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 CTO.org - News Archive - December 31, 2018
The spacecraft is hurtling toward the mysterious space rock, the most distant world ever explored. Watch NASA's live stream here.

Partial federal government shutdown to blame.

Those trailers looked so enticing, but if you never made it out to the cineplex, here'-™s your home list.

It's like a how-to guide for spoiling the very, very dark interactive movie.

A high school junior dug deep into the data on a mysteriously dimming star to search for evidence of a highly advanced civilization.

Get a closer look at the main character in the upcoming live-action Pokemon movie.

The Russian-built Tupolev Tu-144 beat the Concorde into the air by two months. But the supersonic plane would enjoy a far less successful career.

The next 12 months has Roadshow editors eager for a pickup truck, a crossover and a lot of sports cars.

Need some protection for your new iPhone XR? Here's a bunch of top cases to check out, all of them compatible with wireless charging.

Need some protection for your new XS or XS Max? Here are bunch of top cases to check out, all of them compatible with wireless charging.

Looking for a new game to play on your phone or tablet? Here are our picks of the best mobile games.

These are unequivocally the best Android games on the planet.

Spidey's co-creator offers some advice from beyond the grave.

Google's traditional party animals show up for New Year's Eve.

If you're all about the iPhone, these are some of the best games you can play.

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Tech Events

If you think your new iPhone's Face ID facial recognition feature or your bank's fancy new fingerprint scanner will guarantee privacy and block hackers from accessing sensitive personal or financial data, think again.

In the coming year, cyberattacks will zero in on biometric hacking and expose vulnerabilities in touch ID sensors, facial recognition technology and passcodes, according to a new report from credit reporting agency Experian Plc. While biometric data is considered the most secure method of authentication, it can be stolen or altered, and sensors can be manipulated, spoofed or suffer deterioration with too much use.

Even so, as much as 63% of enterprises have implemented or plan to roll out " biometric authentication systems to augment or replace less-secure passwords, Experian said in its report. The push toward biometric systems dates back to the turn of the century in the financial services industry.

This business owner was told years ago that a Microsoft Exchange server was too expensive to maintain for a network his size, reports a pilot fish who now has the business as a client.

"So even in 2018 they were still on POP email, with a copy of each message going to their cell phones," fish says.

"Client had internalized 'Exchange bad,' so there was no real discussion on this topic, even while experiencing really horrible customer service from their current email provider.

"Client received an email on Christmas Eve stating that the provider was shutting down the email server in one week, so my client needed to migrate over to the new server. This involved changing all the settings on both the phones and the PCs, as well as the MX records.

Microsoft's announcement earlier this month that it was dumping its own browser technology for Google's - turning Edge into a Chrome clone - was a stunning acknowledgement that the company had lost its decades-long battle for browser supremacy.

"We intend to adopt the Chromium open-source project ... to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers," Joe Belfiore, a corporate vice president in the Windows group, wrote in a Dec. 6 post to a company blog. But while Belfiore blew the open-source horn, he didn't bother to recap how Microsoft reached this point when earlier in the century, it was the dominant browser maker, accounting for more than 90% of all usage after it laid waste to Netscape Navigator.

Your software is lying down on the job, a customer accuses tech support pilot fish.

What do you mean? fish asks.

"The computer starts printing the form, but when it's halfway, it just stops," user says. "If we try to print it again, we get the same result."

Fish quickly exhausts the diagnostics he can do over the phone and makes the long drive out to the site.

On arrival at the office, he notices a big Christmas tree standing near the printer and decked out in lots of lights. He also notices that the cord to the Christmas lights isn't plugged in and remarks on it to the clerk.

"That's right," says clerk. "We don't have enough outlets in this room, so we had to unplug the printer in order to plug in the tree lights. But don't worry -- we've unplugged the lights and plugged the printer back in.

The booming team collaboration market is likely to continue booming in 2019 as companies roll out chat apps more widely across their operations.

