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Microsoft Power Platform adds chatbots; Flow now Power Automate

More bots and automation tools went live on the Microsoft Power Platform, Microsoft announced today. In their formal introductions, Microsoft said the tools will make data sources flow within applications like SharePoint, OneDrive and Dynamics 365, and create more efficiencies with custom apps.

The more than 400 capabilities added to the Microsoft Power Platform focus on expanding its robotic process automation potential for users, as well as new integrations between the platform and Microsoft Teams, according to a blog post by James Phillips, corporate vice president of business applications at Microsoft.

Some of those include robotic process automation (RPA) tools for Microsoft Power Automate, formerly known as Flow, which makes AI tools easier to add into PowerApps. Also newly available are tools for creating user interfaces in Power Automate.

AI Builder adds a point-and-click means to fold common processes such as forms processing, object detection and text classification into apps — processes commonly used for SharePoint and OneDrive content curation.

Microsoft is adding these tools, as well as new security features to analytics platform Power BI, in part to coax customers who remain on premises into the Azure cloud, said G2 analyst Michael Fauscette.

PowerApps reduce the development needed to create necessary connections between systems in the cloud, such as content in OneDrive and SharePoint with work being done in Dynamics 365 CRM, Teams and ERP applications.

Microsoft Power Automate, formerly Flow
Microsoft Power Automate, a low-code app-design tool,is the new version ofFlow.

Chatbots go live

Also announced as generally available at Microsoft Ignite are Power Virtual Agents, do-it-yourself chatbots on the Microsoft Power Platform.

They’ll likely first be used by customer service teams on Dynamics 365, said Constellation Research analyst R “Ray” Wang, but they could spread to other business areas such as human resources, which could use the bots to answer common questions during employee recruiting or onboarding.

If an agent is costing you $15 an hour and the chatbot 15 cents an hour … it’s all about call deflection.
R ‘Ray’ WangAnalyst, Constellation Research

While some companies may choose outside consultants and developers to build custom chatbots instead of making their own on the Microsoft Power Platform, Wang said some companies may try it to build them internally. Large call centers employing many human agents and running on Microsoft applications would be logical candidates for piloting new bots.

“I think they’ll start coming here to build their virtual agents,” Wang said. “[Bot] training will be an issue, but it’s a matter of scale. If an agent is costing you $15 an hour and the chatbot 15 cents an hour … it’s all about call deflection.”

Microsoft Power Platform evolves

PowerApps, which launched in late 2015, originally found utility with users of Microsoft Dynamics CRM who needed to automate and standardize processes across data sets inside the Microsoft environment and connect to outside platforms such as Salesforce, said Gartner analyst Ed Anderson.

Use quickly spread to SharePoint, OneDrive and Dynamics ERP users, as they found that Flow — a low-code app-design tool — enabled the creation of connectors and apps without developer overhead. Third-party consultants and developers also used PowerApps to speed up deliverables to clients. Power BI, Power Automate and PowerApps together became known as the Microsoft Power Platform a year ago.

“PowerApps are really interesting for OneDrive and SharePoint because it lets you quickly identify data sources and quickly do something meaningful with them — connect them together, add some logic around them or customized interfaces,” Anderson said.

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Wanted – cheap laptop

Hi guys…..

So i went and spent loads of money on a nice slim hp laptop, me and the missus were going to get one each but her one worked fine, she dont like change so i took full pleasure in getting myself something nicer than 2 machines that weren’t as pretty

Long story short, my 1 year old has just learned to walk, and poured a glass of juice over her laptop. Were not gonna claim it on house insurance to avoid premiums, but i spend all the money a few months back on a nice new one. Not looking to spend a fortune. Just need something to get her buy, possible with good battery life

Anyone looking to sell

ps her old one was a hp pavilion with a passive cooled Pentium, 4gb ram, 256gb ssd, but the battery was a monster at 7-10 hours. She mainly uses it for uni work, so some light word processing , power point, internet , some spotify and the occasional sims 4 round up

Go to Original Article
Author:

Wanted – cheap laptop

Hi guys…..

