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August, 2017:

Digital Assistants – Microsoft Cortana to work in future with Google Alexa by 2018

Microsoft Cortana will interoperate with Google Alexa’s voice activated devices  by the start of 2018, as shared in following article:

SEATTLE — The crowded pack of voice-controlled digital assistants — Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana — are good at numerous things. They can help people play music, set up calendar appointments and check the weather.

For the past year, the two companies have been coordinating behind the scenes to make Alexa and Cortana communicate with each other. The partnership, which the companies plan to announce early Wednesday, will allow people to summon Cortana using Alexa, and vice versa, by the end of the year.

It is unusual for big tech companies to cooperate on important new technologies that they want to stand out from the competition. Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Google and nearly every other big tech company is pouring huge amounts of money into making digital assistants that are smarter and can do more, seeing them as a new way for people to interact naturally with devices and online services.

The Amazon-Microsoft partnership started in May 2016, when Mr. Bezos raised the idea with Mr. Nadella at Microsoft’s CEO Summit, an annual event for business leaders in the Seattle area. Mr. Nadella was receptive to the idea, so a short while later Mr. Bezos emailed a draft of a brief news release that described how their assistants would work together, both men said.

In a phone interview, Mr. Nadella compared digital assistants like Cortana and Alexa to competing web browsers that provide access to the same pools of online information. “The personality and expertise of each one will be such that if they interoperated, the user will get more out of it,” he said. “That resonated for me and for him, and then that’s what led to the teams working.”

YouTube – Further modernizes website and logo AUG-2017

YouTube released a new version of their website as documented below in Verge article:

For the last 12 years, YouTube’s logo has been a pair of anachronisms wrapped inside each other. Tube is slang for a television set, which used to be powered by vacuum tubes. But neither tubes nor TVs are central to the world’s biggest video service, which now reaches over 1.5 billion people each month, streaming to almost any screen with an internet connection.

And so today the brand is getting its biggest aesthetic makeover ever. The YouTube logo is being refreshed, shifting the emphasis away from the word “Tube” and onto the familiar play button which has already become an iconic shorthand for the company. The service is also getting a new typeface, color scheme, and a bunch of major changes to the look, feel, and functionality of its desktop and mobile app.

Hurricane Harvey – Donate safely to avoid fraudulent scams

As I have friends in Houston area, I am remembering those who are affected by this major storm. During major disasters, fake web sites emerge which can be used to gleam or compromise credit cards and personal identity.  Also, some legitimate sites may contribute to storm victims but retain a high level of portion of donations for “operating costs”. 

Two of the most trusted organizations are the Red Cross and Salvation Army in my own experiences.  They are mainstream and they channel almost all of the money for direct relief.  Other websites may also be legitimate in raising funds as well. The key is to be cautious with all online transactions, as we come to aid of those in need.  

How to Donate to Hurricane Harvey Victims

No matter what state you live in, you can’t help but be moved by the harrowing images out of Texas, where residents are grappling with the effects of Hurricane Harvey. It’s a life-altering, community-erasing event, but the good news is, we can still help even if we’re thousands of miles away from the Gulf Coast.

Listed below are some ways to donate to larger reputable organizations. There are of course many worthy local and national organizations worthy of support—far too many to list here. But that being said, tragedy can also bring out the scammers. The New York Times recommends checking with Charity Navigator’s list of reputable Harvey-related charities or the FTC’s tips for avoiding fraudsters.

CHECKLIST OF CONSUMER SAFETY TIPS – for donating to charities

Windows Server 1709 – New version uses WIN10 naming conventions

During the Fall 2017, Microsoft is releasing Windows Server 1709.  This new 2017 version is designed to improve cloud & traditionally hosted applications. This new version will use WIN10 naming conventions official release.

Microsoft is planning to release Windows Server version 1709 next month during the software giant’s annual Ignite IT conference. This year, Microsoft Ignite will run from Sept. 25 to 29 in Orlando, Fla. Last year, the company used the event to launch Windows Server 2016.

In an Aug. 24 announcement from Jeff Woolsey, principal program manager of Windows Server at Microsoft, the executive explained why the next version of the server operating system is following in the footsteps of its desktop counterpart when it comes to version numbers.

