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.
There were a few specific articles about Office 365 and its rebranding as Microsoft 365, junk mail filtering, and a couple of Outlook problems.
Law and public policy
I wrote several articles about issues in the news – antitrust law, Section 230, privacy, and content moderation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tips and tricks
A rich crop of tips and tricks for Windows, Office, Google, Dropbox, and OneDrive.
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!