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Microsoft Azure Cloud Technology – Future Expansion Plans

At the Ignite conference, Microsoft shares it’s future expansion plans for Azure Cloud data center growth as noted below:

Microsoft Azure is the second-largest global public cloud by customer revenues, according to independent analyst estimates, and Microsoft now claims an Azure presence in twice as many regions as the public cloud market-leading Amazon Web Services (AWS). “Over the last several years we’ve been hard at work expanding it to run literally all over the world,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for the Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Group, in an Ignite keynote Monday. “We now have 34 unique Azure regions around the world.”

Guthrie described Azure regions as clusters of multiple datacenters that are geographically close to customers to allow them to access data and computing power faster.  The list includes 30 generally available regions, including a pair that just opened in Germany, where Microsoft previously didn’t have a presence. “The Microsoft Cloud is also the only global cloud vendor licensed to operate legally in China, and the only to offer full data sovereignty in Germany, using our data trustee model,” Guthrie said.

Azure is generally available in 30 regions around the world, and has announced plans for 4 additional regions. Geographic expansion is a priority for Azure because it enables our customers to achieve higher performance and it support their requirements and preferences regarding data location.

Leadership – Practical examples outside the office

John Maxwell shares a good leadership article related on need to take these essential skills outside the office into society itself:

This has all kinds of practical applications in a business or office setting. You lead out when you change the status quo. You lead out when you encourage others to follow your lead by growing and stretching themselves. You lead out when you challenge sloppy thinking, poor planning, or half-hearted effort.   In our modern culture, there is a leadership vacuum. We are desperate for leaders. The world needs men and women of character and integrity willing to step up to the plate and lead others well. I see three areas where our society is in desperate need of fully-formed leaders:

1. Families — I’ve come across a superstar business leader whose family was in shambles. I think being a leader at home is as important as being a leader at work. In fact, your home and family is probably the biggest sphere of influence you have as a leader. It’s where you will find the most teachable moments, the most opportunities for growth, and the most potential for developing other leaders who can help shape the world.

2. Community — There are hundreds of people who live within minutes of you who struggle with life. They dream of things that could make the community stronger, if only someone would listen. It begins by valuing people. Just like you invest in the people who share your office space, look for ways to value the people you run into on a day-to-day basis near your home.  Make a positive impact within your community, and others will follow your lead.

3. Government — The most obvious way of leading your government is by exercising your right to vote. Leadership is influence, and voting is one of the most influential things you can do. And as a good leader, you need to exercise that right. But you also have influence through your voice. You can email your representatives, make a phone call, and in some cases utilize social media to make your thoughts known to those who are elected to represent you. And you should.

Microsoft Windows 10 – Achieves 400 million user milestone

The latest count of Windows 10 devices was just shared at Microsoft’s Ignite conference:

ATLANTA — Microsoft says there are 400 million devices running Windows 10, the operating system the company released in July 2015.  That’s up from 350 million in June.  The updated figure, timed to the start of Microsoft’s Ignite information technology worker conference, is the first update since the company backed off the timeline for its goal to get 1 billion devices using the new operating system.

Windows 10 was designed to give users a similar look and feel on devices from laptops to tablets and smartphones. The original usage goals for the operating system includied assumptions about smartphone sales that proved overly optimistic after Microsoft sharply curtailed the smartphone hardware business it bought from Nokia in 2014.

Microsoft Cloud technology – Field Programmable Gate Arrays

The new FGPA technology is a highly specialized computer chip that can be custom programmed for highly demanding cloud based applications as described below:

One of Microsoft’s major announcements this week at Ignite, the Redmond company’s annual information technology worker conference, was essentially a better supercomputer.  Burger, in a simulated demo on Monday, showed how field programmable gate arrays (FGPAs), a type of computer chip that can be reprogrammed for specific tasks after they leave the factory floor, were adding firepower to Microsoft’s network of on-demand computing power.

