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April, 2018:

Windows 10 – Bi-annual Feature upgrades use new naming conventions

Rather than using SPRING or FALL ‘seasonal’ naming conventions for WIN10 upgrades, “Windows 10 April 2018 Update” will reflect the new official name of WIN10 v1803. The previous update approach may have even been confusing to some users in southern hemisphere, where seasonal patterns are opposite.  A month/year approach will share the approximate timing of when release is finalized & available for distribution  

https://www.computerworld.com/article/3269292/microsoft-windows/why-microsoft-gave-windows-10-version-1803-a-different-name.html

Microsoft will start distributing the next Windows 10 feature upgrade, “Windows 10 April 2018 Update” today – a few weeks later then it had been expected to arrive.

The release date barely squeaked under the wire Microsoft set for itself with its labeling of the upgrade, although the company has never expressed concern when actual release dates have conflicted with each update’s alternate – and numeric – title, the one formatted as yymm. That conflict continued with the April 2018 upgrade. Its 1803 moniker envisioned a March, not a last-day-of-April, debut.

Microsoft fell back on the in-place date naming – From the first year of Windows 10, Microsoft has used yymm as another, and shorter, name for each feature upgrade, including 1507 (the original), 1511 (the first upgrade of November 2015), 1607, 1703 and 1709 (released in October 2017).

Microsoft at least makes it easier to remember when an upgrade debuted. And that’s important, since each upgrade is supported for a limited time: 18 months for Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro, 24 months for Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education.  However, Microsoft may have just confused matters with the month,year. Unless the former 1803 designation is changed (to 1804), the two do not match. Which is the one used for starting the support count?

Leadership – 7 techniques to handle personnel issues in 2018

The John Maxwell leadership training center shares 7 ways to handle personnel issues in 2018, as shared in following article:

http://johnmaxwellcompany.com/blog/how-to-have-difficult-conversations

As long as people are involved in the workplace, conflict is unavoidable. Here are 7 tips to help you preserve that energy as a leader and have those difficult conversations at work:

1. Do It ASAP. Whenever conflict arises, everyone is tempted to avoid it, procrastinate dealing with it, or ask someone else to resolve it for us. But the truth is that anytime you let a problem go, it only gets worse.

2. Know Your Why. Why do you feel the need to have the difficult conversation? Is it because you feel uncomfortable or because addressing the situation is best for the team? Keep the team interests first, the person’s interests second, and your own comfort level last.

3. Recognize the High Cost of Not Confronting. Nothing kills productivity in the workplace like a leader who is unwilling to have the difficult conversations—when everyone on the team knows it needs to happen.

4. Leave “Your Place” and Visit “Their Place.” Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Listen to his or her concerns. Study what they do every day. Or visit their physical space, where they spend time each day to get a sense of the challenges they face that you may not realize.

5. Check Your Attitude First. You can be right and still lose, if you enter tough conversations with a tough exterior. How you go about confrontations can be just as important as why. Start by assessing your own motives and attitude before you start confronting the motives and attitudes of others.

6. Listen — You May Learn Something. Often leaders enter challenging conversations based on faulty information or they just don’t know what they thought they knew. Before starting a difficult conversation, get clear on the facts then be open to hearing a different side of things from the other side of the conversation.

7. Acknowledge Other Valid Viewpoints. Even if you disagree on some things, acknowledge the perspectives of others and affirm their input wherever possible. Otherwise you risk being dismissed as attacking the person rather than caring for the team. Affirming their perspectives in some areas doesn’t weaken your own position. In fact, it may strengthen it.

Leadership – 5 ways to improve Strategic Thinking in 2018

The John Maxwell leadership training center shares 5 ways to improve Strategic Thinking in 2018, as shared in following article:

http://johnmaxwellcompany.com/blog/5-steps-to-improve-strategic-thinking

1. Make reflection part of the daily schedule — A leader’s day can easily become packed with meetings, emails, and phone calls, leaving little time to meditate on deeper questions about pressing issues. In this hectic environment, what look like no-brainer decisions may actually be knee-jerk reactions.

2. Break down the issues — Leaders who want to dream big—and achieve those dreams—must learn to think smaller. Everything needs to be broken down into more manageable pieces.

3. Ask why before asking how — Jumping directly into problem-solving mode can actually hurt a leader’s chances of devising lasting solutions with strategic thinking.

