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Tech-savvy workers increasingly common in non-IT roles

Millennials young work laptop

IT professionals are becoming an increasingly common presence outside of the traditional IT departments, new research has found.

According to CompTIA, it seems executives are calling for specialized skills, faster reflexes and more teamwork in their workers.

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My nerdy pilgrimage to the Microsoft campus in Seattle

Microsoft-Campus-Tour-40

I was recently in Seattle for Microsoft's Build 2017 developer conference. It was a monumental trip for me, as I had never been to the west coast before. Being a New Yorker, the furthest west I'd ever been was Colorado. Getting there was an interesting experience in itself, as I had a layover in Minnesota -- yet another place I had never been.

On the final day of Build 2017, some journalists -- including yours truly -- were invited to a tour of the Microsoft campus. This was an invitation I couldn't pass up. As a self-proclaimed computer nerd, visiting such a historic place -- a nerdy pilgrimage, if you will -- was on my bucket list, so I jumped at the opportunity.

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Microsoft shows new Type Covers ahead of Surface Pro event

Microsoft Surface Pro 2017 new Type Cover keyboards

Microsoft is expected to unveil the successor to the Surface Pro 4 tomorrow at a special event in Shanghai. There is not much that we know about the new hybrid device at this stage, other than it will look very similar to the current model, but the software giant hints that there will be four new Type Covers available for it.

Microsoft's corporate VP of Devices, Panos Panay, has posted a photo on Twitter which shows the keyboard in what appears to be red, gold, gray and blue colors. That would match the keyboard colors of the Surface Laptop, which was introduced early this month.

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Privacy warning: Netgear routers copy Windows 10 and start 'collecting analytics data'

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A firmware update to the Netgear R7000 router adds a new feature that will concern privacy advocates. The update allows Netgear to start "collecting analytics data" and the release notes warn that: "NOTE: It is strongly recommended that after the firmware is updated to this version, you log back in to the router's web GUI and configure the settings for this feature."

Netgear says that the data collection is to help it "isolate and debug technical issues" and does not -- according to the company -- include details such as the websites that are visited, but it will still be a cause of concern for many people. It's hard not to draw parallels with Windows 10 which has managed to upset many users with its telemetry settings.

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Jarte 6.0 Plus adds Autohotkey scripting and automation

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Carolina Read Software has unveiled Jarte 6.0, a major update for its Windows WordPad-based word processor.

The $19.95 Jarte Plus 6.0 build now supports running custom AutoHotkey scripts when you open a document, hit a hotkey or click a custom toolbar button. The system allows automatically entering text, replacing existing text, changing highlighting, colors and more, and you’re able to work with files, run programs, open websites, or do anything else AutoHotkey can normally do.

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Leaked documents show how Facebook censors users, and reveals policies on sex, terrorism and hate

Image credit: AlesiaKan / Shutterstock

At the moment, Facebook appears to be more concerned with keeping fake news out of users' news feeds and clamping down on clickbait and propaganda, but there has also been a lot of interest recently in how the social network moderates -- or censors -- content posted by its users. A leak of what has been dubbed The Facebook Files gives a fascinating insight into how the company moderates content, shedding light on just what its secret internal guidelines are.

Some of the rules are surprising -- livestream of self-harm, for instance, will not be censored, still images of animal abuse are fine -- others less so -- promotion of terrorism and terrorist groups is not permitted, ditto direct threats to someone's life (although the wording of the threat is important). With nearly 2 billion users, Facebook employs an incredibly small team of moderators, and the leaked documents show they have a very tough time.

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Privacy-focused Debian 9 'Stretch' Linux-based operating system Tails 3.0 reaches RC status

pebguinlivedvd

If you want to keep the government and other people out of your business when surfing the web, Tails is an excellent choice. The Linux-based operating system exists solely for privacy purposes. It is designed to run from read-only media such as a DVD, so that there are limited possibilities of leaving a trail. Of course, even though it isn't ideal, you can run it from a USB flash drive too, as optical drives have largely fallen out of favor with consumers.

Today, Tails achieves an important milestone. Version 3.0 reaches RC status -- meaning the first release candidate (RC1). In other words, it may soon be ready for a stable release -- if testing confirms as much. If you want to test it and provide feedback, you can download the ISO now.

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Here's when you can buy Samsung Chromebook Pro

Samsung Chromebook Pro

While many pundits are quick to dismiss Chromebooks, some consumers are embracing these laptops. True, from an overall market share perspective, Chrome OS is largely insignificant. With that said, it is absolutely dominating the education segment. Not to mention, as more and more consumers do everything in the web browser, Windows and macOS can be seen as overkill for some.

