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5:16PM

Interesting To Me Today……August 23, 2017

On my mind today……

Windows & Microsoft

Business & Technology

General Interest

World

Politics

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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3:11AM

Interesting To Me Today……August 22, 2017

On my mind today……

Windows & Microsoft

Business & Technology

General Interest

World

Politics

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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4:51PM

Should you spend $129 to turn $3,000 into $19.99?

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Let me get this straight: you buy a $129.99 dongle that transforms your $3,000 DSLR into……wait for this……a $19.99 webcam?

Are you effin’ kiddin’ me?

Elgato is trolling the masses, right?

Come on, humans!

You’re better than this!

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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4:10PM

Interesting To Me Today……August 21, 2017

On my mind today……

Colin Kaepernick Won

He may be an ass, and may not eloquently state his point, but Kaep has a point that resonates with EVERY BLACK PERSON in the USA.

While I would NEVER protest that way, I will defend our American right to protest whatever we want to.

Always!

Read it here.

Business & Technology

General Interest

World

Politics

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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3:07PM

The IoSS Journal: The “Smart Lock”

A ‘smart lock’ seems like a fantastic idea/innovation/invention/whatever.

To some people.

Not me.

NEVER me!

Why the hell do I need an Internet-connected lock for my door?

I mean, if I’m not at the lock’s location, why do I need smarts in my lock?

What if electrical power is off, or internet connectivity in down?

Read this story.

This Internet of Stupid Shit really has legs….

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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8:46PM

Interesting To Me Today……August 20, 2018

On my mind today……

Windows & Microsoft

Business & Technology

General Interest

World

Politics

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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11:31PM

Interesting To Me Today……August 19, 2017

On my mind today……

Windows & Microsoft

Business & Technology

General Interest

World

Politics

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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4:01AM

Never forgotten

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We will never forget you.

12:52PM

The IoSS Journal: The “Smart Pillow”

Today’s Entry in the Internet of Stupid Shit Journal, is the ‘smart pillow’, which promises you a better night’s sleep.

2-wake-up-gently-with-light-and-sound

They started a crowdfunding campaign to raise $50,000.

However, dumbfochs have gifted them over $350,000.

And the crowdfunding campaign isn’t even over!

John Obeto is CEO of Blackfriars Capital
© 2002 – 2015, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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2:43PM

Even on vacations, the proliferation of connected devices continues

Out this past weekend for a family event with several members of my immediate and extended family, and chanced upon our kids with their electronic devices.

Sheeez!

For my ‘immediate-extended’ family the devices were

  • Princess: iPad, Kindle Fire HDX;
  • MN: Kindle Fire HDX, iPhone;
  • KA: Kindle Fire HDX
  • #2 Son: Kindle Fire HDX, iPad; iPhone;
  • AN: iPad Mini, iPhone;
  • #1 Son: iPad, iPhone;
  • JeN: iPad, iPhone;
  • OO: iPhone;
  • JaN: iPhone; iPad Pro;
  • CO: iPhone;

The adults were just as bad.

  • Wifey: iPhone, Kindle Fire HDX;
  • Wifey’s Clone: iPhone; Kindle Fire HDX
  • Wifey’s other sister: some Android POC;

I wasn’t much better

  • Me: iPad, iPhone; Dell Venue 8 Pro; HP ElitePad;

In my defense, the ElitePad was in a go-bag I always carry with me when I travel. Normally, it’s in addition to a laptop; however, I did not carry a laptop with me this trip. Neither did Wifey or our kids. (#1 Son is currently iOS-only, relying on his iPad and iPhone for all his computing needs.

So, between the 13 of us, we had 25 devices, with most lugging two devices.

The other husbands are pure luddites, with one even sporting a BlackBerry!

Thankfully, the event hotel allowed 6 devices per room.

The youngest kids, who tend to read a lot, and the moms like the Kindle Fire HDX. The ‘older’ kids liked iPads, with my Godson being the only iPad Pro user.

I was the lone Windows tablet user.

Apple iPhone won this contest going away, with the lone Android and BlackBerry devices as anachronistic “What Are Those’s?