So i went and spent loads of money on a nice slim hp laptop, me and the missus were going to get one each but her one worked fine, she dont like change so i took full pleasure in getting myself something nicer than 2 machines that weren’t as pretty

Long story short, my 1 year old has just learned to walk, and poured a glass of juice over her laptop. Were not gonna claim it on house insurance to avoid premiums, but i spend all the money a few months back on a nice new one. Not looking to spend a fortune. Just need something to get her buy, possible with good battery life

Anyone looking to sell

ps her old one was a hp pavilion with a passive cooled Pentium, 4gb ram, 256gb ssd, but the battery was a monster at 7-10 hours. She mainly uses it for uni work, so some light word processing , power point, internet , some spotify and the occasional sims 4 round up

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Author:

3 x WD Red 3TB, i5-7500 (New) & Antec ISK 110 ITX Case (New)

i5-7500 – Brand new sealed
This was bought about 2 months ago for an ITX setup that never went a head.
£140

Antec ISK 110 – Brand new sealed
As above.
£80

3 x WD Red 3TB recently removed from a NAS.
No warranty remaining on any of them but no issues as per HD Tune screenshots attached.
£50 each or £140 for all 3.

View attachment 1003199

View attachment 1003200

View attachment 1003201

Price and currency: See Description
Delivery: Delivery cost is not…

3 x WD Red 3TB, i5-7500 (New) & Antec ISK 110 ITX Case (New)

For Sale – Lots of Hard Drives, Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Docks & an Apple Wireless Keyboard!

I went a bit crazy on Black Friday buying things and then finding something better/more suitable… I have an option to return them but am happy to offer them to folks at the Black Friday prices I paid. I’ve listed the prices I paid and then the current Amazon prices in brackets for reference. As such, please no silly offers as I can get the full amount back!

Everything is brand new, boxed and sealed apart from one of the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 docks which has been used for about 3 hours before realising it was unnecessary as an external hard drive did everything required!

Seagate 12TB Ironwolf Internal/NAS Hard Drive – £350 (£399)

WD Elements 3TB USB External Hard Drive – £77 (£109)

WD Elements 4TB USB External Hard Drive – £90 (£109)

Seagate Backup Plus 5TB Blue USB External Hard Drive – £115 (£141)

WD MyBook 8TB Desktop External Hard Drive – £177 (£204)

SanDisk SSD Plus 480Gb SSD – £110 (£125)

Crucial MX300 275Gb SSD – £73 (£79)

2 x Crucial MX300 1050Gb (1TB) SSD – £205 (£250)

2 x Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock – £200 opened, £225 Brand New (£300) This was bought from Apple so not Amazon priced…

Apple Magic Keyboard – Used but I still have the box, it’s the original Magic one so requires batteries. I’ve used it at home as part of my Media Centre for a couple of years but no longer need it. £50

I can post photos if required but hopefully my trader rating vouches for me and saves me the effort!!!

Cheers

Price and currency: Various
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: PPG
Location: Bromsgrove
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
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 the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – Lots of Hard Drives, Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Docks & an Apple Wireless Keyboard!

I went a bit crazy on Black Friday buying things and then finding something better/more suitable… I have an option to return them but am happy to offer them to folks at the Black Friday prices I paid. I’ve listed the prices I paid and then the current Amazon prices in brackets for reference. As such, please no silly offers as I can get the full amount back!

Everything is brand new, boxed and sealed apart from one of the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 docks which has been used for about 3 hours before realising it was unnecessary as an external hard drive did everything required!

Seagate 12TB Ironwolf Internal/NAS Hard Drive – £350 (£399)

WD Elements 3TB USB External Hard Drive – £77 (£109)

WD Elements 4TB USB External Hard Drive – £90 (£109)

Seagate Backup Plus 5TB Blue USB External Hard Drive – £115 (£141)

WD MyBook 8TB Desktop External Hard Drive – £177 (£204)

SanDisk SSD Plus 480Gb SSD – £110 (£125)

Crucial MX300 275Gb SSD – £73 (£79)

2 x Crucial MX300 1050Gb (1TB) SSD – £205 (£250)

2 x Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock – £200 opened, £225 Brand New (£300) This was bought from Apple so not Amazon priced…

Apple Magic Keyboard – Used but I still have the box, it’s the original Magic one so requires batteries. I’ve used it at home as part of my Media Centre for a couple of years but no longer need it. £50

I can post photos if required but hopefully my trader rating vouches for me and saves me the effort!!!

Cheers

Price and currency: Various
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: PPG
Location: Bromsgrove
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
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 the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – Lots of Hard Drives, Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Docks & an Apple Wireless Keyboard!