4. Create connections between ideas, plans, and people — The best strategic thinking leaders see everything as connected, a web of ideas and people offering the promise of potential and the possibility of synergy at every turn.

5. Be willing to make choices — it takes courage to close one door (for which you may be blamed) and open another door (for which you could get credit) rather than simply maintaining the status quo.

 

Reflective thinking requires intentional action and delivers at least 5 key benefits:

1. It Gives True Perspective. When leaders reflect, they’re able to put an experience into perspective.
2. It Gives Emotional Integrity in Your Thought Life. When leaders reflect, they distance themselves from the intense emotions of experiences and see them with fresh eyes.
3. It Increases Your Confidence in Decision-making. When leaders reflect, they diffuse doubt and strengthen intuition over time.
4. It Clarifies the Big Picture. When leaders reflect, they can put events into context and better learn about the future.
5. It Makes Good Experiences Valuable Experiences. When leaders reflect, they turn experiences into insight.

Microsoft – SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 2 available

Microsoft has announced the availability of SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 2 as shared in following

https://redmondmag.com/articles/2018/04/25/sql-server-2016-sp2.aspx

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/dataplatforminsider/2018/04/24/sql-server-2016-service-pack-2-is-now-available/

Microsoft announced the availability of SQL Server 2016 Service Pack 2 (SP2) on Tuesday.  The SP2 release is currently available through the Microsoft Download Center. The publish date is shown as April 9, so possibly it was available earlier than Tuesday.  The release is packed with performance improvements, as well as diagnostic additions, and it includes all of the latest updates through SQL Server 2016 SP1 Cumulative Update 8. Microsoft had released SP1 back in late 2016.

Windows 10 – version 1803 release to begin on APRIL 30th

The April 2018 creators update is set to begin on APRIL 30th and this link also provides additional information on Timeline and many other new features in this new release

Make the most of your time with the new Windows 10 update

With Windows 10, we’ve focused on delivering the most modern and most secure operating system. Since its initial launch, we delivered two updates with features designed to enable the creator in each of us. With our latest major release – the Windows 10 April 2018 Update – we want to give you back some of your greatest currency, your time. Our hope is that you’ll have more time to do what matters most to you –  create, play, work or simply do what you love.

The April 2018 Update will be available as a free download beginning Monday, April 30.

Leadership – Managing Virtual Teams Successfully

The IIL is a leading educational source for those in field of Project Management, and the following article describes success factors in “Managing Virtual Teams Successfully“.  As many technical and business support professionals work at home or even in other nations, the concept of virtual team management is growing in importance.

Managing Virtual Teams Successfully

Virtual teams are becoming more of the norm for organizations as they strive to acquire the best talent from anywhere in the world, minimize overhead everywhere on the earth and stretch their global presence on a worldwide basis.

Building High-Performance Teams necessitates that we utilize innovative tools and techniques to engage the audience. A study from MIT Sloan found “dispersed teams can actually outperform groups that are co-located teams, provided the right type of collaboration is in place.

As virtual teams move through the typical stages of team development (i.e., Tuckman model of forming-storming-norming-performing), they can benefit from a Simple Interactive Meaningful Practical Learning Exercise (SMILE).

Two outcomes should be considered in the following examples:

1. Quantitative Perspective    

    *** Decreasing employee turnover
    *** Reducing job-related and personal stress
    *** Increasing job satisfaction
    *** Enhancing team relationships
    *** Sustaining motivation through more productive hours

2.  Qualitative Perspective    

    *** Improving problem-solving skills
    *** Inspiring creative thinking skills
    *** Encouraging critical thinking capabilities
    *** Strengthening interpersonal skills
    *** Minimizing negative team conflict

Windows 10 – New 1803 version 5 best features

Microsoft announced Windows 10 April 2018 Update, is being released today and below are a summary of 5 key features

Microsoft’s Windows 10 April 2018 Update is out now – here are the 5 best hidden features

Microsoft announced this past Friday that its hotly anticipated new update, now known simply as the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, would be released on Monday. Today, the company delivered on that promise. The Windows 10 April 2018 Update comes a bit later than expected considering today is the last day of the month, but it’ll be no less appreciated by Windows 10 users who gain access to a number of important new features.

