Not to be confused with iStream, a manufacturing process dreamed up by legendary car and Formula 1 tech guru, Gordon Murray (and who also basically invented the pit stop as we know it… if you’re interested, watch this film… it’s fascinating, really).
No, this stream is about Microsoft Stream, a video service first unveiled about 18 months ago, launched last Summer and expanded in its reach to Australia, India and the UK, in October. Expect to hear more about Stream in the coming months, if ChrisCap’s appearance on Windows Weekly is any sign.
In a nutshell, you could describe Stream as a corporate video sharing service – think of it like an internal YouTube/Vimeo type service that organisations could use to securely publish internal videos (like training, exec message broadcasts etc) without exposing it to the wider world.
Anyone can sign up for a free trial at https://www.microsoftstream.com/. Have a play…
There are lots of other enhancements besides just sharing video, that are built onto the Stream service – such as auto-captioning or speaker identification, which use elements of Azure cognitive services to parse the video and identify various components within.
If you’re interested in this kind of thing, check out the Azure Video Indexer preview – it’s amazing. Try it out, then show it to your friends, family, customers, partners… and make sure they know about Stream, too – they may already be licensed to use it.
Despite the continuing rise in popularity of vinyl, the consumption of media-based audio and video has fallen off over recent years. Youngsters will have no memory of recorded media before long, if not already…
Even though we increasingly stream films from online services rather than watch them on DVD or Blu-ray discs, there is complexity in the licensing (where movies come in and out of various windows of availability on streaming services), so if you decide you want to watch a particular flick at any given time, there’s a chance it might not be available, or may only be offered for sale rather than for rental.
As many of us have a stash of old DVDs and Blu-rays, it can be worth looking at how to turn those media into digital files that can be copied to mobile devices and streamed across the home network – it is worth noting that it’s probably illegal to rip music or movies from discs (at one point, the UK allowed it, but a somewhat vexatious challenge prevailed and it once again became illegal), but if you have the original media and are backing up and converting for your own pleasure rather than for onward redistribution, then nobody’s going to come after you.
If you want to veg out over the festive season and take comfort in old movies from your possibly-forgotten collection, then start turning them into digital files now, so you can avoid Mrs Browns Boys.
ToW has covered various strategies in dealing with email (189, 223, 310 and more), but this week’s tip is shamelessly lifted from a LinkedIn article by an erstwhile colleague and media industry leviathan, Tony Henderson.
Tony, it turns out, authored a book a few years back which offered a slightly different-than-the-norm spin on productivity and how to deal with some of the difficulties of the modern workplace. It’s from this tome that he picked some great tips in handling your inbox – perhaps leading to the ability to clear it completely and leave “inbox zero”.
The Eleven Rules of Email
Once upon a time, mice had balls, and there was even a joke field service bulletin telling customers how to manage them better.
Given that a defining feature of mechanical meeces was the fact they had a rubbery ball inside, it seemed obvious to early laptop designers that a trackball would make sense to move the pointer around.
Eventually the touchpad took over, and divided opinion – some people just couldn’t live without a USB-tethered proper mouse, which they carted around with their laptop, while designers sought to add more and more functionality to the touchpad.
On a Windows 10 laptop, if you type touchpad at the start screen to find the settings that control it, you’ll see a load of additional gestures have been added over time, depending on what capabilities your machine has (specifically, if it has a Precision Touchpad or not).
If you’re especially particular about how your touchpad works, you may wish to look into tuning it further through registry tweaks.
The curse of email is that it’s too easy to send nonspecific content to large groups, meaning it’s generally in everyone’s interests to avoid getting any more. How often do you have to parse some online form where you need to leave the checked checkbox unchecked if you’d like to remain not signed up to receive specially selected offers from our carefully chosen partners?
That said, email distribution lists were an early form of mass collaboration – powered by the likes of LISTSERV, where online communities formed, in some ways an alternative to USENET and the web forums that now host many interest groups online. In the days of LISTSERV, email volumes would be relatively low, and it provided a simple distribution system that fired mail out to everyone on the list, and people could easily join and leave, by simply mailing a JOIN or LEAVE command to the address.
Next time there’s an internal company email storm (the famous Bedlam DL3 storm at Microsoft occurred just over 20 years ago), it’s not necessarily counter-intuitive for people to respond in the “take me off this list” manner, even though the perpetrators themselves are probably unaware of that.
If you find yourself getting unwanted email from marketeers or newsletters you’re not interested in, there are a variety of ways of opting-out – most kosher bulk email tools will allow you to unsubscribe with a link at the bottom; if the email is completely unsolicited, however, then clicking on an “unsubscribe” link in a spam message might just mark you as a real person, and you’ll get even more spam in future. If in doubt, you might want to rely on some of the built-in tools within Outlook, to protect you from further spammage.
3rd party bulk unsubscribe tools like https://unroll.me/ might help clean up subscriptions for consumer mail platforms like Outlook.com, Gmail etc, though exercise with caution as there’s always a risk they’ll just be exposing your data to people you shouldn’t.
Though aggregated news apps and websites are ten-a-penny, there are some very good resources out there that are worth signing up to receive mail from – for example…
Books have been an emotive subject for centuries; they further and represent knowledge, belief, culture and a whole lot more. Doing things to books has an impact, too – whether it’s the dramatic (like tomecide, the symbolic burning of books) or just the annoying (ever leant someone a book, then seen how they folded back along the spine, or just never gave it back?)
The book business has been a metaphor for big vs small biz for years, as well – from the Shop Around the Corner in You’ve Got Mail to the phenomenon of Amazon and the massed ranks of bricks & mortar sellers.
For years now, the assumption has been that real books are going the way of the CD or the DVD – still around, but in terminal decline as technology has changed the game to allow people to read content electronically rather than needing the inconvenience of printing, distributing, retailing and storing all those bits of dead tree.
Despite gloomy forecasts for the future of the printed word, earlier this year, it was reported that sales of electronic books were falling, against a rise in sales of physical books. The dedicated ebook reader appears to have had its day, with mobiles and tablets occupying that niche more, but younger readers are turning to real books again, presumably so they thumb through the tomes while listening to their LPs.
So, what better time to introduce electronic books into your favourite web browser? Edge has an eBook library – click the Hub icon on the toolbar and look under the books icon to see it. See here for more details.
You can download eBooks from a variety of online resources – including Microsoft Virtual Academy. In more recent Insider builds for Windows 10, the functionality and layout has changed (there’s no more “Shop for books” link, as the revamped Store has – at least for now – no obvious way of distributing books), and more change is likely to come.
Still, Microsoft employees can open the books section, sign in with their Microsoft.com address, and see the employee edition of Satya’s Hit Refresh eBook automatically provisioned.