Tag Archives: latest

For Sale – Lenovo ThinkCentre M93p/3.5 GHz/Windows 10 Pro

ThinkCentre M93, which boasts the latest processers, innovative productivity features. M93p and adds Intel® vPro™ to optimize remote manageability.

Intel Core i5 4690K 3.5 GHz Quad Core CPU (K for overclockable) Max Turbo Frequency 3.9 GHz

This is a very fast capable PC. It’s actually a Business Workstation described as cutting edge computing for large enterprise by Lenovo.

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For Sale – Lenovo ThinkCentre M93p/3.5 GHz/Windows 10 Pro

ThinkCentre M93, which boasts the latest processers, innovative productivity features. M93p and adds Intel® vPro™ to optimize remote manageability.

Intel Core i5 4690K 3.5 GHz Quad Core CPU (K for overclockable) Max Turbo Frequency 3.9 GHz

This is a very fast capable PC. It’s actually a Business Workstation described as cutting edge computing for large enterprise by Lenovo.

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UnitedHealth Group and Microsoft collaborate to launch ProtectWell™ protocol and app to support return-to-workplace planning and COVID-19 symptom screening – Stories

  • ProtectWell™ provides employers a return-to-workplace framework backed by CDC guidelines and the latest clinical science
  • Protocol is supported by the ProtectWell™ smartphone app that screens for COVID-19 symptoms and clears employees for daily work
  • Solution powered by Microsoft technologies to enable scalability, security, privacy and compliance
  • ProtectWell™ will be offered free of charge to employers in the United States

MINNETONKA, Minn., and REDMOND, Wash. (May 15, 2020) – UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) have joined forces to launch ProtectWell™, an innovative return-to-workplace protocol that enables employers to bring employees back to work in a safer environment. ProtectWell™ helps employees determine they are safe to go to work, co-workers know their colleagues have been screened, and employers feel confident that their workplace is ready to do business. ProtectWell™ incorporates Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and the latest clinical research to limit the spread of COVID-19 by screening employees for symptoms and establishing guidelines to support the health and safety of the workforce and workplace.

ProtectWell™ combines UnitedHealth Group’s clinical and data analytics capabilities with Microsoft’s technology leadership to help in the next phases of COVID-19 recovery efforts. The ProtectWell™ app is powered by Microsoft Azure, AI and analytics solutions, and also takes advantage of the Microsoft Healthcare Bot service, which is being used around the world for AI-assisted COVID-19 symptom triaging.

UnitedHealth Group logoThe ProtectWell™ protocol is supported by a smartphone app that allows employers to offer workers a simple screening tool designed for everyday use. The ProtectWell™ app includes an AI-powered health care bot that asks users a series of questions to screen for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. If risk of infection is indicated, employers can direct their employees to a streamlined COVID-19 testing process that enables closed-loop ordering and reporting of test results directly back to employers. Health care information is managed by UnitedHealth Group and employers in accordance with occupational health laws.

In addition, ProtectWell™ includes guidelines and resources to support a safe work environment, including physical distancing, personal hygiene, sanitation and more. Employers can also choose additional custom content specific to their workforce for a personalized experience.

Microsoft logo“As we plan for a safe and careful return to the workplace, employers need clear guidelines to ensure a safe environment and a robust process for employees to screen themselves for COVID-19 symptoms,” said Ken Ehlert, chief scientific officer, UnitedHealth Group. “We are pleased to collaborate with Microsoft to launch ProtectWell™, a simple and effective tool to ensure employers and employees have the information and resources they need to keep themselves, their colleagues and the public safe and healthy.”

Microsoft Executive Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Business, Judson Althoff said: “As businesses begin to reopen, employers will need to monitor and manage their workforce for COVID-19 symptoms to help ensure those at risk of spreading the virus stay home until cleared by medical providers. Microsoft is pleased to join with UnitedHealth Group to launch ProtectWell™, which helps organizations manage the complexity of this undertaking.”

UnitedHealth Group has implemented ProtectWell™ with its own frontline health care workers, is in process of implementing the tool across its business to enable safe return of team members to the workplace, and is making the platform available to all employers in the United States at no charge. Microsoft intends to deploy ProtectWell™ for its U.S.-based employees.

The ProtectWell™ smartphone app is powered by Microsoft Azure, together with its industry-leading security and compliance offerings, and allows employers to better plan, manage resources, care for their employees, and reallocate resources to help safeguard their workforce, workplace and business continuity. UnitedHealth Group will maintain control over protected health care data and will manage opt-in and consent requirements needed from app users. Microsoft will not have access to identifiable information shared via the ProtectWell™ app. De-identified workforce health trends and analytics information will help employers and policymakers make informed occupational and public health decisions.

