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New Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey uncovers lack of tech adoption data

LAS VEGAS — A new report emphasized that data-driven HR is a difficult goal to achieve. And it’s even more challenging because few companies track how much employees use — or don’t use — HR applications.

The numbers from the 21st annual Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey illustrated the gap: Fifty-two percent of respondents indicated that HR tech influences their business decisions, but less than a quarter of those people possess data on employee buy-in, as illustrated by HR tech adoption in their organization.

“You have to know how people use your tech,” said Stacey Harris, vice president of research and analytics at Sierra-Cedar, a tech consulting and managed services firm based in Alpharetta, Ga. “[Only] 10% of organizations are measuring HR technology adoption — how their technology is being used. That’s an issue.”

She presented the findings at the HR Technology Conference here this week. TechTarget, the publisher of SearchHRSoftware, is a media partner for the event.

Michael Krupa, senior director of digitization and business intelligence at networking giant Cisco, told Harris he is not surprised by the statistics. To measure adoption, a series of detailed steps is necessary, including documenting HR users, creating metrics based on those personas and then presenting the data in dashboards. Along the way, companies must also determine who monitors adoption data.

“You have to do all that,” Krupa said. “It’s hard.”

However, there is a statistical correlation between those who successfully track HR tech adoption and a 10% increase in favorable business outcomes, Harris said.

Methods to track employee buy-in and HR tech adoption

Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey respondents indicated lots of ways to ascertain adoption and use, including the following:

  • measuring mobile and desktop logins;
  • determining average transactions completed during a period of time;
  • running Google Analytics reports;
  • tracking employee self-service volume;
  • talking to employees; and
  • receiving vendor reports on activity.

[Only] 10% of organizations are measuring HR technology adoption — how their technology is being used.
Stacey Harrisvice president of research and analytics, Sierra-Cedar

Chatham Financial, a financial advisory and technology company based in Kennett Square, Pa., tracks logins and sends out satisfaction surveys to users, said Lindsay Evans, director of talent. Chatham’s approach is to think of employees as customers.

However, Evans — who appeared with Harris and Krupa — said it is not always a bad thing to find out employees don’t use an application.

“At my company, we use a time tracker, and people hate it,” she said. “I wish we hadn’t rolled it out. It’s not really saving us a lot of time.”

Data-driven HR raises data privacy concerns

The big picture of human capital management has changed within the last 15 years. Software from back then focused on processes, whereas HR professionals now use a company’s strategy, culture and data governance to evaluate technology, Harris said.

Stacey Harris, Michael Krupa and Lindsay Evans discuss data-driven HR needs.
Stacey Harris, Michael Krupa and Lindsay Evans speak at the HR Technology Conference.

“Data is at the center of your HR technology conversation,” she added.

Broadly, data governance describes steps to ensure the availability, integrity and security of digital information. “Data governance is important, because we need to know where data is stored, how people are using it and where it’s moving,” Krupa said.

With the emphasis on data-driven HR comes the need for cybersecurity and data privacy, and the Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey uncovered an interesting twist to those duties as it concerns HRIT professionals. HRIT and HRIS roles are the top choices to handle data privacy and content security, with 48% of organizations with all-cloud HR systems using HRIT in this way.

However, for 47% of companies with on-premises HR systems, IT departments deal with data privacy and content security, while only 18% use HRIT.

“In the cloud environment, [HRIT workers] are the people standing between you and data privacy,” Harris said, adding that this rise in prominence for cloud-based HR indicates HRIT professionals are becoming more strategic in their duties.

Closing thoughts on HR cloud, mobile and spending

Beyond results on HR technology adoption, the Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey looked at a wide swath of HR tech issues, including these tidbits:

  • Cloud adoption of HR management systems continues to rise, with 68% of companies heading in that direction, compared with on-premises installations — an increase of 14% from last year’s Sierra-Cedar report.
  • Mobile HR has been adopted by 51% of organizations. So, if your company doesn’t use this tech, it lags behind, Harris said. However, this statistic came with a warning, too, as only 25% of companies have a BYOD policy, which hints at data privacy risks, she said.
  • For 2018, 42% of organizations reported plans to increase HR system spending, which is a 10% increase over 2017. “There is no return on investment with HR technology … but there is a return on value,” Harris said. “But you only get more [value] if people are using it.”