I went a bit crazy on Black Friday buying things and then finding something better/more suitable… I have an option to return them but am happy to offer them to folks at the Black Friday prices I paid. I’ve listed the prices I paid and then the current Amazon prices in brackets for reference. As such, please no silly offers as I can get the full amount back!

Everything is brand new, boxed and sealed apart from one of the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 docks which has been used for about 3 hours before realising it was unnecessary as an external hard drive did everything required!

Seagate 12TB Ironwolf Internal/NAS Hard Drive – £350 (£399)

WD Elements 3TB USB External Hard Drive – £77 (£109)

WD Elements 4TB USB External Hard Drive – £90 (£109)

Seagate Backup Plus 5TB Blue USB External Hard Drive – £115 (£141)

WD MyBook 8TB Desktop External Hard Drive – £177 (£204)

SanDisk SSD Plus 480Gb SSD – £110 (£125)

Crucial MX300 275Gb SSD – £73 (£79)

2 x Crucial MX300 1050Gb (1TB) SSD – £205 (£250)

2 x Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock – £200 opened, £225 Brand New (£300) This was bought from Apple so not Amazon priced…

Apple Magic Keyboard – Used but I still have the box, it’s the original Magic one so requires batteries. I’ve used it at home as part of my Media Centre for a couple of years but no longer need it. £50

I can post photos if required but hopefully my trader rating vouches for me and saves me the effort!!!

Cheers

Price and currency: Various
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: PPG
Location: Bromsgrove
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
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 the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

Vagrant and Hyper-V — Tips and Tricks

A few months ago, I went to DockerCon as a Microsoft representative. While I was there, I had the chance to ask developers about their favorite tools.

The most common tool mentioned (outside of Docker itself) was Vagrant. This was interesting — I was familiar with Vagrant, but I’d never actually used it. I decided that needed to change. Over the past week or two, I took some time to try it out. I got everything working eventually, but I definitely ran into some issues on the way.

My pain is your gain — here are my tips and tricks for getting started with Vagrant on Windows 10 and Hyper-V.

NOTE: This is a supplement for Vagrant’s “Getting Started” guide, not a replacement.

Tip 0: Install Hyper-V

For those new to Hyper-V, make sure you’ve got Hyper-V running on your machine. Our official docs list the exact steps and requirements.

Tip 1: Set Up Networking Correctly

Vagrant doesn’t know how to set up networking on Hyper-V right now (unlike other providers), so it’s up to you to get things working the way you like them.

There are a few NAT networks already created on Windows 10 (depending on your specific build).  Layered_ICS should work (but is under active development), while Layered_NAT doesn’t have DHCP.  If you’re a Windows Insider, you can try Layered_ICS.  If that doesn’t work, the safest option is to create an external switch via Hyper-V Manager.  This is the approach I took. If you go this route, a friendly reminder that the external switch is tied to a specific network adapter. So if you make it for WiFi, it won’t work when you hook up the Ethernet, and vice versa.

You can also do this with PowerShell

Instructions for adding an external switch in Hyper-V manager

Tip 2: Use the Hyper-V Provider

Unfortunately, the Getting Started guide uses VirtualBox, and you can’t run other virtualization solutions alongside Hyper-V. You need to change the “provider” Vagrant uses at a few different points.

When you install your first box, add –provider :

vagrant box add hashicorp/precise64 --provider hyperv

And when you boot your first Vagrant environment, again, add –provider. Note: you might run into the error mentioned in Trick 4, so skip to there if you see something like “mount error(112): Host is down”.

vagrant up --provider hyperv

Tip 3: Add the basics to your Vagrantfile

Adding the provider flag is a pain to do every single time you run vagrant up. Fortunately, you can set up your Vagrantfile to automate things for you. After running vagrant init, modify your vagrant file with the following:

Vagrant.configure(2) do |config|  
  config.vm.box = "hashicorp/precise64"
  config.vm.provider "hyperv"
  config.vm.network "public_network"
end

One additional trick here: vagrant init will create a file that will appear to be full of commented out items. However, there is one line not commented out:

There is one line not commented.

Make sure you delete that line! Otherwise, you’ll end up with an error like this:

Bringing machine 'default' up with 'hyperv' provider...
==> default: Verifying Hyper-V is enabled...
==> default: Box 'base' could not be found. Attempting to find and install...
    default: Box Provider: hyperv
    default: Box Version: >= 0
==> default: Box file was not detected as metadata. Adding it directly...
==> default: Adding box 'base' (v0) for provider: hyperv
    default: Downloading: base
    default:
An error occurred while downloading the remote file. The error
message, if any, is reproduced below. Please fix this error and try
again.

