Archive for the ‘Technology’ category

Microsoft warns of new self propagating ransomware – Ransom:Win32/ZCryptor.A

May 31st, 2016

The new ransomware, which Microsoft has dubbed Ransom:Win32/ZCryptor.A, is distributed through spam emails. It can also infect a machine running Windows through a malware installer or fake installers like a Flash player setup file.
The ransomware would run at boot and drop :
• a file autorun.inf in removable drives,
• a zycrypt.lnk in the start-up folder,
• and a copy of itself as {Drive}:\system.exe and %APPDATA%\zcrypt.exe.
It will then change the file attributes to hide itself from the user in file explorer.
The Microsoft advisory said a file headlined “All your personal files are encrypted” would be displayed to the user and the ransomware would encrypt numerous files, changing their extensions to .zcrypt in the process. A total of 88 file-types would be encrypted and Microsoft said it was important to enable file history, or system protection so that restoring personal files from a backup was possible in some cases. However, it appears that Microsoft was also not fully aware of the actions of the ransomware because it offered the following advice: “Some ransomware will also encrypt or delete the backup versions and will not allow you to do the actions described before. If this is the case, you need to rely on backups in external drives (not affected by the ransomware) or OneDrive.”

Windows users take care.

Windows 7 lives on a little longer

May 18th, 2016

Microsoft yesterday announced the release of the Windows 7 SP1 convenience rollup, a collection of security and other updates for the seven-year-old operating system. The release includes core Windows fixes, security fixes and hot fixes that have been issued since Service Pack 1 was released in 2011 and is designed to simplify the updating process.

Microsoft’s decision to release the bundle is a departure from the firm’s stance earlier this year, when it said it had no news on the promised convenience rollup of fixes for Windows 7, stressing instead “the success our customers are experiencing upgrading to Windows 10″.

At the beginning of the year, Microsoft announced it would phase out support for Windows 7 and 8 on new PC hardware. The move seemed designed to encourage businesses not to downgrade new Windows 10 machines to an earlier OS, as has been common in the past in order to standardize corporate hardware. However, Microsoft later watered down the plans, pushing back the point at which it will end full extended support for Windows 7 and 8.1 machines running on Intel’s Skylake CPUs.

Many organizations are still in the early planning stage when it comes to Windows 10 and in a recession curtailing costs today may mean more than cutting costs over the next 12 month. Most of the PCs running Windows 10 today are in the consumer segment of the market, and tWindows 7 is probably running on 80 percent-plus business Windows PCs it is estimated.

“Microsoft has to find ways to please and delight enterprise customers, and ease the burden on IT departments. The Anniversary Edition update to Windows 10 will drive upgrades by early adopters, but mass adoption is still some way off, more like mid-2017 through to 2020. Unless organizations will have a clear insight into its business value e.g. to add key business features such as Enterprise Data Protection .

Gartner had predicted that adoption of Windows 10 by business would be “significantly more rapid” than that of Windows 7 but this year it was more cautious, claiming that flat IT budgets are pushing the start of enterprise migrations back to 2017.

IoT and Microsoft Dynamics

May 16th, 2016

Davos presentation: How is the internet of things transforming the global marketplace?

On the agenda:
- Designing smart consumer products
- Partnering to create inter-connected business models

Speakers:
· Michael Gregoire, Chief Executive Officer, CA Technologies, USA.
· T. K. Kurien, Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board, Wipro, India.
· Michael McNamara, Chief Executive Officer, Flex, USA.
· Andreas Raptopoulos, Chief Executive Officer, Matternet, USA.

