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LinkedIn and Microsoft, That’s Right.

LinkedIn just accepted a hefty $26.2 Billion from Microsoft for their acquisition. This has left techies, bloggers and astounded and scrambling to understand what just happened.

How much?!??

;

What Is LinkedIn?

All you have to do is jump over to LinkedIn’s About page:

LinkedIn - About Page

Nutshell, Microsoft just acquired “the world’s largest professional network with more than 433 million members in 200 countries.”

Start from the data, connections and analytics available. Now think about your connections. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the value of this kind of big data set. Do the math, how much Microsoft paid against the number of users…

What will Microsoft do with LinkedIn? We can expect UX refinements in iterations but not a sudden drastic change. Will LinkedIn end up with New Windows UI? Probably down the line.

LinkedIn is all about connections, networking and building relationships within the network. It’s about professional development for workers and sourcing for the employer. LinkedIn lets us build better profiles, in some ways replacing the conventional resume and references but more than that, it allows discovery. Discovery of potential job prospects and potential recruitment candidates.

Many people have faulted LinkedIn for their UI / UX choice but there are a few other big issues: –

  1. Discovery and ranking: how does LinkedIn actually improve your chances of discovery? There are different things you need to do to ensure a complete profile. In addition, you cannot neglect your profile nor fail to interact.
  2. Job suggestions: the algorithm behind this doesn’t learn from choices and often offers many false positives.
  3. Interaction: LinkedIn sends a slew of emails, and the more groups etc you participate in, the more email you have to wade thru.
  4. Groups: LinkedIn groups should be incredible but the groups are the successor to online forums and have not solved the problem of recurring discussions instead of a continued thread.

The Warptest POV

Satya Nadella has a vision, a mission statement for Microsoft. To empower each person… to do more. Microsoft is about productivity and collaboration and they have gone full-bore into cross-platform and open source.

Microsoft BUILD 2016 was where we saw much of this vision come together and it is not hard to see how this will be applied to LinkedIn:

  1. Metro New Windows UI: LinkedIn will iterate to a flat UI like the rest of Microsoft. Not overnight.
  2. Office 365: this is a no-brainer. Business Insider shows Satya Nadella’s letter regarding the LinkedIn acquisition and he makes clear reference to tighter productivity integration. Will we see “build a Word resume from your LinkedIn profile and save to OneDrive”? This, in-app use of templates and more Office 365 goodness can be expected.
  3. Cortana: as Cortana continues to evolve, acquire an increased skillset and integrate with more apps, we can expect to see Cortana integrate with LinkedIn.
  4. Bots: Microsoft launched their Bot Framework and this may offer a better solution to job suggestions, discovery and excess emails.
  5. Bing: Microsoft has integrated Bing with several other external platforms including Siri & Facebook (in the past). Logical and somewhat obvious.
  6. Office Graph: Office Graph and Delve make intelligent discovery seamless within Office 365. This will amp up job and candidate discovery.

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This doesn’t even factor in Microsoft location or ad services.

So Microsoft has the biggest dataset of professional connections in the world, new companies, who is looking for work, who wants to source the best candidates and the trending discussions in groups of different high profile jobs. This is all actionable intelligence for the biggest company selling Enterprise and Consumer IT solutions.
 
Now bring AI, bots frameworks, analytics and search-discovery to bear along with the most powerful productivity suite in the world.
Get ready for a better LinkedIn. I know I am.

Google Made The News This Weekend…

*** Google Chrome Extension Story UPDATE *** Gizmodo posted a follow-up to this story indicating those behind this plugin have wider plans than just the Chrome extension. They have a GitHub page (currently down and hopefully due to GitHub banning them). which when up has the code for a Firefox plugin and or sideloading the extension. Worse still is that this GitHub page had a list of all the echo tagged Jews. ***

Google may have pulled a Chrome Extension designed to identify and target Jews by allowing online racists to tag the names of journalists, bloggers (etc) they believe to be Jewish. This was done using (((alleged Jewish Name))) around the name, this became known as the echo. Once Google became aware of this, the extension called Coincidence Detector was pulled. There are bigger questions that need addressing: –

1) Are Google working with Law Enforcement to ensure the company and developers responsible for this face justice?

2) Are Google working to improve their review process for their Extension and App submission process to ensure hate-apps do not even get approved?

Approximately 8800 people were identified by this extension allowing anti-Semites to harass and threaten them and have no doubt, this would have escalated. It’s time for Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others to aggressively police themselves, their app stores and social networks they manage.

Make no mistake this “hate-app” may have been caught but others will be out there and the unpoliced hate-speech should be cause for concern for us all.

Fear Lead to Hate, Hate Leads to Anger & Hate-apps Lead to Violence…

This would not be the first time technology was exploited by anti-Semites to target Jews. The Nazis exploited the German subsidiary of IBM to access their technology. This enabled them to tabulate and collate lists of Jews and other minorities for extermination during the Holocaust.

Just last week we read that Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft agreed to apply EU rules to a code of conduct regarding online hate-speech. One of the contributory causes to this decision between the EU and these tech giants has been the increase in hate-speech online, recent terrorist events across Europe and the unquestionable increase in online recruitment by terror groups. However, the Verge’s post on this leaves one with a feeling that this is not an improvement. I strongly recommend you read that post carefully. Why are these companies not adopting a worldwide stance that goes beyond the letter of local laws?

The Warptest POV

For us to entrust these companies with our personal and commercial data we need to be sure that these companies can be trusted to do what is right and just. There is no question that anyone who would develop technology to target any specific group for harassment or threat will escalate to physical violence.