ProtectWell™ is the latest of many initiatives announced by UnitedHealth Group to combat COVID-19. Other initiatives to date include:

  • Providing $1.5 billion in direct customer and consumer support through premium credits, cost-sharing waivers and other efforts.
  • Accelerating payments to providers throughout the crisis, with an initial tranche of nearly $2 billion.
  • Waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and treatment for U.S. members of UnitedHealthcare plans and simplifying access to care by reducing prior-authorization requirements.
  • Pioneering self-administered swab procedures to expand COVID-19 testing, reduce needed personal protective equipment and protect health care workers from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19.
  • Supporting the Mayo Clinic’s groundbreaking research into the therapeutic potential of using plasma from COVID-19 survivors.
  • Deploying 3,000 “light ventilators” to address critical shortages in the nation’s supply of ventilators.
  • Significantly expanding access to telehealth and virtual visits and redeploying 10,000 Optum clinicians to expand telehealth capabilities.
  • Providing a special enrollment period for fully insured customers to allow employees who did not opt in for coverage during the regular enrollment period to secure coverage.
  • Conducting proactive personal outreach to support seniors and the most vulnerable populations among our members.
  • Launching a free nationwide emotional support line to manage the stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19.
  • Investing nearly $75 million to help at-risk populations, support communities and protect the health care workforce.
  • Converting company cafeterias to provide more than 75,000 meals a week for people in need and keep our cafe team at work.

About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health care company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at www.unitedhealthgroup.com or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.

About Microsoft
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

UnitedHealth Group Contact:

Eric Hausman, 952-936-3963, [email protected]

Microsoft Contact:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

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Author: Microsoft News Center

UnitedHealth Group and Microsoft collaborate to launch ProtectWell™ protocol and app to support return-to-workplace planning and COVID-19 symptom screening – Stories

  • ProtectWell™ provides employers a return-to-workplace framework backed by CDC guidelines and the latest clinical science
  • Protocol is supported by the ProtectWell™ smartphone app that screens for COVID-19 symptoms and clears employees for daily work
  • Solution powered by Microsoft technologies to enable scalability, security, privacy and compliance
  • ProtectWell™ will be offered free of charge to employers in the United States

MINNETONKA, Minn., and REDMOND, Wash. (May 15, 2020) – UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) have joined forces to launch ProtectWell™, an innovative return-to-workplace protocol that enables employers to bring employees back to work in a safer environment. ProtectWell™ helps employees determine they are safe to go to work, co-workers know their colleagues have been screened, and employers feel confident that their workplace is ready to do business. ProtectWell™ incorporates Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and the latest clinical research to limit the spread of COVID-19 by screening employees for symptoms and establishing guidelines to support the health and safety of the workforce and workplace.

ProtectWell™ combines UnitedHealth Group’s clinical and data analytics capabilities with Microsoft’s technology leadership to help in the next phases of COVID-19 recovery efforts. The ProtectWell™ app is powered by Microsoft Azure, AI and analytics solutions, and also takes advantage of the Microsoft Healthcare Bot service, which is being used around the world for AI-assisted COVID-19 symptom triaging.

UnitedHealth Group logoThe ProtectWell™ protocol is supported by a smartphone app that allows employers to offer workers a simple screening tool designed for everyday use. The ProtectWell™ app includes an AI-powered health care bot that asks users a series of questions to screen for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. If risk of infection is indicated, employers can direct their employees to a streamlined COVID-19 testing process that enables closed-loop ordering and reporting of test results directly back to employers. Health care information is managed by UnitedHealth Group and employers in accordance with occupational health laws.

In addition, ProtectWell™ includes guidelines and resources to support a safe work environment, including physical distancing, personal hygiene, sanitation and more. Employers can also choose additional custom content specific to their workforce for a personalized experience.

Microsoft logo“As we plan for a safe and careful return to the workplace, employers need clear guidelines to ensure a safe environment and a robust process for employees to screen themselves for COVID-19 symptoms,” said Ken Ehlert, chief scientific officer, UnitedHealth Group. “We are pleased to collaborate with Microsoft to launch ProtectWell™, a simple and effective tool to ensure employers and employees have the information and resources they need to keep themselves, their colleagues and the public safe and healthy.”

Microsoft Executive Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Business, Judson Althoff said: “As businesses begin to reopen, employers will need to monitor and manage their workforce for COVID-19 symptoms to help ensure those at risk of spreading the virus stay home until cleared by medical providers. Microsoft is pleased to join with UnitedHealth Group to launch ProtectWell™, which helps organizations manage the complexity of this undertaking.”