IoT and Microsoft Dynamics

The Internet of Things (or what some prefer to call the Internet of Everything) is the connection of devices .
Standalone devices communicate within interconnected networks, to respond to each other. Today, there are twice as many connected devices than people, and the will rise. rapidly

In retail, and supply chains for example connected devices provide more data intelligence forgreater strategic insight and control e.g monitoring of cold store temperatures. Unified data will transform how retail industry participants are able to plan, market and engage with their customers. Many technologies make this possible and its all brought together and managed by the azure IoT technology stack
· Mobile integration – the interlinking of devices, smartphones, tablets and more conventional tech such as laptops and desktops.
· Cloud storage and services – relating to enhancements in storage capabilities and the increased accessibility of external connections.
· Hardware and software innovation – linking to continuous improvements in memory, processes, inter-device communication, and data transfer.
. Big data predictive analytics
. Machine learning

Microsoft Technical Architect Alex Anikiiev explains how companies can implement industry scenarios using Microsoft Dynamics AX, CRM, and a broad range of Microsoft IoT services. He provides many of examples and demos that include:
•Simulation of manufacturing equipment using Robotics with sensors/actuators,
•Connected devices/Data collection,
•Azure Cloud storage,
•Azure Mobile Services,
•Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 apps,
•Universal apps (HTML5/JS),
•Power View,
•Power BI,
•Big Data (Azure HDInsight),
•Azure Machine Learning,
•Microsoft Solver Foundation optimization,
•Project Siena apps connected to CRM/ERP, and
•Cutting edge Smart Glass technology

The azure IoT suite from a development perspective

SQL 2016 available from 1 June 2016

May 14th, 2016

Microsoft announced last week that SQL Server 2016 will be generally available on June 1 for purchase and installation.
Microsoft is moving forward with a cloud first release and the new terminology of SQL Server 2016 being “generally available” as opposed to RTM or released. I’m guessing this will be the new way we’ll get bits as sold and supported, when they ‘are generally available’.

The new Stretch Database function that allows users to store some of their data in a database on-premises and to send their infrequently used data to Microsoft’s Azure cloud. An application connected to a database using that feature can still see all the data from different sources.

Another key feature is the new Always Encrypted function, which makes it possible for users to encrypt data at the column level – both at rest ,and in memory.

That’s still only scratching the surface of the software, which also supports creating mobile business intelligence dashboards and new functionality for big data applications.

In addition to its on-premises release, Microsoft will also have a virtual machine available on June 1 through its Azure cloud platform that will make it easy for companies to deploy SQL Server 2016 in the cloud. Many of the new features in SQL Server 2016 like Always Encrypted and Stretch Database are already available in Microsoft’s Azure SQL Database managed service, but the virtual machine will be useful for companies that prefer to manage their own database infrastructure or that plan to roll out SQL Server 2016 on premises and want to test it in the cloud.

The feature mix for each edition is available (Developer, Express, Standard, Enterprise),
Standard will has a core limit (24) and low memory (128GB), but does get two node Availability Groups (and FCIs). Stretch Databases, RLS, Dynamic Data Masking and more are also available. ‘It is disappointing that Always Encrypted isn’t allowed, – there is of course a wish to push companies with the need for more features to Enterprise but wish that wasn’t based on security, where we have enough problems.

The Developer Edition is free.

SQL Server 2014 added a lot of features but it was not worth most people upgrading from 2012.

SQL Server 2016 is a full new release. with many new improvements, and is worth considering as an upgrade.
If you just need the core T-SQL, database engine features, then you still run on older versions for a supported configuration, with HA capabilities and better performance, look at 2016. it just runs faster. (The CSS engineers have a whole series of posts on the various improvements made in SQL Server 2016 that make it faster)

For the fact sheet see http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/sql-server-2016/

I don’t think anyone should just upgrade your SQL Server 2008, R2, 2012, or 2014 instances just because there is a new version. Each upgrade should be considered on its own, weighing the pros and cons that against the resource costs (licensing, personnel cost, and development efforts). However, if you are looking to upgrade, and want newer features, I think this is a version that you could move to and run for the next decade easily. Many features have been improved, and the new enhancements give you room to grow.

I’m excited about the new version of SQL Server 2016, something I haven’t been able to say for a long time.

Technology trends for retail in 2016

May 5th, 2016

Last year was a banner year for mobile. Mobile search overtook desktop for the first time, heralding the smartphone as the connected digital device of choice. We also saw further market penetration for new mobile platforms such as wearables and mobile pay.

A study by MasterCard found that eight out of 10 consumers now use a computer, smartphone, tablet, or in-store technology while shopping.

Forrester also predicts that cross-channel retail sales with reach $1.8 trillion in the US by 2017.

