2018 is Fast Approaching

Technology tips for the new year

2017 has been a(nother) year for challenges, advancement, and excitement around technology in all of our lives and the world at large.

This past year presented us all with a number of hacks, virus and ransomware attacks and data leaks to keep our days interesting. A year in review (through July 2017) is available here from Wired.

Many of these hacks and exploits remind us that using solutions like 2 step authentications and unique passwords are the quickest way to protect data and accounts from “bad actors”. Our Friends Google allows 2-step verification (more information here)and you are welcome to enroll and enable. Using 2-step verification with financial accounts and other personal and critical data is imperative. A list from earlier this year (via PC Mag) outlines some major websites and ways to enable 2-step authentication. This is worth a read and strong consideration.

Using unique passwords is another way to keep data safe and sound. I hear the cry now — “so many passwords…” but there are excellent tools for tackling this too.

A favorite among many over the years is 1Password which is available for iOS (iPhones, iPads, Macs, Windows, and Android). The basic system is free and as with many companies today, the solution is available as a web-based “vault” that can be purchased as a subscription. For many, the free app will serve 90% of the users.

Another long-time solution is LastPass. LastPass can be installed on the same platforms and provided much of the same integration and functionally. Feel free to test drive these apps and see which works best for day-to-day use.

A frequent function that is used is just the ability to randomly generate a new password (8+ characters long, a mix of letters and numbers, symbols, capitals and lower case). These are excellent solutions for generating, securely storing and recalling multiple complex passwords for personal, private and sensitive websites.

Apple released the iPad Pro a bit over a year ago with the standard 9.7" and 12" models being a huge step forward with the use of the best stylus I personally have ever used to write directly on the device. In 2017, Apple stopped selling the 9.7" model and replaced it with a 10.5" and a generation 2 12" iPad Pro (keeping the size and weight of the 10.5" very close to the 9.7") but providing more workspace, an improved display and refresh rate. It is beautiful! The latest Apple commercial eludes to a world where an iPad Pro is all that is needed — forget the computer. It is getting closer to reality (though most believe we are not there yet).

Apple also released two new iPhones this fall (the iPhone 8 and X). The iPhone 8 is a solid update on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus a worth a look if an iOS upgrade is in your future. The iPhone X is a complete departure from the previous versions of the iPhone line. The iPhone X leaves TouchID and uses facial recognition for authentication. For many, the use of a fingerprint was concerning, now looking at the screen seems to be a deeper, more personal solution and therefore even more concerning. Initially, there were many reports of users “bypassing” the FaceID with family members or twins, but I have found it helpful and very smart. It will not unlock for my children (who resemble me) but I can put on glasses, have a scarf wrapped around my neck or be looking off to the side and the phone will know it is me and unlock. My feeling is “genius”. For those not using this feature, the changes of the device are less noticeable but this is generation one of this technology and expected to only improve.

If you are looking for ways to grow, expand your horizons or just spend some time during the holiday break, take a look at these resources and systems available to those in education and those with access to the New York Public Libraries.

Lynda.com (online training and courses can be accessed with NYPL card and a pin. For specifics on the login process, see this NYPL page.

Apple’s Swift Playground provides an iOS app for the iPad that will guide users through some core skills to understand programming and the Swift programming language. Swift Playground is a nice tool for getting an introduction and familiar with coding and coding logic.

Apple also provides educator discounts if looking to purchase something for 2018. Bring a Friends ID to an Apple Store and Apple can apply a discount ($50–200 generally) to any purchase as someone affiliated with education.

Apple in 2017 also made a push into the world of Augmented Reality (think Pokemon Go) and some companies have leveraged AR in the last weeks. One that has been very impressed with was Lego’s AR Studio App for iOS. It is free and can be downloaded from the Apple Store here and something that will entertain kids (and many adults — ahem, me) for quite a while. Here is a quick video I took using the Lego App.

Technology professional