Microsoft giving away free IT training — and a job — to soldiers

On Monday, Microsoft said it will offer a free 16-week IT course for soldiers transitioning out of the military into civilian life—with a guaranteed job at the end of it.

The Microsoft Software & Systems Academy will be based on the Microsoft IT Academy, offering the training necessary to take the next step and pursue training to become a developer, applications engineer or IT project manager. At the end of the course, Microsoft said, participants will be hired as software testers by either Microsoft or Launch Consulting, the technology consulting firm administering the program. As the program expands, those additional soldiers will be guaranteed at least a job interview.

Microsoft launched a pilot implementation of the Academy at the Joint Base Lewis-McCord (JBLM) in Washington, where about 8,000 service members are expected to move out of the military into civilian life as the U.S. winds down conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Vow to Hire Heroes Act, sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), allows those soldiers to begin the transition process while they’re actually employed by the military.

“American servicemembers possess the drive, self-discipline and problem-solving skills that are essential for the technology industry,” said Microsoft executive vice president and general counsel Brad Smith in a statement. “The Microsoft Software & Systems Academy is a bridge between one great career—serving in the U.S. military—and another, creating technologies that improve lives.”

Microsoft has been among those private companies who have assisted vets find work in the civilian workforce. Since 2001, unemployment among veterans was several points higher than the civilian workforce. But aggressive campaigns by both governments and private companies seeking a disciplined, motivated workforce have brought that number down: during the second quarter, unemployment among veterans dropped to 7.4 percent, close to the 7.2 percent of the general workforce.

Microsoft’s commitment to veterans dates back to before 2010, when it created a dedicated portal to lure vets to Microsoft. In 2010, it donated $8 million of cash and free software to several nonprofits designed to assist with the transition.

The S&S Academy program will be expanded to bases in California and Texas later this year, Microsoft said. Active duty service members transitioning from all branches of the military as well as members of the National Guard and Reserves returning to their civilian jobs are eligible for the academy, a Microsoft spokeswoman said in an email.

“Since they are all active duty servicemembers while participating in this program, they still are employed in the military and receive benefits during this transition period,” she added.

Microsoft is the primary program sponsor with other partners providing material support and services, including Launch Consulting, RallyPoint/6, Saint Martin’s University, Stone Education Center, and WA State WorkSource.

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Source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2060539/microsoft-giving-away-free-it-training-and-a-job-to-soldiers.html#tk.rss_all
Category: Case Keenum   Eiza González  

SoftLayer CEO: A very Big Blue cloud is coming

One of the funny things about the cloud is that it’s often difficult to know what’s behind the curtain. Before IBM bought IaaS provider SoftLayer in June, we were hard-pressed to determine precisely what sort of IaaS Big Blue was offering. Yes, the company had a virtual server configurator similar to Amazon’s, but the self-service stopped there: You’d tally up your config, submit it, and IBM would get back to you.

Then there was that fuss in July about the SEC investigating IBM to discover exactly how Big Blue was calculating the 70 percent increase in cloud revenue it reported for the first half of 2013 (although, to be fair, cloud-washing like this seems commonplace).

[ Stay on top of the cloud with the “Cloud Computing Deep Dive” special report. Download it today! | From Amazon to Windows Azure, see how the elite 8 public clouds compare in InfoWorld’s review. | For a quick, smart take on the news you’ll be talking about, check out InfoWorld TechBrief — subscribe today. ]

IBM acquired a big hunk of cloud credibility with the $2 billion it paid for SoftLayer. According to SoftLayer CEO Lance Crosby, whom I interviewed last week, SoftLayer has 120,000 physical nodes in 13 data centers. Thanks to IBM, that footprint is poised to get a whole lot bigger. “We’re going to have massive expansion in the next 24 months,” Crosby says.

The quiet cloud company
Founded in Dallas in 2005, SoftLayer was the largest privately held IaaS provider until it became part of IBM. “We were cloud before cloud was cool,” says Crosby, offering both multitenanted and single-tenanted IaaS. Self-service has always been part of the deal, right up until the acquisition. “We were at $500 million in revenue without an outbound salesperson, so it’s all self-service.”

Contrary to the approach of Amazon Web Services, Crosby always believed in giving complete visibility into the hardware infrastructure behind the cloud. “The concept of creating this fungible machine where you don’t have to worry about the underlying infrastructure — it’s nonsense,” says Crosby. “In SoftLayer, you can drill down to the server, the rack, the network board, the serial numbers … everything down to the encryption level on the drive” even in multitenanted systems.

