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Microsoft

Report From LibreOffice Asia Conference and More Reasons to Move to LibreOffice

Filed under
LibO
Microsoft
OSS
  • LibreOffice Asia Conference Report: Part 2

    Foreword: the LibreOffice Asia Conference was successfully held in May 2019 in Tokyo. Kuan-Ting Lin, a university student and civic tech reporter also attended this conference and gives his observations here. In Part II, Kuan-Ting starts with the Open Document Format, and expounds on how to form an open government and better autonomy of Taiwan.

    The “Taiwanese Language channel” (tâi-gí-tâi) of the Public Television Service (PTS) in Taiwan started its broadcasting service in July 2019. This channel became possible only because the National Languages Act was approved in parliament. This policy was rooted by many in the decision to improve expression, alleviation of limits on speeches, and the consolidation of autonomy following the new law.

    After a long-time struggle, the state also sees a silver lining regarding another autonomy issue: document liberation.

  • Let's see what the sweet, kind, new Microsoft that everyone loves is up to. Ah yes, forcing more Office home users into annual subscriptions

    Microsoft is continuing its campaign to drive Office users onto a subscription plan by killing off its discounted Home Use program.

    The program covers individuals whose employer already has an Office subscription and allowed them to download standalone software on a separate home machine for a greatly reduced price of just $15. But no more.

    Eligible users will still get a discount – but only on an Office subscription package. No more standalone software. Microsoft is keen that everyone recognizes this change for the wonderful opportunity it is.

    "Microsoft is updating the Home Use Program to offer discounts on the latest and most up to date products such as Office 365, which is always up to date with premium versions of Office apps across all your devices," it chirpily announced in a new FAQ question this week, before noting that "Office Professional Plus 2019 and Office Home and Business 2019 are no longer available as Home Use Program offers."

    Why the change? You won't believe this but it seems money is at the root of it. Rather than pay $15 for a piece of software that you can then use for years, Microsoft's "update" will require home users (whose employers already have a subscription with Microsoft) to pay either $49 or $70 for the Personal and Home Office 365 services respectively. Every year.

Proprietary Software: Snip, Microsoft Ripoff and Critical New Holes in Windows

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Microsoft
  • New Snip Smartphone App Converts Math Screenshots Into LaTeX

    Not so long ago, mathematics students and researchers had to spend a tedious amount of time writing out equations in the technical and scientific documentation typesetting system LaTeX. The launch this April of the AI-powered desktop tool Snip changed that. Available for Mac, Windows and the Ubuntu system, Snip converts screenshots of mathematical formulas into LaTeX code in seconds. Snip went viral as an easy-to-use time-saver for the math and science community.

  • What Microsoft's upcoming 'outsourcing' licensing changes could mean for your business

    Microsoft's cloud competitors have been making a lot of noise about changes in Microsoft's licensing coming on October 1. And Microsoft, which has been positioning itself as an ally of customer choice, found itself on the wrong side of accusations of untrustworthiness and price-gouging.

  • Microsoft Warning Impacts 800M Windows 10 Computers

    Microsoft has warned users of 'critical' new vulnerabilities across all versions of Windows which have the potential to spread worldwide...

  • We checked and yup, it's no longer 2001. And yet you can pwn a Windows box via Notepad.exe

    Software buried in Windows since the days of WinXP can be abused to take complete control of a PC with the help of good ol' Notepad and some crafty code.

    On Tuesday, ace bug-hunter Tavis Ormandy, of Google Project Zero, detailed how a component of the operating system's Text Services Framework, which manages keyboard layouts and text input, could be exploited by malware or rogue logged-in users to gain System-level privileges. Such level of access would grant software nasties and miscreants total control over, and surveillance of, the computer.

    The flaw, designated CVE-2019-1162, is patched in this month's Patch Tuesday release of security fixes from Microsoft. The relevant update should be installed as soon as possible.

With Microsoft dumping MS Office, consider LibreOffice for your next PC office suite

Filed under
LibO
Microsoft

LibreOffice's Export as PDF has improved. It now fully supports PDF/A-2 document format. This is required by several organizations for long-term file storage. It also simplified its editable PDF forms by incorporating the Form menu into LibreOffice Writer.

A new feature, which security-minded businesses may find interesting, is that you can now "redact" information in documents. With this, you can remove or hide sensitive information such as personal data before exporting or sharing the file.