No, there wasn’t a Windows Phone in sight. Or in the county, for that matter!

How cluttered are you and your family with electronic devices when you travel?

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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11:59PM

Uber and Corporate Integrity

Disruption, is good.

And any disruption which brings about the complete and total disintermediation of a manufactured, and artificially maintained monopoly, really warms my cockles.

Uber should have done that.

Slight correction: Uber did that. Initially.

For the incredible public benefit they have done in exposing, and almost driving to extinction the various taxi commissions around the country and indeed, in other countries, which merely exist to artificially limit the numbers of registered/certified taxi cabs that ply the motorways.

However, within a few months of Uber becoming ‘a thing’, they completely lost me.

At first I thought it was because I was not in their target demo.

Confession: I have never used Uber. I also don’t intend to use them. Ever. I enjoy the privilege of having alternative transportation provided ad hoc. For which I am, of course, grateful.

However, in conversations with those infinitely smarter folks than myself that agree to come down and engage with me, it dawned on me that my reasons from my growing distaste for Uber stemmed directly from the increasing number of revelations about the underhanded way Uber conducts business.

This year, the year of Our Lord 2017 Anno Domini, the former trickle of bad news has become a deluge.

In fact, there have been so many crazily insane stories about Uber that I have dubbed 2017, as “Uber’s #YearOfLivingDangerously”, hashtag mine.

This past weekend, I was away with mi famiglia, and since I actually traveled without a PC, I read the various fishwraps provided by the hotel. And lo and behold, in the New York Times, I read the pretty damning story, “Uber’s CEO Plays with Fire”.

Unbelievable!

It is a completely unflattering look at a company that embodies, celebrates, and festers a culture of deceit, a blatant disregard for regulations, and corporately completely disregards those laws that they don’t like.

Now, more than ever, I know why I don’t like them.

Please, go ahead: read that story.

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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11:41AM

Why do default apps in Windows 10 SUCK so much?

Seriously, why do the default apps in Windows 10 SUCK so much?

They used to be passable: Paint, Messenger, Windows Media Player, etc.

Now, the default, or ‘ships-with-Windows’ apps are a fugly compendium of barely useful wannabe-default-iOS-apps that aren’t as useful as I remember!

Take Mail, for example.

Seriously, take it. Take it away….to another universe.

Which still wouldn’t be far enough away for that piece of turd.

Or Groove Music app. And the Movies & TV app.

Why are there separate music and video players?

For which their forte is trying to a) upsell a subscription to a less-than-capable music or video service, or b) trying to sell or rent media.

However, they’re ham-fisted in trying to do ecommerce!

Hey, I’m all for trying to part bars of gold-pressed Latinum from the proletariat.

(This noble endeavor is enshrined in The Rules of Acquisition, from Rev. 1 to the latest, as published by the Ferengi Commerce Authority.)

However, their methods aren’t insanely bad!

It’s almost as it they have taken the worst behavior exhibited by Apple, namely that abominable iTunes piece of crap, and lionized it as the ideal for all their default offerings!

Meanwhile, formerly useful add-on bits such as Windows Live Writer, Windows Live Mail, Photo Gallery, and Windows Movie Maker, have been sunset without any replacements.

This, is the future?

Shake your corporate self, Microsoft!

Your default apps really suck.

Make a change.

For the better!

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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7:11PM

The IoSS Files: The Smart Garbage Can

Well, that was q-u-i-c-k, quick!

Yesterday, I made a promise to catalog, and expose the nonsense people were coming up with under the guise of the Internet of Things.

I decided I would class these stupid products as the Internet of Stupid Shit, hashtag #IoSS.

Today, this.

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Are you foching kidding me?

A ‘smart’ garbage can.

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Remember, when as a young adult, you thought of such a product after you had your first trepanning session?

clip_image006WTF?

Actually, I take it back.

Even after a lobotomy, I don’t expect regular sapient humans to yearn to play with their garbage cans.

Now, even the so-called tech press is complicit is this silliness by touting this shit with breathless headlines like the ones throughout this blog post!

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Shame on them!

It’s a garbage can, for goodness sakes!

