Month: February 2018

Third-party Support for Microsoft Band Continues to Dry Up

About the only place where discussions about the Microsoft Band still exist is in a Reddit forum, and that forum stands more as a support group than an information library. Over the past couple days, the third-party connections link in the Microsoft Band’s Health dashboard has gone missing. When accessed, the resulting page simply reads… And, if you spend the time to visit and login to all those third-party services that used be available to connect and synch data (MapMyFitness, Strava, Microsoft HealthVault, etc.), the only one left with any hint of a Microsoft Health connecting is the Lose It! service – and even that is grayed-out now. The warranty of every Microsoft Band sold should be up soon, and it seems for Microsoft that can’t come soon enough. The Microsoft...

Alexa Skill of the Week: The Pledge

Each week, we take a look at new and important Alexa skills you might want to consider enabling for your Alexa device. Amazon continues to improve Alexa with its own updates, but skills are software components that allow Alexa users to extend functionality across all Alexa-enabled devices in use for very specific functions. Alexa is available for Amazon devices Echo, Echo 2, Dot, Tap, Echo Spot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Look, Echo Connect, Dash Wand, Amazon Cloud Cam, Fire tablets, and Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Edition TVs, in the Music app, but also on iOS, Android, and the web with Reverb.ai. This week’s skill: The Pledge Description: This is a single interaction skill. It will recite the pledge of allegiance. Real world use: Sifting through the list of new skills this week, there wasn’t...

Microsoft Releases First System Center Semi-Annual Channel Release

Microsoft has been tinkering around with its channel/ring nomenclature again, and it will probably continue to do so. Since the latest round of modifications, today marks the first release of the next big System Center suite update. Called System Center Semi-Annual Channel release, today’s update brings the suite to version 1801 and includes feature updates for System Center Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, and Data Protection Manager and bug fixes for Orchestrator, Service Management Automation, and Service Manager. Some might look at this list and wonder where System Center Configuration Manager might be. That products was yanked from the full System Center line a long while ago and is continually updated separately. Configuration Manager is now more related to Microsof...

Microsoft BUILD 2018 is a Go, But Will Overlap Google I/O

Microsoft today has made known that its developer’s conference will happen from May 7-9 in Seattle this year. The date has been in a state of flux which has had many wondering if the company might merge BUILD with another conference – much like it has done by consolidating its IT Pro events into Microsoft Ignite. Today’s announcement settled rumors, but comes with a bit of apprehension for developers. Google’s own developer conference, Google I/O, runs from May 8-10, but in Mountain View, CA. This overlap will cause most developers to choose between a Microsoft or a Google focus for cloud, app, and web development knowledge. Microsoft BUILD registration opens at 9:00 AM PST on February 15, 2018. However, there is a third-party solution that covers all aspects of dev...

Turn Your Blog into a Podcast with Amazon’s Polly Plugin

Amazon’s Polly technology launched in 2016. Polly is a technology that essentially turns text into lifelike speech. Its sort of like Alexa’s voice capabilities, but more refined and not focused on delivering conversational assistance or smart home capabilities. Polly even includes different languages, varied gender voices, and modulation customization. Have a listen: Your browser does not support HTML5 audio. Please update your browser to view this media content. Today, Amazon has launched a new WordPress plugin for Polly. The plugin gives WordPress bloggers and sites the ability to turn any text into streaming audio. Today we are launching a WordPress plugin that uses Polly to create high-quality audio versions of your blog posts. You can access the audio from within the post ...

Intel Prepping a New Firmware but Do You Trust Them?

On Tuesday, Intel took to its press room to give a short update on the status of a new Spectre/Meltdown patch for its processors. Just a couple weeks ago, the company asked its OEM partners to halt delivery of its first firmware patch that caused PCs to randomly reboot and bluescreen. Intel seems to consider that this latest update will both solve the security problems and eliminate additional issues. But, do you trust it? If you look at other companies, like Microsoft for example, its difficult to patch everything without introducing new problems. Microsoft has a rolling list of issues it introduces each month while attempting to plug security holes and feature bugs. As other companies know and Intel is just learning: Patching is hard. In Intel’s Tuesday update, the company seems to...