With Microsoft leveraging the ubiquity of its Office suite to push Teams, and Slack doubling down on its still-evolving enterprise push, the two leaders in the market are likely to continue to try and one-up each other in the search for new customers. At the same time, a host of other firms, from Facebook to Google, Cisco and more, will continue to build out their own team chat platforms.

IDC, by the way, expects the collaboration market to generate $3.5 billion in revenues in the year ahead, up from $2.9 billion in 2018.

Christmas: Pilot fish in IT operations is working the holiday so a critical mainframe application can go live by New Year's. Schedule is tight, and the programmers don't want to lose time the day after Christmas waiting for the work to come back from operations.

So the fish starts compiling and test-running job after job -- no problem. Gets down to the last set of 50 jobs. Runs the first one. It blows up.

Runs the second one. It blows up.

After job number 10 blows up, he gives up, scrawls across the remaining work orders "THIS PROGRAM MUST REALLY BE SCREWED UP!" in big red letters and sends the whole mess back to the programmers.

Next day he gets a call asking why he didn't just continue to run the jobs. Explains they were all blowing up.

Remembering our industry'-™s innovators
CW > In Memoriam 2018 > Tech luminaries we lost this year [slideshow cover]

Image by FreedomMaster / Getty Images

They were the founders of such household names as Atari and Microsoft. They built the hardware and software that powers the Internet. They used computers to give voice to the young and the disabled. And they rarely did so in the spotlight. Whether they ever achieved fame or fortune, these 13 women and men deserve a place in the history books for their lives, accomplishments, and contributions to science and information technology around the world.

It's the late 1960s, and this U.S. Marine Corps pilot fish is charged with keeping track of more than 100,000 Marines in the Western Pacific and Hawaii -- using, fish says, "an IBM 1401 mainframe and lots of cards."

Which means fish spends much of his time traveling between Vietnam, Hawaii and Washington, updating the ranks and specialties of the Marines and how long it's been since they were rotated into or out of Vietnam.

As Christmas approaches, fish is in D.C. with his headquarters counterpart, frantically working on a semiannual staffing report.

"Because only one airline was serving Hawaii, I booked my return flight for Dec. 24 so I could be with my family for Christmas," fish says. "Next available flight was the middle of January."

Employees at a Southern design firm feel the urge to decorate for the holidays, but a network admin pilot fish tries gently to put on the brakes.

"I told them not to put a Christmas tree on the server," fish says. "But since it's in the accountant's office who thinks she owns the world, they thought it would 'be OK.' "

So the server gets topped with a fully decorated Christmas tree. And the inevitable happens.

"A few days before the Christmas break, some pieces of decorating tinsel got sucked into the server," says the fish, "which fried instantly, hard drives and all."

But it worked out well, the fish says: "We started Christmas early."

The big remaining bugaboo '-” the Dec. 19 emergency release of Internet Explorer patches for all supported versions of Windows '-” remains shrouded in secrecy. That said, it looks like early reports of devastating bugs in the IE update are overstated; at this point, I'-™m not aware of any replicable problems.

That'-™s very good news, actually, given Microsoft'-™s exceedingly poor recent history with emergency patches.

If 2018 was the year Apple revamped its relationship with enterprise users, 2019 is likely to be year the company keys in on device ownership and identity in the workplace. In fact, Apple has been signaling this kind of focus for a while with a series of moves that have shifted how it handles hardware management and lay the groundwork for the year ahead.(Insider Story)

Flashback to late 2005, when this pilot fish is part of the 24x7x365 staff for a bank's data center -- and Christmas is coming.

"The state's list of bank holidays moved the Christmas holiday from Sunday, Dec. 25th, to Monday, Dec. 26th," says fish.

"This seemed fair for the Monday to Friday staff. But data center staff worked either Tuesday to Saturday or Sunday to Thursday. I told management that Dec. 25th should be the holiday for data center staff.

"Management said that the holiday was Monday, Dec. 26th, not Dec. 25th.

"So data center staff worked Christmas Day for straight pay, and the day after Christmas was double-time pay for whoever covered the 'holiday.'"

