Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

KSA new taxes 2017

February 14th, 2017

In addition to support for the introduction of VAT at 5% in January 2018, Saudi Arabia announced at the end of 2016 a timeline for implementation of a tax on harmful products. The Fiscal Balance Program 2020 report, published by the Saudi government , said the kingdom would impose a 50 percent tax on soft drinks and a 100 percent tax on tobacco and energy drinks from the second quarter of 2017.

The taxes were proposed by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in December 2015, but Saudi Arabia’s Finance Ministry only signed the agreement this month, the report said.

No other Gulf country has yet announced a date for implementation of such taxes, although they have been mulling them since 2012. Studies in the GCC have found regional beverage prices to be the lowest when compared to the rest of the world and a key factor behind high rates of childhood obesity and diabetes. For example, soft drinks are priced at around AED1 (US0.27) in the UAE.

In November, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested retail prices of sugar-sweetened drinks be increased by 20 percent through taxation, to bring about a proportional decline in consumption. The Saudi government’s Program 2020 document revealed that the country was working on plans to include “sugary snacks and drinks” in the tax segment, to fight obesity and diabetes among its population, especially children, and that this tax would be introduced from the second quarter of 2017. “The excise tax is a special tax that will be implemented on specific products with harmful health effects to disincentivise consumption of such products,” it said.

The document also said the kingdom would increase the “expat levy” payable by sponsors from the third quarter of 2017, with the fee rising every year to up to $213.30 (SR800) per worker by 2020. At present, companies pay a levy of $53.33 (SR200) per month per expat in cases where expat employees exceed the number of Saudi employees.

A new fee on expat workers’ dependents will come into effect from July 2017, the document said.

Happy Christmas

December 25th, 2016

Christmas morning at Meadow Farm.

As we approach the year end seasonal greetings to all.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 now available in the U.A.E. – ask Synergy Software Systems

November 1st, 2016

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a suite of cloud services to help companies to accelerate their digital transformation with purpose-built apps to address specific business needs.

Dynamics 365 unifies CRM and ERP functions into applications that work smoothly together across all divisions: sales, customer service, field service, operations, financials, marketing, and project service automation. These apps can be easily and independently deployed and scaled on demand.

Start with what you need the most.

All apps are delivered through easy-to-use, mobile experiences and feature offline capabilities.  

Users can rely on Power BI, Cortana Intelligence and Azure IoT functions which are natively embedded.

In addition to that, Dynamics 365 and Office 365 are deeply integrated.  Since Dynamics 365 uses a new common data servicel, customers can extend functionality and build custom apps using PowerApps, Microsoft Flow (News: PowerApps and Flow available) as well as professional developer solutions.

To find out more call us now on 00971 43365589.

SQL Server 2014 SP1 CU6 is released

April 23rd, 2016

Cumulative Update #6 for SQL Server 2014 SP1

Management Reporter – Updated budget control integration for AX2012 in CU14

February 22nd, 2016

(This capability is also available for AX 2012 R2 and requires a hotfix KB 3091042 similarly there will be a hotfix for Ax 2012 RTM)

Management Reporter CU14, introduced a new method of integration for budget control related data. Previously budget control category data was integrated as book codes; for instance, FY2015 – ConfirmedEncumbrances or FY2015 – ConfirmedPreencubrances.

Management Reporter CU14, has a single budget control book code per budget model (ex. FY2015-BudgetControl) and the budget control categories (ex. Original budget, Draft Encumbrances, Encumbrances, etc) integrate as attributes allowing for greater flexibility and consistency in regards to report design.

Budget reservations for draft actual expenditures is incorporated into the new design.

Below is an example of how to create a budget funds available column definition using a single budget control related scenario (book code) and filtering columns for specific budget control categories. Notice that the Book code = FY2015BudgetControl (where FY2015 is the name of the budget model). The attribute filter is set to the budget control category to display in this column.

Addi columns for actual expenditures, encumbrances, and Pre-encumbrances in the same manner:


When using this column definition within a report definition, mark “Posted and unposted activity” in the Provisional field if to include any draft amounts for budget control categories.


