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38 Things Added to Sea of Thieves Since Launch You Have to Try – Xbox Wire

A lot has changed in Sea of Thieves since Rare’s shared world pirate fantasy first set sail in March 2018. Thanks to a series of major content updates in the first year – including the game-changing Anniversary Update – and a recent commitment to regular monthly updates, the game has grown and evolved at a scale that few other service-based games can match. Even better, all content has been added for free!

To celebrate the game’s second anniversary, here are 38 of the biggest things that have been added over the past two years. If you’re yet to try the game or haven’t played for a while, be sure to jump in by trying it out with Xbox Game Pass or buying the game on the Microsoft Store or your local retailer. Sea of Thieves’ uniquely horizontal progression system means that you can set sail again at any time and not be at a disadvantage against other players.

1) Tall Tales
Tall Tales are Sea of Thieves’ unique take on a story-driven campaign, offering cinematic quests within the game’s emergent shared world. The first collection of stories, Shores of Gold, take players on an epic adventure in search of a lost island and magical treasure, while recent additions ‘The Seabound Soul’ and ‘Heart of Fire’ tell a whole new story. Available to solo players or crews of any size, there are eleven Tall Tales in total which should keep you occupied for up to 30 hours.

2) The Arena
Added as part of 2019’s mega Anniversary Update, The Arena is a standalone competitive game mode that lets crews battle it out in fixed-length contests described by Eurogamer as “glorious, consequence-free PvP carnage”. The Arena also features its own Trading Company – the Sea Dogs – with which you can earn reputation and rise in rank, together with its own social space and cosmetic rewards.

3) The Megalodon
The game’s first Megalodon – think Jaws on steroids – was added to the game in its first major content update, The Hungering Deep. This fearsome giant shark was an emergent threat that could attack ships at any time, with rewards for crews who could defeat it. It was later followed to the Sea of Thieves by many dangerous Megalodon variants, including rare species like the legendary Shrouded Ghost.

4) The Devil’s Roar
The Devil’s Roar is a wild and dangerous world region that was added to the game with the Forsaken Shores content update (wonderfully brought to life by actor and comedian Matt Berry). This world region is full of natural perils including volcanoes, lava, geysers and superheated water. So dangerous is The Devil’s Roar that its Ashen treasures deliver sizeable gold and reputation gains when cashed in.

5) Skeleton Ships
The introduction of Skeleton Ships in July 2018 changed the game by allowing players to engage in ship-to-ship combat outside of PvP. These fearsome sea-based threats can be found sailing beneath the ship-shaped cloud, and can burst from beneath the waves without warning to ambush unsuspecting pirates. Sink them and take their treasure!

6) Fog Providing the ‘Shrouded’ bit of November 2018’s Shrouded Spoils content update, fog brought both atmosphere and gameplay depth. Exploring islands in thick fog adds an additional layer of threat and complexity, while clever captains can use the swirling mists to hide their ships from other crews…

7) Maiden Voyage
The Maiden Voyage is a tutorial that goes the extra mile. Set just outside Sea of Thieves’ shared world, the Maiden Voyage is the perfect opportunity for new pirates to find their sea legs in a safe space. And while it’s perfect for new players wanting to learn how to play, it also offers plenty for more experienced players including a chance to meet the Pirate Lord himself and earn some exclusive cosmetics.

8) Fire
The addition of fire turned up the heat on players when it was added to the game last November. Fires can be started by firebombs, angry Chests of Rage or through less aggressive means, such as leaving food on the ship’s stove unattended. One thing’s for sure, fire had a huge impact on the game and proved that Alfred Pennyworth was right when he observed: “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

9) Lots of lovely emergent loot
Back at launch, finding treasure could be a difficult business. But these days the Sea of Thieves is positively awash with loot, with Barrels of Plenty (floating barrels of bonus treasure), emergent Skeleton Captains, increased shipwreck loot, Mermaid Statues and their valuable gems, treasure maps in barrels, more washed-up treasure and rewards for defeating the Megalodon, Kraken and Skeleton Ships.

10) Fishing
People asked. And asked. And asked some more. So as part of the Anniversary Update, Rare added a huge fishing mechanic to the game that offers hours of distraction from epic adventuring. There are 10 main types of fish, each with their own variants, some of which can only be caught in specific world regions with the right bait and conditions. You can cook and eat fish to restore health, or cash them in with The Hunter’s Call Trading Company found at any Seapost. Sea of Thieves’ fishing was the highest-rated experience in PC Gamer’s article ‘Which PC game has the best fishing?’.

11) The Hunter’s Call Trading Company
Headed by the lovable Merrick (of The Hungering Deep fame), The Hunter’s Call is a Trading Company that rewards players for catching and cooking fish or meat. Unique among Trading Companies in that its representatives are located at Seaposts rather than Outposts, The Hunter’s Call offers a more leisurely path to Pirate Legend status.

12) Cargo Runs
Introduced to the game back in the Forsaken Shores update, Cargo Runs are a twist on the standard Merchant Alliance quest. Collect and deliver valuable cargo to various locations across the Sea of Thieves, both on time and in good condition, for a handsome payday.

13) Legends of the Sea
Sea of Thieves’ world has always contained Easter eggs that celebrate the stories of our most legendary players. Umbra’s sidequests, introduced in January 2020’s Legends of the Sea update, offer players the chance to earn Commendations and Doubloons for tracking down the stories behind these inspiring and entertaining player immortalisations.

