Tag Archives: Variety

Easily integrate Skype calls into your content with the new content creators feature | Skype Blogs

Skype is used worldwide as a tool for bringing callers into a variety of different podcasts, live streams, and TV shows. Today, we made it even simpler to bring your incoming audio and video calls to life with the Skype for content creators feature.

Building off the Skype TX appliance for professional studios, we built the feature directly into the desktop app, so podcasters, vloggers, and live streamers can bring Skype calls directly into their content without the need for expensive equipment, studio setup, or multiple crew members.

From a one-on-one audio call up to a four-person group video—incoming calls are available for you to build your own content by integrating Skype calls.

The feature uses NewTek NDI®. You need an NDI-enabled application or device to use Skype for content creators.

There are a number of NDI-enabled software and appliances to choose from,* including:

  • NewTek TriCaster®
  • Xsplit
  • OBS with NDI plugin
  • Pro presenter
  • Wirecast
  • vMIX
  • Ecamm Live for Mac
  • Ovrstream

You will be able to edit, brand, and distribute your Skype content, which can then be sent to a group of friends, uploaded as a podcast or vlog, or live streamed to an audience of millions using platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and LinkedIn.

Skype for content creators is now available on the latest version of Skype for Windows and Mac. Visit Skype for content creators to learn more. We would love to hear from and see what you have created using this feature; email us at sfcc@microsoft.com.

*Third-party applications have not been checked, verified, certified, or otherwise approved or endorsed by Skype. Applications may be subject to the third-party provider’s own terms and privacy policy. Skype does not control and is not responsible for the download, installation, pricing, quality, performance, availability, support, or terms and conditions of purchase of third-party applications.

Paid parental leave matters – Microsoft on the Issues

Building on our 2015 announcement
Three years ago, we announced that we would require a wide variety of suppliers that do business with Microsoft in the United States to provide their employees with the important benefit of paid time off. Today we are announcing that over the next year we will take a further step, to ensure that these suppliers also provide their employees who handle our work with paid parental leave.

We have long recognized that the health, well-being and diversity of our employees helps Microsoft succeed. That’s why we provide industry-leading benefits for our employees, including comprehensive health and wellness programs for families, paid vacation, paid sick leave and paid time off for new parents.

We also know that we rely on a wide array of other companies to supply us with goods and services that reflect their core competencies, and that the people who work for our suppliers also are critical to our success. That is why we took the step three years ago to require our U.S. suppliers doing substantial business with Microsoft to provide paid time off for their employees. Paid time off is good both for employers and employees, and it was the right step for our business. By implementing that requirement, we were able to focus our resources on businesses that share with us a commitment providing employees with important benefits such as paid time off. We believe now is the time to work with our suppliers to take a next important step.

What we’re doing
Over the next 12 months we will work with our U.S. suppliers to implement this new paid parental leave policy. It will require that suppliers offer their employees a minimum of 12 weeks paid parental leave, up to $1,000 per week. This change applies to all parents employed by our suppliers who take time off for the birth or adoption of a child. The new policy applies to suppliers with more than 50 employees and covers supplier employees who perform substantial work for Microsoft.  This minimum threshold applies to all of our suppliers across the U.S. and is not intended to supplant a state law that is more generous. Many of our suppliers already offer strong benefits packages to their employees, and suppliers are of course welcome to offer more expansive leave benefits to their employees.

Our new supplier parental leave requirement is informed by important work on paid parental leave done in states, including Washington. In 2017, Washington state passed family leave legislation, including paid parental leave. This new law will take effect in 2020. As we looked at this legislation, however, we realized that while it will benefit the employees of our suppliers in Washington state, it will leave thousands of valued contributors outside of Washington behind. So, we made a decision to apply Washington’s parental leave requirement more broadly, and not to wait until 2020 to begin implementation.

Microsoft will work with our suppliers to understand the impacts of this change, and we will make these changes in a thoughtful way. We appreciate that this may ultimately result in increased costs for Microsoft, and we’ll put a process in place for addressing these issues with our suppliers. Our first step will be reaching out to our suppliers to discuss the impact of this policy change.

