OK, for 5 years or so now I’ve been primarily using a Chromebook. I’ve been through three. It’s not that I didn’t have Windows around, the desktop in my office is Windows and the laptop was on my kitchen counter is Windows. I used it while cooking so I could keep an eye on messages, plus I have recipes in Evernote.
Well, that kitchen laptop is currently my work machine. The keyboard on my Chromebook, an Asus C206, died. Literally no keys work. Yes, I’ve tried to fix it in many ways. I’ve declared it DOA.
So that laptop that was on my kitchen counter is suddenly my work machine. It took me a day to get used to it. I’m used to an 11 inch and that keyboard size. This is 17 inches and my fingers were getting lost on the keyboard. However, by day 2 I was basically fine, I adjusted.
I did have to turn off the touchpad, I use an external mouse so it isn’t necessary. Worse, my wrist brushed it while typing and deleted a whole story. In Chrome OS turning it off is as easy as Shift-Search-P. It’s a little harder in Windows, but it isn’t rocket science.
I also remembered this is a touchscreen when I went to wipe a spot off the screen. I didn’t use this very much so I’d forgot. Things happened when I touched it to wipe the spot off.
However, I’ve been scouring online and picked out a new Chromebook. So I’ll be heading back to one very soon, just need to place my order and wait for delivery. In the meantime, I’m OK on Windows 10. I know Windows well, it was just a matter of getting my fingers used to the bigger keyboard.
So what are all of you using these days? Let us know. And stay healthy out there.
JEDI saga continues! A federal judge has ordered a temporary block on the JEDI cloud contract, which Microsoft was selected for (over Amazon) by the Department of Justice. The judge’s action was in response to a suit filed by Amazon.
The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, cloud computing contract is intended to modernize the Pentagon’s IT operations. It could be worth as much as $10 billion over a decade. Personally, I don’t think Microsoft or Amazon would be in a dire situation as a result of not getting the JEDI contract. But, here we are.
CNBC reported that in January of 2020, Amazon’s cloud computing arm, AWS, filed a formal motion asking the court to pause Microsoft’s work on the JEDI cloud contract. The court granted that motion today.
Earlier this week, Amazon said that it wants to question President Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and former Defense Secretary James Mattis over the JEDI contract. Amazon has stated that the evaluation process included “clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias.”
Personally, I feel like this is a spat between two incredibly rich corporations over a contract that they both want – but neither of them actually need in order to stay in business. I’m finding it hard to care about the outcome of this case.
Cortana’s days are numbered. Microsoft announced that Cortana services will no longer be supported after January 31, 2020. This warning could give those who were using Cortana some time to find a different digital assistant. Here is the support note from Microsoft’s UK site:
To make your personal digital assistant as helpful as possible, we’re integrating Cortana into your Microsoft 365 productivity apps. As part of this evolution, on January 31, 2020, we’re ending support for the Cortana app on Android and iOS in your market. At that point, the Cortana content you created – such as reminders and lists – will no longer function in the Cortana mobile app or Microsoft Launcher, but can still be accessed through Cortana on Windows. Also, Cortana reminders, lists, and tasks are automatically synced to the Microsoft To Do app, which you can download to your phone for free.
Microsoft continued by stating that after January 31, 2020, the Cortana mobile app on your phone will no longer be supported and there will be an updated version of Microsoft Launcher with Cortana removed.
The Verge reported that Microsoft is “planning to kill off” its Cortana app for iOS and Android users in the UK, Canada, and Australia. The Verge also reported that Microsoft confirmed that the Cortana app will disappear in the UK, Australia, Germany, Mexico, China, Spain, Canada, and India on January 31, 2020.
It appears that Cortana users in the United States will still have access to the Cortana app, but it is not certain for how much longer after the end of January. Now is a good time for Cortana users decide if they want to start using the Microsoft To Do app, or if they need to start looking for another digital assistant.
Microsoft announced that it is a strong supporter of California’s CCPA law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2020. Microsoft is going to extend the privacy protections in the CCPA to all Microsoft customers in the United States.
Under CCPA, companies must be transparent about data collection and use, and provide people with the option to prevent their personal information from being sold. Exactly what will be required under CCPA to accomplish these goals is still developing. Microsoft will continue to monitor those changes, and make the adjustments needed to provide effective transparency and control under CCPA to all people in the U.S. While many of our customers and users find that the data controls we already offer them through our GDPR commitment will be stronger than those rights offered by the new California law, we hope this step will show our commitment to supporting states as they enact laws that take us in the right direction.
