Tag Archives: issue

Windows 10 issues continue with Autopilot update

Although the latest issue with a Windows 10 update does not appear to have caused damage, users spoke of the need for further testing and oversight as Microsoft rolls out new versions of its OS.

Last week, Microsoft issued an update intended solely for Windows Autopilot-configured computers to the general public. Autopilot is a way for enterprises to automatically set up and configure new devices.

In its notes about the release, Microsoft indicated that the update should have no effect on users who don’t use Autopilot. Still, users offered mixed reactions to the news — especially given that past updates have caused Windows 10 issues such as data deletion, device freezing and the re-lettering of a computer’s drives.

William Warren, the owner of Brunswick, Maryland-based IT services company Emmanuel Technology Consulting, said he was concerned about continuing issues with Windows updates.

“They just can’t seem to get it right,” he said. “When you’re talking about an install base as diverse as [the one] Windows has to deal with, I don’t expect things to be totally problem-free but, with something like this, it’s like, ‘C’mon guys, pay attention.'”

William WarrenWilliam Warren

Warren said he had been keeping his clients on an older version of Windows 10 and would likely have them stay there until required to update.

“At least with this one, it didn’t become a huge data destruction debacle,” he said, referring to an October 2018 patch that deleted files of users who work with Known Folder redirection.

How software is currently developed is the real culprit, according to Warren said. He referred to across-the-board issues with software, including the flawed Boeing 737 Max software that led to plane crashes.

“What people need to do is stop fast iteration,” he said. “They need a second, third or fourth pair of eyes looking at code before it’s out the door. The mindset now is to fix bugs after release.”

With such a model, Warren said, companies treat customers as beta testers — or, in some cases, alpha testers.

“The file deletion debacle never should’ve gotten past QA,” he said, adding that he believed Microsoft had curtailed its use of testers in favor of having insiders find problems. “It’s Microsoft being tone-deaf.”

He did note that the latest problem did not seem to cause major issues.

“With this one, I see it as someone who didn’t tick a box they should have, or did tick a box they shouldn’t have,” he said. “It could have been a lot worse.”

Daniel BeatoDaniel Beato

Daniel Beato, director of technology at New Jersey IT consulting firm TNTMAX, said he hadn’t used Windows Autopilot and hadn’t been affected by the recent update. Still, he noted a lack of consistency with Microsoft’s rollouts.

“I think there needs to be more testing,” he said.

Beato said there seemed to be fewer Windows 10 issues with updates over time, although minor snags, like losing Google Chrome extensions after updating, remained.

“There were not a lot of big problems, and not a lot of problems with applications,” he said. “They have done a little better.”

Beato said, although the latest problem seems to be an oversight, it’s important to recognize that everyone can make mistakes.

“There’s a human part of things that, I think, sometimes we forget,” he said.

Automation tech continues to mature

Mark BowkerMark Bowker

Mark Bowker, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said the tension between updating software and maintaining stability was an old one, although one that has heightened in recent years.

“Updates have always been a thorn in the side of IT pros, given their responsibility for deploying and maintaining them,” he said. “Five years ago, the cadence was much further apart. Now, it’s coming at a much faster pace, and it has some IT pros thrown.”

Updates, Bowker said, can bring two things: broken applications or an improved user experience.

Andrew HewittAndrew Hewitt

As far as Autopilot goes, Forrester Research analyst Andrew Hewitt said he believed users would still have confidence in that service.

“There’s widespread belief that these new deployment automation technologies are still fairly new. They are going to have their bugs and issues and still require a fair amount of work to get them up and running,” he said. “I expect this space to mature rapidly over the next one to two years as customers find ways to optimize the service and Microsoft continues to mature [it].”

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Why reducing hiring bias isn’t easy

Hiring bias — often unconscious — is one very pervasive issue that gets in the way of diversity and inclusion initiatives.

As the gatekeepers to employment, HR teams must recognize their biases. Recruiters form both conscious and unconscious biases when seeking out new candidates and may miss out on hiring someone who would excel within the company. Vendors promise AI technology and software can help fix this hiring bias, but it may not always help solve the problem.

In this Q&A, Stacia Sherman Garr, co-founder and head analyst at RedThread Research, discusses her thoughts on diversity and inclusion obstacles, why hiring biases exist and whether AI can fix this issue. 

