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Microsoft plans to replace Skype for Business with Teams

Mon, 25/09/2017 - 20:24

Microsoft’s Skype for Business will be replaced by Teams, which is slated to become the primary communications client within Office 365.

The Teams instant messaging platform – which is bundled with the company’s Office 365 productivity suite – was launched only six months ago as a rival to Slack. According to Microsoft, there are now 125,000 organizations using the software globally.

Teams is already running on Skype’s cloud-based infrastructure for video and audio calls, which Microsoft is “evolving rapidly.”

“We are excited about this new infrastructure because it will provide both speed of innovation as well as higher quality communication experiences,” the company said in an announcement pegged to its Microsoft Ignite event in Orlando, Fla.

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IDG Contributor Network: 4 reasons video conferencing still sucks and what we can do to change that

Mon, 25/09/2017 - 20:15

Recently, Microsoft guru Alex St. John posted an acute rant on video conferencing. He asks how we live in a world where we drive Teslas and VR is more than a possibility, yet video conferencing is stuck in the dark ages. What gives?

As the founder of a video conferencing startup, I wholeheartedly agree with St. John. Some of the brightest minds are creating crazy technology around us – plant-based meat, cancer detecting therapies, reusable rockets. Meanwhile, the state of video conferencing is abysmal.

Four and a half years ago, my co-founder and I decided to enter the world of video conferencing anyway.

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Microsoft releases KB 4040724 fix for bugs introduced in this month's Win10 1703 patch

Mon, 25/09/2017 - 19:42

Those of you who cringed after installing Patch Tuesday’s missive for Windows 10 Creators Update, version 1703, can breathe a small sigh of relief. Two of the known bugs in that patch — one that scrambled Edge, another that black-screened HP computers for 10 minutes at a stretch — have been fixed, almost two weeks later. Microsoft also says it fixed cellular connectivity problems.

If all of the buggy cumulative updates make you feel a bit creepy, compare and contrast the reality to last week’s announcement that Windows 10 Creators Update is the “best and most reliable” version of Windows 10.

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Win 8.1 monthly rollup leaves customers unable to use Microsoft account

Mon, 25/09/2017 - 14:46

This month’s Patch Tuesday brought some weird Windows bugs, but this one’s probably the worst.

I’m seeing reports all over the web that folks running Windows 8.1 aren’t able to log in to their computers using a Microsoft account. Microsoft’s response at this point is that they’re aware of the problem, but if you want to use your machine, you need to log on with a local account.

Woody Leonhard/IDG

That isn’t a whole lot of help for people who haven’t set up a local account or need to get to something on the machine that’s only available to the Microsoft account.

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Why Tim Cook is ‘thrilled’ Apple just made smartphones boring

Mon, 25/09/2017 - 14:38

Apple has achieved something very smart: It has positioned the iPhone X as the new smartphone equivalent of an Aston Martin, making every other smartphone on the planet (including its own) boring. That’s why iPhone 8 sales are slack. Millions already want to spend $1,000 on the “future of smartphones.”

iPhone 8 sales reports

We’ve seen worldwide reports that the traditional queues outside Apple retail stores were lackluster for iPhone 8/Plus compared to previous iPhone releases.

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This is why we can't have nice server names

Mon, 25/09/2017 - 11:00

Management gives this IT pilot fish responsibility for naming the new server that runs a real-time operating system for control software -- and fish has an idea.

"I decided to let the programmers decide what to name it," says fish.

"One programmer got his buddies together and they stuffed the ballot box with 'Mongo,' the guy in the movie Blazing Saddles who rides an ox and punches out a horse -- very strong and not very bright. So that's what we wound up calling it.

"Then every time any issues or comments about the Mongo server came up in team meetings, we had to put up with the same tired jokes and quotes from the movie: 'Mongo good,' 'Mongo like candy,' 'Mongo only pawn in game of life'..."

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Android file management: An easy-to-follow guide

Mon, 25/09/2017 - 11:00

When you think about your smartphone, apps and interfaces are probably the first things that come to mind. Beneath all that surface-level stuff, though, our modern mobile devices are filled with files — folders upon folders of 'em! — just like the clunky ol' computers we've relied upon for ages.

