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May, 2015:

Leadership – Manage yourself rather than time

An excellent article on leadership from John Maxwell’s management blog

Here’s an important announcement: There is no such thing as time management. Think about it; the term is an oxymoron. Time cannot be managed. It cannot be controlled in any way. Everyone gets the same number of hours and minutes every day. Nobody—no matter how shrewd—can save minutes from one day to spend on another. No scientist—no matter how smart—is capable of creating new minutes. Even with all his wealth, someone like Bill Gates can’t buy additional hours for his day. And even though people talk about trying to “find time,” they need to quit looking. There isn’t any extra lying around. Twenty-four hours is the best any of us is going to get. You can’t manage your time. So what can you do?

Manage yourself! Nothing separates successful people from unsuccessful people more than how they use their time. Successful people understand that time is the most precious commodity on earth. And that we all have an equal amount, packed into identical suitcases. So even though everyone’s suitcase is the same size, they get a higher return on the contents of theirs. Why? They know what to pack.

Google – Brillo O/S designed for home device control

A specialized version of Android was announced that is designed to control devices used in home environment as noted below:,2817,2484792,00.asp

Google didn’t have anyone sky-diving into Moscone at this year’s I/O developer conference, but it did have news about virtual reality, the next version of Android, and a new platform for the Internet of Things.

Project Brillo is a version of Android for your Internet-connected home gadgets. Entrepreneurs have made great strides in getting everything from your coffee pot to your fridge connected to the Internet, but Brillo is about getting those devices to seamlessly communicate with one another.

“Our day-to-day lives will be much simpler when these technologies can talk to each other—if our recipe app, for example, could communicate with our smart oven to turn the temperature to exactly the right setting,” Google said in a blog post. “​Or outside the home—from transportation systems that notify commuters of schedule changes, to farms where harvesters and irrigation systems are controlled from phones.”

Brillo is “derived from Android [and] lets developers and manufacturers build connected devices,” Google said. “As part of Brillo, we’re introducing a communications protocol (Weave) developed in partnership with Nest, a set of developer APIs, a core set of schemas, and a certification program to ensure device and app interoperability

Google I/O conference 2015 highlights

PC Magazine features slideshow of Google I/O conference 2015 highlights

Google I/O kicked off this week in San Francisco with a clear reminder that the company mission has extended well beyond a list of 10 blue links. Google’s Senior Vice President of Product, Sundar Pichai, reminded the crowd of 3,000 developers just how broad that mission is: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. What started with search now includes mobile operating systems, self-driving cars, virtual reality, ad platforms, natural language processing, and one of the most remarkable products every made out of cardboard.

Google GMAIL – improvements announced in MAY 2015

GMAIL improvements were announced during this week’s I/O conference,2817,2484967,00.asp,2817,2470955,00.asp

Until now, if you wanted to try out Google’s Inbox by Gmail app but couldn’t score an invitation you were out of luck. That’s about to change. Google on Thursday announced it has opened Inbox to everyone. The app, which launched in October 2015 to bring some more organization to your Gmail inbox, is now available for download on iOS and Android without an invitation.

Google also rolled out a major update for the app, adding a number of user-requested features, including trip bundles and the ability to undo a message you just sent. Besides that, Inbox is also getting a few other time-saving features. When you create a reminder using the Google Keep app, for instance, it will now automatically appear in Inbox as well. And when someone emails you a to-do, Inbox may suggest adding it as a reminder so you don’t forget.

Facebook – Adds GIF animated support for photo images,2817,2485085,00.asp

Facebook has recently added limited support for animated images as noted below:

Get ready for Facebook to be a whole lot more animated. The social network has caved and joined the GIF party. That’s right, you can finally post an animated GIF in your Facebook status update. “We’re rolling out support for animated GIFs in News Feed,” a Facebook spokesperson confirmed in an email to “This is so you can share more fun, expressive things with your friends on Facebook.”

The feature is still kind of limited, though. At this point, it only works when you paste the link to a GIF that’s already been uploaded to the Web. If you try to upload one that’s saved on your computer using the “add photos/video” feature, the GIF will be converted to a still image, according to TechCrunch. It’s also not working on brand Pages at this time

Leadership – the servant leadership concept


John Maxwell’s blog shares excellent advice on being attuned to team member needs and helping each member contribute and grow:

What’s your highest calling as a leader? Well, I believe it’s being a servant leader. I often teach that leaders ask the question, “Will I help people?” But servant leaders ask, “HOW will I help people?” When you’re a servant leader, you do so much more than just make people a priority. You look for specific opportunities to serve them and help them reach their potential.

