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Empathy and innovation: How Microsoft’s cultural shift is leading to new product development

The young Microsoft software engineer had just moved to the U.S. and was trying her best to stay in close touch with her parents back home, calling them on Skype every week.

But their internet connection in India was poor, and Swetha Machanavajhala, deaf since birth, struggled to read their lips over the glitchy video. She always had to ask her parents to turn off the lights in the background to help her focus better on their faces.

“I kept thinking, ‘Why can’t we build technology that can do this for us instead?’” Machanavajhala recalled. “So I did.”

It turned out her background-blurring feature was good for privacy reasons as well, helping to hide messy offices during video conference calls or curious café customers during job interviews. So Machanavajhala’s innovation was integrated into Microsoft Teams and Skype, and she soon found herself catapulted into the spotlight at Microsoft – as well as into the company’s work on inclusion, a joy to experience after having been excluded at a previous job where her deafness made it hard to fully participate.

Software engineer Swetha Machanavajhala poses with her parents in front of the Taj Mahal in India.
Microsoft software engineer Swetha Machanavajhala and her parents. Photo by Swetha Machanavajhala.

Microsoft employees say those twists and turns of innovation – aiming for A and ending up with a much broader B – have become more common at Microsoft in the five years since Satya Nadella was appointed chief executive officer.

Nadella’s immediate push to embolden employees to be more creative has been exemplified by the company’s annual hackathon. Machanavajhala and others say the event has helped spark a revival where employees feel energized to innovate year-round and to seek support from their managers for their ideas – even if those have nothing to do with their day jobs.

“The company has changed culturally,” Michael A. Cusumano, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management who wrote a book about Microsoft 20 years ago, recently told The New York Times. “Microsoft is an exciting place to work again.”

Chris Kauffman, a marketing manager in product licensing who has worked for Microsoft for 13 years, said Nadella’s focus on fostering collaboration was a turning point for her, as she noticed silos being torn down. Kauffman also realized the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) could help business people like her broach the realm of engineers and IT specialists. She and her team capitalized on both of those developments to create a chatbot and virtual colleague, answering thousands of licensing questions from around the world and helping to handle the accelerated pace of Azure cloud computing service updates.

“I went to my first hackathon three years ago and fell back in love with Microsoft,” Kauffman said. “I realized that I now have permission to talk to anyone I want to. I’m no longer limited by my job function or level. And my experience with the chatbot is a great example of how technology can be democratized and used by everybody.”

That new openness has led to an explosion in new products or fine-tuned improvements across Microsoft, for customers as well as for internal use. Employees say the resurgence is showing up both in product improvements and internal events such as TechFest, an annual showcase of Microsoft research that takes place in a few weeks.

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Author: Steve Clarke

IBM renews code challenge to stress-test open source projects

SAN FRANCISCO — IBM’s latest developer outreach seeks to rebuild lives with ones and zeros as it helps organizations prevent, manage and respond to natural disasters.

IBM and the Linux Foundation issued the Call for Code challenge in May 2018, a five-year, $30 million pledge to fund developer tools, technologies and training to help prevent and manage natural disasters. Their follow-up effort, the Code and Response initiative unveiled here at IBM Think 2019, aims to put those technologies into practice.

Code and Response is a $25 million, four-year program to help field-test and deploy some of the applications built for the Call for Code challenge. For instance, Project Organization, Whereabouts and Logistics (OWL), which won the 2018 Call for Code contest — Linux creator and superstar developer Linus Torvalds was one of the judges — will take its pop-up mesh network solution to Puerto Rico next month, a country still riddled with the impact of natural disasters.

Project OWL  uses IoT devices at the network’s edge to connect and spread vital information in the event of a disaster. Incident management and predictive analytics based on a variety of data sources help first responders identify key problem areas. The system taps IBM Watson APIs, as well as Watson Studio and Weather Company APIs and runs on the IBM Cloud, said Bryan Knouse, lead of Project OWL’s New York-headquartered team. It also uses a physical network of “clusterducks” that float in flooded areas to create a mesh network where communications lines are down or nonexistent.

Project OWL's mesh network DuckLinks.
Project OWL DuckLinks makes up a mesh network in disaster recovery situations.