Can you define diversity and inclusion?

Stacia Sherman GarrStacia Sherman Garr

Stacia Sherman Garr: Diversity is a variation in backgrounds, beliefs and experiences, with respect to gender, race, ethnicity, language and mental abilities. In a simplified version, there is visible diversity [such as gender], which we tend to see as being legally protected; and then invisible diversity [such as sexual orientation and class], which tends to be more of those things that are not immediately obvious but still influences people’s perspectives.

Inclusion is about allowing the equitable and fair distribution of resources within an organization, which allow all employees to be appreciated for their unique contributions and to feel they belong to the formal as well as informal networks within it.

What gets in the way of companies reaching this goal?

It’s not enough to just have an employee resource group; you actually need to be reinforcing a diverse, inclusive way of thinking.
Stacia Sherman GarrCo-founder and head analyst, RedThread Research

Garr: One of the biggest things is that, fundamentally, this is about the culture that an organization has, and changing a culture is difficult. When you think about it from that perspective, it means that diversity and inclusion can’t just be an on-the-side initiative. It’s not enough to just have an employee resource group; you actually need to be reinforcing a diverse, inclusive way of thinking. This factors into how HR teams acquire talent, promote employees, give feedback and coach people, so it is systemic change and that’s why it is hard. 

Why is there a sudden demand for diversity and inclusion?

Garr: Demographics, particularly in the United States, have been changing. We see an age demographic shift and an ethnicity demographic shift. Younger people, or people from underrepresented groups, are more likely to bring up their perspectives. They’re more likely to push issues and are less afraid to do it in a work context than the previous generations.

The second reason is that overall work has globalized, so we’re seeing workplaces becoming more multicultural with more freelancers or virtual work. 

Third, there is a relationship between diversity and inclusion and business outcomes. There’s research that shows this, so organizations are seeing the connection between diversity and inclusion and financial goals.   

Finally, #MeToo brought this all to a head. It wasn’t just that #MeToo was about sexual harassment. What #MeToo underscored for HR leaders, in particular, was the role of culture with regard to people being treated fairly and equitably in our workplace. If you look at the numbers of underrepresented groups in leadership, you see we’ve been working on this problem for years but things haven’t shifted. The combination of the heightened focus and frustration, plus the technological advances [such as in AI] are why we’ve seen a lot of the technology come to the fore.

What are your thoughts on the hiring bias as part of diversity and inclusion?

Garr: People aren’t necessarily conscious of bias, which makes this issue pretty complex. It could certainly be that every human has a bias toward people who look and talk and think like they do and that can seep into the hiring processes, whether it’s the recruiter or the hiring manager. It can be conscious in that they may think, “I have seen X type of person from Y university succeed here, therefore I think that that’s what we need in this role,” where that may not be the case in terms of those being the necessary factors to result in success.

When we then translate that into this conversation about AI, it’s important to note that AI is just advanced math. All it’s doing is pattern recognition and learning from previous patterns. If we as humans have had a challenge with bias in the past, then a technology whose sole job is to look at our patterns of the past and deduce from that is going to extrapolate some level of bias, if it goes unchecked.

Software vendors market products that would “fix” this hiring bias. What are your thoughts on that?

Garr: I do not believe it’s possible to completely eradicate all biases. I think that there are ways to reduce the biases that exist. With additional analysis capability we can see some of the things that humans have done that have bias within them, or indicated bias on a systemic level, and address those. It should be the obligation of vendors to work on this, and they should be very transparent about what they’re doing to address it. But I am skeptical of any vendor that says it has wholly eliminated bias.

In 2018, Amazon had to scrap an AI recruiting tool that showed bias against women. What does that say about the use of AI to improve diversity?

Garr: What it tells us first and foremost is that we shouldn’t allow engineers to run rampant without HR intervention. In that instance, HR was actually not at all a part of that technology development; it was done by a bunch of engineers in the business. It also underscores the importance of oversight and testing. Once developers have built something, it needs to go through rigorous tests to understand, “Is there bias here, and if there is, how can we address it?” Technology shows that there’s been an event in the past and we need to have some way of foreseeing that for the future. Unfortunately, it’s been painted as such, but I do not think it should be used to cast all AI in a negative light.

