Tag Archives: aNewDomain

Microsoft responds with 8.1

During its Build 2013 conference in San Francisco, Microsoft released a preview of Windows 8.1, returning the Windows Start icon and introducing better apps and upgrades in search features. This incremental incarnation of Windows, which was crowd sourced from a wealth of user feedback, looks to address problems of its predecessor.

Though the experience on Windows 8 was initially confusing, Darren Kitamura, a senior web developer with OverAir, noted that the shortcuts made navigating the system easier. Customers were finding ways around the missing Start button with a paid app.“There is also a free program you can download that creates a start button and mimics the actions of the start button in Windows 7 which makes the system more tolerable,” he said. “On the upside I have found Windows 8 slightly faster, and more responsive with better native support for devices and multi-monitor setups.”

At the moment, Kitamura runs Windows 8 on his main desktop PC and Windows 7 on his laptop. He works on developing near field communications (NFC) on both machines but has yet to preview Windows Blue. Windows 8 received mixed reviews from operators, with its emphasis on touchscreen capabilities and apps, when it initially launched last October.

Kitamura believes much of the grief Microsoft suffered was due to the removal of the Start button and the Metro interface. “I can totally understand where Microsoft is coming from,” he said. “Consider an Android phone or an iPhone where all your applications are laid out for you, which is exactly how Windows 8 does it. This would work perfectly for touchscreen devices but for a lot of people who don’t have that, it isn’t as good for a mouse and keyboard.”

So why the return of the start button?

“Part of the reason for Microsoft to do this was to create a unified interface across their devices,” explained Kitamura. “Consider iOS and OSX with how they are distinctly different – if you took a WindowsRT tablet and then your PC which runs Windows 8 it is a basically seamless transition to the experience.”

The unification of their systems, though aimed at a segregated market, should consider desktop users instead of removing the items they loved, he added. Kitamura is looking forward to experimenting with Windows 8.1, but isn’t sure if the changes will affect his work. He does, however, believe the changes will facilitate day-to-day operations.

Windows 8.1 is a beta release, meaning it’s testing software that the average user shouldn’t install on his or her production device. Microsoft says it will release Windows 8.1 in the third quarter and it will be free for customers who own Windows 8.

Originally posted in TechPageOne, aNewDomain.

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Online privacy: How to communicate securely

How can you communicate securely on the web, with absolute confidence that your correspondence will only be seen by the parties involved? What tools can you use?

In some instances where people are communicating through servers, the idea of using proxies and Tor have arisen for safe discussions or data sharing.

Tor was initially designed by the U.S. Naval Research Library to help reduce the risks of traffic analysis. This is done by distributing your transactions over several places on the Internet through proxies, therefore making it more difficult to pinpoint one singular destination.

“Traffic analysis” essentially informs servers of what is being done and who is doing it.

The problem with using proxies and Tor, especially when utilizing free proxies, is a matter of trust in where your information will be bounced.

The Tor Project pointed out that end-to-end attacks are still possible for those looking for information and the right channels, but the most important aspect is staying smart when using technology. This includes not revealing personal information.

Installing Tor is relatively simple, though it does slow down connectivity to a server in return for safer communications.

From the technical perspective of telephone communication, IT security expert Scott Janiki noted that back-end routing of calls on various networks utilizes the cheapest path for many companies.

“Even with proper controls in place to keep calls private, the resources available by [big players] probably would not help for long,” Janiki explained. “Unfortunately, as in this case, the public, when utilizing such services, was not informed from the onset by the vendor of this routing possibility.”

“Within Verizon’s privacy policy, it wasn’t mentioned that a foreign government is monitoring all communications that enter the U.S. Even if users were informed, most people would probably not understand the potential ramifications,” said Janiki.

For Canadians following this story closely, Canada’s communication voice and data infrastructure, on the other hand, only has a couple of major routing hubs, with the vast majority still located in the U.S.

“Therefore the likelihood of a data/voice communication staying in Canada is extremely low,” he said.  “As a result of the spider web of networks which makes the communication connectivity so resilient, it has also eroded Canada’s sovereignty and with it certain Canadian rights and laws.”

Scott Hutchinson, a public relations manager for the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, noted the issue of national surveillance programs aided through information technology is a concern for authorities around the world.“While we don’t think privacy should uniformly trump security or vice versa, greater transparency regarding how the programs work is of order,” said Hutchinson. “Our office also plans to contact fellow international Data Protection Authorities who may share similar concerns about the personal information of their citizens to discuss combining fact finding efforts on this matter as appropriate.”

Communication Security Establishment Canada (CSE), similar to the National Security Agency (NSA), has its own metadata program with little known in regards to specific information. However, as reported initially, the PRISM program has already recorded conversations of millions of Verizon’s customers.

Though slow and not without its own concerns, said Janiki, regular postage through the mail may be the only secure way to ensure that communications remain private.

Originally posted in TechPageOne, aNewDomain.

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What IT managers look for in new graduates

From SAP to ITIL, to business analysis and Oracle, what certifications are IT managers looking for when hiring?

For graduates looking to enter the work force, an SAP (Systems, Applications and Products) certificate is often a good choice for junior consultants. Focused on business software applications, SAP is related to enterprise resource planning, which includes management knowledge in supply chain and product life-cycle.

“On the other hand, ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) foundation is open for all IT professionals who are interested in understanding the ITIL framework,” explained Linying Dong, Associate Professor of Business Management Technology at Toronto’s Ryerson University. “Also, some schools offer certifications such as Business Analysis at the University of Toronto that helps show the student has possessed knowledge and skills in a certain area.”

However, Dong noted not all certifications are suitable for new graduates when experience is taken into account. For example, a Business System Analyst certificate requires a candidate to acquire more than 5,500 hours of working experience in the areas related to business analysis, which is nearly impossible for new graduates to acquire.

“As a result, IT managers know about the difficulty for entry-level candidates to obtain an IT certificate, so any IT-related certifications would help a candidate in his/her job search,” said Dong.

Depending on the position a person is applies to, Google keeps an eye out for computer science degrees as well as experience with Java, Java Script, or C++, Google spokesperson Wendy Bairos said.

“It’s as much about what degrees and certifications a person has, and how well they fit in with a team,” she said. For example, a software engineer position in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada requires the minimum requirements of a B.A. or B.Sc. in lieu of a degree or equivalent experience.

“Both are looked at equally, but depending on the role, it may require experience with at least one of Java, Java Script, or C++,” said Bairos. “There are some preferred qualifications, but they’re not necessary. Job postings give people a sense of what we look for, and it gives the employee a sense of what we may expect of them under an engineering team.”

Bairos added that certificates and diplomas are always welcome, but a key element IT managers look for is a good fit with the culture of the company and the ability to work in a team environment.

“In order to be successful you need to be able to work together,” she said. “We do look for people who can work and collaborate with a team, not just people who have very specific skills for a job.”

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