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The future of 3D holograms comes into focus

Sat, 20/01/2018 - 10:00

Smartphone-based augmented reality (AR) and the AR headset explosion will bring 3D holograms into our lives everywhere. Meanwhile, though, the real AR hologram revolution is being ignored.

A hologram is a 3D virtual object that isn’t actually “there,” but looks as if it were, either floating in the air or standing on a nearby desk or table.

The “holo” in Microsoft’s HoloLens headset is a reference to holograms. And when we think of these future AR holograms, we think of headsets, goggles such as HoloLens or smartphones running applications created with Apple’s ARKit or Google’s ARCore.

The technology is increasingly becoming ubiquitous, and companies are racing to win market domination. A competitor to the HoloLens, the “Lightware” headset from secretive Magic Leap, has been in the news lately, after six years of development at a cost of $2 billion, for two reasons.

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Chat happens: Your guide to 8 group-chat services

Fri, 19/01/2018 - 19:28

Everyone knows the secret to success — personal and business alike — is good communication. But in what form? If you're trying to communicate with a group in real time, you're no doubt familiar with the old standby: conference calls. You know: those mind-numbing phone meetings in which talkers overlap, voice quality is terrible, half the people aren't paying attention and somebody's dog barks intermittently throughout the call.

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(Insider Story)

Patching meltdown: Windows fixes, sloppy .NET, warnings about Word and Outlook

Fri, 19/01/2018 - 17:28

On the heels of the Jan. 17 release of 14 Windows and .NET patches, we now have a huge crop of new patches, revised older patches, warnings about bugs, and a bewildered ecosystem of Microsoft customers who can’t figure out what in the blue blazes is going on.

Let’s step through the, uh, offerings on Jan. 18.

Windows 10 patches

Win10 Fall Creators Update version 1709 — Cumulative update KB 4073291 brings the Meltdown/Spectre patches to 32-bit machines. What, you thought 32-bit machines already had Meltdown/Spectre patches? Silly mortal. Microsoft’s Security Advisory ADV180002 has the dirty details in the fine print, point 7:

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IDG Contributor Network: Marketers should enter auto infotainment quickly and carefully

Fri, 19/01/2018 - 15:00

At CES 2018, cutting-edge marketers are starting to see the automobile infotainment system as their newest playground. How they can use wireless technology to deliver advertising messages to a captive audience. However, I want to warn that this new revolution is a double-edged sword. Companies must enter this space, but if they don’t do so correctly, they will hurt themselves.

In-car infotainment systems are an exciting new rapidly growing area. However, advertising, marketing and brand building messages must be carefully thought through and delivered. You must start carefully. It must not be intrusive. Remember, this has traditionally been a private space for the user and many of them will push-back if not done correctly.

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Facebook standardizes Workplace pricing, boosts cost for larger deployments

Fri, 19/01/2018 - 14:01

Facebook has changed the pricing for its Workplace enterprise social network, a move that will result in price increases for some new customers.

Workplace was officially launched at the end of 2016, following a lengthy, 18-month beta trial with large enterprises such as Royal Bank of Scotland. The platform is now used by more than 30,000 organizations worldwide and has recently won over some large customers, including Walmart and Virgin Atlantic, where it is accessed by 7,000 staff.

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15 Alexa skills for business success

Fri, 19/01/2018 - 12:25
15 Alexa skills for the enterprise

Image by IDG,

Already at work in millions of homes, Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant is now ready to play a role in the enterprise.

While Amazon expects the move will lead to the creation of new Alexa ‘skills’ or voice commands specifically for businesses, there are already plenty that can help you with your work, whether you’re a developer, an admin, or just looking for some help with business analytics or your to-do list.

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Apple still wants to teach the world to code (with Swift)

Fri, 19/01/2018 - 12:15

Apple continues to drive forward in its attempt to teach people how to develop with Swift with a massive European expansion of its Everyone Can Code scheme.

Tomorrow’s world

Apple has been putting a huge amount of effort into evangelizing its open source Swift development language.

It has announced a range of initiatives with which to achieve this, ranging from child-focused coding lessons in stores to provision of a wide swathe of educational and other learning materials.

