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Fallout from HIMSS20 cancellation continues

It’s been two months since the annual HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition was canceled, but attendees and exhibitors are still expressing frustration over how the cancellation was handled.

HIMSS called off the event for the first time in 58 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That decision created a quick-fire controversy, as the nonprofit announced the news four days before the conference was to kick off and three days after President Donald Trump was announced as an event speaker.

But how HIMSS, an organization with 80,000 members that is closely linked with the health IT community, managed and communicated the cancellation cleanup has had more staying power. Attendees and exhibitors said they received few details from the organization and had to press HIMSS to provide clarity into how refunds would be handled. Along with poor communication, HIMSS did not provide exhibitors or attendees with the option for refunds.

“You have to pursue them and when you do, it’s an iron wall of legal policies,” said Ryan Plasch, vice president of growth and strategy at AI voice assistant company Saykara in Seattle. “For health tech companies like ours and other innovators, there was no reprieve. We asked for a refund, they cited their legal policy in the contract.” Saykara was scheduled to attend the event as an exhibitor.

When asked about the lack of communication and the lack of refund options, a HIMSS spokesperson said the organization had no comment at this time.

Lack of communication

Initially, HIMSS planned to offer no financial recourse, providing exhibitors with no contingency plan and providing attendees with an option of rolling over the cost of the HIMSS20 ticket to next year’s event. Eventually on April 8, HIMSS said it would give a partial credit to exhibitors dividing between HIMSS21 and HIMSS22.

Plasch said he was “extremely disappointed” in the poor communication from HIMSS on refund opportunities. He’s not alone: On Tuesday, 21 health IT companies that planned to exhibit at HIMSS20, including Saykara, sent HIMSS CEO Harold Wolf a letter expressing anger at how it handled the situation and requested a 100% refund of exhibitor fees.

“The decision to cancel due to COVID-19 was the right one to keep attendees and in particular our healthcare professionals safe in these unprecedented times,” the letter stated. “However, we take issue with the conduct of the HIMSS organization in the subsequent management of the finances related to this situation. Because of this, we decided to reach out to other similarly affected organizations, many of who have complained directly to you, but who have not felt listened to and we have joined together with them to send you this letter.”

You have to pursue them and when you do, it’s an iron wall of legal policies.
Ryan PlaschVice president of growth and strategy, Saykara

In its FAQ, HIMSS said that, when it comes to exhibitor booth and sponsorship refunds, it “must follow and honor the terms of exhibitor contracts, which include a force majeure clause. As a not-for-profit, and because of its obligations to other parties, HIMSS will honor its partners’ rights but, unfortunately, is not in a position to issue cash refunds beyond those provided in our contracts.”

HIMSS outlined the force majeure clause for exhibitors in the event’s terms and conditions stating, “In the event that the performance by HIMSS or the venue or any part of the exhibit area thereof is unavailable … HIMSS shall not be liable to refund, indemnify, or reimburse the Exhibitor in respect of any fees paid, damage or loss, direct or indirect, arising as a result thereof.”

In its letter, the 21 exhibitors rejected the explanation, stating, “All of us were shocked and angry that HIMSS took the decision to retain 100% of the money paid for exhibition space rental citing Force Majeure and the fact you are a Not for Profit; however, we fail to see why being a Not for Profit should exempt HIMSS from acting fairly, honourably and professionally.”

A media contact for HIMSS said she had not seen the letter and could not comment.

John Moore, founder and managing partner of Chilmark Research, a health IT consultancy in Boston, said he received minimal communication from HIMSS regarding refund opportunities. Moore has attended several HIMSS conferences.

“I had to hunt them down and, even then, they were very difficult to reach,” Moore said. “You couldn’t get ahold of anyone for a couple of months.”

Maree Beare, founder of symptom checker startup Wanngi in Australia, found communication from HIMSS regarding refunds to be lacking. Beare, who was attending HIMSS for the first time, said she expected a full refund for the cost of her ticket and had to reach out to HIMSS organizers directly to learn that wasn’t the case.

“I think people were not communicated to correctly at all,” she said.

Lack of refund options

It wasn’t until one month after the event was canceled that exhibitors received a consolation. HIMSS offered to split 25% of exhibitors’ “total spend from HIMSS20” between the next two years, with 15% applied to HIMSS21 and 10% applied to HIMSS22. Startups and “university row” exhibitors were given the opportunity to split 100% of their total spend evenly between HIMSS21 and HIMSS22.