14) Fort of the Damned
Raiding Skeleton Forts has always been an essential part of the Sea of Thieves experience, but the Fort of the Damned is a standout encounter. Released in time for Halloween 2019, this spooky Fort represents a major upgrade on the raid experience, both in terms of challenge and reward. Unlike other Forts, the Fort of the Damned can be activated on demand by crews who want to unlock its treasures again and again.

15) Gunpowder Skeletons
First came skeletons. Then skeletons with weapons (including snipers and cannoneers). But things got serious once the skeletons of the Sea of Thieves discovered that Gunpowder Barrels also make very effective weapons. Boom!

16) Stronghold Kegs
Available through raiding Forts, Stronghold Kegs are Gunpowder Barrels that make a really big bang (colloquially known as “mega-kegs”). These rare items command a high price from the Merchant Alliance, or they can be used as devastating weapons against all manner of enemies…

17) Reaper’s Chests
Reaper’s Chests are high-value chests found emergently in shipwrecks across the Sea of Thieves, and reveal their location through a mysterious beacon that rises up to the sky. But beware – once a Reaper’s Chest is recovered, other crews will be able to see on the map that you have this valuable reward and can hunt you down.

18) Pets
Every pirate needs an animal companion. The Pirate Emporium, added to the game in September 2019, brought with it a range of lovable pet parrots and monkeys, with more types still to come. Available in various breeds and colours, pets can also be dressed up in costumes for added hilarity. These furry and feathered sidekicks are an essential addition to any crew.

19) More than 100 new emotes
Emotes have always been a popular way for players to express themselves, but the addition of the Pirate Emporium has seen more than 100 new emotes added to the game. From the classic “we’re flying” emote inspired by a certain sea-based movie to the infamous “Crab Dab”, there’s something for every pirate and every situation.

20) Cursed Cannonballs
Introduced to the game as part of July 2018’s Cursed Sails update, Cursed Cannonballs are powerful weapons that can be found emergently in the world. Each of the eleven types of Cursed Cannonballs imparts a powerful, time-limited effect on an enemy, from making them dance to rendering their cannons impotent.

21) Cooking
Not only did the Anniversary Update bring fishing and hunting to the game, it brought cooking to legions of hungry pirates. Food can be cooked using the stove aboard every ship or at campfires. Once perfectly prepared, cooked food can be eaten to restore health or sold to The Hunter’s Call for a premium.

22) The Bilge Rats
The Bilge Rats are an unofficial Trading Company who arrived in Sea of Thieves in summer 2018. Dedicated to celebrating a pirate’s life of adventure outside the traditional Trading Companies, Duke and his motley crew give players a range of regular sidequests which can unlock additional rewards and cosmetics.

23) Alliances
Sometimes it can be Sea of Friends, thanks to the Alliance feature that lets two or more crews team up to improve the odds and share the rewards. Perfect for pirates looking to earn loot in a hurry, and a great way to meet other players and make friends.

24) Creator Crew
With its emphasis on player freedom and creativity, Sea of Thieves is a hugely watchable game. The Creator Crew is a programme which helps budding streamers and YouTubers get noticed, offering asset packs, opportunities to have work shared across official channels and ‘How To’ tutorials for improving content. What’s more, there’s also the chance to unlock exclusive cosmetic items by completing creator challenges. Go create and share your pirate stories!

25) Brigantines
Another feature that was introduced in the Cursed Sails update, the Brigantine is a ship type made for three players. More agile than a Galleon but boasting significantly more firepower than a Sloop, Brigantines soon became a player favourite.

26) Rowboats
Originally introduced in the Forsaken Shores update as a tool to deal with the superheated waters of the volcanic Devil’s Roar region, Rowboats are perfect for pirates looking to move around more loot than they can carry or sneak up on larger ships undetected. Racing them can also be fun!

27) The Harpoon
Every ship – and even some Rowboats – now come equipped with harpoon guns. These handy tools can be used in lots of ways, from plucking resources out of the water to making a sharp turn around an island. They can also be used to steal treasure from unsuspecting pirates in what has become known within the community as a ‘zoink’.

28) Doubloons and the Black Market
The arrival of the Bilge Rats on the Sea of Thieves also introduced a brand new currency which could be earned for completing time-limited events, a range of sidequests or by unlocking certain Commendations. Once earned, valuable Doubloons can be exchanged for rare cosmetics through the Black Market, or used to buy favour with the main Trading Companies and level up faster.

29) Seaposts
Dotted around the Sea of Thieves, Seaposts are mini-Outposts. They offer crews a great opportunity to stock up on resources, plus you’ll find traders who’ll sell a variety of cosmetics at a discount. Seaposts are also home to The Hunter’s Call, so they’re where you need to go to sell fish and meat.

30) Chest of Rage
Added recently in February 2020, the Chest of Rage is the latest Cursed Chest to be found within the game. These rare and valuable chests are filled with fury which vents itself regularly if not kept cool, making this a high-risk (but high-return) item which can also double up as a powerful weapon…

31) Collector’s Chests
Originally introduced as part of Tall Tales: Shores of Gold, Collector’s Chests – chests that can be opened and will hold whatever treasure you put in – have recently been added as rewards for solving riddle quests. What does that mean? More loot!

