10 of the latest Microsoft Teams integrations to help you work smarter, not harder – Microsoft 365 Blog

We built Microsoft Teams as a platform to bring together all of your workplace tools, apps, and services—whether or not we built them—to allow you to deliver better workday flow for you and your employees. A lot of you recognize the power of Teams, and you’ve been asking how to use Teams to its full advantage. Look no further. Today, we’re sharing ten of the latest Teams integrations you can use every day to simplify workflows, refocus your attention, and get back to working smarter—not harder. This is something our CEO, Satya Nadella, recently addressed in his interview on the future of communication at work with the Wall Street Journal.

Ten of the latest integrations to try in Teams

These ten integrations bring everything from customer feedback and employee polls, to workflow and project management, into Teams, to make your apps work for you.

  1. Funnel customer feedback straight into Teams: Twitter
    As one of the largest social media platforms around, Twitter mostly needs no introduction. However, did you know it’s a great way to gather customer feedback? By integrating Twitter into Teams, you can set up alerts relevant to your company. So, when a customer tweets at your handle or uses your hashtag, it flows directly into Teams, where you can share or respond without stopping your workflow.
  2. Transform the way you work: ServiceNow
    ServiceNow delivers digital workflows that create great experiences and unlock productivity. The cloud-based Now Platform transforms old, manual ways of working into modern digital workflows, so employees and customers get what they need when they need it. Read more about the ServiceNow integration for Virtual Agent, a chatbot that helps build conversational workflows to resolve common ServiceNow actions, as well as IntegrationHub, which lets anyone break down development backlog with codeless workflows in an easy-to-use interface.
  3. Get organized with your very own automated administrative assistant: Zoom.ai
    Zoom.ai lives inside your chat, email inbox, and calendar to help you offload and automate tasks. You interact with it by typing commands in a chat window, where it can schedule Teams meetings for you, brief you on your day, send and receive reminders, and create documents when you need them. It works for you, where you work. Watch the Zoom.ai video to learn more.
  4. Organize any of life’s projects: Trello
    Trello is a project management software whose boards, lists, and cards enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a flexible way. By integrating in Teams, you can see your Trello assignments, tasks, and notifications and have conversations about them—without leaving Teams. A fun way to bring together project management and project collaboration. Watch the Trello video to learn more.
  5. Run polls in tandem with your conversations: Polly
    Polly is a survey app that lets you create surveys in Teams. You can quickly create polls in your Teams channels and view results in real-time. You have the option to create multiple choice polls, freeform polls, or a mixture of both. Turn on comments and you’ve got yourself a full discussion board. Get the answers you need without disrupting workflows or clogging inboxes. Visit Polly for Microsoft Teams to learn more.
  6. Celebrate your organization’s culture and values: Disco
    Disco is a solution that rallies your entire company around your core values. It makes it easy to give public shout-outs and congratulate your colleagues in real-time. So, next time a team member delivers a project ahead of schedule or demonstrates one of your team or company values in their work, pay it forward by giving them Disco “points” in Teams. They’ll feel supported and, who knows, maybe repay your appreciation. Watch the Disco video to learn more.
  7. Help teams deliver value to customers faster by releasing earlier, more often, and more iteratively: Jira
    Jira Software is a leading software development tool used by agile teams to plan, track, and release great software. Integrate Jira with Teams for a seamless way to visualize the important things like development velocity, workloads, bug resolution, and app performance all in real-time—from Teams. This makes it easy to inject insights into group collaboration without disrupting workflows. Learn more about Microsoft Teams Jira Connector.
  8. Bring more structure to online brainstorming: MindMeister
    MindMeister is an online mind-mapping tool that lets you capture, develop, and share ideas visually. And by integrating in Teams, you can take notes, brainstorm, visualize project plans, and easily show connections between ideas all while discussing details with your team in the chat. Read Create and Manage All Your Mind Maps in Microsoft Teams! to learn more.
  9. Bring creative work to team work: Adobe Creative Cloud
    Adobe Creative Cloud gives you the world’s best apps and services for video, design, photography, and the web including Adobe Photoshop , Illustrator CC, InDesign CC, Premiere Pro CC, and more. Integrate with Teams to bring your creative work and teamwork together. You can share work, get feedback, and stay up-to-date on tasks and actions. Read Adobe XD Adds Integration with Microsoft Teams—Creativity meets collaboration to learn more.
  10. Build software in the way that works best for you: GitHub
    GitHub is the platform where developers work together, solve challenging problems, and create the world’s most important technologies. Whether you are a student, hobbyist, consultant, or enterprise professional, the GitHub integration in Teams allows you to create, share, and ship the best code possible.