“To make the Windows Server versions easy to identify, we are taking a cue from the Windows team and refer to this release by the year and the month. In this case, 1709 refers to the year 2017, and the ninth month, September,” stated Woolsey. “Very straightforward.”

“If you have a legacy application that you rarely touch running in a VM, then maybe the LTSC release makes sense,” he noted. “If you have a new, cloud application that your dev team is building using containers and they want the latest and greatest container features in Nano Server/Server Core, then likely the Semi-Annual Channel is the right choice.” Nano Server and Server Core are slimmed-down versions of operating system for virtualized and container environments.

Windows 10 – Fall Creators preview build 16275 stability release

Late this week, Microsoft released WIN10 Fall Creators preview build 16275 designed to tune stability with 7 bug fixes in preparation for the Fall 2017 official release.

Two days after the last build, Microsoft today released a new Windows 10 preview for PCs with only bug fixes and improvements. The company is now finalizing the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, which is expected to arrive next month.

Windows 10 is a service, meaning it was built in a very different way from its predecessors so it can be regularly updated with not just fixes, but new features, too. Microsoft has released many such updates, including three major ones: November Update, Anniversary Update, and Creators Update.

Today’s update bumps the Windows 10 build number for PCs from 16273 (made available to testers on August 23) to build 16275. Microsoft this week stopped tracking and listing known issues, so install at your own risk.  Microsoft is now focusing on stability, so don’t expect new features in this build.   This desktop build also includes the following general 7 bug fixes and improvements

Mobile Phones – Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review AUG-2017

This slide presentation share review of the new Samsung Galaxy Note 8 — which is one of most advanced mobile phones at this point.  Six major advantages are noted, along with a few concerns such as price & battery size

The Galaxy Note 8 is more than just a do-over for the recalled Note 7. It’s a leap forward for big-screen phones, offering a number of firsts for Samsung and a world’s first for any camera phone. Add in a number of S Pen improvements and other enhancements and you have what could be the ultimate phablet for power users. But there are a couple of reasons to think twice, too.

The Galaxy Note 8 packs two rear 12-megapixel cameras, giving you a true 2x optical zoom, just like the iPhone 7 Plus. But unlike the current iPhone, both lenses on the Note 8 offer optical- image stabilization, which means you should see steadier-looking images and video. This is a first for any smartphone.

Samsung made the gorgeous Infinity Display on the Galaxy S8 even bigger, stretching it to 6.3 inches on the Note 8. You still get quad-HD resolution and Super AMOLED for eye-popping colors and perfect blacks, but Samsung made the curve on the edge-to-edge screen less severe, which makes for a more natural writing experience with the S Pen

Although the Galaxy Note 8 has the same Snapdragon 835 chip as the Galaxy S8, Samsung added 2GB more of RAM to bring its total to 6GB.

With the optional DeX Station, you can transform the Galaxy Note 8 into a mini PC and run multiple apps at once with a much bigger view on a HD monitor. The DeX supports a keyboard and mouse, too. There are several apps optimized for this dock, including Zoom. You can start a video call on the Note 8, plug it in, and keep chatting away. You can even do screen sharing.

Windows 10 – O/S upgrade improvements noted for future

The pre-loading of the WIN10 operating system on some WIN7 and WIN8 users required extensive disk space and performed in a silent mode. While this was transparent on newer machines, it sometimes impacted WIN7 users who desired stay on the older O/S.  Originally, this made it easy for user to move to WIN10 expediently. It worked well for those on modern equipment & for those with unlimited bandwidth. Future Windows upgrades will require user consent and will not pre-load — even during promotional campaigns.

Microsoft’s German subsidiary has promised never again to forcibly download the installation files for new operating systems onto PCs, following a lawsuit from a consumer-protection authority.  Between mid-2015 and mid-2016, as it was giving people a free upgrade to Windows 10, that’s precisely what Microsoft did, dumping 6GB of data onto people’s hard drives without giving them an easy way to opt out.

Thanks to Microsoft’s pledge, the watchdog said, the company is “obliged to avoid placing installation data for new operating systems on Windows users’ hard drives without their permission”.  Microsoft has of course long since stopped pushing out the free Windows 10 update, and now charges for it. Nowadays, the company is using a new delivery system for its software, called the Unified Update Platform (UUP). This system allows for more lightweight releases, by only pushing out bits that have been added since the last update.

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.