32). Tucking
Tucking, you say? What on earth is that? Let us explain. Pioneered by several high-profile streamers, ‘tucking’ in Sea of Thieves involves using emotes such as sleeping and sitting to hide aboard other players’ ships (the emote hides the gamertag above a player). Opening up a stealthy – not to mention hilarious – new way to play the game, tucking was officially recognised by the addition of a number of hide emotes to the Pirate Emporium (one of which is available to players for free).

33) Expanded ship customization
Having a cool-looking ship is one of the best parts of Sea of Thieves. Every pirate takes pride in how their vessel looks, plus a ship’s visibility from distance means that it’s your calling card in the world. Since the Shrouded Spoils expansion, players can now determine all elements of how their ship looks including the sails, figurehead, hull, capstan, cannons, wheel and flag. Get customising!

34) Skeleton variety
While the principal threat on land for pirates remains skeletal in nature, the threat has expanded through the addition of a number of skeleton variants – such as Gold, Plant, Shadow and Ashen – that each pose a different challenge. What’s more, you’ll also run into Skeleton Captains (and their crews) around the world, and may even encounter a fearsome Skeleton Lord…

35) Speaking Trumpet
The Speaking Trumpet is a handy tool for anyone looking to communicate with another crew. Kind of like a pirate-themed megaphone, the Speaking Trumpet amplifies the distance over which voice and text chat can be heard by other crews. Perfect for communicating with other ships without getting too close (just in case).

36) Throwable weapons
Throwable weapons offer more combat variety and come in two main flavours. Firebombs, as the name suggests, explode on impact and set fire to anything and anyone in the vicinity. Blunderbombs are closer in style to a grenade, dealing damage to (and knocking back) anyone in their blast radius.

37) Chainshot
Another new game feature added just this March, chainshot is a new ammo type that can be loaded into cannons and used to take down another ship’s mast. Bringing more tactical depth to ship-to-ship combat, there’s nothing more satisfying than felling another ship’s mast in a single shot.

38) Another 1200 gamerscore
Last but not least, the ever-expanding quantity of content in Sea of Thieves has also meant the addition of hundreds of new achievements and another 1200 gamerscore to play for (making a total of 2200 in all).

And there’s more! We haven’t even mentioned combat improvements, new musical instruments and more shanties to enjoy, hundreds of extra cosmetic items, a wealth of new Commendations or the countless ongoing quality of life improvements across all areas of the game. Visit the official Sea of Thieves website to see more about the latest updates, and for the latest on all things Xbox stay tuned to Xbox Wire.

See you on the seas!

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Welcoming and retaining diversity in cybersecurity

I doubt I’d be in the role I am now if leaders at one of my first jobs hadn’t taken an interest in my career. Although I taught myself to code when I was young, I graduated from college with a degree in English Literature and began my post-college career in editorial. I worked my way up to Assistant Editor at a math and science college textbook publisher located in Boston, Massachusetts. I was responsible for acquisitions and training on the software that that the company distributed with its textbooks. The senior editors sent me to a conference in Florida to train the sales team on how to present the software to professors. This is where I met Jennifer. Jennifer headed up the network and IT support for our California parent company, and because we shared a room at the conference hotel, we got to know each other, and she saw me present. This interaction proved pivotal. When the publisher created a new position to support a network of AS/400s, Jennifer talked me into applying—and yes, she did have to talk me into it! Like a lot of young professionals, I was intimidated to take on such a different role. But I’m so glad she was looking out for me. It was the start of my career in technology, which ultimately led me to Microsoft.

My experience is a great example of how individuals and company culture can influence the trajectory of someone’s career. To celebrate Women in Cybersecurity month, Microsoft is exploring tactics to increase diversity in the tech industry. In the first post in the series, Ann Johnson wrote about mentorship. In this post, I share some ideas for cultivating the diverse talent that already work at your company to build a strong and diverse leadership team.

Retention is as important as recruitment

When we talk about the lack of diversity in tech, much of the conversation focuses around hiring. And it’s true that we need to dramatically increase the number of women, non-binary, and people of color that we recruit. But if we want to create more diverse technology teams, we also need to address the talent drain. Too often smart technologists with nontraditional backgrounds drop out of STEM careers. Studies have shown that up to 52 percent of women leave technology fields. This is nearly double the percentage of men who quit tech. And for those who think it’s because women don’t enjoy technology, 80+ percent of women in STEM say they love their work. The problem often comes down to culture. Which means it’s something we can fix! I’ve worked with and managed many neuro-diverse teams and here’s what I’ve seen work.

People aren’t books

One of the most famous pictures of Einstein shows him with his hair in disarray, sticking his tongue out. If you didn’t know he was one of the greatest thinkers in the world, you might assume he wasn’t the fastest electron in the universe. Or what does it say that many of us didn’t discover Katharine Johnson, another brilliant physicist, until 2017 when the movie “Hidden Figures” was released.

Our collective mental model for what an engineer or scientist is supposed to look and act like doesn’t reflect reality. Some people have purple hair, some like to work in yoga pants, some listen to loud music on headphones all day, or have creative face tattoos. And many are women or LGBTQ or people of color or disabled. People’s race, gender, appearance and work styles have no bearing on whether they are a hard worker or a valuable contributor. We know this, but often we don’t realize we’ve made a judgement based on unconscious biases.

How to address: Don’t judge people by their “covers.” This starts by acknowledging that your biases may not be explicit or intentional, but they still exist. Listen to what people say. Evaluate the work they produce. Observe how they collaborate with others. These are the indicators of the value they bring. And keep in mind that people who’ve been conditioned to believe that technology isn’t for them, may not exhibit the level of confidence you expect. It doesn’t mean they can’t do it. They may just need a little more encouragement (thank you, Jennifer!).