Get started with Teams

Bringing these apps and tools together in Teams is a great way to bring focus back to your workflow. They’re easy to integrate and offer something for everyone, whether you’re developing software, managing projects, or gathering customer feedback. And with new apps going live on Teams every day, your next productivity superpower is only a few clicks away. Check the Teams Store today so you don’t miss out!

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Author: Steve Clarke

March Patch Tuesday shuts down two zero-day exploits

Microsoft delivered fixes for 64 unique vulnerabilities, 17 rated critical, including two zero-day vulnerabilities and four public disclosures on March Patch Tuesday.

Microsoft closed two zero-days (CVE-2019-0797 and CVE-2019-0808) related to elevation-of-privilege vulnerabilities related to how the Win32k component improperly handles objects in memory. A separate vulnerability in Google Chrome (CVE-2019-5786) allowed attackers who used the CVE-2019-0808 bug to run malicious code on Windows 7 and Windows 2008 systems. Google updated Chrome to address the issue on its side.

“Administrators will want to [update] Chrome and all OSes as quickly as possible this month to fully patch that [CVE-2019-0808] zero-day,” said Chris Goettl, director of product management at Ivanti, based in South Jordan, Utah.

Chris GoettlChris Goettl

CVE-2019-0797 affects Windows 8.1, Windows 10 on the client systems and Windows 2012, Windows 2012 R2, Windows 2016 and Windows 2019 on server systems.

March Patch Tuesday changed how Win32k handles objects in memory to fix the flaws highlighted in CVE-2019-0797 and CVE-2019-0808.

Microsoft addresses four public disclosures

Despite the four public disclosures, each rated important, most organizations are most likely not going to be exposed to any serious risk until administrators apply the March Patch Tuesday fixes, according to Goettl.

“There is proof that these can be exploited. It would require either some significant forethought on how you would use it or would require access to the environment to exploit the vulnerabilities, but each of them could be used in a live attack scenario,” said Goettl.

Microsoft resolved a denial-of-service vulnerability (CVE-2019-0754) caused by Windows improperly handling objects in memory for all OSes. The targeted system can stop responding if an attacker gains access to the system and runs a specially crafted application.

An elevation of privilege vulnerability (CVE-2019-0683) affects Windows Server 2008 systems and Windows 7. If an attacker gains access to an Active Directory trusted forest, they could send a request delegation of a ticket-granting ticket (TGT) for an identity in the forest. After this, the attacker could get access to system services. Microsoft’s update disables TGT delegation by default.

Microsoft Visual Studio 2017 version 15.9 is susceptible to a remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2019-0809). The exploit is triggered when an attacker puts a malicious DLL file on a local system and gets a user to run an executable. The March Patch Tuesday update fixes the way Visual Studio certifies input before loading a DLL file.

Microsoft also closed a NuGet Package Manager tampering vulnerability (CVE-2019-0757) that affects Linux and Mac installations by correcting permissions on NuGet folders. Without this fix, an attacker could change the folder contents of a package before the building or installation an application.

Earlier update to mitigate Spectre slowdown backfires

Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019 users may have noticed a significant performance hit after installing a March 1 cumulative update. Microsoft recommends users pull the update until it can revisit the fix.  

The update included an implementation of Retpoline, which is code Google made available to minimize CPU slowdowns after applying Spectre variant 2 patches. But various reports indicated workload performance actually suffered after applying this update. It is unclear if Retpoline was part of the speed problem.

Keep up with vulnerabilities outside monthly updates

Prior to March Patch Tuesday, Microsoft issued an advisory (ADV190005) to mitigate an IIS bug that could be used in denial-of-service attacks.

Unpatched IIS servers that attempt to process a malicious HTTP/2 request could see CPU usage jump to 100% to lock up the system. The bug affects Windows 10, Windows Server 2016 and Server Core version 1709 and 1803. To mitigate this issue, Microsoft gave administrators a way to set thresholds for HTTP/2 requests on IIS servers.

“[The IIS bug] will likely never be patched because it’s a default setting,” Goettl said. “If people want to prevent this — you can call it a DoS attack — it can only be stopped if you kill the connection. It would be best for people to put that configuration in place so they can put this behind them.”