That may not seem very cloudy to some. But according to Crosby, offering such transparency — and in single-tenanted systems, granular control over configuration — delivers special benefit to SoftLayer customers. He provides a detailed example:

We have a customer who is writing a big data solution for retail. They’re using SSD drives, and their developers are saying “you should be getting better performance from the drives.” The [customer’s] devops guys looked into the drives, and their drives actually had two versions of firmware… They swapped the firmware on the drives — they pushed a button and made an API call — and performance went up 25 percent. In Amazon land, you’ve got to buy 25 percent more machine.

Crosby said he pushed his engineers from the beginning to build in this extreme level of visibility, which resulted in SoftLayer’s Infrastructure Management System (IMS), an API layer that today offers 2,200 documented methods across 180 discrete services. According to Crosby, he allowed his good friend Lanham Napier, CEO of Rackspace, to use IMS as the original framework for OpenStack, which now stands as the open source leader in cloud software platforms.

Source: http://podcasts.infoworld.com/t/cloud-computing/softlayer-ceo-very-big-blue-cloud-coming-229605?source=rss_infoworld_top_stories_
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Crashing rockets could lead to novel sample-return technology

[unable to retrieve full-text content]In early 2013, University of Washington students launched rockets from kites and balloons into a dry Nevada lakebed, early tests of a concept to collect and return samples from forbidding environments.Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131101172322.htm
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iPad Air online sales begin globally, get it while it’s hot!

As expected for the U.S, but later than expected in Europe – no Midnight launch here – the iPad Air has gone on sale at Apple online stores. Retail stores open the doors at 8am local time, but if you’re not too keen on braving the cold you can now snag both colors in all size and WiFi or cellular variants for shipping within 24 hours in Europe, and within a few days in the U.S.

Pricing has been known since the launch event, and so far all models are available. The new iPad Air Smart Cover and Smart Case has also gone on sale on the online store if you’re looking for that official Apple way to keep your new iPad protected.

If you grabbed one from the online store, drop us a line in the comments and tell us what you got and where you are!

Source: Apple Store

iPad Air

iPad Air
Apple’s full-sized iPad gets slimmed down. Features include:

Complete preview >

Released
November, 2013

Alternatives
Retina iPad mini, iPad 2

Replacements
iPad Air 2 (iPad 6)
Fall, 2014

Resources
Buyers guide
Help forum

    



Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheIphoneBlog/~3/YD7_ZKmuPe0/story01.htm
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FAA eases rules on electronic devices on planes

A passenger check her cell phone before a flight, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, in Boston. The Federal Aviation Administration issued new guidelines Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, under which passengers will be able to use devices to read, work, play games, watch movies and listen to music, from the time they board to the time they leave the plane. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

A passenger check her cell phone before a flight, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, in Boston. The Federal Aviation Administration issued new guidelines Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, under which passengers will be able to use devices to read, work, play games, watch movies and listen to music, from the time they board to the time they leave the plane. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta announces that government safety rules are changing to let airline passengers use most electronic devices from gate-to-gate during a news conference, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, at Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport. The change will let passengers read, work, play games, watch movies and listen to music _ but not make cellphone calls. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

A passenger check his cell phone while boarding a flight, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, in Boston. The Federal Aviation Administration issued new guidelines Thursday, under which passengers will be able to use devices to read, work, play games, watch movies and listen to music, from the time they board to the time they leave the plane. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta announces that government safety rules are changing to let airline passengers use most electronic devices from gate-to-gate during a news conference, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, at Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport. The change will let passengers read, work, play games, watch movies and listen to music _ but not make cellphone calls. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta announces that government safety rules are changing to let airline passengers use most electronic devices from gate-to-gate during a news conference, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, at Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport. The change will let passengers read, work, play games, watch movies and listen to music _ but not make cellphone calls. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

(AP) — Airline passengers won’t have to “turn off all electronic devices” anymore — they’ll be able to read, work, play games, watch movies and listen to music from gate to gate under new guidelines from the Federal Aviation Administration. But they still can’t talk on their cellphones through the flight.

Don’t expect the changes to happen immediately, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said Thursday at a news conference announcing new rules. How fast will vary by airline.

Delta and JetBlue said they would quickly submit plans to implement the new policy. Airlines will have to show the FAA that their airplanes meet the new guidelines and that they’ve updated their flight-crew training manuals, safety announcements and rules for stowing devices to reflect the new guidelines.

It sounded like good news to passengers heading out from Reagan National Airport on Thursday.