“We’re going to do a full-scale test of the system in three areas — an urban, mountainous and coastal region — of Puerto Rico to see how it works at scale,” Knouse said.

IBM’s Corporate Service Corps, and organizations such as the Clinton Global Initiative University, will support the Code and Response effort with training and resources.

IBM also issued its next Call for Code competition, which will again focus on social impact code challenges and encourage developers to use cloud, AI, blockchain and IoT technologies to help mitigate the impacts of natural disasters.

Code challenges can be a model for companies to ensure that technological advances benefit humanity, but there’s a big hurdle to solve first, said Brandon Purcell, an analyst at Forrester Research.

“The most difficult task for the teams participating will be finding the right data,” Purcell said. “Well-structured, trustworthy data on natural disasters is probably hard to come by.”

I’d love to see one of these projects become the Linux of disaster recovery.
Jim Zemlinexecutive director, Linux Foundation

Last year, more than 100,000 developers submitted ideas to the Call for Code challenge. Knouse’s Project OWL team took first prize and $200,000 in cash. Through IBM, it is also in discussions with venture capitalists about forming a company around the OWL team, Knouse said.

“I’d love to see one of these projects become the Linux of disaster recovery,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. “A small team can leverage all of the AI frameworks and open source technology and compute capacity that is now essentially freely available to go solve some pretty big problems.”

For IBM, this code competition tied to social issues helps spur interest and further adoption of complex, next-gen app development architectures, said Charlotte Dunlap, an analyst at GlobalData in Santa Cruz, Calif.

“By handing this fresh group of developers IBM tools and solutions, they’ll naturally apply their newfound knowledge and experience towards enterprise mission-critical apps going forward, leveraging IBM Cloud Platform and services,” she said.

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Wanted – MVMe SSD Drive 256GB

Discussion in ‘Desktop Computer Classifieds‘ started by eugene2878, Feb 5, 2019.

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    Hi. Looking for PCIe Gen3 NVMe drive.

    Location: Corby

    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
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    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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Introduction to Microsoft Azure Resource Manager (ARM)

As more organizations move to the public cloud, it has become increasingly important to centralize and standardize cloud application deployment, management, and security. Microsoft Azure has accomplished this through their unified operations portal which is known as Azure Resource Manager which can be accessed through This article explains exactly what Azure Resource Manager is, what it can do, and how you should be using it.

What is Azure Resource Manager?

Azure Resource Manager (ARM) supports modern cloud applications which are usually distributed and contain multi-tiered components, such as a frontend web server, a middle-tier application server, and a backend database server. Through the portal, these are still shown as separate entities but grouped as a connected service which can be managed as a single object. ARM is usually managed through the centralized GUI portal, but for customers with advanced needs, it also supports Azure PowerShell, Azure CLI, Azure REST APIs, and client SDKs. Let’s now look a bit deeper into Azure Resource Manager and its key components for management, templates, security, operations, monitoring, support, and troubleshooting.

Centralized Management with Azure Resource Manager (ARM)

When deploying a new application in Azure through ARM, the first step is to determine which Azure services you need. All of the core components of a cloud infrastructure are provided directly by Microsoft, such as virtual machines, networks, network interfaces, IP addresses, and storage accounts. The Microsoft Azure Marketplace offers thousands of third-party applications and services, all of which have been certified and optimized to run on Azure.  Once you have set up billing and subscriptions for the different cloud services which you will be using, then you can use ARM to centrally administer them.

First, these components will be organized into a Resource Group, which is the logical management container for the related components of this distributed application.  ARM lets you see and manage everything for this workload’s lifecycle in a single operation, including deployment, updating and deleting. In the screenshot below, you can see a Resource Group which was created as a backup from a production MongoDB database in a different geographic region. This Resource Group includes a virtual machine, virtual network, storage account, public IP address, network interface and network security group.

Azure Resource Manager dashboard

ARM also gives organizations the ability to tag any resource so that it can quickly be discovered, along with its related components. Organizations can categorize their resources to make them easier to sort by resource group, type, location, development state, organizational department, or cost center.  Now using the portal, it is possible to see costs, events, alerts and other relevant information as a single group.