The mobile device is increasingly becoming an essential part of the customer’s shopping journey. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons, NFC and QR codes are the latest proximity technologies on offer to retailers, providing an opportunity to engage with customers via their smartphone.

Retailers are increasingly experimenting with mobile to facilitate click-and-collect. Sam’s Club [Walmart], use mobiles to send notifications whenever an order is ready for in-store pickup. Nordstrom in May 2015, started testing a service that lets customers text or call their Nordstrom associate as they near the store. The store employee will head down and meet the customer outside, so they don’t even have to get out of their car.

We anticipate that more retailers will also adopt social selling solutions such as Soldsie (selling through comments) and Like2Buy (user generated content galleries). Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all released buy buttons in 2015, and while none of them gained widespread adoption, we can expect social networks to continue investing in social commerce.

We also expect that users will continue using social networks to discover and talk about products, so retailers should keep investing in their social media initiatives. Forty-three percent of social media users respond that they have purchased a product after sharing or favoriting it on Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter.

42% of customers will conduct research in-store
When a customer starts looking at their phone in-store, studies have shown that 42% of customers of them may be doing in-store research, to help them find the perfect product. Using mobile to improve the in-store experience can help to convert these shoppers. Cosmetics brand Sephora’s app gives consumers easy access to product reviews and ratings, allowing in-store shoppers to access this information before deciding whether to buy. Similarly Macy’s mobile app also lets users scan product barcodes in-store, so that they can view online reviews, promotions, and more.

On lien stores can offer more choice of unlimited products but users tire of endless searching. Retailers that seem to be winning, whether on line or on premise are the ones that ‘curate assortments’ i.e. who carefully select the top styles, show the top models, or a showcase of ‘good, better, best’ instead of trying to stock every color, or every single SKU.”

71% of those shoppers who research in-store say it’s an important part of the experience
Retailers need to keep up with this trend and provide customers with the in-store mobile technology they need. More retailers are now able to appreciate the ROI of their mobile strategies , and the majority are looking to further their investment in mobile. Innovations include: beacons to send coupons, information and offers to customers’ smartphones, while they shop. According to a report published by Eagle Eye, beacons will be used to distribute around 1.6 billion coupons to smartphones annually by 2020.

Starbucks, recently streamlined this process by updating its app’s barcode screen to show available rewards, offers, and coupons. to ensure users won’t forget that they have a redeemable reward and they don’t have to pull up a separate screen to redeem the offer.

Omnichannel shoppers spend more money
The key focus for retailers in 2016 will be omnichannel. No matter what industry you’re in or how complicated your operations are, bringing online and offline together is important in every facet of your retail business.

To attract consumers who spend more, it turns out that an effective mobile strategy is key . In 2015, IDC research found that shoppers who buy on and offline have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who only shop via one channel.

Omnichannel strategies will also drive more retailers to adopt cloud-based apps, because these solutions enable them to scale quickly, work from anywhere, and get real-time insights into various aspects of their business. Maintaining an item file, accurate inventory levels, and managing a pricing system between channels is one of the foundational roadblocks for a lot of retailers who are not necessarily managing their stores and their online business with the same platform.

In 2016, we’ll see more small and medium retailers adopt single-view and cloud-based tools. Since these businesses are a lot more nimble and aren’t usually tied down to large, complicated legacy systems, they’re in a great position to switch to omnichannel technologies.

Omnichannel retailing introduces a lot of complexities, not just in terms of operations and order fulfillment, but also when it comes to fraud prevention.
65% of retailers believe they lack the tools to effectively manage omnichannel fraud.

By 2019, 9.1% of all retail sales will be made on mobile
The rise of mobile commerce isn’t set to slow down In their report, ‘The Future of M-Commerce’, Barclay’s predict that 9.1% of all retail sales will be made on mobile by 2019, in comparison to the 3% of retail sales that were made on mobile in 2014. This figure equates to sales of around £32bn. Retailers who don’t invest in mobile will miss out.

