Archive for July 24, 2019

The Number One Reason Why I Will Not Buy A BMW….. They Now Charge For Apple CarPlay In Canada

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 24, 2019 by itnerd

You might recall that BMW started to charge for Apple CarPlay in the USA (and before you ask, Android Auto is a no show on BMW vehicles). Then the problems with a subscription setup became clear when an outage with BMW’s Connect Drive systems left people without access to CarPlay. Well, that less than brilliant idea appears to be coming to Canada as the BMW ConnectedDrive website now has these two options if you want CarPlay in your new BMW here in the great white north:

  • 12 months (1 year): $100 CAD
  • 240 months (20 years): $400 CAD

 

Cleary the $400 option is the one that you should go for if you plan on keeping your car for more than four years. But why should you have to pay for CarPlay at all seeing as Apple provides any car company who wants CarPlay everything they need for free? And other luxury and non luxury brands serve it up across most if not their entire lineup effectively for free to consumers. Thus this move by BMW Canada really seems beyond stupid, If they want tech savvy people like myself, loyal Apple users, and millennials with the cash to drop on an 3 Series or an X1 or X2 to give their brand a pass, this move will do it as it will send them to Mercedes Benz, Audi, Genesis or even Lexus who held out from providing CarPlay in their cars until they finally figured out that they were on the wrong side of that argument.

Face it, BMW Canada has shot itself in the foot. And one has to wonder how much bad press that it will take before they realize that this is the wrong decision and change course.

 

Facebook Fined $5 Billion By The FTC & $100 Million By The SEC For Their Bad Behavior.

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 24, 2019 by itnerd

After being rumored last week, CNBC has reported this morning the FTC has officially announced the approval of Facebook’s $5 billion fine after getting the green light from the Justice Department and the FTC’s commissioners voting 3-2 in favor of the penalty.The SEC also announced today that Facebook will pay a separate $100 million fine for misleading investors about the risks of misued user data. The former fine is roughly 9% of the company’s revenue from last year which makes it a slap on the wrist. But I am sure that Facebook clearly felt that this was the best way to make their legal issues go away.

But it’s not all clear sailing for Facebook. The deal will require the company to set up an independent privacy committee on its board to reduce Mark Zuckerberg’s “unfettered control” over user privacy decisions. The deal will also require Zuckerberg and others at Facebook to do quarterly and yearly certifications with the FTC to ensure they are following the agency’s privacy rules. Additionally, there will be an independent assessment every other year. This is something at least that may moderate Facebook’s rather craptastic behavior.

Now the deal will still need to be finalized by the Justice Department. And given their investigation that was announced yesterday, it could change. But I don’t see that happening. And Facebook’s are over. At least until the next time they get themselves into trouble.

Salesforce Adds New Conversation Channels to Salesforce Essentials

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 24, 2019 by itnerd

Salesforce today delivered new conversation channels in Salesforce Essentials, the all-in-one CRM solution built specifically for small businesses. Salesforce Essentials empowers every small business to tap into the power of Salesforce with apps for sales and service that are easy to set up, use and maintain. Now small businesses can easily manage and engage with customers on their preferred channels including Facebook Messenger, Instagram and YouTube—all while having a single view of the customer.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have been equalizing forces for small businesses — enabling them to reach billions of prospective customers and grow rapidly. As consumers have gotten accustomed to the instantaneous communication of these platforms, they expect a similar level of communication with the brands they engage with. However, small businesses have limited resources and can’t always provide the level of support customers want. In fact, 58% of SMB leaders say meeting customer experience expectations is a challenge for growth over the next two years. Now, with new conversation channels in Salesforce Essentials, small businesses have the ability to engage with their customers across these modern platforms right alongside tried and true capabilities such as phone and chat.