Expert advises all systems update to SHA-2 before June

Administrators have until July to update Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 systems to SHA-2 code signing or machines running those OSes won’t get further patches.

Microsoft signs its OS updates with both the SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash algorithms but recently uncovered shortcomings in the SHA-1 algorithm that could allow an attacker to deploy malicious code during the update process.

Microsoft updates will contain only the SHA-2 algorithm after July 2019. Administrators should prepare for this SHA-2 migration using Microsoft’s guidance that details the rollout.

“Other than if you have [older systems than Windows 2008], there isn’t really a reason not to do this unless a vendor you use has dependencies on SHA-1 and they have to check it,” Goettl said. “Some companies may want to test it early to make sure it doesn’t break anything else.”

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Nvidia acquires Mellanox against growing AI, data competition

Patrick Thibodeau and Dave Raffo

Nvidia Corp. is acquiring Israeli interconnect maker Mellanox Technologies Ltd. for $6.9 billion, bringing together two firms that face rapidly accelerating competition for data-intensive computing platforms.

Mellanox and Nvidia, independently and working in collaboration, have staked out a significant footprint in data-intensive high-performance computing (HPC), but the sharks are now circling.

In November, Amazon announced its new chip, Inferentia, aimed at AI and other data-intensive platforms, and it may challenge Nvidia’s GPU. In October, Cray announced “Slingshot,” an interconnect that is aimed at HPC and AI and other data-centric platforms.

The Nvidia acquires Mellanox news didn’t surprise Steve Conway, senior research vice president at HPC research firm Hyperion Research in St. Paul, Minn. “The competition is heating up because the [HPC] market is getting bigger and more attractive,” he said, pointing to the announcements by Cray and Amazon as two recent examples.

“It’s a smart move for Nvidia and Mellanox to get married because they’re going to be stronger together against the competition,” Conway said.

In Hyperion’s market research studies, 78% of its survey respondents believe that Nvidia will be facing “serious competitive challenges” in the next four to five years, Conway said.

Nvidia acquires Mellanox to combine forces

Mellanox, which makes InfiniBand, a high-speed interconnect, and Nvidia have a sizable footprint on the Top500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

The two companies have already worked together on large HPC systems. In October, the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) unveiled Sierra, a supercomputer with a peak performance of 125 petaflops that uses Nvidia GPUs and Mellanox InfiniBand interconnect, as well as IBM Power 9 CPUs. It is the world’s second fastest supercomputer, according to the latest Top500 ranking.

In June, the DOE announced the Summit supercomputer, the world’s fastest supercomputer at 200 petaflops, which also uses Nvidia and Mellanox tech.

At one time supercomputing and HPC were entirely focused on CPU processing. GPU chips, originally designed for graphics processing, were found to be adept at processing computationally intensive mathematical problems faster and at a lower cost than a CPU. About a decade ago, Nvidia developed CUDA, a parallel computing platform that enables developers to utilize GPU’s for general computing.

More on Mellanox

Mellanox got its start in 1999 as one of a handful of vendors selling InfiniBand switches.

The company, along with its early rivals, positioned InfiniBand as a better alternative to Fibre Channel for storage networks because InfiniBand was faster and had less latency than Fibre Channel.

Storage area network (SAN) administrators were reluctant to move to a new interconnect technology, but InfiniBand eventually caught on for HPC.

Mellanox claims most of the Top500 supercomputer sites use InfiniBand switching and that its InfiniBand and Ethernet products are used in 265 of the top 500 sites.

InfiniBand is also used as an internal interconnect for storage systems, including systems sold by Dell EMC, NetApp, IBM and DataDirect Networks.

Mellanox was the only InfiniBand startup to survive and is one of two InfiniBand vendors left along with Intel. Still, Mellanox now gets most of its revenue from Ethernet. In 2018, it generated $616 million from Ethernet and $438 million from InfiniBand.

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For Sale – 27″ iMac 2015 model

Hey Guys

last week i posted the deal mentioning i wasnt able to log in to my current ID & wasnt able to reset it, finally i remembered the password so listing is from regular iD

Mac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Mid 2015)
3.3 GHz Intel Core i5
8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
AMD Radeon R9 M290 2048 MB

Have original box etc , will send by UPS which should cost about 25-30 max

I havent updated to latest OS but i believe i will have to install it before sale

Price and currency: 900
Delivery: Delivery cost is not included
Payment method: bacs
Location: london
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

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Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18356 | Windows Experience Blog

Hello Windows Insiders, today we are releasing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18356 (19H1) to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring.
If you are looking for a complete look at what build is in which Insider ring – head on over to Flight Hub. You can also check out the rest of our documentation here including a complete list of new features and updates that have gone out as part of Insider flights for the current development cycle (which currently is 19H1).

