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Top 10 changes you will notice in the new Windows 10

(Tech News) Windows 10 has been rebuilt from the ground up. Here’s a look at the top ten things you should be aware of before you upgrade this fall.

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Microsoft unveils new Windows OS

In pre-release version, subject to change, Microsoft has announced their most anticipated product: Windows 10. The new version of the operating system has been rebuilt from the ground up, in an effort to keep up with customer and developers’ expectations.

Covering all of the new changes could take quite a while, but here are the top ten things you should know about Windows 10.

Windows 10 is hardware-indifferent (Continuum)

Windows 10 will operate across the board with one product. There is no need to download different versions for different devices. It will works regardless of whether you are using a PC, tablet, or mobile device. This again is thanks to the change the Microsoft developers made at the ground level.

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Since it works on all devices, it will display the same across all devices, except for a few minor usability issues needed to take advantage of hardware-specific features. These exceptions should not effect the way a page looks and operates however. This is also being dubbed “Continuum.” Windows will be able to tell what mode your device is in and seamlessly switch the user interface accordingly. Should a manual switch be needed, you can do this from the Action Center.

Cortana: Microsoft’s Virtual Assistant

Cortana made her debut last year with the Windows Phone 8.1 and was well-received. Now, she’s being introduced to a winder audience via the Windows 10 desktop. Cortana can answer questions, initiate a web search, and perform various trigger functions, or at least that is the plan.

Currently, Cortana refers quite a few questions she receives to Bing, but future updates should help Cortana be able to do things like creating calendar entries, texts, and such, especially since Windows 10 is still in the early stages of developmental tweaking. Cortana for desktop resides in a taskbar box, where you can ask your questions or pop it out by addressing her directly with, “hi, Cortana.”

Spartan Debuts as an IE Alternative

We previously covered the Spartan release with excitement at seeing Microsoft offer something other than Internet Explorer in the way of browsing. The bad news is it seems like Microsoft is going to keep the little black cloud of browsers around, but they will not be relying on it as much. It will integrate with Cortana and offer features like distraction-free reading and grouped tabs.

Currently, IE is not an app, it’s part of the OS; by making Spartan an app, Microsoft would be able to update it more quickly, but would also run the risk of people not bothering to download it as Microsoft reportedly want to keep IE on Windows 10. Hopefully as plans progress and prototypes are tweaked, Spartan will become and integral part of Windows 10 and we can say bye-bye to IE, or at the very least have IE as the option rather an integral part of the OS.

Centralized Apps

Following in the steps of Apple and Google, Microsoft is finally making universal apps available to everyone. With Windows 10, you will be able to download an application on your phone and install it on your desktop or tablet in the blink of an eye. Buy your app once, and use it everywhere.

Xbox Live on Windows 10

Microsoft is upping their gaming ante, by bringing some of Xbox’s favorite features to Windows 10. This includes the ability to play Xbox Live content on the desktop, compete with other players online, record your game play and capture a screenshot of the action. This is a big plus for heavy gamers.

Photos in the Cloud

Microsoft is also upping their photo game: in Windows 10, the official Photos app will show photos stored on all your connected devices (a bit like the iOS camera roll). Simply take a picture with your phone and you’ll be able to see it immediately across all your Windows 10 devices. You can also use the Cloud with OneDrive and back everything up, seamlessly. .

Holographic Integration

As we’ve already reported, Microsoft is showing off it’s hybrid idea of merging virtual reality with real world experiences in form of the HoloLens headset. They allow you to see a virtual 3D environment and interact with it in by immersing yourself in your surroundings. You will be able to adjust prototypes with gestures, take designs for an actual test run and immerse yourself in a new environment before actually traveling there.

There isn’t a screen to touch or a mouse to click. Use gestures to create, shape, and size holograms. Use your eyes to navigate and explore and your voice to communicate with your apps. This enables you to interact with content and information in the most natural way possible. Pretty futuristic and the gestures are comparable to what Google Glass was going for with its design.

Surface Hub for Businesses

Microsoft announced their new solution for enterprise: the Surface Hub. Surface Hub is an 84-inch touch screen monitor designed to take center stage in your office. It comes complete with a full range of work-specific features; from making creating and sharing presentations, to built-in Skype integration everything is centered around the business user.

