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Technology

Memory-Lane Monday: Did they say anything about an offer you couldn’t refuse?

After working for a company that provides services to regional automobile dealerships such as sales, financing and inventory-control software, this pilot fish leaves to start his own company.

Shortly after that, he gets a call from a dealership that’s a client of his old employer.

“They heard I now owned a small software-development business,” says fish. “They’re interested in dumping the old company and want to know if I can develop competing software for them.”

That sounds like a good opportunity to expand his business, so fish sets up a meeting.
Turns out the assignment is simple: The dealership wants software just like what fish’s former employer provides.

Sure, says fish, I can develop new software to meet your needs.

“No,” the guy from the dealership says, “we don’t want new software. We want it to be exactly like the old software.”

Then he hands fish the distribution diskette for his old company’s software. “Will this help?” he asks.

Reports fish, “I told them thanks for the opportunity, but I didn’t want to spend the next few years of my life — and the pittance they were willing to pay me — defending a copyright infringement lawsuit.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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The best Android apps for business in 2020

Trying to find the right app for any given area on Android is a lot like trying to order dinner at a restaurant with way too many options on the menu. How can you possibly find the right choice in such a crowded lineup? With the Google Play Store now boasting somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 gazillion titles (last I checked), it’s no simple task to figure out which apps rise above the rest and provide the best possible experiences.

That’s why I decided to step in and help. I’ve been covering Android from the start and have seen more than my fair share of incredible and not so incredible apps. From interface design to practical value, I know what to look for and how to separate the ordinary from the extraordinary. And taking the time to truly explore the full menu of options and find the cream of the crop is quite literally my job.

Bit by bit, I’ve been figuring out the best Android apps for a variety of areas relevant to you, the modern mobile professional. Whether we’re talking broad themes like organization and collaboration or specific needs like password management and note-taking, I’m making it my mission to find the best of the best for the categories that really matter.

You can find links to stories with all my recommendations below — and be sure to check back regularly, as the recommendations will be revisited routinely and the areas I cover will keep expanding over time.

The best office apps for Android

Create an optimal Android office app power-pack with these thoroughly researched recommendations.

The best email and texting apps for Android

Give yourself an edge in business communication with these exceptional Android messaging apps.

The best calendar apps for Android

Strengthen your Android calendar experience with these standout selections for serious professionals with a range of scheduling needs.

The best Android apps for team collaboration

Stay connected and productive wherever you are with these first-rate collaboration apps for Android.

The best privacy and security apps for Android

Forget malware scanners or over-the-top security suites: These are the apps that’ll actually improve your security and protect your privacy on Android.

The best Android apps for organizing your life

From projects to places and to-do lists to travel, these Android apps will help you organize all the important areas of your life.

6 efficiency-enhancing Android apps

These clever tools save you time so you can get straight to work.

The best note-taking apps for Android

Note-takers, take note: Whether you want gobs of features or uber-simplicity, these are the best apps for collecting and managing info on Android.

The best Android keyboard apps for on-the-go productivity

Heads up, busy professionals: The right Android keyboard app can save you precious time and unlock your performance potential. So what are you waiting for?

The best travel apps for Android

Save yourself time, headaches and even money with these standout Android apps for business travel.

The best Android password managers

Not all Android password management apps are created equal — so which one makes the most sense for you?

The best Android file manager apps

From optimizing your phone’s storage to integrating your device with the cloud, these standout Android apps will let you juggle files like a pro.

The best Android launchers for enhanced efficiency

Save time and make your Android home screen work better with the help of these eclectic tools.

The best Android widgets for busy professionals

Turn your Android home screen into a powerful productivity hub with these exceptional, business-friendly widgets.

Android apps for Chromebooks: The essentials

Turn your Chromebook into a uniquely versatile modern computing machine with these Chrome-OS-enhancing apps.

Related video: Now that you’ve built up your app arsenal, watch the tutorial below to learn how to get around Android in a snap.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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CIOs reshape IT priorities in wake of COVID-19

Conn’s HomePlus CIO Todd Renaud spent the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic’s office shutdowns and store restrictions “just trying to get through the next day.” One month later, he’s setting his sights on what the next new normal might be, and what it will mean to the appliance retailer’s IT strategy over the next year.