Take your phone’s screen to the big screen 
We are excited to provide an early preview into the newest feature for the Your Phone app – phone screen. You can now mirror your Android phone’s screen directly on your PC without having to dig for your phone.

The new phone screen feature gives you easy access to your phone apps on your PC. Whether scheduling a ride to the airport or checking your social updates, do it with ease from the comfort of your PC without having to take your phone out of your bag or go back and forth between devices. Go ahead, give your thumbs a break, and get things done faster with your keyboard and mouse.

This feature will gradually roll out to Insiders on 19H1 builds. It may take a few days for this feature to show up inside the Your Phone app (version 1.0.20701.0 and above).
You can use the Your Phone app on any Windows 10 PC running Windows builds 1803 (RS4) or newer and any Android phone running Android version 7.0 or newer. But the new phone screen feature is initially only compatible with a limited set of devices. Surface Go will be the first device in the Surface lineup to preview this feature. We will continue to expand the list of devices over time for both the PC and phone.
We look forward to your feedback as we continue to test, learn, and improve the overall experience.
Phone screen requirements:

Select Android phones* running Android 7.0 or greater (*Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+/S9/S9+).
Windows 10 PC with a Bluetooth radio that supports low energy peripheral role. How to check if your PC supports this.
Latest 19H1 preview build (18335+ recommended).
Android phone must be on, within Bluetooth range of the PC, and connected to the same network as the PC.

Known issues:

Touch input doesn’t work yet
Always on display will not be shown on the phone screen displayed on the PC
Blue light preferences will not be applied on the phone screen displayed on the PC
Audio will play out of the phone speakers, not the PC
Double clicking may bring down notification center
Some games and apps do not support mouse interactions (e.g. Pokémon Go, Merge Dragons, Feedly)
If you turn on the setting to hide soft keyboard when a physical keyboard is present your soft keyboard will disappear whenever you’re within Bluetooth range of your PC regardless of the state of the Your Phone app or phone screen session

We fixed a Microsoft Edge crash encountered when interacting with combo boxes in PDF forms.
We fixed an issue that could result in night light being on after an upgrade, even though all the settings showed that night light should be off.
We fixed an issue where using the slider to adjust the night light strength could result in night light getting stuck on.
We fixed an issue where night light was skipping the fade transition when it was turned off (manually or scheduled).
We fixed an issue resulting in increased battery drain while the screen was on in recent builds.
We fixed an issue resulting in the “…” menu contents being clipped for certain apps like Voice Recorder and Alarms and Clock when the app was full screen.
We fixed an issue resulting in some Insiders experiencing bugcheck green screens citing a KERNEL_SECURITY_VIOLATION error.

Launching games that use anti-cheat software may trigger a bugcheck (GSOD).
Creative X-Fi sound cards are not functioning properly. We are partnering with Creative to resolve this issue.
Some Realtek SD card readers are not functioning properly. We are investigating the issue.
We’re investigating an issue preventing VMware from being able to install or update Windows Insider Preview builds. Hyper-V is a viable alternative if available to you.

If you install any of the recent builds from the Fast ring and switch to the Slow ring, optional content such as enabling developer mode will fail. You will have to remain in the Fast ring to add/install/enable optional content. This is because optional content will only install on builds approved for specific rings.

Ready to plan your Spring or Summer vacation? Use Bing itineraries to customize your next trip. Choose where you’re going and when, and explore different attractions, restaurants, hotels, and more! Add these to your itinerary and continue to plan your perfect trip.
If you want to be among the first to learn about these Bing features, join our Bing Insider Program.

We have locked down the inbox apps in 19H1. These simplified versions of some of the inbox apps are what will ship with 19H1 when it is released. As a result, Insiders may have noticed that some features have disappeared from these apps. This was probably most noticeable with the Photos app. Insiders can get these features back by going into the settings of an inbox app like Photos and clicking the “Join preview” button.

