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Microsoft pauses Windows 10 preview builds ahead of ‘Windows 11’ event

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With the big ‘Windows 11’ event in the wings, Microsoft has paused the release of new Windows 10 preview builds in order to test its servicing pipeline with cumulative updates. 

Microsoft released the Windows 10 Insider preview build 21390 to Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel on May 26 and has now released a cumulative update in the form of build 21390.1000. It contains no new features and no fixes for known issues in build 21390.  

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The company updated its original blogpost for build 21390 to inform Insiders that it won’t be doing the usual weekly release of new builds, but rather will be packing cumulative updates on build 21390 purely to test its servicing pipeline. 

SEE: Windows 10 Start menu hacks (TechRepublic Premium)

“We have been testing our servicing pipeline with Cumulative Updates to the builds released to the Dev Channel. Each week, we would release a new build and then follow up with a Cumulative Update on top of that build before moving to the next build,” said Microsoft’s Windows Insider team.  

“However, we need to test the process of releasing multiple Cumulative Updates on top of each other on top of the same build. As a result of this, over the course of the next several weeks, our focus will be on releasing multiple Cumulative Updates on top of Build 21390.”

Microsoft is gearing up for its big Windows event on June 24 to explain what it’s doing with the new variant of Windows. This is likely to include a major user interface refresh codenamed Sun Valley. 

Some Windows watchers are speculating this version of Windows could be called Windows 11 while others believe it will be just called Windows. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reckons the announcement will not be about the Windows 10 21H2 update, but a new variant of Windows aimed at consumers. 

Microsoft only last month released the 21H1 Windows 10 feature update, but it was a minor one that was designed to make it easy for users on Windows 10 2004 to upgrade. Last week, Microsoft announced it would roll out the update more broadly using machine learning to determine which Windows PCs were safe to upgrade. 

SEE: Cloud computing: Microsoft sets out new data storage options for European customers

For now Windows 10 2004 users can manually check for the update, but more users on this version should see it become available as Microsoft continues its machine-learning assessments. 

“We also started the first phase in our rollout for machine learning (ML) training, targeting devices on Windows 10, version 2004 to update automatically to Windows 10, version 21H1. We will continue to train our machine learning through all phases to intelligently rollout new versions of Windows 10 and deliver a smooth update experience,” Microsoft said on its Windows 10 health dashboard.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-pauses-windows-10-preview-builds-ahead-of-windows-11-event/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

ZDNET

At last, a way to build artificial intelligence with business results in mind: ModelOps

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How should IT leaders and professionals go about selecting and delivering the technology required to deliver the storied marvels of artificial intelligence and machine learning? AI and ML require having many moving parts in their right places, moving in the right direction, to deliver on the promise these technologies bring — ecosystems, data, platforms, and last, but not least, people. 

ibm-watson-group-photo-from-ibm-media-relations.jpg
Photo: IBM Media Relations

Is there a way for IT leaders to be proactive about AI and ML without ruffling and rattling an organization of people who want the miracles of AI and ML delivered tomorrow morning? The answer is yes. 

The authors of a recent report from MIT Sloan Management Review  and SAS advocates a relatively new methodology to successfully accomplish the delivery AI and ML to enterprises called “ModelOps.” While there a lot of “xOps” now entering our lexicon, such as MLOps or AIOps, ModelOps is more “mindset than a specific set of tools or processes, focusing on effective operationalization of all types of AI and decision models.”   

That’s because in AI and ML, models are the heart of the matter, the mechanisms that dictate the assembly of the algorithms, and assure continued business value. ModelOps, which is short for :model operationalization, “focuses on model life cycle and governance; intended to expedite the journey from development to deployment — in this case, moving AI models from the data science lab to the IT organization as quickly and effectively as possible.” 

In terms of operationalizing AI and ML, “a lot falls back on IT,” according to Iain Brown, head of data science for SAS, U.K. and Ireland, who is quoted in the report. “You have data scientists who are building great innovative things. But unless they can be deployed in the ecosystem or the infrastructure that exists — and typically that involves IT – – there’s no point in doing it. The data science community and AI teams should be working very closely with IT and the business, being the conduit to join the two so there’s a clear idea and definition of the problem that’s being faced, a clear route to production. Without that, you’re going to have disjointed processes and issues with value generation.”

