Tag Archives: features

Windows Server 2019 Preview: What’s New and What’s Cool

Introducing the newly-announced Windows Server 2019 public preview. Covers the new features and includes a discussion on their impact. Should you be excited or worried about the next installment of Windows Server?

Read the post here: Windows Server 2019 Preview: What’s New and What’s Cool

Software Reviews | Computer Software Review

Bottom Line: Dokmee offers most of the features you would expect from a document management system, but struggles to compare positively against solutions such as Microsoft SharePoint Online, which offers additional innovative features, or Ascensio System OnlyOffice with its aggressive pricing structure.

Bottom Line: Dokmee offers most of the features you would expect from a document management system, but struggles to compare positively against solutions such as Microsoft SharePoint Online, which offers additional innovative features, or Ascensio System OnlyOffice with its aggressive pricing structure.

MSRP: $29.00



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Salesforce Trailhead gets social boost for admins, developers

Salesforce recently released two new features for its training platform, Salesforce Trailhead: a publicly displayed skills graph and the option for admins, developers and other certified pros to create a vanity URL. While these two features may seem like small changes, they pave the road for Trailhead to become an alternative to the résumé or, maybe more significantly, a way to steal eyeballs from rival Microsoft’s LinkedIn professional network.

Trailhead provides hands-on training programs for all facets of Salesforce and a number of other skills that can be useful for people working with Salesforce implementations. It also allows users to develop and share their own training strategies.

Originally, Trailhead tracked users’ accomplishments, but didn’t provide any way for the users to display their accomplishments to each other or to potential employers. More recently, Salesforce Trailhead started giving users badges they could display on their profiles to represent every training program they’ve completed.

Because these training programs often include hands-on elements and actual coding projects, this gave users the ability to show off their skills. The skills graph takes this one step further, providing a pie chart for Trailhead users to prove their skills to prospective employers.

Salesforce Trailhead profile as personal brand

Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said, “Salesforce wants to give you their Salesforce résumé. Over time, this should give people the ability to build up their personal brand.” The Salesforce résumé is built around the badges, and the public skills graph is, as Lepofsky said, just “taking it to the next level of publicity.”

“People are looking to differentiate at more than the product level,” Lepofsky added. Instead, they’re competing over extra and unexpected skills. Employers are looking for more granular information on the skills of their prospective employees than that they have Salesforce experience. Being able to point to quantifiable measurements of specific skills would be an asset on the job market, Lepofsky said.

Brent Leary, co-founder at partner at CRM Essentials, said the Salesforce Trailhead badges and skills graph would “make it easy for people looking for the right kind of résumé and experience … to know that these experiences are legitimate.”

Furthermore, according to Leary, because the skills graph and badges are standardized, this provides a useful way for employers to compare prospective hires from different geographical locations and with different backgrounds.

A profile in Salesforce Trailhead
Recent updates to Salesforce Trailhead include a revised skills graph and badges to display skills they’ve earned and knowledge they’ve gained.

Increasing diversity of Salesforce recruiting side benefit?

Sarah Franklin, executive vice president of development relations and general manager of Salesforce Trailhead, said she sees these new features as more than just a way for Salesforce to build its own version of LinkedIn.

Franklin said the skills graph “changes the résumé from ‘What you have done?’ to ‘What are your skills?'” A traditional résumé lists past job experience and educational history, but it doesn’t include any way to prove that the job applicants have gone through training and have new skills that they didn’t use at previous jobs. The purpose of the Trailhead skills graph, according to Franklin, is “if you learn [new skills] and you can show it on your skills graph, then you’re in.”

We have to make it affordable to have an easy on-ramp to a career.
Sarah Franklinexecutive vice president of development relations and general manager at Salesforce

She said she hopes that, with the inclusion of the skills graph, Salesforce Trailhead will be able to increase diversity in the company’s ecosystem. Franklin is a mother of daughters and a woman working in technology herself, so increasing, among other things, gender diversity in the technology space is important to her. “The problems we have with diversity, they’re systemic. It’s not job recruiting. To get recruited, you need a four-year degree. To get a four-year degree, you need lots of money, probably. It’s a systemic problem that we face, and we have to change the game,” she said.

The free training isn’t useful for only current Salesforce users. Franklin said college students with debt and no work experience, parents returning to the workforce after raising children and people looking for a brand-new career could be new users for Trailhead. People who come to the Salesforce ecosystem by nontraditional roads can also prove their qualifications to a potential employer via the skills graph.

“We have to make it affordable to have an easy on-ramp to a career,” Franklin said.

The vanity URL makes it easier for users to link prospective employers, LinkedIn pages and Twitter profiles to the Salesforce Trailhead profile. According to Lepofsky, Salesforce MVPs are already starting to jockey for position to be the first one to get their chosen Trailhead URL. “People aren’t sharing business cards anymore. They’re sharing URLs,” Franklin said. The vanity URL hopes to capitalize on that.