Trick 4: Shared folders uses SMBv1 for hashicorp/precise64

For the image used in the “Getting Started” guide (hashicorp/precise64), Vagrant tries to use SMBv1 for shared folders. However, if you’re like me and have SMBv1 disabled, this will fail:

Failed to mount folders in Linux guest. This is usually because
the "vboxsf" file system is not available. Please verify that
the guest additions are properly installed in the guest and
can work properly. The command attempted was:

mount -t cifs -o uid=1000,gid=1000,sec=ntlm,credentials=/etc/smb_creds_e70609f244a9ad09df0e760d1859e431 //10.124.157.30/e70609f244a9ad09df0e760d1859e431 /vagrant

The error output from the last command was:

mount error(112): Host is down
Refer to the mount.cifs(8) manual page (e.g. man mount.cifs)

You can check if SMBv1 is enabled with this PowerShell Cmdlet:

Get-SmbServerConfiguration

If you can live without synced folders, here’s the line to add to the vagrantfile to disable the default synced folder.

config.vm.synced_folder ".", "/vagrant", disabled: true

If you can’t, you can try installing cifs-utils in the VM and re-provision. You could also try another synced folder method. For example, rsync works with Cygwin or MinGW. Disclaimer: I personally didn’t try either of these methods.

Tip 5: Enable Nifty Hyper-V Features

Hyper-V has some useful features that improve the Vagrant experience. For example, a pretty substantial portion of the time spent running vagrant up is spent cloning the virtual hard drive. A faster way is to use differencing disks with Hyper-V. You can also turn on virtualization extensions, which allow nested virtualization within the VM (i.e. Docker with Hyper-V containers). Here are the lines to add to your Vagrantfile to add these features:

config.vm.provider "hyperv" do |h|
  h.enable_virtualization_extensions = true
  h.differencing_disk = true
end

There are a many more customization options that can be added here (i.e. VMName, CPU/Memory settings, integration services). You can find the details in the Hyper-V provider documentation.

Tip 6: Filter for Hyper-V compatible boxes on Vagrant Cloud

You can find more boxes to use in the Vagrant Cloud (formally called Atlas). They let you filter by provider, so it’s easy to find all of the Hyper-V compatible boxes.

Tip 7: Default to the Hyper-V Provider

While adding the default provider to your Vagrantfile is useful, it means you need to remember to do it with each new Vagrantfile you create. If you don’t, Vagrant will trying to download VirtualBox when you vagrant up the first time for your new box. Again, VirtualBox doesn’t work alongside Hyper-V, so this is a problem.

PS C:vagrant> vagrant up
==>  Provider 'virtualbox' not found. We'll automatically install it now...
     The installation process will start below. Human interaction may be
     required at some points. If you're uncomfortable with automatically
     installing this provider, you can safely Ctrl-C this process and install
     it manually.
==>  Downloading VirtualBox 5.0.10...
     This may not be the latest version of VirtualBox, but it is a version
     that is known to work well. Over time, we'll update the version that
     is installed.

You can set your default provider on a user level by using the VAGRANT_DEFAULT_PROVIDER environmental variable. For more options (and details), this is the relevant page of Vagrant’s documentation.

Here’s how I set the user-level environment variable in PowerShell:

[Environment]::SetEnvironmentVariable("VAGRANT_DEFAULT_PROVIDER", "hyperv", "User")

Again, you can also set the default provider in the Vagrant file (see Trick 3), which will prevent this issue on a per project basis. You can also just add --provider hyperv when running vagrant up. The choice is yours.

Wrapping Up

Those are my tips and tricks for getting started with Vagrant on Hyper-V. If there are any you think I missed, or anything you think I got wrong, let me know in the comments.

Here’s the complete version of my simple starting Vagrantfile:

# -*- mode: ruby -*-
# vi: set ft=ruby :

# All Vagrant configuration is done below. The "2" in Vagrant.configure
# configures the configuration version (we support older styles for
# backwards compatibility). Please don't change it unless you know what
# you're doing.
Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  config.vm.box = "hashicorp/precise64"
  config.vm.provider "hyperv"
  config.vm.network "public_network"
  config.vm.synced_folder ".", "/vagrant", disabled: true
  config.vm.provider "hyperv" do |h|
    h.enable_virtualization_extensions = true
    h.differencing_disk = true
  end
end

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