How important is cognitive diversity today in relation to this hiring bias?

Garr: It is a way for us to bring in different perspectives, to push for new ideas and to build things that haven’t been there before. Much innovation comes from the intersection of more than two existing knowledge bases that people haven’t combined before, and that is fundamentally cognitive diversity. But it’s important to not forget other diversity. There’s actually been some studies that show just by having visibly diverse individuals, it actually forces the other people in the group to take a different perspective. So cognitive diversity is important, but we shouldn’t forget visible diversity as well.

Let’s say companies have hired these diverse employees; what comes next in terms of inclusion?

Garr: Making sure that the organization has a culture that’s open to diverse perspectives. There’s a number of organizations that are using organizational network analysis to understand how to connect people into the organizations that works more effectively. And then there’s all sorts of tools that are available. Historical diversity tools such as employee resource groups or play action committees can help with some of this.

Then there is taking a hard look at all the various talent, practices and processes, and adjusting the organization’s approach so that they are open and aware of what’s necessary from an inclusion perspective. Heightening people’s awareness through all the different practices of an organization of what they need to do to be inclusive is really important.

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Adobe brings graph database to customer journey touchpoints

Identity resolution is a difficult technology issue for marketers to solve, because current customer experience platforms have a hard time understanding when the same person contacts a company from multiple devices. Adobe’s Customer Journey Analytics, announced today, tackles the problem with a graph database.

Customer Journey Analytics is a feature subset of Adobe Analytics, itself a part of the Adobe Experience Platform. It features an interface that closely resembles Photoshop’s layers, the UX model familiar to  marketers and designers who typically use that application somewhere along the way creating marketing and sales content.

Combining a graph database — which makes more connections between data points than traditional relational databases — with analytics is a new way to solve the problem of identity resolution in the case of multiple customer journey touchpoints, said Nate Smith, Adobe Analytics product marketing manager.

Instead of creating new records when a customer who typically uses a smartphone app switches over to a desktop computer, for example, the graph database can connect the dots.

“It will tie those devices together to a unique ID,” Smith said.

Adobe Analytics dashboard screenshot
Adobe Analytics adds deeper insights to its platform capabilities for mapping customer journeytouchpoints.

Data science for marketers

It’s the latest chapter in a technology trend where customer experience platform vendors bring more data science capabilities to marketers, who aren’t typically data scientists. Using the metaphor of the customer journey, the features track the various stages of customer interaction with a company, from discovery to shopping to completing a purchase.

It’s the latest chapter in a technology trend where customer experience platform vendors bring more data science capabilities to marketers.

The idea is to subdivide the transaction process in order to find more opportunities for additional sales, upsells or retargeting. This becomes a more complex proposition as new customer journey touchpoints, such as social media mobile apps or even smart speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa, become popular among a company’s customers.

Smith said the “layers” approach enables customer experience teams to look for new potential revenue opportunities by mixing and matching different data sets, such as brick-and-mortar and website sales. Teams can also analyze trends to determine what’s behind issues such as customer attrition problems.

For customer experience teams employing data scientists, Adobe Analytics includes an advanced data analysis tool, Adobe Experience Platform Query Service.

The graph database component of Customer Journey Analytics pairs well with Adobe Sensei AI, according to Forrester analyst James McCormick. Together they can automate deduplication of records, a time-intensive manual task, closer to real time. The Photoshop-esque interface will help customers dive into the analytics tools more quickly, he added.

“These are iterative moves towards Adobe vision of creating a uniformed user experience across a fully integrated Adobe Experience Cloud,” McCormick said. “This common approach will really help Adobe customers work with, and across, multiple products.”

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HR execs and politicians eye student debt relief

Student debt relief is not only an election issue in the 2020 race for president, but a problem for HR managers. Some firms, including a hospital in New York, are doing something about it.

Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital began offering a student loan relief program this year for its non-union employees. It employs 1,500 people and provides employees 32 vacation days a year.

Most employees don’t take all that time off, said Dan Bengyak, vice president of administrative services at the not-for-profit medical center with hospitals in Newburgh and Cornwall. He oversees HR, IT and other administrative operations.

