Too Many People Still Use Windows XP

Windows XP, which turned 21 last month and has been unsupported since 2014, still runs on an alarmingly high number of PCs worldwide, including many in government.

via BleepingComputer:

So, why are some systems still using the outdated XP version?

The first category of systems that are still using Windows XP is those belonging to public sectors, known for their crawling upgrade speeds and hesitancy to use new technologies.

For many public entities, the bureaucracy of approving new system license purchases, upgrading hardware, and training the entire public sector is too complicated and costly.

The compatibility of custom-made 32-bit software tools is another crucial reason for still seeing XP in many places like industrial environments, hospitals, etc.

In many cases, there are no newer versions of these critical tools, or companies need to pay a lot of money to have them ported to new systems.

Then there’s the category of people who are using hardware that is too old and weak to run a newer Windows version properly, and they see no good reason to replace something that is still (technically) working.

Many users, including some in government, value ease and tradition over security … often to the detriment of public stakeholders.

Time Machine vs Migration Assistant

I spent much of last weekend restoring my father-in-law’s MacBook Pro, which had stopped receiving updates and was acting out in strange ways following a small-town repair tech’s ill-fated attempt to service it. 

The situation called for a complete erase and reinstall of macOS, followed by a series of updates to bring the machine current with macOS Big Sur. 

Backing up and restoring a Mac has gotten a lot easier thanks to iCloud, but there may be occasions when you need to restore files, settings and media from a backup drive. 

Migration Assistant 

Migration Assistant is an app that lives in the macOS Utilities folder. 

Migration Assistant is more complicated than other backup methods since it requires you to already be on a Mac that has been set up, and accordingly, already on a new user account. Long story short, it can be complicated to migrate an “old” user account over to a “new” account. Migration can easily unravel, resulting in duplicated or missing files and accounts. Migration Assistant has always been complicated and frustrating tool for me.

Time Machine 

Time Machine is Apple’s go-to backup and snapshot app that provides a smoother experience. Simply use Time Machine for regular backups, including just before you want to restore your Mac. Once backed up, erase and update your Mac to the latest OS, then plug in the external drive associated with your Time Machine backup and select while files, profiles and settings you want.

It couldn’t be any easier. 

Bradley Koda, the Parts Seller Keeping Atari Machines Alive

Via Vice:

Among Atari fans, Best is almost as famous for ignoring and blacklisting badly behaved customers as it is for selling Atari parts. A first attempt to buy from Best Electronics is a sink-or-swim proposition: learn the rules, or accept your fate.

Every purchase from Best Electronics requires personal interaction with Koda. Although he’s fond of using the editorial “we,” he is a one-man operation, and he doesn’t believe in automation. “We prefer to talk, Via E-Mail, Phone or E-FAX to our Atari customers, and make sure you getting the Right Atari Replacement Parts / Items the first time,” he explains on the Best website, in his inimitable prose style.

Koda is a monopolist, of a sort, but he’s no Jeff Bezos. Best Electronics has no virtual shopping cart, or any other Amazon-esque conveniences. The store’s website looks the same as it has since the early 2000s: it’s a lengthy, multicoloured text scroll, as if Jack Kerouac quit the novel-writing business (but not the benzedrine) and started typing about Atari.

My Review of the 2020 MacBook Air

2020 MacBook AirOn June 22 Apple formally announced its departure from Intel x86 to its in-house ARM chipset, dubbed Apple Silicon. 

ARM-based chips, like those found in iPhone and iPad, are considerably faster and more efficient than their Intel counterparts and will allow for better battery life and enhanced integration between hardware and software. Close your eyes and imagine the speed and stability of a mobile device but in a laptop or desktop computer. 

The first Apple Silicon Macs will be available later this year. 

All of this is to say my own Mac — a 2011 MacBook Air — died within days of the announcement, so I was confronted with deciding between buying into a dying line of Intel-based Macs now or holding out for Apple Silicon later this year. 