No downtime for Hustle-As-A-Service,Dona

Building Product Roadmaps | Blog

You have an amazing idea. You’ve taken the core concepts of your idea and turned them into a prototype, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The prototype is the first pass. It’s not pretty, nor complete, and often not tested. Frank Robinson said when he coined the MVP term:  

… think big for the long term but small for the short term. Think big enough that the first product is a sound launching pad for it and its next generation and the road map that follows, but not so small that you leave room for a competitor to get the jump on you.

Once you have your prototype and you know that it’s viable, how do you turn it into a fully-fledged product and how do you get there? Enter the product road map.

This post is an introduction to product road maps and presents a high-level structure for road maps and a process for how to build them. We assume you’re using an Agile (or Agile-ish) methodology, but we’re not strongly opinionated about what sort of Agile you embrace. This isn’t a definitive guide to product road maps but a starting point from which to get started, experiment, and learn what works for you.

Note:This is just one take on how to structure your product road map. There are a lot of views and opinions about the right approach to product road maps. We suggest you read and experiment with a few to find one that works for you.

What is a product road map

A product road map is a plan for your product. It’s a strategic document that helps you plan for your product, its growth, and keeps your team on track in executing on that growth. It is what allows your Product organization, and your Product Managers, to know and report where you are, where you’re going, and what the steps are along the path.

A good road map is the “north star” for your product. It connects the long-term vision your organization has for the product with the operational and customer reality on the ground. From your road map, your Product and Engineering teams derive the list of work that they’ll undertake and populate backlogs.

A living document

A road map is a living document. Its development is iterative and organic. It changes as priorities and focusses change, as the product grows, you learn what product market fit looks like, and you learn from your customers. A real product road map is never finished.

How often you update your road map usually depends on how mature your organization is, early-stage startups probably have road maps that range out 3 to 6 months and are updated monthly. A larger or more mature organization might plan quarterly with some, less stable, future plans laid out for coming quarters.

Note: Backlogs, the collections of stories, bugs, ideas, and cocktail napkins of genius, are not road maps. A backlog is a pile of work: imagine the pile of clothes dumped on the bed before Marie Kondo organizes them. You might draw items from your backlog for the road map, but they’ll need to go through a process of analysis and prioritization before being added.

A collaborative, iterative, and data-driven document

A great product road map is a collaboration between many partners across your organization. Owned and collated by your Product team, it draws on inputs from internal groups like Engineering, Support, Marketing, and Sales. It is also driven by external data collected from your product, your customers, your competitors, your investors, and the market.  

A good Product Manager is constantly gathering this data, validating, and feeding into the road map, and seeing how, or if, it impacts plans. The Product Manager is also feeding in the outcomes of the ongoing work you’re doing, whether the features you have build had an impact on metrics like user adoption, customer satisfaction, or whatever else drives your business.

The outcomes from our road map then become part of the inputs, together with the continuous data gathered from the other sources, and combines to form an iterative, cyclical, document.

A road map isn’t easy

A product road map is hard to make. It’s a balancing act of finding the right features to build, evaluating customer asks versus product goals (like avoiding being captured in the orbit of a single large customer!) and then applying the engineering and design resources you have available to you.

Let’s look at the high-level components that make up a road map.

Why, always start with why  

The product road map is the strategic guide to building your product. Every road map should open with the mission:

  • Why are you making this product?
  • What problem are you solving?
  • Who are you building it for?

If you can’t answer these questions or haven’t yet done so, then you need to rethink building a road map or developing the product in the first place!  

The art of defining a mission is beyond the scope of this post but remember that everyone in your Product, Design, and Engineering teams should be able to give the product’s “elevator pitch” and understand and absorb the answers to these three questions. They provide those teams with a reference point to validate the work they are doing is the right work and that it is adding value to the product. Both key drivers for engineer happiness. If you can’t connect work to the mission (or engineering tooling that accelerates your development) in some way, then it’s probably a good indication that it is work you should not be doing.

Know your audience  

In addition to knowing who you are building your product for, you should know who you are making your road map for. Every audience of a road map will have different expectations: what investors, your executive team, or your customers want to see is different from the needs of your product and engineering teams. Since your road map can’t be all things to all people, you’ll need to consider different formats or documents for these different audiences.

You will want to produce a high-level presentation with quarterly milestones for investors and executives. They are interested in your high-level goals and the total time and cost of development work. Customers (and Sales and Marketing) want to see what features you’re adding that will give customers more capabilities or make the product easier to use. Your product engineering teams are looking for lower-level tactical information, sprint and story-level, that will tell them what to work on right now.  