Future CUs will provide a budget funds available report by default to use as a starting point for your report designs.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM On-Premises Price Increase December 2015

December 14th, 2015

Note from December 1st, 2015, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server and Device CALs are subject to a 10% price increase and User CALs to a 25% price increase.

Convergence EMEA 2015 – Chris Capossela

December 1st, 2015

For the full record of the remarks made by Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela at Convergence EMEA 2015 in Barcelona on Nov. 30, 2015 see this Microsoft news page.

it reiterates and builds on the messages from WPC
- Millennials work in a different way
– Mobility, cloud, Cortana. Windows 10, Predictive Analytics and rich visuals, Surface Hub, Skype Business, Office 365, an integrated way of working, cross platform, with scalability and new insights and agility.

U.A.E. Shows solidarity with France

November 18th, 2015

The recent terrorist actions in France do not seem so far away when we read about the regional troubles in our daily newspapers.
I felt proud of the UAE when I visited the Burj Khalifa yesterday and saw it lit up with the colours of the Tricolore echoing the display at the Eiffel tower.

Windows 10 Introduction

August 12th, 2015

Coolan- TCO for cloud or data centre- how to cut or at least know your costs

June 4th, 2015

At the 2015 summit of the Open Compute Project (OCP), Amir Michael, a well-respected data-center engineer and a founder of OCP, offered a surprise during his presentation. “Something not often talked about in the industry,” Michael mentions. “There is a trend of people moving off the cloud.”

The purpose of Coolan, an analytics platform, is to help data-center operators reduce downtime and lower infrastructure costs by analyzing metadata on how the servers are performing.

Trying to figure out the TCO (Total-Cost-of-Ownership) for your compute infrastructure is no easy task,” explains Michael. “With the proliferation of public, private, and hybrid clouds, not to mention the ever-growing number of Buzzword-as-a-Service paradigms, anyone in charge of their company’s infrastructure faces a difficult decision: Should you build or acquire your own data center, lease space in a co-located facility, or rent a piece of the cloud?”

Some of the cost points the TCO Model addresses include:
•Whether to build your own servers or buy OEM
•What type of hardware components to use
•Whether to upgrade systems or deploy new ones
•The cost of capital
•The data-center PUE
•The amount of power the network is consuming

And the ultimate question: stay in the cloud, go colo, or build a private data center?
•Managed services in the cloud wins if a company requires more computing power than storage.
•In a related sense, the amount of storage required has a huge impact on choosing a deployment method.
•The cost to grow is less for in-house data centers than cloud-managed services or leasing more colocation space.

Microsoft Mobile productivity apps – is Wunderlist the next ?

June 4th, 2015

Rumors hit the Internet that Microsoft might be in talks to acquire the popular “to-do” app Wunderlist, a new report in The Wall Street Journal, indicates Microsoft has purchased the company behind the app, the German-based 6Wunderkinder, for between $100 and $200 million.

Neither company officially confirmed this deal, but is seems that the Wunderlist team will remain in its home office in Berlin, Germany to continue working on the app.

This is the latest acquisition by Microsoft for a mobile productivity app company. It bought the e-mail client Acompli in late 2014 and put its technology into the latest versions of its Outlook mobile apps. Microsoft also acquired Sunrise Calendar in early 2015.

So why Wunderlsit- well its maybe the least intimidating Task Manager

Wunderlist Features

Lists: One of the easiest things to grasp is that you get to set up lists, and put things in those lists.
Even I can do that in Wunderlist without any guidance so it is easy to use. Set up lists and put stuff in the list, and tick things off when done

Hashtags: You have multiple lists, and an item on one list that is related to items in other lists. Hashtags in Wunderlist lets show items that may exist in one or more of your lists together in one place.