UnitedHealth Group has implemented ProtectWell™ with its own frontline health care workers, is in process of implementing the tool across its business to enable safe return of team members to the workplace, and is making the platform available to all employers in the United States at no charge. Microsoft intends to deploy ProtectWell™ for its U.S.-based employees.

The ProtectWell™ smartphone app is powered by Microsoft Azure, together with its industry-leading security and compliance offerings, and allows employers to better plan, manage resources, care for their employees, and reallocate resources to help safeguard their workforce, workplace and business continuity. UnitedHealth Group will maintain control over protected health care data and will manage opt-in and consent requirements needed from app users. Microsoft will not have access to identifiable information shared via the ProtectWell™ app. De-identified workforce health trends and analytics information will help employers and policymakers make informed occupational and public health decisions.

ProtectWell™ is the latest of many initiatives announced by UnitedHealth Group to combat COVID-19. Other initiatives to date include:

  • Providing $1.5 billion in direct customer and consumer support through premium credits, cost-sharing waivers and other efforts.
  • Accelerating payments to providers throughout the crisis, with an initial tranche of nearly $2 billion.
  • Waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and treatment for U.S. members of UnitedHealthcare plans and simplifying access to care by reducing prior-authorization requirements.
  • Pioneering self-administered swab procedures to expand COVID-19 testing, reduce needed personal protective equipment and protect health care workers from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19.
  • Supporting the Mayo Clinic’s groundbreaking research into the therapeutic potential of using plasma from COVID-19 survivors.
  • Deploying 3,000 “light ventilators” to address critical shortages in the nation’s supply of ventilators.
  • Significantly expanding access to telehealth and virtual visits and redeploying 10,000 Optum clinicians to expand telehealth capabilities.
  • Providing a special enrollment period for fully insured customers to allow employees who did not opt in for coverage during the regular enrollment period to secure coverage.
  • Conducting proactive personal outreach to support seniors and the most vulnerable populations among our members.
  • Launching a free nationwide emotional support line to manage the stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19.
  • Investing nearly $75 million to help at-risk populations, support communities and protect the health care workforce.
  • Converting company cafeterias to provide more than 75,000 meals a week for people in need and keep our cafe team at work.

About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health care company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at www.unitedhealthgroup.com or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.

About Microsoft
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

UnitedHealth Group Contact:

Eric Hausman, 952-936-3963, [email protected]

Microsoft Contact:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

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Author: Steve Clarke

Nutanix Objects 2.0 lays groundwork for hybrid cloud

Nutanix pitched its latest Objects update as scale-out object storage workloads, but experts said the hyper-converged infrastructure specialist is likely preparing for a push into the cloud.

Nutanix Objects 2.0 introduced features aimed at big data workloads. The new multicluster support consolidates Nutanix clusters to a single namespace, allowing for simpler, single-console management. Nutanix Objects 2.0 also added a 240 TB node that is larger than any other Nutanix HCI node, allowing more capacity per cluster. The update also added WORM support and Splunk certification.

Nutanix Objects, which launched in August 2019, provides software-defined object storage and is a stand-alone product from Nutanix HCI. Greg Smith, vice president of product marketing at Nutanix, said typical use cases included unstructured data archiving, big data and analytics. He also noticed an uptick in cloud-native application development in AWS S3 environments. Nutanix HCI software uses an S3 interface.

“We see increasing demand for object storage, particularly for big data,” Smith said.

Supporting cloud-native development is the real endgame of Nutanix Objects 2.0, said Eric Slack, senior analyst at Evaluator Group. The new features and capabilities aren’t to capture customers with traditional object storage use cases, because it’s not cost-effective to put multiple petabytes on HCI. He said no one is waiting for an S3 interface before buying into HCI.

However, that S3 interface is important because, according to Slack, “S3 is what cloud storage talks.”

Slack believes the enhancements to Nutanix Objects will lay the groundwork for Nutanix Clusters, which is currently in beta. Nutanix Clusters allows Nutanix HCI to run in the cloud and communicate with Nutanix HCI running in the data center. This means organizations can develop applications on-site and run them in the cloud, or vice versa.

“I think that’s why they’re doing this — they’re getting ready for Nutanix Clusters,” Slack said. “This really plays into their cloud design, which is a good idea.”

Organizations want that level of flexibility right now because they do not know which workloads are more cost-efficient to run on premises or in the cloud. Having that same, consistent S3 interface is ideal for IT, Slack said, because it means their applications will run wherever it’s cheaper.

Some organizations have been burned during cloud’s initial hype and moved many of their workloads there, only to find their costs have gone up. Slack said that has led to repatriation back into data centers as businesses do the cost analysis.

