Computer News & Safety – Harry Waldron Rotating Header Image

June, 2016:

Bluetooth 5.0 – increases range by 4X and speed by 2X

The new Bluetooth 5.0 wireless standard will increase range by 400% and speed by 200% and improve in automatically connecting enabled devices

Bluetooth 5.0 to Quadruple Range, Double Speed

The next generation of Bluetooth devices will have quadruple the range and double the speed of what is currently available thanks to Bluetooth 5.0, which was announced today by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) and will be available to device manufacturers as early as this fall. Bluetooth 5.0’s specs are mostly in line with what SIG hinted last fall, when its chairman Toby Nixon said there is “a significant demand” to enhance Bluetooth. That demand stems in large part from devices connected to the Internet of Things, especially low-power beacons.

“Increasing operation range will enable connections to IoT devices that extend far beyond the walls of a typical home, while increasing speed supports faster data transfers and software updates for devices,” SIG Executive Director Mark Powell said in a statement. “And now with the ability to broadcast a much richer set of information, Bluetooth 5 will make beacons, location awareness, and other connectionless services an even more relevant part of an effortless and seamless IoT experience.”

Instead of automatically requesting to pair with a device, Bluetooth 5.0 will be smart enough to analyze the type of connection required to transmit the information. Warehouse managers, for instance, will be able to pinpoint an item in their inventory just by walking through the stacks. Travelers will be able to find the nearest Starbucks in a foreign airport without a Wi-Fi or 4G connection.

Orlando Tragedies – Fake Donation website warnings

As with most major events, fake donation sites and scams quickly emerge.  Users should always donate to the most mainstream and fully vetted sites where most of the donated monies will dgo to help the victims (e.g., American Red cross)

The vultures have already begun to descend on the tragedy in Orlando, Florida. A fake Twitter account claiming to represent the nightclub where the largest mass shooting in modern US history took place in the early hours of June 12 was calling for donations to assist victims—by sending bitcoins to buy bottled water and Oreo cookies. The account was suspended on Monday afternoon.

The scammers used a common tactic—they hijacked the name of the Pulse nightclub, attached the account to the various “hashtags” associated with the shooting, and built the account’s apparent profile by attaching an army of fake followers so they could draw the attention of people following conversations about the shooting. The Twitter account directed followers to a shortened Web address to make donations. That Web address linked to the six-month-old domain—a domain with a fake registration address in California and a contact e-mail account associated with the Hushmail anonymous e-mail service.

SAFETY TIPS FOR ONLINE DONATIONS Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in texts or emails. These may take you to a look-a-like website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information or to click on something that downloads harmful malware into your computer.  Don’t assume charity recommendations you spot on Facebook, blogs or other social media have already been vetted

Microsoft Excel – Advanced tips for importing and structuring data

PC World features article on advanced Excel tips for processing data that may not be structured into distinct columns initially  

Excel pro tips: Importing and parsing data

Data imported from other spreadsheets or databases is already separated into fields, using something called a field delimiter—a comma, tab, space, or custom character—to separate one field from another. These databases import easily into Excel and place all the fields in separate columns. If your company pays bills and/or banks online, these sites usually offer copies of the company’s records in electronic form. CSV (comma separated values) is the most common data exchange format and, if offered, the best one to use. But what happens when all the data imports into one cell?

Importing & parsing data — If you copy a block of data from a webpage, a word processing file, or other text file, then paste into Excel using the Paste > Special > Text command, all the data is dumped into a column of single cells. This means the records are copied into separate rows, but all of the fields are in one cell. What a mess! Now what?

Microsoft Security Updates – JUNE 2016

Below are key resources documenting this recent monthly Microsoft Patch Tuesday release:

Patch Tuesday for June 2016 has arrived where Microsoft releases their monthly set of security bulletins designed to address security vulnerabilities within their products. This month’s release contains 16 bulletins addressing 44 vulnerabilities. Five bulletins resolve critical vulnerabilities found in MS DNS Server, Edge, Internet Explorer, JScript/VBScript, and Office. The remaining bulletins are rated important and address vulnerabilities in Active Directory, Exchange Server, Group Policy, SMB Server, Netlogon, Windows Graphics component, Windows Kernel-mode Drivers, Windows PDF, Window Search Component, and WPAD.

Leadership – Key attributes to look for in a Leader

John Maxwell shares excellent advice for IT and business leadership development

In my book Developing the Leaders Around You, I devote an entire chapter to identifying potential leaders to develop. To me, this is the primary responsibility of any leader, and it’s also one of the most challenging tasks leaders face. It’s crucial to get it right. So what should you look for when you’re recruiting people to your side? Here are the five key areas I believe you should focus on:

1. Character — Without a doubt, the first thing you should look for in others in character. Strength of character is the foundation of all leadership; if a person’s character is flawed, their leadership will be as well.  And I ask three easy questions to help assess a person’s integrity:

a. Do they take responsibility for both their successes and their failures?
b. Do they fulfill their promises and obligations?
c. Do they meet their deadlines consistently?

