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As the spread of COVID-19 continues to surge, many organizations have asked employees to work remotely. With an uncertainly of when things would return to normalcy, WFH is expected to be the new normal and standard practice.

The idea of “working from home” (WFH) was reserved for writers, artists, and other siloed professions that didn’t rely much on regular collaboration.

However, now businesses have realized that with the power of technology, WFH can become the standard practice.

Supporting a fully remote workplace, at least at this scale, is new to many businesses. Leaders must weigh when making the call to move to a remote model is whether their IT infrastructure will support business continuity.

The agility of organizations is being tested in ways that we have rarely seen before. This is a classic black swan event, a high-impact, hard-to-predict, rare event, unfolding, and the acid test for all business continuity plans.

Support

One of the areas to focus on is how to scale and communicate support across multiple regions, platforms, and channels. As more employees begin working remotely, the support structures they rely on become more critical.

Day-to-day operations for most organizations depend on IT, and the service desk is defending the front lines. Remote employees need support, perhaps now more than ever.

They need access to software, applications, and unfamiliar technology infrastructure (their home). In many cases, they need equipment from quarantined buildings, they are installing brand new equipment, or they are connecting to older equipment in their homes

Response is short-term; preparation is long-term. If you’ve IT teams have spent weeks procuring equipment, testing networks, and responding directly to users, you’re not alone. But much of the important preparation happens organically, over a long period.

The number of tickets raised has seen a large influx for help desks all over the world, especially in organizations shifting suddenly to remote work.

And, while it may seem obvious, it’s worth noting that a single portal for IT tickets is crucial, especially in the unique circumstances presented by sudden remote work.

If your organization doesn’t have a self-service mechanism to raise tickets or handle automation, then you’re trouble in big trouble during these troubled times. It’s important to focus on user experience more than before.

Security

Cybercriminals see a crisis as an opportunity. Major change brings disruption, and businesses transitioning to working from home arrangements can be an attractive target.

When working from home, organizations must find a way to secure data and handle sensitive client. E.g. Many offices don’t allow smartphones at employee desks during work hours.

How do you control that at home? If the data were to get in the wrong hands, that could spell trouble not just for the company but for the individual whose data was leaked.

Due to the unpreparedness, some companies have adopted the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). The use of personal devices creates problems around document preservation matters and adds increased risk.

When was the last time, you updated the software on your personal PC? Does it have up-to-date anti-virus software? If you’re working on a family computer, data security may be even harder to obtain, since the habits of other people in the house also affect your work’s sensitive data.

Thus, BYOD such as personal laptops or mobile devices must be vetted from the security standpoint using NAC, NAP platforms. (e.g. patch check, configuration check , AV check etc.).

Information Security is key and some of the standard best practices include:

Don’t use public WiFi – ensure that you are connected to VPN

Update Network security and keep your device up-to-date

Encrypt Sensitive Data in Emails and on Your Device.

Keep Work Data on Work Computers.

Enable multifactor authentication

Avoid phishing emails

While a lot of these steps can be taken by the individual worker, companies should enact policies and take measures to further shore up their remote employees’ defenses.

Most employees would be aware of these however, it’s important to communicate these to employees more often than more. Training is key to ensure data security, and this must be one of the key areas to focus.

Measure

These are the times where we need to be ready to think differently about how we do business, while also carefully measuring the health of the business. Ensure that the cash flow doesn’t stop.

These are tough times for everyone and ensure that your revenue streams continue to flow.

In an office, it’s easy to find out who is working or not with the physical presence. However, in a WFH scenario, it has become difficult to track this.

While most research shows that the employees who work from home tend to be happier, less stressed, and more productive, it’s important to measure this over time.

Employees may have started work for more hours and in the long run, this can affect the mental health and stress and lead to burnout.

Workload monitoring is also a good way to notice when you’re running some inefficient or unproductive processes.

How can you track and manage productivity?

Track Email Metrics: Email is a fantastic telltale of the amount of work someone is managing at any given time.

Time tracking: Employee productivity tracking tool to keep tabs on how your employees are spending time throughout the day. These tools usually encourage your employees to start and stop a built-in timer, as appropriate, whenever they begin a new task.

Project Management Apps: Project management apps come in many different varieties, but they all have the same purpose: helping your business manage, organize, and assign tasks related to various projects.

There are a lot of tools in the market that helps achieve these. From an IT standpoint, it’s important to implement these in the right way in order to support your employees working from home.

We have a huge group of people that have never worked from home before, and IT needs to play a role in making them comfortable.