Unfortunately, many Chromebooks are both underpowered and low quality to keep costs down. While there are some solid models, they are few and far between. Samsung is looking to change this, however, with the long-promised Chromebook Pro. The company announced the premium convertible laptop in January, but now, we finally have a definitive release date.

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Two ways to check your PC is patched against EternalBlue

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Exploits linked to leaked NSA hacking tools have been causing havoc recently, with the WannaCry ransomware infecting more than 300,000 systems.

WannaCry made use of the previously unknown SMB exploit EternalBlue, but the leak included details of several others. Microsoft has released patches, but are they in place on all your PCs?

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I am slave to Apple Watch no more

Apple Watch 2 Stainless Steel

I suffer from phantom smartwatch syndrome -- an ailment that hopefully will disappear over time. Nearly four weeks ago, I put aside Apple Watch 2 stainless steel and replaced it with the simple but appealing ManchesterWatchWorks Iconik 3. Problem: Almost any shifting movement of the timepiece causes me to reflexively flip my wrist and look down; there is false perception of haptic sensation. Apple has trained me well, and I'm tired of being its dog doing tricks. Woof. Woof. Growl.

I feel free! Gone are the nagging alerts -- and I had them barreled down to a minimum of approved services: Some for breaking news; emails from a half-dozen people; and text messages. Among this still seeming torrent, the Activity app annoyed with congratulatory badges and prompts that one of the four main exercise goals (Calories, Exercise Time, Stands, and Steps) -- Apple's athletic lifestyle version of the four food groups -- would soon be achieved. The badges are about as infantile as gold stars that teachers give kindergarteners and with similar purpose: To make the recipient feel good, whether or not deserved. The achievement badge for Earth Day flipped my goat. Seriously? I ordered the Iconik 3 that evening.

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Belkin launches Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Dimmer Light Switch

WemoDimmer

The concept of a "smart home" is finally becoming a reality for many; devices are becoming both more affordable and easier to setup. It is not uncommon for a home to have Wi-Fi cameras, voice assistants, smart thermostats, and more, nowadays.

One of the coolest aspects of the smart home is the ability to control lights -- bulbs, switches, and outlets. In my home, I leverage Belkin's Wemo outlet adapters to turn my lamps both on and off using Alexa -- it is awesome. Now, Belkin has a new smart device that I cannot wait to add to my home -- the all-new Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Dimmer Light Switch. Not only can it dim lights with Alexa, but Google Home too. It can even integrate with a Nest thermostat for learning purposes and cost-savings. Of course, you can use the Wemo mobile app for Android and iOS too.

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Amazon Video app for Microsoft Xbox One S gets 4K UHD support

AmazonVideo4KXboxOneS

Amazon Video is one of the best deals in entertainment, as it comes included with a Prime account. As many consumers sign up for the retailer's Prime membership scheme to get free two-day shipping, the streaming video service is often viewed as an added bonus. True, its selection isn't the best, but it is passable. Not to mention, Amazon's original programming is rather solid.

Another great deal is Microsoft's Xbox One S. Not only does it play games, but it includes a 4K Ultra-high-definition Blu-ray disc player. In fact, the console is often less expensive than many such standalone disc players, making it in an insane value. The Xbox One S doesn't just handle 4K from discs, however -- it can output the resolution from video apps too. Now, the Amazon Video Xbox app gets updated with 4K support, meaning an excellent service on wonderful hardware just got even better.

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More businesses are becoming familiar with GDPR, but fines are still likely

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Even though the GDPR is just a year from coming into force, the majority of businesses are still unprepared. This is according to new research from Compuware, which says businesses are risking huge non-compliance fines.

Some businesses, truth be told, have made progress since last year.

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APT3 hacking collective has ties to Chinese government

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Cybersecurity experts from Recorded Future think the cybercrime group we know as APT3 is on the Chinese Ministry of State Security’s payroll.

It bases its conclusions on the work of "intrusiontruth," a group claiming to have investigated some of the most important APT actors. Analyzing APT3’s C&C infrastructure, it came across two names, Wu Yingzhuo and Dong Hao, who allegedly registered many of the domains that the threat actors had used.

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Why IBM has it wrong about Anywhere Work

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When IBM announced recently it was summoning workers back to central offices after decades of pioneering a remote work model -- it was a seminal moment for the legacy tech company and a head-scratching moment for future-forward companies everywhere. IBM’s desire to reignite innovation and collaboration and all the other long-touted benefits of manufacturing physical proximity among employees is understandable after 20 straight quarters of declining revenue. But it also feels really counter-culture: not in a cool, old-is-new again kind of way, but in a doesn’t-IBM-know-this-is-a-bad-idea kind of way?

The move will have long-term effects on IBM’s ability to hire the next generation of talent, which in study after study has voiced support for workplace flexibility and work-life balance over all else.

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