You can run LibreOffice on Linux, MacOS, and Windows. You can also use as a cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application, LibreOffice Online, by deploying it on a cloud you control.

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Leaving Windows 7? Here are some non-Windows options.

Filed under
GNU
Linux
Microsoft

Then there’s my own favorite: the Linux desktop. But while I love it, I’m well aware of the Linux desktop’s many problems.

But recently the Linux community looks to be finally getting its act together. So now might be a good time to kick Linux’s tires.

Personally, when it comes to the many distros, I favor Linux Mint. It’s good, secure and fast. It also has the advantage, from your perspective, of looking a good deal like Windows 7. That makes switching over to it easier than you might expect.

But if you need corporate support, you’ll be better off with Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation or Canonical’s Ubuntu for desktop. You can, by the by, use Linux desktops with your existing Active Directory domains if that’s what’s stopping you from considering Linux.

Which is best for you? Only you can answer that question. What I can say, though, is that these days you don’t have to just grit your teeth and shift over to the next version of Windows. Thanks in large part to the move to a SaaS model for nearly all applications, you have real desktop OS choices.

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Vulnerability Exposed Microsoft Azure Users to Cyberattack

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Microsoft

New data from Check Point Research says dozens of vulnerabilities found in a commonly used protocol left millions of Microsoft cloud users open to attack.

In a presentation this week at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, the firm noted that flaws in the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)—routinely used to access remote Windows machines—could be exploited to execute arbitrary code on a target’s system, allowing them to view, change, and delete data or create new accounts with full administrative rights.

RDP was originally developed by Microsoft, and is frequently used by users looking to connect to a remote Windows machine. There’s several popular open-source clients for the RDP protocol utilized by Linux and Mac users as well.

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Proprietary: Microsoft, Apple and Google

Filed under
Google
Microsoft
Mac
  • Netherlands warns government employees not to use Microsoft's online Office apps

    In one example, it was found that some 300,000 top tier Office users, with the ‘365 Pro Plus' package were being sent back to the US for storage - exactly the sort of behaviour that got Dutch backs up.

    In a wider sense, this is a small but public battle in a much larger war, with the EU still leaning heavily on Microsoft to put its post-GDPR house in order.

  • The iPhone now makes up less than half of Apple’s business

    Apple today reported its fiscal third quarter 2019 earnings, earning $53.8 billion in revenue and earnings per share of $2.18. That revenue is a 1 percent jump year over year. iPhone revenue was $25.99 billion compared to $29.47 billion a year ago. That means the iPhone represented under half of Apple’s revenue for the first time since 2012.

    The all-important services unit took in $11.46 billion in revenue. Wearables saw a big boost, likely thanks to Apple’s second-generation AirPods. CEO Tim Cook said that when the services and wearables / home / accessories divisions are combined, they approach the size of a Fortune 50 company. Revenue from Mac sales was $5.82 billion, and iPads were $5.023 billion, up from $4.634 billion last year at this time.

  • Apple Finds Life After the iPhone While Still Banking on the iPhone

    Combined, Apple’s two major independent product lines not attached to the iPhone -- Mac computers and iPads -- made up only 20% of revenue in the fiscal third quarter, despite gains from the period a year ago, the Cupertino, California-based company reported Tuesday. Apple’s also working on a mixed augmented and virtual reality headset for the coming years, but that, too, is likely to be iPhone-reliant.

  • Chrome 76 for Mac, Windows rolling out: Flash blocked by default, Incognito loophole closed, Settings tweak

    As a big HTML5 proponent for the past decade, Google encouraged sites to switch away from Flash for faster, safer, and more battery-efficient browsing. In late 2016 and early 2017, Chrome blocked background Flash elements and defaulted to HTML5, with users having to manually enable the Adobe plug-in on a site-by-site basis.

  • Google Chrome 76 Released for Linux, Windows, and Mac with 43 Security Fixes

    Google promoted today the Chrome 76 web browser to the stable channel for all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, Windows, and macOS.

    Google Chrome 76.0.3809.87 is now available as the latest stable version of the popular and cross-platform web browser from Google, based on the open source Chromium project. It contains various bug fixes and improvements, as well as no less than 43 security fixes for the latest vulnerabilities.