The case for paid parental leave
We recognize today’s announcement comes during an ongoing national dialogue about the importance of paid parental leave. The case for paid parental leave is clear. Studies show that paid parental leave enriches the lives of families.  Women who take paid maternity leave are more likely to be in the workforce a year later and earn more than mothers who do not receive paid time off.  Employers who offer paid time off for new mothers experience improved productivity, higher morale and lower turnover rates. And, paid parental leave is not solely a benefit for women.  Data from California’s paid family leave program shows that men take paternity leave at twice the rate and for longer periods of time when the leave is paid. This increased bonding and time spent caring for young children is correlated with positive outcomes such as higher test scores for these children. Further, when men and women have the opportunity to take paid leave, it can help counteract gender caregiving stereotypes, neutralize stigmas and promote equity in the home and office.

Despite these clear benefits, just 13 percent of private sector workers in the U.S. have access to paid parental leave. And the lack of access to parental leave cuts broadly across professions – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 22 percent of professional positions and 7 to 8 percent of workers in service and maintenance jobs have access to paid parental leave.

Like many large employers, we welcome the opportunity to engage in the important national conversation about how all U.S. workers, regardless of where they work, can access paid parental leave.  In the meantime, we will continue to focus our resources on doing business with companies that share our commitment to increase workforce inclusion and support employees and their families.  As we gain experience with this new approach, we’ll share what we learn with others.  And as always, we’ll look forward to learning more ourselves.

Tags: ,

Digital marketing partnerships key to vendors’ channel strategies

For some vendors, the key to a thriving channel ecosystem means engaging and supporting a variety of partner types, including digital marketing partnerships.

Digital marketing organizations were among the earliest firms to recognize the IT budgets for marketing shifting from the purview of customers’ IT departments to marketing executives. Vendors took note of the agencies’ influence and unique reach within customer organizations. While on the surface, digital marketing agencies didn’t appear to be direct competition for traditional channel partners, some industry watchers asserted the agencies did in fact pose a potential threat. For example, agencies working on digital initiatives with a client’s marketing department could hypothetically annex the client’s infrastructure decisions, cutting channel partners out from those deals.

Vendors, however, view their digital marketing partnerships as an important subgroup of their overall partner ecosystems that, if anything, is complementary to a traditional channel base.

Progress cites potential partner synergies

Progress Software, an application development and deployment software vendor, said it sees an opportunity for digital marketing agencies to partner up with traditional channel firms.

Progress began to pursue digital marketing partnerships following its acquisition of app development vendor Telerik in 2014, said Matthew Gharegozlou, vice president of sales at Progress. The Telerik buyout brought with it Sitefinity, a content management system, as well as digital marketing agencies that had been working with the product.

Matthew Gharegozlou, vice president of sales, Progress SoftwareMatthew Gharegozlou

“The acquisition of Telerik and Sitefinity gave us the ability to go after these relationships,” Gharegozlou said.

He noted that about 65% of Progress’ content management business is now derived from channel partners. About 80% of those partners are digital marketing agencies.

Progress’ traditional partners typically share a few traits: They work in the app development space, deal with customers’ IT departments and lack skill sets related to digital experience and digital marketing. “So far, we haven’t had any conflict” between traditional and agency partners, he said, because “the bulk of the experience needed on the digital side, our traditional partners don’t have it.”

Traditional Progress partners also usually have expertise in vertical industries, he said, adding that most are based in markets such as financial services, government, healthcare and education. “Our traditional partners are extremely knowledgeable” and have strong relationships in their vertical spaces, he said.

Because of traditional partners’ strengths, Gharegozlou said Progress looks to pair them up with digital marketing agencies for certain leads. Combining the expertise in back-end work and vertical markets with agencies’ expertise in web development and related technologies can produce compelling offerings. 

But while optimistic about these synergies, he recognized that a “full-service” digital marketing agency, which can do both the front-end and back-end work for a customer, diminishes the value that traditional partners may offer. In this sense, full-service agencies may be preferable to customers “because they can do the entire project,” he said.

Salesforce supports acquisition trend

For Salesforce, digital marketing partnerships play a critical role in advancing its marketing platform.

Stephane Viallet, vice president of global alliances, agencies, at SalesforceStephane Viallet

Salesforce has signed numerous digital marketing agencies over the last six years, spurred by several acquisitions to build out its business-to-commercial and marketing portfolio, said Stephane Viallet, vice president of global alliances, agencies, at Salesforce. Salesforce’s acquisitions have included digital marketing software company ExactTarget in 2013, as well as e-commerce provider Demandware and data management platform Krux in 2016. Viallet also cited Salesforce’s alliance with Google as a driver behind the company’s growing digital marketing agency partnerships.