Many of these companies have not done enough in the past to handle their acting as a funnel for this kind of hate and the spread to apps and extensions is both logical and foreseeable.

google - stop hate-apps

If so, why is the approval process not designed to catch this? To be fair, a smart developer will do everything to obfuscate the intentions of such a hate-app. This doesn’t mean that these companies shouldn’t be doing more. Nor does it mean that governments or law enforcement should be ceding the fight to private corporations.

These corporations are currently fighting to allow access to their customer and user data. Law enforcement needs to demonstrate a responsible attitude not the greedy “give us all your data” and we’ll find the criminals stance. The NSA with PRISM and the FBI with their petition to decrypt the San Bernadino terrorist’s iPhone demonstrate the balancing act needed here.

Ultimately, the public needs protection from these new threats to their safety. Do we sacrifice freedom of speech or privacy for this? Tough questions and ethical dilemmas abound but ultimately this is about peoples safety. This means at the very least, the debate should be a burning issue right now.

There are others out there who will undoubtedly be working to actively locate and identify those behind this new threat. I expect we will know the names of the developers behind this particular Chrome Extension within short time.

One ray of hope and a tinge of humor was an article on Tablet Magazine explaining how astute journalist Yair Rosenberg used twitter to crowd-source an appropriation of the echo tag (((alleged Jewish Name))). Well played Yair for showing that Twitter is still relevant and is a valuable tool in combatting this kind of hate.

In a nutshell, there needs to be a zero tolerance standard adopted by these companies. A standard that acts to prevent these threats from going live online. A standard that publicly outs these provocateurs of hate and racism. A standard that willingly supplies the identities of these people to Law Enforcement. Not cleaning up after the fact.

Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others: this is your call to action.

Deadpool Has A Lot To Teach Us About Startup Management

Yes, Deadpool. The hit NSFW superhero movie from Marvel. Actually, much of the incredible success of the movie is due to these 10 secret tips.

Pay attention because these habits need to be learned, internalized and applied. Superhero startup management here we go…

With thanks to Marvel & 20th Century Fox for the Trailer

SPOILERS AHOY!

If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want certain parts spoilt for you then turn back now.

 The 10 Successful Startup Habits of Deadpool:

  1. To quote the merc with a mouth, “Maximum Effort”. A successful product will not invent, build and launch itself. Get ready to work hard.
  2. Compromise can be the most R-Rated phrase you’ll hear. There was major pressure to tone down the movie but the cast and crew stuck to their guns. When people tell you to compromise, ask yourself if this matches your vision or product values.
  3. Break the 4th wall. Deadpool is notorious for his often hilarious conversations thru the 4th wall. In your case this is all about knowing what your customer expectations are.
  4. Testing, testing, testing. Our hero starts off in a white hooded romper, moves to spandex and chooses “Deadpool” over “Captain Deadpool”. Whether A/B, beta or product testing, it’s crucial to apply the results to building your best product. TESTING = SUCCESS.
  5. Give your fans what they want. The movie delivered everything the fans wanted and they loved the movie for it.
  6. Superhero team-ups rock! Deadpool encounters Colossus & Negasonic Teenage Warhead of the X-Men and later asks for their help. You can’t do everything yourself. Get help when you need it.
  7. Have a plan. Eat, breath and live it. Our hero wants payback from Ajax for his disfigurement and various other evil acts. He hunts his way up the bad guy food-chain with an enviable clarity and purity of purpose. Build your roadmap for delivering your product. It may change on the way but can you implement as decisively as Deadpool?
  8. Count your bullets. One of the two big fight scenes in the movie sees Deadpool with only twelve bullets and counting down as he goes. In your case, resources. Plan how you are going to use your resources and expect the unexpected.
  9. Branding. Is your product branded in a distinct manner? Deadpool chooses a red costume,” … so the bad guys can’t see him bleed”. Also the product marketing for the movie was almost too much with special clips for Australia Day (for Wolverine star, Hugh Jackman), Valentine’s Day, post-production clips and an ingenious billboard emoji ad. How will your product stand out?

    Deadpool - emoji billboard

  10. Own your mistakes. Wolverine (X-Men Origins) gave us a different Deadpool and it was awful. The new movie had several jokes mocking the earlier interpretation.

 

The Warptest POV

The merc with a mouth has a lot to teach us, if we are willing to listen and learn. Remember though, this is R-Rated so choose carefully who to see this with.

Make sure you have a pen and paper to take notes for your startup because it’s not every day you encounter a guru / sensei / ninja of startup wisdom like Deadpool:

Deadpool - the tem tips summarized

If you catch anymore Startup tips from Deadpool, I’d love to read about it in the comments.

(Disclaimer: no mercs, super-villains or henchmen were harmed in any way while writing this post.)

Tweeten Is A Twitter Desktop Client…

Tweeten appeared in a dark time, when Hootsuite and Tweetdeck weren’t delivering for me in the browser. When Tweetdeck client was behaving badly, freezing and hanging at regular intervals.

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Having a desktop or browser Twitter app that doesn’t make it easy to tweet is one more, big reason why so many users were tweeting less and less.

What’s the kicker?

Tweeten started as a wrapper for Tweetdeck. Twitter’s lackadaisical attitude to development allowed someone else to build a better Tweetdeck. After buying Tweetdeck, Twitter has killed several versions of Tweetdeck but not done any substantial development to improve the app performance or feature set.

In the several months that Tweeten has been available they have not just matched but surpassed Tweetdeck in performance, functionality and more recently going cross-platform. Currently Tweeten is available for Windows (32 or 64 bit versions), OS X, Google Chrome and Edge with expected releases for Linux and Firefox in the pipeline.