The first entry in the IoSS Files is the ‘Smart Garbage Can’!

Filed under : The Internet of Stupid Shit.

There you have it.

Have you seen any of these abominations that I may have missed? Tweet at me @johnobeto

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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12:59PM

Announcing a new Ad Hoc Blog Series: The Internet of Stupid Shit

The ELE for humanity won’t be weather related.

It won’t even be due to bombardments by solar winds, the depletion of the Van Allen Belts, or an asteroid breaching Terra, or Luna being snagged by Jupiter or something.

It definitely won’t be by malevolent First Contact with otherworldly species.

No, it won’t be by those factors.

It certainly might be as a result of a brain-addled humanity mentally dumbed-up, Wall-E-like, by the series of nonsensical products flying under the moniker of “smart”, or “Internet of Things” labels.

These days, it seems everyone, and man + dog, are ‘inventing’ silly knick-knacks, calling them “smart-<insert product category here> because they have created an app for it!

I have seen smart toasters, smart percolators, smart bullschthako.

It doesn’t stop!

In order to protect my progeny from this onslaught, I am going to be posting, under a specific banner and associated social media hashtag, the most egregious of these as they come across my consciousness.

This series will be under the topic “The Internet of Stupid Shit”, and for which I hope to use the hashtag #IoSS to great jocularity.

See you online…

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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5:24PM

The HPE Proliant ML10 Review: February 2017 Update

The HPE Proliant ML10 is the entry-level* tower server in HPE’s tower server inventory.

As part of the review series announced here, I received the HPE Proliant ML10 designated for an AbsolutelyWindows RealWorld Review

The ML10ReviewCo February 2017 Update
Last month, the owner of ML10ReviewCo approached up with a scope expansion: he would like an additional ML10 to use for a sister firm on a adjacent property.

Why?

He wants to physically isolate the Proliants for security.

However, when we look at his current ML10ReviewCo server capacity utilization over the past few months, and coupled with projected CapUtil for his new business, we find that both servers would be severely underutilized.

Even combined into the ML10, peak CPU utilization would hover under 48%.

So, we must go virtual.

Meaning, Hyper-V.

We will still acquire a second HPE Proliant ML10 for that firm. It would be used as a hot backup for the primary device, however.

We are also looking to leverage HPE’s virtual storage appliances for this firm, just to see useful they could be in such a small business.

Stay tuned.

Note
The HPE Proliant ML10 review unit at ML10ReviewCo has been provided by HPE for review by AbsolutelyWindows.

.Logikworx has, and is donating resources and personnel for this review series.

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:21PM

My Thoughts On HP Print Security

This is Part IV in a 4-part series on print security, HP printers, and how the HP Print Security Team is trying to protect your printer from both the bad actors out there, and inadvertent ineptitude within your organization. (My choice of words, not theirs. J )

In the concluding article, Part IV, I am going to give you my thoughts on HP’s offerings, particularly highlighting where I think HP is excelling, and where they are failing.

Our world today is a highly-connected one.

Everything we do is in some form connected to the ethereal cloud somewhere in order to deliver immediacy, connectedness, and community.

Printers get hacked all the time.

This isn’t new.

In fact, first known printer hack occurred in 1962 when a Xerox printer was modified with a camera to snoop on the Soviets during the Cold War.

Today, printer hacking is much more sophisticated.

And as with personal computers, the ultimate goal of break-ins now is financial. Yes, don’t be fooled: be it for IP, or direct financial misappropriation, these are thefts. For monetary gain.

Oh and yes: for your monetary loss!

[Your] Printers As a Malware Entry Endpoint

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In Part I, Part II, and Part III of this document, I believe I touched on the many ways a printer, being an endpoint on your network, could be surreptitiously repurposed as a malware entrepôt into your network/computing environment.

This is NOT an academic exercise. It is happening. Now.

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And getting more sophisticated daily.

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For example, see that drone buzzing your high-rise office building?

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So, what is HP doing?

(1) HP has identified the threat

The first step in conquering – or, at least, ‘managing’ – a threat, is identifying that there is a problem.

Thankfully, HP has done this.