Saykara’s Plasch said he felt “empty handed and almost brushed aside” by HIMSS. Plasch said HIMSS’ response was a stark contrast to another event the vendor was scheduled to attend just a couple of weeks later, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) annual meeting, which draws roughly 30,000 attendees or 15,000 fewer than HIMSS.

Within a week of canceling, Plasch said AAOS conference organizers provided Saykara with three refund options.

“You could get a 100% refund, you could apply credits to next year with some incentives, or you could elect to do some online virtual things with free advertisement,” Plasch said. “Without even asking, we got that.”

From HIMSS, Plasch said he’s received “curt” responses to inquiries and said his company is feeling “disenfranchised as a result of the experience.”

As an attendee, Chilmark’s Moore said the consultancy’s tickets to HIMSS20 weren’t eligible for a refund but were automatically made applicable to next year’s event. However, tickets aren’t transferable to other employees right now, meaning Moore could lose the value of that ticket if an employee that planned to attend HIMSS20 leaves the company before the HIMSS21 event.

Roughly 10 Chilmark employees were planning to attend HIMSS20, and at about $1,500 each, Moore hoped HIMSS would’ve offered more options to those affected by the cancellation.

“HIMSS was pretty amateurish to say the least,” Moore said. “The HIMSS conference brings in, I don’t know how many millions into HIMSS … and this is the best they can do? It’s a bit of a joke.”

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PowerShell ForEach-Object cmdlet picks up speed

Since its move to an open source project in 2016, PowerShell’s development picked up significantly.

The PowerShell 7.0 release arrived in March with a slew of improvements and new features. One of the most intriguing updates occurred with the PowerShell ForEach-Object cmdlet, which gained a powerful new ability to perform loops in parallel.

Most system administrators have needed to execute some command or operation on multiple systems. Before the addition of the Parallel parameter, each iteration in a loop would run sequentially, or one after another. While this may work fine for loops with limited items, loops that require each step to take substantially more time is a perfect candidate for the Parallel parameter.

The PowerShell ForEach-Object Parallel parameter attempts to run multiple iterations of the loop at the same time, potentially saving on the overall runtime. With this newfound capability, there are several important caveats to understand before implementing the Parallel in any production scripts.

Understanding PowerShell ForEach-Object -Parallel

PowerShell supports several different methods of parallelism. In the case of ForEach-Object, runspaces provides this functionality. Runspaces are separate threads in the same process. These threads have less overhead compared to PowerShell jobs or PowerShell remoting.

A few factors will add to the amount of overhead used with the ForEach-Object Parallel parameter. You will need to import additional modules and reference outside variables with the $Using: syntax. In some situations, the Parallel parameter is not ideal due to the extra overhead it generates when in use, but there is a way to shift that burden away from the source machine.

One automation concern with this additional feature is flooding your infrastructure or servers with multiple operations at once.

One automation concern with this additional feature is flooding your infrastructure or servers with multiple operations at once. To control this behavior, the ThrottleLimit parameter restricts the number of concurrent threads. When one thread completes, any additional iterations will take that thread’s place, up to the defined limit.

The default ThrottleLimit is five threads, which generally keeps memory and CPU usage low. Without this setting, you can quickly overwhelm your local system or server by running too many threads in parallel.

Finally, one other useful ability of the Parallel parameter is it allows any parallel loops to run as PowerShell jobs. This functionality lets the PowerShell ForEach-Object command return a job object, which you can retrieve at a later time.

Performance between Windows PowerShell 5.1 and PowerShell 7

There have been many performance improvements since Windows PowerShell 5.1 and especially so with the latest release of PowerShell 7. Specifically, how have things improved with the development of the ForEach-Object command?

The code below runs a simple test to show the speed difference in the PowerShell ForEach-Object command between different versions of PowerShell. The first example shows results from Windows PowerShell 5.1:

$Collection = 1..10000

(Measure-Command {
$Collection | ForEach-Object {
$_
}
}).TotalMilliseconds
# Result: 35112.3222

In that version, the script takes more than 35 seconds to finish. In PowerShell 7, the difference is dramatic and takes slightly more than 1 second to complete:

$Collection = 1..100000

(Measure-Command {
$Collection | ForEach-Object {
$_
}
}).TotalMilliseconds
# Result: 1042.3588

How else can we demonstrate the power of the Parallel parameter? One common feature in PowerShell scripts used in production is to introduce a delay to allow some other action to complete first. The following script uses the Start-Sleep command to add this pause.

