This year at CES, voice-activated personal assistants were everywhere. Here, I’ll run down the ones I saw and where they’re likely to pop up in your house. Google Assistant Most ubiquitous was Google’s Assistant, because it was showing up all along the Las Vegas Strip — on billboards, on the sides of buildings, various kiosks, and plastered on every car of the Las Vegas Monorail. You would even find overall-clad members of the Google Assistant army throughout the CES show floor, most commonly in booths offering products that integrated Google’s Assistant. For many, this visibility won the show for Google — but we also know that Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa is well out in front both for sales of units and in its skills library. Amazon Alexa The aforementioned Alexa didn’t have an aggressive marketing blitz backing it but it had a significant presence on the show floor. The number of products that are incorporating Alexa into their capabilities is nearly untrackable. It ranged from automobiles, smart mirrors, desktop wireless charging stands, Internet of Things, Smart Homes, televisions, refrigerators, air conditioners, pet feeders, and even smaller gadgets like headphones and smart watches. This article is part of our premium content. … Read More
You can do a lot more in Excel than just add up numbers. Excel is designed to help you create formulas to perform a variety of different calculations and tasks. But formulas can be intimidating. You probably already know how to auto sum numbers and handle basic calculations. But there’s more to formulas than just the basics. Here’s what you can do with them. You can multiply, subtract, divide, and average numbers. You can see the minimum and maximum numbers in a column or row. You can include different types of calculations in a single formula. You can also use absolute cell references in your formulas to keep certain numbers constant. Let’s look at how to work with formulas in Excel. I’m using Excel 2016 as my test subject, but the steps I describe here apply equally to the previous few versions of the program. This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
Beware, AMD chip owners. For you Windows Secrets readers who have computers with AMD inside, these Spectre/Meltdown patches are causing more issues than they are preventing. So much so that Microsoft has halted release of the updates on machines that have AMD chipsets. Some of the relevant security posts include the following: Microsoft’s KB4073707 on the issues with AMD chip sets and how Microsoft is blocking the patches until the issue is resolved. Microsoft’s KB4073757 recapping the overall guidance Let’s recap the big picture: Intel CPU chips have a bug in their very architecture. Researchers found a way for attackers to possibly steal passwords and other confidential information from our machines. As of publication, the attack has not been used in the wild. However, the potential is there and it’sreally concerning up in cloud servers as it could mean that fellow virtual servers could read information from a tenant next door. It won’t be enough to patch for the Windows operating system, you’ll need to patch the firmware on your computer as well. It’s not a Microsoft bug, but because everything uses CPUs, pretty much everything needs to be patched ranging from phones to firewalls. So after you get your … Read More
Hackers know your tricks (or lack of them) when you merely tweak an easily guessable password. Changing a character or two in your password doesn’t make it any more secure. As the annual list of the worst passwords, as compiled by security and password management company, SplashData, reveals, most of us are either too lazy or collectively uncreative when it comes to making truly secure passwords. Computer users have only themselves to blame when they get hacked. “Our hope is that our Worst Passwords of the Year list will cause people to take steps to protect themselves online,” said SplashData CEO Morgan Slain. “These past two years have been particularly devastating for data security, with a number of well publicized hacks, attacks, ransoms, and even extortion attempts. Millions of records have been stolen. Even with the risks well known, many millions of people continue to use weak, easily-guessable passwords to protect their online information,” Slain notes. Here are the top 25 most-hacked passwords, by rank, password and whether or not their position on the chart has changed from 2016. You’ll note that numbers one and two are still reigning champs. This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already … Read More