Downloaded over 1.4 million times, Swift Playground remains an easy and accessible way to learn some of the principles of coding with Swift.

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Fri, 19/01/2018 - 11:00

This IT shop has a programmer who's very good at C and C++, but he's got some nasty personality quirks, says an IT contractor pilot fish working there.

"If he didn't like somebody -- which was pretty much all of us -- Fred would walk past that person's cubicle and say something nasty out loud to himself, just within earshot," fish says.

"He'd insult people based on the music they happened to be playing, or he'd make an unkind remark about their appearance."

But the department has a larger problem: a big project with an artificial and aggressive deadline. The IT director wants everyone to work as many hours as they're willing to, so fish and his fellow contractor Barney come in at 6:30 a.m., spend a few minutes chatting and discussing what they'll work on that day, then get to work for another 12-hour shift.

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How AR and VR will change enterprise mobility

Fri, 19/01/2018 - 11:00

Two of the hottest technologies today — augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) — are likely to have a big impact on enterprise mobility strategies, according to industry experts. Not for a couple of years, it’s true. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared to deal with them as part of your enterprise mobility management (EMM). The funny thing about our ever-accelerating technology advances is that things that were only emerging one day are suddenly everyday business tools the next — and you have to manage them.

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(Insider Story)

Mozilla mandates that new Firefox features rely on encrypted connections

Thu, 18/01/2018 - 18:37

Mozilla this week decreed that future web-facing features of Firefox must meet an under-development standard that requires all browser-to-server-and-back traffic be encrypted.

"Effective immediately, all new features that are web-exposed are to be restricted to secure contexts," wrote Mozilla engineer Anne van Kesteren in a post to a company blog. "A feature can be anything from an extension of an existing IDL-defined object, a new CSS property, a new HTTP response header, to bigger features such as WebVR."

[ More info: 14 must-have Firefox add-ons of 2017 ]

Secure contexts, dubbed a "minimum security level," is a pending standard of the W3 (World Wide Web Consortium), the primary standards body for the web. Secure contexts' main purpose, according to its documentation: "Application code with access to sensitive or private data be delivered confidentially over authenticated channels that guarantee data integrity."

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5 Google launches from 2017 that still haven't landed

Thu, 18/01/2018 - 17:08

I don't know if you've noticed, but Google announces an awful lot of stuff.

Between its annual I/O convention, its fall hardware event, and the beefy stew of blogs posted in between, the big G always seems to have some big new feature, product, or service up its sleeve — so many, in fact, that it's easy to lose track and forget about a few things along the way.

That's precisely what I discovered when I slogged back through the past year's worth of Google revelations. Amidst all the now-familiar fare was a small handful of leftover items — little this-and-thats mentioned as part of broader announcements and then never brought up again. They're things we heard about, talked about, then largely forgot about.

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More Windows patches, primarily previews, point to escalating problems this month

Thu, 18/01/2018 - 14:39

Never give a sucker an even break. Yesterday, on a very out-of-band Wednesday, Microsoft released preview patches for Windows 8.1 (but not 7!), Server 2012, and Windows 10 1709 (for bricked AMD machines only), with preview cumulative updates for Win10 1703 and 1607. There are also nine different .NET preview patches.

What should you do? Nothing. More accurately, make sure you DON’T install any of them. Fortunately, all of these patches require that you download and install them — and you’d have to be crazy (or an admin trying to shore up some critical servers) to dive into the cesspool.

It’s the same advice I’ve been giving all month. There’s nothing here that you need right now — there are no known exploits for Meltdown or Spectre in the wild, in particular — and machines are dropping like flies.

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iPhone addiction? You ain't seen nothing yet ...

Thu, 18/01/2018 - 13:01

iPhones and other smartphones truly are addictive, and we’re spending more time staring at them than ever. Meanwhile, Q4 smartphone sales utterly eclipsed PC sales. But where is this going?

Heavy haulage

Summarizing current analysis:

  • PC sales have fallen from their 2011 365 million per year peak to 263 million in 2017.
  • Smartphone sales have grown from a figure hovering around nothing in 2007 to 1.5 billion last year.
  • China is the biggest smartphone market, followed by India and then the U.S.

“Soon consumer PCs will be extinct (only used by pro and semi-pro users),” claims mobile industry analyst Tomi Ahonen.