In my own leadership journey, I’ve made servant leadership my goal for many years. And as my influence has increased, I’ve pursued many specific opportunities to serve those who hear me speak and read my books, so that they can grow into who they were created to be.

If you’re a leader, don’t just settle the question of IF you’ll serve others. Figure out HOW you will, and then go do it. By being a servant leader, you’ll have the joy of seeing positive outcomes and great growth in your people. It will be worth the effort.

Ransomware – Locker Sleeper variant activated on May 25 2015

A new variant of Ransomeware lies dormant until triggered by an activation date as described below

Dubbed Locker, this ‘sleeper’ ransomware had laid dormant on infected devices until those behind the scam activated it earlier this week. A new strain of ransomware that had laid dormant on infected devices suddenly “woke up” at midnight on Monday, May 25, security firm KnowBe4 said in an alert issued today.

Ransomware encrypts all the files on the devices it infects and demands a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key to give the content back to the original owner.  This new strain of malware, dubbed Locker, is “very similar to CryptoLocker,” the first successful modern form of ransomware that was released in late 2013 and was thwarted last year. Locker is a “sleeper” strain of malware, meaning that victims may have unintentionally downloaded it earlier, but that their devices were not encrypted until the ransomware was activated earlier this week.

PC help site Bleeping Computer has seen hundreds of reported Locker victims worldwide already, and believes it has a large installed base, KnowBe4 said in its alert. Sjouwerman says some reports indicate that the ransomware could have originated in a “compromised MineCraft installer.” Once Locker encrypts an infected device’s files, it issues a warning against users and IT professionals who might try to find another way around paying the ransom:

KnowBe4 said Locker demands a relatively small ransom payment, 0.1 bitcoin, which currently costs $23.75 (bitcoin’s value fluctuates constantly, but it was at about $237.47 for one bitcoin at the time this was written). Most ransomware attacks demand about $500 payment from all victims, suggesting that Locker is designed to make it easier for more victims to pay.

The notice that Locker issues promises that it will decrypt files in exchange for payment. “If the payment is confirmed the decryption key will be send [sic] to your computer and the Locker software will automatically start the decrypting process,” the notice reads. “We have absolutely no interest in keeping your files encrypted forever.”   Most ransomware campaigns stick to this promise to ensure that victims will pay the fee. Ransomware perpetrators know that if people don’t receive their files in exchange for the payments, word will get out to the public and no victims of ransomware will pay in the future.

Smartphone Privacy – Lookout security 2015 research report

Lookout security performed an excellent study on privacy in mobile computing recently.  Also seven best practices for improved protection are shared below

Lookout’s Mobile Privacy IQ study, a survey of smartphone owners in the United States, examines data-based trends about our privacy mindsets and how they inform our perceptions, behaviors, and feelings toward privacy when using mobile devices.  What we found is that despite being increasingly tuned in to the importance of protecting the data on their mobile devices, a clear disconnect exists between people’s understanding of what it means to be privacy conscious and the actions they take in the real world..

The results of Lookout’s Mobile Privacy IQ study highlight a gap that exists between awareness of privacy issues and the actions people are taking with their mobile devices to protect their privacy. While people claim to understand how to protect their privacy, they are still unknowingly partaking in behaviors that could put themselves and their employers at risk. Furthermore, they are still willing to trade privacy for convenience.

Mobile devices have become the predominant computing platform for both work and pleasure, and thus house and have access to valuable personal and corporate data, making them rich targets for cybercriminals. As we lay the foundation for a connected world, the need to protect privacy, across all devices, will only continue to become increasingly important.

Tips for Consumers – So how can you be proactive and ensure you’re taking the necessary steps to protect your privacy on mobile? It’s simple really – there are a number of steps people can take to prevent their personal information from falling into the wrong hands.

1. Set a pin or passcode. Don’t jump on the “no passcode” bandwagon like nearly 35% of people who say they excel in mobile privacy. Set a passcode on your phone. It’s your first line of defense against prying eyes and thieves.

2. On public Wi-Fi, limit email, social networking and only window shop. Public Wi-Fi networks are everywhere, but security for these networks is scarce, making it relatively simple for hackers to snoop on your Internet activity. Take a note from the 25% of smartphone owners who never connect to open Wi-Fi.

