Here’s Lookin’ at Your Password

Passwords are just as painful for companies that require them as they are for you. And, they’re expensive as well as subject to theft. What are we looking at in the near future? The eyes have it.

Microsoft and Apple are moving ahead with facial recognition to replace passwords. The technology is getting better and better, and, let’s face it, once their systems can recognize you and match you up with other records, you won’t have to remember some arcane, complex password – which you could mistype…

Going “password-less” would create a huge economic benefit for the business world. At our recent Microsoft IT conference in Orlando, the company said lost passwords are their biggest IT cost. In the month of July, they spent $686,000 in IT-related costs for restoring forgotten passwords. Annually, the cost is roughly $12 million.

The way systems work, it’s always to your benefit to say you’ve forgotten your password if you risk being locked out of website or application, such as your Office 365 account or a bank account. While their security needs dictate making a password reset more difficult, the complexities raise costs.

Also, in today’s world, all of these systems and interactions can be hacked, and dark-web operatives can change your letters, numbers and special characters once they’ve cracked your code. Your face is another matter. And while someone at some point in the future will figure out a way to defeat facial recognition, I believe this gets us ahead of the curve – for now.

Microsoft has facial recognition tools available for computers that have Windows 10 with Hello installed, and Apple has it for iPhones and iPads. While you can use them now for their own websites and online apps, it will take some time for the rest of the online world to get there. Your bank or credit card company, for example, will need to develop tools that work with all platforms and operating systems, and they will need to make sure online performance doesn’t suffer.

One online security app that some banks encourage their customers to use is Trusteer. While it can be effective as form of two-factor verification, it can slow down a user’s computer. We’ve had numerous incidents of clients calling us about slow computers, and Trusteer has been the problem. Once it’s uninstalled, performance levels return to what they should be.

There are other two-factor authentication methods you can use, but you’ll be up against that issue of whether you want more convenience or more security.

If you have any questions about facial recognition tools or two-factor authentication, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us. New technologies can be scary, mostly because you can worry about making a mistake somewhere that can lock you out of the info and apps you need for work and life. We can help you navigate the brave new world with confidence.

iOS 11 Has a Lot to Like

Apple has released iOS 11 for mobile phones and tablets, and it has a lot of great features. For cars, we really like the “Do Not Disturb, I’m Driving” response to text messages, and for iPads, we like the drag-and-drop feature.

The “Do Not Disturb” feature has been available on Android phones, and for somebody like me, who spends a lot of business time traveling to clients while always on call, it could be a lifesaver. You can activate in one of three ways: Bluetooth, when your vehicle reaches a specified speed, or manually. I have been able to add a customized message to let texters know that they can call because I can talk while I drive. Because the screen stays dark in this mode, I am looking at the phone a lot less now, and that’s much, much safer.

The camera on the iPhone is getting better, too. You can take Portrait Mode images with optical image stabilization, True Tone flash and HDR. Memory movies are optimized to play in portrait and landscape orientation, and more memories, such as photos of pets or birthdays, are automatically created and a new technology, called High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF), reduces the file size of every photo taken with iPhone 7 and newer models.

Siri has new male and female voices that are more natural and expressive, adjusting intonation, pitch, emphasis and tempo while speaking, and it can translate English words and phrases into Mandarin, French, German, Italian or Spanish. It uses on-device learning to offer suggestions based on personal usage of Safari, News, Mail, and Messages.

For AR (augmented reality), there’s a new platform for developers to create experiences on phones and tablets using the built-in camera and the latest computer vision technologies. You’ll likely see content for interactive gaming, immersive shopping experiences, industrial design and more.

iPad’s drag-and-drop capability across the entire system makes it easier to move images and text, and when combined with the new Files app, you can keep things in one place, whether you store files locally or in the cloud. Its new, customizable Dock and a redesigned control center give you access to frequently used apps and documents from any screen and let you move documents between apps using a split screen or Slide Over. Apple Pencil lets you draw or add notes from the lock screen through the Instant Notes feature opens Notes by tapping Apple Pencil on the display.

The new screen sharing capability, however, tops off all the new features. It enables two people to share screens in real time on any iOS-powered device. For us, that will increase our capability to help clients troubleshoot problems in a timely manner.

Make the most of your Apple devices by understanding all the features of iOS 11 and how they work. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us if you have any questions, and have more fun with your devices or make them more useful.

Tips from Orlando

Although we played as much as anyone who visits Orlando, we got a lot of work done at Microsoft’s annual tech conference. When I looked at my calendar, I had booked 21 sessions for the week, each session some 75 minutes long, and I probably walked some 40 miles in the expo. I narrowly avoided DBP – otherwise known as “Death by PowerPoint – surviving to get some useful information in many places.

As useful as the sessions were, some of the best learning took place offline while walking the expo hall with fellow members of The Crew. I joined The Crew several years ago. We’re all independent IT consultants, and we stay in touch all year long through a variety of ways, including phone calls. We can turn to each other when we have questions, and my Crew members have been an invaluable resource everywhere we go.

That includes Orlando. When one of members gave a presentation at the conference, we turned up to support him – and we wound up helping him out when he experienced “technical issues.”

Walking the expo gave us access to the best and brightest in the Microsoft arena. All of the booths were staffed by software engineers from Microsoft and its affiliated companies, and we got to talk to them in depth. We could talk about problems we’ve experienced or features we like and get more in-depth knowledge. We learned about workarounds for problems and ways to use advanced features in software and hardware.

Here are my three favorite take-aways from the conference.

  1. Many people who use Microsoft One Drive like to use # and % in their file names, but the system would not accept names with those characters. One Drive now allows you that option, so go ahead and # and % to your heart’s content.
  2. The fall update of Windows 10 will include more capabilities for One Drive. You’ll be able to sync large libraries of files on demand and be able to open files without having to download them.
  3. You can add the ability to share calendars in Outlook or native applications on mobile devices. The feature is not automatically available; you need to re-share calendars each time you want to sync them. While it’s a bit of a pain, all you need are valid permissions for sharing, and you can differentiate each person in the group by color. We can help you set it up.

To borrow an old phrase, we passed the last exit on the information super highway light years ago. With conferences like Microsoft’s annual event, we can be the roadside service resource that keeps you moving. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us at any time with any questions or service requests.