The next wave of computing is the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud – The Official Microsoft Blog

YouTube Video

Take a look around your house, office or even the next store you visit, and you’ll start to notice that internet-connected devices are bringing us closer than ever before to a world of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence. As these Internet of Things (IoT) devices become increasingly commonplace, people will start to expect computing to be more integrated into their lives, to anticipate, understand and seamlessly meet their needs. They will expect software to respond to spoken natural language, gestures, body language and emotion, and for it to understand the physical world and the rich context surrounding each user as they navigate their personal life, their work and the world around them.

This trend has more promise than just bringing additional convenience, productivity and connections to our everyday lives. Smart sensors and devices are breathing new life into industrial equipment from factories to farms, helping us navigate and plan for more sustainable urban cities and bringing the power of the cloud to some of the world’s most remote destinations. With the power of artificial intelligence (AI) enabling these devices to intelligently respond to the world they are sensing, we will see new breakthroughs in critical areas that benefit humanity like healthcare, conservation, sustainability, accessibility, disaster recovery and more.

We call this next wave of computing the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud. When we take the power of the cloud down to the device – the edge – we provide the ability to respond, reason and act in real time and in areas with limited or no connectivity. As Satya shared at our Build developer conference, it’s still early days, but we’re starting to see how these new capabilities can be applied towards solving critical world challenges:

  • Increasing the world’s food supply: The world will need 70 percent more food according to the U.N., to feed a global population of 9.6 billion in 2050. Farmers like Sean Stratman in Carnation, Washington, are using the intelligent edge to do precision agriculture with real-time intelligence on soil, even in remote areas with unreliable connectivity. Using Microsoft’s FarmBeatssolution, which combines intelligence trained in the cloud to run on a drone, Sean created a heatmap of his land that served as a guide for him to plant the crops that will best perform in specific locations.
  • Ecological research and conservation: The intelligent edge creates opportunities to collect more accurate data in our research of natural disasters and threatened habitats. Smart sensors can collect data and act on events as they happen, providing researchers greater fidelity in their models and enabling them to take specific actions and make predictions that could improve conservation efforts. Disney Animal Kingdom is leveraging the intelligent edge to study the purple martin bird. They worked with Microsoft to develop hundreds of tiny “smart houses” in Disney’s Animal Kingdom to learn more about the species and help inspire a new generation of conservationists in the parks. The scientists have unprecedented insight now into the nesting behavior of the purple martins.
  • Reducing waste and improving safety in energy: The world depends on natural resources to produce energy for the world.  Because these resources are limited, it is also critical that energy companies leverage technology to increase efficiency. Schneider Electric is using the intelligent edge in oil fields to monitor and configure pump settings and operations remotely, only sending personnel onsite when necessary for repair or maintenance when, for example, intelligent pump monitoring indicates that something will go wrong. This contributes to overall worker safety and improved resource management.

We need to give all organizations and developers the tools to build these kinds of increasingly ambitious solutions that span the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud.  Moreover, these tools must give developers strong security foundations and help them to place security at the very core of their solutions. Devices on the edge handle some of our most sensitive business and personal data in our homes, workplaces, and sometimes in physically remote places.

To protect data wherever it lives, security needs to be baked in from the silicon to the cloud. This has been one of the central design principles of Microsoft’s intelligent edge products and services. Azure Sphere is our intelligent edge solution to power and protect connected microcontroller unit (MCU)-powered devices. There are 9 billion of these MCU-powered devices shipping every year, which power everything from household stoves and refrigerators to industrial equipment. With more processing power than traditional MCUs and a holistic security approach, we believe Azure Sphere will make our increasingly connected world safer. In addition, Azure IoT Edge enables you to run cloud intelligence directly on IoT devices and includes security from device provisioning and management to hardware and cloud services that run on top of the devices. Azure Stack, just one of our many tools to power hybrid scenarios, offers customers the flexibility to securely deploy in the cloud, on-premises or at the intelligent edge.