$Collection = 1..10

(Measure-Command {
$Collection | ForEach-Object {
Start-Sleep -Seconds 1
$_
}
}).TotalMilliseconds
# Result: 10096.1418

As expected, running sequentially, the script block takes almost 10 seconds. The following code demonstrates the same loop using the Parallel parameter.

$Collection = 1..10

(Measure-Command {
$Collection | ForEach-Object -Parallel {
Start-Sleep -Seconds 1
$_
}
}).TotalMilliseconds
# Result: 2357.487

This change shaved almost 8 seconds off the total runtime. Even with only five threads running at once, each iteration kicks off when the previous one completes for a significant reduction in execution time.

Putting the Parallel parameter in action

How can these enhancements and abilities translate to real-world system administration actions? There are countless scenarios that would benefit from running operations in parallel, but two that are very common are retrieving information from multiple computers and running commands against multiple computers.

Collecting data from multiple computers

One common administrative task is to gather information on many different systems at once. How is this done with the new PowerShell ForEach-Object -Parallel command? The following example retrieves the count of files in user profiles remotely across systems.

$Computers = @(
"Computer1"
"Computer2"
"Computer3"
"Computer4"
"Computer5"
)

(Measure-Command {
$User = $Env:USERNAME

$Computers | ForEach-Object -Parallel {
Invoke-Command -ComputerName $_ -ScriptBlock {
Write-Host ("{0}: {1}" -F $_, (Get-ChildItem -Path "C:Users$($Using:User)" -Recurse).Count)
}
}
}).TotalMilliseconds

Computer1: 31716
Computer2: 30055
Computer4: 28542
Computer3: 33556
Computer5: 26052
13572.8172

On PowerShell 7, the script completes in just over 13 seconds. The same script running on Windows PowerShell 5.1 without the Parallel parameter executes in just over 50 seconds.

Running commands against multiple computers

Oftentimes, an administrator will need a command or series of commands to run against several target systems as fast as possible. The following code uses the Parallel parameter and PowerShell remoting to make quick work of this transfer process.

$Computers = @(
"Computer1"
"Computer2"
"Computer3"
"Computer4"
"Computer5"
)

$RemoteFile = "\Server1SharedFilesDeployment.zip"

(Measure-Command {
$Computers | ForEach-Object -Parallel {
Invoke-Command -ComputerName $_ -ScriptBlock {
Copy-Item -Path $Using:RemoteFile -Destination "C:"
}
}
}).TotalMilliseconds

23572.8172

Shifting overhead with Invoke-Command

One useful feature in PowerShell when working with remote systems is to lower overhead by shifting computer-intensive commands to the target system. In the previous example, Invoke-Command runs the commands via the local PowerShell session on the remote systems. This is a helpful way to spread the overhead load and avoid potential bottlenecks in performance.

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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

New AI tools in the works for ThoughtSpot analytics platform

The ThoughtSpot analytics platform only has been available for six years, but since 2014 the vendor has quickly gained a reputation as an innovator in the field of business intelligence software.

ThoughtSpot, founded in 2012 and based in Sunnyvale, Calif., was an early adopter of augmented intelligence and machine learning capabilities, and even as other BI vendors have begun to infuse their products with AI and machine learning, the ThoughtSpot analytics platform has continued to push the pace of innovation.

With its rapid rise, ThoughtSpot attracted plenty of funding, and an initial public offering seemed like the next logical step.

Now, however, ThoughtSpot is facing the same uncertainty as most enterprises as COVID-19 threatens not only people’s health around the world, but also organizations’ ability to effectively go about their business.

In a recent interview, ThoughtSpot CEO Sudheesh Nair discussed all things ThoughtSpot, from the way the coronavirus is affecting the company to the status of an IPO.

In part one of a two-part Q&A, Nair talked about how COVID-19 has changed the firm’s corporate culture in a short time. Here in part two, he discusses upcoming plans for the ThoughtSpot analytics platform and when the vendor might be ready to go public.

One of the main reasons the ThoughtSpot analytics platform has been able to garner respect in a short time is its innovation, particularly with respect to augmented intelligence and machine learning. Along those lines, what is a recent feature ThoughtSpot developed that stands out to you?

