Sunday, December 9, 2018

A Good Year for Apple Hardware

This year has been a fairly extensive one in terms of updates and new releases from Apple. From the latest MacOS update “Mojave” to this year’s round of iPhone refreshes, the Cupertino-based company has served up a considerable number of new items for consumers to choose from.  I will highlight two that have greatly enhanced my personal workflow.

The first is what I call Apple’s most underrated product of the year—the MacBook Pro refresh.  It didn’t get a big Apple Event debut but came packed with new features—especially if you hadn’t purchased last year’s model. Eighth generation Intel processors, True Tone display, T2 security chip, updated graphics and a slightly-tweaked keyboard are all highlights packed into the MacBook Pro’s trademark aluminum chassis. As expected, the MacBook Pro continues its trend of releasing 13 and 15 inch models.  While I had never warmed up to the Touch Bar, these new models showcase the efforts developers have included over the past few years to bring out the features of the Touch Bar.  Add to that the capability of Touch ID and you have a device that feels incomplete without it.  And to top it off, “Hey, Siri” is now supported!

Unlike the MacBook Pro, Apple’s other winner did get a lavish debut this fall--the iPad Pro.  If you’ve previously used an iPad or iPad Pro—forget what you knew. Throw it out.  This third generation tablet is a complete refresh in every way including the overall look of the device.  It comes in 12.9 and 11 in models, but it’s smaller in size than previous generations.  The home button is gone, and the Liquid Retina display extends nearly all the way to the edge.  

iPad Pro
The iPad Pro (third generation)
Internals include a new superfast A12X Bionic processor and a TrueDepth camera with Face ID—yes, your iPad now recognizes you (similar to Microsoft’s Windows Hello tech).  For us digital artists, the iPad Pro has a new Apple Pencil, which has double tap feature for switching between brushes, erasers, etc.  Like the Surface Pen, the Pencil now magnetically attaches to the iPad—but it also CHARGES it.  No more strange connection sticking out of the bottom (see previous iPad Pro’s).  And while I’m not sure the full benefit of it yet, the new USB-C port is undoubtedly a move in the right direction.  And for those who want a keyboard, Apple's Smart Folio Keyboard attaches with magnets located across the entire iPad, providing a strong grip.  I went for the less expensive Smart Folio case which essentially provides protection from the front and back, but leaves the sides exposed.  Apple continues to proclaim the iPad can replace your laptop and while I'd be lost without my MacBook Pro and Surface Pro, the new iPad Pro takes a giant leap in that direction and with a few tweaks to iOS could become one's daily driver.

As I mentioned, these are only two devices that Apple launched in 2018.  Beyond the three iPhones, there was the Apple Watch and the long-awaited updates to the MacBook Air and Mac mini.  With semi-recent updates to the iMac, MacBook and AppleTV there are many worthy options available to you.  The best recommendation I can offer is to do your research and make sure you know how you're going to use your new tech in advance.

ESU students, faculty and staff get a discount on most of Apple’s hardware, so make sure to take advantage of that if you’re in the market for a new device.  

Brian Osbourn
Director, IT Web & Digital Strategies

Friday, December 7, 2018

Stay safe online this holiday season!

The busy holiday season is in full swing and between choosing gifts, baking cookies and keeping track of holiday activities, time just seems to fly by!

In all the busyness and rush, it is important to remember that the online world is just as active - who else ordered most gifts online? Sadly, this is also the prime time for cyber criminals who take advantage of our distraction.

Here at ESU, we work diligently to put new technical safeguards in place but we have also learned that the best defense against cyber criminals is you! So how do you stay safe online this holiday season?
  1. Lock down your login: Protect your online shopping, email, banking and other important online accounts. Create unique passphrases for each account and use multi-factor authentication whenever possible.
  2. Your information is like money. Value it. Protect it.: Monitor your financial accounts regularly and request a free credit report once a year. Learn more about identity theft prevention at
  3. Keep clean machines: Only download trusted apps, software, and updates. Make sure your devices are free of viruses and malware before you shop. Keep up-to-date and download ESU's free antivirus software here.
  4. When in doubt, throw it out: Avoid links from unknown sources in emails, text messages, and on websites. Be especially cautious with emails about problems with your credit card or account or status of an online order. Report anything suspicious to the IT Help Desk at immediately.
  5. Do your research: Be aware of scams and ads that sound too good to be true. The Federal Trade Commission publishes a list of scam alerts here. Before you shop, research the websites you are going to use. Read reviews and pay attention to other people's experiences with the company. Pay special attention to the URL of popular sites. For example, criminals may create a fraudulent site called instead of the legitimate

 Keep your friends safe and share the Cheer to Safe Cyber Shopping tip sheet! Happy holidays :)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The End of Microsoft Edge

News that Microsoft Edge's discontinuation is becoming apparent and the replacement will be a Chromium-based web browser. Today Microsoft CVP Joe Belfiore solidified these rumors by concluding this move will add "better web compatibility" and "less fragmentation" throughout the web.

This change to a Chromium base will ideally run and function better on Windows 10. For developer, this means they will have less cross-browser compatibility to worry about when building websites. Edge will advance faster with this change.

World wide implementation of the Chromium-based Edge web browser will appear sometime in 2019.

Donald Goode
Student Web Developer
Web & Digital Strategies

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

What You Need to Know About the Marriott Data Breach

Since the end of last week, you may have heard about the data breach involving the Marriott International Starwood guest reservation database. Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission released an alert to provide affected users with recommended actions.

Here is what you need to know:
  • The information exposed includes names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, dates of birth, gender, Starwood loyalty program account information, and reservation information of as many as 500 million customers. Payment information may have been exposed as well - while this data was encrypted, it is unclear whether intruders gained the ability to decrypt it.
  • The breach began in 2014 and anyone who made a reservation at a Starwood property on or before September 10, 2018 could be affected. Starwood brands include W Hotels, St. Regis, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, and other hotel and timeshare properties.
  •  Marriott set up an informational website,, and a call center, 877-273-9481, to answer questions. Affected customers can sign up for free monitoring services. 

What does this mean for you?

There are some steps you can take in addition to using monitoring services.
  • Review bank statements and credit card statements regularly.
  • Review your credit reports and consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your files.
  • Assume that your Marriott account password was compromised and change your password as well as similar passwords on all other online accounts.
  • Proactively check if you have been affected since the Starwood brand spans multiple hotel chains.
  • Scammers often take advantage of situations like this by posing as the company and emailing affected customers fake links. The safest way to check if you have been affected by the breach is accessing the website directly. Remember, Marriott will never ask you to provide your password via phone or email.

Did you know - December is National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month! Learn more about identity theft at