Tweeten managed to do this by building with Electron. Electron was initially designed for GitHub’s Atom Editor but since has experienced massive adoption by Slack, Microsoft, Facebook and many others:

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As this is GitHub there are also a slew of development (and testing) tools for working with Electron. (click on the iFrame above to jump to this page.).

Tweeten - Electron Dev Tools

The Warptest POV

Tweeten is an easy to use, easy on the eye Twitter app that does better than Twitter themselves. I personally don’t like using Hootsuite so I was happy to find a good alternative. The desktop app is well served by development in the fantastic Electron, supports multiple accounts and pretty much everything you’ve come to expect from a Twitter app.

I’ve repeatedly called out Twitter for their failure to invest in improvement of their apps, mobile and desktop. The new Windows Twitter (Windows 8/10) app is IMHO a lazy attempt to take the mobile app and port it to desktop. One of the strongest features Twitter has are groups / lists. Tweetdeck and subsequently Tweeten deliver this feature marvelously. I would love to see a radical improvement to this in Twitter mobile apps and an investment in improving Tweetdeck.

Wake Up Twitter!

To be fair Twitter aren’t just sitting on their hands, as The Next Web reports, we can expect photos and links to be excluded from the 140 character limit on Tweets. Big news to be sure.

For now I’m happy to get back into Twitter on my laptop using Tweeten. How about you?

Cortana Is An Integral Part of Windows 10…

Cortana Mobile and Desktop plays a huge part in the strategy for Microsoft’s ecosystem. The intelligent personal assistant AI is part and parcel of Windows 10 Desktop and Mobile. In addition, there are versions available for Android and iOS.

cortana - android play store cortana - itunes app store

This makes Cortana the most wide-spread cross-platform AI app available today. When Windows Phone users heard this, there were many who feared that Microsoft were giving away the farm.

Jump Forward In Time

To BUILD 2016 and we are hearing about Cortana – BOT integration / Windows / Office integration. Shortly thereafter, Cortana (on Windows 10 desktop) started notifying users about missed calls in real time, with the user able to send a message back to the caller. That’s right: personal assistant, so it makes sense she should be handling your calls this way, no?

There is a catch. This feature is available to Windows Phone users who are logged into the same Microsoft account on their Windows 10 Phone as their desktop. Right now this feature is exclusively available to Windows 10 Mobile.

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The Warptest POV

As someone who spends a lot of time working on his laptop, and a Windows Phone user, I love this feature. Sending a potted or custom message from my Windows 10 laptop is a useful feature that allows me to respond rapidly and get right back to work. No switching devices.

Whilst Apple have gone the whole hog with making / answering calls from a Mac for the iPhone, I have no doubt that Cortana will receive upgrades and enhancements to this feature in the future.

Seeing Windows Phone exclusive features is a reassurance when many are wheeling out the tired old “Windows Phone is dead” rants. Since this feature is dependent on having the same Microsoft account on phone and laptop, it will be interesting to see if Cortana for iOS or Android ends up supporting this integration with Windows 10.

As predicted, Cortana is only going to become more versatile, more integral to our daily use of Windows 10 (and other apps). If you aren’t using her yet, you should be.

Here’s how you can learn everything Cortana can do for you. Get cracking.

Microsoft Productivity Solutions …

Microsoft Productivity Solutions are a crucial milestone for Satya Nadella’s reimagined company in 2016. The foundation for this was the plan to get Office everywhere, a move that began during the Ballmer days of Microsoft.

Since then Microsoft has flipped reality on its head by becoming the uncrowned king of cross-platform even bringing apps to iOS or Android in place of Windows Phone.

It’s no secret that the path to success is not walled communities or a locked-in, isolated ecosystem (you know I’m talking to you Tim Cook). Microsoft have already taken the next steps towards a productivity ecosystem that is open to conversation & interaction between their products and 3rd party services.

How Are Microsoft Enabling This?

What we are seeing is a 3-step plan to maximize productivity in workplaces that use Microsoft technologies like Office 365 and or Windows 10: –

  1. Office Connectors: currently over fifty popular 3rd party apps can connect and interact with Office 365.
  2. Cortana and Proactive Actions: at BUILD 2016, Microsoft announced that Developers could register to turn Cortana’s insights into triggers for specific responses.
  3. Flow and Power Apps: users with educational or work accounts can easily turn their data into apps and create automated workflows between apps and services.

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This week Microsoft announced the roadmap for an overhauled, revamped Sharepoint with a strong cross-platform mobile, cloud orientation. The really big news about this is that much of the 3-step plan above will end up integrated into the new Sharepoint.

The Warptest POV

All this is more of the game changing plan introduced by Satya Nadella. This is creating a cohesive, unified experience where there is increased ROI to choosing Office 365 and or Windows 10 (especially in the workplace).

The automated actions between 3rd party apps like Twitter, Slack and Cortana or Office 365 are a logical evolution. Microsoft realize that there are web applications and services out there that deliver solutions they don’t.

What’s more enabling this is an incredible force multiplier for Microsoft productivity solutions.

All this grants us greater efficiency, improved collaboration and again, increased productivity through: –

Microsoft Productivity Solutions - Force Multiplier

Nor should we forget that Office 365 has another super-powered aspect, Delve. Adding all this external data to the mix is not going to decrease content discovery if Delve is enabled by your Office Admin.

Whilst Proactive Actions for Cortana are a developer oriented solution the other aspects of this plan are not.

All this places Microsoft productivity solutions at the front of the race for users’ hearts, minds and data. There are a couple of questions: –

  1. Will real-time data be transient (by default) when used by Microsoft productivity solutions?
  2. Will all this new data flowing inwards impact on storage requirements?
  3. How will this affect pricing models for Office, Sharepoint or OneDrive?