This revelation often prompts a debate about the single source of truth for your road map. If suddenly you have data in multiple places, then you need to update them all when something changes. This is where an off-the-shelf road map tool starts to come in handy. There is a wide selection of potential tools ranging from add-ons or extensions to common ticketing frameworks like Jira, GTD planning tools like Trello and Asana, or specifically product-centric road map tools like Clubhouse. These tools allow you to have a single source of truth and output the data in a variety of forms, suitable for varying audiences. If you don’t already have a tool, then we recommend you try a few to find one that suits your team. And, don’t forget to consider some growth: will it still work for your team in 6-12-18 months?


As we mentioned earlier, one of the critical differences between a backlog and a product road map is prioritization. You’re never going to have the resources to work on every aspect of your product at once, so you need to prioritize the work. There are numerous approaches to prioritization, too many to cover in this post.

If your ideas are starting to pile up, this is an excellent opportunity to leverage a prioritization framework, such as the Lean Startup’s 2×2 grids or weighted scoring models to eliminate low impact ideas further.

What we’ve discovered in working with teams though, is that nothing deflates morale more than a seemingly arbitrary process of prioritization, this doesn’t foster good team relations and productivity. So pick an approach, establish and agree to it with your team, and be transparent about the process, especially any exceptions you make to the process like “the CEO says we should build…”!

Build from the top down

Now that you’ve added our mission to your road map let’s continue to work top down; from the least granular component to the most granular.

Product Roadmap hierarchy

  • Mission: your reason for building the product, we’ve discussed this above.
  • Themes: high-level components of the product, for example, “Acquire new customers.”
  • Milestones: groups of epics, time-boxed, for example, three months worth of work.
  • Epics: collections of user stories that often represent a feature, for example, Authentication.
  • User Stories: user-centric stories that describe a requirement. Usually collected in an epic.

We always recommend this approach because the top-level components are closer to the mission and should be a logical progression of detail, easily rolled up and tied to that mission. The alternative, starting from the base and writing up a series of user stories, leaves a lot of space between your mission and its practical application. We find if you start with that base you end up twisting the top-level components into the shape of the user stories and not vice-versa.  

So we start with breaking our product into themes.  


Themes are the present articulation of some aspect of the overall mission. You break down the journey to mission success into the current themes you need to focus on to continue that journey. A theme might be: “Acquire more customers!”, “Reduce customer churn” or “Increase stability of notifications.” They could also reflect internal priorities: “Streamline deployment!” or “Reduce test suite run time.”

Themes provide the glue between the mission and the tactical work to be done to execute on the mission.

A good theme can be clearly traced back to the mission but also has direct and immediate outcomes and measures. Themes should be tied to measures and metrics that demonstrate the impact of the theme, for example, if the theme is to acquire new customers, then the measure might be a customer acquisition target.

Themes are also an excellent way to communicate progress to stakeholders:

This quarter we’re going to focus on reducing customer churn by 20% by working on the look and feel of the UI, adding a recommendation engine, and the reporting capabilities of the product.

A theme, or a variant of a theme, will likely be repeated throughout a product’s lifespan, so it’s important to be as explicit as possible about the theme and what it achieves in this particular incarnation. This also ensures you keep your theme focussed and you make it achievable.  

Next, let’s think about milestones for our road map.


A milestone is a collection of themes, epics, and stories. It might be a version of your product, for example, version 1.0 or it might be a month, three months, or another period. We strongly recommend time-boxing milestones, either explicitly by adding a target date or using a time-based interval like months or weeks.

Each milestone usually has a few themes associated with it. A milestone also allows you to report what you’re going to achieve to address that milestone and will enable you to measure progress towards that goal. This is likely the component that your leadership team or customer will be most interested in your reports on. So you need to be realistic about what you can achieve in a milestone.

This quarter we plan to focus on two themes: “Acquire more customers!” and “Reduce customer churn.”

Note: You’ll hopefully have some form of estimates in your stories, that rolls up into your epic. You’ll see more about that later in the post. You know the resources available to you and should be able to solve for what’s possible in a milestone using this data. Again, having a tool that handles milestones and estimates automatically is very useful.  