In the past three months, we introduced Azure Sphere at RSA; announced a powerful application developer experience with Visual Studio for Azure Sphere to accelerate innovation at the outer edge, as well as new IoT edge capabilities and partnerships at Build; and shipped Azure IoT Edge general availability last month. This is all part of our commitment to intelligent edge innovation and our broader $5 billion investment in IoT to empower our customers and partners. We have more exciting updates around the corner and look forward to seeing what our customers and partners build.

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For Sale – MSI 1080Ti gaming X 11GB

Selling my MSI 1080Ti Gaming X 11GB. Immaculate as new condition. Barely even used it to be honest, so it’s sitting totally under utilised in my system. Just don’t have the time for gaming these days.

Comes with original box and accessories. Warranty good until 2020.

£650 delivered. PPG or BT.

If you’re on the south coast I’m happy for you to collect or I can deliver if you’re not too far from PO10 postcode.

Price and currency: £650
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: PPG or BT
Location: Emsworth, Hants
Advertised elsewhere?: 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:

  • 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.

Facial recognition technology: The need for public regulation and corporate responsibility – Microsoft on the Issues

All tools can be used for good or ill. Even a broom can be used to sweep the floor or hit someone over the head. The more powerful the tool, the greater the benefit or damage it can cause. The last few months have brought this into stark relief when it comes to computer-assisted facial recognition – the ability of a computer to recognize people’s faces from a photo or through a camera. This technology can catalog your photos, help reunite families or potentially be misused and abused by private companies and public authorities alike.

Facial recognition technology raises issues that go to the heart of fundamental human rights protections like privacy and freedom of expression. These issues heighten responsibility for tech companies that create these products. In our view, they also call for thoughtful government regulation and for the development of norms around acceptable uses. In a democratic republic, there is no substitute for decision making by our elected representatives regarding the issues that require the balancing of public safety with the essence of our democratic freedoms. Facial recognition will require the public and private sectors alike to step up – and to act.

We’ve set out below steps that we are taking, and recommendations we have for government regulation.

First, some context

Facial recognition technology has been advancing rapidly over the past decade. If you’ve ever seen a suggestion on Facebook or another social media platform to tag a face with a suggested name, you’ve seen facial recognition at work. A wide variety of tech companies, Microsoft included, have utilized this technology the past several years to turn time-consuming work to catalog photos into something both instantaneous and useful.

So, what is changing now? In part it’s the ability of computer vision to get better and faster in recognizing people’s faces. In part this improvement reflects better cameras, sensors and machine learning capabilities. It also reflects the advent of larger and larger datasets as more images of people are stored online. This improvement also reflects the ability to use the cloud to connect all this data and facial recognition technology with live cameras that capture images of people’s faces and seek to identify them – in more places and in real time.

Advanced technology no longer stands apart from society; it is becoming deeply infused in our personal and professional lives. This means the potential uses of facial recognition are myriad. At an elementary level, you might use it to catalog and search your photos, but that’s just the beginning. Some uses are already improving security for computer users, like recognizing your face instead of requiring a password to access many Windows laptops or iPhones, and in the future a device like an automated teller machine.

Some emerging uses are both positive and potentially even profound. Imagine finding a young missing child by recognizing her as she is being walked down the street. Imagine helping the police to identify a terrorist bent on destruction as he walks into the arena where you’re attending a sporting event. Imagine a smartphone camera and app that tells a person who is blind the name of the individual who has just walked into a room to join a meeting.

But other potential applications are more sobering. Imagine a government tracking everywhere you walked over the past month without your permission or knowledge. Imagine a database of everyone who attended a political rally that constitutes the very essence of free speech. Imagine the stores of a shopping mall using facial recognition to share information with each other about each shelf that you browse and product you buy, without asking you first. This has long been the stuff of science fiction and popular movies – like “Minority Report,” “Enemy of the State” and even “1984” – but now it’s on the verge of becoming possible.

Perhaps as much as any advance, facial recognition raises a critical question: what role do we want this type of technology to play in everyday society?

