Billed as “the browser and search engine for business”, Microsoft’s new Chromium-powered version of Edge (and now more serious competitor to Google’s Chrome) is set to be released in January with new business-focused capabilities.
Back in December 2018, Microsoft announced that it was adopting the Chromium open source project, which is the web rendering engine that powers Google Chrome. This forms the basis for the new, upgraded version of Edge which many see as a serious attempt by Microsoft to make it more relevant, particularly to larger business customers, and compete more seriously with Google’s Chrome.
The new business-focused version of Edge has only been released as ‘Beta version 79’ (the final Beta before it becomes a general “Release Candidate”), with the general release of the download of the stable version for Windows and macOS scheduled for 15 January 2020.
More Productive At Work
One of the key challenges that Microsoft says it’s trying to address with the improved version of Edge is difficulty in finding and accessing corporate information that is known to exist on company intranets. With this in mind, Microsoft says that it has added “new experiences” to Microsoft Search in Bing such as enabling users to type in the address bar to search for people on the company Intranet, using natural language, such as by their title, team name and office location.
Also, users will be able to:
- Search for office location and find answers that show floor plans for directions.
- Get definitions for company acronyms.
- Use a broad set of question and answers to find internal company information.
Other business-focused features that the new version of Edge will offer are:
- Expansion of Microsoft Graph connectors which expands the reach of Microsoft Search for 365 customers by adding over 100 connectors including Salesforce.com, ServiceNow, and Box. This will mean that business users can find more using Microsoft Search.
- The ability to easily access Search in Bing on a mobile phone so that workers can search for company information on the go.
- SmartScreen and Tracking prevention to protect users from phishing schemes, malicious software and new types of malware (crypto-jacking).
- A new InPrivate mode for Microsoft Edge and Bing (for searching and browsing) to help improve privacy and security
- A ‘Collections’ feature for Microsoft Edge to help users to collect web content, organise research and export that content into Word and Excel for analysis and collaborative working.
Extras For IT Professionals
The new version of Edge will also include some new features for IT professionals including the expansion of the Microsoft FastTrack deployment program to deploy the new Microsoft Edge in Q1 2020, the expansion of the App Assure program to cover Microsoft Edge in Q1 2020, and a new security baseline for the new Microsoft Edge.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The migration to Chromium last year was a clear sign that Microsoft was looking to make Edge browser a much more serious competitor to Google’s Chrome. Microsoft has identified some key challenges that businesses (with Intranets and programs like Salesforce) have with accessing important company information through a browser search. Microsoft has, therefore, incorporated some very business-focused, productivity-boosting solutions in this version of Edge that can help office and mobile/remote workers. Focusing on the needs of business-users could help Microsoft maintain its position at the top of the business OS market as well as giving its Edge browser a long-overdue boost.
Many tech commentators have noted a stagnation or slow-down period in computing related to ‘Moore’s Law’ being challenged, but has the shrinking of transistors within computer chips really hit a wall and what could drive innovation further?
What Is Moore’s Law?
Moore’s Law, named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, is based on his observation from 1965 that transistors were shrinking so quickly that twice as many would be able to fit into a micro-chip every year, which he later amended to a doubling every two years. In essence, this Law should mean that processing power for computers doubles every two years.
The challenge to this Law that many tech commentators have noted is that technology companies may be reaching their limit in terms of fitting ever-smaller silicon transistors into ever-smaller spaces, thereby leading to a general slowing of the growth of processing power. The knock-on effect of this appears slowing of computer innovation that some say could have a detrimental effect on new, growing industry sectors such as self-driving cars.
What’s Been Happening?
Big computer chip manufacturers like Intel have delayed the next generation of smaller transistor technology and increased the time between introducing the future generations of their chips. Back in 2016 for example, Intel found that it could shrink chips to as little as 14 nanometres, but 10 nanometres is going to be a challenge that would take longer to achieve.
The effect has not only been a challenge to Moore’s Law, and a challenge to how the big tech companies can keep improving their data centres, but also how computers are able to work for (and keep up with) the demands of business.
Mobile devices, which use chips other than Intel’s may also have the brakes put on them slightly as they now also rely, to a large extent, on the data-centres to run the apps that their users value.
What About Supercomputers?
Some experts have also noted that the rate of improvement of supercomputers has been slowing in recent years and this may have had a negative impact on the research programs that use them.