ThoughtSpot CEO Sudheesh NairSudheesh Nair

Sudheesh Nair: One of the main changes that is happening in the world of data right now is that the source of data is moving to the cloud. To deliver the AI-based, high-speed innovation on data, ThoughtSpot was really counting on running the data in a high-speed memory database, which is why ThoughtSpot was mostly focused on on-premises customers. One of the major changes that happened in the last year is that delivered what we call Embrace. With Embrace we are able to move to the cloud and leave the data in place. This is critical because as data is moving, the cost of running computations will get higher because computing is very expensive in the cloud.

With ThoughtSpot, what we have done is we are able to deliver this on platforms like Snowflake, Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery and Microsoft Synapse. So now with all four major cloud vendors fully supported, we have the capability to serve all of our customers and leave all of their data in place. This reduces the cost to operate ThoughtSpot — the value we deliver — and the return on investment will be higher. That’s one major change.

Looking ahead, what are some additions to the ThoughtSpot analytics platform customers can expect?

Nair: If you ask people who know ThoughtSpot — and I know there are a lot of people who don’t know ThoughtSpot, and that’s OK — … if you ask them what we do they will say, ‘search and AI.’ It’s important that we continue to augment on that; however, one thing that we’ve found is that in the modern world we don’t want search to be the first thing that you do. What if search became the second thing you do, and the first thing is that what you’ve been looking for comes to you even before you ask?

What if search became the second thing you do, and the first thing is that what you’ve been looking for comes to you even before you ask?
Sudheesh NairCEO, ThoughtSpot

Let’s say you’re responsible for sales in Boston, and you told the system you’re interested in figuring out sales in Boston — that’s all you did. Now the system understands what it means to you, and then runs multiple models and comes back to you with questions you’ll be interested in, and most importantly with insights it thinks you need to know — it doesn’t send a bunch of notifications that you never read. We want to make sure that the insights we’re sending to you are so relevant and so appropriate that every single one adds value. If one of them doesn’t add value, we want to know so the system can understand what it was that was not valuable and then adjust its algorithms internally. We believe that the right action and insight should be in front of you, and then search can be the second thing you do prompted by the insight we sent to you.

What tools will be part of the ThoughtSpot analytics platform to deliver these kinds of insights?

Nair: There are two features we are delivering around it. One is called Feed, which is inspired by our social media curating insights, and conversations and opinions around facts. Right now social media is all opinion, but imagine a fact-driven social media experience where someone says they had a bad a quarter and someone else says it was great and then data shows up so it doesn’t become an opinion based on another opinion. It’s important that it should be tethered to facts. The second one is Monitor, which is the primary feature where the thing you were looking for shows up even before you ask in the format that you like — could be mobile, could be notifications, could be an image.

Those two features are critical innovations for our growth, and we are very focused on delivering them this year.

The last time we spoke we talked about the possibility of ThoughtSpot going public, and you were pretty open in saying that’s something you foresee. It’s about seven months later, where do plans for going public currently stand?

Nair: If you had asked me before COVID-19 I would have had a bit of a different answer, but the big picture hasn’t changed. I still firmly believe that a company like ThoughtSpot will tremendously benefit from going public because our customers are massive customers, and those customers like to spend more with a public company and the trust that comes with it.

Having said that, I talked last time about building a team and predictability, and I feel seven months later that we have built the executive team that can be the best in class when it comes to public companies. But going public also requires being predictable, and we’re getting in that right spot. I think that the next two quarters will be somewhat fluid, which will maybe set us back when it comes to building a plan to take the company public. But that is basically it. I think taken one by one, we have a good product market, we have good business momentum, we have a good team, and we just need to put together the history that is necessary so that the business is predictable and an investor can appreciate it. That’s what we’re focused on. There might be a short-term setback because of what the coronavirus might throw at us, but it’s going to definitely be a couple of more quarters of work.

Does the decline in the stock market related to COVID-19 play into your plans at all?

Nair: It’s absolutely an important event that’s going on and no one knows how it will play out, but when I think about a company’s future I never think about an IPO as a few quarters event. It’s something we want to do, and a couple of quarters here or there is not going to make a major difference. Over the last couple of weeks, we haven’t seen any softness in the demand for ThoughtSpot, but we know that a lot of our customers’ pipelines are in danger from supply impacts from China, so we will wait and see. We need to be very close to our customers right now, helping them through the process, and in that process we will learn and make the necessary course corrections.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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Sea of Thieves – Celebrate Our Second Anniversary with a Bonanza Weekend!