Bharat S Raj

Bharat S Raj is an Independent Technologist, blogger, data enthusiast, and traveler from Kochi, India. He currently works at Sutherland Labs in the domain of NLP where he builds Conversational AI solutions. He works at the intersection of research and engineering solving impactful industry problems.

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Working From Home Can Ravage Your Spine, But Good Posture Can Help Fix It

While working from home, we tend to throw all sense of workplace decorum out the window. It’s easy to let yourself get into a slump—literally and figuratively. But even in quarantine (especially in quarantine), it’s super important to take care of your body, and posture plays a big role in physical health. So why is it so hard to sit up straight and so easy to slouch?

To explain that, we’ll have to understand what posture is in the first place. Posture generally refers to how you hold your body. Good posture, sometimes called “neutral spine,” is thought to be the optimal position that puts the least amount of stress on your body as you stand, sit, or sleep.

To achieve neutral spine, your head, shoulders, and hips should all be in line vertically when viewed from the side. Your spine should have three natural curves: a slight inward curvature of the neck, the upper back curved gently out, and the lower back curved gently in.

All of your skeletal muscles are involved with posture, but the most important ones are the core stabilizing muscles around your abdomen, pelvis and back. When those muscles are nice and strong, good posture is much easier to maintain. But periods of slouching can weaken those muscles, and wrongly strengthen others, making it much harder to stand tall. Then, when it comes to correcting your posture, it feels like a workout because you’re trying to re-strengthen those muscles you’ve neglected.

“Your body and your muscles are like clay: whatever position you hold them in, they will mold into,” says Rudy Gehrman, a chiropractor and the CEO of Physio Logic, a New York City-based physical wellness center. “If you keep pressing on a little sapling tree in a certain direction, then it’s going to grow in that direction.” So as we lean over our laptops, our muscles morph to fit that shape. And this bad posture is more than a bad habit—it has real physical consequences.

If you recall your high school biology lessons, you’ll remember that your spinal cord is part of your central nervous system. It’s the highway of neurons that connects your body to your brain. Bad posture contorts the spine and adds undue pressure, creating an accumulation of micro-injuries that can affect a person’s health and mood. For example, research has long associated bad posture with sports injuries like ankle injuries or pulled muscles and hamstrings, and also with slower recovery time from those injuries. However, even if you’re just sitting on your couch at home, bad posture can injure you. A 2013 study showed that bad, forward-leaning head posture worsened pre-existing pain, and correlated with more visits to the doctor.

Psychology studies show that people with slumped posture had more negative thoughts, remembered worse memories, and had a harder time recovering from bad moods. There is clear evidence that while people are working from home they’re spending more time online than in pre-pandemic days, but your screen time shouldn’t be a detriment to your health and mood.

Taking steps to correct posture can offer some tantalizing health benefits including reduced chronic pain and an easier time breathing. Plus, good posture can also benefit your mood and mental health. Studies have shown that good posture can boost self-esteem, mitigate and build resilience to stress, and even help alleviate depressive symptoms.

So how do you reap the benefits of good posture? Understanding what good posture is and then consciously correcting yourself on a regular basis is key to returning your spine to its optimal shape.

There’s growing evidence that the autonomic part of our nervous system, which is responsible for handling breathing and heart rate, is also largely responsible for how we hold our bodies. That means posture is likely regulated subconsciously—“except when your mom walks in and tells you, ‘sit up straight,’ then it becomes conscious,” says Gehrman.

Gehrman says one of the worst habits for posture is bringing our bodies to technology rather than bringing technology to us. Most of the products we use were never designed to work for our anatomical health, like how laptops make us lean in and how we hunch over to look at our phones.

Creating a workspace that works for your body and your posture is key to a healthy spine. Arrange your tools in such a way so your body forms right angles when seated—your back is perpendicular to your thighs, but parallel to your shins. Then, lift your head up and don’t lean forward into your screen.

Fixing bad posture will be slow, but worth it. “It takes one to two months of being hyperconscious of posture to change your subconscious posture,” Gehrman says. To reach that two month mark of vigilant posture correction, get your friends and family involved and ask them to monitor your posture, or put little reminders on your phone.

Ultimately, good posture shows confidence and health. Those are good things to feel, especially in quarantine.

4 Ways To Uninstall Windows 10 Update And 3 Tips To Prepare For It

It’s a bitter fact that Windows 10 updates can often cause more problems than they solve, hence we wouldn’t be surprised if you were looking to uninstall a recently installed Windows update.

Right off the bat, though, we should warn you that uninstalling major Windows updates is not something you should take lightly. While this article will show you how you can do so, we take no responsibility for any damages that may occur as a result of it.

