Archive for the ‘Technology’ category

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/

Query Store – SQL 2016

April 23rd, 2016

Query Store will be available in all editions of SQL Server 2016.

This is a huge plus because Query Store serves as a data recorder for your query execution plans. It’ll help you troubleshoot :parameter sniffing issues, connection settings issues, plan regressions, bad stats, and much more.
It is a rich persisted db of query execution over time for SQL Server/Azure DB and is a central starting point for Query Tuning and Troubleshooting

- Query Store collects and persists:
- all query texts and to compile time stats
- all plan choices and runtime metrics – and allows you to force plans from history

What can you do with it?

Analyze performance and details of queries whether they are cached or not
Analyze the history of queries and plans across server restarts
Look at properties and statistics for queries not available in DMVs
What queries consume the most/least cpu, i/o, memory over time?
Compare performance before/after a change (A/B Testing)
Plan stability after upgrading to SQL Server 2016
Are ad-hoc queries killing performance filling up your cache?
What is the standard deviation of performance for a query?
What % of time is the performance of my query spent on compile?
What is the performance of queries with different SET options?
Keep performance information in the backup of the database
Allows a simpler and more robust method to force plans vs plan guides

Upgrades are also easier in SQL 2016 with Query Store – you control when Optimizer changes are enabled
and can also quickly fix regressions with Query Store

See Books Online’s section on Query Store to start learning, .

Extended support for SQL Server 2005 ended on April 12, 2016

April 21st, 2016

Extended support for SQL Server 2005 ended on April 12, 2016
customers still running SQL Server 2005 after April 12, 2016, will no longer receive security updates and technical support. We recommend upgrading to SQL Server 2014 and Azure SQL Database to achieve breakthrough performance, maintain security and compliance, and optimize your data platform infrastructure.

The invisible revolution

April 19th, 2016

The next wave of breakthrough technology from artificial intelligence to machine learning to the cloud, it’s all around you b but you may not see it.

We live in a world of technology. Its not unusual to own two devices and many have three or more. Cloud computing is an increasingly powerful and scalable tool set . Users expect access to all of their information across every device, any time anywhere. Whether it’s using a console to play a game, a phone to keep in touch with family, or a fitness tracker to keep on track in maintaining health

Key technologies are not just made of plastic, metal and glass. Maybe it’s a streaming video service you use to watch “Game of Thrones” or an app that lets you track your steps and calories or a virtual assistant that helps you remember where your meetings are and when you need to take your medicine, or an e-reader for your favorite book via your phone, tablet or even your car speakers.

The invisible revolution brings together the world through technology that is increasingly hands-off. It increases the quality of life as people become busier, and takes away mundane acts such as scheduling meetings, turning lights on, and translating languages sothat the user can spend their time doing things that are more important to them.
For example http://blogs.skype.com/2015/10/01/skype-translator-unveils-the-magic-to-more-people-around-the-world/ Skype translator lets you talk with anyone in almost any language in real time anywhere in the world. That’s a technological marvel that many have compared to science fiction, but it’s also an opportunity to literally help people understand each other better.

The next generation of groundbreaking, life-changing technologies goes far beyond keyboards, screen, cell phones, cameras, watches and hard drives. Increasingly, these devices are getting their computing power from the cloud, where thousands of computers are working to make it easier for you to find an email from five years ago and for a scientists to prevent the next deadly disease outbreak

The invisible revolution means you can walk into a meeting and automatically be updated with everything you need to know about the meeting, including past work experiences with co-workers attending and what he needs to have prepped for the presentation as your device uploads the PowerPoint document or auotdials you into the conference call on Skype.

The invisible revolution relies on artificial intelligence technologies and machine learning. The new Dynamics Ax has bullt in telemetry to track what users do so that future releases can be better designed to streamline the works. A computer learns how to do something better – like understand your voice or to automatically fix your typos – as it gets more data.

We take for granted that our emails will be available to us on any gadget, for example, and we increasingly expect to be able to talk to our devices instead of type.