ModelOps is a way to help IT leaders bridge that gap between analytics and production teams, making AI and ML-driven lifecycle “repeatable and sustainable,” the MIT-SAS report states. It’s a step above MLOps or AIOps, which “have a more narrow focus on machine learning and AI operationalization, respectively,” ModelOps focuses on delivery and sustainability of predictive analytics models, which are the core of AI and ML’s value to the business. ModelOps can make a difference, the report’s authors continue, “because without it, your AI projects are much more likely to fail completely or take longer than you’d like to launch. Only about half of all models ever make it to production, and of those that do, about 90% take three months or longer to deploy.”

Getting to ModelOps to manage AI and ML involves IT leaders and professionals pulling together four key elements of the business value equation, as outlined by the report’s authors.    

Ecosystems: These days, every successful technology endeavor requires connectivity and network power. “An AI-ready ecosystem should be as open as possible, the report states. “Such ecosystems don’t just evolve naturally. Any company hoping to use an ecosystem successfully must develop next-generation integration architecture to support it and enforce open standards that can be easily adopted by external parties.”

Data: Get to know what data is important to the effort. “Validate its availability for training and production. Tag and label data for future usage, even if you’re not sure yet what that usage might be. Over time, you’ll create an enterprise inventory that will help future projects run faster.”   

Platforms: Flexibility and modularity — the ability to swap out pieces as circumstance change — is key.  The report’s authors advocate buying over building, as many providers have already worked out the details in building and deploying AI and ML models. “Determine your cloud strategy. Will you go all in with one cloud service provider? Or will you use different CSPs for different initiatives? Or will you take a hybrid approach, with some workloads running on-premises and some with a CSP? : Some major CSPs typically offer more than just scalability and storage space, such as providing tools and libraries to help build algorithms and assisting with deploying models into production.”

People: Collaboration is the key to successful AI and ML delivery, but it’s also important that people have a sense of ownership over their parts of the projects. “Who owns the AI software and hardware – the AI team or the IT team, or both? This is where you get organizational boundaries that need to be clearly defined, clearly understood, and coordinated.”  Along with data scientists, a group that is just as important to ModelOps is data engineers, who bring “significant expertise in using analytics and business intelligence tools, database software, and the SQL data language, as well as the ability to consistently produce clean, high-quality, ethical data.”

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/at-last-a-way-to-build-artificial-intelligence-with-business-results-in-mind-modelops/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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ZDNET

iPhone bug makes it easy for someone to break your Wi-Fi — here’s the fix and how to prevent it

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Connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot with a specific name can cause your iPhone’s Wi-Fi functionality to break, and even a reboot won’t fix it.

The bug, spotted by reverse engineer Carl Schou and first reported by Bleeping Computers relies on attempting to connect to a hotspot with a specific name. Schou first noticed the issue when trying to connect to his hotspot named with the SSID %p%s%s%s%s%n.

I’ve tested this with an iPhone running iOS 14.6, and it does indeed disable Wi-Fi, and a reboot doesn’t fix it.

Must read: Apple will finally give iPhone and iPad users an important choice to make

So, how do you fix it if, like me, you’re relying on your iPhone?

The fix is to go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.

After doing this you will have to reconfigure your network settings.

OK, but how do you prevent this from happening in the first place? After all, little stops pranksters — or possibly a hacker using this as a vulnerability to do something more malicious — from setting up Wi-Fi hotspots with this name and no password.

Got to Settings > Wi-Fi and make sure that Auto-Join Hotspots in set to Ask to Join or Never

Better safe than sorry!

I can also confirm that this does not seem to be an issue for Android users. I tried a number of handsets and they all connected fine.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/iphone-bug-makes-it-easy-for-someone-to-break-your-wi-fi-heres-the-fix-and-how-to-prevent-it/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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ZDNET

I just watched McDonald’s new AI drive-thru and I’ve lost my appetite

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screen-shot-2021-06-15-at-10-27-21-am.png

She’s only following orders.

Screenshot by ZDNet

I wanted it to be clever.

more Technically Incorrect

I wanted it to be surprising, enticing, well, at least a little bit human.

After all, AI companies are always telling us how much better than the human equivalent their creations truly are.