We’re starting off 2018 with a bang — a big patching bang. All supported versions of Windows are getting an emergency patch to fix flaws in Intel CPU chips that could lead to attackers gaining more information about your systems including passwords and other confidential information. You’ll have read about this — the press have already labeled the flaws as the Meltdown and Spectre bugs. As Microsoft said in “ADV180002 | Guidance to mitigate speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities:” Microsoft is aware of a new publicly disclosed class of vulnerabilities referred to as “speculative execution side-channel attacks” that affect many modern processors and operating systems including Intel, AMD, and ARM. Note: this issue will affect other systems such as Android, Chrome, iOS, MacOS, so we advise customers to seek out guidance from those vendors. Microsoft has released several updates to help mitigate these vulnerabilities. We have also taken action to secure our cloud services. Microsoft has not received any information to indicate that these vulnerabilities have been used to attack customers at this time. Microsoft continues working closely with industry partners including chip makers, hardware OEMs and app vendors to protect customers. To get all available protections, hardware/firmware and software updates are … Read More
You can automate a host of time-consuming tasks via macros. Do you find yourself running the same laborious and repetitive commands and tasks in Microsoft Word or Excel? There must be a better way, you say to yourself. And there is: With macros. Through a macro, you can record or create a series of commands and tasks in a Microsoft Office application. Then, whenever you want to run those commands, you just trigger the macro. You can create macros to automate just about anything in a program like Word or Excel — apply special formatting, change the layout, insert objects. Macros can sound intimidating if you’ve never ventured into their territory. They’re stored as mini programs using the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) language. But you don’t need to be a programmer to use macros. You can record the macro by performing the various commands step by step. You can then edit the macro to make any changes. Let’s check out how to use macros to save time in Microsoft Office. Macros are available in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The process for creating a macro is the same across all three applications. So once you master macros in one program, … Read More
You can squeeze a lot out of Google Chrome by tweaking its various features and settings. Microsoft wants you to use its Edge browser in Windows 10 as the replacement for Internet Explorer. But instead of using a Microsoft browser, you have another option, namely Google Chrome. From its third-place status a few years ago, Chrome has risen to become the most popular and dominant browser in Windows. And it’s no wonder. Chrome offers a clean, mean look and performance. But there’s more to Chrome than meets the eye. To get the most out of Chrome, you’ll want to tweak its array of features and settings. You can import and manage your bookmarks. You can control your privacy and security. You can sync your passwords and history across different devices. You can add more functionality through extensions. And you can install web apps and games to work and play with in Chrome. Let’s look at how to use and customize Google Chrome. If you don’t already have Chrome, open your current browser and download it from its Google page. After the installation complete, you’re asked if you want to make Chrome your default browser. You can choose to do that … Read More
For those running the Windows 10, version 1709 release, it appears that the unusual use of AMD in the naming of the updates has been fixed and they are now listed again as X64 in the naming. It also appears that the Feature update deferral bug has been fixed as noted in the MSpoweruser site, but I’ve not seen authoritative release notes posted to know whether the issue was fixed on Microsoft’s side or if it was fixed in the November patch of KB4051963. But you can now safely defer feature updates without impacting security updates as well. What to do: Be assured that version 1709 now properly defers feature updates. Adobe Released Updates to Flash Player For Windows 10, and 8.1, expect to see KB4053577 that should be installed as soon as possible. For Windows 7 machines, if you have flash installed, expect to see a standalone update offered from Adobe Flash addressing this Adobe issue. What to do: Check your Flash and expect an update for Windows 7 machines. Got an HP? Got a keylogger? This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
Why type when you can speak? You can click on commands and type text in Microsoft Office, Microsoft Edge, and other Windows applications. Or you can speak what you want. Speech recognition can be especially helpful for people who can’t use the keyboard or mouse. But it’s available to anyone who’d like to try talking to Windows instead of typing and mousing. Windows offers its own Speech Recognition tool through which you can dictate text and speak commands in different applications. The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update expands on the voice recognition by allowing you to more easily dictate text in your Office applications and other programs. And you can always ask Cortana to run a variety of commands and tasks. But there’s more to voice dictation than just talking to Windows. You have to train your voice to ensure that the dictation is as accurate as possible. And you must know what you can say and what you can’t say. Let’s look at how to dictate your text and commands to Windows. Whether you’re running Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 7, you can tap into the built-in Speech Recognition feature. To access this, open Control Panel in icon … Read More