just to be sure everyone at the remote offices can tell this is not a usual print job, they use a picture of a cat, says fish.

After running one test, fish is delayed in calling the remote office to ask if the cat picture printed properly. No, says the user, that test print isn’t here.

Says fish: “We were all set to do full checks on the printer and everything when somebody in the remote office confessed that she had taken the picture — for her kids to color in at home.

“I think we may have to work out a different test print.”

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Which is better for collaboration – Yammer or Microsoft Teams?

 

Fundamentally, both Yammer and Teams (and email) are about communication – but they support different types of conversations and aim for different audiences. The choice about which application to use depends on the nature and audience for your conversations.

Yammer is designed to support broad, open, cross-functional communities of any size. Yammer’s strength is in supporting groups of people who may not know each other but share a common interest or skill. Yammer is ideally suited as a platform for communities of practice or interest with a conversational space for the exchange of knowledge. With its broad focus, Yammer also supports leadership engagement in a two-way dialogue.

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Jamf CEO: 'Technology has become the entire employee experience'

 

Reflecting Apple’s growing enterprise status, enterprise management software company Jamf this week succesfully issued an IPO. I spoke with CEO Dean Hager to discuss digital transformation and the acceleration of Apple's place in the enterprise.

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The creator of Inbox is ready to save Google from itself

 

If you've followed my ramblings for long, you know how I feel about Inbox — Google's short-lived experiment with reinventing the way we experience email.

Inbox, built atop Gmail's foundation, was a wildly different approach to managing messages. At its launch in 2014, the service was described as being "years in the making" — a "completely different type of inbox, designed to focus on what really matters." Google told us Inbox was "designed for the problems we're going to see in the next 10 years" and painted the app as being the future of not only Gmail but also of email itself.

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30+ essential facts about Apple in the enterprise

 

Apple-in-the-enterprise company Jamf officially became a public company with its IPO today. I’ll be back tomorrow with an interview about that means.

Meanwhile, the following statistics help illustrate why now is the time for employee choice – and Apple – in the enterprise. (Apple’s acquisition of Fleetsmith also reflects the changing times.)

30+ essential Apple in the enterprise facts

Do you have any more useful statistics that illustrate Apple’s growing enterprise status? Please send them to me and I can add them here.

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