“Partners, including digital marketing agencies, are the lifeblood of Salesforce, extending our platform in new and exciting ways and fueling our growth,” Viallet said in an email. He said Salesforce and its partners are pursuing opportunities created by “our ability to merge media, adtech and martech to execute on a whole new way for brands to connect with customers.”

Digital marketing organizations use Salesforce’s products such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Service Cloud to offer “transformative digital experience that enable clients to meet consumer expectations,” he noted.

I think often agencies can help us get into areas of the business or with clients that we may not thoroughly be in today.
Adrianna Bustamantedirector of digital sales and alliances, Rackspace

In addition to having digital marketing and advertising skills, Viallet said Salesforce seeks partners that understand “the importance of merging data, technology and creativity” to deliver customer experience strategies.

Viallet also pointed to a trend among digital marketing organizations acquiring Salesforce practices, such as Publicis.Sapient’s 2016 buyout of Vertiba, a Gold-level Salesforce Consulting partner.

Other notable acquisitions have included the following:

  • Wunderman bought a majority stake in Salesforce consultancy Pierry Inc. in September 2017.
  • Dentsu Aegis purchased Swiss digital marketing company Blue-Infinity in January 2017.
  • MRM//McCann acquired e-commerce service provider Optaros in December 2014.

“Digital marketing agencies haven’t just built Salesforce practices around the globe organically — they’ve been acquiring them as well,” he said. “Salesforce supports these collaborations as we work to provide our partners with an edge that enables them to exceed customers’ expectations.”

Rackspace: Little overlap between the channels

Managed cloud provider Rackspace, meanwhile, looks at digital marketing partnerships differently: Traditional channel firms and digital marketing agencies can do business with the same customers without necessarily encroaching on each other’s turf.

Rackspace’s alliances with digital marketing agencies stem from its digital services practice. Launched in 2014, Rackspace Digital provides application and infrastructure hosting for web content management systems, e-commerce products, and mobile and critical application services. Adrianna Bustamante, Rackspace’s director of digital sales and alliances, noted that the company has formally developed strategic digital marketing partnerships since about 2010.

Adrianna Bustamante, director of digital sales and alliances, RackspaceAdrianna Bustamante

“I think often agencies can help us get into areas of the business or with clients that we may not thoroughly be in today,” Bustamante said.That’s partly because digital marketing organizations tend to target a customer’s marketing department — versus the IT department.

“Nowadays … your traditional agencies have to be more digitally focused. … But still their main focus is very much around the consulting, the service and the creative — potentially integration and development,” Bustamante said.

She noted that the line between digital marketing organizations and systems integrators are blurring. Digital marketing organizations now look a lot more like systems integrators, while systems integrators “look a lot more like agencies,” she said.

Rackspace works with its agency partners in reseller and referral models. The company offers enablement resources for creating “sticky engagements for their customers and successful projects,” she said, while Rackspace focuses on the back end to ensure their projects meet scale, security and compliance requirements.

“We are heavily focused on trying to … accelerate now in certain verticals and certain segments, now in midmarket and enterprise. We can form a strong partnership when the agency realizes and understands that we are that trusted partner for them,” she said.

Rackspace generally doesn’t see any tension between its traditional and digital marketing partnerships, according to Bustamante.

“There might be several partners that we might have within … a certain customer that we are working with, but they might be working on five different projects, 20 different workloads, across three different business units,” she said.

Matt Wood talks AWS’ AI platform, ethical use

NEW YORK — AWS spotlighted its evolving AI offerings at AWS Summit this week, with a variety of features and upgrades.

The company incorporated one emerging technology, Amazon Rekognition, into the event’s registration process as it scanned consenting attendees’ faces and compared them against photos submitted previously during registration.

But despite outlines for customers’ use, the AWS AI platform is not immune to growing concerns over potentially unethical usage of these advanced systems. Civil rights advocacy groups worry that technology providers’ breakneck pace to provide AI capabilities, such as Rekognition, could lead to abuses of power in the public sector and law enforcement, among others.

Matt Wood, AWS general manager of deep learning and AI, discussed advancements to the AWS AI platform, adoption trends, customer demands and ethical concerns in this interview.

