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End of an era: Microsoft ended Windows phone support

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Update: Well, the big day has arrived. Microsoft officially ended Windows 10 Mobile support today, December 10, 2023. The company pushed the last ever Windows 10 Mobile update, KB4522812, to mark the event.

As Microsoft explains:

Windows 10 Mobile, version 1709 will reach end of service on December 10, 2023. Devices running Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise will no longer receive monthly security and quality updates that contain protection from the latest security threats.

There you have it, folks. This is the end of an era. Let’s wish Microsoft good luck in their efforts to make the new Surface Duo and Surface Neo foldable devices successful.

You can read the original story below.

Folks, 318 Days To Go. The hyper for the Windows Phone is over now! It has almost lost its charm as only a few people are using the Windows Phone. The decline in popularity is blamed to be the reason behind the official end of support by Microsoft on December 10, 2023. It is a perfect time for the Windows Phone users to consider upgrading to a new phone. Why not choose iOS or Android this time?

The Windows Phone was launched more than 2 years ago. We have already seen a huge decline in support offered for the Windows Phone by third-party developers. There were a lot of speculations regarding the end of Windows 10 Phone since then. The Windows Phone has received very few features during the last four months.

However, it is worth mentioning that the stability of the mobile OS has been improved through a regular collection of tweaks and fixes during that time frame. Microsoft ensured the timely release of security patches and updates. But the company is soon going to discontinue the updates as the end of support date has been officially announced.

The start of the countdown clock for Windows Phone has begun

Notably, the last update to Windows Phone is declared to be the final update for Windows 10 Mobile (version 1709). Although the official support is not provided to most of the mobile phones for so long.

So, is Windows 10 Mobile still supported? The tech giant has announced to continue releasing security patches for the Windows Phones until December 10, 2023. Those who continue to use Windows Phone after the deadline should be prepared to face the consequences.

The company has no plans to provide support and monitor vulnerabilities for the users beyond December 10.

How did users respond on social media?

Following the announcement, Windows phone fans used social media to express their opinions. A mixes reaction has been seen from the users, but most of them are not satisfied with Microsoft’s end of support decision. Some of them even referred the switching from Windows Phone to iOS or Android as a downgrade.

All Microsoft products including Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise will fall under the end of support deadline. The mobile phone enthusiasts have recommended the Windows Phone users to upgrade to iOS or Android. It is yet to be seen that when the long-rumoured Andromeda or Surface Phone will be launched by Microsoft.

If you are a loyal Windows user, switching to either iOS or Android is the best alternative for you at the moment.

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Microsoft Flooded With Windows Phone App Submissions, None From Google

Microsoft says Windows Phone app reviewers will be working into the holidays to deal with a flood of new app submissions to the Windows Phone Store, but at least one major company isn’t buying into the Windows Phone hype. “Since the launch of Windows Phone 8 in late October, we are experiencing a sustained 40 percent increase in Windows Phone app submissions,” the company said in a blog post. Microsoft says it will close on December 24 and 25, and January 1 but remain open the rest of the holiday season to keep its approval turnaround time to five days for app submissions.

While Microsoft’s announcement was directed at app developers, it suggests Windows Phone users can expect to see more apps hitting the Windows Phone Store in the coming weeks. That does not appear to be same story for the Windows Store, Microsoft’s tablet and PC app store built into Windows 8. The software maker said in a separate blog post that the Windows Store team would have a reduced staff between December 22 and January 1. Windows 8 does not appear to be experiencing the same flood of apps as the Windows Phone Store supposedly is. The Windows Store app count surpassed 20,000 in late November.

It’s not clear if the Windows Phone Store is experiencing a higher volume of app submissions because of an effort by Microsoft to reach out to developers or if more developers are willing to bet on Windows Phone than the fledgling tablet interface on Windows 8.

Whatever the reason for the Windows Phone app uptick, we’ll have to see if the apps will be high-quality popular apps from services like Facebook and Dropbox or just more drek such as fart sounds, wallpaper catalogs and other novelty apps.

Google says no

Even though the Windows Phone Store is experiencing a rise in developer interest, Google says it has no plans for making business apps such as Gmail or Google Drive for Windows 8 or Window Phone, according to a report by V3.

“We are very careful about where we invest and will go where the users are but they are not on Windows Phone or Windows 8,” Clay Bavor, Google’s product management director for Google Apps, told V3. So far, Google has only released its search app for Windows Phone and Windows 8, as well as a version of Chrome for Windows 8.

Google told PCWorld that “Our goal is to be able to offer our users a seamless app experience across all platforms…We’re always evaluating different platforms, but have no detailed plans to share at this time.”

While Google may blame user adoption for its reluctance to produce apps for Windows Phone and Windows 8, the search giant has a history of ignoring platforms other than its own Android mobile OS. Google famously held back many Maps services from iOS such as turn-by-turn navigation and real-time traffic conditions, prompting Apple to develop its own mapping solution. The search giant was also criticized for producing a very poor Gmail app for iOS in November 2011. Only recently has Google paid more serious attention to iOS with quality apps such as Google+, YouTube,Maps, and an improved version of Gmail.