Tech gear is a perennially popular holiday gift. If you're the proud owner of a new phone, tablet, computer or other device '-” or you provide tech support for family and friends with new devices '-” we're here to help.

Check out and share these stories, which can help you get the most out of a new Android or iOS device, Chromebook, Mac, or Windows PC.

Android devices

Android apps: Best of the best

Our Android expert highlights the standout apps in the categories that matter most to busy professionals: office apps, privacy and security apps, email and texting apps, note-taking apps, apps for team collaboration, apps for organizing your life, and more.

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BYTE is starting a new series, to bring back the issues you loved in print from 1975 to 1998. Initially we have the first two issues and four others from 1984, 1985 and 1986.

Security experts urge companies to implement two-factor authentication, VPNs, and graduated permission levels to better protect customer data from hackers.

Microsoft admits that it doesn't encrypt all server-to-server communications, opening the way for the NSA and others to access the data flow.

Affordable Care Act site has faced a relatively low volume of attacks, compared with other federal websites.

Google's Gmail app for iPad and iPhone gets new features and iOS 7's design language.

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels announces PostgreSQL database service, new instance types, use of solid state disk to speed I/Os.

As software eclipses hardware, it's dawning on enterprises that they need API programs. Here's where to begin.

Authors Guild's claim of copyright infringement gets shot down in a surprise ruling.

The goal is allow home monitoring devices and mobile health apps communicate more easily healthcare providers.

Google's personal assistant software gets upgraded to better manage owners' lives and understand natural language requests.

Android smartphones owners can now pay for goods and services by tapping their device to Isis terminals at 1.3 million locations nationwide.

LinkedIn pushes customized content with the integration of news curation app Pulse for desktop and mobile versions.

Hacker grabbed 860,000 passwords for fun, but promises not to leak or use them to harm people.

VMware wants to move into cloud computing? Guess what, Amazon's moving into desktop virtualization.

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CES 2018 had more than its fair share of wacky items and compelling gadgets, but one of the biggest trends to emerge, once again, from the popular tech expo was voice-enabled devices. And, of course, it was all about Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Here are seven items at CES 2018, some of which address legitimate use cases and some of which may be closer to mad-scientist territory.

At CES 2018, Sennheiser announced two new products that focus on recording or playing back 3-D audio.

Honda wants to change your perception of robots. And it's hoping to do so with four new concept robots.

At CES 2018, Ford announced it is working with a city in which it will operate its self-driving cars. The automaker wouldn't identify the city but did say how autonomous vehicles can change the way people live.

Intel is betting that Volocopter 2X will be one of the first passenger-carrying drones to operate in the U.S. A prototype of the pilotless two-seat helicopter-like drone was shown off at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.

AMD CEO Lisa Su told Yahoo Finance that the Austin, Texas-based computer and graphics chip company is quickly working to resolve and address a recently-discovered security flaw that affects AMD computer chips.

Nvidia rolled out a slew of updates for its GeForce line of gaming products at CES 2018 including massive computer screens and cloud game streaming.

It's hard to figure out which of the connected household devices on display at CES 2018 is worth buying, but it's even more difficult to know if they are secure from hackers. A security expert visits exhibits and tries to help.

The daughter's name is Nicarri.

You may soon get to say a lot more on Twitter. The social media giant announced it is testing a longer character limit. The change will extend the current 140 characters to 280 for all languages except Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Users won'-™t see this change right away, though. Only a small percentage will be testing it at first, and according to the company, it is just a test and there is no guarantee this change will be available to everyone. Via Business Insider:" http://www.businessinsider. ...

Mac OS High Sierra (macOS 10.13)." As the new name suggests, it'-™s just a refinement of last year'-™s Mac OS Sierra. In fact," you" could sum up what's new in an article about as short as" this one.

Want to add some cool sound effects or music to your YouTube video (or any video)?

Apple is expected to include wireless charging as a core feature in the iPhones it launches on...

Apple's 10th anniversary iPhone is nearly upon us. Here's everything we expect from what could be Apple's most important product in years.

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