Nearly half of shoppers say they are more likely to visit mobile-orientated stores
It’s a common misconception that consumers will abandon bricks and mortar stores in favour of online shopping. However, a report by VoucherCodes.co.uk and Centre for Retail Research found that 44% of consumers would be more likely to visit mobile-orientated stores, making it clear that mobile commerce is actually driving shoppers back onto the high-street – and into your retail store.

40% of consumers feel that the mobile experience could be improved
The same report also found that 40% of consumers feel that the mobile experience could be improved, suggesting that retailers could be doing much more to cater for mobile shoppers. This echoes how many retailers feel about the importance of improving the mobile experience, with 66% saying that investment in mobile would help them to drive growth.

51% of consumers expect transactions to be easier on mobile

Shopping on mobile is about convenience. Consumers want to be make purchases on-the-go, without the hassle of switching to a laptop or computer – and this requirement raises the bar for retailers in terms of mobile usability. Ensure that your mobile website offers a seamless customer journey– particularly because 40% of people will switch to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience.

Frictionless shopping has always been an objective of omnichannel. In 2016, we anticipate companies will further explore ways to reduce friction in the shopping journey. We can already see signs of this happening. The Amazon Dash button, for instance, makes re-ordering possible with literally just a push of a button.

Millennials are the most coveted audience among brand advertisers and retailers, and this year they grew to be larger than even the baby boomers. They are also the demographic most driving wearable device adoption, owning 50 percent of that market. Other industries have developed wearable interactions that bring utility, convenience and delight to customers – from ordering Ubers to updates on changing airport gates. Retailers have only scratched the surface to this point

Awareness of mobile payment has risen 10 percent in the last year but adoption has only gained one percent. Even with the slow growth, we are starting to see the category give rise to payment agnosticism. Retailers understand that they need to accommodate the transaction any way their customers want to pay, and that the walled garden may ultimately not work for them in future. This trend will only continue in the coming year as the benefits of mobile pay are more fully realized.

PayPal, recently rolled out the PayPal Here Chip Card reader. PayPal’s device is compatible with iOS and Android devices, and is built to accept both EMV and magnetic stripe cards, as well as NFC payments such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay.

Similarly, Mercury, is a payment solution that equips retailers with the hardware they need to accept EMV cards as well as mobile payments. There’s also Poynt, a smart terminal that supports several payment technologies including magnetic cards, EMV, NFC, and QR codes.

As retailers increasingly adopt these payment solutions, expect more stores to start accepting additional payment types, most notably EMV cards and mobile payments.

Loyalty and promotions?
According to a study by MasterCard, only 18% of respondents considered promotions as important. The study also found that “in choosing a retailer, omnishoppers prioritize value, track record and convenience, over loyalty rewards.”

3% of people expect to do more mobile shopping in future

It’s simple: the ability to easily shop on mobile is what consumers want. A worldwide study by Latitude found that 63% of people expect to do more mobile shopping over the next few years, with 77% of smartphone users shopping regularly on their mobile, even when they’re at home.

Retailers will use mobile devices
In 2016, we anticipate the continued adoption of mobile devices such as mPOS systems and in-store tablet. A merchant using mobile technology well is cookware retailer Borough Kitchen, which runs Vend on their iPads.A tablet-based POS system improves the customer experience and speeds up. During their peak hours and the holiday season add new tills by switching on additional iPads to reduce queues and ring up sales much faster.

Mobile devices are just the beginning. In addition to using mPOS systems and in-store tablets, some retailers (particularly larger merchants) will likely look into ways they can leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) in their locations.

A study by McKinsey found that the uses of IoT in retail could have an economic impact of $410 billion to $1.2 trillion per year in 2025. That may be a long way off go, but what are your competitors doing now?

Big data and video analytics will clarify and add value to the personal shopping conversation.

Ask us about TCPOS, and Microsoft Dynamics Retail.

Entity Store for Dynamics Ax – what is it?

May 5th, 2016

So, what is an Entity store?
Entity store is a feature that will enable an Administrator or a Power user to create a data store dedicated for Reporting and Analytics. The database is called an “Entity store” and it’s a database optimized for Reporting purposes.

An existing customer of AX, can create an Entity Store in Azure or within a data center using a SQL Server 2016 or SQL Server 2014.