New Start Menu

The somewhat drastic changes to the Start menu were not quite what Windows fans expected. The Start menu cannot be re-sized, but you can maximize it. Sound confusing? Basically, the Start menu can become a Start screen by clicking a button and the change will be remembered when you click the Start button the next time.

The new Start menu/Start screen option is a way to please everyone, as some users prefer one over the other. Tiles are also handled differently: you can sort tiles into groups by dragging-and-dropping, as well as, rename and reposition.. You can also move and entire group of tiles by clicking the header of the tiles and dragging. The only way to add new tiles is from the Start menu.

Charms Alterations

Microsoft has decided to permanently disable Charms Bar for Desktop users in Windows 10. The Charms Bar will only show on touch-enabled devices in Windows 10. Desktops and laptop users will not see it in their Windows. In Windows 8, you can activate the bar by going to the top or bottom right corner of your desktop and the bar will open.

In Windows 10, Microsoft has removed that functionality and placed these Charms inside modern apps with a small drop down in the top left corner. Again, this is subject to change.

Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for all Windows 7 and Windows 8 users (allegedly). It should be noted, tech gurus have found Windows 10 does have a few more bugs than any other version, but this is to be expected since they are launching a whole host of new features. Hopefully, the majority of these bugs will be worked out before final release. A tentative release date has been set for the fall of this year, but as well all technology: plans can change.

#Windows10

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Tech News

Chatbots: Are they still useful, or ready to be retired?

(TECH NEWS) Chatbots have proven themselves to be equally problematic as they are helpful – is it time to let them go the way of the floppy disk?

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Man texting chatbots leaning against a brick wall.

All chatbots must die. I’d like to say it was fun while it lasted, but was it really?

I understand the appeal, truly. It’s a well established 21st century business mantra for all the side hustlers and serial entrepreneurs out there: “Automation is the key to scaling.” If we can save time, labor, and therefore money by automating systems, that means we have more time to build our brands and sell our goods and services.

Automation makes sense in many ways, but not all automation tools were created equal. While many tools for automation are extremely effective and useful, chatbots have been problematic from the start. Tools for email marketing, social media, internal team communication, and project management are a few examples of automation that have helped many a startup or other small business kick things into high gear quickly, so that they can spend time wooing clients and raising capital. They definitely have their place in the world of business.

However promising or intriguing chatbots seemed when they were shiny and new, they have lost their luster. If we have seen any life lesson in 2020, it is that humans are uniquely adept at finding ways to make a mess of things.

The artificial intelligence of most chatbots has to be loaded, over time, into the system, by humans. We try to come up with every possible customer-business interaction to respond to with the aim of being helpful. However, language is dynamic, interactive, with near infinite combinations, not to mention dialects, misspellings, and slang.

It would take an unrealistic amount of time to be able to program a chatbot to compute, much less reply to, all possible interactions. If you don’t believe me, consider your voice-activated phone bot or autocorrect spelling. It doesn’t take a whole lot to run those trains off the rails, at least temporarily. There will always be someone trying to confuse the bots, to get a terse, funny, or nonsensical answer, too.

Chatbots can work well when you are asking straightforward questions about a single topic. Even then, they can fall short. A report by AI Multiple showed that some chatbots were manipulated into expressing agreement with racist, violent, or unpatriotic (to China, where they were created) ideas. Others, like CNN and WSJ, had problems helping people unsubscribe from their messages.

Funny, shocking, or simply unhelpful answers abound in the world of chatbot fails. People are bound to make it messy, either accidentally or on purpose.

In general, it feels like the time has come to put chatbots out to pasture. Here are some helpful questions from azumbrunnen.me to help you decide when it’s worth keeping yours.

  1. Is the case simple enough to work on chatbot? Chatbots are good with direct and short statements and requests, generally. However, considering that Comcast’s research shows at least 1,700 ways to say “I want to pay my bill,” according to Netomi, the definition of “simple enough” is not so simple.
  2. Is your Natural Language Processor capable and sophisticated enough? Pre-scripted chatbots are often the ones to fail more quickly than chatbots built with an NLP. It will take a solid NLP to deal with the intricacies of conversational human language.
  3. Are your users in chat based environments? If so, then it could be useful, as you are meeting your customers where they are. Otherwise, if chatbots pop up whenever someone visits your website or Facebook page, it can really stress them out or turn them off.