That said, the cloud means that IBM is now able to offer quantum computing to tens of thousands of users, thereby empowering what it calls “an emerging quantum community of educators, researchers, and software developers that share a passion for revolutionising computing”. It is doing this by opening a Quantum Computation Centre in New York which will bring the world’s largest fleet of quantum computing systems online, including the new 53-Qubit Quantum System for broad use in the cloud.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Many smaller businesses that are less directly reliant upon the most-up-to-date computers may not be particularly concerned at the present time about the challenge to Moore’s Law, but all businesses are likely to be indirectly affected as their tech giant suppliers struggle to keep improving the capacity of their data-centres.
Many see AI and machine learning as the gateway to finding innovative solutions to improving computing power, but these also rely on data-centres and other areas of computing that have been challenged by the pressure on Moore’s Law.
A more likely way forward may be that chip designs will need to be improved and highly specialised versions will need to be produced, and Microsoft and Intel have already made a start on this by working on reconfigurable chips. Also, the big tech companies may need to collaborate on their R &D in order to find the way forward in increasing the rate of improvement of computing power that can ensure that businesses can drive their products, services and innovation forward.
Two years on from its first incarnation, Google has announced the introduction of its ‘Teachable Machine 2.0’, a no-code custom machine learning model generating platform that can be used by anyone and requires no coding experience.
Back in 2017, Google introduced its first version of Teachable Machine which enabled anyone to teach their computer to recognise images using a webcam. This first version enabled many children and young people to gain their first experience of training their own machine learning model i.e. teaching their computer how to recognise patterns in data (images) and assign new data to categories.
Teachable Machine 2.0
Google’s new ‘Teachable Machine 2.0’ is a browser-based system that records from the user’s computer’s webcam and microphone, and with the click of a ‘train’ button (no coding required), it can be trained to recognise images, sounds or poses. This enables the user to quickly and easily create their own custom machine learning models which they can download and use on their own device or upload and host online.
Fear-Busting and Confidence
One of the key points that Google wants to emphasise is that the no-code, click-of-a-button aspect of this machine learning model generator can instil confidence in young users that they are able to successfully use advanced computer technology creatively without coding experience. This, as Google mentions on its blog, has been identified as being important by parents of girls as girls face challenges in becoming interested in and finding available jobs in computer science.
What Can It Be Used For?
In addition to being used as a teaching aid, examples of how Teachable Machine 2.0 has been used include:
- Improving communication for people with impaired speech. For example, this has been done by turning recorded voice samples into spectrograms that can be used to “train” a computer system to better recognise less common types of speech
- Helping with game design.
- Making physical sorting machines. For, example, Google’s own project has used Teachable Machine to create a model that can classify and sort objects.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The UK has a tech skills shortage that has been putting pressure on UK businesses that are unable to find skilled people to drive innovation and tech product and service development forward. A platform that enables young people to feel more confident and creative in using the latest technologies from a young age without being thwarted by the need for coding could lead to more young people choosing computer science in further and higher education and seeking careers in IT. This, in turn, could help UK businesses.
No-coding solutions such as Teachable Machine 2.0 represent a way of democratising app and software development and utilising ideas and creativity that may have previously been suppressed by a lack of coding experience. Businesses always need creativity and innovation in order to create new opportunities and competitive advantage and Teachable Machine 2.0 may be one small step in helping that to happen further down the line.
The popularity and influence of two YouTube celebrities making their boxing event an all-time global Top 20 pay-per-view phenomenon and splittin a $20 million prize is a reminder of the magnifying value of online PR.
Two of the world’s leading YouTube celebrities and ‘Generation Z’ heroes Logan Paul and Olajide “KSI” Olatunji followed up on their 800,000+ pay-per-view, £2.7 million earning 6-round boxing match from last year at Manchester Arena with the repeat bout at a Los Angeles basketball arena. This time, after their fight in the early hours of Sunday morning they were able to split $20 million made from 2 million+ pay-per-view purchases generated from their combined 40 million subscriber fan-base. Neither of these YouTube celebrities is a boxing professional and their fight was in stark contrast to that of two World Champions, fighting on the same bill, who were “only” paid less than $1 million.
Social Media Power & PR
The world’s biggest YouTube celebrities and social influencers, such as PewDiePie (102 million subscribers), Dude Perfect (47.1 million subscribers) and Badabun (43 million subscribers) are mainly young people who have managed to build a relationship with their generation audience by posting YouTube videos. Generation Z subscribers (born between 1996-2010) who have grown up with the Internet and social media, and Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) make up large parts of the subscriber audiences. Interestingly, in the case of boxing, this represents an opportunity for promoters to tap into a massive new audience who may not be familiar with the sport.
