Month: May 2020

Facebook’s Workplace embraces video, touts new users amid pandemic

At the same time CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new remote work policy, Facebook moved to strengthen the collaboration capabilities in Workplace to meet growing demand.

Workplace, Facebook’s enterprise collaboration offering, got a variety of new features this week designed to strengthen the platform and help users better collaborate during the ongoing pandemic.

As for Workplace, Facebook said the app now has more than 5 million paid users – with 2 million added since October 2019. That pace of growth is in line with reports from other collaboration and videoconferencing companies, which have rapidly gained new users this year during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Launched in late 2016, Workplace offers companies a collaboration platform that mirrors many of the features offered by Facebook, including groups, a news feed and live video capabilities – repurposed to fit the needs of business users. This week’s announcements focused on improving how users can collaborate via video through integrations with Facebook’s Portal and Oculus features.

Continued growth among collaborative tool makers is likely to continue, according to Angela Ashenden, principal analyst at CCS Insight. Even as some workers return to the office, she said, social distancing will remain a top priority, requiring many to continue to work from home.

What IT can learn from the early weeks of the pandemic
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“This is going to be the picture for the next couple of years most likely, so remote work will remain a major part of working life,” she said.

Julien Codorniou, vice president of Workplace, said that while the COVID-19 pandemic heated up demand for collaborative work platforms, he was still surprised by the number of companies that were caught off guard. Like Ashenden, he said enterprises have now recognized the importance of keping their employees “connected, informed, engaged and productive.”

Reflecting that stance internally, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social media company will permanently embrace remote working, even after current lockdowns lift. He told Facebook employees Thursday that the company would be “aggressively opening up remote hiring” and he expects about half the workforce to work remotely over the next five to 10 years.

The importance of videoconferencing

To help bolster a crowded market that includes the likes of Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack, Google Meet and other, Workplace is pushing toward easier-to-use, and more efficient videoconferencing.

Ashenden said the new Workplace features reflect the success its competitors have seen. “It does mark a major pivot for Workplace…, and it will be interesting to track how quickly this becomes a primary driver for Workplace investments,” she said.

Users can now set up ‘Workplace Rooms’ – essentially an enterprise version of Facebook’s Messenger Rooms launched last month. In these new rooms, teams can host planned and spontaneous video calls via the desktop, mobile or the Workplace app on Portal. Users can invite individuals without Workplace accounts to join these calls; use Portal TV for Workplace video calls; set up a Workplace Room on Portal; and use Workplace Live on Portal.

The company also bolstered its Workplace Live offering, providing users with an improved production values, controls and interactivity. One notable feature: the ability to turn on live captioning and transcription, a service that operates in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

With many companies having employees in different countries – and speaking different languages –the new feature should allow employees who work together but don’t speak the same language to better connect, Codorniou said, leading to more productivity.

Users who broadcast live via Workplace will also be able to host live Q&As and crowd-source questions from the audience.

VR capabilities

The Workplace changes include new virtual reality (VR) capabilities built around Facebook’s virtual reality division, Oculus. Though it began largely as a consumer product, VR is increasingly being used by companies for training and education; Workplace claims more than 400 Oculus business apps now exist and can be integrated with the platform.

Ashenden believes the biggest opening for VR adoption is now in the enterprise. “This market is really driving the development and direction of these devices, much more than, say, gaming is on the consumer side,” she said.

Microsoft has had some success with its HoloLens, making it logical for Workplace to give users the opportunity to more easily use Oculus. Workplace has also seen demand for the service from its customers.

“If you go to Walmart, they have Oculus devices in every store in the U.S. to teach employees how to organize the display of the shelves and to do security or emergency training sessions as well,” Codorniou said. “In pharmaceutical companies or companies like Johnson & Johnson, they use Oculus for 3D simulation, for designing new products and for teaching doctors how to operate.”

More broadly speaking, advances in collaboration and videoconferencing tools are here to stay, said Ashenden.

“This is how work will be now, it’s what people will expect from an employer, and it will also be viewed as a core component in providing business continuity going forward,” she said.

In brief: Microsoft’s Fluid Framework documents explained

At Build 2020, Microsoft opened up its Fluid Framework as a user preview for Microsoft 365 Enterprise and education subscribers enrolled in Targeted Release. Here’s a look at the concept, what documents it supports and how it could be a boon to productivity.

 

With users now able to get their hands on Microsoft’s latest document format — rolled out under the umbrella of the Fluid Framework — the company is hoping it can deliver on its promises of better productivity and collaboration online.

The Fluid Framework was announced at Microsoft’s Build developer conference in 2019, and at Build 2020 — a virtual-only event this year — the company made the format available for user preview for Microsoft 365 Enterprise and education subscribers enrolled in Targeted Release. It’s also available as open source software; Microsoft said the code and SDK will be available on GitHub soon.

The goal behind Fluid is an ambitious one: users can create discrete pieces of content — such as text, tables, graphs or lists — that live on the web instead of the desktop or a SharePoint drive and are browser agnostic. These artifacts can then be collaborated on or snapped together with other elements in near-to-real-time across a variety of environments.

Nick McQuire, vice president for enterprise research at CCS Insight, believes Microsoft is on its way to making Office “a development environment,” where organizations can start to “embed [Fluid] in business processes and deeper collaboration environments across your company.