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Throwback Thursday: What are the odds?

Thu, 18/01/2018 - 11:00

Internet filter is installed at this site, and in the beginning, there are complaints from users who can't get to their favorite non-business sites, says an IT pilot fish working there.

But after six months and lots of explanations to users, the complaints have stopped. "Then one Saturday evening, a user called me," fish says.

"He called to report that something must be wrong, because he could get to his lottery numbers tonight.

"I told him thanks, and that I would inform the individual in charge of the filter on Monday morning, as it wasn't stopping anything production-critical during the weekend hours.

"I still can't decide which is funnier: the fact that apparently every day for nearly six months this user tried to get to his lottery numbers even though the page should have never loaded again -- or that, when he actually was able to, he reported it as a problem."

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Blockchain will be the killer app for supply chain management in 2018

Thu, 18/01/2018 - 10:57

This year, blockchain testing programs will evolve from pilot tests to real-world platforms, and supply chain management is among the industries the distributed ledger technology is set to disrupt.

On Tuesday, Maersk and IBM announced a joint venture to deploy a blockchain-based electronic shipping system that will digitize supply chains and track international cargo in real time.

The new platform could save the global shipping industry billions of dollars a year by replacing the current EDI- and paper-based system, which can leave containers in receiving yards for weeks.

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Office 365: Enterprise usage doesn't translate into enterprise value

Wed, 17/01/2018 - 19:47

Although enterprise subscribers to Office 365 typically use a large number of the in-the-cloud-and-on-premises suite's components, only two – email and the Office applications – provide significant value, a recently-released survey showed.

The disconnect between usage and value was portrayed by research firm Gartner, which in mid-2017 polled more than 160 IT professionals to collect opinions on Office 365 in the enterprise.

"There's a baseline of value to switching to the cloud, especially if things were expensive to manage [on premises]," said Craig Roth, a Gartner research vice president and the author of a report capitalizing on the survey. "But the real value comes when you start changing your work processes to take advantage [of Office 365] to its full extent."

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Slack trials private shared channels, adds admin controls

Wed, 17/01/2018 - 18:01

Slack has talked of its high expectations for group chat channels, which it argues will replace email as the primary means of workplace communication by 2025.

While channels are becoming a popular method for internal communication, Slack also wants to push them as way to interact with external companies – and stakeholders, too.

With that in mind, the team messaging company has expanded its shared channel feature – unveiled as a beta trial at its first conference in September last year – to enable private conversations between workers at separate organizations.  A third of its paying users have now signed up for the beta, Slack said.

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LG's super-fantastic, industry-shifting idea*

Wed, 17/01/2018 - 17:37

I never thought I'd say this, but LG might be onto something.

The company that I've long criticized for having compelling pieces but no cohesive vision has come out with a radical declaration: It's no longer gonna play by the rules and release new phones at a regular clip just because that's what everyone else is doing.

The word, as reported by The Korea Herald, came out of a CES press conference last week. The paper quotes a company exec as saying LG will "unveil new smartphones when it is needed" and won't launch them on a firm yearly schedule "just because other rivals do." Instead, the quote says, the company will "retain existing models longer" and offer more "variant models."

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How Apple Developer Enterprise license works

Wed, 17/01/2018 - 16:09

Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program lets enterprises develop and distribute proprietary iOS apps across the company outside of the App Store, using a private portal or URL.

What is Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program?

Apple’s growing enterprise position may not have engaged hearts and minds across the entire company – yet – but it is clearly a booming business for the company.

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What goes around...

Wed, 17/01/2018 - 11:00

It's the 1980s, and this pilot fish is taking a Cobol class where the professor's anger about her messy divorce is spilling into her classroom.

"One day I was having a seriously bad day, as my mother had passed away during spring break," says fish. "When I went to her office to ask a question, she demanded to know why I missed the point during class.

"I replied I was having issues due to my mother’s death. She retorted that the man across the street from her had died, yet somehow she gathered the strength to get to work. I was so taken aback by the bizarre comment I left."

A week later, fish is on his way to the Cobol class when the professor gets on the elevator with him and ignores his cheerful "Good morning, professor!" greeting.

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