Hyper engine aims to give enterprise Tableau analytics a boost

Tableau is continuing its focus on enterprise functionality, rolling out several new features that the company hopes will make its data visualization and analytics software more attractive as an enterprise tool to help broaden its appeal beyond an existing base of line-of-business users.

In particular, the new Tableau 10.5 release, launched last week, includes the long-awaited Hyper in-memory compute engine. Company officials said Hyper will bring vastly improved speeds to the software and support new Tableau analytics use cases, like internet of things (IoT) analytics applications.

The faster speeds will be particularly noticeable, they said, when users refresh Tableau data extracts, which are in-memory snapshots of data from a source file. Extracts can reach large sizes, and refreshing larger files takes time with previous releases.

“We extract every piece of data that we work with going to production, so we’re really looking forward to [Hyper],” Jordan East, a BI data analyst at General Motors, said in a presentation at Tableau Conference 2017, held in Las Vegas last October.

East works in GM’s global telecom organization, which supports the company’s communications needs. His team builds BI reports on the overall health of the communications system. The amount of data coming in has grown substantially over the year, and keeping up with the increasing volume of data has been a challenge, he said.

Extracting the data, rather than connecting Tableau to live data, helped improve report performance. East said he hopes the extra speed of Hyper will enable dashboards to be used in more situations, like live meetings.

Faster extracts mean fresher analytics

The Tableau 10.5 update also includes support for running Tableau Server on Linux, new governance features and other additions. But Hyper is getting most of the attention. Potentially, faster extract refreshes mean customers will refresh extracts more frequently and be able to do their Tableau analytics on fresher data.

“If Hyper lives up to demonstrations and all that has been promised, it will be an incredible enhancement for customers that are struggling with large complex data,” said Rita Sallam, a Gartner analyst.

Sallam’s one caveat was that customers who are doing Tableau analytics on smaller data sets will see less of a performance upgrade, because their extracts likely already refresh and load quickly. She said she believes the addition of Hyper will make it easier to analyze data stored in a Hadoop data lake, which was typically too big to efficiently load into Tableau before Hyper. This will give analysts access to larger, more complex data sets and enable deeper analytics, Sallam said.

Focus on enterprise functionality risky

Looking at the bigger picture, though, Sallam said there is some risk for Tableau in pursuing an enterprise focus. She said moving beyond line-of-business deployments and doubling down on enterprise functionality was a necessary move to attract and retain customers. But, at the same time, the company risks falling behind on analytics functionality.

Sallam said the features in analytics software that will be most important in the years ahead will be things like automated machine learning and natural language querying and generation. By prioritizing the nuts and bolts of enterprise functionality, Tableau hasn’t invested as much in these types of features, Sallam said.

“If they don’t [focus on enterprise features], they’re not going to be able to respond to customers that want to deploy Tableau at scale,” Sallam said. “But that does come with a cost, because now they can’t fully invest in next-generation features, which are going to be the defining features of user experience two or three years from now.”

New Microsoft Pix features let you take bigger, wider pictures and turns your videos into comics – Microsoft Research

Microsoft has released two new features with today’s update to Microsoft Pix for iOS, an app powered by a suite of intelligent algorithms developed by Microsoft researchers to take the guesswork out of getting beautiful photos and videos.

The first of these features, Photosynth, helps create photos that take in more of the perspective or scene you are standing in front of, whether it is wide, tall, or both. It does this by allowing you to freely pan and capture from side to side, up and down, back and forth, and even go back to the start to include any parts of the scene you may have missed.

“The idea came after some frustrations I had when trying to take a picture of Snoqualmie Falls. I didn’t want to have to choose which part of the scene to capture, and I wanted it all with detail. Photosynth means you no longer have to choose. I can now capture the whole scene in a way that feels natural. As with all Pix features, we have also worked to give the best image quality by introducing more intelligent ways to compute exposure and stitching,” said Josh Weisberg, principal program manager within Microsoft’s AI & Research organization in Redmond, Washington.

Photosynth, originally a popular platform for turning digital pictures into 3D panoramas, was launched by Microsoft in 2008 and decommissioned in 2017. Photosynth in Pix shares similarities with the original, leveraging some of the underlying technology, with more features inspired by the original to come. Photosynth in Pix allows for faster and smoother capture, while also making use of Pix’s auto-enhancement capabilities which improve white balance, tone correction and sharpness.

The second feature, Pix Comix, was developed during Microsoft’s OneWeek hackathon and makes use of the core Pix feature Moment Capture in an innovative new way: identifying the most interesting frames in a video to generate a comic strip. Pix uses its deep learning model to score and select three high-quality frames, searching specifically for non-blurry photos, faces with eyes open and interesting scenes.

Pix Comix performs this AI processing on device, selecting the best frames and formatting them into a comic strip. From there, you can add and edit speech bubbles that can be moved, rotated and resized to tell your own story.