Like Apple, Microsoft is also a major competitor to Google in the mobile space with Windows Phone taking on Android. And Microsoft Office, the most dominant office suite in use today, dwarfs the popularity of Google Docs. So Google is hardly an honest broker of information when it comes to Microsoft’s platform.

But the future for Microsoft’s new mobile and tablet-style efforts are still unclear, so it’s not unreasonable for some mobile app developers to be taking a wait-and-see approach with Windows. Windows 8 is still in its infancy, and preliminary data suggest sales for Microsoft’s PC/tablet OS are weak. The holiday shopping season, however, may change that.

Windows Phone 7 is widely acknowledged as a flop. But, similar to Windows 8, it’s still too early to judge whether Windows Phone 8 will suffer the same fate as its predecessor. There are also speculative indications that Windows Phone 8 may be getting a bump in user adoption from the holiday shopping season, according to WMPoweruser.

More users or not, it seems Windows Phone fans hoping to find a wider range of Google offerings in Microsoft’s app stores will be disappointed, at least for the foreseeable future.

Weaviate: Towards The New Era Of Vector Search Engines

This article was published as a part of the Data Science Blogathon.

How did you find this blog? You typed some keywords related to data science in your browser.  you arch engines. The search engines we are using today can handle billions of data flow within milliseconds. So what about a new search engine that can beat the current search engines in speed and semantic accuracy? The whole natural language processing and machine learning communities are discussing the possibilities of such search engines, which they named vector search engines. One of the most using vector search engines nowadays is Weaviate. In this blog, I will introduce the vector search engine – Weaviate to you. In this blog, we are going to cover these topics.

                                  • Sample queries

Introduction to Weaviate

Weaviate is a vector database and search engine. It is a low-latency vector search engine that supports various media types(text, images, etc.). Weaviate uses machine learning to vectorize and store data and find responses to natural language questions. It includes semantic search, Question-Answer Extraction, Classification, and Customizable Models (PyTorch/TensorFlow/Keras). You may also use Weaviate to scale up your custom machine learning models in production.

Weaviate stores both media (text, images. etc.)objects and their corresponding vectors, allowing for combining vector search with structured filtering with the fault-tolerance of a cloud-native database. Weaviate search can perform through different methods such as GraphQL, REST, and various language clients. Python, Javascript, Go, and Go are popular programming languages that support Weaviate clients.

Nowadays, Weaviate is used by software engineers as an ML-first database for their applications, Data engineers to use a vector database built up from the ground with ANN at its core, Data scientists to deploy their search applications with MLOps.

Some major features of Weaviate are

Fast queries – In less than 100 milliseconds, Weaviate runs a 10 closest neighbour (NN) search over millions of items.

Different media support – Use State-of-the-Art AI model inference (e.g. Transformers) for Images, Text, etc.

Combining scalar and vector search – Weaviate saves both your objects and your vectors, ensuring that retrieval is always quick. A third-party object storage system is not required.

Horizontal scalability– Weaviate can scale horizontally in production depending on the use case.

Graph-like connections – Make graph-like connections between data items to mimic real-life connections between the data points. GraphQL is used to traverse those connections.

Why a vector search engine?

Consider the following data object.

}

The above data object in the traditional search engine may store as an inverted search index. So for retrieving the data, we need to search with keywords such as “Charminar” or “ monument“, etc., to find it. But what if you have a lot of data and you’re looking for a document about the Charminar, but you’re looking for “landmarks in Telangana” instead? Traditional search engines cannot assist you in this situation, which is where vector search engines come in. To represent the data, Weaviate relies on vector indexing methods. The above-mentioned data object is vectorized in a vector space near the text “landmarks in Telangana” by the vectorization modules. Weaviate can’t produce a perfect match, but it can make a pretty good one to show you the results.

Like it vectorized the text, weaviate can vectorize any media such as image, video..etc., and perform the search. For the same reason that you use a standard search engine for your machine learning, you should use a vector search engine. It may be a strong production environment because it allows you to grow quickly, search, and classify in real-time.

How does Weaviate work? 

Weaviate is a persistent and fault-tolerant database. Internally, each class in Weaviate’s user-defined schema results in developing an index. A wrapper type that consists of one or more shards is called an index, and shards are self-contained storage units within an index. Multiple shards can be utilized to automatically divide load among multiple server nodes, acting as a load balancer. Each shard house consists of three main components object store, Inverted index and vector index store. 

Important: Object/Inverted Storage employs a segmentation-based LSM technique. The Vector Index, on the other hand, is unaffected by segmentation and is independent of those object storage.

HNSW vector index storage

Hierarchical Navigable Small-World graph, or HNSW for short, is one of the faster approximate nearest neighbour search algorithms widely used in data science applications. HNSW is the first vector index type supported by Weaviate act as a multilayered graph.  In addition to the hierarchical stores stated above. On the other hand, the vector store is unconcerned about the object storage’s internals, and as a result, it doesn’t have any segmentation issues. Weaviate can ensure that each shard is a fully self-contained unit that can serve requests for the data it holds by grouping a vector index with object storage within a shard. Weaviate can avoid the drawbacks of a segmented vector index by locating the Vector index next to (rather than within) the object-store.