Not only have they ID’s a threat, but they have put together a printer and print security team tasked with mitigating the problem from the root – design, to the branches – end users.

(2) HP is creating printers that are secure by design

HP makes sure that security is now part of printer DNA.

HP business printers now have the following:

  • HP Sure Start, which secures printer BIOS
  • Firmware Whitelisting, which secures printer firmware
  • HP Printer Run-Time Intrusion Detection , which keeps printer memory safe, and
  • HP JetAdvantage Security Manager, which keeps an enterprise’s HP printer assets safe

(3) HP has a printer security consulting arm to help enterprises

Not every enterprise had modern printers in their inventory.

However, most of those printers are networked, and may not be patched on schedule, or regularly, or ever, even.

Having a security consulting SWAT team, so to speak, allows HP to help enterprises with several generations of HP printers not only bring them up to date, from a security standpoint, it also presents a sales/upgrade opportunity.

Once companies are faced with the fact that some of their printers can no longer be upgraded to meet their current compliance requirements, then a new printer (or printers) is needed.

Excellent double-dippin’.

(4) HP is adding a cloud-based printer security schema

No official word on this.

But, I'm sure it does. It has to.

The wealth of information it can use from such a cloud-based scheme would be invaluable

Is HP doing enough?

From a technological, and product standpoint, yes.

HP is providing locked-down printers, and the ability for companies to not only inventory their printers, but to leverage enterprise authentication products such as Microsoft Active Directory to create and apply policies that help define printer security.

However, it is not enough.

Why not?

Because of the weakest link in the chain, namely, humans.

As long as there are humans in the chain, there are bound to be some lazy, or incompetent users.

And while HP has rather reduced the ability of lazy nincompoops to fubar a computing environment using HP printers, I see the following two issues as needing to get implemented to further reduce the likelihood of future breaches.

They are:

(a) Make Printers locked down to local network only

I’m not a hardware or networking maestro, however, the first thing I want to see HP do, is make sure all HP printers, not just the pro/business printers, are set, by default to ONLY connect to the local network or LAN.

All this stuff where printer HAVE to be connected outside the LAN to be properly set up, or to download software, or unpleasantly, to sell more ink.

Make end users explicitly unlock the printer to access the Internet, or externally.

(b) Make sure Printers DON’T automagically become Wi-Fi hotspots

Imagine my surprise when an HP business printer an acquaintance installed in their business this very month was set up as a Wi-Fi hotspot?

Are you kidding me?

Why is this even a thing?

This development alone has the potential to eviscerate all advances HP is making to print security.

Finally…
Apart from the little blips above, which I will be escalating to the HP print security team for more information, I think HP is being smart here.

The HP printer operation, at nearly $20 billion in revenue, is large enough to be a Fortune 500 firm.

For a business like that, a major breach has the potential to damage the brand beyond repair in that space.

As a result, it is refreshing to see that HP realizes this, and is doing a lot to make sure they secure the printers, and by proxy, the computing infrastructures that HP printers are connected to.

That gives me confidence in HP printers.

As it should for you as well.

Moreover, for our MSP operations, it is another way of looking out for them.

We can help them inventory and identify their printer assets.

We can help them patch and secure those printers.

We can help them remove the printers that don’t conform to company policies.

And finally, we can help them replace those outdated printers with new devices that are complaint with stated company policies, and industrywide security best practices.

This can, and should be the case for you as well.

You must secure your printing environment.

If you utilize HP printers, avail yourself of their products, and security products.

If you have standardized on non-HP printers, make sure your printer OEM has similar products.

If they don’t, perform an ROI on what a breach would do to your firm, both monetarily, and in terms of brand damage.

Then evaluate HP printers.

In this series

  1. Off to HP Print Security Bloggers Day
  2. Why Should Organizations Care About Print Security?
  3. What HP is Doing about Print Security
  4. My final thoughts on HP Efforts on Print Security. (This post)

HP Print Sec Tech Day 2017 sponsored content

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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10:47PM

What HP Is Doing About Print Security

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This is Part III in a 4-part series on print security, HP printers, and how the HP Print Security Team is trying to protect your printer from both the bad actors out there, and inadvertent ineptitude within your organization. (My choice of words, not theirs. Open-mouthed smile )

In this post, I list what the HP Print Security Team is doing to identify and combat the threat posed to your infrastructure by errant printers.