Related: How to recover files using Winfr Windows File Recovery tool on Windows 10

Here are some things to do before jumping the gun as uninstalling a Windows update may not turn out as planned.

The first thing you want to do before uninstalling a Windows update is figuring out which update you actually want to uninstall. Microsoft pushes out updates in four basic categories: Quality Updates, Driver Updates, Definition Updates, and Other Updates.

To get a list of the latest updates installed on your device, follow this simple guide.

From the Settings window, select ‘Update & Security’.

At the end of the update title, you will find the KB number of the update. Take note of the KB number for the update that you want to uninstall.

2. Back up your device

This is probably the most important step. Since you are in fact tinkering with the device’s operating system, it is always a good idea to back up all your files to a drive. The easy way to do this is by simply plugging in an external storage device and copying the files you want to back up.

Even if you don’t want to use the Backup option as given above, simply copy the important files and folders you have to a pen drive or portable drive to have a one-time secure backup with you before playing with Windows update.

3. Create a restore point

Another important thing to do (if you haven’t already), is to create a restore point. Creating a restore point enables you to return to this point, should anything untoward happen to your device.

Here are different methods to know if you are looking to uninstall Windows update.

You can uninstall any minor updates to your system quite easily. Now that you have your KB number, follow this simple guide below.

Once you uninstall an update, you should always restart your device for the changes to take effect.

Note: You will notice that not all updates give you the option to uninstall them. Some updates are stubborn. Read on to learn how to uninstall these updates too.

If you already had a System Restore Point set up, you can use it to roll back your device to a previous Windows version. Rolling back a Windows update will not affect your personal files, but it is still a good idea to backup your files.

To restore your system to a previous version, follow this guide below.

In the new window select ‘Open System Restore’.

Now select the restore point that you had created previously. The System Restore Point will have the date of creation in its title, so you know which one you are restoring.

3. Use Advanced startup

Advanced Startup is part of Windows’ troubleshooting options. You can do a lot with Advanced Startup. It is primarily used if your Windows has problems booting up. Using Advanced startup, you can restore your device to a previous Restore point, or even create a system restore point itself. Note: Using Advanced Startup will restart your PC. Make sure you save your work before going ahead.

Your device will shut down and then restart in Advanced Startup.

4. Use Command Prompt

Using Command Prompt is the fastest way to uninstall a Windows update. However, since it provides no graphical user interface, you need to know the exact KB number of your update. To uninstall a Windows update using Command Prompt we will be using WUSA (Windows Update Standalone Installer)

Now type in the following command.

wusa /uninstall /KB:Update number

Input the KB update number of the update that you would like to uninstall and hit enter. For example:

wusa /uninstall /KB:4561600

WUSA will uninstall the update and let you know when it is completed.

You can actually prevent updates from installing automatically. Here’s how to disable automatic updates on your Windows PC.

To prevent Windows from updating your system, follow this guide below.

Under ‘Pause updates’ select the date till which you would like to prevent Windows from updating. The maximum you can set is 35 days. After that, you will have to install updates before pausing them again.

Related:

Steve Ballmer Describes Tech’s “New Normal”

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is almost eternally optimistic and enthusiastic about the future, especially the future of his company — that, despite taking a pay cut this year due to the company’s poor financial performance in fiscal 2009.

So how does he keep his chin up with the economy still faltering and the world economy struggles to recover from the record recession?

Ballmer believes that the economic downturn was not a mere “correction” of world markets but a complete reset — what he likes to call “the new normal.”

That’s the primary theme in his latest “executive e-mail” to customers and the media, which Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) released publicly Tuesday.

“I like this phrase because it speaks to the fact that economic reality has undergone a fundamental shift over the course of the past 12 months,” Ballmer said.

“After years of economic expansion fueled by unrealistic rates of consumption and unsustainable levels of private debt, the global economy has reset at a lower baseline level of activity. Today, people borrow less, save more, and spend with much greater caution.”

A lighter paycheck

He might say the same things about himself and his company. According to Microsoft’s latest proxy statement, filed Tuesday, Ballmer received $100,000 less in bonuses in fiscal 2009, which ended June 30, than he did in fiscal 2008.

That’s because in fiscal 2009, Microsoft reported revenue of $58.44 billion, a 3 percent drop from fiscal 2008 and the first year-over-year decline in the company’s history. The decline also triggered the first layoffs in Microsoft’s history.