Collaboration: One of the advantages of a digital list over a paper one is the ability to share it with others. With the simplicity of Wunderlist, once you invite someone to share a list with you, they won’t need you to give them a long explanation of how to use it. Share, add items, tick things off, add comments, assign tasks, attach files, and you have a system that will allow you to work together without sending emails like “Can you do this?” or “Here’s that file”

Platforms: One of the reasons why productivity tools fail is that no one wants to use won’t use a system if it isn’t handy – i.e. wherever you are. It’s great to have your lists available in a browser, or on whatever device you’re using with Wunderlist.

Email : The whole point of using these productivity tools is to get out of email. It’s more than that. It’s about separating tasks and resources so you’re not digging through piles of emails to find that attachment someone sent or what the deadline was for the report you have to write. It’s about working from your own clearly prioritised plan, rather than letting your inbox dictate your day and your priorities. Wunderlist also has some email notification options that you can use to work efficiently without getting sucked back in to a sea of email.

Wunderlist is good for:
• People on the go, with multi-platform availability.
• Non techy people, with one of the simplest interfaces I’ve seen.
• GTD enthusiasts, with things like hashtags to manage contexts.
• Small teams, for sharing and commenting functionality.

Wunderlist may do well in every day use
• Shopping lists
• ‘Read later’ lists, if you don’t use something like Pocket
• Idea lists, like blog posts about productivity…

Comparisons with other task list tools

Wunderlist vs Todoist

Todoist is good for managing tasks. The tree structure in Todoist gives visibility of high level tasks and their breakdown into sub-tasks all at once. Wunderlist supports sub-tasks, but you can only see those when you have the main task within the list selected.

Todoist labels are equivalent to hashtags, and you have to upgrade to premium Todoist to use these whereas hashtags in Wunderlist are available in the free version.

In general, Todoist can be a bit more intimidating for someone new to such tools

Wunderlist vs Trello

Items on a Wunderlist list are a bit simpler than cards on a Trello list. It means they have less functionality, so this could be a positive or a negative .

View and group multiple lists and their items in one screen on Trello, using boards. Wunderlist can only view one list at a time, even though it’s still possible to use drag & drop to move things between lists.

Trello has the edge when it comes to an intuitive visual representation but if you don’t need that ‘big picture’ view, then Wunderlist is O.K..

Wunderlist vs iOS Reminders

Wunderlist offers the simplicity that you get when using the native list app on iOS but adds extra functionality . When you use hashtags, attachments, comments or sub tasks then it’s worth installing the Wunderlist app.

An advantage of Reminders is Siri integration. Press a button and speak makes adding something to a list the simplest process possible ensures you actually use a list rather than scribbling on sticky notes. If you’re struggling to get into that habit of a technology-based solution, this could be what makes it stick

Integrations: So many apps and systems so how will; a new onework with what we already have. Here are a couple of useful Wunderlist integrations:
• Dropbox for your file storage.
• Calendar view of tasks or other items with due dates.
• IFTTT recipes that integrate Wunderlist with other systems, although Wunderlist isn’t actually supported you can do lots through email commands.

For such a simple and easy to use product, Wunderlist has lots of functionality and it’s great for people who are trying to get in the habit of using an app to improve their productivity and they find the other options intimidating.

Inflationary Wave Theory

June 1st, 2015

Is 2015 a turning point in global inflation and, if it is, what can you do to weather the storm? Pete Comely, author of a new book ‘Inflation Matters: Inflationary Wave Theory, its impact on inflation past and present … and the deflation yet to come’, explains…

Recent inflation data show that average prices in the UK have remained static for a second month in a row. History suggests that because of demographic changes we may now be about to enter a period of near-zero inflation for a lot of this century. This is going to have major implications for many aspects of life, but especially managing wealth.

Average prices were unchanged in the year to March, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index. This was due to a combination of a decline in the price of goods (-2.1 per cent) such as petrol, energy bills and food being balanced by increases in services (+2.4 per cent) including train and plane fares. However the declines are largely one-off changes and in a year when they fall out of the calculation, CPI will more than likely return to nearer 2 per cent again. But the current period of near-deflation is a symptom of a larger effect taking place across the globe that few have grasped the implications of yet.