In the concluding document, Part IV, I will give you my thoughts on HP’s offerings, particularly highlighting where I think HP is excelling, and where they are failing.

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Printers get hacked all the time.

This isn’t new.

In fact, first known printer hack occurred in 1962 when a Xerox printer was modified with a camera to snoop on the Soviets during the Cold War.

Today, printer hacking is much more sophisticated.

And as with personal computers, the ultimate goal of break-ins now is financial. Be it for IP, or direct theft, or ransomware, or as part of a botnet, or whatever.

Yet, you have the lowly networked printer. Left alone invitingly for no-gooders to access.

Print Security Ostriches
It is quite telling that in an IDC survey of 2,000 IT security professionals, 56% of them – 56%! – did NOT see printers as a source or factor in a potential breach of their networks, or infrastructure.

62% of this group also revealed that they overlook IT governance best practices and policies, and do not ensure that hard drives or memory, is wiped, and/or destroyed.

Moreover, a depressingly mind-boggling 77% of them do not have access controls or SIEM tools activated on their printer inventory!

*SIEM: Security Information & Event Management tools.

Hopefully, we won’t descend into ‘acronymania’!

These are security professionals, mind you.

These are security professionals?

This quite lackadaisical attitude towards a very real, very visible, and rather well-documented threat is almost certainly a sort of malfeasance on the part of these security professionals. And bothering on nearly criminal, if you ask me!

Bad Printer Security is a Potential Brand Killer
Against this backdrop is HP, the global leader in printers.

HP’s dominance in the printer space is the stuff of legend, as they have innovated their way to the top here, racing past the Xeroxs, IBMs, C.Itohs, everyone! They dominate from the smallest consumer printers to mammoth devices that do everything, including producing wraps for automobiles.

Anyone who has printed a document in the past going-on-30 years, as almost always used an HP printer.

For them, print security has the potential to be a brand killer.

That realization came to them early, and for over the past decade, HP has had a print security team tasked with not only imbuing their printers with the best, most unobtrusive security they can deliver, but also with detection and interdiction of malware and malefactors who focus on printers as an attack vector.

Technically a ‘fixed-function computing device’
At the dawn of personal computing, your average printer was basically a print engine receiving data already rasterized by your PC.

Today, things are different.

HP’s print security team knows this, and treats printers just the same as they treat computers on a network.

“Why?” you ask. “That’s overkill!”, you declare.

Is it?

Look at the following image, which describes the componentry in PCs, and contrasts it with those in printers.

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I dare say there is some overlap.

Printing is risky

How risky?

View the image below.

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It shatters the comfort we have just thinking that print security can be only about securing the hard drive in the device. From the device BIOS to the output tray, and all stops in between, your printer has vulnerabilities that can be exploited by any bad guy. (Bad guy as used here is non-gender-specific.)

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Meanwhile, the threat landscape is rapidly evolving, with participants now looking for the ‘holy grail’ be it state-sponsored actors hacking for espionage or strategic spoils, or true criminal enterprises looking to break into your infrastructure for a monetary reward.

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By all indications, printers are the weakest link in most networks or computing environments. And they will sadly remain so until, and unless IT professionals realize the dangers they pose if not adequately secured, and managed.

So, what is HP doing about this?
(A) Identify The Threat

After seeing the above landscape, the HP print security team set out to identify the top printing security concerns. They narrowed it down to these seven:

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(B) Develop Baseline Security Metrics for Print Infrastructure

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(C) Develop an industry wide framework that encompasses the position printers occupy in an enterprise.

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By looking beyond just HP products, HP can stave of stagnation and myopia, and see what others are either doing or not doing, and leverage it.

(D) Develop a detailed strategy to protect HP printers, their data, and customer networksclip_image017

Cyber Resilience

HP’s security efforts around print security has coalesced around a concept they dub “Cyber Resilience. clip_image019

Create the world's most secure printing system

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  • a) Securing the device
  • b) Securing the data,
  • c) Securing the document by creating a secure managed print service, and
  • d) Establish a Print Security Advisory Service

Securing The Device
HP’s steps to secure HP printers involve the following.