The issues become even more complicated when we add the fact that facial recognition is advancing quickly but remains far from perfect. As reported widely in recent months, biases have been found in the performance of several fielded face recognition technologies. The technologies worked more accurately for white men than for white women and were more accurate in identifying persons with lighter complexions than people of color. Researchers across the tech sector are working overtime to address these challenges and significant progress is being made. But as important research has demonstrated, deficiencies remain. The relative immaturity of the technology is making the broader public questions even more pressing.

Even if biases are addressed and facial recognition systems operate in a manner deemed fair for all people, we will still face challenges with potential failures. Facial recognition, like many AI technologies, typically have some rate of error even when they operate in an unbiased way. And the issues relating to facial recognition go well beyond questions of bias themselves, raising critical questions about our fundamental freedoms.

Politics meets Silicon Valley

In recent weeks, the politics of the United States have become more intertwined with these technology developments on the West Coast. One week in the middle of June put the issues raised by facial recognition technology in bold relief for me and other company leaders at Microsoft. As the country was transfixed by the controversy surrounding the separation of immigrant children from their families at the southern border, a tweet about a marketing blog Microsoft published in January quickly blew up on social media and sparked vigorous debate. The blog had discussed a contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and said that Microsoft had passed a high security threshold; it included a sentence about the potential for ICE to use facial recognition.

We’ve since confirmed that the contract in question isn’t being used for facial recognition at all. Nor has Microsoft worked with the U.S. government on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border, a practice to which we’ve strongly objected. The work under the contract instead is supporting legacy email, calendar, messaging and document management workloads. This type of IT work goes on in every government agency in the United States, and for that matter virtually every government, business and nonprofit institution in the world. Some nonetheless suggested that Microsoft cancel the contract and cease all work with ICE.

The ensuing discussion has illuminated broader questions that are rippling across the tech sector. These questions are not unique to Microsoft. They surfaced earlier this year at Google and other tech companies. In recent weeks, a group of Amazon employees has objected to its contract with ICE, while reiterating concerns raised by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) about law enforcement use of facial recognition technology. And Salesforce employees have raised the same issues related to immigration authorities and these agencies’ use of their products. Demands increasingly are surfacing for tech companies to limit the way government agencies use facial recognition and other technology.

These issues are not going to go away. They reflect the rapidly expanding capabilities of new technologies that increasingly will define the decade ahead. Facial recognition is the technology of the moment, but it’s apparent that other new technologies will raise similar issues in the future. This makes it even more important that we use this moment to get the direction right.

The need for government regulation

The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself. And if there are concerns about how a technology will be deployed more broadly across society, the only way to regulate this broad use is for the government to do so. This in fact is what we believe is needed today – a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology, informed first by a bipartisan and expert commission.

While we appreciate that some people today are calling for tech companies to make these decisions – and we recognize a clear need for our own exercise of responsibility, as discussed further below – we believe this is an inadequate substitute for decision making by the public and its representatives in a democratic republic. We live in a nation of laws, and the government needs to play an important role in regulating facial recognition technology. As a general principle, it seems more sensible to ask an elected government to regulate companies than to ask unelected companies to regulate such a government.

Such an approach is also likely to be far more effective in meeting public goals. After all, even if one or several tech companies alter their practices, problems will remain if others do not. The competitive dynamics between American tech companies – let alone between companies from different countries – will likely enable governments to keep purchasing and using new technology in ways the public may find unacceptable in the absence of a common regulatory framework.

It may seem unusual for a company to ask for government regulation of its products, but there are many markets where thoughtful regulation contributes to a healthier dynamic for consumers and producers alike. The auto industry spent decades in the 20th century resisting calls for regulation, but today there is broad appreciation of the essential role that regulations have played in ensuring ubiquitous seat belts and air bags and greater fuel efficiency. The same is true for air safety, foods and pharmaceutical products. There will always be debates about the details, and the details matter greatly. But a world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards.