Every object in the database is collected (layer 0 in the picture). These data elements are inextricably linked. There are fewer data points represented on each layer above the lowest layer, and these data points correspond to lower layers. However, the number of points in each higher layer decreases exponentially. If a search query is submitted, the nearest data points in the topmost layer will be identified. There is only one extra data point in the image. Then it goes down a layer, finding the closest data points from the initial data point identified in the highest layer and searching for nearest neighbours from there. The closest data object to the search query will be discovered in the deepest layer.

text2vec-contextionary

Text2vec-contextionary is Weaviate’s own language vectorizer module. It puts the words in your dataset into perspective (there are Contextionary versions available for multiple languages). The Contextionary is a vectorizer module that can interact with common models like fastText and GloVe and uses the Weighted Mean of Word Embeddings (WMOWE). FastText on Wiki and CommonCrawl data was used to train the most recent text2vec-contextionary. Weaviate developers want to make the Contextionary available for use cases in every domain, whether they’re business-related, academic-related, or something else entirely. However, if needed, you can make your own vectorizer.

The text2vec-contextionary is a 300-dimensional space where data is placed. A vector of 300 numbers will be assigned to each data point. This vector is calculated using the Contextionary, which has already been trained (no training is required).

The Contextionary calculates the position in the vector space that represents the real-world entity when you add data. The conversion from a data object to a vector position is calculated using the centroid of the words, weighted by the number of times each word appears in the original training text corpus.

Extending the Contextionary

Parameters

"concept"    : A string with the word, compound word or abbreviation

"definition" : A clear description of the concept, which will be used to create the context of the concept and place it in the high dimensional Contextionary space.

"weight"     : A floating-point number with the relative weight of the concept (default concepts in the Contextionary weight 1.0)

Persistence and Crash Recovery

Weaviate setup

There are several ways to set up a Weaviate instance. It is better to start with docker-compose when setting up the trial version. Cloud deployments can be used for small and large projects. For production environments and large projects, it is recommended to use Kubernetes. Here I am going to describe how to setup weaviate using docker-compose

To start Weaviate with docker-compose, we need a docker-compose configuration file. Docker-compose file is YAML file(.yml)

An instance docker-compose setup document with the transformer model sentence-transformers/msmarco-distilroberta-base-v2 is:

version: '3.4' services: weaviate: image: semitechnologies/weaviate:1.9.0 restart: on-failure:0 ports: - "8080:8080" environment: QUERY_DEFAULTS_LIMIT: 20 AUTHENTICATION_ANONYMOUS_ACCESS_ENABLED: 'true' PERSISTENCE_DATA_PATH: "./data" DEFAULT_VECTORIZER_MODULE: text2vec-transformers ENABLE_MODULES: text2vec-transformers t2v-transformers: image: semitechnologies/transformers-inference:sentence-transformers-msmarco-distilroberta-base-v2 environment: ENABLE_CUDA: 0 # set to 1 to enable # NVIDIA_VISIBLE_DEVICES: all # enable if running with CUDA

Using a pre-trained language transformer model as a Weaviate vectorization module with the text2vec-transformers module. Transformer models differ from Contextionary models in that they allow you to plug in a ready-to-use NLP module tailored to your use case.

Save the above snippet as chúng tôi and run docker-compose up from within the same folder to run any of the examples below.

Create a data schema

import weaviate class_obj = { "class": "Wine", "properties": [ { "name": "title", "dataType": ["text"] }, { "name": "description", "dataType": ["text"] } ] } new_class = client.schema.create_class(class_obj)

Upload data

Now the real wine data must be uploaded to Weaviate.

import pandas as pd import weaviate # initiate the Weaviate client # open wine dataset df = pd.read_csv('winemag-data-130k-v2.csv', index_col=0) def add_wines(data, batch_size=20): no_items_in_batch = 0 for index, row in data.iterrows(): wine_object = { "title": row["title"] + '.', "description": row["description"], } client.batch.add_data_object(wine_object, "Wine") no_items_in_batch += 1 results = client.batch.create_objects() no_items_in_batch = 0 client.batch.create_objects() add_wines(df.head(2500)) Sample queries

After all of the objects have been successfully uploaded, you can begin querying the data. We can develop simple and complicated queries with GraphQL using weaviate client.  We can use the following graphQL queries to retrieve the top 20 semantically matching results

near text

import weaviate import pprint # initiate the Weaviate client near_text_filter = { "concepts": ["wine that fits with chicken"], "certainty": 0.5 } query_result = client.query .get("Wine", ["title","description"]) .with_near_text(near_text_filter) .with_limit(20) .do() pprint.pprint(query_result)

Output

move away from

Let’s assume we are looking for healthy wines related to chardonnay but not much spicy and not much related to Aeration.