In February, the hospital detailed its plan to apply paid time off to student debt relief. Employees in the Parents Plus Loan program had the option as well. The hospital set two sign-up windows, the first in May. Forty employees signed up. The next window is in November.

The program “has been extremely well received and it definitely has offered us a real competitive advantage in the recruiting world,” Bengyak said. He believes it will help with retention as well.

The maximum employee contribution for student debt relief is $5,000. The hospital also provides tuition help. This combination “offers significant financial assistance,” to employees seeking advanced degrees, Bengyak said.

A SaaS platform handles payments

The hospital uses Tuition.io, a startup founded in 2013 and based in Santa Monica, Calif. The platform manages all of the payments to the loan services. Its users pay a lump sum to cover the cost of the assistance. The employer doesn’t know the amount of the employee’s debt. The platform notifies the employee when a payment is posted.

It definitely has offered us a real competitive advantage in the recruiting world.
Dan BengyakVP of administrative services, Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital

Payments can be made as a monthly contribution, a lump sum on an employment anniversary or other methods, according to Scott Thompson, CEO at Tuition.io.

Tuition.io also analyzes repayment data, which can show the program’s retention impact, according to Thompson.

“Those individuals who are participating in this benefit stay longer with the employer — they just do,” he said. 

About one in five students has over $100,000 in debt and is, by definition, broke, Thompson said. They can’t afford an employer’s 401K program or buy a house. Employees with a burdensome loan “are always looking for a new job that pays you more money because you simply have to,” he said.

Legislation in pipeline

The amount of student loan debt is in excess of $1.5 trillion and exceeds credit card and auto debt combined, said Robert Keach, a past president at the American Bankruptcy Institute, in testimony at a recent U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing on bankruptcy. More than a quarter of borrowers are in delinquency or default, he said. Student loan debt is expected to exceed $2 trillion by 2022.

“High levels of post-secondary education debt correlate with lower earnings, lower rates of home ownership, fewer automobile purchases, higher household financial distress, and delayed marriage and family formation, among other ripple effects,” Keach said.

Congress is considering legislation that may make it easier for firms to help employees with debt. One example is the Employer Participation in Repayment Act, a bill that has bipartisan support in both chambers. It would enable employers to give up to $5,250 annually per employee, tax free.

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Experts say there’s still a long road ahead for the FHIR standard

A major issue hindering interoperability in healthcare is a lack of data standardization, something federal regulators are trying to change by pushing adoption of the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard.

FHIR is an interoperability standard developed by Health Level Seven International (HL7) for the electronic exchange of health data. The FHIR standard has gone through multiple iterations and taken five years to develop. It sets a consistent description for healthcare data formats and application programming interfaces that healthcare organizations can use to exchange electronic health records.

In a set of proposed rules for interoperability from the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agencies would require healthcare organizations to use FHIR-enabled healthcare APIs that would allow patients to download their standardized electronic health information into a healthcare app on their smartphones.

During a panel discussion on the future of interoperability at ONC’s 3rd Interoperability Forum in Washington, D.C., Thursday, panelists including Kisha Hawthorne, CIO of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, focused on the reality of using the FHIR standard, and whether the standard will help achieve interoperability in healthcare.

The reality of FHIR standard use today

Will the FHIR standard be a key facilitator of interoperability in healthcare? Panelists agreed that it will — in time. Right now, though, the standard still needs work in the implementation department.

In the provider space there’s a ways to go. But we’re excited and we think it will take hold.
Kisha HawthorneCIO, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Hawthorne said her team at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is looking to use the FHIR standard in the provider space to bridge the gaps between the different software vendors with which the organization works.

The hospital uses an Epic EHR, and Hawthorne said that while she thinks vendors like Epic are beginning to implement and use the FHIR standard, she hopes to see that work “fast forward” with Epic and other vendors to make it easier to gather and share, as well as use, data in the provider space. FHIR standard use is something that’s not quite there yet, she said.

“In the provider space, there’s a ways to go,” Hawthorne said. “But we’re excited and we think it will take hold.”

The potential of the FHIR standard is exciting and it will “open a lot of doors,” but the reality is that the standard is immature, said Kristen Valdes, CEO of personal health app b.well Connected Health.