Ketan Patel, 24, said he’s happy that regulators have debunked the idea that the devices pose a safety problem. “If it isn’t a problem, it should be allowed,” he said as he stepped into a security line, a smartphone in his hand.

Monica Lexie, 50, entering the same line, said the change will enable her to use her Kindle to read longer. But then she was never bothered by the restrictions.

“You just shut it off and wait for the little light to go on,” she said. “Our safety takes precedence.”

Currently, passengers are required to turn off their smartphones, tablets and other devices once a plane’s door closes. They’re not supposed to restart them until the planes reach 10,000 feet and the captain gives the go-ahead. Passengers are supposed to turn their devices off again as the plane descends to land and not restart them until it is on the ground.

Under the new guidelines, airlines whose planes are properly protected from electronic interference may allow passengers to use the devices during takeoffs, landings and taxiing, the FAA said. Most new airliners and other planes that have been modified so that passengers can use Wi-Fi at higher altitudes are expected to meet the criteria.

Passengers will also be able to connect to the Internet to surf, exchange emails, or download data below 10,000 feet if the plane has an installed Wi-Fi system, but not through cellular networks. Passengers will be told to switch their devices to airplane mode. Heavier devices such as laptops will continue to have to be stowed away because of concern they might injure someone if they go flying around the cabin.

The guidelines reflect the evolution in types and prevalence of devices used by passengers over the past decade. In 2003, 70 percent of passengers carried electronic devices with them on planes, and the most common device was a cellphone that wasn’t capable of connecting to the Internet, followed by a calculator, according to a survey by the Consumer Electronics Association. A follow-up survey by the association this year found that 99 percent of passengers carry some device with them, with smartphones the most common followed by notebook or laptop computers.

In-flight cellphone calls will continue to be prohibited. Regulatory authority over phone calls belongs to the Federal Communications Commission, not the FAA. The commission prohibits the calls because of concern that phones on planes flying at hundreds of miles per hour could strain the ability of cellular networks to keep up as the devices keep trying to connect with cellphone towers, interfering with service to users on the ground.

The changes announced Thursday apply to both domestic and international flights by U.S. carriers, but the rules get a little tricky for international flights. On takeoff from the United States and during landing back in the U.S., passengers would be allowed to use electronics. However, when arriving or departing a foreign country, passengers would have to comply with local laws. Currently, most counties have their own prohibitions on electronic device use. However, they tend to follow the FAA’s lead and likely could relax their own rules in the near future.

An industry advisory committee created by the FAA to examine the issue recommended last month that the government permit greater use of personal electronic devices.

Pressure has been building on the FAA to ease restrictions on their use. Critics of the restraints such as Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., say there is no valid safety reason for the prohibitions. Restrictions have also become more difficult to enforce as use of the devices has become ubiquitous. Some studies indicate as many as a third of passengers forget or ignore directions to turn off their devices.

The FAA began restricting passengers’ use of electronic devices in 1966 in response to reports of interference with navigation and communications equipment when passengers began carrying FM radios, the high-tech gadgets of their day.

A lot has changed since then. New airliners are far more reliant on electrical systems than previous generations of aircraft, but they are also designed and approved by the FAA to be resistant to electronic interference. Airlines are already offering Wi-Fi use at cruising altitudes on planes modified to be more resistant to interference.

The vast majority of airliners should qualify for greater electronic device use under the new guidelines, Huerta said. In rare instances of landings during severe weather with low visibility, pilots may still order passengers to turn off devices because there is some evidence of potential interference with the use of instrument landing systems under those conditions, he said.

Today’s electronic devices generally emit much lower power radio transmissions than previous generations of devices. E-readers, for example, emit only minimal transmissions when turning a page. But transmissions are stronger when devices are downloading or sending data.

Among those pressing for a relaxation of restrictions on passengers’ use of the devices has been Amazon.com. In 2011, company officials loaded an airliner full of their Kindle e-readers and flew it around to test for problems but found none.

A travel industry group welcomed the changes, calling them common-sense accommodations for a traveling public now bristling with technology. “We’re pleased the FAA recognizes that an enjoyable passenger experience is not incompatible with safety and security,” said Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.

___

AP Airlines Writer Scott Mayerowitz in New York contributed to this report.

___

Follow Joan Lowy on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy

Associated PressSource: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/495d344a0d10421e9baa8ee77029cfbd/Article_2013-10-31-Cellphones-Planes/id-a8ab220f4ec341c4b02ada614ec059ce
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