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HP Sure Start requires the BIOS to verify that it is using a signed version, using whitelisting to also ensure that firmware components are also approved.

Real-time intrusion detection schemes allow the printers to detect, and reject attacks as they occur.

The lynchpin of HP’s printer hardware device security arsenal is the HP JetAdvantage Security Manager.

HP JetAdvantage Security Manager workflow is described in the graphic below.

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The capabilities built into HP JetAdvantage Security manager are numerous, and keep evolving based on the evolution of the threats HP printers face, and because of innovations coming from HP.

I hope to be able to snag a JetAdvantage PM for a briefing very soon.

Securing the data

clip_image027

This requires a knowledge of network security, the device(s), Microsoft Windows, and of [Microsoft] Active Directory.

To help, HP enterprise MFPs have over 250 security policy settings available which allow sysadmins and security admins to adequately lock down their printer assets to suit business needs.

Securing the document by creating the HP Secure Managed Print Service

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Establish a Print Security Advisory service

This is a corps of print security consultants who will work with client on

  1. Education and risk assessment
  2. Security Policy Guidance
  3. Solution recommendations.

The HP Print Security Advisory Service focuses on the following:

  • Access Control
  • Asset Management
  • Build & Release
  • Business Continuity
  • Data Security
  • Governance
  • Information Security
  • Log & Security Incident Management
  • Logical Access
  • Network Security
  • Patching and Anti-Virus
  • Personal Security
  • Physical Security
  • Security Configuration
  • System Acquisition & Development

Is this enough?

Looking at this intensive list, it is obvious that HP has given printer, and print security a lot of thought, and is deploying a largish amount of resources to protect their clients’ print infrastructure.

Is this enough?

In Part IV of this series, I will give you my thoughts on it from an MSP viewpoint.

Stay tuned.

In this series

  1. Off to HP Print Security Bloggers Day
  2. Why Should Organizations Care About Print Security?
  3. What HP is Doing about Print Security (this blog post)
  4. My final thoughts on HP Efforts on Print Security.

HP Print Sec Tech Day 2017 sponsored content

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:53PM

Let’s revisit the “Is a tablet a PC?” Debate, shall we?

Sometimes, I amaze myself.

I’m serious.

Back in 2011 when Apple iPad was all the rage, I happened to take part in a little debate arranged by NetworkWorld Editor-in-Chief John Dix.

My assertion, then, and as yet very unwavering now, was that the iPad was a niche evolution of the PC.

Not a revolution.

Not at all!

In fact, my primary position was, and is:

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My debate opponent of course thought iPad heralded the post-PC era.

Nyet.

Today, iPad sales are down and have been for several quarters, and non-[Windows-based] tablet sales are in the toilet.

It’s almost the Second Coming of Netbooks!

And yet, sales of both Microsoft’s Surface tablets, and the entire Windows-based tablet ecosystem, are on the rise!

Thankfully, NetworkWorld still has the debate up on their site.

And don’t look now, but Apple released the iPad Pro with a keyboard back in 2015.

Validating my April 4, 2012 tweet where I stated

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Go ahead and read the debate while I busy myself patting me on the back!

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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4:15AM

Shiny New Thing: The Logitech Spotlight Presentation Remote

snip_20170216230904Logitech is a PC peripheral company that has amped up its design chops to Level 11!

Their latest goodie is the Logitech Spotlight presentation remote.

This sleek presentation remote sports a 3-button interface with gesture capabilities.

Connectivity to your PC is via an equally sleek built-in USB dongle, or integrated low-energy Bluetooth. Additionally, your PC is kept awake and snip_20170216230826connected throughout your presentation when using Spotlight.

According to Logitech, that’s not all.

It comes with a built-in USB-C interface for fast charging, which I understand should last up to three months with a full charge, based on usage. A full charge takes about an hour, while users should be able to eek three hours of presentation time from it after a one minute charge!