An Entity store can be (and should be) hosted on a separate database server than the one that hosts the transactional database. Therefore, you do not need to upgrade the transactional database to the latest versions of SQL server in order to deploy Entity store.

An Entity store enables a user to choose “Entities” (that are built on top of AX tables) to be moved into the Entity store.

An Entity store enables scheduling incremental refresh jobs with the use of AX batch framework. This makes it possible to feed data from AX database to the entity store on a small batch basis in the background.

An Entity store uses In-memory, Clustered Column-store Index (CCI) functionality built into SQL server to optimize reporting and queries. Customers have the ability to use Power BI direct query models along with Entity store to enable high volume, near-real time analytical reporting over large volumes of data as shown below.

Cortana Intelligence Suite (CIS) is a collection of tools and services offered by Microsoft that transforms data into intelligent actions. CIS offers predictive capabilities and a set of tools focused towards business users and developers that enables learning from data.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/cortana-intelligence-suite

CIS works on data in:
• Azure stores such as: Azure DB, Azure DW or Azure Data Lake
• as well as on-premise data sources such: as SQL Server.

An Entity store enables AX customers to use their data effectively with CIS capabilities by removing the drudgery of developing ETL scripts, transforming and (re)staging data. The Entity Store, together with CIS tools enable customers to complement AX data with data from devices (ie. MES, Sensors) as well as other systems (ex. CRM).

An Entity store also benefits ISVs and partners who specialize in vertical solutions built on AX – as opposed to investing in ETL capabilities to map and move data out of AX, they have the ability to focus on building vertical solutions.

Entity store functionality is released as a hot fix immediately, it will be available with the next cumulative update for Dynamics AX2012 R3.

Download the hotfix via the following link: https://mbs2.microsoft.com/Knowledgebase/KBDisplay.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;3147499 (requires access to partner source). You can download and install the hot fix using the steps described here: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh335183.aspx

A Quick overview of functionality
Access the Entity store functionality using The Data Import Export framework area page in AX2012 R3 client.

Use the “Define entity stores” option, to define one or more Entity stores in AX2012R3.
The Administrator needs to create a destination database and to provide the Data Source Name (DSN) definition in the form – this option will not create a new database.

At present the following types of Data bases are supported as destinations for Entity store.
– Azure SQL DB
– SQL Server 2016
– SQL Server 2014

Entity Store functionality leverages SQL Server Column store Index (CCI) technology which is intended for Data warehouse scenarios. Currently CCI is supported only in Premium editions of Azure SQL DB and BI editions or above of SQL Server versions.

AX2012R3 ships over 450 entity definitions in CU10. Any of these entities as well as entities created by partners and users can be staged in an Entity store.
.
Entity store provides the ability to publish and to map entities defined in AX2012 into the store. Once defined, the user has the ability to make changes to mapping where applicable.

The Ax system enables the administrator to create and to manage refresh schedules to keep the data in sync with the AX operational database. At the time of creation of refresh schedules, user can choose whether to refresh data incrementally (ie. add/update only the records that got modified in AX) or to refresh in full. Data refresh schedule is triggered by the AX batch framework and the system provides options to review upcoming refresh jobs or to see the historical execution of jobs.

Power Bi- Quick Insights gets better – ask Synergy Software Systems

May 5th, 2016

A few months ago, Microsoft released its Quick Insight feature in Power BI to automatically search datasets uploaded to Power BI for hidden insights. Now Microsoft has released an easier way to access these advanced analytics by targeting specific dashboard tiles for discovering (as the name suggests) quick insights.

You need only view a dashboard tile in Focus mode, click “Get Insights,” and Power BI searches the tile and its related data for: correlations, outliers, trends, seasonality, change points in trends, and major factors automatically,
• These are the types of hidden insights that a user typically wants but, may lack the time or know-how to query.
• Or, they answer useful questions that (as often happens with BI) a user has simply not thought to ask.
The Quick Insights feature is built on a growing set of advanced analytical algorithms
To try out the scoped Quick Insights capability:
• Go to In Focus mode on a dashboard tile for data loaded into Power BI and select “Get Insights.” Power BI Quick Insights will then scan the data related to the tile and display a list of potential insights for you to explore further.
• To get more information about a specific data point, you can select data in the visual and Quick Insights will focus on that data point when it searches for insights,

The visualizations display in a special Quick Insights canvas with up to 32 separate Insight Cards. Each card has a chart or graph plus a short description.