AWS has added a batch transform feature to its SageMaker machine learning platform to process data sets for non-real-time inferencing. How does that capability apply to customers trying to process larger data files?

Matt Wood: We support the two major ways you’d want to run predictions. You want to run predictions against fresh data as it arrives in real time; you can do that with SageMaker-hosted endpoints. But there are tons of cases in which you want to be able to apply predictions to large amounts of data, either that just arrives or gets exported from a data warehouse, or that is just too large in terms of the raw data size to process one by one. These two things are highly complementary.

We see a lot of customers that want to run billing reports or forecasting. They want to look at product sales at the end of a quarter or the end of a month [and] predict the demand going forward. Another really good example is [to] build a machine learning model and test it out on a data set you understand really well, which is really common in oil and gas, medicine and medical imaging.

In the keynote, you cited 100 new machine learning features or services [AWS has developed] since re:Invent last year. What feedback do you get from customers for your current slate [of AI services]?

Wood: What we heard very clearly was a couple things. No. 1, customers really value strong encryption and strong network isolation. A lot of that has to do with making sure customers have good encryption integrated with Key Management Service inside SageMaker. We also recently added PrivateLink support, which means you can connect up your notebooks and training environment directly to DynamoDB, Redshift or S3 without that data ever flowing out over the private internet. And you can put your endpoints over PrivateLink as well. [Another] big trend is around customers using multiple frameworks together. You’ll see a lot of focus on improving TensorFlow, improving Apache MXNet, adding Chainer support, adding PyTorch support and making sure ONNX [Open Neural Network Exchange] works really well across those engines so that customers can take models trained in one and run them in a different engine.

Matt Wood, AWS GM of Deep Learning and AIMatt Wood speaks during the AWS Summit keynote address (Source: AWS).

What do you hear from enterprises that are reluctant or slow to adopt AI technologies? And what do you feel that you have to prove to those customers?

Wood: It’s still early for a lot of enterprises, and particularly for regulated workloads, there’s a lot of due diligence to do — around HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act], for example, getting HIPAA compliance in place. The question is: ‘How can I move more quickly?’ That’s what we hear all the time.

There’s two main pathways that we see [enterprises take] today. The first is: They try and look at the academic literature, [which] is very fast-moving, but also very abstract. It’s hard to apply it to real business problems. The other is: You look around on the web, find some tutorials and try to learn it that way. That often gives you something which is up and running that works, but again, it glosses over the fundamentals of how do you collect training data, how do you label that data, how do you build and define a neural network, how do you train that neural network.

To help developers learn, you want a very fast feedback loop. You want to be able to try something out, learn from it, what worked and what didn’t work, then make a change. It’s kick-starting that flywheel, which is very challenging with machine learning.

What are some usage patterns or trends you’ve seen from SageMaker adopters that are particularly interesting?

Wood: A really big one is sports analytics. Major League Baseball selected SageMaker and the AWS AI platform to power their production stats that they use in their broadcasts and on [their] app. They’ve got some amazing ideas about how to build more predictive and more engaging visuals and analytics for their users. [It’s the] same thing with Formula 1 [F1]. They’re taking 65 years’ worth of performance data from the cars — they have terabytes of the stuff — to model different performance of different cars but also to look at race prediction and build an entirely new category of visuals for F1 fans. The NFL [is] doing everything from computer vision to using player telemetry, using their position on the field to do route prediction and things like that. Sports analytics drives such an improvement in the experience for fans, and it’s a big area of investment for us.

Another is healthcare and medical imaging. We see a lot of medical use cases — things like disease prediction, such as how likely are you to have congestive heart failure in the next 12 months, do outpatient prediction, readmittance prediction, those sorts of things. We can actually look inside an X-ray and identify very early-stage lung cancer before the patient even knows that they’re sick. [And] you can run that test so cheaply. You can basically run it against any chest X-ray.

You partnered with Microsoft on Gluon, the deep learning library. What’s the status of that project? What other areas might you collaborate with Microsoft or another major vendor on an AI project?

Wood: Gluon is off to a great start. Celgene, a biotech that’s doing drug toxicity prediction, is trying to speed up clinical trials to get drugs to market more quickly. All of that runs in SageMaker, and they use Gluon to build models. That’s one example; we have more.