Haptic feedback is also included, with Spotlight buzzing to notify you of a low-power condition. The battery indicator also glows red when a recharge is required.

In my preview tests, the Logitech Spotlight is rather easy to master.

While I haven’t gone 100 feet away from my PC in the five presentations I have directed using the Logitech Spotlight, I can attest to the extremely long range it afforded me.

Spotlight is compatible with PCs running Windows and OS X/MacOS, and with PowerPoint and other presentation software.

I will be posting a full review shortly.

*Thanks to Ann F.

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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1:01AM

Andy Marken’s Content Insider #506 - Holy Grail

The Smart City Just Might Be an Engineer’s Unfulfilled Dream

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It is I, Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, from the castle of Camelot. King of the Britons, defeater of the Saxons, Sovereign of all England!” – King Arthur, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” Michael White Productions, 1975

We’ve lived most of our adult life in Silicon Valley or what some call a bubble environment.

You know:

  • Everyone and nearly everything is connected 24/7.
  • Everyone has 4-5 devices with them all the time.
  • Days are filled shoveling data from here to there and then to there.
  • Stuff happens and it happens overnight, in the blink of an eye.

While the Valley may have been the first, there are bubble areas seeded all around the globe including:

  • M4 Silicon Corridor
  • Science Park Amsterdam
  • Silicon Docks/European Silicon Valley
  • Silicon Allee
  • Aerospace Valley
  • Softwarepark Hagenberg
  • Australian Technology Park
  • Central Taiwan Science Park
  • Sangdo Science Village
  • King Abduaziz City for Science and Technology
  • Kansai Science City
  • Silicon Wadi
  • Silicon Alley
  • Silicon Forest
  • Silicon Hills
  • Silicon Slopes
  • Canada’s Technology Triangle
  • Silicon Valley North
  • Research Triangle
  • Porto Digital

They are magnets for start-ups and people from around the globe.

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Global Attraction – Technologists from around the globe go where the total environment is best for them to make a contribution or breakthrough. For them, it’s not just a job, it’s the complete ecosystem.

People who want to develop the next great idea and share all of the great things are drawn to the area and everything it has to offer.

Countries, states, cities hustle the new ventures – and wildly growing firms – with a wide range of inducements and visions of what the area has to offer:

  • Great place to work, live
  • Proximity to excellent educational systems
  • Open to diversity
  • Opportunities to succeed, grow

The problem is there’s no long-term plan for Silicon Valley or NYC’s Silicon Alley or similar areas to handle the growth; which means some of the smart visions we have will be difficult to accomplish.

You know smart car, smart home and the holy grail--smart city.

Let’s use Silicon Valley as an example.

The Valley now extends from San Francisco down to Gilroy, highlighted by company towns:

  • Menlo Park – Facebook
  • Palo Alto - HP
  • Mountain View – Google
  • Cupertino – Apple
  • Santa Clara – Intel
  • San Jose – Adobe, EBay, Cisco

It’s not a definitive list, but you get the idea.

And there are hundreds of spin-offs, new ventures and out-of-area firms requiring space constantly.

Along the way, a lot of ventures fail and are rolled over by new dreams.

Take Cupertino’s Vallco Park Mall for example.

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Fallen Short – The Vallco Fashion Park was started years ago to attract consumers from all of central Silicon Valley but it just never captured mindshare. Today, it stands vacant.

For some reason, it never clicked and sits virtually vacant, although surrounded by new construction.

The owners came up with what seemed to be a great redevelopment idea -- a 55-acre mixed-use neighborhood with up to 2 million square feet of office space, 625,000 square feet of retail and 800 residential units.

Located right across the highway from Apple’s spaceship headquarters that’s under construction, it seemed like a great idea for people to live and work.

What’s not to like?

“The Hills at Vallco features an unprecedented 30-acre community park and nature preserve, which will not only be the largest community park in Cupertino, but also the largest green roof in the world,” said a statement from Sand Hill Property Co., the developer behind the $3 billion project.

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Breathing New Life – Developers have proposed converting the Vallco location into an ecosystem that includes homes, offices, shops and a rolling park. Since it’s not part of an overall area plan, local citizens find it easy to resist the project.