I personally treat most chatbots like moles in a digital whack-a-mole game. The race is on to close every popup as quickly as possible, including chatbots. I understand that from time to time, in certain, clearly defined and specific scenarios, having a chatbot field the first few questions can help direct the customer to the correct person to resolve their problems or direct them to FAQs.

They are difficult to program within the expansiveness of the human mind and human language, though, and a lot of people find them terribly annoying. It’s time to move on.

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Tech News

Get all your digital organization in one place with Routine

(TECH NEWS) Routine makes note-taking and task-creating a lot easier by merging all your common processes into one productivity tool.

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A desk with a laptop, notepad, smartphone, and cup of coffee settled into an organized routine.

Your inbox can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Without organization, important emails with tasks, notes, and meetings can become a trash pile pretty quickly. Luckily, there are a lot of tools that aim to help you improve your efficiency, and the latest to add to that list is Routine.

Routine is a productivity app that combines your tasks, notes, and calendar into one easy-to-use app so you can increase your performance. Instead of having to switch between different apps to jot down important information, create to-do lists, and glance at your calendar, Routine marries them all into one cool productivity tool. By simply using a keyboard shortcut, you can do all these things.

If you receive an email that contains an actionable item, you can convert that email into a task you can view later. Tasks are all saved in your inbox, and you can even schedule a task for a specific day. So, if Obi-Wan wants to have Jedi lessons on Thursday, you can schedule your Force task for that day. Likewise, chat messages that need follow-up can also be converted into tasks and be scheduled.

To enrich your tasks, notes can be attached to them. In your notes, you can also embed checkboxes, which are tasks of their own. And if you have tasks that aren’t coming from your inbox, you can import them from other services, such as Gmail, Notion, and Trello.

To make sure you can stay focused on the events and tasks at hand, Routine makes it easy to take everything in. By using the tool’s keyboard-controlled console, you can access your dashboard to quickly see what tasks need to be addressed, what’s on your calendar, and even join an upcoming Zoom session and take notes about the meeting.

Routine is available for macOS, iOS, web, and Google accounts only. Overall, the app centralizes notes and tasks by letting you create and view everything in one place, which helps make sure you stay on top of things. Currently, Routine is still in beta, but you can get on a waitlist to test the product out for yourself.

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Tech News

The paradox of CAPTCHAs: Too smart for humans vs AI?

(TECH NEWS) AI is catching up to our cybersecurity technology and often tricking humans too — so what’s next for CAPTCHAs and the internet?

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Person using phone with laptop to verify CAPTCHAs and code.

We’ve all encountered it before: The occasional robot test that feels impossible to beat. If you’ve felt like these tests, also known as CAPTCHAs, have gotten harder in the last couple of years, you aren’t wrong—and the reason is as ironic as it is baffling.

Simply put, AI are just as good as—and often better than—humans at completing CAPTCHAs in their classic format. As machine learning and AI become more advanced, the fundamental human attributes that make consistent CAPTCHA formats possible become less impactful, raising the question of how to determine the difference between AI and humans in the future.

The biggest barrier to universal CAPTCHA doctrine is purely cultural. Humans may share experiences across the board, but such experiences are typically basic enough to fall victim to the same machine learning which has rendered lower-level CAPTCHAs moot. Adding a cultural component to CAPTCHAs could prevent AI from bypassing them, but it also might prevent some humans from understanding the objective.

Therein lies the root of the CAPTCHA paradox. Humans are far more diverse than any one test can possibly account for, and what they do have in common is also shared by—you guessed it—AI. To create a truly AI-proof test would be to alienate a notable portion of human users by virtue of lived experience. The irony is palpable, but one can only imagine the sheer frustration developers are going through in attempting to address this problem.

But all isn’t lost. While litmus tests such as determining the number of traffic cones in a plaza or checking off squares with bicycles (but not unicycles, you fool) may be beatable by machines, some experts posit that “human entropy” is almost impossible to mimic—and, thus, a viable solution to the CAPTCHA paradox.

“A real human being doesn’t have very good control over their own motor functions, and so they can’t move the mouse the same way more than once over multiple interactions,” says Shuman Ghosemajumder, a former click fraud expert from Google. While AI could attempt to feign this same level of “entropy”, the odds of a successful attempt appear low.

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