“Cloud wasn’t everything we thought it was,” Slack said.

Scott Sinclair, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), came to a similar conclusion about the importance of Nutanix Objects. HCI is about consolidating and simplifying server, network and storage, and Objects expands Nutanix HCI into covering object storage’s traditional use cases: archive and active archive. However, there are growing use cases centered around developing in S3.

“We’re seeing the development of apps that write to an S3 API that may not be what we classify as traditional archive,” Sinclair said.

Screenshot of Nutanix Objects 2.0
Nutanix’s S3 interface streamlines interaction between on premises and cloud.

Citing ESG’s 2020 Technology Spending Intentions survey, Sinclair said 64% of IT decision-makers said their IT environments are more complex than they were years ago. Coupled with other data pointing to skills shortages in IT, Sinclair said organizations are currently looking for ways to simplify their data centers, resulting in interest in HCI.

That same survey also found 24% of respondents said they needed to go hybrid, with the perception that using the cloud is easier. Sinclair said this will logically lead to an increase in the use of S3 protocols, and why Nutanix Objects is uniquely well-positioned. Right now, IT administrators know they need to be using both on-premises and cloud resources, but they don’t know to what extent they should be using either. That’s why businesses are taking the most flexible approach.

“Knowing that you don’t know is a smart position to take,” Sinclair said.

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Oracle ships Java 14 with new preview, productivity features

Oracle’s latest release of the Java language and platform, Java 14 — also known as Oracle JDK14 — brings a series of features focused on helping developers code faster and more efficiently.

The latest Java Development Kit (JDK) provides new developer-focused features including Java language support for switch expressions, new APIs for continuous monitoring of JDK Flight Recorder data, and extended availability of the low-latency Z Garbage Collector to macOS and Windows.

In addition, Java 14 includes three preview features that come out of the JDK Enhancement Proposals (JEP) process. These are Pattern Matching, or JEP 305; Records, or JEP 359; and Text Blocks, also known as JEP 368.

Java 12 introduced switch expressions in preview, and it is now standard in Java 14. This feature extends the Java switch statement so it can be used as either a statement or an expression. “Basically, we converted the switch statement into an expression and made it much simpler and more concise,” said Aurelio Garcia-Ribeyro, Oracle’s Sr. Director of Product Management, Java Platform.

 Oracle will give developers a way to spot errors by continuously monitoring the JDK Flight Recorder, a tool integrated into the Java Virtual Machine for collecting diagnostic and profiling data about a running Java application.

Finally, the z Garbage Collector, also known as ZGC, is a scalable, low-latency garbage collector. Garbage collection is a form of automatic memory management that frees up memory that is no longer in use or needed by the application. Prior to the Windows and MacOS support introduced with Java 14, the z Garbage collector was available only on Linux/x64 platforms.

As for the preview features, Oracle has developed pattern matching for the Java “instanceof” operator. The instanceof operator is used to test if an object is of a given type. In turn, the introduction of Java Records cuts down on the verbosity of Java and provides a compact syntax for declaring classes.

“Records will eliminate a lot of the boilerplate that has historically been needed to create a class,” Garcia-Ribeyro said.

Text Blocks, initially introduced in Java 13 as a preview, returns as an enhanced preview in Java 14. Text Blocks make it easy to express strings that span several lines of source code. It enhances the readability of strings in Java programs that denote code written in non-Java languages, Garcia-Ribeyro said.

Oracle needs to give Java developers the types of tools they need to evolve with the marketplace, said Bradley Shimmin, an analyst at Omdia in Longmeadow, Mass.

“When I look at what they’re doing with Java 14, they’re adding features that make the language more resilient, more performant and that make developers more productive in using the language,” he said.

Oracle takes iterative approach to Java updates

Java 14 also includes a new Packaging Tool, introduced as an incubator feature, that provides a way for developers to package Java applications for distribution in platform-specific formats. This tool is introduced as an incubator module to get developer feedback as the tool nears finalization.

Among the more obscure features in this release are Non-Volatile Mapped Byte Buffers, which add a file mapping mode for the JDK when using non-volatile memory. Also, Helpful NullPointerExceptions improves the usability of NullPointerExceptions by describing precisely which variable was null. NullPointerExceptions are exceptions that occur when you try to use a reference that points to no location in memory as though it were referencing an object. And the Foreign-Memory Access API allows Java programs to safely access foreign memory outside of the Java heap. The Java heap is the amount of memory allocated to applications running in the JVM.

Java 14 is another new release of the language under the six-month cadence Oracle instituted more than two years ago. The purpose of the quicker cadence of releases is to get “more bite-size pieces that are easier to deploy and manage and that get the features to app developers in the enterprise to benefit from these new capabilities,” said Manish Gupta, Oracle’s Vice President of Marketing for Java and GraalVM.