Topping all this would be a 30-acre park and walkways.

The undulating green roof—designed to buffer the residential locations from neighboring industrial sites—would be crossed by a 3.8-mile network of running/walking trails. Vineyards and orchards, an amphitheater, playgrounds and banks of native plantings to attract local wildlife would also be designed and incorporated on the roof.

A great idea as a project but …

For the time being, like Silicon growth projects around the globe, it’s on hold because folks who already staked their claim in a dream home/community don’t want more traffic, more kids in “their” schools, more chaos in their busy lives.

Years ago, I used to drive on a quaint two-lane blacktop street through a grove of walnut trees to a nice home, good-sized yard and swimming pool.

Still “own” the home but BAM! the orchard is now a community of more nice, albeit expensive, (for newcomers) homes.

Like most thriving technology centers, the Valley added 65,600 jobs and 39,800 residents over the last 12 months, increasing the growing shortage of housing.

People like those who forced the Hills of Vallco to be put on hold get it.

Just not in my neighborhood.

And the same holds true in Brooklyn and the Berlin Burroughs, as well as local communities in Tokyo, Toronto, Sydney, Shanghai, Dubai, Johannesburg, Amsterdam, Seattle, Charlotte, Saint Petersburg and Stockholm.

Of course, the industry has a solution … the smart city.

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Complete Connection – Developers and architects have a clear vision of tomorrow’s city with everything and everyone connected. The challenge is that smart cities don’t appear overnight with people being displaced/inconvenienced.

People who own brownstones in NYC or Boston, an apartment in Amsterdam, a house close to London or Saigon or a home in Los Altos or Sunnyvale agree.

Just not in my neighborhood.

In the meantime, San Francisco and LA inch closer to each other in community after community.

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Collision Course – Like two solar bodies, the visionairies who plan the smart city of tomorrow are usually on a collision course with people who have finally achieved their dream of home ownership.

The challenge is that tech communities are going from suburban to urban with nothing in between.

Folks in Palo Alto, Tiburon and Los Gatos love their small-town atmosphere. That’s why they live there.

People are in love with the smart city idea.

Just not in my neighborhood.

So we have projects being carried out in every technology area without a long-term plan as to what the silicon corridors are going to look like in 50 years (2068) or even 2042.

That means your neighborhood (and mine) has a patchwork of status quo - everything the way it is – plus.

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Interruptions – To upgrade the infrastructure and produce portions of tomorrow’s cities, citizens endure traffic interruptions and growing traffic problems.

With no one responsible or accountable for long-term growth; designers, developers and elected/appointed officials (who look to keep the job in the next go around) go for short-term, uncontrolled hyper-growth.

Whether you’re on interstate 35 going out of Austin or 101 out of San Jose, you see how area builders and planners are solving the problem … move the affordable housing further out and people will come.

Despite the inconvenience, people aren’t willing to give up their sanctuaries in the burbs so they commute an hour plus by train, bus, car and even plane.

Of course, there’s a way to bring commute times down. Simply build higher-density apartment complexes and townhouses near worksites and along public transit corridors.

Or maybe a more palatable solution would be to build out our communications infrastructure by upgrading to 5G and becoming more flexible in where/how people work … micro office complexes located closer to where people live rather than the headquarters.

5G can have speeds up to 100 times faster than current 4G networks and handle 1,000 times more traffic volumes.

Even in the most densely populated cities like NYC, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Berlin, London or Montreal; people could stream 4K video and make huge data transfers to work (and play) together more efficiently and more effectively without daily mind/body-breaking commutes while still enjoying their community, home, family.

Maybe the smart city of tomorrow is horizontal rather than vertical?

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You know, it will work and like King Arthur, you can say, “Well, you have to know these things when you're a king, you know.”

More affordable housing and workspace is needed in every silicon center but tearing down to build up is the anathema to all of us who say that’s great…

Just not in my neighborhood.

Then, the Hills of Vallco might look more appealing to folks in that neighborhood.

G. Andy Marken is founder and president of Marken Communications

 

© 2002 – 2017, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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