Microsoft Graph is already been available in Microsoft Office 365 via a tool known as Delve. Delve forms professional connections with co-workers with an up-to-date project management system that lets everyone access the same work files.
Think of Delve as a virtual assistant communicating other virtual assistants, and making professional connections for you. If you don’t want anyone else to see what you’re working on, Delve won’t share that. Like any good personal assistant, it’s discreet.

Microsoft Graph relies on the cloud to store and analyze data, and it uses machine learning, in which systems learn to do something better as they get more data, to figure out what’s important to an individual user. designed to work on any device or operating system, because we no longer live in a world where people are doing all their work on just one type of gadget.

Cortana now has a feature under test that uses machine learning to identify language in emails that signal a commitment. Those signals can be subtle or explicit, such as “I’ll get back to you by next week” or “I’ll finish this by EOD.” Using that information, Cortana can ask whether to set a reminder of the various delivery promises you made via email.

In China, an application called XiaoIce has become a household name. The virtual assistant doesn’t just provide information but speaks to users on a more personal level about their feelings and lives. In fact, over 40 million people are enamoured with the conversations that ensued with the robot. Because XiaoIce is hosted on a number of platforms, including an ecommerce site, some people talk to ‘her’ about everyday things before asking for shopping advice, just like you might chat with a real salesperson. XiaoIce also can recite poetry and tell ghost stories, but in many cases the researchers say she is there more to listen than to talk.

The internet of things means connected devices and continuous montoring that can also be used for analysis and prediction sing he power of the cloud.

A farmer can’t keep track of the moisture or nitrogen levels in all his fields at the same time, 24 hours a day.

An air quality forecaster can’t physically check how safe the air is to breath on every block of every city, simultaneously.

As empathetic as good friends can be, there isn’t always one available to talk to us when we feel lonely in the middle of the night.

Such technical advances are reaching a tipping point. Field-programmable gate arrays and graphic processing units contribute to the underlying increases in processing power.

Computer experts talk a lot about that data being “in the cloud,” but all that cloud-based data still needs to be physically stored somewhere. Usually, it’s in a big building full of powerful servers, plus plenty of air conditioners needed to keep all those servers cool. Microsoft researchers have come up with another option: under the sea. Late last year, a team of researchers launched a research effort called Project Natick, which aims to drop small, contained data centers into the ocean. There’s an environmental advantage to this kind of data center: In their tests so far, the cool water surrounding the data center kept the servers from overheating while having a negligible effect on the surrounding ocean’s temperature. The underwater data centers also can be produced much more quickly than land-based data centers – in about 90 days instead of two years — making it much easier for companies like Microsoft to meet customer data needs.
Project Natick is a research project for now, but the researchers say that no matter what the end result is, it will have major implications for how they build data centers in the future. “We’re learning how to reconfigure firmware and drivers for disk drives, to get longer life..”

Its this constant experimentation and innovation that is fueling the invisible revolution.

Madeira – a true SMB SaaS erp offering

April 14th, 2016

Project Madeira” – is a cloud based ERP system, highly integrated into the Microsoft Cloud world.

Madeira is the current name (because location names cannot be trademarked/copyrighted) and has it roots in Dynamics NAV, an established ERP system with 30+ years of accounting knowledge build in, and with an impressive technology stack. NAV is used by 100,000+ + companies thousands all over the world, ranging from large, to small single person shops.

NAV has always been able to detach business logic from technology. This feature enabled Microsoft to move this subset of the NAV application into the cloud, the result Madeira. This is not quite NAV, but a version of NAV tailored to a “cloud first, mobile first” world. It runs in the browser, and as apps on Windows 10 UWP, iOS and Android phones and tables.

This provides a cloud offering but new, but also a very mature system. Microsoft wants to make ERP more accessible to SMB users with Project Madeira, a SaaS product connecting business processes to Office 365 apps.Though it’s built on the Dynamics NAV platform, Madeira is not the next version of Dynamics NAV, which is also expected to become available in the second half of this year.