So when McDonald’s revealed it was testing the idea of replacing humans at the drive-thru with robots, I was filled with cautious optimism.

Would customers be greeted with a surprisingly chirpy voice, redolent of a young person who really enjoys high school?

Sadly, I haven’t been near Chicago lately and that’s where the burger chain is testing this as yet imperfect system — McDonald’s confesses the robot only grasps your order 85% of the time.

But then a TikToker called @soupmaster2000 documented her experience at the new AI drive-thru.

“Welcome to McDonald’s,” began exactly the same female robot voice you’ve heard every time you’ve tried to get through to a customer service operative at every internet provider/cellphone carrier/just about every business these days.

The McDonald’s robot continues: “We’re currently serving a limited menu, so please review the menu before ordering.”

There’s little more welcoming than being greeted by an inhuman voice telling you that the thing you want to order may not actually be offered today.

But goodness, this is just an experiment, isn’t it? Surely the robot is programmed to offer a tinge of wit, no?

No.

The voice is exactly the same robot voice you’ve heard in every disturbing sci-fi movie. It’s as if Siri’s daughter has just got her first job.

Soupmaster orders two medium Oreo McFlurries. The response: “Alright.” In a voice that suggests you may shortly be approached by two members of the secret police.

The robot then asks if the customer wants anything else and invites the customer to “please full forward,” because no mere human would know to do that.

Soupmaster described it as “the most dystopian thing I have ever seen in the 27 years of my life.”

It’s hard to disagree. One hopes that, over time, the voices of robots will become more palatable. Perhaps, one day, you’ll be able to order from BTS or SZA.

There has been, though, a further little twist. McDonald’s is now being sued for allegedly recording voiceprint details of its customers at the robot drive-thru. The lawsuit claims that McDonald’s makes the recordings “to be able to correctly interpret customer orders and identify repeat customers to provide a tailored experience.”

McDonald’s isn’t, of course, the only fast-food chain that’s drifting toward the idea of personalizing offers for customers. Its purchases of Dynamic Yield and Aprente show that this is very much the idea.

Illinois, however, is one of 12 that requires both parties to consent to a recording of a voice conversation and the lawsuit claims there’s no warning to customers that recordings are occurring.

McDonald’s hasn’t commented, but it’s an awkward aftertaste to the company’s vision of the future.

Currently, many McDonald’s franchisees complain they can’t find staff. Some are even reluctant to re-open their restaurants for indoor dining, as they feel they’re doing just fine with drive-thru and delivery.

But if your local McDonald’s becomes one large modern vending machine, does that inspire love for the brand?

Perhaps the future won’t be about love at all.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/i-just-watched-mcdonalds-new-ai-drive-thru-and-ive-lost-my-appetite/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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HRTech

Amazon’s Fire HD 10 Productivity Bundle review: This isn’t the work tablet you’re looking for

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Pros

  • Affordable tablet
  • Solid battery life
  • Affordably priced
  • Includes keyboard

Cons

  • Lack of productivity apps
  • Keyboard feels somewhat cramped
  • Performance

Amazon’s tablets are known for being cheap, somewhat slow, but good enough to access your Kindle library, stream shows in Prime Video or browse the web. The tablets aren’t known for being fill-in for your work laptop, but Amazon is looking to change that perception. 

The company announced the new $149 Fire HD 10 and $179 Fire HD 10 Plus tablets, complete with new kids editions, back in April. Alongside the refreshed design and new components, Amazon also announced a new productivity bundle. The bundle adds $70 to the cost of either Fire HD 10 model and includes a 1-year subscription to Microsoft 365 as well as a Bluetooth keyboard built specifically for the tablet. 

For the last few weeks, I’ve been testing the standard Fire HD 10 and the productivity bundle — a kit that would cost you $219. As someone who uses the iPad as my main computer and laptop replacement, I was eager to see how the Fire HD 10 compared to the iPad Pro. 

I don’t want to fully spoil it, but the experience fell short in a lot of areas. Namely app availability and performance. 

Amazon Fire HD 10 Productivity Bundle
Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Design

Amazon debuted a new design with the Fire HD 8 last year, and that same aesthetic has carried over into the Fire HD 10 and HD 10 Plus. The edges and corners are now rounded, the front-facing camera is now centered when the tablet is horizontal — it’s a welcome design change.