We’ve already told you about all of the best new features in the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, and you should go back and read that post if you plan to install the Windows 10 April 2018 Update today. Once you’ve gone over all the biggest new additions to Windows 10 though, take a look

1. Improved 4K and Hi-RES support — Remember when 1080p resolution was a big deal? Well those days are long gone and it seems like even lower-cost Windows laptops and mid-range PC monitors support higher resolutions. Heck, you can get a really good 27-inch 4K monitor on Amazon these days for just over $200!  Advanced scaling settings now allow “Let Windows try to fix apps so they’re not blurry”

2. Faster new full version updates — Last year’s Creators Update left PCs offline for a whopping 82 minutes, and the subsequent Fall Creators Update left you twiddling your thumbs for 51 minutes. Impressively, the Windows 10 April 2018 Update will only leave you offline for about 30 minutes.

3. Cortana is more helpful — people who use Windows 10 to its fullest know how helpful the Cortana assistant can be, and a few nifty tweaks in the Windows 10 April 2018 Update make it even better. Our favorite Cortana tweak is the new “Organizer” tab on Cortana’s Notebook page.

4. Improved control over security updates — improved control over Windows 10 security update scheduling, especially when working on critical needs

5. Privacy improvements – the Windows 10 April 2018 Update includes privacy improvements that will be much appreciated by users who value their personal data.

Microsoft Security – Spectre V2 update for WIN10 and Server 2016

Microsoft Security a new security update for Spectre version 2, for Windows 10 and Server 2016 environments

https://isc.sans.edu/forums/diary/Microsoft+Security+Update+for+Spectre+V2/23601/

https://support.microsoft.com/en-sg/help/4078407/update-to-enable-mitigation-against-spectre-variant-2

Microsoft has released a security update for the Spectre v2 (branch target injection) vulnerability. Unlike KB4091666, published earlier in the week, which updated the Intel microcode to mitigate Spectre V2 at the chip level, KB4078407 is a software based fix for Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016  the two updates together should fully mitigate against Spectre V2.  KB4079407 is a re-issue of the aborted fixes released in early January which caused issues on some systems.

Affected Products:
– Windows 10 version 1709
– Windows Server 2016 Version 1709
– Windows 10 Version 1703
– Windows 10 Version 1607
– Windows Server 2016
– Windows Server 2016 Datacenter
– Windows Server 2016 Essentials
– Windows Server 2016 Standard
– Windows 10 with Intel CPU

Malware – 20th anniversary of CIH virus on APR 26th 1998

This was one of most destructive attacks of its time, as disabled PCs for unprotected users.  While we did an excellent job in prior company of stopping viruses and had protection in place for around 90% of users.  However, there were still a few unprotected PCs in our large company.  I do recall 3 systems where BIOS was destroyed & hard drive no longer worked — booting up to PC Basic back in WIN95 and WIN98 days.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIH_(computer_virus)

20 years ago today! What we can learn from the CIH virus…

CIH, also known as Chernobyl or Spacefiller, is a Microsoft Windows 9x computer virus which first emerged in 1998. Its payload is highly destructive to vulnerable systems, overwriting critical information on infected system drives, and in some cases destroying the system BIOS.

Amazon Alexa – Echo Dot Kids Edition in May 2018

Parental controls are important for families & Amazon has designed the Echo Dot Kids Edition to better ensure appropriate content as PC Magazines describes in detailed review. Still even this safer form of technology requires parental supervision & monitoring as a best practice.

https://www.pcmag.com/news/360646/amazon-made-a-kid-friendly-echo-dot

Amazon wants everyone using Alexa, including kids. With that in mind, you can now pre-order an Echo Dot Kids Edition, which ships with a kid-friendly version of Alexa and free access to a range of content for an entire year.  The Echo Dot Kids Edition launches on May 9, but is available for pre-orer now for $79.99 in blue, green, or red. Amazon claims this version of the Dot includes up to $109 of savings when compared to the standard Echo Dot($49.99 at Amazon) since it provides free access to Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited service for one year.

FreeTime Unlimited usually costs a minimum of $2.99 per month and unlocks access to thousands of kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games. For the Echo Dot Kids Edition, Amazon is making ad-free radio stations, over 300 Audible books, premium kids skills from the likes of Disney and Nickelodeon, and special character alarms free for the first year.

As far as Amazon is concerned, this is just the start of what the Echo Dot Kids Edition will offer, so expect the feature set to grow in the coming months. As is always the case with products like this, the features are generous because Amazon wants kids to grow up and continue to pick Alexa gadgets to be their digital assistants.