Madeira can also be customized, this is done through extensions, and already in this preview version there are three extensions installed:
•Bank statement integration
•Paypal payment integration
•QuickBooks data migration – which indicates, that Microsoft is targetting the SMB sector

Madeira automatically identifies what the user is doing (for example sorting invoices in Outlook) and presents the user with relevant tools within their current app, so they can use the tools without switching windows. One benefit of that is users performing business functions can reduce the time it takes them to jump back and forth from Office applications.

For instance:

- Madeira “automatically identifies business context such as invoices and quote requests within Outlook, and presents the user with the tools and data needed to take immediate action — all without leaving Outlook:

– Use Word to create custom layouts for reports, effectively turning Word into a report designer

Expect CRM online integration.

1. With this product full financial processes can be completed seamlessly within Microsoft Outlook in Office 365. There is no need to login to a separate ERP system. You can create customers, vendors, quotes and invoices without leaving Outlook. More sophisticated tasks are completed from the web client.
2. The solution is optimized for 10-99 employee companies. This does not mean larger companies can’t use it. Microsoft believes the 10-99 employee company market is underserved. And they have “zero scalability concerns”. .
4. Project “Madeira” is based on the Microsoft Dynamics NAV platform as well as a number of other Microsoft services. It will also bring in features from Dynamics GP such as All in One view etc…
5. Project “Madeira” will include more than just core accounting (GL, AP, AR). A full list of functionality will be announced soon.
6. There is support for multi-company in a single database.
8. There will be a pre-defined chart of accounts.
9. It includes wizards to set up Financials.
10. It has built in financial reporting.
11. Workflow configuration is available.
12. ISV’s will be important for Project “Madeira”, there will be a robust Marketplace strategy.
13. Project “Madeira” is a global product. It will be releasing in the US initially.
14. The data resides in Azure SQL database, it is a multitenant public cloud service from Microsoft.
15. It will integrate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
16. There will be an app for Windows phone.

Envision 2016 takeaways – Synergy Software Systems

April 12th, 2016

Nadella, in his opening Microsoft Envision keynote said “The very nature of work is changing.” He spoke about Microsoft reinventing productivity and business process through the Windows 10 platform and other products. With all of the abundance of technology, what is still scarce is human attention and time. Our goal in reinventing business process and productivity is to help you reclaim that time to grow your focus on things that matter the most to you and your organization.”

Astronaut Scott Kelly who spent nearly one year on the International Space Station, when asked what business people could learn about technology from his experience in space, said that, as he left the International Space Station for the last time, he was “absolutely inspired by what we are capable of achieving if we dream it — and that we have to put the resources behind it.”

Nadella and Lilian Rincon of the Skype team previewed enhancements to Skype that will include making Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, persistent within Skype. If you need to look something up, such as check your calendar, you will be able to click on the Cortana icon and ask Cortana to check your schedule without leaving Skype. Along with the integration with Cortana, Skype will also be able to interact with “bots” or automated artificial intelligence agents from other organizations. One example of bots included a hotel bot that helped with booking a room — all from within Skype.

Microsoft also announced an important new partnership with car manufacturer Toyota at the Microsoft Envision event. The new collaboration called simply Toyota Connected was touched upon briefly in Nadella’s remarks. The new initiative will deliver a connected car technology drawing in part from Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.

Microsoft is partnering with R3, a consortium of major banks around the world, to develop new blockchain technologies, leveraging the underlying approach from the Bitcoin digital currency to change the way they track transactions and offer financial services to their customers. The blockchain is a public ledger of transactions, and the R3 consortium consists of more than 40 banks, including big names such as BNP Paribas, Wells Fargo, ING, JPMorgan and Citi. Microsoft will work with the consortium to “develop, test and deploy blockchain technologies to modernize decades-old processes and streamline operations, potentially saving billions of dollars from back-office operations,” said Peggy Johnson, Microsoft executive vice president for business development, in a blog post explaining the news. Goals include faster trades of assets such as stocks and bonds, and direct transfer of ownership, which cuts clearing houses out of the processes, something that’s appealing to banks because it promises to cut costs and reduce the risk of fraud, Johnson said. The partnership could be a boon for Microsoft’s partners and its cloud platform. The consortium will use Microsoft Azure and also have access to more than 45 “blockchain as a service” technologies from companies that work with Microsoft. In addition, Microsoft says it will offer dedicated technical support and service to R3’s blockchain labs.