import weaviate import pprint # initiate the Weaviate client near_text_filter = { "concepts": ['healthy wine Chardonnay"], "certainty": 0.5, "moveAwayFrom":{ "concepts":["spicy and Aeration"], "force":0.6 } } query_result = client.query .get("Wine", ["title","description"]) .with_near_text(near_text_filter) .with_limit(20) .do() pprint.pprint(query_result)

Output

More

Let’s assume we have fish tonight and want to know which wines go nicely with it but not much spicy and not much related to Aeration and more related to Chardonnay and corked.

import weaviate import pprint # initiate the Weaviate client near_text_filter = { "concepts": ["wine that fits with fish"], "certainty": 0.5, "moveAwayFrom": { "concepts": ["spicy and Aeration"], "force": 0.45 }, "moveTo": { "concepts": ["Chardonnay with Corked"], "force": 0.85 } } query_result = client.query .get("Wine", ["title","description"]) .with_near_text(near_text_filter) .with_limit(20) .do() pprint.pprint(query_result)

Output

We can use the certainty and force parameters in the above examples for result tuning purposes.

Wrapping up

So That’s it. Now you learned a little bit about semantic search and vector storage in this blog. In this article, I tried to demonstrate how to create your own vector database using your own data in Weaviate and how to retrieve them semantically in step by step manner.  In the future, vector search engines like weaviate and semantic search will become an inextricable part of our everyday lives.

Happy coding..🤗

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Windows Phone 7 Technical Preview

Windows Phone 7 Technical Preview

Tensions must be high at Microsoft.  The recent embarrassment of the short-lived KIN project has left all eyes on Windows Phone 7, not only to justify its own existence but also to legitimize the company’s place in the mobile ecosystem.  With iOS4 freshly released, Android developing at a rapid rate, and webOS now under the auspices of HP, those in the market for a smartphone are spoiled for choice; never before has it been so competitive.  A few months out from release, SlashGear has been given a Windows Phone 7 device – the latest OS build running on Samsung hardware – for a technical review.  Check out our findings after the cut.

First, some background.  Officially announced back at Mobile World Congress in February 2010, and fleshed out in no small part at MIX 2010 the following month, Windows Phone 7 is the successor to Microsoft’s long-lived Windows Mobile OS, and practically a fresh start for the company’s smartphone ambitions.  Built on the Windows CE 6.0 R3 kernel, but borrowing the same aesthetic as Microsoft’s Zune HD PMP, Windows Phone 7 signals a transition from the more enterprise-centric ethos of Windows Mobile and a recognition that the consumer market has a taste for always-connected, socially networked portable devices.

That’s a market Windows Mobile always felt ill-equipped to deal with, at least in its factory-pure state.  Facelifted and retrofitted in its latter 6.5 and 6.5.3 stages – themselves stopgaps as Windows Phone 7 missed its original planned 2009 launch window – the OS nonetheless only really found favor among consumers in heavily customized states, usually at the hand of device manufacturers themselves.  HTC’s Sense UI, itself the culmination of several years of the Taiwanese firm’s TouchFLO interface augmentations, kept Windows Mobile usable – and distinct – and as it stands the platform has a roughly 15-percent smartphone market share.  Still, dimming consumer interest means the updated platform is much needed.

Our review is primarily of the Windows Phone 7 OS itself, not the hardware it runs on here.  The Samsung handset is familiar from its MIX debut several months ago, a prototype designed to demonstrate the OS and for developers to use; it won’t be among Samsung’s line-up of launch devices.  Actual Windows Phone 7 handsets will have to comply with Microsoft’s minimum specification, including a capacitive touchscreen supporting 4-point multitouch, at least a 1GHz ARMv7 processor paired with a DirectX9 capable GPU, 256MB of RAM and at least 8GB of onboard flash storage, and a 5-megapixel or higher camera with flash.  There are also various mandatory sensors and controls, including an FM radio, accelerometer, digital compass, light and proximity sensors, A-GPS and five hardware buttons: power, Start, search, camera and back.

Windows Phone 7 unboxing video:

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That’s pretty much par for the smartphone course, and was so even back in February.  By October, when the first Windows Phone 7 devices are expected to arrive, we’re hoping manufacturers up their game from that minimum so as to at least stand a little distinctive from the rest of the handset market.

What’s certainly distinctive is Windows Phone 7’s software aesthetic.  Gone is the fussy, icon-loaded UI of its predecessor and in comes Metro, Microsoft’s new chromeless interface that stands pretty much apart from anything else in the cellphone market right now.  If you’ve used a Zune HD then you’ll find it familiar; there are no fussy menus, highlight boxes or paneling, with bold typography and large buttons – or tiles in Microsoft parlance – adding up to a seriously finger-friendly and unusual environment.  The onscreen keyboard is stark and usable, with quick auto-prediction that meant one-handed typing was relatively error-free, while holding the hardware Start button triggers voice-searching that proved surprisingly accurate.

