Good morning! The big news today is, of course Microsoft's newest acquisition. Read on as to why that's a big deal.
The biggest story of yesterday and why you should care today:
Microsoft is acquiring Xamarin. Why? As Xamarin head honcho Nat Friedman lays out in his blog post announcing the news:
We founded Xamarin more than 4 years ago with the mission to make native mobile development fast, easy, and fun and to help C# developers build beautiful mobile apps and reach billions of devices. We love the native iOS, Android, and Mac APIs and we love C#, and this acquisition is an ideal next step for us and for our customers.
In other words, Microsoft has now bought itself a way to continue rounding out its universal app strategy and a way to encourage development of its apps across multiple platforms.
Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith will speak to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. The topic is cross-border data flow and law enforcement requests; Smith has already submitted written testimony reading, in part:
Unless governments change course and adopt a new and more international approach, we risk confronting a conflict of law on steroids. This conflict should concern more than lawyers and people in the tech sector. What’s at stake is our ability to protect people’s privacy and keep the public safe. And it’s important for American job creation and economic growth, as otherwise these conflicts will continue to undermine around the world people’s trust in American technology
A new HoloLens app called ActionGram is expected to be announced next Monday, reports Mary Jo Foley. She writes:
Microsoft's HoloLens is already in the hands of a group of private beta participants. Those in the program are working on augmented-reality videos using a new Microsoft app called Actiongram that's due to be announced on February 29.
These tidbits are courtesy of documents discovered and posted to Twitter by infamous Microsoft sleuth WalkingCat.
Microsoft hired Jim Hanna, Starbucks' former director of environmental affairs, as their new director of datacenter sustainability. Among the scope of his responsibilities:
This focus on growing the cloud means that we are making big investments in our data centers, where we are increasingly focused on sustainability. This includes making smart decisions about the impact of site choice and location, improving efficiency, lessening our environmental impact and powering our data centers with renewable energy.
Finally, Apple is bringing its smart assistant Siri to the Mac desktop in the fall. One wonders if Cortana will send over a gift basket welcoming her to the neighborhood.
The most useful tech news:
If you've got a lot of free time and a burning hankering to learn all the ins and outs of Office 365, then we've got good news for you: The Office team announced tutorials based around five scenarios: “Get it done from anywhere,” “Content collaboration,” “Run more effective meetings,” “Email and Calendar on the go” and “Work like a network.” (AKA scenario-based training.) Three of the five scenarios already have tutorials available, including "Me and My Docs," "Anywhere Access with OneDrive for Business" and "Your Complete Meeting Solution."
And now, more tech skills you may be interested in picking up:
- Install a third-party tool and get some live wallpaper back on your Windows desktop.
- Get your Android productivity on with these five note-taking apps, the improved features in Microsoft's Hub keyboard for Android, or this battery-saving tip.
- Learn how to edit Google Docs using voice commands.
There are options to boot from a CD or floppy disc image, which presumably means someone with a little tech savvy could play Tribes or Half Life 1 in a browser!
What we published yesterday:
Microsoft's Development Branch Tweaks are Working -- "While the mobile releases are no where close to the weekly pattern on the desktop side, this quick turn around update for Windows 10 Mobile is significant. Both of these situations show that the tweaks they have made behind the scenes around their development branch build process is paying off."
What Desktop Software I Use on Windows 10 -- Here's what Richard Hay uses for his daily productivity.
Gallery: Create a Better Weather Tile for Your Band -- "A couple days ago I came across a wonderful solution for creating a very information-rich set of weather data and much better than the . Neel Joshi developed a method to create your own web tile using a .json he supplies and a WeatherUnderground API Key that you can obtain for free."
Microsoft Band Tip: Tracking Strength Gains with Guided Workouts -- " Inside each Guided Workout there’s a “Show Advanced Options” checkbox that I think many are not taking advantage of. Enabling the Advanced options for workouts brings two additional choices called Intensity and Variations. I’ll dig into the depth of these in the future, but want to focus solely on the Weight option in Intensity here."
How GPS Works in Guided Workouts in Latest Microsoft Band Update -- "With the last actual feature update, Microsoft has now provided GPS capability for Guided Workouts. What this means is that your circuit workouts that include distance as an activity goal, GPS tracking will be available to detect and report more accurately."