Paypal President and CEO Dan Schulman said Bitcoin is “not necessarily something that we’re betting on,” even though PayPal allows Bitcoin through the Coinbase bitcoin wallet. However, the underlying blockchain technology is “very interesting,” Schulman said. What blockchain allows is … theoretically a friction-free, cost-free way of doing transactions.” The key, he said, is to tie the blockchain into a currency that isn’t as volatile as Bitcoin.

PayPal is used by 180 million people worldwide. It’s also used by 14 million merchants, according to Schulman, the CEO of PayPal since the company’s split from eBay back in 2014. Schulman gave a fireside chat format interview with Peggy Johnson, EVP of Business Development at Microsoft. PayPal has two other brands. The company bought Xoom about a year ago. Xoom is an international money transfer service. PayPal is also behind Venmo, the digital wallet service with a social element to it. Venmo, which is popular with millennials and younger generations, is used four to five times per week on average by customers because of the social element and the ability to split the cost of payments for things like meals and entertainment. Whereas, PayPal is used on average by customers just a little over two times per month. Schulman foresees that Venmo and PayPal will be a seamless experience in the future

Clearly many prominent Dynamics partners have opted for WPC and don’t see Envision as a replacement for Convergence. The focus of this conference has massively shifted, as has Microsoft’s vision in general. Attendees included top company executives, department managers, and other decision makers. This opens up opportunities to see how the vision of “One Microsoft” can be achieved through the use of many products. For example someone attending because they are a Microsoft Dynamics AX customer had the opportunity to see how they could leverage PowerBI, Office 365, and Azure to create a more connected and efficient business environment.

Many big players announced new solutions built on top of CRM, and azure/Cortana based solutions. However relatively very few partner products were showcased. While many of the main partners had a booth, the expo floor was much smaller with very limited product selection. The attendance and the expo traffic was significantly lower than Convergence. the rationale may be that top executives focus on strategic, visionary sessions – not on deciding what third-party product would be a good match for their requirements.
Extension in Microsoft Dynamics is eagerly awaited its not yet available in the current RTW release but should be a features of the upcoming ‘AX 7 update 1’ . The ability to adapt queries for the processes of drafting or extending existing elements, without overriding into other layers. means that developers no longer need to customise elements; instead elements will be extended. All customisations and code are then stored in a separate assembly and are therefore not influenced during upgrades and tests.. This approach will significantly reduces upgrade cost and conflicts.

Microsoft announced the availability of two out-of-the-box Power BI content packs for different business users: Financial Performance and Retail Channel Performance. Both power packs can be selected from the service catalogue and be deployed ‘within minutes’.

If you missed out, then see available on-demand the keynote and several session videos on the new Microsoft Envision YouTube Channel.
They have 87 videos on the site and 16 playlists uploaded.

SQL 2005 – no more support

April 11th, 2016

All support for SQL Server 2005 will come to an end on 12th April 2016.

If you have not already planned to upgrade your aging technology to Microsoft SQL Server 2014 then we recommend that you consider this urgently..

Why migrate to SQL 2014?:
Data is proliferating as are the demands for: real time analytics, mote frequent planning, more frequent forecasting and budgeting, fast month ends etc. which all requires increased speed of performance and scalabiity.

Meanwhile there are increasingly sophisticated attacks on security.

• SQL Server 2014 is benchmarked to be 13 times faster than SQL Server 2005
• The National Institute of Standards and Technology for the past six years has running, has found that SQL Server 2014 had the least vulnerabilities of any major database

Phishing and Ransomware – what to do about it?

April 6th, 2016

Ransomware is typically delivered by via email. In particular, the healthcare industry is targeted with these types of attacks. A user opens an email attachment and suddenly whatever files they have access to are encrypted; short of restoring the data from backups, the only answer is to pay a ransom in Bitcoins.