Valdes said that although she thinks the FHIR standard will create a push toward interoperability in healthcare, challenges associated with implementation of the FHIR standard are hindering progress.

A significant number of providers and organizations aren’t “using a fraction” of the implementation guidelines that have been made available for the FHIR standard, she said. While organizations are thinking about the operational impacts of using FHIR on behalf of users, she said there continues to be ongoing debate about the proper HIPAA rules to provide consumers access to their own data, which also hinder its implementation.

“We really have to think about the operational workflows and how it’s going to affect the people who are expected to implement and deploy FHIR,” she said.

The problem with the FHIR standard isn’t the technical aspects of the standard, but the process and people implementing it, said Vik Kheterpal, principal of interoperability product vendor CareEvolution.

As a technology standard, Kheterpal said it makes sense and has already seen relative success in the launch of programs such as CMS’ Blue Button 2.0 program. Blue Button 2.0 uses the FHIR standard for beneficiary data, such as drug prescriptions, primary care cost and treatment. Yet, the problem with the rest of healthcare often lies in misinterpretation of policy when it comes to sharing patient data.

Anil Jain, chief health informatics officer at IBM Watson Health, said he thinks the value of the FHIR standard is real, and organizations already need to think about what’s next once the standard matures.

As use of the FHIR standard grows among healthcare organizations, Jain said it’s important to create businesses cases and models for sharing data that will work using the standard. Otherwise, providers and patients will continue to lack trust in the data, something a standard like FHIR alone won’t give healthcare.

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SaaS activity alerts can mitigate manual misconfigurations

External threats can actually be the easier security issue to combat compared to the potential of an insider stealing data, which makes access management and awareness vital for IT.

More and more sensitive data is being stored in the cloud and improper access controls or limited visibility can lead to unintended data exposures or even insider theft. However, better SaaS activity alerts can help mitigate these issues.

BetterCloud CEO and founder David Politis spoke with SearchSecurity about the dangers of cloud misconfigurations and having too many admins, as well as how SaaS activity can be monitored automatically to avoid security breaches.

Editor’s note: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

You have said that it is functionally impossible to monitor SaaS activity manually, so what are the programmatic options for security?

David Politis: The most important thing we have is this framework that we recreated with our customers. The first step is centralizing all of the data that you have across these applications because data sprawl is one of the biggest issues.

David Politis, CEO and founder, BetterCloudDavid Politis

Once you’ve centralized that data, programmatically you have to go into all the different APIs that are available from these applications and you need to bring all the settings and the configuration and the entitlements and everything into a single place because part of the problem is going app by app. That’s not scalable.

Once you’ve centralized all of that, you need to be able to go and discover against that centralized repository of all the entitlements and settings you have, because once you centralize, what you’ll find is you have, depending on the size of your organization, millions — I’m not exaggerating — millions of data points that you’re having to report against or audit.

So you centralize then you do discovery and discovery means: Let me look at all my groups or email distribution lists that are set like this, or I have a rule in my organization where I need to be able to see all the files that are shared in this way. Now, still, that’s a massive data set and somehow you need that to be surfaced more real time because the changes in the settings and the entitlements are changing all the time. They’re literally changing every day, all day. People are working in these applications; they’re sharing files; they’re creating Slack channels; they’re adding folders in Dropbox; they’re doing X, Y, Z in Salesforce. It’s changing on a regular basis.

So after centralizing and being able to discover — that really helps you retroactively — then you need something that surfaces the insights on a more regular basis that says, ‘Hey, when we catch this needle in the haystack, surface that.’

The last step is you want to be able to do something about that because if you’re just surfacing data all day long, what we hear from IT is that they have this kind of fatigue of alerts, they have a fatigue of trying to put out fires all day long. And so there needs to be a system that not only brings all the data, centralizes it, makes it discoverable, surfaces insight and the items that need to get the exposures, the risk, and then ultimately be able to remediate that and take some kind of an action against that and enforce that.

What are the new features BetterCloud is introducing to enable SaaS activity monitoring?

Politis: The new service that we’re launching now, that we just started layering into the product, is our activity-based alerting. Basically, all the things that you and I just talked about the last 20 minutes, that’s all based on what I would call ‘state-based’ settings or configurations are entitlements — is a user set as an end user or an admin? Is this email distribution set to public or is it set to private? — that’s the state that is in.