Templates with Azure Resource Manager (ARM)

Each Azure resource (virtual machine, storage account, etc.) can be deployed by filling in parameters in a template, such as the name, location, availability zone, networks, security and more. These templates can be saved, then deployed and tested within a resource group. This allows the distributed application to be deployed repeatedly and consistently. The Resource Manager template is a JSON file which defines the resource group, its resources, their properties and any dependencies. This allows an identical copy of the application to easily be created so it can be deployed in testing, staging, production or in an additional geography to allow the service to scale out. The startup order and dependencies can also be defined so that this application comes online gracefully. All third-party Azure Marketplace solutions come with customizable templates which adhere to the ISV’s best practices to streamline deployment. ARM templates are customizable and can be built using the Azure Portal, Visual Studio or Visual Studio Code. Make sure that you fully-automate the deployment and remove any manual steps to eliminate any dependencies on human configuration. In the following screenshot you can see the template for adding a new disk to an Azure Resource Group.

Attach Unmanaged Disk ARM

Security with Azure Resource Manager (ARM)

Security is a critical component of every cloud service and Azure Resource Manager provides a breath of features to allow organizations to successfully manage these distributed applications using role-based access control (RBAC) or OAUTH authentication. The challenge with large cloud services is that they often require multiple administrators with specialized skills to configuring them, such as the cloud networking expert, the database administrator and the application owner.  ARM provides granular access control, only granting specific users with the ability to make changes on certain workloads. All actions are automatically logged so there is an audit trail for every action, event and user. Critical resources can even be ‘locked’ so that they cannot be changed accidentally or deliberately, as shown in the screenshot below.

MongoBackup - Locks

Operations with Azure Resource Manager (ARM)

Azure Resource Manager also provides a suite of tools to automate standard operations for each Resource Group. These features provide the ability to automatically turn off an application, leverage Azure’s built-in backup and replication technologies, patch the services, manage the desired state configuration and track any changes. In the screenshot below, I am using ARM to configure disaster recovery of my Resource Group to a secondary site.

Configure disaster recovery

Monitoring with Azure Resource Manager (ARM)

The monitoring capabilities of ARM also provide a centralized view of the health of the cloud application. Through a single interface, each resource within the group can be analyzed for alerts, metrics, diagnostics, logs, connections and other best practices. In the following screenshot, some of the metrics of a virtual machine are displayed.

MonogoBackup Metrics

Support & Troubleshooting with Azure resource Manager (ARM)

While Microsoft has taken great strides to making Azure resources easy to manage through ARM there may be issues which cannot be automatically repaired so advanced troubleshooting could be required. ARM centralizes the troubleshooting tools so that if an issue occurs, it is relatively easy to start the initial diagnosis. This includes viewing the resource health and performance, viewing the diagnostics of the boot log, redeploying the service, troubleshooting the network connection, or escalating the issue by creating a ticket with Microsoft’s support organization. In the screenshot below, I can quickly view the health history of my resource group.

MongoBackup Resource Health


Azure Resource Manager is a great tool for centralized management, templates, security, operations, monitoring, support and troubleshooting. By combining all the key features of application lifecycle management into a single interface, Microsoft has made it easy to organizations, developers and IT professionals to make the transition to the public cloud.  For more information about ARM, check out the official Azure Resource Manager Documentation from Microsoft.

What about you? Have you used ARM for cloud management yet? What have your experiences been? We’d love to hear! let us know in the comments section below!

Thanks for reading!

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Author: Symon Perriman

Microsoft zero-day vulnerability closed on Patch Tuesday

Microsoft shut down the PrivExchange zero-day vulnerability that cropped up last month in addition to the usual fare for February Patch Tuesday.

The PrivExchange Microsoft zero-day vulnerability, publicly disclosed by security researcher Dirk-jan Mollema, allowed an attacker to exploit susceptible Exchange Server 2010 and newer systems to gain domain controller admin privileges. Microsoft initially responded with an advisory (ADV190007) and suggested administrators define a policy to prevent Exchange from sending Exchange Web Services notifications.

The root of the PrivExchange problem is that a standard installation of Exchange Server requires a lot of permissions in Active Directory, said Nathan O’Bryan, an enterprise architect at Insight and TechTarget contributor.

“Always applying more security makes managing your servers more difficult,” O’Bryan said. “Organizations have to keep up with, be aware of and make the right decision for them.”