Dutch cheesed off at Microsoft, call for Rexit from Office Online, Mobile apps over Redmond data slurping

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Microsoft

A report backed by the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security is warning government institutions not to use Microsoft's Office Online or mobile applications due to potential security and privacy risks.

A report from Privacy Company, which was commissioned by the ministry, found that Office Online and the Office mobile apps should be banned from government work. The report found the apps were not in compliance with a set of privacy measures Redmond has agreed to with the Dutch government.

The alert notes that in May of this year Microsoft and the government of the Netherlands agreed to new privacy terms after a 2018 report, also compiled by Privacy Company, found that Office 365 ProPlus was gathering personal information on some 300,000 workers via its telemetry features and storing them in the US. These included such things such as email addresses and translation requests.

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Microsoft Under Fire for GitHub Imperialism

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Microsoft
  • GitHub developers restricted in Crimea, Cuba, Iran, and other regions under U.S. sanctions

    GitHub placed new restrictions on developers in Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Developers face restrictions as a result of U.S. trade sanctions. Private repositories (repos) and paid accounts are under these new restrictions, but public repos are still available, and open-source repos are unaffected. Several reports surfaced over the weekend of developers being affected by the restrictions (via The Verge).

  • Yellow badges are back. This time not by Nazi Germany & not for Jews, but by U.S. tech companies

    Three days ago (Jul 25, 2019), when GitHub blocked my account, I noticed that there is an ugly fixed yellow warning on every single page of GitHub for me (as a blocked user). The warning message had no close button. I want to call it “Digital yellow badge” but this time it’s not for Jews, it’s for people who born & live in countries like Iran.

  • GitHub restricts developer accounts based in Iran, Crimea, and other countries under US sanctions

    At least one developer who was affected by the action was told that the company was not “legally able” to provide an export of the disabled repository content. Friedman added that the company does not believe it is legally able to provide advance notice of these restrictions, but he said that users can choose to make their private repos public to gain access and clone them.

Cautionary Tales About Hosting With Microsoft

Filed under
Server
Microsoft
  • GitHub confirms it has blocked developers in Iran, Syria and Crimea [Ed: Microsoft wants us to believe that all companies need to do what GitHub did. That’s a lie. But Microsoft knows that it needs to lick Trump’s and Bolton’s boots to keep getting those government contracts that ‘bail it out’. Microsoft made its choice [1, 2].]

    The impact of U.S. trade restrictions is trickling down to the developer community. GitHub, the world’s largest host of source code, is preventing users in Iran, Syria, Crimea and potentially other sanctioned nations from accessing portions of the service, chief executive of the Microsoft-owned firm said.

  • Migrating an Exchange Server to the Cloud? What could possibly go wrong?

    As users stared at useless login screens, Ben and his team floundered for a few hours, trying to work out how to restore access.

    The clue was in the word "restore" as one bright spark remembered there was a user account named "backup" used, well, to do backups.

    It had been missed in the Exchange account purge and so was still active.

    And the Linux connection? The Microsoft Certified Partner used a server running the open-source operating system to perform backup duties.

    The backup software used that Active Directory account, which just so happened to have enough privileges to re-enable the Windows users via Linux LDAP tools.

    After all, these days Microsoft just loves open source, right?

Security and Proprietary Software With Back Doors

Filed under
Microsoft
Security
  • Cyber expert who helped stop WannaCry sentenced to time served in malware case

    While Hutchins was sentenced to time served, he could have faced up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. He served a few days in jail after being arrested in 2017, but was then freed on bail on the condition that he remain in the U.S. while his case was pending.

  • The Latest: Cyber expert gets time-served in malware case

    U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller sentenced 25-year-old Marcus Hutchins on Friday in Milwaukee to time served, with a year of supervised release. Stadtmueller said the virus Hutchins helped stop was far more damaging than the malware he wrote.

  • Cyber-Crook Turned Global Hero Avoids Prison In Malware Case

    Marcus Hutchins was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Nancy Joseph in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He pleaded guilty in April to two counts related to his marketing and distribution of malware called Kronos and UPAS, which his customers used to steal the bank details of unsuspecting victims around the world. Hutchins was arrested in July 2017 after he traveled to the U.S.

  • Boeing's Corporate Suicide

    Boeing's cost-cutting means it lacks the necessary in-house software expertise to develop and QA the fix.

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