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Leadership – How to improve Strategic Thinking in 2017

John Maxwell shares ideas and tactics for improving strategic thinking for teams and leaders

Strategy is thinking ahead with a design and a goal in mind. In other words, your leaders and managers can take control of tomorrow by thinking about it today. How do strategic leaders position themselves and their teams for success

1. Strategic Navigators see the trip ahead — Leroy Eins writes, “A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see.”

2. Strategic Navigators draw on past experience — Every past success and failure can be a source of information and wisdom. Those who fail to learn from mistakes will fail again and again.

3. Strategic Navigators listen to what others have to say — To build a healthy strategy, top-notch navigators use information from many sources.

4. Strategic Navigators examine the conditions before making commitments — Good navigators count the cost before making commitments for themselves and others.

5. Strategic Navigator conclusions represent both faith and facts — Navigating for others requires a leader to possess a positive attitude. If they can’t confidently make the trip in their minds, they won’t be able to take it in real life.

Even the most experienced “strategic navigators” will run into obstacles. Below are four of the most prevalent barriers to effective strategic thinking:

1. Over Optimism — Trusting that because one’s strategic thinking worked in the past, it will always be successful in the future.

2. Under Optimism — Undervaluing one’s talent or chance at success, causes leaders to limit strategy to minimize losses, avoid mistakes, and see their companies dwindle.

3. Confirmation Bias — Certainty of one’s own decision-making to the point of ignoring all contrary arguments.

4. Following the Herd — imitating others’ ideas and directions instead of building one’s own. Those who follow the herd don’t rise above it.

Intel – Ninth Generation 10nm Ice Lake CPU announced

The new Intel 9th generation “Ice Lake” processor was just been announced.  It will offer 10nm state-of-art miniaturization, as shared in this informative article by PC Magazine

On Monday, August 21, Intel plans to unveil its 8th-generation Core processors. But it may have also unveiled one member of its 9th-generation Core family: Ice Lake.  A terse note on the company’s website describes the new technology: “The Ice Lake processor family is a successor to the 8th-generation Intel Core processor family. These processors utilize Intel’s industry-leading 10nm+ process technology.”

Intel’s Broadwell chips introduced the 14nm generation in 2014 and 2015, followed by the Skylake generation in 2015 and 2016. But then Intel unexpectedly added a third 14nm chip, Kaby Lake, and made plans to launch a fourth 14nm chip, believed to be called “Coffee Lake,” on August 21.

With Intel’s formal disclosure of its Ice Lake chip, we now have three official points of reference for what’s next: Coffee Lake, the 14nm, 8th-generation Core chip that will be announced next week; Cannon Lake, the 10nm Core chip that Intel showed off at CES, and now Ice Lake, a 10nm+ chip that will debut sometime later.

Leadership – Five benefits of employee development

As this article shares it is easy to overlook “employee development” in daily business conduct and this excellent article from John Maxwell share the value of developing others are greater levels of responsibility:

Managers can easily overlook intentional employee development and training in the rush to get things done. Production can obscure development. Soon production suffers because their team members aren’t equipped to perform. Employee development, or people development, sets your organization up for growth and sets it apart from competitors:

1. Employee Development Sets Your Company Apart — How does someone grow a company? By growing the people in it. If you really want to see your organization expand, focus on equipping its leaders to grow more leaders.

2. Employee Development Assures Growth — So what will give your organization the best chance for sustainable growth and success? Developing and training people.

3. Employee Development Empowers Others to Fulfill Their Leadership Responsibilities — John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” When a leader gives someone responsibility and authority, they transform people and organizations.

4. Employee Development Empowers the Leader to Lead Larger — Leaders who share their leadership with others don’t actually lose anything. Instead, they gain something possible only by developing others: time.

5. Employee Development Provides Great Personal Fulfillment — The greatest satisfaction in life comes from giving to others. Leaders are most fulfilled when they forget themselves and focus on others; they are often closest to people when helping them grow.

If your leaders and managers develop people and build relationships on the team, they will create a sense of community where victories are celebrated, gratitude is evident, and loyalty is shared.

Digital Cameras – 2017 PC Magazine review of best models

This review by PC Magazine shares their picks for best Digital Cameras this year:,2817,2369450,00.asp

Buying a digital camera is a very different experience than it was a year or two ago. Smartphone cameras keep getting better, so there are a lot fewer buyers out there for budget pocket shooters. And because of that, there aren’t that many good, inexpensive options. Meanwhile, entry-level SLRs have serious competition for your dollar from mirrorless rivals, and if you’ve got a bigger budget you can opt for premium pocket models with large image sensors, midrange interchangeable lens models, or bridge-style superzooms that bring distant subjects into close, clear view.

You can buy any number of sub-$100 no-name cameras at online retailers, but none are worth your money if already own a decent smartphone. But if you move up to the $100 to $200 bracket, you have some solid options from Canon and Nikon.  Moving up to the $200 to $400 price nets more modern CMOS image sensors and very long zoom lenses—30x is the standard at this point.

You may scratch your head when you see pocket cameras with fixed lenses selling for anywhere from $400 to $1,000. After all, you can get an interchangeable lens model for the same price. But these slim, premium shooters target a very specific market—photographers who already own a mirrorless camera or SLR and a bunch of lenses, but want something small as an alternative option.

Once you cross the $1,000 price barrier, you’ve entered into a realm where you likely have a very good handle on whether you prefer an SLR or mirrorless camera. If you’re buying in this range, you need to take a serious look at the lenses and accessories available for each system, and weigh the pluses and minuses of different image sensor formats.

Android Security – August 2017 release patches 10 critical issues

Android users should promptly patch their systems and devices as shared below:

The Android Security Bulletin contains details of security vulnerabilities affecting Android devices. Security patch levels of August 05, 2017 or later address all of these issues. The most severe of these issues is a critical security vulnerability in media framework that could enable a remote attacker using a specially crafted file to execute arbitrary code within the context of a privileged process.