New features for Salesforce Essentials include:

  • Seamless conversations across social channels — Expanding on existing support of Facebook pages and Twitter, small businesses can now have real-time conversations with their customers over Facebook Messenger. For example, when a customer sends a company a question via Messenger, the message is routed to an employee who can have a live conversation over Messenger, directly from within Salesforce Essentials. With Instagram and YouTube, the employee gets notified when the customer makes a comment on a post or one its videos, and can respond from Salesforce
  • Real-time chat conversations from website or help center — Small businesses can add a Salesforce chat widget to their website, and have the chat routed to an employee who can maintain multiple chat conversations from Salesforce. This provides the employee with a complete view of the customer’s profile so they can step right into the conversation and view features like previous interactions, case history, open sales opportunities or other information within Salesforce.
  • Native phone support built into the #1 CRM — Make and receive customer calls withLightning Dialer for Essentials, an out-of-the-box call center solution built right into the product. When an employee makes or receives the call, the customer’s profile and account information is immediately available with a pop-up screen in Salesforce, giving them the full context and customer history to provide fast and personalized service. Calls are automatically logged within the contact and account activity history of Salesforce, reducing manual data entry and making sure that information doesn’t get lost.
  • Easy channel setup with walkthroughs and live help — Salesforce Essentials offers small business customers a library of simple walkthroughs within the product to easily get set up with all of these new features in minutes—including guided overviews on key channels like Facebook Messenger, chat and phone. A team of Essentials Coaches are included in the U.S. and Canada during trials and the first 90 days of purchase to provide customers with any support needed via 1:1 live chat to get set up in no time.

Pricing and Availability

  • Instagram and YouTube are generally available today. Both are included in Salesforce Essentials at $25 per user, per month.
  • Facebook Messenger and chat are generally available today. Every Salesforce Essentials organization includes 1 license. Additional licenses can be purchased at $15 per user, per month.
  • Lightning Dialer for Essentials is generally available today in the U.S. and Canada at $2 per 100 minutes.

DOJ Opening “Broad Antitrust Review” Of Major Tech Companies

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 24, 2019 by itnerd

If you’re Apple, Google, or Facebook, this may be a problem. As detailed by the Wall Street Journal [Likely Paywalled], the DOJ review targets practices of online platforms:

Justice Department officials said those agreements weren’t meant to be open-ended or all-encompassing. But in any case the department isn’t trying to pre-empt the FTC’s work, they said, and suggested the two agencies might explore different tech practices by the same company, as well as different legal theories for possible cases.

While companies like Facebook and Google perhaps have some “questionable” business practices, Apple perhaps doesn’t belong on this list. Though the The Wall Street Journal suggests otherwise when it comes to the App Store [Likely Paywalled]. In short, I wonder how much of this is about politics and how much of this is because there are actual problems with tech companies. I guess we’re about to find out.

ASUS Republic of Gamers Announces ROG Strix Series Power Supply

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 24, 2019 by itnerd

ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today announced the Strix power supply series, comprised of 750W and 650W models designed for high-performance gaming rigs. Both PSUs leverage a potent combination of exclusive ROG cooling technology and premium components to deliver ultra-low noise while fueling the latest multi-core processors and graphics cards.

ROG Heatsinks and Axial-tech Cooling

Low noise is essential for premium gaming rigs, so ROG Strix series power supplies utilize the same heatsinks as the venerable ROG Thor series. A careful balance of mass and surface allows the PSU to pump out judicious amounts of power before the 135mm Axial-tech fan needs to spin up.

Based on the same design used on high-end ROG Strix graphics cards, Axial-tech fans feature a smaller hub and longer blades connected to a barrier ring which improves static pressure by directing air downwards. Durability is paramount, so the propeller is mounted on a dual ball bearing setup that will last up to twice as long as a sleeve bearing design. When combined with ROG heatsinks, the cooling is so effective that the fan only needs to spin at low speeds, keeping noise levels to a minimum.

Premium Components

A robust mix of Japanese capacitors and low RDS(on) MOSFETs provide the foundation for a 10-year warranty and allow Strix series PSUs to achieve 80 PLUS® Gold certification. The result is an incredibly efficient power supply with the endurance to handle the most intense gaming scenarios.

Cosmetic Customization

ROG Strix series power supplies are fully modular and are bundled with a full complement of cables ready to hook up to the latest hardware. The 24-pin, two 6+2-pin PCI-e, and two 8-pin EPS 12V power cables come with embedded capacitors to reduce ripple and ensure stability when the going gets tough.  For users that wish to personalize their build, the package also includes a 20% discount coupon courtesy of CableMod, granting access to custom cable materials, lengths and colours.