If consumers choose this model then it could spell and end to tolerance for Apple’s walled garden model.

Are you ready to dive in and maximize your productivity?

HoloLens Was Released as a Developer Edition…

HoloLens shipped to developers on the first day of BUILD 2016 and it played a mainstay in the Day One keynote. Previous demonstrations showed us a toolset for building holographic animations. At BUILD, Alex Kipman introduced a demo from Case Western Medical School, showing how they use HoloLens as an immersive teaching tool. In addition, the Galaxy Explorer app was demoed along with NASA-JPL’s Destination Mars app.

The multimedia content displayed looks incredible, as do apps like Skype on HoloLens.

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Microsoft provide everything developers need to get started. The tools needed are mostly what developers already have aboard their PC. Developers don’t even need a HoloLens to get started, as Microsoft has created an emulator.

This is all true but what about creating photo, video and livestream holograms?

Creating Holograms, VR and Immersive Content

If you follow the race to deliver affordable, consumer technology for creating immersive content then you know that this is an open market right now.

We are seeing GoPro developing high-end and consumer rigs, companies like Luna with their ball-cam. Recently, Wired featured an article exploring how a Microsoft engineer created a Star Wars-like hologram of his daughter. Nutshell, to create this hologram of a person takes an array of 3D capture cameras.

The problem is a device like HoloLens is only as good as the ease with which you can get an immersive experience on it.

Many consumers may be able to afford a HoloLens but being able to setup 3D video or image capture to create holograms seems pricey and complex. When most people want to Snapchat, Instagram, Vine etc. there are not going to be comparable Holographic apps without affordable, easy consumer capture technology.

The Warptest POV

There is a flawed expectation, if we have incredible technology for photo and video capture on our smartphones that we will get the equivalent for HoloLens now. Work usage of HoloLens in many use cases relies heavily on 3D CAD or animation. Consumers are going to want to see their photos, videos or livestream video chat holographically on HoloLens. How are Microsoft going to solve this before HoloLens launches as a mainstream, consumer device?

  1. Microsoft created Photosynth to solve the issue of 3D capture and rendering from PC and smartphone. A HoloSynth version would allow a wraparound or full synth hologram.
  2. Dual lens smartphones are not entirely a new concept. Using dual lens cameras Microsoft could create stereographic 3D capture apps. (Surface Phone anyone?)
  3. Right now I’m experimenting with simultaneous image capture from multiple smartphones. Theoretically an app to sync the capture from several devices could also result in a render / synth solution.
  4. The rebirth of the photo booth. When was the last time you saw, let alone took photos in a photo booth? Now imagine Microsoft takes their existing 3D capture tech and creates digital booths. These could be in each Microsoft Store. This will at least allow you to holo-stream to HoloLens Skype or, take holographic photos and video.

Each of these have pros and cons. Cost versus compromises in image or video quality. The ability to create holograms from your smartphone using an app, even of lower quality add value to HoloLens as a consumer device and open up the potential for app creation.

HoloLens - Superman III Photo booth scene

A physical photo booth means going to the booth but this is comparable to using green screen technology. The benefit of paying once to create your holograms opens this up to anyone who wants to opt in but doesn’t want to buy the hardware themselves. Let’s face it, photo booths were cool and fun. This would also make holographic video and photos accessible for app developers.

It’s important to remember that HoloLens is in the early days of its journey to mainstream consumer use. This means that solutions to these challenges will come but not right away. It also means whoever develops software and hardware solutions for the consumer market stands to clean up nicely. It’s a safe bet to expect hologram sharing platforms, social and drone integration to name a few other directions.

Are you excited by the possibilities that HoloLens is offering us?

You Have A WordPress Blog, Right?

So let me ask you, do you write all your posts to your WordPress Blog online? Maybe you write them in Office, using Word and then copy-paste them into the editor?

Well there’s a much easier way. Microsoft Word allows you to write your post and publish it directly to your blog. Maybe not…

I asked my Facebook and Twitter friends and followers and it appears that I’m the only one doing this. Some out of preference, some because they simply aren’t aware of this awesome feature in Word.

In fact, you can connect Word to pretty much all the main blogging platforms and you are good to go.

How Does It Work?

The steps here relate to Office 365, because you’re missing out if you haven’t upgraded. Let’s be honest, Office 365 has been around since 2013. What are you waiting for folks?

  1. Open Microsoft Word.
  2. You have two ways to publish to your blog:
    1. File – New – select the Blog post template for a new post.
    2. File – Share – post to a blog to publish an existing document to your blog.
  3. Assuming you have never used this feature: click on Register Now.
  4. Choose from the drop-down your blog provider. In our case this is a WordPress blog but, this feature supports all the popular providers.
  5. A dialog will open, where you add your blog URL, but keep the PHP file at the end of the URL i.e. http://<Enter your blog URL here>/xmlrpc.php
    1. Add a user name and password that has posting rights on the blog.
    2. Click the Picture options button and select the way you want to handle images on your blog.
  6. You are good to go and if you selected Remember password, then each time you choose the blog template Word will be connected to your blog.
  7. The template will load and you will see the menus in Word change to display File, Blog Post & Insert.
  8. You can setup multiple blogs, (each can be a different provider) from Blog Post – Manage Accounts – New.

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The Warptest POV

Whilst most people prefer to copy-paste this requires the removal of the excess code that gets carried across to from Word to your WordPress blog. Some others prefer to use Google Docs not Microsoft Word.