It’s been two years since Sea of Thieves arrived on Xbox One and Windows 10, and what years they’ve been. Since launch, we’ve seen over 10 million pirates plundering the seas, and during the last 24 months we’ve forged on with the wind in our sails to deliver an abundance of additions to the game – most notably in 2019’s Anniversary Update and with the introduction of monthly content updates from last July.

We’re incredibly proud of how far we’ve journeyed from launch, and we’re excited to continue making waves with future content updates. We’re humbled by how many player stories we’ve seen shared, and our community continually inspires us. So we can’t wait to show you all what’s on the horizon – but for now, we want to celebrate everything that’s come before!

As a thank you to our players and a celebration of all things Sea of Thieves, we’ve planned a programme of challenges and goodies kicking off this weekend and running throughout March’s content update. There’s a lot of in-game swag to be bagged for making all the right moves, so let’s take a look at the line-up!

Play Sea of Thieves free this weekend

To start with, an incentive if you’re not one of the millions of pirates who’ve joined us on the seas already: Sea of Thieves is part of the Xbox Free Play Days this weekend, and will be free for all Xbox Live subscribers to play until March 23rd! Don’t worry about being a late starter as all new pirates are eased into the game via the Maiden Voyage, a narrative-driven tutorial experience that provides guidance and information to fledgling sailors.

Enter the Heart of Fire

Let’s not forget this month’s free content update, Heart of Fire. Live since March 12th, this update brings the next fiery Tall Tale to Sea of Thieves, Athena’s Run Voyages for Pirate Legends and some brand new missiles in the form of chainshot for your cannons and throwable Blunderbombs.

Heart of Fire: Official Sea of Thieves Content Update

Duration 4:52

Bag the Anniversary Eye of Reach

What would a birthday be without a present? If you play Sea of Thieves between Thursday, March 19th and Friday, March 27th, you’ll get the very special, very golden ‘X Marks the Spot’ Eye of Reach! For those of you who will want to equip it straight away, don’t worry – the weapon will appear in your armoury immediately upon entering the game.

Snap up the skeletal Spinal Figurehead

As made famous in Rare’s ’90s fighting game Killer Instinct (and resurrected for the modern version in 2013), Spinal can be claimed for the front of your ship just by watching Sea of Thieves’ anniversary stream at mixer.com/seaofthieves on Friday, March 20th. Make sure your Microsoft and Sea of Thieves accounts are linked so that you qualify for this MixPot item, sign in and join us there from 5pm-7pm GMT!

Set sail with Ori and the Will of the Wisps

If you’re joining Sea of Thieves via Game Pass Ultimate, don’t forget you can also claim the wonderful Ori-inspired ship set to carry you into adventure. This gorgeous new livery is available exclusively to Game Pass Ultimate subscribers from March 18th, and you can see it in all its glowing glory right here:

Ancestral Ship Set Reveal Trailer – Official Sea of Thieves

Duration 0:41

Relive some of Sea of Thieves’ greatest moments

From Friday, March 20th, pirates will also be able relive some of the greatest Sea of Thieves moments from the last two years. Take a truncated tour through The Hungering Deep, Cursed Sails and Forsaken Shores to bag cosmetics previously limited to the first time these updates launched. For example, if you hadn’t taken to the seas or missed your chance to bag Merrick’s drum the first time around, you’ll have the opportunity to earn it now – allowing everyone to get a taste of some of the events they might have missed from year one!

Turn the seas red with Bleeding Edge

The fun doesn’t stop there. From March 30th, you’ll also be able to unlock some awesome Bleeding Edge ship cosmetics. Pirates will be challenged throughout the week with three objectives, and motivated to complete them with stunning Bleeding Edge-inspired sail, flag and hull designs. As with the Hunter’s Haul event last month, you’ll also be able to track your progress through these objectives here on the Sea of Thieves website – so stay tuned for more info on this event which is set to see the seas turn red…

Want to find out more about Sea of Thieves? Follow us at any of our social channels below, then take the plunge and embark on an epic journey with one of gaming’s most welcoming communities!

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Author: Microsoft News Center

For Sale – Huawei Matebook X Pro – i7, 512GB, MX150 W/Warranty Apr2020

Hi guys

I’ve decided to let this go, I’ve not got much use out of it since purchasing new – I’m also considering embarking on building a gaming desktop PC, so this will help with funding that. I have experienced no issues with the device.