When the tablet is docked in the included case, you’ll find the volume and power buttons to the right of the screen. That’s also where you’ll find the USB-C port that’s used for charging (another welcome change), and a 3.5mm headphone jack. 

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I really enjoyed the design of the Fire HD 8, and found that it translated well to the slightly larger Fire HD 10. It’s comfortable to hold and use as a standard tablet, tapping and swiping on the screen when browsing the web, the Amazon store or looking for a new book to read. 

On the bottom of the tablet is where you’ll find the MicroSD card reader, where you can add up to 1TB of storage. 

To be clear, the keyboard/case combo that comes in the productivity bundle isn’t made by Amazon. It’s made by Finite, a company I hadn’t heard of until I received the review unit. 

The keyboard uses Bluetooth to connect to the tablet, and is also charged via a USB-C connector. 

The keyboard doubles as a protective case for the Fire HD 10. You can detach the tablet, leaving the back of the case installed, and carry the Fire HD 10 around, and then easily place it back into the hinge that’s sturdy and holds the tablet in place when you want to use it in a more traditional laptop mode. 

The keyboard itself is small, an expected side effect of a smaller tablet. There are shortcut keys to open apps in split screen mode (handy if you need to copy notes to an email), but I found the keys somewhat awkward to activate due to the size of the keyboard and the keys. 

318edd8e-2efd-4232-94a1-f988a3a82ffa.jpg
Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Performance

Amazon boosted the specs of the Fire HD 10 with an octa-core 2.0GHz processor and 3GB or 4GB of memory (a 50% increase compared to the previous version). The Fire HD 10 Plus, which costs $30 more, has 4GB of memory, a different finish on the tablet’s housing, and will wirelessly charge on any Qi-compatible pad. Or you can purchase the Amazon wireless charging dock built for the tablet that turns it into an Echo Show. 

The 10.1-inch Full HD display is slightly brighter (10% according to Amazon) than the preview Fire HD 10’s screen. You’ll get about 12 hours of battery life out of the Fire HD 10 or HD 10 Plus, which is a little higher than what I saw during my testing and use. But a normal workday’s worth of battery life isn’t out of the question. 

See also: Best iPad in 2021: Which iPad model should you buy?

You have two options when it comes to storage: 32GB or 64GB. Regardless of your choice, both models support expandable storage up to 1TB via a MicroSD card. 

Performance has never been a Fire tablet’s highlighting feature, and that’s still true with the HD 10. There’s a slight delay when navigating through the interface, apps open slower than what you’d find on, say, an iPad or Galaxy Tab. 

App availability in Amazon’s own Appstore have always been a problem, and that hasn’t changed. Because all of Amazon’s Fire HD tablets are running the company’s own forked version of Android, forgoing any Google services including the Play Store, developers have to list their apps in Amazon’s Appstore. The result is that many of the key Android apps that users have grown to rely on are nowhere to be found on a Fire tablet. 

For example, Slack, a key app for productivity for many of us, isn’t listed in the Amazon Appstore. You can still access Slack using the built-in Silk browser, but it’s not the same experience as a dedicated app. 1Password, a popular password managing app for consumers and business users alike, is also missing. 

As I already mentioned, you won’t find any Google apps available on the Fire HD 10, so that leaves you with using services like Gmail, Google Workspace or Docs through the included browser. 

Zoom is available in the App Store, as is nearly all of Microsoft’s mobile apps, including Teams, Outlook, Word, Excel and the rest of the Office suite. 

Effectively, you have an Amazon tablet that gives you direct access to all of the company’s apps and services, combined with a dedicated tablet for those who are entrenched in Microsoft’s Microsoft 365

8b48095b-5c26-4f5c-a7bc-f91cfa5c9bb5.jpg
Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Bottom line

At the end of my time using the Fire HD 10, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a tablet that’s better left to serve as an entertainment device, with the occasional email or document typed out on the keyboard. 

It can work, in a pinch, if your main laptop or computer is being repaired, or you’re looking to do light work while traveling. But there are just too many concessions, with apps and performance, for it to truly earn its productivity namesake.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/product/amazon-fire-hd-10-2021/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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