That’s why Microsoft called for national privacy legislation for the United States in 2005 and why we’ve supported the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union. Consumers will have more confidence in the way companies use their sensitive personal information if there are clear rules of the road for everyone to follow. While the new issues relating to facial recognition go beyond privacy, we believe the analogy is apt.

It seems especially important to pursue thoughtful government regulation of facial recognition technology, given its broad societal ramifications and potential for abuse. Without a thoughtful approach, public authorities may rely on flawed or biased technological approaches to decide who to track, investigate or even arrest for a crime. Governments may monitor the exercise of political and other public activities in ways that conflict with longstanding expectations in democratic societies, chilling citizens’ willingness to turn out for political events and undermining our core freedoms of assembly and expression. Similarly, companies may use facial recognition to make decisions without human intervention that affect our eligibility for credit, jobs or purchases. All these scenarios raise important questions of privacy, free speech, freedom of association and even life and liberty.

So what issues should be addressed through government regulation? That’s one of the most important initial questions to address. As a starting point, we believe governments should consider the following issues, among others:

  • Should law enforcement use of facial recognition be subject to human oversight and controls, including restrictions on the use of unaided facial recognition technology as evidence of an individual’s guilt or innocence of a crime?
  • Similarly, should we ensure there is civilian oversight and accountability for the use of facial recognition as part of governmental national security technology practices?
  • What types of legal measures can prevent use of facial recognition for racial profiling and other violations of rights while still permitting the beneficial uses of the technology?
  • Should use of facial recognition by public authorities or others be subject to minimum performance levels on accuracy?
  • Should the law require that retailers post visible notice of their use of facial recognition technology in public spaces?
  • Should the law require that companies obtain prior consent before collecting individuals’ images for facial recognition? If so, in what situations and places should this apply? And what is the appropriate way to ask for and obtain such consent?
  • Should we ensure that individuals have the right to know what photos have been collected and stored that have been identified with their names and faces?
  • Should we create processes that afford legal rights to individuals who believe they have been misidentified by a facial recognition system?

This list, which is by no means exhaustive, illustrates the breadth and importance of the issues involved.

Another important initial question is how governments should go about addressing these questions. In the United States, this is a national issue that requires national leadership by our elected representatives. This means leadership by Congress. While some question whether members of Congress have sufficient expertise on technology issues, at Microsoft we believe Congress can address these issues effectively. The key is for lawmakers to use the right mechanisms to gather expert advice to inform their decision making.

On numerous occasions, Congress has appointed bipartisan expert commissions to assess complicated issues and submit recommendations for potential legislative action. As the Congressional Research Service (CRS) noted last year, these commissions are “formal groups established to provide independent advice; make recommendations for changes in public policy; study or investigate a particular problem, issue, or event; or perform a duty.” Congress’ use of the bipartisan “9/11 Commission” played a critical role in assessing that national tragedy. Congress has created 28 such commissions over the past decade, assessing issues ranging from protecting children in disasters to the future of the army.

We believe Congress should create a bipartisan expert commission to assess the best way to regulate the use of facial recognition technology in the United States. This should build on recent work by academics and in the public and private sectors to assess these issues and to develop clearer ethical principles for this technology. The purpose of such a commission should include advice to Congress on what types of new laws and regulations are needed, as well as stronger practices to ensure proper congressional oversight of this technology across the executive branch.

Issues relating to facial recognition go well beyond the borders of the United States. The questions listed above – and no doubt others – will become important public policy issues around the world, requiring active engagement by governments, academics, tech companies and civil society internationally. Given the global nature of the technology itself, there likely will also be a growing need for interaction and even coordination between national regulators across borders.

Tech sector responsibilities

The need for government leadership does not absolve technology companies of our own ethical responsibilities. Given the importance and breadth of facial recognition issues, we at Microsoft and throughout the tech sector have a responsibility to ensure that this technology is human-centered and developed in a manner consistent with broadly held societal values. We need to recognize that many of these issues are new and no one has all the answers. We still have work to do to identify all the questions. In short, we all have a lot to learn. Nonetheless, some initial conclusions are clear.