Once received I immediately installed a ‘dbrand’ Matte Black skin to the Top, Bottom and TrackPad
(This can easily be removed should you wish to, but why would you…). This has therefore kept the device immaculate and free from any scratches.

This will also come with a ‘MagSafe’ style USB C Charging cable and Port adapter which is similar to Apple’s innovation; This protects the device from any damage as demonstrated in the video –

Warranty: Valid with Huawei until 05Apr2020

This comes boxed with all accessories:
– USB Type C Port (HDMI, USB A and USB Type C ports)
– USB Type C Charging Cable (3m I believe?!)
– Charging Adapter
Extras:
1x MagSafe style USB Type C Cable and Adapter

This is the top spec model which includes:
CPU: Intel core i7 8550U
GPU: Nvidia MX150 + Intel UHD 620
RAM: 8GB
SSD: 512GB
Screen: 3000 x 2000 touch screen

Postage: This will be shipped by a next day delivery option or please feel free to inspect and collect.

Note: this is already advertised elsewhere

If you require any further pics or anything drop a message

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Wanted – HP microserver

I have a HP Gen 8 Microserver which I could part with:

I’ve had since new, originally had the Intel Celreon G1610T processor, which I still have but I then upgraded to a i3 3220t (stock air cooled) – still have this processor too.

Currently the machine has a Xeon E3-1270 v2 which is water cooled with rad mounted onto of the case. RAM upgraded to 8gb.

Let me know if it’s of any interest

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For Sale – HP Z1 Professional All-In-One Workstation

HP Z1 G1 professional workstation. I’ve owned this since new – it was purchased in 2013 and is only up for sale due to recent upgrade to 2 monitor setup.

All-in-one design with 27″ IPS panel. Absolutely mint condition with all original packaging, HP system recovery disks plus un-used and boxed keyboard and mouse.

I upgraded the RAM at the time of purchase to 32gb ECC memory – that memory type will now set you back in excess of £300 alone. It came pre-installed with Windows 7 Pro x64 but was entitled to a Windows 10 upgrade. I’ve stuck a brand new 120gb SSD in it and installed a clean copy of Win 10 Pro that is fully activated by Microsoft.

Fantastic modular design – the case opens on gas struts for easy tool free access to main components.

Motherboard was replaced by HP under warranty early last year as the sound card had failed.

This is a beast of a workstation for professional use – it flies with an Intel server spec processor and the onboard RAM. Full specs are: –

Xeon E3-1280 3.5 GHz quad core processor.
32gb ECC RAM
Dedicated Graphics Card – NVidia Quadro 1000M
27″ IPS display (non-touch screen)
Optical Drive – DVD±RW (±R DL) / DVD-RAM
120gb SSD plus space in modular caddy for additional 2.5″ HDD
Intel gigabit NIC with RJ-45 connector
Wireless network adaptor on board
Bluetooth
HP integrated web cam
Quality onboard speakers built into the base of the chassis.
4 x USB 2 ports on rear
2 x USB 3 ports on side
IEEE-1394a FireWire connector
Media – xD/MMC/MS/SD card reader
Optical S/PDIF audio output
DisplayPort connector for additional external monitor
Full set of audio in/outputs including subwoofer.

It is a fantastic piece of kit looking for a new home.

I am based in West Sussex and I’m happy to meet up for delivery within a 30 mile radius of Horsham. If you want to arrange for your own courier collection from my home address, then that’s fine too so long as insurance is included but bear in mind it is a large and very heavy package.

HPZ1-1.jpgHPZ1-2.jpgHPZ1-3.jpgHPZ1-4.jpgHPZ1-5.jpgHPZ1-6.jpg

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Salesforce acquisition of Tableau finally getting real

LAS VEGAS — It’s been more than five months since the Salesforce acquisition of Tableau was first revealed, but it’s been five months of waiting.

Even after the deal closed on Aug. 1, a regulatory review in the United Kingdom about how the Salesforce acquisition of Tableau might affect competition held up the integration of the two companies.

In fact, it wasn’t until last week on Nov. 5 after the go-ahead from the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) — exactly a week before the start of Tableau Conference 2019, the vendor’s annual user conference — that Salesforce and Tableau were even allowed to start speaking with each other. Salesforce’s big Dreamforce 2019 conference is Nov. 19-22.

Meanwhile, Tableau didn’t just stop what it was doing. The analytics and business intelligence software vendor continued to introduce new products and update existing ones. Just before Tableau Conference 2019, it rolled out a series of new tools and product upgrades.