Overall, Oracle wants to advance the Java language and platform to make it work well for new cloud computing applications as well as platforms such as mobile and IoT. In 2017, Oracle spun out enterprise Java, known as Java Enterprise Edition or JavaEE, to the Eclipse Foundation. Eclipse has since created a new enterprise Java specification called Jakarta EE.

“When I think about Java 14, what I’m seeing is that Oracle is not only staying true to what they promised back when they acquired Sun Microsystems, which was to do no harm to Java, but that they are trying to now evolve Java in such a way that it can remain relevant into the future,” Shimmin said.

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COVID-19 depresses 5G smartphone shipments

Technology research firm Omdia lowered by 20% its forecast for global shipments of 5G smartphones. The latest estimate reflects the disruption to component manufacturing caused by the Chinese government’s efforts to contain COVID-19, the disease caused by a new strain of the coronavirus.

Production delays for smartphone screens and, to a lesser extent, 5G antenna modules, will likely push back the availability of some new phones to the first quarter of 2021, Omdia reported. As a result, the research firm revised its forecast for 5G phone shipments in 2020 from 250 million to 200 million.

COVID-19 has spread to at least 86 countries since government health officials first identified the potentially deadly coronavirus strain in Wuhan, China, in late December. At its peak in China, the virus was infecting more than 3,000 people a day.

China’s aggressive tactics for containment has reduced the number of daily infections to 200. However, shutting down factories, imposing strict quarantines, and isolating areas of the disease has halted the production of active-matrix OLED (AMOLED) smartphone displays. A significant portion of display assembly takes place in the Wuhan area.

Display production dropped by 40% to 50% in the first quarter and will likely be down in the second quarter, Omdia senior analyst Kevin Anderson said. “And, it remains to be seen how quickly they can ramp back up going into Q3, which is a major production quarter.”

Impact on 5G antenna production

Slowing the spread of COVID-19 has also led to lower inventories of 5G antennas. However, the production drop in China was offset somewhat by manufacturers in Taiwan, where factories remained open, according to Omdia.

The component shortages could delay new 5G models from Chinese smartphone makers Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, Anderson said.

“They were rolling out 5G quite aggressively,” he said. “They have quite aggressive plans for the year.”

Samsung, which has the largest share of the global smartphone market, was not affected by the problems in China because most of the production of its phones is in Vietnam.

Whether manufacturing slowdowns in China will affect Apple remains to be seen, Anderson said. Analysts expect the company to release a 5G iPhone this year, but Apple has not made an official announcement. Apple makes most of its iPhones in China.

Typically, smartphone manufacturers introduce models late in the third quarter, which drives the highest sales of the year in the fourth quarter. If they delay the unveiling of new phones, the sales cycle will likely extend into the first quarter of 2021.

Omdia, a unit of Informa Tech, is the latest market research firm to revise 5G smartphone predictions because of COVID-19. In late February, Strategy Analytics lowered its 2020 forecast to 199 million phones.

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Kurt DelBene’s March 4 guidance to King County employees – Stories

Hi everyone,

I wanted to update you on the latest public guidance changes for King County, the region where the Redmond area campuses are located.  The specific recommendations from King County may be found here. We are adjusting our guidance in response to these new recommendations.

These updates will go into effect at the end of day today, Pacific Standard Time, and will remain in effect through March 25th, but we will be continuously monitoring the situation and adjusting guidance as appropriate.

As always, for full list of our guidance to employees, please visit the Global Security website.

Puget Sound and Bay Area work from home updates:

  • Consistent with King County guidance, we are recommending all employees who are in a job that can be done from home should do so through March 25th. Taking these measures will ensure your safety and also make the workplace safer for those that need to be onsite. Please let your manager know that you will be working from home, so all our teams remain well coordinated.
  • If in your role it is essential to be in the office or other work environments (e.g., data center, retail, etc.), plan to continue to go to your location. We will continue to implement the CDC guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing the locations. If you are not sure whether you are in a role that requires you to be onsite, you should speak to your manager.
    • The exceptions to this new guidance are the following groups who are being advised by health authorities to avoid interaction in large groups or public settings:
      • If you are over 60
      • If you have an underlying health condition (heart disease, diabetes, etc.)
      • If you are immune system compromised
      • If you are pregnant
    • In these cases, you should work with your manager to determine leave options or other accommodations available to you.
    • If you are a caregiver of someone that is immune system compromised, please contact your health provider for input.
  • If you will be in the office or other work environments, we recommend limiting prolonged close interactions with people. Specific recommendations are below, but your manager can help implement plans that work well in your particular situation.
    • Limit prolonged interactions and try to stay more than 6 feet/1.8 meters away from others.
    • Keep in-person meetings as short as possible.
    • If you are in open office space and located 6 feet/1.8 meters away from others, you meet the current guidance for appropriate distance from others.
  • Most importantly do not come to work if you are sick. This will be clearly posted on all building entrances.