First, it’s incumbent upon those of us in the tech sector to continue the important work needed to reduce the risk of bias in facial recognition technology. No one benefits from the deployment of immature facial recognition technology that has greater error rates for women and people of color. That’s why our researchers and developers are working to accelerate progress in this area, and why this is one of the priorities for Microsoft’s Aether Committee, which provides advice on several AI ethics issues inside the company.

As we pursue this work, we recognize the importance of collaborating with the academic community and other companies, including in groups such as the Partnership for AI. And we appreciate the importance not only of creating data sets that reflect the diversity of the world, but also of ensuring that we have a diverse and well-trained workforce with the capabilities needed to be effective in reducing the risk of bias. This requires ongoing and urgent work by Microsoft and other tech companies to promote greater diversity and inclusion in our workforce and to invest in a broader and more diverse pipeline of talent for the future. We’re focused on making progress in these areas, but we recognize that we have much more work to do.

Second, and more broadly, we recognize the need to take a principled and transparent approach in the development and application of facial recognition technology. We are undertaking work to assess and develop additional principles to govern our facial recognition work. We’ve used a similar approach in other instances, including trust principles we adopted in 2015 for our cloud services, supported in part by transparency centers and other facilities around the world to enable the inspection of our source code and other data. Similarly, earlier this year we published an overall set of ethical principles we are using in the development of all our AI capabilities.

As we move forward, we’re committed to establishing a transparent set of principles for facial recognition technology that we will share with the public. In part this will build on our broader commitment to design our products and operate our services consistent with the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These were adopted in 2011 and have emerged as the global standard for ensuring corporate respect for human rights. We periodically conduct Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs) of our products and services, and we’re currently pursuing this work with respect to our AI technologies.

We’ll pursue this work in part based on the expertise and input of our employees, but we also recognize the importance of active external listening and engagement. We’ll therefore also sit down with and listen to a variety of external stakeholders, including customers, academics and human rights and privacy groups that are focusing on the specific issues involved in facial recognition. This work will take  up to a few months, but we’re committed to completing it expeditiously .

We recognize that one of the difficult issues we’ll need to address is the distinction between the development of our facial recognition services and the use of our broader IT infrastructure by third parties that build and deploy their own facial recognition technology. The use of infrastructure and off-the-shelf capabilities by third parties are more difficult for a company to regulate, compared to the use of a complete service or the work of a firm’s own consultants, which readily can be managed more tightly. While nuanced, these distinctions will need consideration.

Third, in the meantime we recognize the importance of going more slowly when it comes to the deployment of the full range of facial recognition technology. Many information technologies, unlike something like pharmaceutical products, are distributed quickly and broadly to accelerate the pace of innovation and usage. “Move fast and break things” became something of a mantra in Silicon Valley earlier this decade. But if we move too fast with facial recognition, we may find that people’s fundamental rights are being broken.

For this reason, based in part on input from the Aether Committee, we’re moving more deliberately with our facial recognition consulting and contracting work. This has led us to turn down some customer requests for deployments of this service where we’ve concluded that there are greater human rights risks. As we’re developing more permanent principles, we will continue to monitor the potential uses of our facial recognition technologies with a view to assessing and avoiding human rights abuses.

In a similar vein, we’re committed to sharing more information with customers who are contemplating the potential deployment of facial recognition technology. We will continue work to provide customers and others with information that will help them understand more deeply both the current capabilities and limitations of facial recognition technology, how these features can and should be used, and the risks of improper uses.

Fourth, we’re committed to participating in a full and responsible manner in public policy deliberations relating to facial recognition. Government officials, civil liberties organizations and the broader public can only appreciate the full implications of new technical trends if those of us who create this technology do a good job of sharing information with them. Especially given our urging of governments to act, it’s incumbent on us to step forward to share this information. As we do so, we’re committed to serving as a voice for the ethical use of facial recognition and other new technologies, both in the United States and around the world.

We recognize that there may be additional responsibilities that companies in the tech sector ought to assume. We provide the foregoing list not with the sense that it is necessarily complete, but in the hope that it can provide a good start in helping to move forward.

