Disappointing Support


Recently, it came to public notice that there had been some malware distributed through the Apple Store for iOS devices.

All of a sudden, the fanboys who are quick to point out problems when something happens in the Android environment, fell silent.  Fortunately, the online community has been there to lend support and information.  Apple’s first bit of information was that “if you suspect something, redownload the application”.

When the details started to emerge, it hit like a “Top 10 List”.

The timing for this was bad.  Like most people, I had had the upgrade to the latest iOS installed and many of the applications that I had installed were clammering to be updated.  How would you know there might be a bad apple in the bunch?  After all, in the Apple environment, everything comes from their tightly controlled store.


Photo credit: FidlerJan from morguefile.com

More information came out with the now named XcodeGhost problem.

But even more information revealed that the Top 10 List goes far beyond 25 applications.  “Apple App Store malware ‘infected 4,000 apps‘”.  Not quite 4000, but this list has more titles of concern.  XcodeGhost Malware: List Of Infected iOS Apps That You Should Delete Right Now.  It’s time to do more checking.  Another list is found here.

The problem has been identified as developers downloading the Xcode software for App creation from locations other than the official store due to slow connection speeds in China and have offered a solution.  Apple will host Xcode on Chinese servers following malware attack.  It’s a little like closing the barn door after the fact but it should serve well in the long run.  The Xcode is a big download and it had just been updated.

As a person interested in computer stuff, I am interested in this sort of thing and, as you can tell by the linked articles above, have been doing a great deal of reading.  However, as a user of an iPad and iOS, I was disappointed that I had to find out through third party sources.  If they knew of the problem, certainly Apple did.  Most certainly Apple knows every application that I have on my device.  The iOS 9 was pushed out; it would seem to me a notice of the problem could have just as easily been pushed as an info message, identifying any problems with applications installed or “You may have heard of these problems but your versions are OK to use.”

This is comforting news “Is Your iPhone, iPad Or iPod Infected By The iOS XcodeGhost Malware? Apple Will Let You Know“.

The whole incident is just another reminder that we need to be vigilant about our use of technology and maybe we all need to up our geek level and do a little technology reading so that we understand what’s happening in our digital world.

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OTR Links 09/30/2015


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The best Excel Online add-ins


How many times have you heard that Microsoft Excel is the best spreadsheet program on the market?  It can do everything.  Well, almost everything.  Sometimes a little help may be necessary.  Excel Online, part of the online Office 365 suite, opens the door to add-ins just like the desktop version does.  There is a large collection of add-ins to enhance your spreadsheet experience.

If you haven’t included these as part of your spreadsheet routine, you should check them out and perhaps make them an integral part.  Sure, you can access them with an open tab and going directly to the source.  But, there’s something so much more productive just having them right in the application.

They’re available through the Microsoft Store which is available right in your browser!  Just select the Insert menu and click on My Add-ins button in the ribbon.

(If you read yesterday’s post about Microsoft Word Online, you’ll appreciate the copy/paste/edit approach taken here)

Here’s a list of my picks.  Note that you can also import add-ins already identified for Word Online.  Just for my use, I do find that I’m a sucker for additional tools for visualization of data.

Bubbles  
Radial Pie Chart  
 Histogram  
 Symbol Inserter  
Gantt Chart – Project Timeline  
Plotly Charts  
Explore The Data  
Modern Trend  
Exchange Rate  

There is a huge collection of add-ins available for Excel Online.  Take a look to see if there’s a tool ready to solve your need instead of writing your own script.  Or, perhaps there’s a new way to visualize your data.

What add-ins do you recommend?

OTR Links 09/29/2015


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The best Word Online add-ins


How many times have you heard that Microsoft Word is the best word processor on the market?  It can do everything.  Well, almost everything.  Sometimes a little help may be necessary.  Word Online, part of the online Office 365 suite, opens the door to add-ins just like the desktop version does.  The collection of add-ins is considerably smaller than those available for Google Docs but there still are some noteworthy enhancements to your word processing environment.

If you haven’t included these as part of your word processing routine, you should check them out and perhaps make them an integral part.  Sure, you can access them with an open tab and going directly to the source.  But, there’s something so much more productive just having them right in the application.

They’re available through the Microsoft Store which is available right in your browser!  Just select the Insert menu and click on My Add-ins button in the ribbon.

Here’s a list of my picks.

Wikipedia
Abbreviation List
Symbols and Characters
Paletti
rephrase!
Sentimental
Mapit
Handy Calculator

Check them out and look for the others.  Note that there are some commercial entries in the store as well.

What add-ins do you use to make your online work more productive?

OTR Links 09/28/2015


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

More than ever


I read this article with interest this morning.  “Why Educators Still Matter in the Digital Age“.

It wasn’t until partially through the article that the author talks about the role of the teacher being “more important than ever before”.  I would have made that part of the title, as I have done with this post.  In addition to the points raised in the article, I would add the following.

Determining what is best and appropriate

We’ve all heard the message about digital natives and digital immigrants and the concept has been written off, rightfully, by most.  I still maintain that it was a wakeup call for educators.  Yes, you can “just Google it”, but it takes a professional to understand and guide the student to the most relevant and important uses of information and technology.  Especially online, it’s a confusing world out there.  How does the emergent learner survive without appropriate guidance and support?  That guidance also knows when digital technology is not appropriate for the learning task at hand.

Focus

Even in times where the most appropriate choices have been made, anyone is one click away from another tab to check Facebook updates or a task switch to another application that’s more fun or interesting than the task at hand. 

Cutting through the nonsense

There are so many experts that claim to have the right answer.  It can range from the type of software that’s licensed centrally, the videos that describe how to do something, the time that it takes to learn something, the theory of the day, …  It’s only that teacher who has the regular contact to know what’s actually happening with the learning. This piece of technology may work in their labs or as part of the research that they’ve read but does it work with the students in Room ###?

Assessment

We know that ongoing, immediate, and effective feedback along with appropriate assessment is the best way to ensure student success.  Technology is getting better but the feedback from a self-marking test pales in comparison with that friendly voice in the classroom that says, “Did you consider this?” or “I’d like you to take another try at it”.  Digital technology can be wonderful but it falls short when it comes to assessing a performance that just can’t be assessed with the technology. 

Contact with Mom and Dad

Have you ever wondered what a parent/teacher interview with a piece of technology would look like?  Can digital technology understand the personal issues that might be happening at home or with the child?  Can that technology work on a plan for working with home for improvement?

I like technology as much as the next person.  At this point, it still remains a guest in the classroom used by teachers and students where appropriate.  The options for its use have never been better.  It’s still not at the point where it can go it alone!