Listening and responding to customer feedback on Pix remains a top priority as the app continues to improve and its AI capabilities are further developed. Today’s release marks another step forward in Pix’s commitment to turning that user feedback into new ways to make your pictures even better.

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Skype in 2017—a year of highlights and milestones | Skype Blogs

This year has been full of exciting changes at Skype—with many new features and designs released in 2017. However, what has been most important for us is the feedback and input from our valued customers all over the world that helps us shape Skype. As we look forward to bringing you more features in 2018, here are some highlights of our 2017 milestones.

A brand new Skype on mobile and desktop

One of the biggest feature updates in 2017 was the release of the next generation of Skype for mobile in July. This release introduced a customizable, colorful design, a camera at your fingertips, and new ways to express yourself with reactions, and frames. We also added intelligence into your chats by integrating Cortana—the Microsoft virtual personal assistant—directly into the chat window. You can also now transfer funds via Money—a new Skype feature for friends and family using PayPal—right from within your Skype conversations.

These changes were brought first to Skype mobile and desktop clients and are now available in the new Skype for Windows 10. We are in the process of rolling out these updates to Skype for Mac, Windows 10 November Update (2016) and lower, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Linux.

All of these updates were inspired by a simple goal: to make Skype the center of your important conversations with your personal networks and, hopefully, empower you to turn your everyday conversations into experiences. To access these new Skype features, please ensure you are using the latest version of Skype by updating your mobile and desktop applications.

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Innovations to help you get more done

This year has been a year of innovation at Skype, with new features, bots, and devices designed to enhance your day-to-day experiences.

Skype Bots—In 2017, we introduced several new bots with expanded capabilities to help you do everything from cook the perfect meal, race to the finish line with some of the world’s most accomplished athletes, or join Doctor Who on a quest to save the universe! In the coming year, look for more productive and enriching experiences directly via Skype.

Skype Professional Account Preview—This year also marked a milestone for self-employed working professionals who already utilize Skype to communicate with their customers. The Skype Professional Account desktop client (currently in preview in the U.S.) brings powerful new features to Skype—making managing your online business a whole lot easier. In addition to meeting with your clients on Skype, you can now book meetings, accept payments, and keep notes—all in one place.

Skype Translator—Skype Translator is now available for real-time voice and video calls in Japanese—bringing the number of real-time spoken languages to 10. Other spoken languages available on Skype Translator include: English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese (Mandarin), Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Arabic, and Russian. In addition, there are also over 60 IM languages available for Skype Translator.

Ambient devices—This year, Skype officially expanded to ambient devices—giving you a new, uniquely intelligent platform for Skype calling that extends beyond PC and mobile devices. The Harman Kardon Invoke speaker, with Cortana by Microsoft, is the first of these devices embedded with easy, voice-activated Skype calling to your Skype contacts, phone contacts, and local businesses.

In addition to Skype-to-Skype calling, which is always free, Invoke also features unlimited free outbound calling from the U.S. to mobiles and landlines based in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands. Restrictions apply—please read the Terms and Conditions of the full offer.

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Skype Lite and SMS Insights—For our Skype Android customers in India, we introduced Skype Lite—a new lightweight version of the Skype app, optimized for 2G and unstable network connections. And based on your feedback, we added SMS Insights to Skype Lite—making life even easier for people on the go. SMS Insights goes far beyond simply organizing your messages—it aggregates the information you need and presents it at a glance, sorting it into categories like Finance, Shopping, Travel, Reminders, and Promotions. Easily interact with the messages you want while Insights offers relevant action links that allow you to pay bills, check in to flights, and even call customer support numbers.

Personal expressions—We had fun teaming up with Rogue Octopus, Steve Aoki, Hammer Films, Lucasfilm, and more to create original Skype Mojis and emoticons. Check out our new holiday-themed emoticons, frames, stickers, reactions, and Mojis to help you spread holiday cheer this December.

Momentum and awards—In 2017, Skype crossed a major milestone—surpassing one billion downloads from the Google Play Store. Additionally, after years of pushing the boundary of broadcast television with studio-quality Skype call integration, our Skype TX team was a recipient of a Technology & Engineering Emmy® Award in 2017. We are humbled by both honors and further motivated to continue providing reporters, entertainers, and consumers the next level of broadcast and communication innovations.

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Amazing ways you have used Skype

Finally, here are some of the amazing ways you’ve been using Skype this year—from traveling all over the world, to developing brand new technologies, or even running unique businesses. We are continuously inspired by the different ways you use Skype every day.

Browse our blog for more inspirational ways that Skype is used—and if you have a Skype experience you’d like to share, just tag us @Skype on social media and we might feature you.

We look forward to continuing to expand the ways Skype can make your life easier, more productive, and fun in 2018. We are committed to always continuing to innovate, listening to customer feedback, and pushing the boundaries of technology. Thank you for joining us on this exciting journey.

From our Skype family to yours, we wish you happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!