Women often leave jobs because they feel stalled in their careers. In one study, 27 percent of U.S. women said they feel stalled and 32 percent were considering quitting in the next year. For a variety of reasons, unconscious bias results in straight white men getting more opportunities on high profile projects, more ideas greenlit, and faster promotions. As a result, women get discouraged, do not feel supported and look for other opportunities. That is why in the previous blog, we focused on mentorship.

How to address: Be a champion for women and other underrepresented groups in your company. My relationship with Jennifer is a great example of this. She took an interest in my career, identified an opportunity and helped me get to the next rung. Our relationship was informal, but you can also create a structured sponsorship program. The goal is to go beyond mentorship and become an advocate for promising women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups. Use your influence to get them the right projects, the right advice, and the right exposure to help them advance their careers.

Nurture unique thinkers

Back when I was a manager at KPMG, we used to try to hire people who “think outside the box.” But the tricky part about hiring out of the box thinkers is that their ideas are, well, outside the box. Organizations often think they want people to shake things up but in practice many are uncomfortable being challenged. This leads them to quickly shut down bold new ideas. When original thinkers don’t feel valued, they take all that innovation and creativity elsewhere.

How to address: Build a culture of inclusion where everyone has a chance to share. Not every idea is great; in my career I’ve had more than my share of bad ones! But you should listen to and consider all opinions—even if they seem a little off the wall. It doesn’t mean you have to move them all forward, but sometimes an idea that sounds outlandish one day starts to make sense after a good night’s sleep. Or take a page from the women in the Obama administration and amplify ideas that have been overlooked.

Respect the hours

Not everyone can commit to a regular eight in the morning to six in the evening work week. Many people care for children, sick spouses, and elderly parents—being a caretaker is a skill in and of itself! In fact, this quality of being a caretaker is something that in most technology roles can be a valued asset. In addition to being a caretaker, others can’t work “regular” weeks because they’re finishing degrees or have other time challenges and commitments.

Varied approaches to time also apply to project milestones. People deal with deadlines differently—some get stressed if the deadline is too close (like me!) and do their work in advance, others need that adrenaline pump and wait until (almost) the last minute to deliver.

How to address: Institute and support flexible work hours, job sharing (two people share the same job, both doing it half-time), or three weeks on/one week off work schedules that enable people to contribute without requiring them to keep the same hours as everyone else. Trust that people can be productive even if they don’t work the same way or at the same time as your typical employee.

To build a diverse, experienced team of leaders, you need an environment that supports and accepts differences of all kinds. Don’t let bias about gender, appearance, or the hours someone can work get in the way of nurturing all those great hires into the next generation of great leaders. Our senior director for our cybersecurity operations team, Kristina, looks for diversity as this helps with managing the diversity of threats. Listen to her thoughts on diversity in our CISO Spotlight Episode 7.

What’s next

For those interested in how to find more diverse talent, next week Theresa Payton will share ideas from her experience recruiting girls, women, and other people with differing backgrounds into technology.

In the meantime, bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity. To learn more about our Security solutions visit our website. Or reach out to me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage seeks to simplify Ceph

The first Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage release to use multiprotocol Ceph rather than the Gluster file system to store application data became generally available this week. The upgrade comes months after the original late-summer target date set by open source specialist Red Hat.

Red Hat — now owned by IBM — took extra time to incorporate feedback from OpenShift Container Storage (OCS) beta customers, according to Sudhir Prasad, director of product management in the company’s storage and hyper-converged business unit.

The new OCS 4.2 release includes Rook Operator-driven installation, configuration and management so developers won’t need special skills to use and manage storage services for Kubernetes-based containerized applications. They indicate the capacity they need, and OCS will provision the available storage for them, Prasad said.

Multi-cloud support

OCS 4.2 also includes multi-cloud support, through the integration of NooBaa gateway technology that Red Hat acquired in late 2018. NooBaa facilitates dynamic provisioning of object storage and gives developers consistent S3 API access regardless of the underlying infrastructure.

Prasad said applications become portable and can run anywhere, and NooBaa abstracts the storage, whether AWS S3 or any other S3-compatible cloud or on-premises object store. OCS 4.2 users can move data between cloud and on-premises systems without having to manually change configuration files, a Red Hat spokesman added.

Customers buy OCS to use with the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform (OCP), and they can now manage and monitor the storage through the OCP console. Kubernetes-based OCP has more than 1,300 customers, and historically, about 40% to 50% attached to OpenShift Container Storage, a Red Hat spokesman said. OCS had about 400 customers in May 2019, at the time of the Red Hat Summit, according to Prasad.

One critical change for Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage customers is the switch from file-based Gluster to multiprotocol Ceph to better target data-intensive workloads such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics. Prasad said Red Hat wanted to give customers a more complete platform with block, file and object storage that can scale higher than the product’s prior OpenStack S3 option. OCS 4.2 can support 5,000 persistent volumes and will support 10,000 in the upcoming 4.3 release, according to Prasad.

Migration is not simple

Although OCS 4 may offer important advantages, the migration will not be a trivial one for current customers. Red Hat provides a Cluster Application Migration tool to help them move applications and data from OCP 3/OCS 3 to OCP 4/OCS 4 at the same time. Users may need to buy new hardware, unless they can first reduce the number of nodes in their OpenShift cluster and use the nodes they free up, Prasad confirmed.