Using all of the power of Microsoft’s data centers worldwide, the company could translate all 5 million articles on the English language Wikipedia in less than a tenth of a second. The company during the past two years has quietly been installing FGPAs on the new servers Microsoft added to its global fleet of data centers. They’re currently helping to rank results in the Bing search engine and speed the performance of Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing network.

Microsoft is alone among major cloud-computing players in widely deploying FPGA technology, Burger said, though Chinese search giant Baidu is experimenting with FPGA-powered machine-learning applications, and IBM and Oracle have used the devices on a smaller scale.

Leadership – Techniques to check on health of the team

John Maxwell shares an informative leadership article related on how to influence team members who report to you. He uses the analogy of a health checkup:

Well, today I want to touch on the concept of leading your followers, but instead of teaching you what to do, I want to help you examine what you’re already doing. I’m calling it The Leadership Checkup, and it’s for anyone who leads a team. No matter how big your team is, it’s beneficial for you as a leader to take some time and assess how well you’re leading those that follow you. That’s why I have three simple tests to help you gauge the health of your leadership and point you towards opportunities for greater health.  And don’t worry – unlike your annual physical, this won’t take long at all.

1. Check the Temperature — If you want to find out where you are as a leader, then take the temperature of your team. Ask yourself these questions:

*  Are people avoiding me in the office?
*  Is there increased conflict among the team?
*  Are people leaving or disengaging?

If you answer any question as “YES”, it’s time to get out of your world and into theirs in order to get to know the people on your team better and build relationships. T

2. Step on the Scales — From time to time, if you want to assess your weight as a leader, ask yourself the following questions about your team:

*  Do people come to me with problems and solutions?
*  Do people show initiative and engagement?
*  Do people produce at their highest level because of my confidence and encouragement?

If you can’t answer affirmatively to most of those questions, chances are your leadership is lightweight where it really matters. Seeing the best in people and believing the best of people is the surest way to get the best from people.

3. Take a Stress Test  — As a leader, you need to perform a stress test from time to time to make sure the heart of your team is healthy. This means assessing the intangibles of good leadership, those aspects that relate to mission and vision. You should ask yourself the following questions:

*  Are people operating in their strength zones?
*  Do people show that they understand and embrace the vision of the organization?
*  Are people doing work they feel matters?

When your people are working with their heart and soul, your team is able to not only do more, they will do it better. The healthier the heart of a team, the more you can push that team to go farther, faster, and higher.

BlackBerry – Ends manufacturing process for smart phones

BlackBerry has just announced it will stop making smartphones and instead outsource hardware manufacturing with its partners.

BlackBerry on Wednesday said it will stop making smartphones, and will instead leave hardware-related efforts to its partners.  “The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners. This allows us to reduce capital requirements and enhance return on invested capital,” CEO John Chen said as part of the company’s second quarter earnings announcement.

“Our new Mobility Solutions strategy is showing signs of momentum, including our first major device software licensing agreement with a telecom joint venture in Indonesia,” he continued. “Under this strategy, we are focusing on software development, including security and applications.”

Once a mobile phone giant, BlackBerry has struggled to keep up after the explosion of Android and iOS. Adding insult to injury was the delayed rollout of BlackBerry 10 and disastrous launch of its PlayBook tablet.  The ailing firm tried going back to basics with the new BlackBerry Classic (pictured) and square BlackBerry Passport in 2014. Last year, the company embraced Android with the BlackBerry Priv in hopes that the popular mobile OS would attract customers, but it was no match for the likes of Samsung or Apple.

Leadership — Techniques to help peers succeed and grow

John Maxwell shares another excellent leadership article related on how to influence your peers in other positions to successfully achieve organizational goals and projects.

As a leader, you’re wired to win. You want to see your team succeed. You want to see your own career take off. Chances are, there are very few moments in the day when you’re not looking for some kind of competitive advantage. But you should never sacrifice people to your desire to win. Because the plain fact of the matter is that you can’t win without others. You need people to reach your potential.

Today, I want to touch on just a few behaviors that can help you learn to lead your peers.