2. Positive Attitude — After character, one of the most valuable assets anyone can possess is a good attitude. People with positive attitudes do things others can’t, see things others won’t, and go places others don’t go. Their willingness to see potential even in the most challenging circumstances sets the tone for everyone around them, and that makes them exceptional people to spend time with and develop.

3. Self-Discipline — The quickest way to determine if a person is self-disciplined is to look at two key areas: their emotions and their time. Self-disciplined people don’t allow the emotions of others to overwhelm them; in a volatile moment, they can keep a cool head. Self-disciplined people likewise don’t allow the urgency or distractions of the moment to command their attention. They know how to focus on what truly matters. If you can find someone in control of their emotions and their time, chances are you’ve found a person with great self-discipline.

4. People Skills — To be a leader, by definition, you have to work with other people—and that’s where people skills come in. When looking for people to raise up as leaders, you should always look for those who have an ability to understand others, and who make positive interactions with others a primary goal. How we behave toward others determines how they will behave toward us.

5. Discontent with the Status Quo — What I’m talking about is more of a willingness to be different and take risks. You want people who are willing to change and grow—and push you to do the same. Leaders who become satisfied with the status quo very quickly become followers.

I keep a constant eye out for potential leaders no matter where I go, and I encourage you to do the same. Look for men and women with a good attitude who genuinely like others and want to help make their community a better place. Look for people who have the character and discipline to follow through on their word. I promise you, they are out there.  Good leaders deliberately seek out and find potential leaders. Great leaders not only find them; they help them become great leaders in their own right.

Malware – Seven signs of an infected system in 2016

As enumerated below, slow performance, unexpected actions, or blocked access to system tools may be signs of malware infection,2817,2416788,00.asp

Computers are complicated enough that they don’t always do precisely what we expect. Sometimes an unexpected behavior is just a fluke; other times, it’s an outward and visible sign of an inward and terrible malware infestation. If you notice any of these security warning signs, your system may well be compromised.

1. Popup ads appear even when no browser is open.
2. Browser navigation gets redirected.
3. A security program you never installed pops up scary warnings.
4. Posts you didn’t write appear on your social media pages.
5. A program holds your PC for ransom. Some malware programs literally hold your PC or data for ransom. Overt ransomware threats may encrypt all your pictures and documents and demand that you pay to get them back.
6. Suddenly you can’t use common system tools.  If you suddenly find that trying to use these or other system tools triggers a message saying your Administrator has disabled them, it may well be an attempt at self-defense by malware on your system.
7. Everything seems perfectly normal. That’s right. Some types of malware do their best to hide all activity, leaving no visible traces.

If you think that malware has taken up residence in your PC, install a powerful antivirus utility or security suite immediately.  Already got one? Then apparently the malware got past its protection. Make sure your antivirus is fully up to date, and run a full scan. Also get a second opinion from a free cleanup-only antivirus like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.70 or Comodo Cleaning Essentials 6.  You definitely want to get that nasty, malicious program out of your system as soon as possible, before it invites “friends” to make your security problem even worse.

Android Security – June 2016 update patches 40 vulnerabilities

Several important security updates have been recently released for Android users

In its June Android update, released on June 7, Google has fixed 40 vulnerabilities, eight of which are rated critical. Once again, the security update includes a familiar set of flaws, with media server issues and Qualcomm drivers topping the list.

In fact, six of the eight critical issues were found in Qualcomm drivers: CVE-2016-2062, CVE-2016-2464, CVE-2016-2465, CVE-2016-2466, CVE-2016-2467 and CVE-2016-2468. The flaws were found in the Qualcomm video, sound, GPU and WiFi driver components that are integrated with hundreds of millions of Android devices. All six vulnerabilities are privilege escalation issues that could potentially enable a malicious application to execute arbitrary code.

Google also once again had to patch vulnerabilities in its much maligned media server component. In the June update, Google patched 15 vulnerabilities in media server, including one critical remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2016-2463), 12 high-impact privilege escalation flaws, one high-impact denial-of-service flaw (CVE-2016-2495) and a moderate impact information disclosure vulnerability (CVE-2016-2500).

With the 40 vulnerabilities fixed in the June update, Google has now patched at least 163 vulnerabilities so far in 2016. A key challenge, however, is getting handset vendors to implement all those patches and making them available to end users.