“It’s not that simple. I’ll be upfront,” Prasad said, commenting on the data migration and shift from Gluster-based OCS to Ceph-backed OCS. “You are moving from OCP 3 to OCP 4 also at the same time. It is work. There is no in-place migration.”

One reason that Red Hat put so much emphasis on usability in OCS 4.2 was to abstract away the complexity of Ceph. Prasad said Red Hat got feedback about Ceph being “kind of complicated,” so the engineering team focused on simplifying storage through the operator-driven installation, configuration and management.

“We wanted to get into that mode, just like on the cloud, where you can go and double-click on any service,” Prasad said. “That took longer than you would have expected. That was the major challenge for us.”

OpenShift Container Storage roadmap

The original OpenShift Container Storage 4.x roadmap that Red Hat laid out last May at its annual customer conference called for a beta release in June or July, OCS 4.2 general availability in August or September, and a 4.3 update in December 2019 or January 2020. Prasad said February is the new target for the OCS 4.3 release.

The OpenShift Container Platform 4.3 update became available this week, with new security capabilities such as Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS)-compliant encryption. Red Hat eventually plans to return to its prior practice of synchronizing new OCP and OCS releases, said Irshad Raihan, the company’s director of storage product marketing.

The Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage 4.3 software will focus on giving customers greater flexibility, such as the ability to choose the type of disk they want, and additional hooks to optimize the storage. Prasad said Red Hat might need to push its previously announced bare-metal deployment support from OCS 4.3 to OCS 4.4.

OCS 4.2 supports converged-mode operation, with compute and storage running on the same node or in the same cluster. The future independent mode will let OpenShift use any storage backend that supports the Container Storage Interface. OCS software would facilitate access to the storage, whether it’s bare-metal servers, legacy systems or public cloud options.

Alternatives to Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage include software from startups Portworx, StorageOS, and MayaData, according to Henry Baltazar, storage research director at 451 Research. He said many traditional storage vendors have added container plugins to support Kubernetes. The public cloud could appeal to organizations that don’t want to buy and manage on-premises systems, Baltazar added.

Baltazar advised Red Hat customers moving from Gluster-based OCS to Ceph-based OCS to keep a backup copy of their data to restore in the event of a problem, as they would with any migration. He said any users who are moving a large data set to public cloud storage needs to factor in network bandwidth and migration time and consider egress changes if they need to bring the data back from the cloud.

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Employing data science, new research uncovers clues behind unexplainable infant death – Microsoft on the Issues

Imagine losing your child in their first year of life and having no idea what caused it. This is the heartbreaking reality for thousands of families each year who lose a child to Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). Despite decades-long efforts to prevent SUID, it remains the leading cause of death for children between one month and one year of age in developed nations. In the U.S. alone, 3,600 children die unexpectedly of SUID each year.

For years, researchers hypothesized that infants who died due to SUID in the earliest stages of the life differed from those dying of SUID later. Now, for the first time, we know, thanks to the single largest study ever undertaken on the subject, this is statistically the case.

Working in collaboration with Tatiana Anderson and Jan-Marino Ramirez at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Edwin Mitchell at University of Auckland, we analyzed the Center for Disease Control (CDC) data on every child born in the U.S. over a decade, including over 41 million births and 37,000 SUID deaths. We compared all possible groups by the age at the time of death to understand if these populations were different.”

In our study published today in Pediatrics, a leading pediatric journal, we found that SUID deaths during the first week of life, were statistically different from all other SUID deaths that occur between the first week and first year of life. SUID cases in the first week of life have been called SUEND, which stands for Sudden Unexpected Early Neonatal Death. We have called SUID deaths between 7-364 days postperinatal SUID.

The two groups – SUEND and postperinatal SUID – differed by several factors such as birth order, maternal age and marital status. For postperinatal deaths, the risk of SUID progressively while the opposite was true for SUEND deaths where firstborn children were more at risk. Postperinatal SUID rates were higher for unmarried, young mothers (between 15-24 years old) at birth, while unmarried, young mothers of the same age showed a decreased risk of SUEND death. The two groups also had different distributions of birthweight and pregnancy length.

Our study concluded that SUID deaths in the first week differed from postperinatal SUID deaths and that the two groups should be considered separately in future research. Considering these two as different causes may help uncover independent underlying physiological mechanisms and/or genetic factors.

This research is part of Microsoft’s AI for Good initiative, a $125 million five-year program where we utilize AI to help tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges and helping some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. For this research, we leveraged our machine learning, cloud-computing capabilities and advanced modelling techniques powered by AI to analyze the data.

By pairing our capabilities and data scientists with Seattle Children’s medical research expertise, we’re continuing to make progress on identifying the cause of SUID. Earlier this year, we published a study that estimated approximately 22% of SUID deaths in the U.S. were attributable to maternal cigarette-smoking during pregnancy, giving us further evidence that, through our collaboration with experts in varying disciplines, we are getting to the root of this problem and making remarkable advances.

We hope our progress in piecing together the SUID puzzle ultimately saves lives, and gives parents and researchers hope for the future.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Turning the next generation into everyday superheroes thanks to Hour of Code 2019 – Microsoft News Centre Europe

When you think of coding, your first thoughts might be about highly specialized technical know-how. But did you know that effective coding requires skills like creativity, innovation and collaboration too – all of which will be hugely important for the workforce of tomorrow?