3. The final “s” is key. 1 in 5 smartphone users never bother to check whether a URL leads with “https” before visiting a website on mobile. When browsing the web on mobile, take the extra step once the page has fully loaded to make sure the URL you’re visiting leads with “https.” This ensures that your connection is secure.

4. Clear your browsing history regularly. We found that 17% of people have never cleared their browsing and search history on their smartphone. Go above and beyond to protect your privacy if an unauthorized third-party ever gets ahold of your device.

5. Use discretion when downloading apps and pay attention to the apps ratings and reviews. Ultimately, don’t be afraid to just say ‘no.’ If you’re uncomfortable with the info an app is accessing, don’t hesitate to stop installation or delete it. In fact, 56% of smartphone owners have decided against installing an app after reading the privacy or permissions statement.

6. If you’re not comfortable with broadcasting your location, turn Location Services off. Both Android and iOS phones have functionality that allows your location to be broadcast to a number of services.

7. And last but not least, download a mobile security app, like Lookout, that checks for malware and spyware, fights against phone loss and theft, and notifies you of the information apps on your phone are accessing.

Survey Methodology – This study was conducted via an online survey from January 29 to February 5, 2015, among 1,012 United States respondents 18+ who currently own a smartphone. Respondents were recruited from the Univox Community online survey panel. The margin of error for this survey is 3.1%.

Facebook – Profile photo best practices to safeguard privacy

Facebook recently changed privacy policies to allow more detail to be shown than just the 180×180 sized user profile photo. CNET offers an overview of recent changes, plus best practices to safeguard privacy.

No matter how securely you’ve locked down your Facebook account, you can’t make your profile pic and cover photo private. Whatever Facebook’s reasons for the policy — maybe it’s just so you could verify an acquaintance’s identity before adding them as a friend — it’s long been a part of the social network. But as a privacy consolation, you used to be able to make your profile pic “unclickable,” so that nobody, not even your friends, could click on the picture and see the full-size version.

Facebook recently changed this privacy setting (without telling anyone, of course), and now your main profile picture is always clickable by anyone, even if they’re not a friend. While strangers previously saw only a 160-by-160-pixel version of your profile pic — large enough for them to determine if they knew you, but small enough to keep them from doing anything sketchy with it — now they can see the whole thing.

I don’t like this change, even though Facebook has added some privacy precautions (for example, if you set your picture to “Only Me,” strangers won’t be able to see likes, comments or photo data associated with the photo — just the photo itself). So, if you want to keep your profile pics as private as they can be, here’s what you need to do.

BEST PRACTICES – Facebook Profile photo safeguards

Step 1: Change your profile picture — One privacy precaution Facebook added is an updated cropping tool. Up until recently, the site’s cropping tool didn’t actually crop your profile picture, it just cropped your picture for the small version and displayed the full photo when you clicked on the thumbnail.

Step 2: Use a small photo — If you don’t want your high-res photo splashed all over the Internet, crop and resize it prior to uploading it. Using an imaging tool such as Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Paint, crop your photo into a square and then resize it to 180 by 180 pixels.

Step 3: Change the individual privacy settings of your current and past profile pics — By default, all of your profile pictures are public. In other words, not only can strangers view the full-size version of your current picture, they also can flip and previous profile photos that you haven’t deleted in their full-size glory. If you change it to Only Me, they will see just the photo and nothing else.

Windows 10 – Security updates move to daily basis rather than once per month

Windows 10 will feature DAILY security patches anytime during the month, rather than the traditional Patch Tuesday update process.

Ignite 2015 Microsoft has shown off some of the new security mechanisms embedded in Windows 10, and revealed a change to its software updates. Windows supremo Terry Myerson reckons the revised security patch rollout – effectively ditching the monthly Patch Tuesday.  Myerson promised that with the new version of Windows, Microsoft will release security updates to PCs, tablets and phones 24/7, as well as pushing other software “innovations,” effectively putting an end to the need for a Patch Tuesday once a month.

Windows 10 enterprise customers will stay on the monthly update cycle, which will be reworked as Windows Update for Business: this will allow IT managers to pick and choose updates to deploy, and set when they will be automatically installed.  He also said that the patching system had been updated to allow much tighter control over branch offices and remote users, who may not have decent bandwidth. Patches can be distributed peer-to-peer, and the timing of the installations can be set to ensure update downloads do not interfere with day-to-day operations.