We may not come face to face with our phones' file systems too often, but it's valuable to know they're there — and to know how they can work for us when the need arises. After all, your Android device is a productivity powerhouse. It can juggle everything from PDFs and PSDs to presentations and podcasts. It can even act as a portable hard drive and house any sort of important files you might need in your pocket (and not just on some far-away cloud). Your mobile device can carry an awful lot of data, and there may come a time when you want to dig in and deal directly with it.

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Microsoft stumps for Windows 10 1703 to get enterprises on the right release train

Sun, 24/09/2017 - 14:26

Just weeks before it releases the next upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft is trumpeting last spring's version, claiming that the latter is "the most performant and reliable" ever.

The drum beating for Windows 10 Creators Update, aka 1703 in Microsoft's yymm format, comes less than four weeks before the slated Oct. 17 launch of its successor, titled "Fall Creators Update" and numbered 1709.

On reliability, Microsoft asserted that 1703 is much more stable than its mid-2016 predecessor, known as both "Anniversary Update" and 1607. "Our close collaboration with our ecosystem partners has resulted in a 39% total reduction in operating system and driver stability issues between the Anniversary Update and Creators Update," John Cable, director of program management in the Windows Servicing and Delivery group, contended in a post to a company blog Friday.

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Let's put to rest any doubt about Apple's ability to innovate

Sun, 24/09/2017 - 12:55

Wall Street, Wall Street. Doesn't the world have enough to worry about?

You can stop worrying about Apple. If you didn't know it before the company’s Sept. 12 hardware announcements, you should know now that Apple was not a one-man band before Steve Jobs died in 2011. It may have lost a little of Jobs’ showmanship, but Apple's powerhouse design teams are still hard at work – and doing just fine, thank you.

To wit: The Apple design team significantly boosted pixels per inch (the specification that determines whether a display is marketed as a Retina display), resolution and screen area on the iPhone X compared to the iPhone 8 Plus. At the same time, Apple made the iPhone X's overall size almost 18% smaller than the 8 Plus. You don't make that kind of technological advance in opposing directions if you're just banging one out for the bottom line.

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Let's put to rest any doubt Apple can't innovate

Sun, 24/09/2017 - 12:55

Wall Street, Wall Street. Doesn't the world have enough to worry about?

You can stop worrying about Apple. If you didn't know it before the company’s Sept. 12 hardware announcements, you should know now that Apple was not a one-man band before Steve Jobs died in 2011. It may have lost a little of Jobs’ showmanship, but Apple's powerhouse design teams are still hard at work – and doing just fine, thank you.

To wit: The Apple design team significantly boosted pixels per inch (the specification that determines whether a display is marketed as a Retina display), resolution and screen area on the iPhone X compared to the iPhone 8 Plus. At the same time, Apple made the iPhone X's overall size almost 18% smaller than the 8 Plus. You don't make that kind of technological advance in opposing directions if you're just banging one out for the bottom line.

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The latest iPhones show why A.I. is the new electricity

Sat, 23/09/2017 - 11:31

Apple has now rolled out its shiny new iPhones.

On Sept. 12, Apple executives predictably pronounced the latest phones "revolutionary." But the real revolution is happening under the surface and behind the scenes.

The new iPhones come with cutting-edge brand-new features. For example, Apple touted Face ID for faster login, Portrait Lighting to make faces brighter in photos, and Animoji, which are avatars that change facial expression when the user does.

Apple

Face ID setup.

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10+ ARKit apps you’ll want to use today

Fri, 22/09/2017 - 12:44

If you’ve upgraded to iOS 11 you may want to take time to explore some of the more interesting ARKit apps I’ve come across.

Stephanie Llamas, VP, Research and Strategy at SuperData Research says the mobile AR market will grow from $1.01b in 2017 to $18.69 by 2020, but while games account for 82 percent of revenue today, they will account for just 18 percent by 2020. I’ve not included too many games in this collection, (though I am still playing The Machines).

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Can Amazon truly become a mobile payment power?

Fri, 22/09/2017 - 12:21

In the U.S., mobile payment schemes are numerous (Walmart Pay, Target Pay) but  only a few have gained any traction (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Chase Pay, Vodafone Pay). But one longtime Wall Street financial analyst tracking retail thinks that Amazon may be positioned to disrupt mobile payments just as it has disrupted so much of retail.