The severity assessment is based on the effect that exploiting the vulnerability would possibly have on an affected device, assuming the platform and service mitigations are turned off for development purposes or if successfully bypassed.  We have had no reports of active customer exploitation or abuse of these newly reported issues. Refer to the Android and Google Play Protect mitigations section for details on the Android security platform protections and Google Play Protect, which improve the security of the Android platform.

Windows 10 Professional for Workstations version – Key Features

Microsoft is releasing “Windows 10 Pro for Workstations” which is designed for engineers, gamers, and other power users who use high-end workstations.

Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is a high-end edition of Windows 10 Pro, comes with unique support for server grade PC hardware and is designed to meet demanding needs of mission critical and compute intensive workloads.  The value of Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is directly aligned to increase the performance and reliability of high-end PCs, with the following features:

* ReFS (Resilient file system): ReFS provides cloud-grade resiliency for data on fault-tolerant storage spaces and manages very large volumes with ease. ReFS is designed to be resilient to data corruption, optimized for handling large data volumes, auto-correcting and more.

* Persistent memory: Windows 10 Pro for Workstations provides the most demanding apps and data with the performance they require with non-volatile memory modules (NVDIMM-N) hardware. NVDIMM-N enables you to read and write your files with the fastest speed possible, the speed of the computer’s main memory.

* Faster file sharing: Windows 10 Pro for Workstations includes a feature called SMB Direct, which supports the use of network adapters that have Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) capability. Network adapters that have RDMA can function at full speed with very low latency, while using very little CPU.

* Expanded hardware support: One of the top pain points expressed by our Windows Insiders was the limits on taking advantage of the raw power of their machine. Users will now be able to run Windows 10 Pro for Workstations on devices with high performance configurations including server grade Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron processors, with up to 4 CPUs (today limited to 2 CPUs) and add massive memory up to 6TB (today limited to 2TB).

* Performance is a very important requirement: We will continue to invest on Windows 10 Pro for Workstations to enable Windows power users to maximize every aspect of their high-performance device. Windows 10 Pro for Workstations scales up across a high number of logical processors and large amounts of memory.

Microsoft Azure Cloud – Coco Framework Block chain standard

Microsoft improves enterprise blockchain capabilities with a new OPEN standard designed to improve security and performance.

The Coco Framework — short for “confidential consortium” — is meant to work with any ledger protocol and work on any operating system and hypervisor that supports a compatible Trusted Execution Environment (TEE), or secure area of a processor. The Framework can be used on-premises and/or in various vendors’ clouds, officials said.

Microsoft has been working on advancing its own Blockchain-as-a-Service technology since November 2015. In 2016, Microsoft took the wraps off version 1 of its Project Bletchley blockchain template/middleware, which was meant to help customers and partners create private consortium Ethereum networks.

Microsoft is not tying the Coco Framework to Azure. Customers could opt to run Coco Framework nodes in their own datacenters or on other clouds. Microsoft is making Windows Virtual Secure Mode — which uses the virtualization extensions of the CPU to provide added security of data in memory — as one option for the framework’s deployment.

SQL Server 2017 – Release Candidate 1 available

SQL Server 2017 will offer improved security, performance, and even native  Linux support with this new version which is nearing official release.

Microsoft announced that the first release candidate for SQL Server 2017 is now available to the public.  After multiple preview builds over the last year, this marks the first time that the latest version of SQL Server is feature complete, and is the final preview step before the product is generally available in its commercial release. The goal of this release candidate is for the public to test out SQL Server 2017 in their environments to identify any potential issues before it is commercially released, set for later this summer.

SQL Server 2017 marks a milestone for the product, as it is the first version to offer support and integration with Linux OS. This includes support for Active Directory Authentication, which will allow the same domain credentials to be authenticated in SQL Server, whether coming from Windows or Linux. SQL on Linux will also allow for data to be encrypted with Transport Layer Security (TLS) and be transferred between the client and an instance of SQL Server. SQL Server on Linux.

Microsoft Security Updates – AUGUST 2017

Below are key resources documenting this recent monthly Microsoft Patch Tuesday release

Microsoft has released its monthly set of security advisories for vulnerabilities that have been identified and addressed in various products. This month’s advisory release addresses 48 new vulnerabilities with 25 of them rated critical, 21 rated important, and 2 rated moderate. These vulnerabilities impact Edge, Hyper-V, Internet Explorer, Remote Desktop Protocol, Sharepoint, SQL Server, the Windows Subsystem for Linux, and more. In addition, Microsoft is also releasing an update for Adobe Flash Player embedded in Edge and Internet Explorer.

Intel – Eighth Generation Coffee Lake CPU arrives August 21

The new Intel 8th generation “Coffee Lake” processors will debut later in month offering 14nm state-of-art miniaturization.  These new CPU chipsets may be up to 30% faster in performance as shared in this informative article by PC Magazine

Intel promised back in February that we’d be getting 8th generation “Coffee Lake” Core processors in the second half of 2017. The second 14nm process refinement, six core chips, and up to a 30 percent performance bump expected.  Now the chip giant confirmed they will be unveiled on August 21, alongside the Great American Solar Eclipse.

Coffee Lake actually counts as Intel’s fourth refresh of processors using a 14nm process. Broadwell was the first, replacing the 22nm Haswell chips.   We are expecting four variants of the Coffee Lake processors: Coffee Lake-U, Coffee Lake-X, Coffee Lake-S, Coffee Lake-H. There will be four and six core chips, and GT2 integrated graphics. In terms of performance, Intel claims it could be as high as a 30 percent improvement over Kaby Lake.