February’s security updates delivered a fix, rated important, for the Microsoft zero-day vulnerability that the company assigned two CVE identifiers, CVE-2019-0686 and CVE-2019-0724.

Microsoft flagged the first vulnerability (CVE-2019-0686) as a public disclosure. An attacker attempting to exploit the elevation of privilege weakness would need to execute a man-in-the-middle attack to send an authentication request from the hacked inbox. They could then impersonate another Exchange Server user to access their mailbox. Applying the February security update to affected systems prevents authentication notifications to stop the bug.

Chris Goettl of IvantiChris Goettl

CVE-2019-0724, which was not publicly disclosed, explained how an attacker could execute a man-in-the-middle exploit to send an authentication request to a domain controller to gain domain admin privileges. To fix this, Microsoft reduced permissions given to Exchange servers and administrators of those systems in Active Directory domains.

“We would escalate this [CVE-2019-0724] to priority one and assume it’s a high-risk exploit,” said Chris Goettl, director of product management at Ivanti, based in South Jordan, Utah.

Microsoft addresses another public disclosure and advisory

Among the 75 unique vulnerabilities closed by February Patch Tuesday, Microsoft addressed a public disclosure and suggested mitigations with an advisory.

Administrators should prioritize the publicly disclosed Windows information disclosure vulnerability (CVE-2019-0636), rated important, that affects all supported Windows systems. Attacker could exploit this bug to run a specially crafted application and get unauthorized access to the file system. To address the vulnerability, the February security updates change how Windows discloses information.

Microsoft also released an advisory to diminish the chance of an Active Directory exploit (ADV190006). Active Directory forest trusts allow forests to share resources with identities from another forest. Researchers from SpecterOps found a vulnerability in a default setting when creating incoming trusts. Until Microsoft can address this bug in future security updates, the company recommends blocking “TGT delegation across an incoming trust by setting the netdom flag EnableTGTDelegation to No” using the instructions provided in Knowledge Base article 4490425.

Microsoft addressed a zero-day exploit in the Internet Explorer browser that is rated important for Windows client systems and low for Windows Server OSes (CVE-2019-0676). On unpatched systems, an attacker would need to get the victim to visit a malicious website to read file contents.

“Make sure the OS and IE are updated in your environments,” Goettl said. “Windows browsers and Office should also warrant some attention.”

CVEs on the rise, but admins shouldn’t worry

The number of vulnerabilities and patches has increased over the years — CVEs reported and resolved in 2018 were a record high — but this is not as alarming as it seems, Goettl said.

“What we have are more vendors that are taking a more disciplined role in properly identifying and resolving vulnerabilities and disclosing that information to the industry so people are aware of it,” he said.

Some vendors also have bug bounty programs that offer researchers a strong financial incentive to find more vulnerabilities. Goettl said Qualcomm’s Vulnerability Rewards Program, which has been around for two years, pays handsomely for potential security issues. To date, the company said it has paid more than $750,000 in bounties, with more than $200,000 going to one researcher. Since the program began in November 2016, Qualcomm said it has paid out for nearly 350 bounties.

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Actifio GO turns Sky into SaaS backup

Actifio is going SaaS with its copy data management platform, allowing customers to back up and restore data without using on-premises infrastructure.

The idea behind the newly launched Actifio GO — based on Actifio Sky software — is to enable customers to quickly deploy the service and begin protecting data in multiple clouds without installing additional software or hardware.

The new software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform offers direct-to-cloud backup to AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google, IBM and Wasabi public clouds. The initial GO supports VMware vSphere virtual machines (VMs).

Actifio CEO Ash Ashutosh said the copy data management pioneer will add support for more platforms — including hypervisors and databases — and other public clouds.

Ashutosh said he wants to give enterprises a data protection tool as easy to use as Salesforce is for customer relationship management.

“To get to Actifio Sky, I have to learn about it, evaluate it, try it out and deploy it,” Ashutosh said. “It’s a long process in this day and age when people are saying, ‘Give me an API, and let me get the outcome I want,’ similar to Salesforce.”

subscription price chart for Actifio GO
The subscription price for Actifio GO is on a per-VM basis.