Further customization is made possible by a convenient magnetic logo and a range of decals that can be used to reskin the visible sides of the PSU. The default red slash can be switched to neutral colours for a stealthier vibe or provide the ideal backdrop for an all-ROG Strix system accented with Aura Sync RGB lighting.

AVAILABILITY & PRICING

The ROG Strix series power supply units will be available in Canada near the end of Q3. Please contact your local ASUS representative for more information and pricing.

 

ASUS ROG Phone II Unveiled

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 24, 2019 by itnerd

ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today unveiled ROG Phone II, the exciting successor to the game-changing ROG Phone.

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ROG Phone II builds on the innovative gamer-centric design of the first-generation ROG Phone, and takes performance to an epic new level with the world’s first implementation of the Qualcomm® Snapdragon 855 Plus Mobile Platform, which is clocked at up to 2.96GHz. Graphics are provided by the new Adreno 640 GPU running at up to 675MHz, and the uprated GameCool II 3D vapor-chamber cooling system sustains full-speed performance for even longer.

ROG Phone II also features the world’s first 120Hz/1ms AMOLED 10-bit HDR 6.59-inch display, which offers a world-beating Delta-E <1 colour accuracy and unrivaled touch response for a truly extraordinary visual experience.

Non-stop marathon gaming is provided by the monster 6000mAh battery and the innovative side-charging design, combined with a 30W ROG HyperCharge power adapter for safe, ultrafast direct charging.

ROG Phone II is designed from the ground up for fully immersive gaming, with its unique landscape-oriented design incorporating upgraded AirTrigger II ultrasonic sensors, Dual Surrounding Vibration technology, and powerful front-facing stereo speakers. Brand-new accessories include the TwinView Dock II for immersive dual-screen gaming, and the multi-configuration ROG Kunai Gamepad for the ultimate console-like gaming experience.

Dominating performance

ROG Phone II delivers dominating performance in every arena, with no compromises. It’s the world’s first gaming smartphone to be powered by the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus Mobile Platform, clocked at up to 2.96GHz for a 4% performance boost[i] over the standard Snapdragon 855 and teamed with up to 12GB RAM for effortless gaming power. The special Adreno™  640 GPU — running at 675MHz, 15% faster[ii] than the standard Adreno™  640 — offers faster display throughput and greater power efficiency, making ROG Phone II a graphics powerhouse that’s unfazed by today’s demanding visuals.

To ensure maximum sustained performance, the second-generation GameCool II cooling system in ROG Phone II has a newly designed 3D vapor chamber that’s even more effective at removing heat from the phone. There’s also a new AeroActive Cooler II featuring redesigned fan blades that deliver even more airflow into the ROG Aerodynamic System, and which can fit over the bundled ROG Phone Aero Case. The AeroActive Cooler II is now whisper-quiet, with a 24dBA noise level — 4X quieter than the original design.

And it doesn’t end there: the high-capacity 512GB UFS 3.0 ROM provides ultrafast data storage, and connectivity is supercharged with 4G LTE Cat 18 download speeds of up to 1.2Gbps and wireless speeds of up to 4.6Gbps[iv]with WiGig(802.11ad). Gamers craving mind-blowing performance need look no further than ROG Phone II.

Supercharged visuals

ROG Phone II takes gaming visuals to the next level with the world’s first 120Hz/1ms AMOLED 10-bit HDR display, a truly magnificent 6.59-inch display that delivers unbelievably fluid, blur-free gaming and entertainment. Its world-beating colour accuracy — with a Delta-E of less than 1 — ensures games look just like the developer intended, and the world-first 49ms touch latency delivers instant responsiveness for a competitive edge. To protect this state-of-the-art display, it’s covered with super-tough Corning® Gorilla® Glass 6.

Non-stop stamina

The monster 6000mAh battery in ROG Phone II provides non-stop gaming power anywhere. ROG HyperCharge direct-charging technology — which takes the charging circuitry out of the phone and puts it in the special 30W charger — gives ROG Phone II shorter, safer charge times (up to 66% charged in just 58 minutes). Support for PD charging means gamers can easily charge their phone with any USB Type-C (USB-C) charger, or conveniently charge other devices with their ROG Phone II.