Ballmer no longer receives stock awards, but as the company’s second largest stockholder, behind only chairman Bill Gates, he still holds some $10 billion in Microsoft stock so he’s not exactly hurting. His total compensation for 2009 came in at $1.27 million, down from $1.34 million in 2008.

Other senior Microsoft executives also saw their pay scaled back. CFO Chris Liddell, for instance, made $3.54 million in 2009, a decline from $4.8 million in 2008, while Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division, actually saw his income increase by $800,000 to $4.8 million.

Two other senior executives didn’t fare as well. Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment and Devices Division, saw his income fall from $8.3 million to $6.2 million, while COO Kevin Turner was the biggest loser with 2009 compensation of $5.4 million, down $3.2 million from $8.6 million in fiscal 2008.

Revamp the sales pitch

If Ballmer hopes to pump up revenues so as not to have another year like fiscal 2009, he’s got some hard selling to do.

That calls for a new strategy for business and particularly for IT — what he calls “the new efficiency.” In short, he said, “with less, do more.”

Actually, Ballmer admitted, it’s not a new strategy so much as a different perspective and rededication to principles that IT has embraced for years. Workers are more distributed and mobile, regulatory compliance is more challenging than ever, and security has become paramount.

“Today, a new generation of business solutions is transforming IT into a strategic asset that makes it possible to cut costs without crippling customer service or constraining workforce creativity and effectiveness,” Ballmer said.

“A new generation of business solutions is eliminating the barriers between systems and applications, and automating routine tasks so IT professionals can focus on high-value work that is aligned to strategic priorities. These technologies can help organizations reduce risk, improve security, and drive down support costs.”

It’s no surprise, then, that some of the key technologies he’s talking about happen to be Microsoft’s and they include products such as Windows 7 and Exchange 2010, both due out before year end — and the currently available Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V virtualization technology.

Ballmer also cited some new early adopter wins, including Ford and Continental Airlines, which he said expects to save more than $1.5 million annually in hardware, software, and operational costs.

“The new efficiency will not only help companies respond to today’s economic reality, it will lay the foundation for systems and solutions that connect people to information, applications, and to other people in new ways … This too will be the new normal — economic growth driven not by debt and consumption, but by rising productivity and new ideas that provide real value to people throughout their lives,” Ballmer’s e-mail concluded.

Article courtesy of chúng tôi

Play It Forward: New Xbox Games For Learning

Readers of this blog know that students are learning all the time, whether or not they’re in school. Indeed, the vast majority of learning happens outside of school — in homes, playgrounds, workplaces and so on. Play has a fundamental role in this learning, as great minds in education from Plato to Dewey, Piaget and Vygotsky have recognized over the years.

In play, children explore their world, learn to interact with others and use their imaginations to discover ways to understand and predict the connections between actions and their consequences in the world. For young children, these play interactions provide the training wheels of scientific reasoning and language acquisition, which most early childhood educators use in one form or another to encourage their healthy development.

Nearly three decades of scientific research in games and learning have shown evidence that game play can help players develop a systemic understanding of world phenomena, creativity and strategic problem solving skills. In the sequence of solving complex problems, the act of playing engages players cognitively and emotionally, and assesses knowledge where it is highly relevant to those problems’ solution.

In my work with Microsoft Studios, we acknowledge the power of play and its intellectually enriching value with what we call “playful learning,” our approach to designing high quality, intellectually enriching, interactive experiences for children and their families using Kinect for Xbox 360.

Developmental Experiences

Kinect embodies “playful learning” in a portfolio of experiences which changes the relationship between children and the tools they learn with: television, books and games. “Kinect Sesame Street TV” takes the renowned educational television show and brings it to life by allowing children to meaningfully interact with their favorite Sesame Street characters.

With Kinect, children are invited to participate in early literacy in a dialogic form. For example, anyone who has ever seen a young child respond to Elmo or Grover inviting them to sing, dance or say their letters and numbers will now see what happens when the TV show is able to hear or see the child’s responses, and scaffold their learning with feedback as a result.

Another aspect in which Kinect alters learning with TV experiences is by allowing players to use more of their senses in the process of learning. For example, “Kinect Nat Geo TV” blends the award-winning Nat Geo WILD TV shows with the intuitive Kinect for Xbox 360. This lets children use a situated learning approach to understanding the nuanced relationship that exists between the survival of grizzly bears in the wild, and the tiny army cutworm moth — a connection one does not often think about when appreciating these magnificent and wonderful creatures — by jumping into the shoes of a naturalist or even a bear in its authentic habitat. In this way, the experience fosters curiosity, bringing the habitats of wild animals into the living room and playfully encouraging players to explore, discover, learn and develop a love for the world and creatures around them. With “Kinect Nat Geo TV,” we seek to inspire children and their families to become stewards of the planet.

