Microsoft PowerShell goes open source, lands on Linux and Mac

Sysadmins, rejoice: PowerShell is coming to Linux and Mac. Microsoft announced Thursday that its automation and scripting system is breaking out of the confines of Windows and going open source.

The company is also releasing alpha versions of PowerShell for Linux (specifically Ubuntu, Centos and Redhat) and Mac OS X. A new PowerShell GitHub page gives people the ability to download binaries of the software, as well as access to the app’s source code.   

PowerShell on Linux and Mac will let people who have already built proficiency with Microsoft’s scripting language take those skills and bring them to new platforms. Meanwhile, people who are used to working on those platforms will have access to a new and very powerful tool for getting work done. 

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Windows 10 gets another roasting over privacy shortcomings

Windows 10 gets another roasting over privacy shortcomings

The flak aimed at Microsoft over Windows 10's privacy failings has been substantial, and shows no signs of abating yet, with tech privacy rights organization the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) being the latest to put the boot in with a lengthy critical blog post.

The EFF accuses Microsoft of "blatantly disregarding" user choice and privacy, and says that by default, Windows 10 sends an "unprecedented amount of usage data" back to Redmond's servers.

While the organization acknowledges that some users find Cortana – Windows 10's digital assistant, the honing of which is a big part of the reason Microsoft needs a lot of this user data – very useful, there are those who would happily switch it off and not send any data back at all.

The EFF further states that while it's possible to opt out of some of Microsoft's data hoovering, this is "not a guarantee that your computer will stop talking to Microsoft's servers". Indeed, you're forced to share at least some telemetry data with Redmond unless you're running an enterprise version of Windows 10.

More criticism is unloaded on Microsoft in terms of the company failing to explain exactly how it anonymizes the data gathered, or detail exactly how long it's stored for.

Meaningful opt-outs

So what's the solution here? In a nutshell, the EFF reckons that Redmond must implement a full range of easy to understand privacy controls on a single menu.

The blog post stated: "Microsoft should come clean with its user community. The company needs to acknowledge its missteps and offer real, meaningful opt-outs to the users who want them, preferably in a single unified screen."

This, the EFF says, will help Redmond to avoid a potential volley of lawsuits and the wrath of authorities and regulators – like the French watchdog the CNIL which recently hauled the company over the coals due to its collection of "excessive data" from Windows 10 users.

The EFF was also highly critical of Microsoft's tactics to get users to upgrade to its latest desktop operating system, another topic which has been flogged pretty much to death – and indeed has actually passed away in this case, given that the free Windows 10 upgrade offer expired at the end of last month.

Via: The Register

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Parallels Desktop 12 lets you play Overwatch on your Mac

Parallels Desktop 12 lets you play Overwatch on your Mac

A new version of Parallels Desktop has been unleashed for the Mac, boasting a number of fresh features including one that gamers will be particularly excited about.

Parallels Desktop allows Mac users to run Windows apps in a virtual environment, and as you would expect, version 12 of the software is fully compatible with macOS Sierra, and is 25% faster in terms of overall performance compared to its predecessor.

It comes with over 20 new handy utilities that can accomplish various functions – and are also available in standalone format as the Parallels Toolbox for Mac app – but gamers will be most interested to learn about bolstered support for PC games.

Parallels says that version 12 will allow Mac users to play more PC games than ever, and with better performance levels so everything will run smoother. Indeed, the company has actually worked with Blizzard to ensure that Parallels Desktop 12 is fully optimized for popular team-based shooter Overwatch.

Toolbox tricks

Okay, so back to the Parallels Toolbox utilities – what are they all about? These are simple tools to help you carry out everyday computing tasks more quickly, including capturing screen grabs, recording video, downloading videos from social network sites, unpacking ZIPs and the like, archiving and encrypting files, and other little bits and pieces such as alarms and timers.

Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro users (and those with the Business Edition) will get new tools for free every three months.

Further features for Parallels Desktop 12 include comprehensive support for Windows Ink, and a new wizard which allows users to purchase and install Windows 10 with a minimum of fuss from within the software. The program has also added an option to schedule Windows maintenance, so you can patch up overnight or when your Mac isn't being used.

Parallels Desktop 12 for Mac comes with a free one-year subscription to Acronis True Image, and those upgrading from version 10 or 11 can do so right now for £35 (around $45, AU$60).

The standalone version of the program goes on sale August 23 (next Tuesday) and will retail at £65 (around $85, AU$110). Parallels Desktop Pro Edition and the Business Edition will both set you back £80 (around $105, AU$135) per year, and if you want Parallels Toolbox for Mac on its own, a subscription costs £8 (around $11, AU$13.50) per year.

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Here’s the reason why vital Windows security alerts are often ignored

Here's the reason why vital Windows security alerts are often ignored

New research has found that the vast majority of users are likely to ignore a security alert on their PC – or any kind of pop-up message, for that matter – if they're busy doing something else on the computer that demands their concentration.

The long and short of the study from Brigham Young University – which was conducted using an MRI machine to measure the brain activity of participants – is that we're not very good at multitasking, so if our focus is elsewhere when a security warning pops up, it'll likely be ignored and dismissed.

Indeed, the researchers found that security alerts were ignored in up to 90% of cases. Specific cases were examined and it was found that if the alert appeared when closing a web page, 74% would dismiss it out of hand, whereas if the pop-up presented itself when users were entering a confirmation code, 87% ignored it.

Dual-task interference

The research paper observed: "Our findings suggest that although alerts are pervasive in personal computing, they should be bounded in their presentation. The timing of interruptions strongly influences the occurrence of DTI [dual-task interference – impacted performance from doing two tasks simultaneously] in the brain, which in turn substantially impacts alert disregard."

So, it's obvious that developers need to seriously consider exactly when they display such security warnings to users in order to ensure they have the greatest chance of being effective.

The paper further notes: "Our results suggest that for those messages that can be safely pre-empted or delayed, waiting until between primary tasks to display a message will result in substantially higher performance on the security task.

"Again, in our experiments using security messages, users' security message disregard was decreased 15% by displaying the security warning between primary tasks."

So there you have it – the secret of great security alerts (as well as great comedy) is all in the timing.


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