The lower commodity prices we are seeing are as a result of supply exceeding demand. Moreover as we go forward in the 21st Century demand is going to fall still further and deflation is going to become a frequent theme. Populations in most countries are ageing. The average number of children women are having is below the replacement level of 2.1 in every developed market. The UK is 1.9 and Japan just 1.4. It is also low in South America and most of Asia. By 2050, some estimate that world population may even start to decline. In addition the ageing populations around the globe are consuming less too. The net effect of these demographic changes will be lower demand and prices.

This switch towards deflation also fits with longer term trends in inflation. We have seen significant price rises since 1900 but history shows that inflation exhibits a clear wave-like pattern and there are often periods of more stable prices.

A century of rising prices: Inflation has rocketed over the past century.
In his latest book, Inflation Matters, he shows that what drives the underlying trend is population growth and competition for resources.
A wave-like form is created when man realises prices are starting to rise again and attempts to exploit the situation. Investors buy assets that will keep their value during the inflation i.e. property/land and shares. They borrow money to invest, knowing that inflation will erode the true value of their capital and repayments. However that borrowed money increases the money supply which then fuels more inflation in the economy. Governments also join in and encourage inflation, as it allows them to spend more and let inflation deal with their deficits.

There comes a point when this inflation gets too far away from the underlying trend or there is a change in the population demand curve, which we starting to see now. Historically some form of deflationary shock occurs when prices collapse by about a half in a space of 5 years or so.
(What does that say for the swings in the value of property, oil stock markets etc in recent years??????)
Thereafter a bounce back follows in prices but they never reach new highs.

Over time prices gradually decline as technology and productivity improvements reduce the costs of production. The technology tipping point and exponential performance increases discussed in a recent blog is going to dramatically impact this – big dats, parallel in memory processing, nano chips, even recently chips made of wood are already here

Is 2015 a turning point for inflation?
What to do? Short-term, governments have a strong incentive to keep inflation growing as long as they can against these demographic headwinds. It helps reduce the value of their escalating debts. To this end, they have and will continue to encourage their central bankers to print money and will keep interest rates low. This will favour assets such as shares and property. On the flipside, all forms of salary, cash savings and bonds will be gradually eroded by the combination of very low yields and the inflation rate that governments manage to create.

However all that will change when we enter the transition period and the inflation trend actually changes. It is impossible to predict exactly what will cause this to happen and when but a likely candidate could well be a bond market crisis.

Transition: Which assets are best as the inflation cycle turns?
At some point the ever increasing level of worldwide government debt will inevitably collapse and with it destroy a large portion of wealth not only in that area but in nearly all financial assets due to domino effects. The reduced the money supply will impact consumer prices, as will lower velocity of money as fear spreads. During this brief turbulent period, the key asset to hold might be gold. Digital currencies may well come to the fore, if they have credibly established themselves by then. Holding cash might also be a good idea, but it is an easy target for governments.
The world will be different after the trauma of the transition. It would return to some form or normality. There may well be some growth in shares and housing, but it may probably be limited to genuine supply and demand effects.

(for example the main return from holding shares will revert to be dividends of maybe 3 per cent. However in a world of average inflation of -1 per cent, that would still be a net return of 4 per cent, not far off historical levels. Therefore investing for the long-term over the coming decades is going to be a challenge, but maybe not an impossible one. In a world of zero inflation business will look as much at cost control and efficiency as to sales growth and technology and systems can be expected to have major impact.

The nature of society , how we communicate what jobs and skills are needed are all going to be impacted much sooner and much more significantly than we may realise.

(Pete Comley’s book Inflation Matters: Inflationary Wave Theory, its impact on inflation past and present … and the deflation yet to come is available in Kindle format and in hardback from Amazon.