He claimed customers could begin backing up data within an hour of their first visit to the Actifio GO website. Customers point the VMs they want to protect to any of the supported public clouds.

Ashutosh said Actifio is starting with VMware because “it is still the biggest workload that people are looking to take to the cloud.”

Customers will be charged on a per-VM basis.

People are saying, ‘Give me an API, and let me get the outcome I want,’ similar to Salesforce.
Ash AshutoshCEO, Actifio

A one-year subscription to Actifio GO costs $7 per VM, per month, for up to 499 VMs; $6.70 per VM for 500 to 999; and $6.30 per VM for 1,000 or more. Multiyear subscriptions reduce the price per VM.

Other backup vendors have been adding SaaS management tools, such as Rubrik Polaris and Cohesity Helios. And other backup software vendors — mostly in the SMB space — enable direct backups to the cloud. Christophe Bertrand, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., said Actifio GO is unusual, because it is aimed at the enterprise and does not require on-premises appliances.

Actifio claims more than 3,600 enterprise customers and caters to backup administrators, application owners and DevOps teams.

“To be competitive in this market, it is necessary to offer multiple ways of access to the technology, and one of those ways is as a service,” Bertrand said. “The ability to go direct to cloud in the enterprise space is unique and a big differentiator.”

flowchart of backing up to cloud in Actifio GO
The setup process for cloud backup in Actifio GO.

While taking backup entirely off premises has its benefits, Bertrand warned it’s not for everyone, even if it saves money. He said properly building out infrastructure is a balancing act between operational costs, metrics, compliance levels and “risk appetite.” Bertrand said he expects most enterprises will choose to go hybrid.

“From my perspective, it’s a hybrid world. No one would be 100% on or off premises, because sometimes, it’s good to have that fast recovery on premises,” Bertrand said. “The people who understand all their variables the best will be the most successful.”

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For Sale – BENQ GW2765 IPS QHD Monitor 27″ Boxed

Discussion in ‘Desktop Computer Classifieds‘ started by tmurphy, Feb 6, 2019.

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Spark a love for literacy with February’s #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet |

In celebration of World Read Aloud Day and February Literacy Month, we’re making literacy the guiding star for this month’s TweetMeet. With the help of our global education experts – and our invitation to you – we’ll discuss a range of aspects of literacy: How have you incorporated literacy in your lessons, and how do you spark the love for reading and writing in your students? What strategies work best to overcome daily challenges in the classroom?

We’re also getting some help this time around from Skype in the Classroom Literacy partners like Little Brown (@lbschool), Penguin Young Readers (@PenguinClass), LitWorld (@LitWorldSays) and others. Thank you for joining us!

The #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet will take place on Tuesday, February 19th, at 10:00 a.m. PST (check your time zone here). (Sounds great, but what’s a TweetMeet?)

We offer 5 simultaneous language tracks this month: English, French, Polish, Romanian and Serbian. Here’s a quick look at all language tracks and their corresponding Twitter hashtags for the February TweetMeet:

For each language track, we have one or more hosts to post the translated questions and respond to educators. As always, we’re super grateful to all current and former hosts who are collaborating closely to provide this service.

The #TweetMeetXX hashtags for non-English languages are to be used together with #MSFTEduChat so that everyone can find the conversations back in their own language. For example: Polish-speaking people use the combination #TweetMeetPL #MSFTEduChat. English-speaking educators may all use #MSFTEduChat on its own.

Learn how to spark a love for literacy in the next #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet! Join us on Tuesday, Feb. 19 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. PST. #MSFTEduChat #Literacy Click To Tweet

TweetMeet fan? Show it off on your Twitter profile

Every month more and more people discover the unique flow and characteristics of the TweetMeet events and become passionate about them. Show your passion for the TweetMeets right from your own Twitter page by uploading this month’s #MSFTEduChat Twitter Header Photo to the top of your own Twitter profile. Besides English, this same Twitter Header Photo is also available in each of this month’s additional language tracks.

Looking back on the January TweetMeet on Transforming Classroom Time

Last month’s #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet generated fascinating and practical conversations and insights from educators around the world. We captured some highlights from this broad discussion in this @MicrosoftEDU Twitter Moment.

Why join the #MSFTEduChat TweetMeets?