Updated Global Travel Guidance:

  • We recommend that people postpone travel to Puget Sound or Bay Area campuses unless essential for the continuity of Microsoft.
  • All non-essential business travel should be canceled in regions with active COVID-19
    • “Essential” is defined as work related to operations, sales, customer services (e.g., customer support and customer success).
    • You should discuss travel felt to be essential with your manager and get their approval.
  • You are not required to travel if you have concerns about doing so.

 If your region was not mentioned in this email or my email yesterday, it is because there are no additional updates to the current guidelines, but we will continue to keep you informed. Please look for updates from Global Security if the situation changes in your area.

If you have any questions on how the above guidance applies to your particular circumstances, please discuss with your manager.  You can also send questions to HR.

 What to do if you’re feeling symptoms or believe you’ve been exposed:

In King County, if you believe you were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, contact the novel coronavirus call center: 206-477-3977 or your health care provider. For other locations, please contact your local health department hotline.

If you believe you may have symptoms, please contact your health care provider immediately.

Note for all employees globally:  If you are receiving testing or have a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, please confidentially inform HR – we will assist in informing your manager and taking measures that protect others.

 As a reminder, we are following the below precautionary measures from the WHO:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • If you are sick (e.g., flu, cold), do not come to work.
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness.
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.

We will continue to assess the situation and update you as our recommendations change. I really appreciate your patience.

Thanks,

Kurt

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Live from Bett: What’s new in EDU– Change within the Microsoft Educator Center and fostering future-ready skills in students | | Microsoft EDU

It’s Day 2 of Bett and we’re back, ready to share the latest innovations in education technology and helping you get you started using the new tools and resources we announced last week. You can tune in live to watch special episodes of “What’s new in EDU” each day of Bett at 5:00PM Local London time or noon EST and 9 am PT. Here’s where you go on Thursday  and Friday. In our episode yesterday, we talked about choosing and managing devices and various ways educators can help students strengthen their communication and collaboration skills while using free tools like Office 365 Education and Microsoft Teams. If you missed that episode, you can check it out here

Today we want to show you how to create learning experiences that inspire creativity, deepen student engagement and develop high-level cognitive skills. And we’ll tell you about free resources you can use to ensure your students are developing the future-ready skills they need to be prepared for success in college and careers.   

In this episode we’ll show you how:  

  • You can help teachers adopt new technology with free teacher training online in the improved Microsoft Educator Center and from Microsoft Stores
  • You can access STEM Lessons from Discovery Education directly from within Teams using the new Discovery Education app for Teams 
  • You can inspire creativity and professional skills for the Windows Video Editor 
  • Coming soon: You can teach students how to code using Python with Minecraft: Education Edition and Microsoft MakeCode 
  • You can use Minecraft to develop social-emotional skills like digital citizenship and mindfulness

 

Microsoft Educator Center 

We’re introducing an updated and improved MEC. The Microsoft Educator Center is a platform designed to address the needs of educators. It’s a digital hub where you can find free content, training and support to help you use technology effectively and drive improved student outcomes. 

The MEC is home to innovative courses and resources built by teachers for teachers. You can earn badges, go deep on topics through learning paths, build your transcript and grow your expertise. It’s a resource to help you gain new skills related to bringing technology into the classroom, fostering student-center learning, developing future ready skills, creating inclusive and accessible environments and more. Check out the new MEC experience here

STEM and CS 

We’re excited to announce that Discovery Education– the global leader in standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms– is releasing a new app for Microsoft Teams, the digital hub for bringing classroom content, conversations, assignments and apps together. If you’re using Discovery Education’s high-quality, digital resources for instruction, we know you’ll be thrilled to see those materials available within Microsoft Teams. This integration will save you time, help keep your classes organized, and provide greater opportunities to collaborate with your students and colleagues. 

You’ll be able to access Discovery Education’s rich, standards-aligned STEM, Science, Math, Social Studies content and more from within Teams from your device and, connect to the largest educator community of its kind, the Discovery Educator Network (DEN), and very soon, share content with students as an assignment within Teams. We’ll have more to come on that, so keep an eye on our Microsoft Educator Center for training opportunities. And check out the steps below for how to get started. 