Perhaps most importantly, Tableau revealed an enhanced partnership agreement with Amazon Web Services entitled Modern Cloud Analytics that will help Tableau’s many on-premises users migrate to the cloud.

Andrew Beers, Tableau’s chief technology officer, discussed the recent swirl of events in a two-part Q&A.

In Part I, Beers reflected on Tableau’s product news, much of it centered on new data management capabilities and enhanced augmented intelligence powers. In Part II, he discusses the Salesforce acquisition of Tableau and what the future might look like now that the $15.7 billion purchase is no longer on hold.

Will the Salesforce acquisition of Tableau change Tableau in any way?

Andrew Beers: It would be naïve to assume that it wouldn’t. We are super excited about the acceleration that it’s going to offer us, both in terms of the customers we’re talking to and the technology that we have access to. There are a lot of opportunities for us to accelerate, and as [Salesforce CEO] Marc Benioff was saying [during the keynote speech] on Wednesday, the cultures of the two companies are really aligned, the vision about the future is really aligned, so I think overall it’s going to mean analytics inside businesses is just going to move faster.

Technologically speaking, are there any specific ways the Salesforce acquisition of Tableau might accelerate Tableau’s capabilities?

Andrew BeersAndrew Beers

Beers: It’s hard to say right now. Just last week the CMA [order] was lifted. There was a big cheer, and then everyone said, ‘But wait, we have two conferences to put on.’

Have you had any strategic conversations with Salesforce in just the week or so since regulatory restrictions were lifted, even though Tableau Conference 2019 is this week and Salesforce Dreamforce 2019 is next week?

Beers: Oh sure, and a lot of it has been about the conferences of course, but there’s been some early planning on how to take some steps together. But it’s still super early.

Users, of course, fear somewhat that what they love about Tableau might get lost as a result of the Salesforce acquisition of Tableau. What can you say to alleviate their worries?

Beers: The community that Tableau has built, and the community that Salesforce has built, they’re both these really excited and empowered communities, and that goes back to the cultural alignment of the companies. As a member of the Tableau community, I would encourage people to be excited. To have two companies come together that have similar views on the importance of the community, the product line, the ecosystem that the company is trying to create, it’s exciting.

Is the long-term plan — the long-term expectation — for Tableau to remain autonomous under Salesforce?

We’ve gone into this saying that Tableau is going to continue to operate as Tableau, but long-term, I can’t answer that question. It’s really hard for anyone to say.
Andrew BeersChief technology officer, Tableau

Beers: We’ve gone into this saying that Tableau is going to continue to operate as Tableau, but long-term, I can’t answer that question. It’s really hard for anyone to say.

From a technological perspective, as a technology officer, what about the Salesforce acquisition of Tableau excites you — what are some things that Salesforce does that you can’t wait to get access to?

Beers: Salesforce spent the past 10 or so years changing into a different company, and I’m not sure a lot of people noticed. They went from being a CRM company to being this digital-suite-for-the-enterprise company, so they’ve got a lot of interesting technology. Just thinking of analytics, they’ve built some cool stuff with Einstein. What does that mean when you bring it into the Tableau environment? I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out. They’ve got some interesting tools that hold their hold ecosystem together, and I’m interested in what that means for analysts and for Tableau. I think there are a lot of exciting technology topics ahead of us.

What about conversations you might have with Salesforce technology officers, learning from one another. Is that exciting?

Beers: It’s definitely exciting. They’ve been around — a lot of that team has different experience than us. They’re experienced technology leaders in this space and I’m definitely looking forward to learning from their wisdom. They have a whole research group that’s dedicated to some of their longer term ideas, so I’m looking forward to learning from them.

You mentioned Einstein Analytics — do Tableau and Einstein conflict? Are they at odds in any way, or do they meld in a good way?

Beers: It’s still early days, but I think you’re going to find that they’re going to meld in a good way.

What else can you tell the Tableau community about what the future holds after the Salesforce acquisition of Tableau?

Beers: We’re going to keep focused on what we’ve been focusing on for a long time. We’re here to bring interesting innovations to market to help people work with their data, and that’s something that’s going to continue. You heard Marc Benioff and [Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky] talk about their excitement around that [during a conference keynote]. Our identity as a product and innovation company doesn’t change, it just gets juiced by this. We’re ready to go — after the conferences are done.

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