“I’m going to assume that our remote workforce will be a larger percent than it is today,” he says. “How will that impact the company, assets and data? I’m thinking about the impact in our stores if we continue to have restrictions on the number of people” inside and other safety requirements. For example, Renaud is considering videoconferencing capabilities that could enable customers to virtually walk through the store with a sales rep serving as a guide to simulate an in-store sales experience.

 “The unspoken expectation is of me staying as far ahead of the curve from a technology and an impact perspective as I can,” Renaud says.

That same expectation has been heaped onto most CIOs as organizations look to technology to help them pivot quickly. The coronavirus pandemic is affecting IT leaders’ roles and priorities, and forcing them to consider its long-term impact on their IT organizations and on business as a whole.

An IDG survey of 414 IT leaders in April found that most budgets will either hold steady or increase in the next 12 months. They also expect a renewed emphasis on operational efficiency, expense management and cost controls. Meanwhile, business collaboration, hiring and training will take a back seat in the coming months. CIO.com compared these responses to its 2020 State of the CIO Survey, which posed similar questions to IT leaders in September 2019 about their organizations’ IT budgets and priorities for the coming year.



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Microsoft monkeys with Office 365, Microsoft 365 release channels

Microsoft last week announced sweeping name and default-setting changes for how it updates and upgrades the core of Office 365, the locally installed applications such as  Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

These changes to Office 365 were not the first for the by-subscription suite of apps and services. In 2017, Microsoft dumped an earlier set of monikers – which included “Deferred Channel” and “First Release for Deferred Channel” – for new titles that matched, more or less, the then-current Windows 10 conventions.

But in the intervening years, Windows 10 had streamlined its servicing distribution options. Microsoft did do some Windows 10-esque clean-up on Office 365’s channels, but the latter, even after the changes take effect next month, will still greatly outnumber those of the operating system.

Changes, but toward what end?

The short version of Microsoft’s moves: The company added one new channel to Office 365’s servicing model, renamed the five existing ones to greater or lesser extent and dramatically altered the default setting for new customers.



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Memory-Lane Monday: Never let a software guy near hardware

This pilot fish gets an early-evening call from his business’s security company, telling him that the computer room is sending out a “high thermal event” alarm.

There’s no answer after several tries to contact the tech who’s on call, so fish makes the 45-minute drive to the office.

“I assumed the office must have lost power and the IT systems were still running on battery backup,” says fish.

Wrong.

“While the general office space was fine and showed no evidence of power loss, the computer room felt like Arizona — the thermometer read over 90 degrees — and the two redundant wall-mounted air-handling systems weren’t running.”

Some of the older hard drives are making horrible screeching sounds as fish gets to work. He props open the computer room doors and then begins to shut down all the servers, arrays and network hardware as fast and as safely as he can.

Once that’s done, he puts some fans in the doorways to draw cooler air in from the main office space. Then fish turns his attention to the pair of air handlers, wondering how two systems running on separate electrical circuits could have died at the same time.

He pushes the power button on one. It roars to life, pumping out cold air.
He flips the switch on the other air handler. It starts right up too.

A few minutes later, the on-call tech arrives with one of the company’s software developers — and an explanation.

“The two had been out golfing at a course about two miles from the office after work,” fish says. “The tech put the on-call cellphone, which was set to vibrate, in his golf bag. He never noticed until they were finished with the round that he had voice mails from me.”

Then fish describes what he found in the computer room — the Arizona-like heat, the screaming disk drives, and the air handlers that were switched off.

That’s when the developer groans. Turns out he had been in the computer room a few hours earlier, troubleshooting a problem over the phone.

But between the noise from the servers, disk arrays and air handlers, he was having a hard time hearing the person on the other end of the line.

“Figuring it would only be a few moments, he turned both air handlers off to quiet things down,” says fish. “But he forgot to turn them back on when he left.

“Fortunately, the damage was minimal — we lost one drive in a RAID array and missed our nightly backup cycle, but all of our systems were working, communications to the remote offices were back up and our data was safe.

“And I got movie passes and a gift card to a restaurant from the developer as an apology.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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