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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is off to space on board Blue Origin’s first crewed flight

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Image: Blue Origin

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has announced that he and his brother younger Mark Bezos will be flying to space on board the first crewed flight that will be operated by Blue Origin, the aerospace company that Bezos founded in 2000.

“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend,” Bezos announced on an Instagram post.

Scheduled for lift-off on July 20, the flight will be on board Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket ship, which has been in testing since 2015. Blue Origin boasted the rocket ship has since flown “15 successful consecutive missions to space and back above the Kármán Line through a meticulous and incremental flight program to test its multiple redundant safety systems”.

If it all goes according to plan, Bezos will be the first space tycoon to experience a private ride into space, outpacing Elon Musk and Richard Branson, who have also been pouring millions into their respective aerospace companies, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, to be able to claim the crown of being the first to actually travel into space.

The Bezos brothers will also be joined by one winning bidder of a live online auction due to take place on June 10 at 5pm EDT. Online bidding has already commenced and has so far reached $2.8 million with nearly 6,000 participants from 143 countries, Blue Origin said.  

The company added that the winning amount would be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, to “inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and to help invent the future of life in space”.

Bezos is due to step down as Amazon chief in Q3 and move into the role of executive chair where he will focus on strategic issues, such as mergers and acquisitions. The top spot will then be handed to Amazon Web Services leader Andy Jassy.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/amazon-founder-jeff-bezos-is-off-to-space-on-board-blue-origins-first-crewed-flight/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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I tried to get Microsoft to sell me a PC. It didn’t go well

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You don’t have to think. How lovely is that?

I was looking for excitement.

I have a habit of doing this in all the wrong places, but I tried to divert my worse instincts when I heard Apple had a new “Why Mac?” page.

I think I know why I choose to use MacBooks — and why I can barely make my wife’s Dell Latitude do much at all — but I wondered what Apple’s logicians were saying these days. 

I also wondered whether Microsoft, which has caught up in so many ways when it comes to marketing and communications, would now match Apple in selling me a PC.

Why Mac? It’s Simple, Really.

First, I went to the Why Mac? page.

From the very beginning, Apple talks to real humans: “Easy to learn. Astoundingly powerful. And designed to let you work, play, and create in ways you never imagined.”

It’s interesting how after all these years, after all this belief that younger people’s minds and bodies are instinctively tuned to technology, Apple still leads with the ease of learning.

This has always been an enormous part of Apple’s success. You look at any Apple product and you can deduce how it works without resorting to a manual or a screamfest.

Apple continues to walk this simple line. The page speaks of the computer being instantly ready to go. It explains that software updates are free and simply appear.

And then the real core of Apple’s cleverness: “If you already have an iPhone, it feels familiar from the moment you turn it on.”

This is such an underrated truth. The iPhone as a gateway drug which, together with the iPad, is given to children as a modern pacifier.

The minute those kids need a computer, they really don’t have to think when they open a Mac. And really, why should kids have to think when they have far more important things to experience?

The Why Mac? page continues to press the integrative buttons that work for so many. It talks of how the design makes sense “especially if you have an iPhone.”

Then suddenly Apple mentions Microsoft.

It knows you might have heard of it. It knows you might have been persuaded into using its software. So Apple offers: “Take your productivity and creativity further with apps for anything you can imagine. Even use apps from Microsoft 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud without missing a beat.”

Yes, even use apps from Microsoft. The generosity is quite overwhelming.

What follows is a hint about how Cupertino would really like you to use your Mac: “Mac is the perfect companion to your other Apple devices. Read a message on your Apple Watch and reply from your Mac. Start a presentation on your Mac and rehearse it on your iPhone while you’re on the go. Unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch. Or even share entire photo albums with friends from across the room.”

For some, this is a disturbing depiction of a stifling ecosystem. For others, it’s simply relief.

This being Apple, the page’s highlights end with a reminder about privacy. The whole thing, however, is blessedly easy to read and grasp.

The Windows Is All Steamed Up.

How, then, does Microsoft present itself?