1. Let the Best Idea Win — There are times when your ideas, your thoughts, your agenda, aren’t actually the best of the bunch. So instead of always arguing for your idea, your opinion, your agenda, sit back and listen to the other ideas being shared.

2. Be a Friend — First, listen. When you prove to be someone who genuinely listens to others, people will seek you out because everyone likes – and needs – a good listener. Finally, if you want to be a friend, you should develop two things: a sense of humor and a reputation for honesty.

3. Avoid Office Politics — Sometimes, politics is just dirty business. Leadership is messy, but it doesn’t mean you have to sling the mud that gets you dirty. Let your integrity be your guide when it comes to intra-office disagreements, and demonstrate a higher standard for your peers to follow.

4. Don’t Pretend You’re Perfect — Your character, your integrity, and your willingness to be authentic will do more to win people to your cause than anything else you can do. Leadership among your peers has more to do with relationships than anything else, and relationships are established when people drop their pretenses and allow others to know them as they really are.

If you want to see your team make winning a habit, you’re going to have to learn to lead your peers. Of all the lessons I learned from playing basketball, the one I’ll never forget is that the people you need the most are the people on the team with you. The truth remains the same – you can’t win without others

SanDisk – One Terabyte SD Card prototype developed

SanDisk has developed a revolutionary 1TB storage capacity for SD memory cards commonly used in camera, mobile phones, and other portable devices as documented in following eWeek article:

Imagine having one full terabyte of storage capacity on an SD card that you can use in your smartphone or camera.  You can stop imagining, because that card is real and on its way to availability.  And yes, 1TB is about two or even three times the storage capacity of two typical laptops. SanDisk, inventor of the SD cards for cameras that used to carry a mere 64 MB 16 years ago, on Sept. 20 introduced a prototype of its SDXC card at a trade conference in Europe for photo and video professionals.  SanDisk, enticing conference-goers with the prototype, did not release details regarding pricing, availability or date of release.

Facebook – Stay safe online presentation October 4, 2016

An excellent security awareness seminar will be held on October 4th as follows:

Join us via Facebook live from to daylong coverage of the National Cyber Security Awareness Month kickoff event.National experts will explore cybersecurity issues of the day, including the use of drones and internet-connected cays, at a three day kickoff for the 2016 National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

There will also be sessions on how consumers can manage their digital footprint, how small businesses can reduce their risk of a security breach, and how the education system can prepare students and train veterans for one of today’s fastest-growing job sectors.  The event is being held by the Washington State governor’s office, the Washington state Office of CyberSecurity, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance.

 Agenda for Tuesday, October 4 (all times listed are PDT):

8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Opening comments
 9:30 to 10 a.m. Department of Homeland Security
 10 to 10:20 a.m. Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit presentation
 10:20 to 10:25 a.m. National Cyber Security Alliance remarks
 10:25 to 10:30 a.m. Washington State CIO Michael Cockrill
 10:45 to 12:30 p.m. Drones, autonomous vehicles and consumer privacy panel
 12:45 to 1:50 p.m. Panel Discussion: Developing the Cybersecurity Workforce

Microsoft Security Updates – WIN7 and WIN8 removal tool for Free WIN10 offer

On SEPTEMBER 20, 2016 a “non-security” important update was offered that provides removal software tools related to the Windows 10 free upgrade offer

This update removes the Get Windows 10 app and other software related to the Windows 10 free upgrade offer that expired on July 29, 2016. For a complete list of the software removed by this Windows Update, see the update replacement information. You can find answers to frequently asked questions about upgrading to Windows 10 at the Windows 10 Q&A page.

How to obtain this update

Method 1: Windows Update — This update is available on Windows Update. For more information about how to run Windows Update, see How to get an update through Windows Update.

Method 2: Microsoft Download Center — The following files are available for download from the Microsoft Download Center:

Applies to: Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Pro, Windows 8.1 Enterprise, Windows 7 Service Pack 1, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Starter