Google Provides Direct Collaboration Ability for Microsoft Office Files

Google has found itself in a precarious situation. Once considered a leader and driver of innovation in various areas, the company now finds itself falling behind in things like the cloud, digital voice, artificial intelligence, and even collaborative products. After the last round of revenue reporting, one can almost sense that the company is attempting to make positive changes to turn the tide. In addition to reporting today that it will merge its Nest team into its own hardware team, the company has also announced new interoperability in its  Google Drive cloud storage service to allow commenting directly in Microsoft Office files without the need for third-party software or having to first convert the files to Google’s own format. Starting today, we’re making it possible to...

Nest No Longer Autonomous as Google Merges Hardware Teams to Better Position Google Assistant

You sort of believe it had to happen eventually, particularly as Google is becoming more Google Assistant focused to take on Amazon’s Alexa, but today the company has announced it is merging the Nest team into the Google hardware team. The most obvious reason for this is so Google Assistant can be integrated with more smart home devices. Nest thermostats are probably some of the most installed smart home devices in the market. Google says… To build on this momentum, we’re excited to bring the Nest and Google Hardware teams together. The goal is to supercharge Nest’s mission: to create a more thoughtful home, one that takes care of the people inside it and the world around it. By working together, we’ll continue to combine hardware, software and services to create a home t...

Microsoft Wants to Help You Get a Better Job

For the longest time, LinkedIn has attempted to be a social network that brings together professional resources, but its had a tough time shedding the fact that its just a jobs site. Well, it seems with this latest announcement that maybe its current owner, Microsoft, is ready to just embrace the “job placement” title with open arms. Microsoft today has announced that its resume builder tool, Resume Assistant, is now available for Office 365 customers. The Resume Assistant pulls data from your LinkedIn profile and inserts it into a Microsoft Word document through a template. Last year, we announced Resume Assistant, which integrates the power of LinkedIn directly into Microsoft Word to help you craft your most compelling resume yet. Today, Resume Assistant is available to Offic...

How to Increase the Size of SCCM Site Server Log Files

By Garth Jones Has this ever happened to you? You’re trying to do a proper investigation of a problem, but you can’t because the log file was overwritten too quickly? Did you know that the default log file size for all site server logs is 2 MB? This size is too small for an average System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) site. Since I still get asked about how to increase the size of SCCM site server log files, I decided to update my original 2015 blog post. In that post I recommended that the site server log file size be increased to at least 10 MB in order to be able to review the log file over a 5-day period. I still stand by that recommendation because reviewing a log file over a 5-day period is very useful when troubleshooting an issue. New in this post is an easy way to increase, ...

Microsoft Brings Cortana to the iPad

Despite sitting on every Windows 10 PC in the world, Microsoft’s digital voice assistant surprisingly sits far behind both Alexa and Google Assistant in market share. And, with no mobile story now of its own, the company continues to push its wares to existing popular platforms. Cortana for the iPhone and Android smartphones has been available for some time, and the software company continues to make improvements. But, now a version of Cortana is available for iPads, Apple’s slate tablets. Available from iTunes: Cortana for iPad The functionality is the same as it exists on the iPhone, but in the case of the larger screen Cortana can display more information. Consider an iPad screen similar to what Amazon has done with the Echo Show, Echo Dot, and even through integration with ...

Connect Your HP Printer to Your Alexa Device

It had to happen eventually. As Alexa (and other voice devices) begin encroaching into the PC world, printing had to eventually become a possibility. HP has now released a new skill for Alexa that allows HP printer owners to connect Alexa to allow for voice printing of several stock items. The skill requires you to link your Alexa and HP Connected accounts. The setup is wizard and information-based and might take some time – unless, of course, you were one of the good customers that setup an HP Connected account directly after unboxing it and powering it on. If you already have an HP Connected account, you just login to the HP web site from the Alexa skill page and printing is instantly configured using HP’s web print technology (ePrint). Instructions on setting it are located ...

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