It wasn’t an easy decision; while ARM-based Macs will be exponentially more powerful and more efficient, the transition to get there may include bugs and kinks. While this will be especially true for niche software developers who may lag in their production cycles, I don’t expect transitional issues from “anchor” apps like Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. Still, as a general rule, I avoid buying the first generation of any new tech. Plus, I can’t go months without a computer. 

I opted for the upper-tier MacBook Air. 

My Air’s configuration includes performance and memory bumps: a 1.1 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5, 16 GB 3733 MHz LPDDR4 RAM and a 512GB SSD. Choosing quad-core was a no-brainer, and the bump to 512GB of storage provides more wiggle room without fretting about space. 

This configuration is more than powerful enough for my needs: writing with lots of open tabs, light web development and casual video editing. I can run Final Cut Pro or Logic Pro X if need to, though if I used either of those tools fulltime, I would have opted for the 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Apple’s attention to detail did not escape the 2020 MacBook Air. At the top of the list of enhancements is the return to the traditional scissor keyboard. The 2020 Air’s Magic Keyboard has 1mm of travel and has a satisfying click to keystrokes. 

And finally, at long last, I have a retina display and Touch ID. 

The line between the macOS and iOS is blurring more each year. There isn’t a hard divide between mobile and desktop experiences, at least when it comes to photos, bookmarks, documents, and settings. The majority of my stuff was synced via iCloud, and the rest was available through my Time Machine backups. I’m comfortably within the walled garden that Apple has constructed for me over the last 15 years, and I can seamlessly move between my MacBook, iPad, and iPhone. I expect macOS and iOS to become even more enmeshed when Apple releases its next OS, Big Sur, later this year. 

The 2020 MacBook Air has only two ports, and they’re both USB-C. None of my devices –– not my printer, my external hard drive, or my GoPro camera –– is USB-C. This is my biggest grievance with the 2020 Air. It didn’t occur to me how many older USB devices I had until I couldn’t use them. The issue of legacy ports was solved by buying a USB-C Hub Adapter, which opens the notebook up to all of my older devices. 

The 2020 MacBook Air, like all current Mac laptops, features a very awful 720p FaceTime camera, so don’t expect much visual appeal for virtual meetings from home. I suppose this is due to the Air’s thin form factor and lack of space for a larger, higher-quality camera. This is unfortunate as so many of us depend on video calls more than ever during the pandemic. 

Will I get almost a decade of use out of the 2020 Air? It’s unlikely. But based on my experience so far, I can say that shoddy camera aside, the 2020 MacBook is a solid option for anyone who needs portability and power.

2020 and the Death of Information Technology

Via Robert Cringeley:

IT — Information Technology — grew out of something we called MIS — Management Information Systems — but both meant a kid in a white shirt who brought you a new keyboard when yours broke. Well, the kid is now gone, sent home with everyone else, and that kid isn’t coming back… ever. IT is near death, fading by the day. But don’t blame COVID-19 because the death of IT was inevitable. This novel coronavirus just made it happen a little quicker…

Amazon has been replacing all of our keyboards for some time now, along with our mice and our failed cables, and even entire PCs. IT has been changing steadily from kids taking elevators up from the sub-basement to Amazon Prime trucks rolling-up to your mailbox. At the same time, our network providers have been working to limit their truck rolls entirely. Stop by the Comcast storefront to get your cable modem, because nobody is going to come to install it if you aren’t the first person living there to have cable…

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) extends both the network and a security model end-to-end over any network including 4G or 5G wireless. Some folks will run their applications in their end device, whether it is a PC, phone, tablet, whatever, and some will run their applications in the same cloud as SASE, in which case everything will be that much faster and more secure. That’s end end-game if there is one — everything in the cloud with your device strictly for input and output, painting screens compressed with HTML5. It’s the end of IT because your device will no longer contain anything so it can be simply replaced via Amazon if it is damaged or lost, with the IT kid in the white shirt becoming an Uber driver.

Since COVID-19 is trapping us in our homes it is forcing this transition to happen faster than it might have. But it was always going to happen.

AP Style Guide for Writing About Coronavirus

The Associated Press’s guidance for writing about coronavirus is a useful tool for journalists, technologists and other professional communicators.

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Humble Book Bundle: Cybersecurity 2020

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