TweetMeets are monthly recurring Twitter conversations about themes relevant to educators, facilitated by Microsoft Education. The purpose of these events is to help professionals in education to learn from each other and inspire their students while they are preparing for their future. The TweetMeets also nurture personal learning networks among educators from across the globe.

We’re grateful to have a support group made up exclusively of former TweetMeet hosts, who volunteer to translate communication and check the quality of our questions and promotional materials. They also help identify the best candidates for future events, provide relevant resources, promote the events among their networks, and, in general, cheer everybody on.

When and how can I join?

Join us Tuesday, February 19 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. PST on Twitter using the hashtags #MSFTEduChat, #Literacy and #MicrosoftEDU (which you can always use to stay in touch with us). To find the event time for your specific location, use this time zone announcer.

From our monthly surveys we know that you may be in class at event time, busy doing other things or maybe even asleep – well, no problem! All educators are most welcome to join after the event. Simply take a look at the questions below and respond to these at a day and time that suit you best. You can also schedule your tweets in advance. In that case, be sure to quote the entire question and mention the hashtag #MSFTEduChat, so that everyone knows the right question and conversation to which you are responding. Mark the exact timings – they are different this month.

How can I best prepare?

We also have a special Minecraft: Education Edition resource from two of this month’s hosts:

Verona Adventure

Explore this Minecraft: Education Edition world made by hosts Ben Spieldenner and Simon Baddeley. Take your students through an argumentative writing adventure set against the background of the classic story of Romeo and Juliet, staged in the city of Verona.

Plus, get ready Skype in the Classroom’s Literacy Month:

We are partnering Little Brown Young Readers and will be wrapping up our celebrations with a free broadcast event and live Q&A. Classrooms and families are invited to join us on March 6th to meet Cressida Cowell, author and illustrator of the hugely popular “How to Train Your Dragon” series. Cressida will inspire students to tap into their boundless imagination and will show how using character development and details in stories make them more believable and fun.

TweetMeet questions

In response to your feedback, we’ve reduced the number of discussion questions to just 4. This will give everyone more time to engage with one another.


We’re excited to introduce the 13 hosts for this month’s TweetMeet. They’re all passionate about literacy and thrilled to talk to you and offer their insights. You can see them all and follow them with a click on our TweetMeet list.

  • Ben Spieldenner @BenSpieldenner (MIE Expert, Minecraft Global Mentor, Co-Director Cross Pond Collaborations, High School English Teacher & Educational Technologist – Ashland OH, USA)
  • Bushra Anis Naqvi @banaqvi (Teacher, trainer, researcher, speaker, futurist and active enthusiast working to prove how technologies can change educators and education – Lahore, Pakistan)
  • Claudia Daniels @ClaudiaRDaniels (Aspiring for Better – making a difference in the life of a child through reading, writing, poetry, Flipgrid, ClassDojo, MIE Expert – Cobb County GA, USA)
  • Dyane Smokorowski @Mrs_Smoke (2013 KS Teacher of the Year, 2009 NSBA Top 20 to Watch, Google Certified, Skype MT, ECET2KS, Inst Tech Coach, EdCampKS, Speaker, Global Collaboration Evangelist – Andover KS, USA)
  • Hammed Abdulazeez @hammedabdulaz (MIE Expert, MIE Master Trainer, Skype Master Teacher, EduTech Expert, Member British Council Liberary of Experience for Diversity and Inclusion – Lagos, Nigeria)
  • Holly Holland @HollandEdTech (Reading Coach, MIE Expert, Skype Master Teacher, OneNote Avenger, Seesaw Ambassador, Flipgrid Ambassador – Tampa FL, USA)
  • Jacek Zablocki @JacekZablocki (Primary school teacher of English and ICT, MIE Expert passionate about Mystery Skype – Wasilkow, Poland)
  • Linda Edwards @LindaEdwardsi (Special Needs Educator, TDSB, Seesaw Ambassador, Buncee Ambassador, Class Dojo Mentor, Flipgrid GridGuide & Ambassador, MIE, Go Bubble Ambassador, Wakelet Member – Toronto, Canada)
  • Martha Bongiorno @Mrs_Bongi (MIE Expert passionate about future-ready libraries, embedding technology within literacy campaigns, and student voice in the library – Atlanta GA, USA)
  • Milena Vojinović @voj_milena (Elementary/Middle School ESL Teacher from Serbia, MIE Expert – quite passionate about using ICT tools in class – Leskovac, Serbia)
  • Mirela Tanc @MirelaTanc (Secondary School teacher, TEDx Speaker, Let’s do it Ambassador, MIE Expert & Trainer, member of Harvard Learning Community, TeachSDGs Ambassador, Skype Master Teacher – Oradea, Romania)
  • Natacha Camus @litteratum1 (College and High School Literature Teacher, MIE Expert, passionate about art and its transmission through digital technology – Dijon, France)
  • Simon Baddeley @SimBadd64 (Director of Cross Pond Collaborations, Minecraft Global Mentor, Minecraft Certified Trainer, Content Creator, Innovator, English Teacher – Castleford England, UK)