Reuters reported that the California law is expected to harm profits over the long term for technology companies, retailers, advertising firms, and other businesses dependent on collecting consumer data to track users and increase sales.
According to Reuters, Microsoft products that collect data include its Cortana and Microsoft Edge browsers, Bing web search engine, Windows 10 system, Xbox and Skype.
Microsoft pointed out the “lack of action by the United States Congress to pass comprehensive privacy legislation”. The company noted that “in the absence of strong national legislation”, California’s law will be adhered to by Microsoft not only for people in California, but also Microsoft customers across the United States.
Microsoft beat out Amazon for a Department of Defense contract that could be worth as much as $10 billion over a decade, CNBC reported.
The achievement highlights the emergence of Microsoft’s Azure cloud as a challenger to AWS and represents the latest victory for Satya Nadella, who took over from Steve Ballmer as Microsoft chief in 2014. Early on in the process, Amazon was seen as the favorite, partly because its AWS business won a deal with the CIA in 2013. In addition, Amazon had been certified at the highest existing security clearance level, while Microsoft sought to catch up.
The Department of Defense announced its contract with Microsoft on the U.S. Department of Defense website. Part of that announcement states:
Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, Washington, has been awarded a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a ceiling value of $10,000,000,000 over a period of 10 years, if all options are exercised. The JEDI Cloud contract will provide enterprise level, commercial Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) to support Department of Defense business and mission operations.
JEDI stands for “Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure”. I find the name somewhat amusing, because it makes me think of President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) – which critics referred to as “Star Wars”.
The New York Times reported that the contract has an outsized importance because it is central to the Pentagon’s efforts to modernize its technology. According to The New York Times, much of the military operates on 1980s and 1990s computer systems, and the Defense Department has spent billions of dollars trying to make them talk to one another.
Tyler Blevins – known as “Ninja” – left Twitch in favor of streaming exclusively on Mixer in August of 2019. At the time, there was much speculation that the reason was because Mixer was paying him a lot more money than Twitch did. It turns out that is simply not so. The reason Ninja switched has to do with contracts.
Business Insider posted a detailed interview with Jessica Blevins, Ninja’s wife and manager. In it, she states: “Money was the last thing on our mind”. Business Insider notes that the value of Ninja’s deal with Mixer is kept heavily under wraps.
One of the main sticking points with Twitch’s newly proposed contract was that it would limit the licensing deals that Jessica and Tyler had worked so hard to attain in the first place.
In other words, the Twitch contract conflicted with some of Ninja’s current sponsors. Jessica Blevins said: “With the wording of how that contract was going, he wouldn’t have been able to grow his brand much outside of gaming.” Microsoft, however, was willing to work with Ninja, without restricting whatever sponsorships Ninja has (or may have in the future).
In addition, Jessica said that the Ninja chatroom on Twitch had become “pretty toxic”. It apparently was bad enough where it was making Ninja unhappy and less interested in streaming.
Twitch should take a lesson from this. I can see where they might lose more big streamers to Mixer, since Mixer’s contract seems to be less restricting than Twitch’s is. It also sounds like Twitch needs to do more to prevent chatrooms from become so toxic that big streamers no longer want stream there.
Microsoft revealed that they have recently seen “significant cyber activity” by a threat group that Microsoft is calling Phosphorus. Microsoft believes Phosphorus originates from Iran and is linked to the Iranian government.
In a 30-day period between August and September, the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) observed Phosphorus making more than 27,000 attempts to identify consumer email accounts belonging to specific Microsoft customers and then attack 241 of those accounts. The targeted accounts are associated with a U.S. presidential campaign, current and former U.S. government officials, journalists covering global politics, and prominent Iranians living outside of Iran.
Microsoft stated that four accounts were compromised as a result of these attempts. The four accounts were not associated with the U.S. presidential campaign or current and former U.S. government officials. Microsoft has notified the customers related to the investigations and threats and has worked as requested with those whose accounts were compromised to secure them.
Microsoft did not say what U.S. presidential campaign was targeted. There are a lot of people currently running a 2020 presidential campaign, so I think it would be incredibly difficult to figure out which one of them was affected by the attempts of Phosphorus.
I would assume that Microsoft would be the most reliable source regarding which presidential campaign may have been affected. Personally, I am very hesitant to trust news articles that reference anonymous “sources” about this sort of thing.
That said, it appears “sources” told Reuters and The New York Times that it was President Trump’s 2020 campaign that was affected. However, The New York Times also reported, that the Trump campaign’s communications director, Tim Murtaugh, said in a statement that “we have no indication that any of our campaign infrastructure was targeted.”