“Microsoft does feel a bit of pressure to break down the silos within various, different applications out there, as well,” he said. “Whether it is Google or other flavors of collaboration software, there are others that are pushing the boundaries of what it is to collaborate.”

How it works

The basic Fluid environment involves a clean user experience reminiscent of Google Docs or Dropbox Paper. It is essentially a blank slate, with the option to create a document or Fluid artifact that can then be shared with your network.

Underpinned by JavaScript APIs, these elements can be dropped in to an email via Outlook or other productivity apps via Office.com for starters. (Teams compatibility is slated for later this year.) And by open-sourcing the framework, Microsoft is allowing developers to work Fluid elements into a variety of other locations in the future, essentially allowing these items free roam on the internet and in various productivity apps already in use.

“Discovering the full potential of the Fluid Framework can only be accomplished through creating a diverse, open, and vibrant developer community,” Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, said in an announcement this week.

Where Fluid differs from the likes of Google Docs is how it enables people to work together on an item — wherever it resides. Instead of opening a proposed agenda from an email and editing it in Word, a users can just edit it in place in the email, with all changes staying up to date. In practice, it looks like a typical Google Docs experience, with colleagues’ avatars appearing next to the line on which they’re working in real time.

If that sounds potentially chaotic, that’s because it is. Microsoft is looking to achieve true real-time collaboration, where changes are relayed immediately and multiple users can work on items simultaneously, even if they aren’t “in” the same document. That could lead to conflicts with co-workers, and concerns about version control.

Use cases will be fluid (sorry), but early examples include: tracking action items, building a crowd-sourced meeting agenda with minutes or sharing the results of a recent project with a team in a virtual meeting.

“It is becoming clear you cannot single handedly live in one application, so the ability for companies to make that workflow more adaptive and easier for people to do tasks across different applications, while retaining an experience that they prefer to work in, is becoming really important,” McQuire said.

What next?

Further in the future, Microsoft envisions a model where software bots — like its Cortana virtual assistant — can work alongside users to translate text, suggest edits and perform checks directly within Fluid components.

McQuire believes the success of Fluid depends on the developer community. “They have to be the starting point to take Fluid in a direction that will bring some innovation into Office and 365 overall,” he said.

Enthusiast compares Intel Core i9-10900K with Ryzen 9 3900X / 3950X

The embargo on publishing reviews of the Intel Core i9-10900K processor expires tomorrow. But Chinese enthusiasts have already published the first comparison data of the tenth-generation news with the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 9 3950X.
In all cases, DDR4-3600 memory modules with timings 18-22-22-42 were used. FCLK frequency will be 1800 MHz. For the “red” processors used the motherboard MSI MEG X570 GODLIKE, the model for the “blue” is not specified.
At the same time, all the chips were cooled by a 360-mm maintenance-free SJO manufactured by EK Water Blocks. The results showed that the i9-10900K consumes 338 watts. AMD Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 9 3950X took 263 and 306 watts, respectively.
As for performance, in games it depended on optimizing a particular project for multi-core or for high frequency. In the latter case, the Core i9-10900K was pulled forward, which can accelerate to 4.9 GHz for all cores or to 5.3 GHz one at a time.
It remains to wait for other tests and comparisons to draw conclusions.

 

The players decided to express their dissatisfaction with the distribution of GTA V in EGS on the Steam version rating

Launched last Thursday, the distribution of Grand Theft Auto V in the Epic Games Store was not only a great joy for PC gamers, but also a cause for discontent among those who purchased the game for money, or even the full price.

Some particularly dissatisfied users decided to put their anger on the rating of the Steam version of Grand Theft Auto V: since the start of distribution, the number of negative reviews has exceeded 2 thousand.
Players have two reasons for underestimating the average score: firstly, disappointment with the fact that the once expensive product is now given for nothing. Let and five years after the release.
Secondly, users are unhappy with the influx of cheaters and an abundance of technical problems after Grand Theft Auto V became temporarily free – the Rockstar Games servers could not cope with the rapid rush of players.

Despite a significant increase in negative reviews, the indignant could not kill the positive impulse of users: Grand Theft Auto V had more than 9 thousand positive reviews in the same period.
Dissatisfaction with the distribution in the Epic Games Store is also not comparable in scale to the bombardment of reviews in mid-2017, when Take-Two Interactive demanded to close the tool for creating OpenIV modifications: almost 40 thousand negative ratings.
Add Grand Theft Auto V to your library in the Epic Games Store will be available for free until May 21. The game itself got to the PC in April 2015, and it came out earlier on consoles – in September 2013 (PS3 and Xbox 360) and November 2014 (PS4 and Xbox One).

Intel processors found “eternal” vulnerability

The error allows you to hack into the computer on which the chipset is installed, or gain access to encrypted data.

A new vulnerability has been discovered in Intel’s new processors. This was reported by Lenta.ru with reference to a study by Positive Technologies.
Experts have discovered an error that allows you to hack into the computer on which the chipset is installed. All processors released in the last five years are affected by this vulnerability.
It is reported that the error makes it possible to compromise the encryption keys of the computer, extract the root key of the platform and gain access to encrypted data.
In the same way, you can disable your PC. The Enhanced Privacy ID algorithm, which is used to secure banking transactions, is also at risk.
Experts noted that it is impossible to eliminate the vulnerability using a firmware update. It is reported that the research information was transmitted to Intel and there drew attention to the problem.