What are #MSFTEduChat TweetMeets?

Every month Microsoft Education organizes social events on Twitter targeted at educators globally. The hashtag we use is #MSFTEduChat. A team of topic specialists and international MIE Expert teachers prepare and host these TweetMeets together. Our team of educator hosts first crafts several questions around a certain topic. Then, before the event, they share these questions on social media. Combined with a range of resources, a blog post and background information about the events, this allows all participants to prepare themselves to the full. Afterwards we make an archive available of the most notable tweets and resources shared during the event.

TweetChat expert Madalyn Sklar recently published this helpful introductory guide:
Your Complete Guide to Twitter Chats: Why You Should Join & How to Make the Most of It

Please connect with TweetMeet organizer Marjolein Hoekstra @OneNoteC on Twitter if you have any questions about TweetMeets or helping out as a host.

Join for next month’s topic: #MakeWhatsNext with STEM

Find the right technology for your school

Find the right technology for your school

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Author: Steve Clarke

Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18836 | Windows Experience Blog

Hello Windows Insiders, today we are releasing a new build to Insiders who have opted into Skip Ahead. These builds are from the 20H1 development branch. Some things we are working on in 20H1 require a longer lead time. We will begin releasing 19H2 bits to Insiders later this spring after we get 19H1 nearly finished and ready; once 19H1 is “nearly finished and ready” we’ll also use the Release Preview ring for previews of drivers and quality updates on 19H1.
IMPORTANT: As is normal with builds early in the development cycle, builds may contain bugs that might be painful for some. If you take this flight, you won’t be able to switch back to the Fast or Slow rings without doing a clean-install on your PC and starting over.
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.

REMINDER: The new tamper protection setting in the Windows Security app protects your device by helping to prevent bad actors from tampering with the most important security settings. The setting is designed to be on by default, however the default state is not currently in effect for current Insider Preview builds. You may see a new recommendation in the Windows Security app suggesting you turn this setting on.
We fixed an issue where turning off Location from the Action Center might take multiple clicks to react.
We fixed an issue resulting in being unable to re-arrange pinned folders in Start’s tile grid.
We fixed an issue where newly installed apps might not show up in search results.
We fixed an issue resulting in some Insiders not being able to open Cortana when in Tablet Mode.
We fixed an issue from the previous flight where right-clicking the desktop would bring up a light colored context menu in dark theme.
We’re updating the name of the “Windows Light” theme to now be “Windows (light)”.
We fixed an issue where Cortana’s icon on secondary monitors wouldn’t update colors after switching between light and dark theme.
We fixed an issue where when using light theme + small icons + a vertical taskbar orientation, text written on the taskbar would stay white and thus wouldn’t be readable.
We fixed an issue that could result in open apps not being shown on the taskbar (but being visible in Alt + Tab).
We fixed an issue resulting in build unable to log into WinRE with an admin account in the last couple of flights.
We’ve made another fix to address reports of devices getting stuck with “Hibernating…” text on the screen on resume from hibernate.
We fixed an issue resulting in greys having an unexpected slight pinkish/purple-ish tinge on some devices in recent flights.
We fixed an issue in Ease of Access’s Cursor and pointer settings, mouse pointer size and color are now retained on upgrade.
We fixed an issue where the Windows Security app may show an unknown status for the Virus & threat protection area, or not refresh properly.
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ONC, CMS drop information blocking, interoperability rules ahead of HIMSS

ORLANDO, Fla. — The day before the official start of HIMSS, one of the largest health IT conferences in the world, the Department of Health and Human Services announced proposals for new information blocking and interoperability rules.