The bluntness of the resolutely 2D tiles is softened by Microsoft’s attempt to squeeze information into them, so that the homescreen gives you an overview of status without necessarily needing to dip into individual apps.  Each tile is a cross between a widget and an icon: they can show basic information, like number of messages or missed calls, but they can also dynamically update with new content, such as the latest images from your Facebook friends or animations from your Xbox Live avatar.  From the unlock screen – which, like in WinMo, shows missed call, message and calendar information, only sticking to the new design language – you get the stark Start menu that can be user-reorganized.  There’s a decent amount of flexibility here, too; tiles can link to an app, but also to websites or people, galleries of content (with updating images showing the newest additions), media playlists or Microsoft’s Hubs.

It’s certainly different, but the question of course is whether it’s any better than rival systems.  On the face of things, pulling together similar content is hardly a bad idea, and the galleries – with their mixture of local and online media – work well.  What’s lacking is breadth and customization.  Out of the box, Windows Phone 7 has native Facebook and Windows Live support but no Twitter or MySpace integration as you’d find on, say, Motorola’s MOTOBLUR.  That’s an opening for third-party developers, certainly, but we’re disappointed not to see it from the start.  Similarly, the Hub experience is basically a fire hose of new information, with no way to prioritize or filter it.  You can pick out a certain contact for a homescreen Tile, certainly, but you can’t then tell the gallery Hub that you’re interested in that person’s new content above all others.

It’s a shame, because Microsoft has otherwise treated inter-Hub integration surprisingly well.  One of the crowing points for iPhone fans who had to suffer criticism from Windows Mobile users over the Apple platform’s tardy addition of Copy & Paste functionality was the news that Microsoft wouldn’t ship Windows Phone 7 with those abilities.  In practice, though, their omission is less of an issue, thanks to some reasonably intelligent linking abilities.  Addresses, for instance, are automatically linked to the map app, while links always open up the browser and phone numbers are spotted and triggered by a tap.  It’s obviously not perfect – and Microsoft admit that Copy & Paste will be added in a future update, though there’s no public timescale for that – but it’s a half solution.

Unfortunately, a half solution may not be good enough.  We’ve handed the phone to several people, and there’s a worrying sign that people just don’t “get it”.  In fact, after a few basic questions – “are there apps?”; “can I play games?”; “can I Twitter?” – we generally got the Windows Phone 7 device back after a minute or two, often with the comparison that it felt like “a first-gen iPhone”.  The Hubs are a good start, and show promise, but that lack of breadth means that people soon get bored; there’s not quite enough here to make the new paradigm worth getting to grips with.  Microsoft has denied handset developers the ability to put their own, custom UIs onto Windows Phone 7 devices, but the OS’ native abilities don’t, in many ways, exceed what, say, HTC Sense can achieve.

The music and video Hub is another key area in Windows Phone 7, and happily it’s one of the most successful.  This is where the Zune HD resemblance is most strong, primarily because Microsoft has pretty much lifted the standalone PMP’s functionality straight across.  We were able to get our Zune Pass account ($14.95 per month) up and running simply by dropping in our registered email address and then were happily downloading content under Microsoft’s all-you-can-eat package.  Audio in the native app can continue playing in the background, with tapping one of the hardware volume buttons calling up on-screen playback controls.

A strong Internet experience is key to any smartphone these days, and happily Windows Phone 7 feels more like browsing on the Zune HD than it does in Windows Mobile.  There’s pinch-zoom support and the rendering engine is a big step up, being fast and smooth.  Unfortunately, despite what Microsoft has promised, right now there’s no Silverlight or Flash in the browser, and nor is there HTML5 support. You can have up to six tabs open at any one time – we couldn’t find a way to increase this in the sparse settings pane – and double-tapping automatically zooms in.  Windows Phone 7 falls short when it comes to text-reflowing, however, though page orientation flips were quick and clean.  As we said before, you can create homescreen tiles from webpages, which automatically get a thumbnail image of the site (which doesn’t, however, seem to update dynamically as other tiles to).

There’s no Google Maps here, obviously, with Microsoft’s own Bing mapping app taking center stage.  It lacks the turn-by-turn voice navigation you’ll find on Android devices, but still gets aggregated business reviews and on-screen directions for car or pedestrian journeys.  The Bing UI has been neatly brought in line with Microsoft’s Metro design language, and there are numerous neat animation touches.  Zooming out, for instance, eventually flips the map from normal to satellite view, while there’s similarly clever use of zooming to show your own location in relation to search results or destinations.

When a sizeable proportion of the world’s computers use their Office software, you’d expect Microsoft’s mobile Office functionality to be top notch.  Frustratingly, some of the limitations of the Windows Phone 7 OS itself impact most notably here, with the biggest being the omission of Copy & Paste.  In the Office Hub there are mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, together with SharePoint server access.  Both Word and Excel allow you to create new documents, as well as view and edit pre-existing documents, but PowerPoint will only allow you to view or edit; if the device you eventually buy has a TV output then hooking up the Windows Phone 7 for a lightweight presentation is possible, though at the moment none of the Office apps work in landscape orientation.