Some of the insights you can uncover include:
• Major factor(s)-Finds cases where a majority of a total value can be attributed to a single factor when broken down by another dimension (see graphic).
• Category outliers (top/bottom)-Highlights cases where, for a measure in the model, one or two members of a dimension have much larger values than other members of the dimension.
• Time series outliers-For data across a time series, detects when there are specific dates or times with values significantly different than the other date/time values.
• Seasonality in time series-Finds periodic patterns in time series data, such as weekly, monthly, or yearly seasonality.

Microsoft Face api

May 5th, 2016

The recent Connexions 2016 event showed the Microsoft Face API. Face API is a cloud-based API that provides the most advanced algorithms for face detection and recognition. During the demo, simply through standing in front of a camera, the API was able to detect and project an image and then suggest attributes to the persons face from their pose, gender and age.

In general, face recognition provides the functionalities of automatically identifying or verifying a person from a selection of detected faces. The Face API provides four recognition functionalities: face verification, similar face searching, automatic face grouping and person identification. Face recognition is widely used in security systems, celebrity recognition and photo tagging applications

What are the opportunities for using it with Ax retail and Dynamics CRM?

Technology trends

May 4th, 2016

We are at a tipping point in many areas of technology these are some fast emerging trends in hardware to be aware for your future plans. Innovations in storage, devices, chips, and other hardware will revolutionize IT.

1: Mobile devices with hardened security
Security is a major challenge with mobile devices.Intel’s Software Guard Extension (SGX) technology, will support the use of secure encrypted memory spaces on commodity CPUs. The goal is to provide applications with an area of secure and protected memory and execution. This could be a boon for mobile devices, a leading source of security breaches that corporate IT must contend with. “We will see the start of a new generation of systems solutions that guarantee security even if the operating system or other infrastructure gets compromised by hackers,” said Sriram Rajamani, Microsoft Research India’s assistant managing director, in an eWeek piece on tech predictions.

2: New chip architectures that improve machine learning performance

As more IoT and machine-based applications enter the IT mainstream, new chip architectures will improve performance over what is presently available with graphical processing units (GPUs). These performance improvements will dramatically improve data transfers and the execution of machine-based learning and analytics. Microsoft is already embedding telemetrics into its applications on the azure platform.

3: Drones
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) wcontinue to push themselves into commercial applications, delivering packages, taking photographic images, or surveying physical terrain that is difficult to access. They will be able to collect IoT data through sensors and channel it into central communications e.g.the height of water in a remote reservoir

Innovation Must-Reads
Snakes, cheetahs, and monsters: Some of the craziest robot tech in the world
DARPA Robotics Challenge unleashes the next wave of humanoid robots
Why you shouldn’t worry about a robot stealing your job

4: Unmanned robots
Robots can carry out simple medical procedures, clean facilities, and pick and pack items in warehouses. The intelligence in these automated machines will be further increased as new technologies come onboard to collect everything that has been learned by all machines into a central data bank that any machine can access.

5: More user-friendly virtual reality gear
Bulky headsets have encumbered VR users and made them dizzy or seasick, prompting companies to avoid VR applications. That’s about to change. For example, Google cardboard provides a small holder for your smart phone and delivers a full-bodied video experience that rivals those produced through older headgear. More comfortable VR headgear will pave the way for greater corporate adoption of VR.

6: New storage technology for greener power grids

Data centers will continue to go green as power companies find better ways to seamlessly blend diverse energy sources, such as solar, wind, and traditional fossil fuel, into a seamless and uninterrupted supply of energy. Today, the use of hybrid energy is difficult because sources like wind and solar can be variable. But better storage can solve this and usher in a new green era that could save data centers and other energy users an estimated $3.4 billion per year.