Startups tend to be fast-moving, priorities and resourcing and requirements change quickly, so most people don’t plan milestones beyond short and medium periods, for example, 1-6 months. Anything beyond that starts to become more like guesswork than planning. We suggest planning 2 milestones, say month 1 and month 2, so you know what you’re doing now and broadly what you plan to do next.


Contained inside of your themes are epics. Epics are collections of stories, generally aligned with a feature of some kind. Earlier in the post, we talked about a theme of “reducing customer churn” and how it included working on look and feel, a recommendation engine, and the reporting interface. Each of these can be broadly considered features. So our recommendation engine feature would be described as an epic. To build that engine you might have an epic called “Recommendation Engine,” perhaps containing user stories for:

  • The back end engine.
  • A data pipeline.
  • The recommendation algorithm.
  • The recommendations interface.

Each epic should have a description and measures of success. For our recommendation engine, this might be:

An engine that returns product recommendations based on customer’s prior purchases. The recommendation engine must return the customer a minimum of 3 recommendations within 1ms.

Like themes and milestones, epics are about achievable and measurable goals. You might be thinking “we’re measuring a lot of elements in our road map,” but this is key to having a realistic road map. At every level of the road map, you can determine progress towards objectives, what success looks like, have a clear measure of it, and adjust the objectives and measures if circumstances change. This allows you to understand where the product is in terms of completion and success and is critical to managing your product’s delivery.

Note: Themes are often applied to epics and stories as tags. This is also a bonus of a product management tool, they allow you to define collections of elements that make reporting and tracking easier.

Inside our epics are user stories, the basic unit of work for most product engineering, let’s look at them now.

User stories

User stories are the base artifacts for Agile planning. A user story is a high-level definition of a requirement. It should contain enough information that the requirement is understood and a reasonable estimate of the effort required to build it can be made.

User stories are written throughout the development life cycle, but the core of them are usually written when you create an epic. Typically, the whole team involved, and often stakeholders from the business or even customers, and the stories are written in a workshop-like forum. Further stories will evolve as the epic proceeds, to address new requirements or to split existing stories that have become too complex. Some stories will even evolve into epics in their own right if they turn out to be very complex or emerge as functionality worth extending.

A good user story contains a summary of the requirement, no more than one or two sentences, a series of stories about the requirement, a test of the story’s success, and a rough estimate. Those stories typically follow a format something like:

As a < type of user >, I want < some goal > so that < some reason >.

They tell the story of what the user wants, expects, and needs from the requirement. Let’s look at an example story for our recommendation engine.

Build a content-based recommendation algorithm.

  1. As a customer, I want to see recommendations based on my prior purchases so I can find the best items to buy.

  2. etc…

Test: The algorithm returns three content-based recommendations for a customer’s user ID.

Estimate: 3 days.

Note: Estimates are controversial and complicated. There are numerous ways of estimating and even variants on the units: time and points for example. There’s even a movement for ”no estimates” that’s worth reading about.

This is a very formal user story, a lot of organizations often use more lightweight and informal representations. If a story feels like it has too much detail, then the traditional approach is to split the story into smaller stories.

Note: Themes are often applied to epics and stories as tags. This is also a bonus of a product management tool, they allow you to define collections of elements that make reporting and tracking easier.

Go build  

These are the building blocks (or at least one approach anyway!) of a successful and useful product road map. We want to leave you with some parting points that have served us well in working on road maps and with Product teams.

  • Find a good tool that works for you to manage your road map. The less labor you spend on administering your road map, the more time you can spend on managing your product.
  • Be transparent and honest with your team and leadership about the road map process, prioritization, and progress. Nothing breaks team morale and the faith of leadership in a startup faster than a breach of trust here.
  • Be inclusive of everyone in your road map process, both by seeking folks out as inputs and by sharing the status and outputs widely with the company. Your all hands or all company communications should always include product updates.

Good luck and we hope this will prove useful to you. Go build some awesome products!

James Turnbull leads Startup Advocacy for Microsoft Azure.

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Author: Steve Clarke

VMware firewall strategy to focus on ‘known good’ behavior

SAN FRANCISCO — VMware wants to reduce enterprises’ attack surface, and the vendor is taking a different approach with firewalls to accomplish the goal.

The virtualization software maker introduced VMware Service-defined Firewall during the RSA Conference 2019 to reduce attack surfaces within enterprise environments. The VMware firewall service focuses on “known good” behavior of the applications and cloud services that communicate across a distributed network.