High profile incidents include:

Omaha’s Scoular Co. lost $17 million after spearphishing attack
Ubiquiti Networks says it was victim of $47 Million Cyber Scam
Mattel fought elusive cyber-thieves to get $3M out of China

How the emails trick users:
Mismatched Senders

Every email has y two “from” addresses.
The “mail from” field which is also referred to as the “envelope” or “P1” address The “from” field, is referred to as the “P2” address.
Spam filtering solutions will look at the P1 address .
So the phishing email is sent with a P1 that is from a company that publishes a valid SPF record. However the P2 (which is what the user sees in Outlook) will appear to be from your organization.
So the message arrives , and looks legitimate to your spam solution and to the user it appears as internal or normal business mail. The user swamped with spam emails may not notice that it’s actually going to the P1 address.

Similar Domain Names
An effort is made to register a domain similar to your own. So when your domain is “Synergy1.com”, the email might come in with the domain “SynergyL.com”; assuming the username portion of the email matches, it takes a keen eye to spot this -and that someone will bother to check. Combined with the above where the P1 was “ceo@Synergy1.com” and the P2 (which the user sees) is ceo@SynergyL.com”, its expecting a lot of users to spot this.

Three technologies provide different protection options:
three technologies are, how they provide different types of protection and how they can work together.

SPF (Sender Policy Framework)
SPF is pretty well known and commonly implemented. it’s essentially a DNS record (TXT) that contains a list of approved senders by IP address, domain name or some other mechanism.

SPF looks as the “Mail From” field within an email and compares the sending IP address to the published TXT record for that domain. The “Mail From” field can contain a different value than the “From” or “Reply To” fields. This is how some phishing emails can enter your organization. They will have a valid SPF published for the “Mail From” and then present the user with a different email in the “From” field.

With Exchange Online, Microsoft provides the information to properly configure your SPF record. There are some limitations on the number of DNS queries you can have in your SPF record and it’s not uncommon to see syntax errors so you always validate your SPF record with one of the online validation tools.

When a message is received from a source not authorized in the SPF record, the receiving party can do what they choose with that information e.g. to block the message, to rank it higher as prospective spam or to ignore it.

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)
DKIM also looks at the “Mail From” field and will show a “None”, “Pass” or “Fail” once the message is evaluated. The same potential phishing issue exists with DKIM where the “Mail From” does not necessarily match the “From” field that the user sees.

DKIM uses a public/private key to sign messages as opposed to the published TXT record. One advantage of DKIM over SPF is that there is no limit to the number of partners you can authorize to send on your behalf (assuming they support DKIM). If you use a number of third-party senders, then will run into issues when trying to include those in your SPF.

Another way to address the SPF limitation is to have senders send their messages under a subdomain and to publish a separate SPF for that subdomain.

DMARC?
DMARC looks for a passed SPF or DKIM but also looks for “alignment” of the “Mail From” and “From” fields. Configuration of DMARC allows you to tell recipient mail servers what to do with a message when DMARC fails.
A DNS TXT record is created (_dmarc.company.com) and for mail systems that use DMARC, they will send success/failure reports to the addresses specified in the TXT record. A third-party tool or service can be used to aggregate these reports and analyze them.

‘build’ 2016 -even more amazing things from Microsoft

April 6th, 2016

Windows Hello

Microsoft’s biometric identity framework in Windows 10, to set up a fingerprint or iris scan identity. Log on to your Surface, without providing a password. A demo showed an application extended with Hello, with the same biometric login experience for the app.

Pen

Use the pen to take notes in OneNote on a Surface – and it’s amazing. . Microsoft has extended those capabilities now to developers to build Universal Windows Apps (UWA) to include a pen taskbar with 2 simple lines of code. The pen experience enables mouse over events, dynamic highlighting, and includes a virtual ruler so you can draw straight lines. Big reaction from the crowd on that demo.

Microsoft also announced a partnership with Adobe to integrate pen functionality into Adobe Illustrator which graphic designers will appreciate.