Overall the impression I got from speaking to various WordPressers is that this is not widely known. Why did I discover this? I was writing a review of Office and found this feature. Why am I only writing this now? As my incredibly smart wife is prone to remind me,

“Just because I know how to do something, doesn’t mean everybody else does. Keep sharing this stuff.”

– Thanks Missus Ross.

For the copy-paste folks out there, this is incredibly easy to setup. Once done, any time you select new blog post from Word templates you’re ready to go. Since Windows Live Writer is no longer supported, this is a great alternative and IMHO a better option.

The blog post menu in Microsoft Word has a publish button with an option to publish to drafts, allowing you to change the formatting (if you want), add images or galleries and add any SEO keywords etc.

Wordpress blog - blog post menu in Word

I give this a strong Warptest recommendation and suggest you try it for yourself. One additional tip: if you are already working in Word you can seamlessly backup every post to OneDrive.

The how-to is above, are you ready to take this for a test drive? You are already paying for Office, you might as well maximize your ROI.

WordPress Blog - Warptested

Microsoft Bot Framework Was Announced Last Week…

We got to hear about the new Microsoft Bot Framework at BUILD2016 when it was launched for developers as part of Satya Nadella’s overall vision for Microsoft under the banner of Conversations as a Platform.

After announcing the release of the framework and giving developers access to the preview, Microsoft also announced that Skype would be integrating one of these intelligent Bots, in addition to the pending Cortana integration.

What is the Microsoft Bot Framework?

Ever been to a website and a small chat window opens and an agent begins to converse with you? Now imagine a world where this could be automated but not just simple responses that go of-track rapidly.

Microsoft have created a framework for intelligent Bots in mobile and web. A framework that allows for natural language processing, machine and deep learning. Bots that can hold their own in conversation, that understand synonyms and can be taught to process varied speech patterns and provide appropriate responses.

That said, Microsoft learnt over the last few weeks that machine learning requires some constraints or monitoring. After launching Tay AI in the US, it became rapidly apparent that unmonitored release to the wild has bad ramifications.

The demonstrations at BUILD gave us a preview of just how Bots are going to become a pervasive part of our mobile and desktop connected experience. The Cortana Intelligence Suite (Bot Framework, Machine Learning & Cognitive Services) allow developers to easily and rapidly create and deploy these Bots to take your pizza delivery order, help you book a hotel room and do so by allowing Cortana to interact with the booking Bot.

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The demo also included a peek at the administrator web UI and Microsoft have outdone themselves by making this gloriously easy to create or modify your Bot. Furthermore, Bots will have a dictionary of synonyms for their conversations which app developers can share between apps. The Microsoft Bot Framework won’t be alone as we can expect a Bot directory. If that wasn’t enough, Microsoft are not just restricting this to their own apps and services but this is open to other apps e.g. Slack.

How Does This Change Social Forever?

A close Facebook friend shared this great video from Truly Social with Tara’s Facebook page. (Sidebar: if you want a really upbeat, brilliant and highly informative take on Social, get to this page, like it and read / watch the fantastic content). A big thank you to Shari of Shar-i | Digital Marketing Consultant for the timely share.

In this video, Tara talks about what is and isn’t Social. She focuses on how scheduled posts do not meet these criteria.

Today, I discuss what is social, what is NOT social, and why this matters.

Posted by Truly Social with Tara on Sunday, 3 April 2016

Hold onto those comments and watch the amazing video. With thanks to Truly Social with Tara.

Automation is a tool and does not meet the definition of Social. Good, Bad or Indifferent it’s worth considering why this is important. There is a difference between dropping a scheduled post in another time zone or being awake to converse following someone’s Like, Retweet or +1.

Tara defines Social in the video based on 3 criteria: –

Microsoft Bot Framework - Tara's Definition of Social

Now look at the definition. Now look at how the Microsoft Bot Framework is described. Now look back at the definition. Microsoft’s intent for Bots meets these criteria. Satya Nadella even calls this part of Conversations as a Platform.

Meanwhile, just yesterday Kik announced a Bot shop for their chat app. Facebook are expected to launch their own Messenger Bot within a week. The Bots are coming and the more intelligent we make them, the more they are going to interact with us and us with them…

Microsoft Bot Framework - Luthor the bots are coming

The Warptest POV

Many adherents to Tara’s point of view are going to strongly disagree with me.

Bots cannot be Social!

Bots cannot replace the interaction, connection or value of conversation between people. However, the Microsoft Bot Framework offers a powerful, versatile way to imagine and create Bots that will come very close.

Social interaction and conversation are going to evolve. In this case, limited by the skill Bot builders bring to bear. The new generation of Bots are going to challenge our preconceptions and it won’t be limited to chat.

Microsoft have learnt from the Tay AI experience and we will benefit from their solutions derived. The naysayers will continue to use the SkyNET analogy but this evolution of conversation is happening now.

So, are you going to let the Bots replace your interactions or complement them. I would go for the first option.

I’m excited to see how different mobile and web apps are going to use Bots and I may even have to build my own.

How about you? Are you ready to evolve your conversations and how you perceive Social?

Going to Microsoft BUILD 2016 Is A Dream…

Instead I watched BUILD 2016 on my laptop on livestream via Microsoft Channel 9. BUILD is the developer conference if you work in the Microsoft ecosystem and is a conference that sells out usually within hours of registration opening. (Other livestream panels can be seen via the CH9 link from the conference).

After 3 days following social media it appears that Microsoft managed to cram a colossal amount of news into a 3-day conference.

The event began today and kicked off with a keynote speech from CEO, Satya Nadella, with him handing over the reins at different stages to variety of Microsoft personnel to present on their niche(s).