We are now starting to do ‘activity-based’ monitoring and alerting and triggers for our workflows, and that is at a completely different level. If somebody just downloads 500 files in a matter of 30 minutes, that’s a next level deeper in terms of looking at user behavior and user activities within these platforms. Did somebody just create 100 users that are all super admin? Were there suspicious logins to this platform outside of the IP range?

So, you start getting more into the activity-based stuff, which is either a faster indicator of misconfigurations that are mistakes, or that’s actually a faster indication — and probably more likely, frankly — of malicious behavior. And so we really extended the platform to start looking at user behavior, user activity in these platforms.

The number one request I’ve gotten for the last year from customers is: I want to know when people are downloading files from Dropbox, Box, Slack, Salesforce [and/or] Google. File downloads has been the number one requested activity to monitor since I can’t even remember because as you can imagine, that starts to be a little bit more malicious. And that’s when IT can really be taken out of an organization.

I think the Uber/Waymo example is a great one. That is just someone at Waymo, at Google downloading a bunch of files out of Google Drive and leaving. Now, if you were looking at their activity in Google Drive, you would have noticed that they downloaded all the files from the confidential folder, and you can flag that, you could block, you could follow up with security.

It’s as it’s happening versus the states that things are in. File download is not a state the file has. So by looking at all the states of the file, you don’t know that it was downloaded 100 times by this person in a 30-minute window by seeing that someone successfully logged in, you don’t see that has 100 failed logins from 100 different IP addresses.

What platforms do you support with these SaaS activity alerts?

Politis: We have it fully integrated for Okta, Dropbox and Google. We’re layering it in for Box and Salesforce, so over the next couple months we’ll have the same functionality available across all the applications that we support.

And, this is actually an interesting indication because a lot of the SaaS platforms that we work with, five years ago, three years ago, they didn’t make this kind of activity streams available via their API. Now they’re making it available because how do companies protect themselves against this stuff? The only way is for the platforms themselves to make this information available via API, make this information available programmatically to their customers, to their partners. And so we’re taking advantage of that. Dropbox’s API that we’re using is a new API available for their enterprise customers for exactly this purpose, but their customers don’t know how to utilize that. What we’re doing is we’re doing that for the customer, we’re going out to the different SaaS platforms connecting to these activity streams, and then making sense of them. Otherwise, it’s just a stream of data.

But to that first part of the discussion: People keying in on this is what I’ve been waiting for, for many years. Because people have been [saying], ‘OK, I don’t see this problem in the news. And now it’s starting.’

I think it’s only the beginning. I think you’re going to see what I’m seeing with some of our really large organizations that these misconfigurations are going to come out more and more and more and the impact that they’re having on organizations is bigger than people know yet.

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Macbook Air 11″ – 2014

I bought this recently as my MacBook Pro is going into to have the screen replaced as it has the issue with the antiglare coating coming off, the idea was get this, use it while that is away and then when it comes back sell it on or have a play with some Linux distros on it.

However, I have loved the smaller/lighter form factor so much I have just bought the 12″ MacBook that was for sale on here. To be honest the 128gb drive is not enough for me to keep this full time, but after using it…

Macbook Air 11″ – 2014

Macbook Air 11″ – 2014

I bought this recently as my MacBook Pro is going into to have the screen replaced as it has the issue with the antiglare coating coming off, the idea was get this, use it while that is away and then when it comes back sell it on or have a play with some Linux distros on it.

However, I have loved the smaller/lighter form factor so much I have just bought the 12″ MacBook that was for sale on here. To be honest the 128gb drive is not enough for me to keep this full time, but after using it…

Macbook Air 11″ – 2014

Macbook Air 11″ – 2014

I bought this recently as my MacBook Pro is going into to have the screen replaced as it has the issue with the antiglare coating coming off, the idea was get this, use it while that is away and then when it comes back sell it on or have a play with some Linux distros on it.

However, I have loved the smaller/lighter form factor so much I have just bought the 12″ MacBook that was for sale on here. To be honest the 128gb drive is not enough for me to keep this full time, but after using it…

Macbook Air 11″ – 2014