Hololens

Microsoft’s vision for Augmented Reality. Samsung enabled devices for VR require a phone that plugs into the headset and the headset is fully immersive. The Hololens projects its 3D imagery onto the world around you. The headset is self-contained and does not require a phone. The glasses look like dark shaded sunglasses.

NASA has a booth and their Mars Exploration experience, will debut this summer at the Kennedy Center. The dev kits started delivery this week.

see our previous blog posts on the amazing Holo lens demo at WPC at Orlando last eyar.

Cortana

Build bots to interact with Cortana. The demo was a voice activated Domino’s order that interacted with a bot. I can see many real world uses for this technology. I’m still a luddite and would rather do my own phone calls.

Xbox
Microsoft announced a new software dev kit that will turn any commercial unit into a dev machine. The demo enables real-time debugging and attaching your Visual Studio to your Xbox.

Prophix 12 is now available from Synergy Software Systems

April 5th, 2016

We are happy to announce the availability of Prophix Version 12. Designed with the user in mind, with enhanced ease of use with a web browser interface and access to Prophix from anywhere, any time, on any device.

The same productised approach with a single suite of tools for all your corporate performance requirements is now enhanced. In this time of ongoing recession, volatile exchange rates, commodity prices collapse, and global political challenges the need for corporate performance management tools are greater than ever. More frequent reforecast, budget scenarios, budget vs actuals, detailed planning, faster month end, ease of inquiry are all essential now.
A proven solution for almost 30 years Prophix is regularly enhanced with a clear road map that leverages the evolving Microsoft technology stack and is driven by business need and user and partner feedback.

Some of the great new enhancements in Prophix Version 12:
• Brand new user experience developed after hundreds of hours of usability studies with everyday users, designed to make it even easier to complete key tasks in performance management across the organization.
• New web client based on HTML5 technology for access all major browsers (e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, Safari).
• New Dashboard Studio for self-service dashboard creation by any user through a drag and drop user interface. Create innovative mash-ups to monitor key business processes and performance metrics using data sourced both from within Prophix, or externally.
• Redesigned Workflow Tasks portal and new workflow dashboard tile for quick access to assigned tasks, and monitoring of completed, past due, and future tasks.
• Enhanced navigation and layout selection in Ad hoc Analysis and Templates. These changes enable users to interrogate ,and to navigate, across multidimensional data to get exactly what they need in fewer clicks.
• Enhancements to line item schedules to cell commentary.

The upgrade path to Prophix Version 12 will be seamless for customers currently using Prophix 11. Cubes do not need to be rebuilt; templates will not have to be redesigned. Everything that users have learned will still be valid as the existing Smart Client and its functions continue to work well.

Powr BI news from the Data Insight summit 2016

April 4th, 2016

At this week’s Microsoft Data Insight Summit it was announced that Power BI has crossed 5 million subscribers.

Microsoft has added several new features to power BI that “make it even easier to analyze data and share insights with Power BI. These include capabilities that :deliver enterprise readiness; deepen integration with Excel; and enhance intelligent data exploration.

An “explosion of data,” is estimated to reach 50 zettabytes or more by 2020.
( one zettabyte or ZB is 1 billion TB or 1 trillion GB. The cloud. Is the only practical place to glean and to disseminate insights from all the diverse data. That growth is also behind Microsoft’s weekly service updates and monthly desktop updates to Power BI,

New features to Power BI that were announced at the Summit.

Deeper integration with Excel, and a Power BI publisher for Excel
The ability to analyze in Excel. data that was loaded and modeled using Power BI. Newly available is the ability to “pin” insights from Excel directly to Power BI dashboards, which also keep tiles on the dashboard up to date. Thus, updates in Excel are updated in real-time on Power BI dashboards.

The Power BI publisher for Excel, lets users take snapshots of PivotTables, Charts, cell ranges and more from spreadsheets to a dashboard shared with colleagues. The publisher offers:
• Support for 42 languages
• The ability to pin to a dashboard in a group workspace from the Power BI tab in the ribbon and selecting a workspace (see graphic)
• A Pin to Power BI dashboard command from the right-click context menu

Intelligent data exploration
Microsoft promises improvements to Power BI’s natural language Q&A interface, for the April update, which will make Power BI simpler to use via visual cues, improved performance and an overall cleaner look.