The highly anticipated proposals by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) aim to improve the exchange of health data, said Eric Hargan, deputy secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, in a call to reporters Monday morning.

Hargan said the proposed rules would enable patients to access all EHR data electronically — and at no cost. As part of that goal, the rules call for the healthcare community to adopt and use standardized APIs, so patients can easily access their data via smartphone apps.

The proposed rules also loosen constraints around information sharing as required by the 21st Century Cures Act. There are only seven situations listed by ONC that could potentially allow healthcare organizations to be exempt from sharing information.

Standards-based APIs a requirement

During the media call, ONC Director Don Rucker said, by requiring standards-based APIs, ONC is establishing the “technical underpinnings” for patient access to medical records asked for in the 21st Century Cures Act.

“We think both our rules will really strike a blow to get transparency for the American public,” he said.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma echoed Rucker’s comments during the call, saying the information blocking and interoperability rules are a natural step for the healthcare community. Take, for example, the 1,500 developers who are using data collected by CMS’ Blue Button 2.0, which collects patient data from health insurers, to build apps that patients can access on their phones to gather their clinical data in one place.

“Consumers routinely perform daily tasks on their phone, paying bills, shopping,” she said. “We believe accessing their health information should be just as easy, convenient and user-friendly.”

Verma said the proposed rules specifically reference the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard, developed by the nonprofit standards organization Health Level Seven, and CMS is “thrilled to continue to support” its development.

In support of its MyHealthEData initiative, which aims to improve patient data access, CMS  has proposed, by 2020, all healthcare organizations doing business with Medicare and Medicaid will be required to share claims and other health information with patients electronically through an API, according to Verma. That way, when patients change plans, they can take their health data with them.

Information blocking and RFIs

ONC listed seven new exceptions to the information blocking rule, or actions, activities or circumstances that would not constitute information blocking by a healthcare provider. Some of the exceptions to the rule include a healthcare organization preventing physical harm to patients or others, promoting electronic health information privacy and security, or recovering costs that have been reasonably incurred. 

Now that the exceptions to the rule have been outlined, the proposed rule would implement provisions included in the 21st Century Cures Act meant to stymie information blocking. “The days of holding patient data hostage are over,” Verma said.

Hospitals that engage in information blocking will face penalties and will be publicly reported. “We are going to expose the bad actors who are purposely trying to keep patients from their own information,” she said.

As a condition of Medicare participation, the proposed information blocking and interoperability rules also require hospitals to send electronic notifications to designated healthcare providers when patients are admitted, discharged or transferred from the hospital, according to Verma.

CMS is also seeking feedback through two requests for information on how matching patient data from different health IT systems plays a role in interoperability, as well as how CMS can help improve health IT adoption and data sharing in post-acute settings.

Healthcare industry players react to proposed rules

As healthcare industry players digest the proposed rules, Terri Ripley, CIO at OrthoVirginia in North Chesterfield, Va., and chairman of the HIMSS public policy committee, said her team is already combing through the new rules and is looking forward to how they address data sharing.

“Technically, you can share data now. The technology is there,” Ripley said. “But the policies and the willingness to share, that’s where you’ve got to knock some walls down.”

For Jeffery Smith, vice president of public policy at the American Medical Informatics Association, the ONC information blocking rule is “substantive” and has “far-reaching implications for certified health IT,” he said in an email.

Those of us who have been eagerly awaiting these rules will not be disappointed in the implications of ONC and CMS proposals.
Jeffery Smithvice president of public policy, AMIA

“Of particular interest are the provisions around a new criteria called Electronic Health Information Export, which is meant to provide patients with a complete copy of their entire record in a computable, electric format,” he said. “This concept will be a game changer for patients looking to be first-order participants in their care.”

The identification of FHIR for APIs, as well as specific implementation guides, will “help foster an ecosystem of APIs and apps for clinical and consumer-facing purposes,” Smith said.

“Those of us who have been eagerly awaiting these rules will not be disappointed in the implications of ONC and CMS proposals,” he said.

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