The most successful Office app, in fact, is OneNote, Microsoft’s much-underrated notetaking app, which is actually the first page you see in the Office Hub.  This allows you to combine text, images and audio together into a virtual notebook, complete with basic text formatting and lists, and which is then synchronized with Windows Live.  You can log in and see your notes from a browser, email them, or pull them down into OneNote on the desktop via SharePoint.  Unfortunately, while SharePoint has traction in enterprise markets, it’s not something mainstream consumers are likely to have, and bizarrely there’s no Office section in the companion Zune desktop software for managing personal content.

We’ve always praised Windows Mobile for its strong Exchange integration – as it should be, given that Microsoft are behind both products – but in the meantime rivals have caught up.  Exchange support on iOS4 and Android 2.2 is very complete, and Windows Phone 7 has some notable omissions that do the OS no favors.  While you can register multiple POP and IMAP accounts, together with Windows Live, Gmail, Yahoo! and Exchange mail, there’s no unified inbox; each shows up separately and, if you want them all on the homescreen, you have to have tiles for each.

Triaging messages is straightforward, and you can flag messages for later attention (though not label Gmail messages in the inbox); there’s a little animation, too, though the whole experience is relatively clean.  Another obvious absence is threaded conversations, but the capable Bing search does work well for cutting through a hefty inbox; you’ll want to have as many messages as possible sync’d down on the handset, though, since Windows Phone 7 currently lacks server-side search.

As for the calendar, it’s a starkly simple UI but it works well, pulling in entries from Windows Live, Exchange and Gmail (though not your Facebook calendar).  These can be toggled from view, and each is color coded.  As well as a listed Agenda view there are Day and Month displays (though not a Week view), and new entries support attendees and notes.  Only a single Google calendar would sync across, however.

Beyond that, most of our other complaints are minor.  The phone pesters you for a chúng tôi or chúng tôi email address when you first power on, as with Google’s approach with Android, though you can bypass it if you want to.  The digital compass is mandatory, but non-functional, since Microsoft hasn’t written the API yet; similarly there’s no VoIP support as there’s no socket access in the networking API.  Removing SD card support and PC tethering, while we hear Microsoft’s claims that it makes Windows Phone 7 more secure for enterprise users, still feels like another attempt to unduly lock down the platform and force owners through the company’s mandatory hoops.  The barebones SMS/MMS app bizarrely color-codes both incoming and outgoing messages the same shade, though at least supports in-line images.  Some of our criticism could be mitigated by developers.  The encompassing nature of the Hubs means that, if a careful and clever developer chooses, the empty spots could be fleshed out with broader functionality.  That’s certainly different to, say, iOS, where Apple’s core applications are sacrosanct and new third-party abilities are offered alongside – rather than integrated with – the core tenets of the platform.

Microsoft’s primary challenge is to convince not only enterprise customers to either upgrade from Windows Mobile devices to Windows Phone 7 handsets or jump ship from rival platforms like BlackBerry OS, but to persuade the increasing consumer market that WP7 has promise against Android, iOS and webOS.  It’s arguably easier for devices to transition from consumer to enterprise – look, for instance, at the iPhone’s phased evolution from media-centricity to full Exchange compliance, remote administration and everything else a network administrator might demand.  The opposite path, taking an enterprise device and making it consumer-friendly, is perhaps the tougher route, a heady mixture of multimedia, social networking, app availability and nebulous “fashion” allure.

Therein lies the rub.  Much of what’s missing is not in Microsoft’s hands: the support of the developer community – who have helped make Apple’s App Store the platform-driving success that it is, and Google’s Android Market the fast-growing competitor – is essential if Windows Phone 7 is to gain traction among the smartphone segment.  Microsoft are making the right noises, and their various developer blogs are doing their part in reaching out to third-party content providers, but it remains to be seen how many will choose to adopt the platform.  A roster of big-name partners is one thing – Associated Press, Netflix, Pandora and Seesmic are among the names Microsoft announced at MIX – but it’s the smaller developer teams that make up the bulk of Apple and Google’s offerings, and they’re the people who will need to justify the time expense in adopting another OS.  The tools – which we’re told are surprisingly straightforward, though not perhaps as simple as Google’s recent drag-&-drop App Inventor – are there, as is the Marketplace for ease of distribution, and so it seems platform adoption will be the element that tips their hands.

Without production hardware it’s hard to say what the day to day experience of Windows Phone 7 will be like.  In its current state – Microsoft tells us what we’ve been using is 99-percent ready to ship out to manufacturers and carriers for preliminary testing – it runs as swiftly as you’d hope for and suffers little in the way of lag or crashes.  It also has elements that are a real departure from the smartphone norm; we can certainly see where Microsoft is trying to take their Hubs concept, even if it’s not the key differentiator they might bill it as today.  In other ways, though, while it differs significantly from Windows Mobile, it’s very much a v1.0 product; that might have been enough to compete strongly against early versions of Android, say, or iOS, but, by the time Windows Phone 7 devices reach the market, Android 2.2 will be mainstream and iOS4 firmly entrenched.  That’s strong competition, even for a company with the relative might of Microsoft.