I went to the Microsoft site and began to poke around. I found a page entitled: “Find a PC that fits.” Beneath it was these words: “Discover the benefits of a new PC.”

Please, I’d really like to discover those but what came next made me squat in an uncomfortable position for several seconds, tug at my eyebrows and consider eating particles from the floor.

It was this sentence: “When it comes to a PC with an SSD vs. one with an HDD, some things are just better.”

Um, please forgive me but I’d like to buy a PC, not enter my name for Jeopardy. Please, Microsoft, lead me by the hand, hold that hand gently and speak to me in simple words rather than put me on a flight to Inner Acronymia.

The Why Mac? page has a section entitled: “Always intuitive. Never intimidating.”

Microsoft, by contrast, wants to poke you in the eye to see if you’re paying attention and then ask you a calculus question.

Beneath this mindlessly complex inducement were words about PCs being four times faster. Than Macs? No, HDDs. Then there were boasts about downloading Windows updates and files faster and battery life.

I had to scroll further to find any sort of simplicity. Specifically, pictures of different types of laptops. But why would I have even come this far? 

In truth, Microsoft had felt as inviting as a dishcloth sandwich.

Paging The Big Easy.

I wanted to believe I’d stumbled onto the wrong page, so I scrolled around further.

There was a page headlined: “Find your new Windows 10 PC.” It offered five options — Create, Play, Work, Learn, and Just The Basics.

But, I hear you cry, aren’t create, play, work and learn actually the basics? Yes, Redmond is trying to segment you out by purpose, but why be so complicated? There’s rarely just one purpose to own a computer.

I went to the Windows home page, with hope and despair punching each other behind my eyeballs. There, I was greeted with “Learn, create, collaborate.” But what about play?

This complete confusion of vision must drive a neophyte to conjunctive conniptions.

There’s something crushingly ironic about fearing that PCs are more complex and being greeted by pages that reflect exactly that.

Perhaps this was all my fault. Perhaps I just don’t understand how the Microsoftian mind works. Perhaps this is just a language I don’t understand. Like Finnish. Or Jibberish.

I’m still drifting toward stupefied somnolence that Microsoft couldn’t be more enticing than this, that it couldn’t be more focused than this.

After all, the Surface range is extremely attractive. Redmond has spent enormous time and money making it look good and placing it on TV in so many sports, news, and other TV environments.

And I’m sure there are many other PCs with visual flair and grace.

I simply couldn’t find my way to any of them here.

more Technically Incorrect

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/i-tried-to-get-microsoft-to-sell-me-a-pc-it-didnt-go-well/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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Customer experience now the top technology priority, but organizations aren’t quite ready

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These days, everyone dreams of superior customer experience (CX), especially customers. Next in line are business leaders, who have finally started to see the light. Of course, that means the renewed pressure to pump up CX to, yeah, you guessed it — IT managers and professionals. However, getting everyone on the same page to deliver the goods is the hardest part of all.

The challenge was surfaced in a survey of 1,420 IT decision-makers released by RackSpace Technology, which found that focusing on CX implementations helps companies see greater rewards. Organizations that adopt a CX-led focus enjoy 1.6x higher brand awareness, 1.5x more employee satisfaction and nearly double their rates of customer retention, repeat purchases, average order values and customer lifetime value. “The research underscores the impact that modernizing applications to provide better customer experience can have on competitiveness and growth,” the survey’s authors add.

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Photo: Joe McKendrick

The rub, of course, is that building better CX systems is the easy part. Half of the IT executives in the survey, 50%, report that it can take weeks to gain consensus before implementing technology changes, such as deploying new applications or launching a transformation project. Another 42% say it takes months. “This lag in consensus building negatively impacts time to market. If teams can’t move agile and fail fast, they’ll be beaten to the punch by competitors who can move through concept, development and release faster,” the researchers report.

Even when people and strategy are aligned, CX technology teams still face technology-related barriers, the survey shows. As is common with adopting new technology, legacy IT (26%), budget (24%), skills gaps (22%) and expertise (18%) rank as top barriers. Cultural issues also weigh heavily in the list as represented by resistance to change (16%), lack of buy-in (16%) and lack of leadership support (13%). 