Jump into Learning

“Project Columbia,” the code name for another experience being designed in conjunction with the Sesame Workshop Curriculum team, is a new environment where active fun and literacy meet. Using Kinect for Xbox 360, “Project Columbia” invites children to use a more embodied learning approach to understanding texts by letting them jump into beloved storybooks and become part of the story themselves. Through full-body interactions, Xbox and Kinect bring the objects and characters in the books to life so that a child’s playful interactions become foundational experiences for understanding the relationship between the words in text and their meanings, as well as their sounds. By letting kids jump into the books they read, “Project Columbia” seeks to develop in kids a lifelong love of books and reading so necessary for their literacy development.

Another new experience is called “Double Fine Happy Action Theater,” a title developed by Double Fine Studios’ world-renowned game designer Tim Shaffer. It is a series of play activities that encourage the youngest players to practice their gross motor skills and stretch their imagination in active ways. Designed to create an inclusive and highly accessible experience for the whole family, in “Happy Action Theater,” children, their parents and even their grandparents can play in virtual ball pits, firework parades and even lava-filled volcanoes all within their living room. The “Happy Action Theater” experiences are digital toys and playscapes that capture the imagination of old and young alike. No rules, no menus, no instructions — just play.

Through these and other new titles, Xbox 360 is continuing to broaden its children’s portfolio with rich experiences that expand our definition of learning into something participatory and experiential.

Reflection

Do you use video games in your classroom? How do you see these new experience like those described above changing the way students learn?

Tape Gets Some Respect From It Giants

This week is shaping up to be one of the busiest in storage tape history, with HP and Sony teaming up to create the next generation of Digital Audio Tape (DAT), while Sun and IBM fight for the crown of being first with a 1 terabyte (TB) tape drive.

To some, the news signals that tape storage remains alive and well in the era of ever-cheaper hard drives.

“Tape is the Rodney Dangerfield of storage,” Robert Amatruda, research director at IDC, told chúng tôi “No doubt there has been a decline in the market, but it’s still a relevant technology widely deployed. The news proves there’s still strong investment in what’s become a mature technology.”

Tape has long been an important piece of the storage infrastructure puzzle for many businesses, especially small and midsized companies that need economical and easy-to-manage backup and disaster recovery.

While it doesn’t dominate the storage market like it did during the mid- to late 1990s, tape has evolved into a reliable, strong performing fit for lower-end markets, according to Bob Wilson, vice president of storage platforms for HP StorageWorks.

That vibrancy is what prompted HP (NYSE: HPQ) and Sony (NYSE: SNE) to co-develop DAT 320, the seventh generation of the Digital Data Storage (DDS) standard, announced today. The two vendors will build and sell their own tape drives on the new standard.

“Demand for higher-capacity data backup and archiving continues to be important for small and midsized businesses and enterprise environments,” Masayoshi Sugiyama, president for Sony’s chemical device business group, said in a statement. “Combining HP’s six DAT generations and Sony’s 50-year history in magnetic recording technology provides a compelling solution.”

The DAT 320 will offer up to 320 gigabytes (GB) of capacity on a single cartridge, double what the current DAT 160 provides. The vendors said the new format will need less energy per GB while also remaining backward compatible.

Terabyte tape arrives — twice

Elsewhere in the tape world, Sun and IBM are dueling for the title of the first to market with a 1 TB drive, with each announcing products this week.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) today launched the System Storage TS1130 Tape Drive, targeted toward midsized businesses in financial services and life sciences as well as the public sector.

The product’s 160MB/sec. speed is 54 percent faster than the previous-generation drive. But it’s the new tape head that’s the compelling technology story, according to Bruce Master, worldwide tape storage marketing manager at IBM.

The Giant Magnetoresistive (GMR) head design, which has been in development for years, cuts down data read errors, improves data integrity and reliability, he said.

“You can put more tracks on the tape with this head, and that means write more data,” Master said, describing the design as similar to a wide, one-lane road that’s divided into eight lanes to support greater traffic flow.

Additionally, the new head’s design could mark a change that remains in place for years to come.

“This first-generation GMR should be a good technology for the next eight to 10 years,” Master said, adding that other tape elements have in recent years undergone similar evolutions, including the chipset and read/write elements. Together, such improvements have contributed to tape’s continued progress.

“Just 10 years ago, we were excited about 10 GB on a tape, now it’s a hundred fold that capacity,” he said.

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