Even though these influencers may appear to be strongly linked to a generation that they have an innate understanding of (by being part of it) what they are essentially doing is leveraging public relations – building relationships with different publics, building their own credibility and raising their own visibility – on a grand scale. YouTube is simply the media and part of the message that allows them to achieve their PR aims.
PR Often Overlooked By Businesses
The power of PR to business is often overlooked in favour of apparently easier to understand advertising and measuring of responses, and rather than dismissing the kind of influence that some young people have via social media as a generational mystery that doesn’t apply to you, recognising that the value-adding use of PR is within the reach of all businesses is important. So, what can PR do for your business/campaign/cause/event?
- As YouTube celebrities show, influence is something that PR can achieve. Your own expertise and inside knowledge of your business and industry can be a valuable and persuasive asset in your messages that can make you appear to be a trusted and objective source.
- Finding or creating an interesting and compelling story with a link to your products, services and brand can mean that the ‘reach’ of your message is increased as different outlets and channels pick up on it and share it.
- The cost-effectiveness of your advertising can be dramatically increased when combined with PR.
- The search engine optimisation (SEO) of your website can get a real boost from PR as you receive more visitors to your website and more shares of your story on social media and on other websites, and more links to your website thereby giving your rankings a boost for important key phrases.
- Getting your own feature in an important publication can be a great way to attract investors and new customers as it strengthens your credibility.
- Talented people such as potential employees and businesses as potential strategic alliances can also be attracted by good PR about your organisation.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The boxing event was not a demonstration of sporting expertise and prowess, but of the power of influence gained through social media and PR. This event showed that business (and something that’s arguably greater than the sum of its parts) can be generated through paying attention to the building personal brands and online relationships with specific audiences which, over time, can generate its own momentum. One of the key messages for businesses to take away from this is that PR opportunities already exist all around and tapping into them could be a cost-effective way of boosting the power and reach of your messages. This may be something that has been overlooked in your promotional mix but could make all the difference.
A Freedom of Information (FoI) request made by think tank Parliament Street has revealed that 237 serving officers and members of staff have been disciplined for computer misuse in the last two financial years.
Sackings and Resignations
The FOI request, which was responded to by 23 forces also revealed that 6 employees resigned and 11 were sacked over failures in adhering to IT best practices e.g. for disclosing personal information.
Took Photos of Screen and Shared
In Hertfordshire, two incidents out of 16 disciplinary cases involved employees taking photographs of the screen of a (confidential) police computer system and sharing those photos via social media.
The most individual computer misuse incidents were recorded by Surrey Police with 50. Second in the misuse ranking was the Metropolitan police where 18 people were disciplined (4 were accused of misusing social media) and one staff member was sacked for misusing the Crime Reporting Information System.
Greater Manchester Police managed to take the third position in the incidents rankings with 17 for misuse of force systems.
Other incidents uncovered by the FoI request included 3 officers getting sacked from Gwent Police (for researching the crime database for a named person, disclosing confidential information, and for unlawful access to information) and 3 getting sacked form Wiltshire Police force for using the police databases without lawful access to the information. Also, one member of Nottinghamshire Police was disciplined for using the police computer system to search for information about a civil dispute they were involved in.
Case In July
These incidents were reminiscent of the case from July this year whereby a serving Metropolitan police officer was given 150 hours of community service and ordered to pay £540 after pleading guilty to crimes under the UK’s Computer Misuse Act, which included using a police database to monitor a criminal investigation into his own conduct.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
We all must adhere to data protection laws (GDPR) and best practices to ensure that company computer systems are used responsibly and legally. The irony of the information uncovered with the FoI request is that hundreds of those persons who are entrusted to uphold and enforce the law appear to be prepared to risk their jobs, break the law and betray public trust. The fact that hundreds of police have been caught (there may be many more who haven’t) misusing police systems which contain large amounts of sensitive personal data raises serious questions about privacy and security.
This may indicate that police forces need to offer more education and training to employees about data protection and the correct (and legal) use of police computer systems as well as tightening up on monitoring, access control and validation/authorisation.
If you need to be able to quickly grab areas of your screen, annotate them and share them, Windows 10 has an easy to use Snip & Sketch app.
To use Snip & Sketch:
– Hold down the Windows key + Shift + S to bring up a snipping toolbar.
– Snip the required area of your screen which will then be automatically loaded to your clipboard.
– You will then receive an invitation (bottom right of the screen) to mark up and share the image you’ve clipped. Click on the words ‘Select here’.
– This will load the Snip & Sketch app.
– Annotate your image with the pen symbols and click on the save or share icons (top right).