According to Microsoft research with McKinsey, the fastest growing occupations, such as technology professionals and healthcare providers, will require a combination of digital and cognitive skills such as digital literacy, problem solving and critical thinking. Young people having access to learning tools to improve both these sets of skills is crucial – a fact non-profit organizations like JA Europe recognize through their work to get young people ready for the future of work. If young people are given the opportunity to develop their digital skills, the European Labor Market will see significant benefits when they move into the workforce. According to a LinkedIn Economic Graph report, AI Talent in the European Labour Market, training and upskilling ‘near-AI’ talent could double the size of the current AI workforce in the EU. It also found that AI skills are concentrated in a small number of countries and that this must be addressed to reduce the digital skills gap in Europe.

In conjunction with Computer Science Education Week which began yesterday and extends to December 15, Microsoft continues its multi-year commitment to Hour of Code, a global movement that introduces students to computer science and demystifies what coding is all about. Activities are running across Europe to fuel imagination and demonstrate how these skills could be used to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. As such, code has the power to turn anyone into an everyday superhero.

To bring this to life, Microsoft is inviting young people to ‘save the day’ through Computer Science. Created in partnership with MakeCode, a new Minecraft tutorial combines code, Artificial Intelligence and problem solving skills. It is inspired by various Microsoft AI for Earth projects and encourages students to use their critical thinking skills to plot where forest fires could happen, put plans in place to stop them with AI and ultimately save the Minecraft village!

Since 2012, Microsoft has helped more than 137,000 young people and educators in Europe through Hour of Code events and programs. And, as the end of the decade draws near, we are keen to support even more people to get into coding and show how it can change the world. If you’re looking to help your children or students become coding superheroes, we have developed two training guides – one for students and one aimed at educators – no cape needed!

Go forth and code!

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Author: Microsoft News Center

For Sale – [Birmingham/M6 J7] 2019 Apple MacBook Pro, 13.3″, Space Grey, 128GB SSD/8GB RAM – 1 month old – PRICE DROP

FOR SALE: Apple MacBook Pro 13.3″, Space Grey, 128GB SSD / 8GB RAM

This is my first sale on AV Forums although I have been a member for many years (last actively posting in 2012-ish). I understand that there is a high element of trust involved so I will do what I can (within reason) to provide confidence to the buyer. More than happy to provide as much identification, photographs/videos of the laptop etc as the buyer requires.

Reason for sale is to revert back to a Windows-based laptop (for half the price) due to personal preference. I love Apple and have had many MacBook Pros and Airs in the past, sadly my partner doesn’t feel the same way!

Bought from Currys PC World in Wednesbury on 8 November 2019 (just over a month ago). This is the base specification model 13-inch MacBook Pro which at the time of writing is currently being sold for £1299 on the Apple UK website. It has been in regular use since purchase and the battery has just over 33 cycles but mostly used for watching Netflix. It is in excellent condition (please see photographs), handled with care at all times and has been stored in a smoke-free, pet-free home.

Specification:

  • Apple MacBook Pro (2019), 13.3″ LED-backlit Retina IPS display (2560×1600)
  • Space Grey
  • 1.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo boost up to 3.9GHz)
  • 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
  • 128GB SSD
  • Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645
  • Touch Bar (with Touch ID fingerprint scan)

Comes in original box, USB-C mains power cable. Includes balance of Apple manufacturer warranty until November 7, 2020, as well as Apple telephone support until February 6, 2020. Battery cycle count at time of writing is 33 – this may increase slightly as laptop in use.

Price:
£1,020
£995

NOW £950

Payment:
Cash on collection preferred. Cash mandatory if collecting.
Alternatively, I will accept bank transfer if you would like me to post it to you via courier delivery.
I do NOT accept PayPal or any other payment method. Please no offers of trade or part exchange.

Courier delivery:
Either you or I can organise courier delivery, with the cost of this added to the agreed sale price. Courier will be insured, tracked and will require a signature upon delivery. If I organise courier, I will provide the tracking information as soon as possible to you. For my security, I will record a video the laptop working, being placed into its box, packaged and sealed. I will include the original proof of purchase, as well as a receipt from myself to the buyer (in the form of a typed letter) which will include my signature.

Collection:
If collecting, cash payment is mandatory and once sale is agreed must be collected within 24 hours unless agreed otherwise. Collection will be from Aldridge (WS9 postcode), which is about 15 minutes north of Birmingham, and close to J7 of the M6. Collection location is covered by CCTV for both buyer/seller safety and is next to Aldridge Police Station. Buyer obviously welcome to inspect and test laptop.

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SAP sees S/4HANA migration as its future, but do customers?

The first part of our 20-year SAP retrospective examined the company’s emerging dominance in the ERP market and its transition to the HANA in-memory database. Part two looks at the release of SAP S/4HANA in February 2015. The “next-generation ERP” was touted by the company as the key to SAP’s future, but it ultimately raised questions that in many cases have yet to be answered. The issues surrounding the S/4HANA migration remain the most compelling initiative for the company’s future.

Questions about SAP’s future have altered in the past year, as the company has undergone an almost complete changeover in its leadership ranks. Most of the SAP executives who drove the strategy around S/4HANA and the intelligent enterprise have left the company, including former CEO Bill McDermott. New co-CEOs Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein are SAP veterans, and analysts don’t think the change in leadership will make for significant changes in the company’s technology and business strategy.