Emotions dictate technology initiatives, and this survey confirms it. The top barrier reported was the fear of negatively impacting existing customer experience (28%), the survey also finds. “Organizations recognize that technology is needed to improve the customer experience but are still nervous about changing the existing customer experience by implementing new technology,” the survey’s authors state. “Despite the push to innovate and transform, respondents are aware that the learning curves of customer experience improvements can cause friction.”

The good news is that no one is objecting to the employment of tech to improve CX — 52% report little to no resistance to technology changes. Only 23% report resistance. “IT leaders can gather from this that stakeholders are interested in change where there’s a specific business case, such as customer experience, and that interest could translate into less resistance when it’s time to implement programs.”

For IT leaders, the results also confirm that CX is a main strategic priority (48%), ahead of IT security, compliance (45%) and IT strategy (41%), and that technology is the key to driving customer experience. Over half (55%) of survey respondents credit applications with enhancing customer experience. Moreover, almost all organizations surveyed understand the importance of CX, with 94% reporting that some form of user experience initiative is underway within their organization. Only a small percentage (6%) report having no CX strategies or initiatives in place.   

Technology-Related Barriers to CX Development

  • Fear of negatively impacting existing CX     28%
  • Legacy IT systems     26%
  • Limited budget     24%
  • Complexity     23%
  • Lack of staff with the appropriate skill sets     22%
  • Lack of expertise to lead transformation activities     18%
  • Unclear digital transformation strategy     18%
  • Lack of a trusted partner/advisor to work on digital transformation activities     18%

Modern technology initiatives are prevalent, which ultimately is seen in smoother CX delivery. Six out of ten (63%) respondents are using technology to drive automation efficiencies and over half (51%) are using it to drive IoT and cloud native initiatives. Even more directly, technology initiatives focused on real-time data analysis (44%) and customer engagement (30%) are prevalent.  

How Does Technology Drive your Corporate Strategy?

  • Driving corporate strategy     63%
  • Use intelligent automation to drive efficiencies     51%
  • Leverage innovative technologies such as IoT and cloud native applications     46%
  • Greater employee collaboration     44%
  • Real-time data analysis/customer ‘pulse’     40%
  • Simplify decision making     30%

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/business-benefits-of-modernizing-applications-to-improve-customer-experience/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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This app teaches you how to make your iPhone secure

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A big part of making security work is educating users about the importance of it, and how quickly (and usually effortlessly) the bad guys can take advantage of our mistakes.

This is exactly what iVerify does.

Must read: I just found my lost AirTag… you’ll never guess where it went

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First and foremost, iVerify is a security scanner that makes sure you are making use of the basic security features such as Face/Touch ID, Screen Lock, and are running the latest iOS version. It also runs a device scan that looks for security anomalies and gives you a heads up if something seems out of place.

It can be very hard to spot if an iPhone has been hacked, so having a tool installed that keeps an eye out for the telltale signs of intrusion offers piece of mind.

iVerify is also packed with guides that looks at the many different security features built into iOS, and how you can take advantage of them to secure your iPhone (or iPad).

There’s also a whole raft of other cool stuff, from information on securing your Apple, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Linkedin, and Twitter accounts, information on activating DNS over HTTPS, a periodic reboot reminder (a simple way to protect yourself from remote exploits), and even a page that offers the latest security news.

$3 at Apple Store

iVerify is a brilliant app that gets regular updates to keep the information fresh and up-to-date.

iVerify is not free — it costs $2.99 — but it’s truly worth the money if you take security seriously. Even if you know your around iOS well, you’re likely to learn a few new things from going through all the guides contained in this app.

iVerify requires iOS 13.0 or later or iPadOS 13 or later, and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/this-app-teaches-you-how-to-make-your-iphone-secure/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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iVerify (version 17)

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iOS Haptic Touch

Just long-press on an app and see what pops up. It might be useful, it might not be. It depends on the app!
You can even do the same with built-in iOS features, such as Control Center. …

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/pictures/iverify-version-17/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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