Technology Tips: November 2017 Edition

Skyward IT Services

Skyward IT Services

Network Infrastructure and Security Specialists

Technology Tips: November 2017 Edition

Office 365 Mac Access

Connect your Office 365 account to the menu bar of your Mac computer using My Workspace, a new app from Microsoft Garage. 

office mac

This app installs a handy drop-down that displays your upcoming Outlook calendar events, allows you to pin documents to keep them easily accessible, and gives you a quick shortcut to Office 365 apps and OneDrive.  Customize how many events and documents are displayed and which apps you need.


Classrooms of (Fun) Things

With the holidays just around the corner, we’ve got just the thing to put on your school’s wishlist. Smart speakers have been making the rounds in connected classrooms nationwide, but perhaps as more of a novelty than a useful tool. Now Amazon’s Echo accessories have expanded to include Echo Buttons—a small, colorful remote that uses Bluetooth to connect to an Echo.

From buzzing in for curriculum-based classroom Jeopardy! games to more serious formative assessment possibilities, these little buttons are sure to delight students and teachers alike.


Pixel Buds and Real-time Translation

Theatrical tech reveals are part of life now, but did you catch the tiniest (and most exciting) announcement in Google’s Pixel 2 event? Pixel Buds are Google’s answer to last year’s Apple AirPods®. These Bluetooth headphones take the next step in tech magic—the power to provide real-time translation in 40 languages.

Sound too good to be true? Yes and no. The instant translation service is limited to connectivity with a Pixel phone for now, but that doesn’t put a damper on the possibilities for education. Imagine helping students who are just learning English in their native language. Or networking with educators from other countries to compare your experiences. Or simply traveling unencumbered by language dictionaries and awkward pantomimed questions.

Pixel Buds, and the technology behind them, have the potential to change the way foreign languages are taught on a scale similar to how calculators changed the way math is taught.


Malware of the Month

Do you smell a RAT? Previously active circa 2005, the remote access Trojan (RAT) malware “Hacker’s Door” is making its rounds again. Researchers have confirmed that attackers are using this malware to target Windows 7 up to Windows 8.1, and they're in the process of confirming whether Windows 10 is affected. 

The new version consists of a backdoor and rootkit. It gives the attacker access to system information and allows them to take screenshots, copy files, download additional tools, open remote access, and even extract Windows credentials.

This particular Trojan is commercially available. Third parties purchase it, but the creators maintain it so the malware can continue to run and spread. Because Hacker’s Door was previously active over a decade ago, the signatures in antivirus software that once recognized it may have been eliminated over time to make room for active antivirus signatures—leaving the door wide open, so to speak. 

Trojan malware is disguised as something useful to trick users into downloading it, so it never hurts to share the basic reminders again for protecting your network. Never trust anything on the internet, it never hurts to get a second opinion before downloading a file, and don’t open attachments from people you don’t trust or that seem suspicious.

"Technology, like art, is a soaring exercise of the human imagination."
–Daniel Bell (1919 – 2011) 

I’ll take automation for the big win, Alexa: See how to take back teaching time with cool classroom tools.


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