But they will take over the most daunting task SAP has faced: convincing customers of the business value of the intelligent enterprise, a data-driven transformation of businesses with S/4HANA serving as the digital core. As part of the transition toward intelligence, SAP is pushing customers to move off of tried and true SAP ECC ERP systems (or the even older SAP R/3), and onto the modern “next-generation ERP” S/4HANA. SAP plans to end support for ECC by 2025.

Dan LahlDan Lahl

S/4HANA is all about enabling businesses to make decisions in real time as data becomes available, said Dan Lahl, SAP vice president of product marketing and a 24-year SAP veteran.

“That’s really what S/4HANA is about,” Lahl said. “You want to analyze the data that’s in your system today. Not yesterday’s or last week’s information and data that leads you to make decisions that don’t even matter anymore, because the data’s a week out. It’s about giving customers the ability to make better decisions at their fingertips.”

S/4HANA migration a matter of when, not if

Most SAP customers see the value of an S/4HANA migration, but they are concerned about how to get there, with many citing concerns about the cost and complexity of the move. This is a conundrum that SAP acknowledges.

“We see that our customers aren’t grappling with if [they are going to move], but when,” said Lloyd Adams, managing director of the East Region at SAP America. “One of our responsibilities, then, is to provide that clarity and demonstrate the value of S/4HANA, but to do so in the context of the customers’ business and their industry. Just as important as showing them how to move, we need to do it as simply as possible, which can be a challenge.”

Lloyd AdamsLloyd Adams

S/4HANA is the right platform for the intelligent enterprise because of the way it can handle all the data that the intelligent enterprise requires, said Derek Oats, CEO of Americas at SNP, an SAP partner based in Heidelberg, Germany that provides migration services.

In order to build the intelligent enterprise, customers need to have a platform that can consume data from a variety of systems — including enterprise applications, IoT sensors and other sources — and ready it for analytics, AI and machine learning, according to Oats. S/4HANA uses SAP HANA, a columnar, in-memory database, to do that and then presents the data in an easy-to-navigate Fiori user interface, he said.

“If you don’t have that ability to push out of the way a lot of the work and the crunching that has often occurred down to the base level, you’re kind of at a standstill,” he said. “You can only get so much out of a relational database because you have to rely on the CPU at the application layer to do a lot of the crunching.”

S/4HANA business case difficult to make

Although many SAP customers understand the benefits of S/4HANA, SAP has had a tough sell in getting its migration message across to its large customer base. The majority of customers plan to remain on SAP ECC and have only vague plans for an S/4HANA migration.

Joshua GreenbaumJoshua Greenbaum

“The potential for S/4HANA hasn’t been realized to the degree that SAP would like,” said Joshua Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting. “More companies are really looking at S/4HANA as the driver of genuine business change, and recognize that this is what it’s supposed to be for. But when you ask them, ‘What’s your business case for upgrading to S/4HANA?’ The answer is ‘2025.’”

The real issue with S/4HANA is that the concepts behind it are relatively big and very specific to company, line of business and geography.
Joshua GreenbaumPrincipal, Enterprise Applications Consulting

One of the problems that SAP faces when convincing customers of the value of S/4HANA and the intelligent enterprise is that no simple use case drives the point home, Greenbaum said. Twenty years ago, Y2K provided an easy-to-understand reason why companies needed to overhaul their enterprise business systems, and the fear that computers wouldn’t adapt to the year 2000 led in large measure to SAP’s early growth.

“Digital transformation is a complicated problem and the real issue with S/4HANA is that the concepts behind it are relatively big and very specific to company, line of business and geography,” he said. “So the use cases are much harder to justify, or it’s much more complicated to justify than, ‘Everything is going to blow up on January 1, 2000, so we have to get our software upgraded.'”

Evolving competition faces S/4HANA

Jon Reed, analyst and co-founder of ERP news and analysis firm Diginomica.com, agrees that SAP has successfully embraced the general concept of the intelligent enterprise with S/4HANA, but struggles to present understandable use cases.

Jon ReedJon Reed

“The question of S/4HANA adoption remains central to SAP’s future prospects, but SAP customers are still trying to understand the business case,” Reed said. “That’s because agile, customer-facing projects get the attention these days, not multi-year tech platform modernizations. For those SAP customers that embrace a total transformation — and want to use SAP tech to do it — S/4HANA looks like a viable go-to product.”

SAP’s issues with driving S/4HANA adoption may not come from the traditional enterprise competitors like Oracle, Microsoft and Infor, but from cloud-based business applications like Salesforce and Workday, said Eric Kimberling, president of Third Stage Consulting, a Denver-based firm that provides advice on ERP deployments and implementations.

Eric KimberlingEric Kimberling

“They aren’t direct competitors with SAP; they don’t have the breadth of functionality and the scale that SAP does, but they have really good functionality in their best-of-breed world,” Kimberling said. “Companies like Workday and Salesforce make it easier to add a little piece of something without having to worry about a big SAP project, so there’s an indirect competition with S/4HANA.”

SAP customers are going to have to adapt to evolving enterprise business conditions regardless of whether or when they move to S/4HANA, Greenbaum said.

“Companies have to build business processes to drive the new business models. Whatever platform they settle on, they’re going to be unable to stand still,” he said. “There’s going to have to be this movement in the customer base. The question is will they build primarily on top of S/4HANA? Will they use an Amazon or an Azure hyperscaler as the platform for innovation? Will they go to their CRM or workforce automation tool for that? The ‘where’ and ‘what next’ is complicated, but certainly a lot of companies are positioning themselves to use S/4HANA for that.”