Some concluding thoughts

Finally, as we think about the evolving range of technology uses, we think it’s important to acknowledge that the future is not simple. A government agency that is doing something objectionable today may do something that is laudable tomorrow. We therefore need a principled approach for facial recognition technology, embodied in law, that outlasts a single administration or the important political issues of a moment.

Even at a time of increasingly polarized politics, we have faith in our fundamental democratic institutions and values. We have elected representatives in Congress that have the tools needed to assess this new technology, with all its ramifications. We benefit from the checks and balances of a Constitution that has seen us from the age of candles to an era of artificial intelligence. As in so many times in the past, we need to ensure that new inventions serve our democratic freedoms pursuant to the rule of law. Given the global sweep of this technology, we’ll need to address these issues internationally, in no small part by working with and relying upon many other respected voices. We will all need to work together, and we look forward to doing our part.

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The Complete Guide to Azure Virtual Machines: Part 1

Azure Virtual Machines make an already hugely flexible technology in virtualization even more adaptable through remote hosting.

Virtual machines are a part of Azure’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering that allows you to have the flexibility of virtualization without having to invest in the underlying infrastructure. In simpler words, you are paying Microsoft to run a Virtual Machine of your choosing in their Azure environment while they provide you access to the VM.

One of the biggest misconceptions I see in the workplace is that managing Cloud Infrastructure is the same as or very similar to managing on-premise infrastructure. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Cloud Infrastructure is a whole new ball game. It can be a great tool in our back pockets for certain scenarios but only if used correctly. This blog series will explain how you can determine if a workload is suitable for an Azure VM and how to deploy it properly.

Why Use Azure Virtual Machines Over On-Premise Equipment?

One of the biggest features of the public cloud is its scalability. If you write an application and need to scale up the resources dramatically for a few days, you can create a VM in Azure, install your application, run it in there and turn it off when done. You only pay for what you use. If you haven’t already invested in your own physical environment this is a very attractive alternative. The agility this solution provides software developers is on a whole new level compared to before and enables companies to become more efficient at creating applications, and being able to scale when desired is huge.

Should I Choose IaaS or PaaS?

When deploying workloads in Azure, it is important to determine whether or not an application or service should be run using Platform as a Service (PaaS) or a Virtual Machine (IaaS). For example, let’s say you are porting an application into Azure that runs on SQL. Do we want to build a Virtual Machine and install SQL or do we want to just leverage Azure’s PaaS services and just use one of their SQL instances? There are many factors in deciding whether or not to use PaaS or IaaS but one of the biggest is, how much control do you require for your application to run effectively. Do you need to make a lot of changes to the registry and do you require many tweaks within the SQL install? If so, then the virtual machine route would seem a better fit.

How To Choose The Right Virtual Machine Type

In Azure, the Virtual Machine resource specifications are cookie cutter. You don’t get to customize down to the details of how much CPU and Memory you want. They come in an offering of different sizes and you have to make those resource templates work for your computing needs. Making sure the correct size of VM is selected is crucial in Azure, not only because of performance implications for your applications but also because of the pricing. You don’t want to be paying more for a VM that is too large for your workloads.

Make sure you do your homework to determine which size is right for your needs. Also, pay close attention to i/o requirements. Storage is almost always the most common performance killer, so do your due diligence and make sure you’re getting the VM with the proper IOPS (Input/Output Operations per  Second) requirements. For Windows licensing, Microsoft covers the license and the Client Access License if you’re running a VM that needs CALs. For Linux VMs the licensing differs per the distribution.

Before we go and create a Virtual Machine inside Azure, let’s go over one of the gotchas that you might run into if you’re not aware. In Azure, since everything is “pay as you go”, if you’re not aware of the pricing at all times, you or your company may be getting a hefty bill from Microsoft. One of the common mistakes with VMs is that If you don’t completely remove your VM you can still get a charge. Simply just shutting down the VM will not stop the meter from running – you’re still reserving the hardware space from Microsoft so you’ll still be billed. Also when you delete the VM, you are going to have to delete the managed disk as well separately. The VM itself is not the only cost applied when running virtual machines.