SQL Server 2005 – only 1 year of support to go

April 18th, 2015

Server 2005 is about to ride off into the sunset. Before support ends on April 12, 2016, you’ll need a plan to migrate any remaining instances of SQL Server 2005. What about security? For the last 5 years of “extended support”, users have continued to receive free security updates but beyond that had to pay for all non-security updates and support. Next year, support ends completely, meaning no more hotfixes or security updates and therefore potential exposure to security vulnerabilities.

A database currently attached to an instance of SQL Server 2005 could be either backed up (or detached), and later restored (or attached) on top of an instance of SQL Server 2014, and SQL Server 2014 won’t complain as it typically did in the past when you tried to restore (or attach) databases across database engines more distant than n-2 major versions.

With SQL Server 2014, it is possible and supported by the Setup code, to do an in-place upgrade of an existing instance of SQL Server 2005 without having to upgrade it first to any intermediate version (2008/2008R2/2012) which would put it in the n-2 range.

The supportability of those upgrade methods (backup/restore, detach/attach, or in-place upgrade) are documented in the “SQL Server 2014 Support for SQL Server 2005” section of the Supported Version and Edition Upgrades topic in he documentation.

And there is a note in it which reads “When a SQL Server 2005 database is upgraded to SQL Server 2014, the database compatibility level will be changed from 90 to 100. (In SQL Server 2014, valid values for the database compatibility level are 100, 110 and 120.)”

When a database is upgraded from a previous version to SQL Server 2014, there’s an upgrade process which sequentially executes a chain of upgrade processes to get it from whatever version it was, up to what the storage engine in 2014 is coded to work with. The more recent the version of the legacy database is the lesser processes will have to be executed during that upgrade phase.

Assuming your starting version is SQL Server 2005, it will execute (as far as the compatibility level upgrade goes): function (the one that would bring it to the SQL Server 2008/2008R2 level) which upgrades the compatibility level of the database to 80 if it was set to a value lower than that. Or to 100 if the database being upgraded is either TEMPDB or MODEL (these cases only happen during an in-place upgrade) function (the one that would bring it to the SQL Server 2012 level) which upgrades the compatibility level of the database to 90 if it was set to a value lower than that. Or to 110 if the database being upgraded is either TEMPDB or MODEL function (the one that would bring it to the SQL Server 2014 level) which upgrades the compatibility level of the database to 100 if it was set to a value lower than that. Or to 120 if the database being upgraded is either TEMPDB or MODEL

So, for example, if your database in SQL Server 2005 had its compatibility level set to 70 or 80, and you don’t bump it up before upgrading it to SQL Server 2014, then the upgrade process will do it for you.

Microsoft – Cloud Platform roadmap site – plans to embrace big data and open source

March 18th, 2015

Microsoft has revealed its Cloud Platform roadmap site, with the resource providing a view of the improvements and developments across the Cloud Platform business. The roadmap spans cloud services like:
- Microsft Azure, Intune, Power BI, and Visual Studio Online,
- and server offerings such as: Windows Server, System Center, SQL Server and Visual Studio.
- and Converged system appliances are also displayed, such as Cloud Platform System, Analytics Platform System and StorSimple.

Microsoft intend that this site will ensure a comprehensive and open view of the company’s current roadmap; where they are focusing on and what technology is currently in development or coming out within the next few months.

Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise Marketing Group at Microsoft, wrote in a blog: “With this view, you will be able to understand and plan for what’s coming next. In addition, you will be able to easily view newly available products and services, including those in public preview, to help you take full advantage of our expanding portfolio. ..”We believe this site is an important step on that journey. As the site grows and matures, we’ll look forward to your feedback on what is working and where we can improve, to ensure this resource is a valuable asset for your business.”

Microsoft clearly wants its Azure cloud platform to be the default place for organizations to run their workloads. In an ideal Microsoft world all those workloads would also be built upon proprietary Microsoft MSFT technologies so Redmond is keen to make Azure as palatable for non Windows workloads as it is for Windows ones.