Fully immersive gaming

ROG Phone II is engineered for victory from the ground up, with its pioneering landscape-oriented ergonomic design. Uprated AirTrigger II technology provides extra-precise ultrasonic touch controls with a vibration latency of just 20ms. They now also support both tap and slide motions — with fine-tuned feedback for a console-like button feel, and the Dual Surrounding Vibration technology creates a powerful 3D force-feedback experience. The unique side-mounted USB-C charging port and 3.5mm audio jack let users keep their phone topped up and their headphones plugged in without cramping their style during marathon sessions. And it doesn’t end there: the dual front-facing speakers are positioned at top and bottom of the phone for perfect stereo imaging in landscape mode, while the groundbreaking multi-antenna Wi-Fi is designed to deliver maximum landscape-mode performance.

The all-new TwinView Dock II offers a genuine dual-screen gaming experience, with a 6.59-inch AMOLED FHD+ (2340 x 1080) auxiliary screen that’s great for split-screen live-streaming, extended game display or group communication. This accessory is now lighter and better balanced, featuring a new turbo-fan cooling system and a high-capacity 5000mAh extended battery pack. The ROG Kunai Gamepad can also be used to add full physical controls and create a complete self-contained dual-screen gaming system.

For the ultimate gaming experience, ROG Phone II can be expanded with a unique range of accessories. The existing ROG WiGig® Display Dock Plus and Mobile Desktop Dock are both supported, and there’s a new modular ROG Kunai Gamepad that provides physical console-like gamepad controls. The ROG Kunai Gamepad consists of three components — the ROG Kunai Bumper, ROG Kunai Controllers and ROG Kunai Holder. The two-part Kunai Controllers can be attached to the Kunai Holder to create a standalone gamepad, or combined with the Kunai Bumper to add physical gamepad controls to ROG Phone II itself.

AVAILABILITY & PRICING

ASUS ROG Phone II will be available for pre-order at the end of August in Canada. Please contact your local ASUS representative for further information.

 

Martello and Paessler Team Up

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 24, 2019 by itnerd

Martello Technologies Group Inc., has announced that it has teamed with Paessler AG, the innovative network monitoring specialist with more than 200,000 installations of PRTG, to offer a solution that addresses the growing demand from large enterprises and managed service providers (MSPs) to simplify IT service assurance. The solution is a combination of Paessler’s PRTG Network Monitor which delivers IT performance and status information and Martello’s Savision iQ single pane of glass ‘manager of managers’ software, that consolidates PRTG’s data with information from other sources for a simple, unified and service-oriented view of the IT infrastructure.

Large enterprises and MSPs typically have complex IT environments, which mix distributed public and private cloud elements and require multiple applications to deliver the services its users require to conduct business. These applications include Microsoft Office 365 and Azure, with monitoring tools such as PRTG Network Monitor. It can be challenging for IT teams to harness the data from all of these applications to understand and control events in the IT infrastructure and deliver reliable service availability to users. Martello and Paessler have paired Paessler’s PRTG Network Monitor for large enterprises (with more than 1,000 devices under monitoring), with Martello’s Savision iQ IT operations and analytics software that consolidates data from thousands of PRTG sensors into a single pane of glass with value added service-oriented analytics. This joint solution makes IT teams more productive, while reducing downtime and improving the user experience.

Richweb is a U.S. managed service provider based in Virginia that has recently purchased a three year subscription to this joint solution to manage its more than 2,300 small and medium-sized business customers.

The iQ ‘manager of managers’ software adds a service-oriented view to PRTG’s details view. It integrates multiple PRTG instances and other sources, reduces alert noise, adds business analytics and process automation, as well as services status reporting and automated incident workflows for troubleshooting, while PRTG allows deeper insights into details. Combined iQ and PRTG delivers an easy to use, lean but comprehensive monitoring and management solution for large IT infrastructures.

Martello’s solutions have been widely acclaimed in the industry. In September 2018, Martello received a Frost & Sullivan Leadership Award for NPM (Network Performance Management) and ranked as Ottawa’s Fastest Growing Company, at No. 28 on the Growth 500 list of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies. In June 2019, Martello was recognized for the second consecutive year on the widely respected Branham300 listing of Canada’s top ICT (Information and Communications Technology) companies. The Company has expanded its solution portfolio with several acquisitions, and recently provided a business update on its market and channel expansion, product innovation, acquisitions and capital market activities.