Getting Started – Creating the Virtual Network

We will now demonstrate how to configure a Virtual Machine on Azure and getting connected to it. First, we will need to create the virtual networking so that the VM has some sort of network to talk out on. Afterward, we will create the Network Security Group which is like the “firewall” to the VM, and then finally we will create the VM itself. To create the Virtual Network, log into the Azure Portal and select “Create a Resource”. Then click on Networking > Virtual Network:

Azure Virtual Machines

Now we can specify the settings for our Virtual Network. First, we’ll give it a name. I’ll call mine “LukeLabVnet1”. I’ll leave the address space default here but we could make it smaller if we chose too. Then we will select our subscription type. You can use multiple subscriptions for different purposes, like a Development subscription and a Production subscription. Resource groups are a way for you to manage and group together your Azure resources for billing, monitoring, and to access control purposes. We already have a resource group created for this VM and its components so I will go ahead and select that. If we wanted, we could create a new one on the fly here. Then, we fill in the time zone which is Eastern for me. Next, we’ll give the subnet a name because we can create multiple subnets on this virtual network later, I’ll call it “LukeLabSubnet”. I’ll leave the default Address space for the subnet out since we are just configuring one VM and setting up access to it. Once we are done we will hit “create:

Now, to get to our newly created Virtual Network, on the left-hand side of the portal we select “Virtual Networks” and click on the one we just deployed:

We can configure all of our settings for our Virtual Network here. However, for the simplicity of the demonstration we will leave everything how it is for now:

Now that we have our virtual network in place, we will need to create our Network Security Group and then finally deploy our VM which will we do in part 2 of this series. As you can see there are a lot of components to learn when deploying VMs in Azure.

Comments/Feedback?

If you’re unsure about anything stated here let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to explain it better.

Have you tried Azure Virtual Machines? Let us know your verdict!

For Sale – EVGA Supernova 850watt G3 PSU

Hi all,

looking to get a even beefer PSU for next project, comes with original box and cables, very little use.

£100 local collection from Luton

Price and currency: £110
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank transfer or cash on collection
Location: Luton
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

______________________________________________________
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.

For Sale – EVGA Supernova 850watt G3 PSU

Hi all,

looking to get a even beefer PSU for next project, comes with original box and cables, very little use.

£100 local collection from Luton

Price and currency: £110
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank transfer or cash on collection
Location: Luton
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

______________________________________________________
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.

AMD A8-7600 Bundle

For sale I have a Greate little starter bundle, or even office machine, add a PSU and your off to the races.

AMD A8-7600
MSI A78M-E35
4GB Ram (2*2GB)
128GB Intenso SSD
Also Includes the Stock Heatsink

Mobo as in below link.

A78M-E35 | Motherboard – The world leader in motherboard design | MSI Global

Any questions please ask

Price and currency: £115
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my…

AMD A8-7600 Bundle

AMD A8-7600 Bundle

For sale I have a Greate little starter bundle, or even office machine, add a PSU and your off to the races.

AMD A8-7600
MSI A78M-E35
4GB Ram (2*2GB)
128GB Intenso SSD
Also Includes the Stock Heatsink

Mobo as in below link.

A78M-E35 | Motherboard – The world leader in motherboard design | MSI Global

Any questions please ask

Price and currency: £115
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my…

AMD A8-7600 Bundle

Alienware Alpha R2 – i5 + 8gb DDR4 + 1tb HDD + 256gb SSD + Radeon R9 M470X 2GB GDDR5

Alienware Alpha R2 – Not even 1 years old

The specs are

i5 6400T
8gb DDR4
1tb HDD
256gb SSD Samsung NVMe SSD
Radeon R9 M470X 2GB GDDR5 graphics
Windows 10
mouse and keyboard

I bought the SSD from Scan at the same time as purchase and is on warranty still, which i believe ends in Feb 18.

The Dell System also is still under warranty, which expires on 15/02/2018 and is extendable.

Amazing computer, really fast and brilliant gaming machine,…

Alienware Alpha R2 – i5 + 8gb DDR4 + 1tb HDD + 256gb SSD + Radeon R9 M470X 2GB GDDR5