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December, 2016:

Privacy – IoT listening device rules explored in 2017 case

In a current criminal case, listening device legal rules are being explored  during 2017 proceedings.  These developments are noteworthy for formulating legal precedence as sometimes the technology arrives faster than legal framework to protect both privacy and security.

The Amazon Echo is a voice-activated smart speaker that plays music, gives the weather forecast and updates its owner’s shopping lists, among other everyday tasks. But prosecutors in Arkansas believe one such virtual assistant may hold something far more crucial: data that can help in a murder trial.

The case against a Bentonville man is gaining national attention after prosecutors confirmed there is an active warrant to obtain information from his Amazon Echo. While Benton County prosecutor Nathan Smith told NBC News they’re not trying to force Amazon to comply with the warrant — and the e-commerce giant says it has refused anyway — the case is putting a spotlight on how newer types of personal technology have become sought-after pieces of evidence.

Security – 2017 areas for improvement slideshow

Several slides are shared for better online etiquette, privacy, and security by PC Magazine.  These are all worthwhile:

The tech world never sits still, but it does occasionally change direction or even go backwards. It did that several times this year, many of which left the world worse off. Want to plug your headphones into a smartphone? Opportunities are dwindling. Want to read an online article without worrying about its veracity? Not so fast.

For the past few years, we’ve made a list of the things in the tech world we’d like to see go away in the coming year. Last year, our list included shady pre-installed software (nope), hoverboards (kinda), and major security breaches (lol, not even close). But a tech pub can dream. (For more, check out our roundup of the tech that did actually die in 2016.)

The thing about trends—tech or otherwise—is that you might be able to start one, but you can’t end one. They are a reflection of society’s needs and desires. Still, that doesn’t keep us from trying to dispatch a few trends every year that we think deserve to die. Here are our offerings to the tech grim reaper.

Windows 10 – Build 14997 previews new features for 2017

While earlier builds are being tested by Windows Insiders program, a more advanced preview build appeared recently and highlights new advanced features that may likely stay in the final version

For the last couple of years, around every Christmas when the Windows Insider Program is on a break, an internal Windows 10 build compile always seems to find its way onto the web, giving Insiders an awesome holiday gift and an inside look at what to expect in the new year. This year is no different, as build 14997 appears to have leaked on the web. This build is particularly interesting, if only because it comes from an internal development branch

Windows 10 – How to change date and time formats

This informative article shares detailed screenshots and how to adapt WIN10 for specific date and time needs

Not everybody needs to see time and dates the same way — if the Windows 10 default for the Taskbar doesn’t do it for you, here’s how to change it.  Windows 10 by default displays the date in the Taskbar formatted with forward slashes and two numbers for the year (12/28/16) and 12-hour format for time (12:00 PM), which is totally acceptable, but you can always change these settings if you want to see something different.

Perhaps you want to see dashes for the date (12-28-16) or dots (12.28.16). Or maybe for the time, you want to use a 24-hour format or something more unique, such as replacing “AM” with “Before Noon” (9:00 Before Noon) and “Afternoon” for “PM” (6:00 Afternoon).   Thankfully, Windows 10 is a flexible operating system that includes the necessary options to customize the date and time formats on your device to virtually anything you want.   In this Windows 10 guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to customize the date and time formats on your PC.





Technology – CES 2017 Live Streaming schedule

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017 will be in Las Vegas, NV during
JANUARY 5-8, 2017. Opportunities to view live keynote addresses and other activities can be found in links below:




Windows 10 – In-depth guide to protect device security

With each Windows release, Microsoft improves security.  WIN10 security is much improved.  This excellent and in-depth article from Guiding Tech offers ways to further strengthen security

Digital Security is paramount today. Anything with an internet connection is vulnerable and can be compromised by someone sitting on a different continent. The latest DDOS attack on DNS servers is one example of many such wide scale attacks which are on increasing trend since last few years.  Your PC or Laptop is also not secure from such attacks. While you may reiterate that I have password protected it, but that’s not enough today, as we will see.

In Windows 10, Microsoft is using NTLMv2 hashing technique, which while doesn’t use salting but fixes some other critical flaws and overall offers more security. But then also you are not 100 percent protected, as I will show now how can you perform a similar attack on your own PC.

Windows 10 – Folders return to START MENU in Creators Update

The WIN10 Creators Update is currently in beta testing for release later in 2017.  Below is further documentation of a new feature that will likely appear in next WIN10 version release.

Microsoft is set to release the Windows 10 Creators Update in early 2017. The company has already introduced a handful of new features coming with the Creators Update to users in the Windows Insider program. The software giant is also expected to release a set of other features in early 2017 ahead of the official public release.

Now, there is a new feature coming with the Creators Update which Microsoft is yet to officially announce — and that is app folders on the Start Menu. If you happen to own a Windows 10 Mobile device, you are probably familiar with this feature — it essentially allows you to make a folder of tiles on the Start Menu. If an app has a live tile, the tile will still function in the folder which is very neat. And just like all of the other tiles on the Start Menu, you can resize the app folders too.

Smartphones – Comparison of Google Pixel XL v iPhone 7 Plus

These two newer models of leading phone systems are compared in the following review:

How does the Google Pixel XL stack up against the Apple iPhone 7 Plus on three main metrics? Note that this is not a comprehensive review of all the features on both phones. I will do a comprehensive long-term review later. And for the record (iPhone fans please note), I think both phones are excellent and are two of the best smartphones on the planet.

1. Intelligent Personal Assistant: Google Personal Assistant vs. Siri: Winner: Pixel XL
2. UX (user experience): Admittedly, this is a bit murky but it’s one of the reasons I still favor the iPhone
3. Camera: The preponderance of professional reviews I’ve read favor the Google Pixel. (Digital Photography Review cites the Pixel XL’s excellent HDR+ mode, the image detail, and fast/accurate AF, among other things.)

Malware – Vermont utility discovers laptop with GRIZZLY-STEPPE infection

Combating attacks from the bad guys is a cat-and-mouse game … and we need smarter and more vigilent cats in 2017

A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.   While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a security matter, the discovery underscores the vulnerabilities of the nation’s electrical grid. And it raises fears in the U.S. government that Russian government hackers are actively trying to penetrate the grid to carry out potential attacks.

Officials in government and the utility industry regularly monitor the grid because it is highly computerized and any disruptions can have disastrous implications for the country’s medical and emergency services.  Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems. The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities

Twitter – 2017 improvements may include an edit button

The capability to edit posts and more restrictive controls on fake news are possible improvements for Twitter in 2017

Could Twitter be finally adding an edit button? In new tweets from CEO Jack Dorsey, the answer may actually be yes.  After asking users for what they would want to see Twitter add or improve on it 2017 (borrowing the idea from Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky), the co-founder of the popular social network was inundated with requests to allow people to edit their tweets.

In addition to requests to edit tweets, Dorsey was also pitched to add better control for dealing with trolls, removing bots and improving how conversations appear.  All are important, but bringing the ability to edit tweets would be a great way to start 2017.