7: More on-the-job wearables

Jupiter research predicts that smart glasses, smart watches, and a range of motion-sensing devices could improve productivity by 30%. Gartner predicts that by 2018, two million employees, such as law enforcement officers and paramedics, will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices.

8: Local energy harvesting for Internet access

With automation and a plethora of IoT devices being added to the internet’s workload, new technology is needed to add to bandwidth and ready access. University of Washington researchers have developed technology that enables internet-connected temperature and motion sensors, cameras, etc., to communicate by using only energy harvested from nearby TV, radio, cellphone, and Wi-Fi signals. A principle known as backscattering allows IoT devices to absorb energy emitted by other electronics, enabling them to reduce their internet bandwidth demands. This localized Wi-Fi consumes just 1/10,000th as much power as existing Wi-Fi chipsets.

9: More compact flash memory

3D NAND technology continues to move forward, delivering smaller and more lightweight laptops, tablets, and other devices. Much of this progress is due to the ability of companies like Intel and Micron to stack flash memory cells vertically, which conserves space and enables devices to be smaller and thinner.

10: Nonvolatile memory

With nonvolatile memory, computers can retrieve information even after being turned off and back on. Going forward, we will see new forms of nonvolatile memory that will enable data to be stored at less cost and less power. This will enable smaller devices to store even more data.

Microsoft announces docs.microsoft .com for Enterprise Mobility access to Technet MSDN Etc

May 4th, 2016

Today Microsoft announced the preview release of our new documentation service https://docs.microsoft.com, showcasing content supporting for Enterprise Mobility products.

Why docs.microsoft.com?

In short, content matters. A modern web experience for content.
TechNet and MSDN. are sites are built on a 10-15 year-old brittle codebase with an archaic publishing and deployment system that was never designed to run on the cloud.

So to get the overall experience right Microsoft started from scratch and this preview release is a new hope for documentation at Microsoft.

Note: This preview release of the website includes content *only* for Enterprise Mobility Documentation (which consists of Advanced Threat Analytics, Azure Active Directory, Azure Remote App, Multi-factor Authentication, Azure Rights Management, Intune, and Microsoft Identity Manager). In the future, as the platform matures with Microsoft will migrate more documentation.

To improve content readability, the site has a set content width. Eye tracking studies show that you can improve comprehension and reading speed with a set content width because it’s difficult for the eye to follow long passages when it has to also move left-to-right. The basis of newspaper columns. In response to user feedback Microsoft ahs also increased the font size to aid readability.

Another simple feature is to show the expected time to read an article.

Date stamps will help indicate how current is the material.

Content is refactored into logical groupings around: evaluating, getting started, planning, deploying, managing, or troubleshooting products or services.

Many longer articles are broken up into smaller logical steps with Previous and Next buttons at the bottom of articles to navigate between steps in a multi-part tutorial. For those who want to print off all the multi step information as one pdf its not available yet but is expected at a future release.

A new responsive layout is added for mobiles

SQL CU should I update?

May 2nd, 2016

Is it a good idea to install SQL Cumulative Updates (CU) as soon as those are released?.

It depends on what it fixes. New security threats arise daily. However, in general in the small print to each CU Microsoft has usually advised that customers should not install a particular CU unless they are experiencing the specific issues the CU corrects.
However, you should at least try to be up to date with the latest Service Pack

In its recent CUs update KBs Microsoft now recommends to implement CUs as those are released:
• SQL Server CUs are certified to the same levels as Service Packs, and should be installed at the same level of confidence.
• Historical data shows that a significant number of support cases involve an issue that has already been addressed in a released CU.
• CUs may contain added value over and above hotfixes. This includes supportability, manageability, and reliability updates.
• You may require a specific update in order to resolve a specific application issue.

Be wary of all patches. Keeping up with patches is worth doing but do it on a planned basis. Microsoft is constantly fixing issues, so take advantage of their hard work, but unless its critical then my advice is to first verify the patches don’t degrade your system. Bugs can still exist in patches, when run on your specific environment, as with all software, so test in your own environment. That means you need a test plan, preferably an automated test plan. If you can’t test, if you’re busy, if this is a month you can’t afford for things to fail, then don’t install the CU. This is like throwing your own developers’ code into production without any testing.