Part of VMware’s new security strategy is to rethink how firewalls work. VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said everyone knows and understands firewalls, which sit at the edge of networks and monitor an organization’s incoming/outgoing, or “north and south,” traffic. “But in today’s multi-cloud, microservices world, there ain’t no edge,” Gelsinger said during his keynote address Thursday.

VMware also wanted to move away from the industry’s hyperfocus on threats, which he believes is actually a massive detriment to enterprise security.

“We’re rushing rapidly into a domain of diminishing returns,” Gelsinger said “and by comparison we believe we need to fundamentally be reducing the attack surface instead of chasing after the latest threat.”

Rather than try to block all unknown activity or potential threats, Gelsinger said, the VMware firewall identifies and permits approved behavior for applications and services that run across both cloud and on-premises environments.

“What are the core things that are supposed to be happening rather than the 50 million that aren’t supposed to be happening?” Gelsinger asked RSA attendees. “And when we understand those good behaviors, [we can] enforce known good and do it at the networking level — how they’re communicating with each other — and at the application level.”

At an RSA Conference media event, Tom Gillis, senior vice president and general manager of VMware’s networking and security business unit, and Tom Corn, senior vice president and general manager of VMware security products, also shared their views on how the Service-defined Firewall can reduce the attack surface for enterprises.

Gillis likened conventional firewalls to Transportation Security Administration agents on Thanksgiving, the busiest travel day of the year, flooded with thousands of unknown passengers and looking for any and all signs of suspicious behavior. The VMware firewall, he said, doesn’t try to identify and block unknown threats but instead only allows the known good of approved applications and services.

Monitoring east-west traffic within an enterprise network is crucial because it can help reduce threat actors’ ability to move laterally, Gillis said. He used the example of the Equifax breach; after the initial intrusion, the threat actors were able to obtain credentials and move freely throughout the network for weeks. The VMware Service-defined Firewall, he said, would have been able to block the unauthorized east-west traffic within the Equifax network.

A product like the Service-defined Firewall can’t work without understanding how applications and microservices work at a granular level, according to Corn. And because of VMware’s wide installed base, the company has visibility into millions of workloads, Corn said, which gives VMware the ability to identify the known good behaviors.

We’re not predicting the death of the firewall. Firewalls are good. We just think people need the right solution for the right task.
Tom GillisSVP and GM of networking and security business unit, VMware

The VMware Service-defined Firewall isn’t intended to replace traditional network firewalls, Gillis said, but those products aren’t suited to police the east-west traffic within large enterprise environments.

“We’re not predicting the death of the firewall. Firewalls are good,” he said. “We just think people need the right solution for the right task.”

Conversely, VMware competitor Microsoft said during its own RSA session that firewall technology is outmoded and it touts zero-trust security as the path forward. Other software vendors also hold the view that firewalls aren’t appropriate for today’s dispersed, device-driven computing practices. VMware said in a blog post this week that adopting a zero-trust network security model in an enterprise environment remains incredibly hard to achieve. Their Service-defined Firewall is the alternative.

The success of VMware’s reimagined firewall will likely depend on how well the company can identify known good behaviors, according to Eric Hanselman, chief analyst at 451 Research.

“VMware’s approach leverages expanded context to put more power behind a ‘known good allow’ approach,” he said. “Allow lists aren’t new, but the challenge has historically been that there were limits to the depth of information available to characterize the known good. The greater perspectives that are available to them make this approach a lot more powerful and scalable.”

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For Sale – Inwin X99 980ti system

I suspect I’ll need to split this, but will try the whole system.

It has barely been used. I’ve played <50h on it.

It runs like a dream. Currently clocked at 4.5ghz. CPU never goes above 60c

I’ve never mined on it or ran anything more taxing than a game.

Everything other than the CPU is boxed.

Edit: I’m keeping my SSD, but I’ll include a small ssd with a windows install to show it works.

5820k (no box)
X99 MSI MPower motherboard

MSI X99A MPOWER USB 3.1 ATX Motherboard

16gb (4x4gb) Corsair Dominator platinum 3000mhz C15 quad channel kit

GTX 980ti Zotac Amp

Corsair H115i 280mm AIO (need to double check model)

Inwin 805c

Corsair RMI850 + white Corsair braided cables

Corsair white fans x3

Any questions, ask away

Price and currency: £725
Delivery: Delivery cost is not included
Payment method: BT / PPG / cash
Location: Glasgow
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

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Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

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