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Pragmatic programming, redefined

Fri, 22/09/2017 - 11:00

Flashback a few decades to when this programmer pilot fish is on the team developing a large, complex turnkey business system running on PDP-8 minicomputers.

"I had a pair of two-year degrees from a local technical college, but two of my co-workers who were hired at the same time as I was had masters degrees in computer science," says fish.

"Needless to say, my hands-on degree program that included mainframe assembler classes prepared me for this near-bare-metal programming environment much better than the advanced, theoretical classes prepared these two co-workers."

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Google’s HTC move borrows from Apple’s playbook

Thu, 21/09/2017 - 22:59

Google's $1.1 billion acquisition of HTC's smartphone engineering arm is not a direct assault against its chief rival, Apple. But it is a recognition of Apple's successful strategy.

It is also an acknowledgement that an ecosystem dominated by hardware manufacturers and telecom providers – each with a set of priorities and plans that doesn't dovetail with Google's – results in a myriad of devices that run the gamut of quality.

With that in mind, Google's buyout of HTC's engineering IP will enable it to create a pure Android play by marrying hardware and software in a move that could eventually reduce fragmentation in the Android ecosystem.

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Where we stand with messy September Windows and .NET patches

Thu, 21/09/2017 - 18:54

This month’s Windows and .Net patches hold all sorts of nasty surprises — some acknowledged, some not, some easy to skirt, some waiting to swallow the unwary whole. Here’s a quick overview of what’s going on with this month’s missives.

Most important: If you can’t keep yourself (or your clients) from clicking “Enable Editing” in Word, you must install a broad range of .NET patches (if you’re running Windows 7 or 8.1) or cumulative updates (if you’re running Windows 10), like, NOW.

Windows 10 Creators Update version 1703

Cumulative Update KB 4038788, which brings the build number up to 15063.608, has two acknowledged (but not fixed) bugs:

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Keybase takes on Slack with new end-to-end encrypted team messaging tool

Thu, 21/09/2017 - 18:11

Keybase has unveiled a Slack-style team messaging service that promises to protect private communications with end-to-end encryption.

The company launched in 2015 with the aim of making encryption technology more accessible to consumers. Its latest service, Keybase Teams, has a look similar to Slack with features such as chat rooms and channels. Admins can add set up groups of users to work on a particular project, and encrypted files can be uploaded and shared.

An early release version of the software is now available for download for desktops and mobile devices. 

The key advantage, Keybase said, involves enhanced security and privacy.

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53% off Cable Organizer Electronics Accessories Travel Bag - Deal Alert

Thu, 21/09/2017 - 14:57

Do you have a ball of tangled up wires and adapters somewhere in the bottom of your bag? This Universal Electronics Accessories Travel Organizer provides a flexible organization solution for your electronics and computer accessories. It helps make you better organized with all the small items and gadgets.  Made of durable and weather-resistant nylon with well padded semi-flexible covers.  It's compact size of  8.8“ x W 6.1"allows it to easily stored in you laptop bag or backpack.  This travel organizers typical list price of $18.99 has been reduced 53% to just $9. See this deal on Amazon.

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62% off RAVPower 14000mAh Portable Car Jump Starter - Deal Alert

Thu, 21/09/2017 - 14:53

A compact power bank, a car jump starter, and a LED flashlight, all fit into a minimal and portable design. Whether it is your car or your USB devices, never run out of power again. Store it in the glovebox or simply drop it in your bag. Have a concentrated 14000mAh source of power always with you -- enough for up to 20 vehicle jumpstarts or many device recharges before the unit itself needs to be recharged. RAVPower's jump starter typically lists for $160 but is currently discounted 62% on Amazon to just $64. See the discounted car jumper now on Amazon

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Personalized iPhone healthcare for the rest of us? Doctella has an app for that

Thu, 21/09/2017 - 13:59

Apple’s health-related solutions open the door to a new era of connected and personalized digital health, but the cost of app development means individualized patient solutions were a pipe dream — until now.

I spoke with Doctella's co-founder and CEO, Amer Haider, to learn how he hopes to unlock this opportunity.

Digital health: making it personal

Apple continues to invest deeply in digital health.

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