Google’s supported Nexus phones all get the Android updates relatively quickly after each monthly update is issued, but other Android phones have not been quite as fortunate. Google is now working on a plan to publicly pressure handset vendors that don’t make updates available quickly for end users and is planning to integrate a more robust updating system that helps keep devices up to date with patching.

Apple – iOS 10 released to developers

Apple has improvements planned for it’s key operating system and Siri that are scheduled to be released during Fall 2016 timeframe

Apple released iOS 10 to developers today. A public beta will launch in July, and – like MacOS Sierra – it will arrive for everyone in the fall, likely around the same time new iPhones are released.

Apple iOS 10Now, when you pick up your iOS 10 device, it will wake up and show a preview of any notifications on the lock screen without you having to press any buttons. On new iPhones, 3D Touch will also be more useful, allowing you to press for more information about calendar reminders, text messages, and other notifications directly from that lock screen.

Of note is the fact that Apple is loosening its grip on Siri. With SiriKit, developers can connect their apps to Apple’s digital assistant for things like messaging, phone calls, photo search, ride booking, personal payments, and workouts (“Siri, book me an Uber). It can also be used for CarPlay apps to handle things like temperature or radio settings.

iOS 10 MemoriesMaps is also open to developers, so you can make a restaurant reservation via OpenTable or reserve a Lyft right from Apple Maps. Apple also previewed a new Maps redesign and suggested routes based on your usual schedule. “Once a route is planned, Maps can search along the route for gas stations, restaurants, coffee shops and more and provides an estimate of how the stop impacts the length of your trip,” according to Apple

Data Storage Technology – Glossary of key terms and acronyms

While IT professionals are familiar with many of these special terms and acronyms associated with data storage, this glossary provides a comprehensive list of about two dozen key items

In the last couple of years, the IT industry has created more acronyms than the US government. I won’t even get started on all the “as-a-Service” terms! Storage isn’t immune to acronym overload. Of course, most of the acronyms hide valid technical advances and there have been a lot of those in the storage industry of late.  Today, the storage industry is changing faster than it ever has in the past, so expect there to be even more terminology to keep track of in the near future.  Let’s first look at the types of storage drives available today.

Hard-disk drive: HDDs are the traditional spinning drives that we’ve had for decades. They come in two main sizes, 3.5” diameter media and 2.5” diameter media, with the latter much thinner as well as smaller in area.

Solid-state drive: SSDs are rapidly replacing hard HDDs in the primary storage tier. Unlike HDDs, these drives have no moving parts and store data on flash memory chips. SSDs also are much faster than HDDs, between 100x and 1000x times faster

Leadership – Team work and success require more than one person

John Maxwell’s excellent leadership blog shares the need for leaders to mentor and groom successors for their position or their accomplishments will not be long lasting

John, we have a problem” … As a leader, you get used to hearing those words. Challenges are a daily part of leadership. However, when this time when I heard them, I felt my stomach drop. I was young and had just left the church in Hillham, my first position as a leader. I had moved to a new opportunity, in part because I believed that Hillham was in great shape to continue its growth and work. “We’ve fallen off,” my friend said. “Attendance is down, and so is morale. John, what’s gone wrong?”

It was devastating to learn that the three years Margaret and I invested in Hillham had withered so quickly. For as much as I was able to accomplish as a one-man show in Hillham, the truth is my failure to multiply myself as a leader hurt the church. Because I didn’t develop others, the church fell back into a state similar to what it had been before my arrival.  So where did I go wrong?

After a lot of wrestling, I realized that I’d failed to see the limits of a one-man show:

1. The Limit of Vision — But while I partnered with the people in the work, I never transferred the vision to them. It was my vision, not our vision. And that’s not an uncommon problem for leaders to have. As leaders, we get so caught up in what we can see, what we think should be, that we sometimes fail to bring others into the process. When leaders don’t invite others to share the vision and make it their own, that vision is automatically tethered to the leader.

2. The Limit of Influence — Much like vision, your influence as a leader is tethered to you unless you share it. Had I selected even one person to mentor or develop during my time at Hillham, their influence would’ve remained when I left.  Where I really missed the boat was in not developing at least one other leader who would go on to develop other leaders! Talk about limiting yourself! I like to say, if one is good, four is better—and that’s true with leaders. Why add one or two when you can multiply by three or four? Influence is at its best when it is multiplied.

3. The Limit of Momentum –I want to touch on one more area where the limits of a one-man show really make a difference—momentum. The lessons helped me develop one of my core beliefs about leadership: leaders must develop other leaders…who develop other leaders. That principle of multiplication drives me every day to continue growing myself and growing leaders around me, because I want my legacy to be one of leadership development. I want to develop strong leaders who carry the vision, the influence and the momentum. And I’m especially excited about our newest initiative to transform leaders who transform nations that transform our world.