BUILD 2016 - Keynote Day 1 - Satya Nadella

The first keynote lasted 3 hours and some of the tech blogs predictions were accurate but as usual Microsoft were able to surprise developers and general viewers alike.

BUILD 2016 Keynote Highlights

The keynote began with Satya Nadella leading with his philosophy regarding the challenges facing technological advancement, social impact and the ramifications for developers. He added that the benefit of a conference for developers is that they come ready inspired.

After reiterating Microsoft’s fundamental philosophy of mobile first, cloud first and highlighting the mission statement. He cited both Azure and Office365 as mainstays of this, mentioning the recently announced Office Connectors and add-ons and the ever increasing value of rich semantic data that delivering Microsoft Graph would grant developers.

The first focus was on personal computing and Windows 10:

Windows 10 was described again as a comprehensive ecosystem of devices ranging from IOT all the way thru to Hololens. Satya Nadella then made first mention of a new emerging platform:

BUILD 2016 - Conversations as a Platform

Digesting Everything Announced at BUILD 2016

After spending some time digesting all the news from the BUILD 2016 keynote it was tough to wrap one’s head around all the news and how it fit together. The word that kept percolating through was evolution. Some of these evolutions have been ongoing until today but others are radical departures from the Microsoft of yesterday:

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  • EVOLUTION of Devices: Windows 10 is on over 270 million devices ranging from IOT, phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and the 84″ Surface Hub.
    • Terry Myerson discussed this and that OEMs are now producing more than 500 new Windows 10 devices. He announced the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, ETA in Summer 2016. The Anniversary Update will include radical improvements including Edge browser support for Windows Hello (biometric authentication) for web sites / apps that choose to support this.
    • Myerson handed over to the Microsoft king of presentations, Bryan Roper who demonstrated Hello in Edge and the all new, advanced Inking platform in Windows.
  • EVOLUTION of Mobility:
    • In March 27th 2014 Satya Nadella gave his mobile first, cloud first press conference. This was a pivotal moment for Microsoft where Nadella described the mobility of users and their data across devices. This has defined every step of the overall evolution of Microsoft since.
  • EVOLUTION of Personal Computing: HoloLens was front and center at BUILD 2016. The amazing untethered, holographic computer was introduced by Alex Kipman with the announcements that:
    • The Developer version of HoloLens was shipping as that day.
    • The HoloLens app competition had chosen Galaxy Explorer and it was both going live in the app store and is open-sourced on GitHub.
    • NASA will be letting visitors to Kennedy Space Center explore Mars using HoloLens with the JPL app, Destination: Mars. The app will have holographic tour guides, including
      & immortalizing Astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
    • Alex Kipman introduced a demonstration from Case Western Medical School of how they use HoloLens to teach medical students anatomy, physiology and more from an immersive perspective.
  • EVOLUTION of Man Machine Interface (MMI): the keynote mentioned evolving beyond the keyboard and mouse as our primary interface with Windows 10 devices.
    • This includes the Windows Anniversary update advanced inking platform. Bryan Roper demonstrated just how this would work with deeper integration, click the pen to access the Inking workspace, a virtual ruler, writing words like “tomorrow” when penned in sticky notes trigger Cortana reminders, ink on maps adhering to coordinates even when maps change from 2D to 3D, and a demo from Kevin Gallo of how to easily use 2 lines of XAML to integrate inking into your app.
    • Cortana: the personal assistant is now available on Windows 10, Windows Mobile, iOS and Android. In addition, Cortana will be receiving new features as part of the Anniversary Update including lock screen support.
  • EVOLUTION of the Desktop App: businesses using older Windows with custom software expressed reluctance to upgrade to Windows 10. This was out of fear that this crucial software would stop working:
    • Microsoft announced a solution for this, Project Centennial. This is a tool to convert existing 32-Bit, COM & .NET software into Universal apps, ready for the Windows Store. In addition to pure functional conversion, this provided store, Live Tile support and access to UWP APIs for these apps.
    • This was demoed at different stages with SAGE and Witcher the PC game.
    • In addition to pure functional conversion, this provided store and live tile support for these apps.
  • EVOLUTION of the Gaming Console: Xbox One is no longer a standalone console for game play. Fulfilling the mobile first, cloud first philosophy the Xbox is connected to Windows 10 devices:
    • Xbox developers will be able to set their Xbox to developer mode and test apps on the actual Xbox.
    • The demo and focus was oriented towards building apps for Xbox, not just games.
    • In an incredibly logical move, the store will become unified for Xbox and Windows.
    • The desktop app converter will also support win32 games.
    • The Xbox Anniversary Update will finally bring Cortana (as a personal gaming assistant) to Xbox.
    • DirectX 12 was demonstrated, displaying incredible performance and rendering improvements in games.
    • UWP apps are coming to Xbox from NASCAR, HULU, DailyMotion and Nickleodeon.
  • EVOLUTION of App Development:
    • Throughout the keynote the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) was mentioned multiple times, citing a 60% growth in app developers.
    • Terry Myerson announced new and pending universal apps for Twitter, Uber, Disney, Starbucks, Facebook, Instagram, FB Messenger and more.
    • In addition, Myerson announced that Facebook Audience Network SDK for advertising would be coming for UWP.
    • In addition to consumer apps, the massive adoption of Windows 10 in the business sector means the growth of business apps. This led into the onscreen demo by Boeing of their virtual flight-bag for pilots.
    • Kevin Gallo presented the improved, richer and more immersive design of UWP and GPU effects for apps.
    • Gallo also announced the release of Visual Studio update 2 & a preview of the Anniversary Update.
    • Rumors were confirmed of Ubuntu Linux’s BASH shell coming to Windows 10. Developers can run their BASH scripts from within Windows.
    • Xamarin developers were ecstatic to here that Xamarin would be integrated into Visual Studio and free. The runtime will also be open-sourced.
    • UWP and Xamarin mean cross-platform apps and full emulation in VS. iOS apps will be supported by a remote designer.
    • Microsoft announced releasing Microsoft Graph, allowing app developers to integrate super-powered actionable intelligence from the Microsoft cloud.
  • EVOLUTION of Productivity: Office 365 has garnered incredible adoption as the cross-device, cross-platform productivity suite:
    • Office has 1.2 billion users, 60 million Office 365 commercial customers and there have been 340 million downloads of Office Mobile Apps.
    • Office Connectors will allow seamless integration between Outlook and Trello, Slack, MailChimp, Asana, GitHub, Stack Overflow, Aha, Zendesk, Salesforce, Twitter and UserVoice (for example).
    • Starbucks announced during the event that they are integrating with Outlook to allow email distribution of their gift cards to one or many recipients.
    • Greater Cortana integration with Office, interfacing with Outlook. Developers were able from that time to access the preview of pro-active actions for Cortana. This is akin to IFTTT for Cortana, is an app connector.
  • EVOLUTION of Conversations as a Platform: Satya Nadella introduced this concept early in the keynote and after a brief semi-humorous mention of the issues Microsoft had encountered with Tay AI he went on to explain the enrichment of interaction / interface with our devices through Cortana and that the future was thru conversation. Not just human to human but also human to Cortana and human to Bot.
    • The example demoed first was bringing Cortana and or Bots into conversations in Skype.
    • Skype will be a fully cross-platform, smarter and more entertaining experience.
    • Cortana will be always present in Skype able to detect contextual data and react e.g. a conference invite accepted > Cortana offers to block off the dates in the calendar > detects the event location and offers to book a hotel > detects and offers to contact local contacts to inform them the user will be at the event on those dates > Hotel Bot interacts with Skype user to make the booking …
    • This intelligent interaction will be available for chat and real-time video.
    • Developers can receive access to the Skype Bot SDK.
    • Consumers will see Skype bots in Windows 10, iOS and Android
    • Skype for HoloLens was demoed also.
    • The Cortana Intelligence Suite, a new runtime would be available to developers from this point. This provides big data analytics and actionable intelligence on business data, combining this with machine learning and Azure cloud.
    • To facilitate developers integrating Bots seamlessly in their apps, the Microsoft Bot Framework was released. This is an open-source Bot Builder SDK, available on GitHub. Developers can code using either C# or Node.js to create intelligent Bots that can interact within Office 365, Skype, Slack or other applications.
    • Developers were granted a sneak peek of some of the new Bot features & controls including tools for natural language rules (suggested synonyms, shared dictionaries across Bot, machine learning and deep learning). Bot implementation is implemented in a highly intuitive UI.
    • To facilitate some of the “heavy lifting” involved, Microsoft introduced Cognitive Services. These APIs provide an extensive toolbox for developers who wish to integrate vision, speech, search, language and knowledge into their apps.