Make sure you know what is being changed, and look for obvious problems. No one will be too upset about an obscure issue with little impact or frequency of occurrence, but if your normal scheduled jobs suddenly start failing, then you’ll dramatically reduce the user confidence.

CRM 2016 and document templates in Excel and Word

April 24th, 2016

With CRM 2016 you can standardize all of your organization’s documents with a few clicks. Watch and see how fast and easy it is.

Watch and learn how to build and use templates in both Microsoft Word and Excel

Power BI why does it matter?

April 24th, 2016

The new Dynamics Ax comes with embedded Power BI content packs watch the whirlwind tour presentation to find out why.

It opens up to self service to all users, Bi can now leverage the scalable resources of the cloud. this presentation by Nick Caldwell is almost an hour long – but its worth making the time to watch. Power Bi is a cloud-based SaaS that “enables you to find and visualize data, share discoveries and collaborate in intuitive new ways.” A, single view of your critical business data via a self-service analytics hub.

To learn more watch this slightly shorter presentation from Will Thompson which provides some interesting and useful tips and tricks.

SandDance is a Microsoft Research data visualization project, spearheaded by Steven M. Drucker and Roland Fernandez, that experiments with new genres of visualization and represents an innovation in user interactions.

With SandDance, every data element is always represented on the screen, and animated transitions are used between views to help people explore, understand, and communicate insights in their data.

The SandDance custom visual puts this innovation into the hands of users through the open, extensible visualization framework of Power BI that can leverage rich connectivity, modeling, and interactive reporting. The focus of SandDance is on tasks where data is not pre-aggregated (that is, many individual records), and can be rearranged in groups on the screen to create meaning.

Download the SandDance chart from the Visuals Gallery. Import it into your Power BI report, and drag all the fields that you would like to use into the Values field bucket.

Once you have created a SandDance chart change the View, -there are some interesting types available, including 3D. Sum by any column in the dataset. -this ‘ summary chart’, it is actually created with many rectangles. . In the Color by options select the color palette then use Facet by to view the same visualization broken up by different ranges of a particular attribute.

Note that you can also place other visuals on the canvas and they will interact and cross filter with SandDance – explore your data in many perspectives.

For more detailed help, check out http://www.sanddance.ms

SQL Server 2014 RTM cu13 released

April 23rd, 2016

The 13th cumulative update release for SQL Server 2014 RTM is now available for download at the Microsoft Support site.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3144517

SQL server 2016- runs a lot faster!

April 23rd, 2016

There many well publicised features of SQL 2106 that have maybe overshadowed the many enhancements to improve performance.

Added together there is a huge impact as these various blofg articles reveal.

Large Data File Writes (April 15)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/15/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-larger-data-file-writes-2/

Indirect Checkpoint Default (April 12)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/12/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-indirect-checkpoint-default/

SOS_RWLock Redesign (April 7)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/07/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-sos_rwlock-redesign/

Dynamic Memory Object (CMemThread) Partitioning (April 6)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/06/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-dynamic-memory-object-cmemthread-partitioning/

Updated Scheduling Algorithms (April 1)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/01/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-updated-scheduling-algorithms/

Automatic Soft NUMA (March 30)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/30/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-automatic-soft-numa/

Instant File Initialization (March 25)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/25/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-instant-file-initialization/

LDF Stamped (March 22)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/22/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-ldf-stamped/

Automatic TEMPDB Configuration (March 17)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/17/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-automatic-tempdb-configuration/

T1117 and T1118 Changes for TEMPDB and User Databases (March 15)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/15/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-t1117-and-t1118-changes-for-tempdb-and-user-databases/

Spatial Index Builds Faster (March 10)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/10/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-spatial-index-builds-faster/

TVPs with Spatial Column(s) (March 8)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/08/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-tvps-with-spatial-columns/

Native Spatial Implementations (March 3)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/03/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-native-spatial-implementations/

DBCC Extended Checks (March 1)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/01/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-dbcc-extended-checks/

DBCC Scales 7x Better (February 25)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/02/25/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-dbcc-scales-7x-better/