We made it to the end of 2020! Almost done with Season 4 of the miniseries from hell, “The Decline And Fall Of The American Trumpire.”
The next 29 days will move at a pace that makes glaciers look speedy, just like the last nine months. The best we can hope is that after January 20 it will seem like adults are in charge, which will put some of us in better moods while we stay home trying not to become infected and die.
But I know what you’re thinking: That’s enough doom and gloom! Let’s turn our back on negativity! Let’s find our mellow and feel the breeze and smell the flowers and talk about a better tomorrow!
So for a minute I want you to forget about the pandemic, climate change, the economic crisis, and the ongoing criminal conspiracy in the White House to destroy our democracy. Let’s change the subject. What do you think, shall we try technology?
During the holiday break, I want you to follow the developing story of the Russian hack of US government agencies and large businesses. It’s “among the greatest intelligence failures of modern times,” according to David Sanger, New York Times national security correspondent and possibly the best-informed person in the world about foreign cyberattacks. For several years cyberattacks have been the number one threat on the global threat assessment given to Congress by US intelligence agencies. This intrusion sets the stage for everything from devastating attacks on our infrastructure by the Russians, to retaliation and possible escalation by the US. It’s worse than you think.
Because that’s the theme of this week’s sermon: 2020 is relentless. There is no mellow. You can’t go toward the light because there’s no light.
While we were hiding, I wrote some articles.
Microsoft accounts and Office 365 Microsoft 365
The confusion between Microsoft’s business and personal accounts continues to be a sore spot for small businesses. The most useful article of the year explains the difference as clearly as possible, along with tips about how to straighten out your own accounts and put them to better use.
Understanding Microsoft Business And Personal Accounts
How To Change The Login For Your Microsoft Personal Account
OneDrive Is The Best Way To Back Up Your Files
Try The Online Versions Of Word, Excel, And Powerpoint
There were a few specific articles about Office 365 and its rebranding as Microsoft 365, junk mail filtering, and a couple of Outlook problems.
Shooting Fish In A Barrel: Microsoft Is Rebranding Office 365
What’s Wrong With Office 365 Junk Mail Filtering?
Outlook’s Slow Road To Syncing Signatures
Law and public policy
I wrote several articles about issues in the news – antitrust law, Section 230, privacy, and content moderation.
The Facebook Antitrust Lawsuits
Robert Bork & Hipster Antitrust
Section 230 Is At The Heart Of Everything
If Section 230 Is So Swell, Why Do People Want To Change It?
Arguing At Cross-Purposes About Tech Policy
Why Is It So Hard For Facebook To Remove False Covid Information?
The longest series this year was about location tracking, more pervasive and invasive than you realize. Lots of companies know where you’ve been, and they can draw surprising conclusions from that knowledge.
Location Tracking: They Know Where You Are
Location Tracking: LA LA LA I DON’T WANT TO HEAR YOU
Location Tracking: Who’s Following You? How Do They Know Where You Are?
Location Tracking: Cell Towers, Key Fobs, And Cameras
The Benefits Of Location Tracking
Location Tracking Could Help Combat Covid-19 – But At What Cost?
The Dangers Of Location Tracking
There were also a couple of articles about how companies work: the business incentives for companies like Microsoft and Google to misbehave, and the unexpected mechanism that places ads for you to see on web pages.
Google, Microsoft, And Unethical Behavior
Paranoia continues to be your best security. In addition to the latest installment of the Rules for Computer and Online Safety, there was information about a couple of scams, plus a surprising look behind the scenes at the life of a cybercriminal.
The Bad Guys Are Gonna Git You If You Don’t Watch Out
Security Tip: Are You Available For A Scam?
Apple and ARM processors
Apple’s release of laptops with the new ARM-based M1 processor last month was a first – and very successful – step on the road that will lead Apple to dominate consumer and small business computing within a few years. Mark my words – this is a big change happening right in front of your eyes.
Apple & The Future Of Personal Computing
Windows Is In Its Declining Years, Macs Are Entering Their Second Childhood
Microsoft Doesn’t Care That Windows Is Declining
5G technology was just as overhyped and irrelevant in 2020 as I predicted. It might start to become meaningful in select areas in 2021. Probably not.
5G Will Be Important, But Not In 2020 (Despite What The Ads Say)
Windows Search took some steps backward this year, with outages and changes that are unrequested and unloved. I’m almost exclusively using X1 Search to work around the search problems in Windows.
Windows Search Is Broken And It’s Bing’s Fault
The Outlook Search Bar Is Changing, Whether You Like It Or Not. (You Won’t Like It.)
Tips and tricks
A rich crop of tips and tricks for Windows, Office, Google, Dropbox, and OneDrive.
Google Real-Time Transcription Is The Coolest Technology Of 2019
Request Files Using Dropbox Or OneDrive
Windows Tip: How To Stop The Disappearing Scroll Bar
The Nine Billion Windows Keyboard Shortcuts
How To Lose Friends And Influence People: Microsoft Rolls Out New Edge Browser
How To Make Windows Less Annoying
Windows Tip: Use Alt-Tab To Switch Programs
Tips For Saving Files In Word & Excel
Reliability Monitor Is Your New Old Favorite Windows Troubleshooting Tool
There has never been a year like 2020. Please, please let this be the low point. We’ve bottomed out, right? I want to believe we can climb back toward shared values, belief in facts and science, and willingness to work together and take care of each other. Also, I want to eat in restaurants and get on planes and go interesting places.
We can do it.
This will be the last article until after the holidays. Stay safe, keep your perspective, and wear a mask. All my best wishes!