BUILD 2016 - The Bots are coming - Luthor

Image: with thanks to the “Superman vs Batman: Dawn of Justice” trailer.

The Warptest POV

Anyone following BUILD 2016 who has anything to do with development probably felt like a kid in a candy store. Whilst the points noted above were many of the evolutions available for developers to preview or use, this was not everything.

Two things were clear:

  1. BUILD 2016 is no iteration; this is a quantum leap in personal computing.
  2. Microsoft are doing everything to encourage developers, consumers and business into upgrading all their devices to Windows 10.

The rewards for doing so are the slew of tools SDKs and evolutions into new areas of computing. Users in every niche are only going to benefit from being on Windows 10 devices. The only sticking point is tertiary hardware and peripherals whose drivers aren’t supported in Windows 10. Time will make this a redundant issue as hardware is replaced.

The major news to take away from BUILD 2016 (and the ramifications for all users and competitors) are:

  • Conversations as a Platform: intelligent Bots and more.
  • Universal Windows Platform: one can assume that most if not all of these apps will implicitly be on Windows Mobile.
  • Deep Cortana integration: Cortana is only going to get smarter and more useful.
  • BASH on Windows 10: the world has not flipped on its head; this is really happening.
  • App Development has opened up in a big way, with incredible services available for developers to create rich, intelligent apps.

This is an incredible time to be a developer working in the Microsoft ecosystem. Apps are evolving from isolated into apps that can interact, share data and react to events and data from other apps.

Satya Nadella closed his BUILD 2016 keynote by introducing sight-impaired software engineer, Saqib Shaikh who had with his phone and smart-glasses created an app that uses advanced image processing and other features to let him see the world around him. The app interprets facial expressions and real life events occurring around him.

One thing is clear, Microsoft have not completed their quantum leap. Whilst there was not a major focus on Windows Mobile, one doesn’t have to think hard to realize that Microsoft is working on a major step forward. This is not just in design or hardware spec but, I suspect in a new hybrid device. This device will probably build on all these evolutions, Continuum and other services to take Windows Mobile in bold new directions.

You don’t have to be a developer to be thrilled and excited by the huge potential of everything announced at BUILD 2016. Are you ready to change how you interact with your devices and apps?

Web Accessibility is Law in Israel…

We heard a talk about Israel Web Accessibility law at WordCamp Jerusalem 2016, several days ago. To begin with, I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV so I’m not going to cite the law nor should you interpret the opinions you read here as an acceptance of liability or that I am claiming any legal knowledge. I’m not. What I am sharing is the food for thought I came away with.