MakeCode News 

We’re excited to announce the release of Microsoft MakeCode Arcade for general availability. Microsoft MakeCode Arcade is a new online game development environment for simple, visually appealing 2D sprite-based games. Students use drag-and-drop blocks or JavaScript to design and build games and collaborate with friends. Microsoft MakeCode is an open source, free platform for creating inclusive computer science learning experiences that support a progression from blocks to real-world text-based programming. Educators around the world have been using MakeCode for the micro:bit or MakeCode with Minecraft to introduce computing concepts into their classrooms.  


We are thrilled to have this new member of the Microsoft MakeCode family in MakeCode Arcade. It’s a great next step up from MakeCode for micro:bit, a development environment that’s popular with educators and students just starting off with coding. The early feedback from MakeCode Arcade Beta users has been positive. Educators say they’re finding MakeCode Arcade to be a draw for diverse learners, and that students love designing their own characters and bringing special effects and music into their games. For those ready to give MakeCode Arcade a try, you can find the latest updates on free curriculum resources here. And you and your students can get started now with this free tutorial here. No login needed! 

And in another exciting MakeCode development, we are thrilled to announce that MakeCode will support the Python programming language alongside support for JavaScript and Blocks. Python is a widely used programming language in education and data science, and we heard from many computer science teachers around the world, that they would like to see MakeCode support for Python.  


Minecraft: Education Edition 

Computational thinking is a vital skill to develop in students as we prepare them for the workplace, especially since the vast majority of future jobs will require digital skills. Teachers can introduce computer science to students of all ages with Minecraft: Education Editionwhich also now supports the Python programming language for MakeCode alongside JavaScript and block-based coding.

From easy Hour of Code tutorials to Computer Science curriculum based on CSTA standards, Minecraft offers all you need to teach coding across the STEM curriculum. Download a free coding demo lesson here for all Windows, Mac, and iPad users—no login required.

In addition to developing STEM skills, students are building social-emotional competencies with Minecraft: Education Edition. A new set of SEL lessons for Minecraft: Education Edition offers special lessons and immersive Minecraft worlds to help educators teach these skills and create inclusive classrooms. Discover the Mindful Knight—an interactive world that introduces mindfulness and self-regulation—and lessons on digital citizenship and empathy.

Curious what else Minecraft offers? Now you can access more than 200 lessons and 50 build challenges with the new and improved in-game Library. Whether you teach history, math, language arts, technology, or biology, Minecraft is an effective tool for engaging students in immersive project-based learning across the curriculum. Check out this story from educators in Ireland and learn how to get started with Minecraft: Education Edition in your school here.

STEM Lesson Plans

Microsoft Hacking STEM is a collection of free, standards-aligned lesson plans that bring project-based learning to the classroom using inexpensive, everyday materials.    

In November 2019, the world celebrated the 20-year anniversary of humans living aboard the International Space Station. To inspire and engage students, Microsoft Education and NASA have partnered and developed eight new lesson plans focused around the complex issues to think about when living in space. The collection of middle and high school materials connects core academic concepts with hands-on experiences. Students are challenged to design in 3D, analyze data, build sensors, and use virtual reality and work with machine learning and AI while engaging in discussions about living in space. 

We are also excited to share that  Carolina Biological Supply Company is launching three new classroom kits to support projects from the NASA collection. These projects include:  

  • Designing Astro Socks to protect astronauts’ feet in microgravity: This project has students investigating solutions to reduce the impact of working in microgravity on the astronauts’ feet.  
  • What is the electromagnetic spectrum: This asks students to measure radiation in our environment and examine the light waves and frequencies within the electromagnetic spectrum. Students use sensors to capture live data and relate their observations about life in space to their own on Earth.  
  • Using materials science engineering to determine heat resistance: This asksstudents to explore the properties of different heat shield construction materials to protect crew and cargo returning from the International Space Station from the heat generated during the capsule’s descent.   

These kits will be available on the Carolinawebsite soon. We hope you leverage these resources to inspire, educate and engage your students.    

Data Streamer

The Excel Data Streamer provides students with a simple way to bring data from the physical world in and out of Excel’s powerful digital canvas. With a sensor connected to a microcontroller that is attached to Excel, you can introduce students to the emerging worlds of data science and the internet of things.  

We are continuing to add key STEM Partners that support streaming of real time data in Excel using the Data Streamer Add-in. At Bett, Vernier, Pasco and Sphero are showcasing new applications integrated with Excel. This will enable educators to use their existing professional sensors and probes with Excel and modernize their classrooms with live data to transform how students model modern scientific and engineering practices.  