Other areas of collaboration we see is around other engines. For example, we were a launch partner for PyTorch 1.0 [a Python-based machine learning library, at Facebook’s F8 conference]. PyTorch has a ton of interest from research scientists, particularly in academia, [and we] bring that up to SageMaker and work with Facebook on the development.

Microsoft President Bradford Smith recently called on Congress to consider federal regulation for facial recognition services. What is Amazon’s stance on AI regulation? How much should customers determine ethical use of AI, facial recognition or other cloud services, and what is AWS’ responsibility?

Wood: Our approach is that Rekognition, like all of our services, falls under our Acceptable Use Policy, [which] is very clear with what it allows and what it does not allow. One of the things that it does not allow is anything unconstitutional; mass surveillance, for example, is ruled out. We’re very clear that customers need to take that responsibility, and if they fall outside our Acceptable Use [Policy}, just like anyone else on AWS, they will lose access to those services, because we won’t support them. They need to be responsible with how they test, validate and communicate their use of these technologies because they can be hugely impactful.

AWS Summit Rekognition kiosksAmazon Rekognition kiosks scan the faces of attendees and print identification badges (Source: David Carty).

The American Civil Liberties Union, among others, has asked AWS to stop selling Rekognition to law enforcement agencies. Will you comply with that request? If not, under what circumstances might that decision change?

Wood: Again, that’s covered under our Acceptable Use Policy. If any customer in any domain is using any of our services in a way which falls outside of acceptable use, then they will lose access to that service.

Certainly, the Acceptable Use Policy covers lawful use, but do you think that also covers ethical use? That’s a thornier question.

Wood: It is a thornier question. I think it’s part of a broader dialogue that we need to have, just as we’ve had with motor cars and any large-scale technology which provides a lot of opportunity, but which also needs a public and open discussion.

Tempered Networks extends reach of NAC software

Tempered Networks, a maker of network access control for a wide variety of devices, has extended its technology to Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Linux servers and additional IoT endpoints.

Tempered, which introduced the latest enhancements this week, has developed NAC software based on the Host Identity Protocol (HIP), a technology developed by a working group within the Internet Engineering Task Force. A HIP network replaces all IP addresses with cryptographic host identifiers that are resistant to denial-of-service and man-in-the-middle attacks.

Tempered has created a HIP wrapper that lets customers manage large numbers of devices through a product the vendor calls a HIPswitch. The technology creates a private overlay network to control what specific endpoints can access. The product can protect corporate, industrial and IoT systems.

What’s new

The latest improvements to the Tempered product portfolio includes a version of HIPswitch for Microsoft Azure and one for Google Cloud. The virtual appliance serves as an identity gateway for endpoints trying to access data, workloads and containers in the public clouds. The NAC software had only been available for AWS.

Also new is the HIPserver for Linux. HIPserver, which was available only for Windows, acts as a server’s overlay network gateway. The software, combined with a firewall, can cloak workloads, so they are not visible to hackers. The technology also ensures that network connections are authenticated before establishing a TCP session. HIPserver supports all major Linux distributions, whether they are running in a public cloud, on premises or a remote site.

Another technology added to the Tempered portfolio is the HIPswitch 75 appliance, a palm-sized IoT edge gateway designed as “plug-and-play” hardware for medical devices, point-of-sale systems and building automation controls. HIPswitch ensures that access policies are enforced for the attached systems.

Finally, Tempered introduced a product called HIPclient, which runs on Windows, Mac and iOS devices. The NAC software ensures clients only access authorized network resources.

The complete Tempered platform includes central software the vendor calls the conductor, which is akin to a software-defined networking controller. Customers use the product’s user interface to whitelist everything attached to HIPswitches and to set access policies for each endpoint or groups of them. Policy routing across the identity network is handled through technology Tempered calls the HIPrelay.

Tempered sells its products via annual subscription, based on the number of products deployed. Fees for HIPswitch for cloud start at $660, HIPserver for Linux, $1,180; and HIPclient, $300.

PC speakers

As per title, looking for PC. Am open to variety of options, what have you got?

Thanks,

Andy

Location: Gosport, Hampshire

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that…

PC speakers

PC speakers

As per title, looking for PC. Am open to variety of options, what have you got?

Thanks,

Andy

Location: Gosport, Hampshire

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that…

PC speakers

PC speakers

As per title, looking for PC. Am open to variety of options, what have you got?

Thanks,

Andy

Location: Gosport, Hampshire

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that…

PC speakers