The law is interesting and of course, web accessibility is important if not crucial. However, the ramifications of the law are almost as relevant.

Israel Web Accessibility Law - Dammit Jim

The following points came across during the presentation:

  • This law has been in effect since 2013.
  • The law enables a complainant to sue for damages in a case where a site does not meet the standards required by law for accessibility.
  • Other countries have web accessibility standards but none makes this a legal requirement involving liability.
  • It applies allegedly to sites that provide “information to the public”.
  • No litigation case has appeared in Israeli courts since the law’s inception.
  • Public sector sites have an extension until 2018 to become web accessible.

CUI BONO?

This is certainly an opportunity for any skilled, knowledgeable professional to provide web accessibility compliance or testing services, so long as they are not risk adverse. One of the concerns voiced during the presentation at WordCamp was that liability can include not just the site itself, the theme the site builder recommends or customizations, but also content subsequently posted to the site.

The government and the public sector as a whole are benefitting from the extension they granted themselves until 2018 for their sites to become compliant. In Israel most IT services in the public sector are provided by outsourcing companies who compete for tenders. One can assume that if the public sector has not already begun issuing these tenders to make their sites accessible, it will wake up to the need for this shortly. The outsourcing companies are big enough to acquire the knowledge and handle the liability issues. Web accessibility, an opportunity for them.

The WARPTEST POV

The presentation at WordCamp highlighted the sense among attendees that the government had done what it does best: imprinted existing physical world standards on the digital domain. Technology professionals often feel that legislators pass laws without a full comprehension of the tech or the impact. There weren’t a lot of smiling faces about all this:

Again, don’t misconstrue what I’m saying. Web accessibility is important and this is where I part ways with the lawyer who gave the WordCamp presentation.

IMHO if the government is legislating web accessibility in much the way they do with car licensing, then why shouldn’t the government be obligated to provide a standard automated testing tool for site builders to verify compliance to standards. This would be akin to the test center you take your car to prior to annual licensing.

The really interesting thing is that this law doesn’t just apply to web sites. Compliance to accessibility also applies to mobile apps. One might assume that should this become a burning issue, Google, Apple and Microsoft will all have a dog in this fight.

Israel Web Accessibility Law - app stores

Many people came away from the presentation feeling that the government went too far. This opens up huge opportunities for the litigious and turns site building and content writing into something as risky as feeding crocodiles.

A law that has been around since 2013 and has not generated one court case leaves questions. Are sites more web accessible since the law was passed? I believe not. Has the law ensured that those who need web accessibility are receiving it? I’m unconvinced that the law changed that for the better either.

Nutshell, there are opportunities here for the bold and the knowledgeable. WordPress Theme creators, mobile app developers and QA are just a few. If we are willing to accept the risk of providing web accessibility compliance services then this is a niche waiting to be filled.

Which do you see, the risk or the opportunity?

Are you an Office365 Productivity Powerhouse?

Office365 Productivity? This is not just the ability to churn out more documents. This is about maximizing the potential of you & your team. This is about ensuring freely shared information and an ability to deliver success.

What Does Office365 Include?

Depending on the pricing model you take, ranging from FREE up to Business Enterprise you get a slew of productivity apps: –

  • Outlook / Outlook.com
  • Free web apps & free mobile appscompletely cross-device / cross-platform
  • OneDrive Personal / OneDrive for Business
  • OneNote
  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Sway
  • Skype / Skype for Business
  • Docs.com – this is a personal portal for posting and sharing Office content you create. Users can give this a custom URL and the About section allows you to create a stylish resume in Sway.
  • (DELVE)

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So here are, “5 Killer Habits of Any Office365 Productivity Powerhouse”

  1. Don’t share files, collaborate on documents in real-time. Don’t discount mobile: Office365 is available cross-platform / cross-device. Exploit this to your benefit.
  2. Use track changes but agree how with your team
  3. Templates, styles, fonts, formats and naming standards. These are all document UX, it should be consistent across a project. It should look good in print or cross-platform.
  4. Email, skype calls, IM & video calls they are all calls to action. Communication is either shared information, request for action or a change notification. Either way, respond constructively.
  5. Office365 productivity is limited by knowledge. Most people never maximize their knowledge and so, restrict their productivity. Create a list for yourself of things you should know in Office365 and learn one a week. Examples: WORD / EXCEL: Macros, WORD: using and creating structured templates and styles, EXCEL: pivot tables, formulas, web queries, data filtering and mastering, POWERPOINT: creating short, succinct and well-designed presentations, & more…

Office365 Productivity - 5 Killer Tips

The Warptest POV

Office365 is cloud first, enabling collaboration and maximum productivity and the apps available are always evolving and for the business user we can expect added features and apps:

  • Office Groups
  • Office Mix: Mix for PowerPoint is targeted at educators to enhance their classroom presentations but is available to everyone.
  • Planner: A collaborative Agile style, post-it task / project management tool based on Office Groups. Available for selected Office plans.
  • PowerBI: If data visualization and analysis was a superpower it would probably look like PowerBI
  • And more…

General productivity is increased by choosing an ecosystem that everyone can work with. An ecosystem where the apps can communicate with each other. Else, you are just looking at technical debt to transfer information between apps or formats. The aim is zero technical debt, maximum time spent on projects, tasks and collaboration.

There are exceptions based on use case where you need to move outside the ecosystem you’ve chosen but since Office365 allows for building customized solutions this is accepatable.

Office365 is all about productivity and collaboration and it exemplifies the cloud first ethos being pushed by Microsoft. The only barrier to becoming an Office365 Productivity powerhouse is your willingness to try.

Are you ready to be productive with your team?