This week sees the Strata + Hadoop conferenceis taking place, and its the home of open source big data discussions, Microsoft will further embrace other technologies. The company announced today that it is launching a preview of its Hadoop-based cloud tool that runs on Linux. At the same time it is making its existing Azure ML service, a machine-learning tool-set, more widely applicable with support for Python. This is in addition to the already-announced support for the R language. Readers will recall that just last month Microsoft acquired Revolution Analytics, the company behind the open source R language.

Microsoft is also going to make Storm, an open source stream analytics tool, available for the HDInsight platform with support for .NET and Java. This is in addition to the existing Azure Stream Analytics offering that the company plans to continue to sell. It is also looking at deal with data integration vendor Informatica. to join the Azure Marketplace so that that means is that the Informatica Cloud agent is available in Linux and Windows virtual machines on Azure. That will enable enterprise customers to create data pipelines from both on-premises systems, and the cloud, to Azure data services such as Azure HDInsight, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Data Factory and others, for management and analysis.

K. Ranga” Rengarajan, corporate vice president, Data Platform and Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president, Machine Learning wrote in a blog post that:

“Our goal is to make big data technology simpler and more accessible to the greatest number of people possible: big data pros, data scientists and app developers, but also everyday businesspeople and IT managers. Azure is at the center of our strategy, offering customers scale, simplicity and great economics. And we’re embracing open technologies, so people can use the tools, languages and platforms of their choice to pull the maximum value from their data.

Microsoft is in a direct race with Amazon Web Services to win the battle of the cloud vendors. Opening up to all these other solutions adds yet another value proposition for customers looking to decide between Azure and AWS.

“Amazon Web Services leads the infrastructure as a service pack, but Microsoft’s Azure is closing; there’s a lot of room for apps to move to the cloud; and more enterprises are going with hybrid approaches, according to RightScale’s annual survey of cloud adoption. RightScale’s survey of infrastructure as a service usage covered 930 respondents with 306 enterprises with 1,000 employees or more. Of the respondents, 24 percent were RightScale users. Of the companies surveyed, 45 percent had 1 to 100 employees with the remainder 100 workers or above. By region, 62 percent of respondents were from North America, 18 percent from Europe and 12 percent from Asia. The remainder was in other regions. (ZDNet 02.18.2015)”
“More than half of all public cloud deployments use Amazon Web Services (AWS), but Microsoft Azure is gaining ground. According to an annual survey of 930 IT professionals, conducted by cloud management specialist RightScale, 57% of SMEs and large enterprises use AWS public cloud, compared with 54% in the same study last year. (Computer Weekly 02.20.2015)”
Research conducted by Tata Communications, a leading provider of A New World of Communications™, has found that organisations with 500+ employees are seeing tangible benefits from cloud computing. 85% say cloud had lived up to industry hype, with 23% declaring that cloud had exceeded their expectations. According to the global survey, this groundswell of positive opinion has been contributed to by enterprises experiencing tangible benefits when using cloud services – with 83% of enterprises feeling they have experienced benefits they did not expect to see. The most popular of these benefits cited by respondents were: increased productivity (69%), better access to data (65%), and reductions in costs (63%). (BusinessWire 02.26.2015)

Management Reporter CU11

January 11th, 2015

Here’s a summary of the new Management Reporter CU11 features:
• Drill into TOT rows from Web Viewer Drill down on total rows in the web viewer :
When viewing a report, it’s often helpful to not only be able to drill into the support account and transaction detail, but also into the total rows (TOT). With Management Reporter 2012 CU11, we can now drill into those total rows (TOT) from the web viewer.

• Ability to select closing period(s) in Management Reporter managed in Microsoft Dynamics AX

• Improved performance for integration and report generation

Note its important that this is CU11 build 2.1.11001.1 release or later( the initial release version 2.1.11000.32 was bugged.)

- AX 2009 customers must be on CU8 in order to use MR 2012.
- Prior versions of AX 2009 will use MR v2.0.

- MR 2012 CU6 – CU11 can only be used with:
– AX 2012 RTM CU4-CU7,
– AX 2012 R2 (RTM and all CUs),
– AX 2012 R3
– AX 2009 CU8 SP1**