Also for April, expect on-the-fly query capabilities that use Power BI’s direct query capabilities to access both on-premises and cloud data by asking intuitive, natural-language questions via the Q&A interface and Cortana.

Enterprise ready
Two new features are aimed at enterprise readiness.
• Role level security for cloud models and direct query will provide granular control around who can access specific rows of data.
• Tenant-level usage reports will help organizations understand their overall Power BI usage for assets like reports, dashboard, datasets and content packs.

SandDance
SandDance is a research project from the Visualization and Interaction Team (VIBE) in Microsoft It is a web-based application that enables you to more easily explore, identify, and communicate insights about data.

This showcases Microsoft Research data visualization innovations and novel natural user interaction techniques. Every data element is always represented on the screen with animated transitions between views to help people explore, understand and communicate insights from their data.

SandDance is being extended to Power BI users as a custom visual for rich connectivity, modelling and interactive reporting to enrich the data exploration experience – it is available now in the Power BI gallery.

Microsoft amazes at ‘build’ 2016

April 2nd, 2016

Last week at its ‘build’ technology conference Microsoft unveiled more technology and innovations that help every developer easily and simply build intelligent apps and services.

Skype me, baby: The new Skype for Business App SDK and Skype Web SDK enable companies to integrate Skype calls directly within their Web or device offering.

Skype Bot Portal for developers – join and gain access to new Skype Bot API and Skype Bot SDK.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update brings new innovations including Windows Hello for apps and Microsoft Edge, Windows Ink to share your analog thoughts in the digital world, Cortana going proactive and reaching beyond the lock screen, and gaming getting better with Cortana coming to Xbox One.

Windows 10 has support for Bash with Ubuntu user mode. Developers can get native access to some of the tools and open source frameworks only available on Linux through the Windows Subsystem for Linux

With Xbox Dev Mode, developers of all sizes can unlock their retail Xbox One to build and test Universal Windows Platform apps and games. Xbox Dev Mode is available in a preview environmentNickelodeon. NASCAR and Hulu all announced plans to bring Windows 10 Universal Windows Apps to Xbox One later this year.

Newly introduced Microsoft Bot Framework can be used by developers, programming in any language, to build intelligent bots to interact with customers using natural language on social platforms.

Vuforia announced support of their Augmented Reality SDK for Windows 10 Universal Windows Platform and showed how it will work on Microsoft HoloLens.

Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition shipped

The developer portal for Office 365 Connectors is now available for developers to write and to publish their own connectors, to deliver relevant content, such as updates on financial records or helpdesk logs, from popular apps and services directly into Office 365 Groups conversations.

Six new APIs for the Microsoft Graph link Office 365 data to third-party solutions. Develop, smarter, more contextually aware apps.

Microsoft Cognitive Services, a collection of intelligence APIs that enable systems to: see, hear, speak, understand and interpret our needs using natural methods of communication, was unveiled.

The Internet of Things : A collaboration between the Quest Institute and Microsoft delivered the first Windows IoT implementation in space. Students from San Jose’s Valley Christian Schools showed off an experiment that will run on the International Space Station.

Power BI Embedded. Fully embed interactive reports and visualizations in any customer-facing application, on any device

Azure services and solutions to build for the cloud of tomorrow, including Azure Service Fabric, Azure Functions and new Azure IoT Starter Kits for anyone with Windows or Linux experience to quickly and inexpensively build IoT prototypes.

For customers who already use Word, Excel and PowerPoint, it’ll be easier to reach to create the tabs and buttons found in those apps’ ribbons. One example: Starbucks is developing an Outlook add-in so that its customers can send gift cards within Outlook and schedule meetings at nearby Starbucks locations.

As mentioned in my last post Xamarin’s cross-platform development will be available as part of Visual Studio Community for free, and Xamarin Studio for OS X will also be available for free as a Community Edition

Looking ahead – Seeing AI, an app under development that helps people who are visually impaired or blind to better understand who and what is around them.