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The First Wave of Xbox Black Friday Deals Has Arrived: Discounts on Sea of Thieves and Select Xbox Wireless Controllers – Xbox Wire

The holidays will be here before you know it, and to kick off the start of November, we are unveiling the first wave of Xbox Black Friday discounts. This is just a sample of our entire Black Friday deals – tune in via Mixer for a special episode of Inside Xbox live from X019 in London on Thursday, November 14 at 12:00 p.m. PT for the full lineup of Xbox Black Friday discounts and offers. You won’t want to miss out!

First up, we are offering a 50% discount on Sea of Thieves: Anniversary Edition, the fastest-selling first-party new IP of this generation. Join this multiplayer, shared-world adventure game featuring new modes like the story driven Tall Tales or The Arena, a competitive multiplayer experience on the high seas. Xbox Live Gold is required to play Sea of Thieves: Anniversary Edition and is sold separately.

Fans can also save up to $20 on select Xbox Wireless Controllers, including some of the newest controllers in the Xbox collection. Snag the Night Ops Camo Special Edition, Sport Blue Special Edition, Gears 5 Kait Diaz Limited Edition controllers and many more at the lowest prices of the season.

Deals are valid starting on November 24 and run through December 2, 2019. Plus, Black Friday kicks off even earlier for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Xbox Live Gold members, with Early Access beginning on November 21.

Visit Xbox.com, Microsoft Store and participating retailers globally for more details on availability and pricing as deals will vary between regions and retailers. See here for more Black Friday deals from Microsoft Store.

Xbox has something for everyone on your gift this list year, and at every price point. Be sure to tune in to Inside Xbox at X019 on Thursday, November 14 at 12:00 p.m. PT for the full lineup of Xbox Black Friday deals.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

HPE Cray ClusterStor E1000 arrays tackle converged workloads

Supercomputer maker Cray has pumped out revamped high-density ClusterStor storage, its first significant product advance since being acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

The new Cray ClusterStor E1000 launched this week, six months after HPE’s $1.3 billion acquisition of Cray in May. Engineering of the E1000 began before the HPE acquisition.

Data centers can mix the dense Cray ClusterStor E1000 all-flash and disk arrays to build ultrafast “exascale” storage clusters that converge processing for AI, modeling and simulation and similar data sets, said Ulrich Plechschmidt, Cray lead manager.

The E1000 arrays run a hardened version of the Lustre open source parallel file system. The all-flash E1000 provides 4.5 TB of raw storage per SSD rack, with expansion shelves that add up to 4.6 TB. The all-flash model system potentially delivers up to 1.6 TB of throughout per second and 50 million IOPS per SSD rack, while an HDD rack is rated at 120 Gbps and 10 PB of raw capacity.

When fully built out, Plechschmidt said ClusterStor can scale to 700 PB of usable capacity in a single system, with throughput up to 10 PB per second.

Cray software stack

Cray ClusterStor disk arrays pool flash and disk within the same file system. ClusterStor E1000 includes Cray-designed PCIe 4.0 storage servers that serve data from NVMe SSDs and spinning disk. Cray’s new Slingshot 200 Gbps interconnect top-of-rack switches manage storage traffic.

The most impressive work Cray did is on the software side. You might have to stage data in 20 different containers at the same time, each one outfitted differently. … That’s a very difficult orchestration process.
Steve ConwayCOO and senior research vice president, Hyperion Research

Newly introduced ClusterStor Data Services manage orchestration and data tiering, which initially will be available as scripted tiering for manually invoking Lustre software commands. Automated data movement and read-back/write-through caching are on HPE’s Cray roadmap.

While ClusterStor E100 hardware has massive density and low-latency throughout, Cray invested significantly in upgrading its software stack, said Steve Conway, COO and senior research vice president at Hyperion Research, based in St. Paul, Minn.

“To me, the most impressive work Cray did is on the software side. You might have to stage data in 20 different containers at the same time, each one outfitted differently. And you have to supply the right data at the right time and might have to solve the whole problem in milliseconds. That’s a very difficult orchestration process,” Conway said.

The ClusterStor odyssey

HPE is the latest in a string of vendors to take ownership of ClusterStor. Seagate Technology acquired original ClusterStor developer Xyratex in 2013, then in 2017 sold ClusterStor to Cray, which had been a Seagate OEM partner.

Cray ClusterStor E1000
HPE-owned Cray released new all-flash and disk ClusterStor arrays for AI, containerized workloads.

HPE leads the high-performance computing (HPC) market in overall revenue, but it has not had a strong presence in the high end of the supercomputing market. Buying Cray allows HPE to sell more storage for exascale computing, which represents a thousandfold increase above petabyte-scale processing computing power. These high-powered exascale systems are priced beyond the budgets of most commercial enterprises.

Cray’s Shasta architecture underpins three large supercomputing sites at federal research labs: Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill.;. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.; and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Cray last year won a $146 million federal contract to architect a new supercomputer at Livermore’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center. That system will use Cray ClusterStor storage.

Conway said Cray and other HPC competitors are under pressure to expand to address newer abstraction methods for processing data, including AI, container storage and microservices architecture.

“You used to think of supercomputers as a single-purpose steak knife. Now they have to be a multipurpose Swiss Army knife. The newest generation of supercomputers are all about containerization and orchestration of data on premises,” Conway said. “They have to be much more heterogeneous in what they do, and the storage has to follow suit.”

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