This isn’t KIN.  It’s altogether more serious and there’s altogether more riding on it.  Microsoft is making plenty of promises about the future of Windows Phone 7, and if they can coerce developers into play then they could carve a niche.  In comparison to Windows Mobile, the new platform looks better, performs better and feels more aligned with how smartphone owners use their devices today.  Of course, in the process Microsoft has cut ties with their sizeable back catalog of third-party WinMo apps and that’s left a big gap in what’s currently a sparsely-populated Marketplace.  With only months to go before the first production devices are expected to go on sale, it remains to be seen whether Microsoft’s distinctive UI and what we’re hoping will be top-notch hardware can persuade users to look past established rivals and take a chance on what, even at launch, will be a work-in-progress.

Windows Phone 7 full walkthrough:

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Sorry for the lack of audio – had some issues with the recording. I’ll re-record the walkthrough with audio ASAP.

Preparing For The Future: The New Era Of Talent Management

blog / Human Resources Preparing for the Future: The New Era of Talent Management

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According to a report by Mercer, 54% of employees say they work for more than just the money. This, among many other statistics, represents the significant transformation in the outlook that people have toward work and life. Organizations are being required to work hard on talent management as shifting priorities create new challenges for talent management.

So, are you an HR professional looking to hone your skills in talent management? This article shows you what it constitutes, and how conscious efforts in that direction can transform your organization in the long run.

What is Talent Management?

Talent management is the strategic process of hiring the right talent and helping them achieve their true potential while keeping the organization’s objectives in mind. It is a fairly long process that involves several steps:

Identifying the talent requirements of the organization

Sourcing and onboarding suitable candidates

Nurturing them within the organizational system 

Developing and honing the necessary skills

Training them for the future to achieve long-term organizational goals

Talent Management Examples

Every organization, whether big or small, has to undertake some or the other form of talent management on a daily basis. For example, imagine a business-to-consumer (B2C) edtech company has decided to adopt a business-to-business (B2B) model. The current employees may not always be able to shift gears and work toward achieving the new set of goals. The business will, therefore, approach the HR department to help them source the right talent. And simply posting jobs on employment portals cannot really get you the desired results. It involves a carefully planned talent management process. The following are some important processes:

Talent strategy

Talent sourcing

Employer branding

Onboarding process

Career planning and development

Employee relations

Goal setting and performance management

Why is Talent Management Important? 1. Helps the Company Stay Competitive and Drive Innovation 2. Helps Build Productive Teams

Effective management helps employees feel valued. In turn, they become more productive and collaborate better, resulting in better outcomes for the organization.

3. Helps Establish Strong Employer Branding

Well-implemented talent management helps spread the word about an organization. Everyone wants to work in companies that have good employee and talent management policies in place. Building a brand takes time. The right talent management practices can help you expedite the process and sustain the reputation.

The Talent Management Process

Talent management is a continuous process that involves the following key steps:

Specifying the Skill Sets Required: You must identify the gaps and understand the kind of talent you need to achieve organizational goals. It’s also a good idea to consider nurturing your existing talent by getting them upskilled

Attracting the Right Candidates: Create targeted job posts on top job sites and plan interviews to select suitable candidates

Ensuring a Smooth Onboarding: Conduct orientation sessions for new employees so they can settle faster in their new work environment. Assign buddies to support them in the initial few days

Organizing Learning Activities: Organize learning activities and encourage skill development of the current employees. Promote continuous learning by means of courses and develop a strong learning management system

Conducting Regular Performance Appraisals: Tracking the performance of employees on a regular basis allows you to see their capabilities and gauge if they are ready for additional responsibilities. You can reward them for their hard work and promote them instead of hiring from outside

Talent Management Models

While there is no standard talent model, every model must have some basic component to ensure talent management success:

1. Planning

Before implementing any talent management model, it is essential to carefully plan it out by considering both internal and external factors. This involves the following three key tasks:

Understanding the organizational talent goals

Identifying key evaluation metrics

Developing a hiring plan

2. Attracting

Attracting the right talent requires more than just competitive pay packages. It includes the following three components:

Developing an employee value proposition (EVP)

Creating a marketing plan

Talent acquisition

3. Developing

It involves the following processes:

Onboarding processes

Performance appraisals

Learning and development

Developing career paths

4. Retaining

Talent retention is a result of multiple factors. Prominent among these are:

Company culture

Remuneration strategy

5. Transitioning

Smooth transition processes are an essential part of valuing talent and nurturing them. It involves:

Retirement and succession planning

Internal movement

Knowledge management

Exit processes

Talent Management Strategies

In order to build an effective strategy, you must include the following key components in it:

Defining Goals: Every company has its own goals—exploring new markets, increasing revenue, increasing profits, etc. You must identify what type of talent can help achieve the set goals

Measuring What Matters: Identify metrics that will help you measure and analyze if your strategy is working or needs improvement

Collaboration: A strategy is mostly dependent on HR, but collaboration with other employees is also required. For example, collaborating with C-suite employees is required for succession planning

Communication Regarding Roles and Responsibilities: Ensure that all the employees have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and company goals. You can also discuss their career goals and check if the company is providing the right opportunities for them to grow and excel in their careers

Learning, the Emeritus Way

As more and more employees choose to exercise their privilege of choice, organizations that work together with all stakeholders and implement the right talent management strategy can create a win-win situation for all. If you’re an HR professional and looking to upskill in talent management, check out these exclusive online courses offered by Emeritus.