An innovation story 

We love hearing stories about educators who use new tech tools in innovative ways to inform instruction and improve teaching and learning. One such story is that of Assistant Principal Lauren Taylor of Manitou Park Elementary School in Tacoma, Washington. She used Microsoft PowerApps, which allows you to build your own mobile apps using templates, to create an app for her school that helps teachers input and evaluate student reading assessment data. Read more about Lauren’s inspiring story here.  

New and immersive tools 

HoloLens 2 is now available and bringing immersive mixed-reality experiences to colleges, universities, and K-12 classrooms. Educators are turning to this new tool to enhance key experiences in areas such as life sciences and career and technical education. Some of the upgrades to the new HoloLens include an increased field of view and an enhanced ability to see intricate details on 3D images.  

Some examples of HoloLens in use in educational settings include Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio, where students use it in anatomy classes. You can learn more about that here. And we’ve seen exciting examples of the HoloLens bringing lessons to life with younger students as well. Ewout Warringa recently offered insights into how he uses it to teach construction and technology coursework to 13- to 17-year-old students in the Netherlands in this inspiring blog post

And if you want to read up on various ways to bring immersive experiences to education and the potential benefits, please check out this white paper we previously released on the subject. 

New 3D Models in Windows and Office 

We are excited to announce we now have more than 600 new 3D education models available in Office 365 Education and Paint3D, a built-in creative app that comes with Windows 10. You read that right—more than 600!  

To learn more about how you can insert 3D models directly into Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook on Windows and macOS, please check out this post. It’s relatively easy. You insert 3D models much like you insert other images.  

3D models can enhance lessons in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, the humanities and more. Research has shown that providing 3D visualization for students can lead to greater understanding around shapes and spatial relationships. 

Inspiring Creativity and offering new ways for students to share what they know 


Video Editor 
 

We have updates to Video Editor that we know you and your students will enjoy. Video Editor for Windows 10 is our full-featured set of video creation and editing tools for digital storytelling, and it’s free with every Windows 10 device. Students love to use it to create films with background music, text effects, 3D models and special effects. Now with Video Editor you can: 

  • Split video clips into two or more segments for easier editing 
  • Back up projects to share with peers and teachers, create templates, and import projects in progress to create a more efficient workflow 
  • Add content to your video project directly from Bing image search with Creative Commons licenses as captions  
  • Speed up and slow down video clips to create slow motion or time lapse content  
  • Rotate photos and videos between landscape and portrait for easier use in your projects
  • Have card thumbnails for a video project that reflect edits a user has done to that specific card  

If you haven’t tried Video Editor yet, look for it in your Start Menu or search for “Video.” And check out this guide for more details on how to get started using this creative tool. 

Up Next… 

Thanks for checking out our latest episode of What’s New in EDU, live from Bett. We hope you got some useful information about teacher training, bringing STEM resources into your classroom and ideas for boosting future-ready skills in your students. Please join us tomorrow live from Bett when we’ll look closely at specific ways to foster inclusion and accessibility in the classroom with the help of new ed tech resources. As always, share your feedback with us on Twitter by tagging @MicrosoftEDU! And be sure to sign up for the Microsoft Educator Newsletter here. 

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft misconfiguration exposed 250M customer service records

Microsoft became the latest organization to accidentally expose private data on the web.

The software giant Wednesday admitted it had exposed 250 million customer support records on five Elasticsearch servers, which were inadvertently made publicly accessible on the web for nearly a month.

According to Comparitech, which discovered the exposure, most personally identifiable information (PII) such as payment information was redacted. However, exposed information included customer email addresses, IP addresses, locations, descriptions of customer service and support claims and cases, Microsoft support agent emails, case numbers, resolutions, remarks, and internal notes marked as confidential.

“I was immediately stunned by the size and by the structure of data there, and even when I saw that most of the data there was automatically redacted, still there were some records with personal data in plain text,” Bob Diachenko, leader of Comparitech’s security research team, told SearchSecurity.

Microsoft, which corrected the misconfiguration last month, issued a statement that said it found no malicious use of the exposed data. The company said its investigation found that misconfigured Azure security rules were applied to the databases in early December.

On Dec. 28, according to Comparitech, the databases were first indexed by BinaryEdge, a search engine. One day later, Diachenko discovered the exposed databases and immediately contacted Microsoft. Within two days, the servers and data were secured.

“They acted really quickly and professionally,” Diachenko said. “In general, Microsoft’s response was exemplary. I wish every company would have such a brilliant internet response protocol in place.”

“We have solutions to help prevent this kind of mistake, but unfortunately, they were not enabled for this database,” Microsoft said in its statement. It is unknown what these solutions are and why they weren’t in place; when SearchSecurity contacted Microsoft, the company declined to comment beyond the public statement.

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