This post is more of a combination of things that have come to my attention over the last few weeks. Some of them I expected and some I didn’t. The first thing that has happened was an expected result from the new way that Microsoft is updating their Windows 10 product. As released in the Windows Server Essential and Small Business Server blog a recent Windows 10 update breaks connectivity with the Windows Essential Connector functionality. What surprises me about this is that this is part of a current supported Microsoft product and they have no known solution to the problem. This really has me wondering about their testing program. But this is not an unexpected development. Many of the IT professionals that were in the Windows 10 launch meeting that I was at predicted that the automatic required updates would cause these types of issues. I don’t think that we collectively thought Microsoft would shoot their own foot so quickly.
I have heard various reports that Windows 10 updates remove applications without notification (http://lifehacker.com/windows-10-updates-are-deleting-some-apps-without-notif-1762347989) but that really was expected with one of Windows 10’s security features. One of the announced features of Windows 10 the removal of “old applications” like an old anti-virus program that is out-of-date. The logic behind this was that removing an old anti-virus program and re-enabling Windows Defender was better than relying on an old out-of-date program that was really not helping but was making you think you were protected. That makes sense. But what does not make sense are new hardware drivers being automatically replaced with older Microsoft ones because the update software thinks the Microsoft ones are newer (?) or better (?).
What this all shows is that Microsoft’s attempt to mimic the Apple update philosophy just doesn’t work on the Windows platform. The biggest reason for this, in my estimation, is that the Apple environment is a closed environment. Apple controls what can and cannot connect to their computers a lot tighter than Microsoft does. The PC market was created and has existed as an open hardware and software environment since IBM created the first PC. Open Source Foundation fans may complain that Microsoft doesn’t publish their code so others can copy it or add to it, but, in my opinion, the Apple platform that is based on the “free” and open UNIX operating system is more closed than the Microsoft platform. Steve Jobs said that he want a system that incompatible with everyone else’s.
The second piece of interesting news comes from a more security perspective. A Reuters report is talking about a new security hole found by a couple of researchers from a new cyber security company called Bastille. The researchers found that they could hack computers from as far as 180 meters (about 600 feet – or a typical city block) away by attacking the connection between a computer and its wireless mouse. Many mice use unencrypted signals between the device and the computer. This signal could mimicked by a device that sends keyboard commands to the computer via the same wireless connection as the mouse uses. “If we sent unencrypted keyboard strokes as if we were a mouse it started typing on the computer, typing at a 1000 words per minute,” said Chris Rouland, the CTO and Founder of Bastille. Typing that fast could easily take over a computer faster than a person sitting at that computer could stop it. The parts to build such a device would cost less than $50 according to the story. The only comment I have to this is how many wireless mice do you use?
Finally, I saw this article and thought “Where was this when McGyver needed it?” A Digital Trends article talks about a $99 product that can turn your smartphone into a 3-D printer. Yes, I wrote 3-D printer. The Olo device uses a special resin that is put into a tank that uses the screen from your smartphone to print an object defined by an app that is loaded to your phone. The speed of the printing would probably lead more to a Saturday Night Live McGruber episode than a McGyver, but this does sound interesting. The company developing this device is currently being funded by a KickStarter Campaign. Check them out if you are interested. As I’ve always said, “Anything is possible given enough time and enough money. I’m not saying how much time or how much money.”