By Priya S.

Write to us at [email protected]

How To Remove Malware From An Android Phone

One of Android’s greatest strengths is the open nature of the platform. Unlike iOS devices, you’re free to install any software you want. Unfortunately, that’s also a source of problems. 

Opening Android up to software outside of the official app store introduces the possibility of malware. If your Android phone has been afflicted by malware, you’ll want to remove it as soon as possible. In this article, you’ll learn how.

Table of Contents

Do I Have Malware?

We assume that since you’re reading this article, you suspect that your Android phone has a malware infection. However, malware is rarer than you might think. There are a few typical malware symptoms you’ll want to be aware of:

If that sounds like you, let’s move on to how you can deal with your malware issue.

Switch Off the Phone!

If you’re highly confident that your phone is infected with malware, switch it off completely. This should prevent the malware from “phoning home” and perhaps further infecting and taking control of your device. Remove the SIM card while you’re at it. 

When you’re ready to turn the phone on again, put it in Airplane Mode or switch off your WiFi router to prevent the device from connecting to the internet. Hopefully, you’ve cut off communications from the phone before any of your private data has been sent back to the malware authors. 

Use an Antivirus App

Using antivirus software is the most obvious thing to do when dealing with malware on an Android device, but some readers may not know that antivirus apps exist. Of course, it would be better to install an antivirus app before your phone is infected. 

That’s because some malware might interfere with the installation of antivirus applications. We’ll cover a few things you can do if it’s too late for an antivirus app. If installing an antivirus app is still viable for you, check out The Five Best Android Antivirus and Security Apps for verified and effective options.

Put Your Phone Into Safe Mode

Just like most desktop computers, Android offers a “Safe Mode.” In this mode, the phone doesn’t allow any third-party applications to run. It’s a good way to test whether it is in fact an app that’s causing your issues. If your phone’s problems disappear in Safe Mode, it’s likely malware.

To enter Safe Mode on Android 6 device and newer:

Press the power button.

From the options, tap and hold Power Off.

When you see Reboot to Safe Mode, select it and confirm.

Now, wait for your phone to restart. In Safe Mode, you can still remove apps, so this is a good opportunity to uninstall the apps you’re most suspicious of. If you’re lucky, that might remove the malware.

If you’re not that lucky, you’ll at least have stopped some of its functionality, allowing you to install a trusted antivirus app if necessary.

In Safe Mode, Remove App Admin Privileges

Safe Mode temporarily puts a stop to whatever third-party apps are doing on your phone. As mentioned above, you can use this as a chance to delete suspicious apps. However, you should also take the opportunity to review which applications are listed as “Device Administrators.” Apps with this level of privilege can do extreme things, such as erasing the entire phone.

Some applications need administrator privileges to do their job, but such apps have explicit justifications listed in the Device Administrators list.

On our Samsung S21 Ultra unit, the menu is called “Device admin apps” and is listed under “Other security settings” within the Biometrics and security menu. Few apps should have this privilege toggled on, and you should disable this permission for any applications you don’t know for sure should have complete control of your phone.

Factory Reset Your Phone

Yes, completely wiping and resetting your phone to its out-of-the-box state may feel a little drastic. However, it could be the fastest way to remove malware from an Android phone. 

It should be no more than a mild inconvenience for most people since all your information is in the cloud. So, once you’ve signed in with your Google account after the reset, your data should be restored automatically. Before you reset, read Google’s backup and restore document, so you’re sure how it works.

Serious Infections Such As Rootkits

Certain types of malware prove harder to remove from your Android phone than your typical bug. Some of them are so tough that they’ll survive a factory reset! Rootkits are a prime example of such a hard-to-kill malicious program.

A rootkit is a type of malware that installs itself into the core parts of the operating system. Normally, those critical parts of the software running your phone would be completely off-limits, but hackers find exploits in systems all the time and use those to enable the installation of rootkits.

Rootkit Security Warning on Red Binary Technology Background

Rootkits are almost impossible to detect, but poorly-written ones can still produce classic malware symptoms. They are the most dangerous form of malware because they offer complete control of your phone to a stranger. They can spy on you and do with your phone data what they like.

Antivirus makers aren’t sitting on their hands. Apps like Avast Antivirus also come with a built-in rootkit scanner. Of course, it’s not clear how effective they are because we can’t know about the rootkits these scanners miss, but it’s better than nothing!

An Ounce of Prevention

Hopefully, if you were infected with malware, the above tips have helped cleanse your phone of evil. If it turns out you weren’t infected, that’s even better news!

Now we need to talk about not getting infected or victimized by malware in the first place:

Finding out you’ve got malware on your phone can feel like quite a violation, but with the right safeguards, you’ll almost certainly avoid becoming a victim in the first place.

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