Monday tech roundupLast week we mentioned the news about older versions of Internet Explorer losing support from Microsoft. Internet Explorer has long been one of the more vulnerable hunks of software, but this is not because it is bad code, but because it is so popular. It seems like anything produced by Microsoft becomes an instant hacker target.

We wanted to repeat this piece of news because we think it is very important. Older versions of IE, 10 and earlier, will no longer get patches and this means a field day for hackers.

The good news is that it’s easy to upgrade to IE 11, the version I use in the rare instances that I use IE.

The patches will cease on January 12, so be prepared! Well over 100 million people still use IE 10 or earlier and one downside of switching for enterprises is the investment they put in to create custom Web apps which were built for older versions of IE, and don’t run on the new stuff. For these shops, upgrading is a no-can-do but they will soon need to weigh in the pros and cons.

Mac laptops break less than their PC brethren

I always buy my kids Macs, even if they do cost three times more than the equivalent PC. I do so because there are far fewer viruses, and fewer OS reinstalls. Windows has been getting better, but it is still not as stable as the Mac OS. Now the venerable Consumer Reports Magazine took a look at hardware reliability, and found the Mac also shines here.

“We estimate that only 10 percent of Apple laptops fail by the third year of ownership. The numbers for Windows laptop brands range from 16 percent to 19 percent. In addition, Apple laptops break down less often than laptops from other brands. Among laptops that fail, only 42 percent of Apples break down more than once, while more than half (55 percent) of non-Apple laptops break down on multiple occasions,” the magazine wrote.

My experience, though not scientific, is the opposite. I’ve seen far too many catastrophic failures on my kids’ pricey MacBooks.

Consumer reports did note that MacBook repairs are likewise pricy. “While Apple laptops break down less frequently than Windows machines, the fixes are pricier, on average. Among repairs that Apple laptop owners pay for out of pocket, almost a third cost $300 or more – more than three times the expense for Windows-based laptops. That’s one reason why we recommend buying an extended warranty when you purchase an Apple laptop.”

Windows 10 less popular than numbers indicate?

There have been nearly 150 million people that have upgraded to Windows, half due to the free upgrade and the other because Microsoft keeps reminding you to upgrade until you do.

But a recent report by Network World argues that many that made the move may have moved back to Windows 7 or 8.1.

Actual operating system usage is tracked by Net Applications which uses sensors embedded in websites to see who is using what.

After a rapid rise to 5.2% market share in its first month, Windows 10 has only managed to move up to 9%, the company found.

Citing anecdotal evidence, the article argues that some that installed Windows 10 were not impressed, and promptly migrated backward. In fact, the Network World author installed and then deinstalled Win 10 on two different machines. “How many other people did as me: downloaded the free update and either hated it, had problems or compatibility issues, or were put off by the rampant spying and went back to Windows 7 or 8? We don’t have a good measure of Windows 10 installs that were reversed, and that number would be more telling than any other,” the article stated.

Tesla’s Elon Musk wants to save the world from artificial intelligence gone bad

Elon Musk is a true technical genius, what with electric cars and successful space exploration. He is clearly a man that should be taken seriously. Musk has been talking about the dangers of increasingly sophisticated (and independent) robots and artificial intelligence (AI) but now Musk is walking the walk by helping fund a (USD) $1 billion non-profit organization, OpenAI, designed to create safe AI.

“AI systems today have impressive but narrow capabilities. It seems that we’ll keep whittling away at their constraints, and in the extreme case they will reach human performance on virtually every intellectual task. It’s hard to fathom how much human-level AI could benefit society, and it’s equally hard to imagine how much it could damage society if built or used incorrectly,” the organization said.

“Our goal is to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.”

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