OAPs to be given Samsung Galaxy tablets to SKYPE carers after cash-strapped council scraps home visits

A CASH-STRAPPED council is handing out high-end Samsung Galaxy tablets in a bid to make sick pensioners SKYPE their carers instead of receiving a home visit.

Up to 40 OAPs in Essex will be handed top-of-the-range 4G Samsung Galaxy tablets as part of the madcap scheme.

 Up to 40 Essex OAPs will receive top-of-the-range computer tablets as part of the trial

SWNS:South West News Service

Up to 40 Essex OAPs will receive top-of-the-range computer tablets as part of the trial

Last night Essex County Council bosses insisted the trial, run in partnership with Essex Cared LTD, will provide “a more convenient and prove a less intrusive method of interacting with a care worker, friends and family.”

But top GP Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard blasted: “What these patients need is someone to listen to them and to find purpose in life.

“GPs see patients, many of whom are widowed, who have multiple health problems like diabetes, hypertension and depression, but often their main problem isn’t medical, they’re lonely.

An estimated 1.1 million OAPs are chronically lonely in the UK, and lonely people are more likely to develop serious conditions like heart disease, depression and dementia.

Cliff Rich, CEO of Contact the Elderly added: “We gladly recognise the amazing strides modern technology has made in helping all of us, and especially older people, with staying in touch with family and friends who may live too far away to visit in person.

 Critics say the scheme will rob lonely pensioners of vital face-to-face contact

SWNS:South West News Service

Critics say the scheme will rob lonely pensioners of vital face-to-face contact

“However, we still believe that nothing can replace the essential human need for face-to-face interaction.”

John Spence, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “It is important that we keep pace with new technology.

“I am pleased that Essex is trialling this system to have a positive impact on people’s lives.

“It will allow our vulnerable adults to live independently, providing them with something that is accessible from the comfort of their own homes.”

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Microsoft’s Cortana-Powered Speaker To Rival Amazon Echo And Google Home; Invoke Speaker With Skype Integration : Tech : Science World Report

First Posted: May 11, 2017 03:00 AM EDT

Microsoft Invoke Speaker

The Microsoft Cortana-powered Invoke speaker has a Skype built-in feature, which makes it better than Google Home and Amazon Echo.
(Photo : Windows/YouTube screenshot)

Microsoft recently announced that its internet-connected speaker will debut this fall. Microsoft teamed up with Harman Kardon company to make this device possible. Harman Kardon is a manufacturer of home and car audio equipment. The Microsoft speaker is called the “Invoke.”

According to Trusted Reviews, the Invoke speaker is the first intelligent speaker to feature Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant. The device is expected to rival the speakers like Google’s Home and Amazon’s Echo. Users can easily ask the voice assistant Cortana to play music, check the traffic, set calendar schedules, listen to the latest news and events, control smart home thermostats and many more.

Some speakers tend to sound cheap and tinny. But the partnership of Microsoft and Harmon Kardon means that the Invoke speaker will not have these common problems. The Microsoft Invoke speaker will have seven microphones to listen for users barking orders. Microsoft is still looking for a way to upgrade the Invoke for it to stand out from any other speakers.

As CNBC noted, Microsoft also added a Skype built-in feature to the Invoke speaker. With the Skype integrated feature, users are allowed to call cellphones and other Skype users using the device. This feature is not available on Google Home or Amazon Echo.

The Skype integration feature means that the Microsoft Invoke speaker could function as a slick-looking speaker phone and receive Skype calls, too. This makes the Microsoft Invoke speaker potentially more useful than either the Amazon Echo or Google Home.

More details about the Microsoft Invoke speaker and other devices are expected to be revealed at the company’s annual Build developer conference. The Invoke speaker and other speakers with voice assistants only exist to collect information from its users.

A Gizmodo report stated that it is easier for the company to sell something to the users if there is a lot of information the company has on a user. There was a case where Google irritated a user by delivering unsolicited ads for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Also, Amazon Echo takes note on what kinds of products are bought when the user orders them via Alexa.


Skype for Windows 10 is Now Available on the Xbox One

Why it matters to you

This updated version of Skype should offer Xbox One users more control over their video calls and audio conversations.

In August 2016, Microsoft launched the Universal Windows Platform version of Skype on PCs and mobile devices alongside the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Now, as the Creators Update is being rolled out to Windows users, the company has brought the UWP Skype app to the Xbox One.

The app has undergone some changes to ensure that the console experience is just as good as using Skype on a PC or a mobile device. Its user interface has been simplified, and outfitted with a dark color scheme that’s more in line with other Xbox One utilities, according to a post on the Skype blog.

Users can take advantage of various shortcuts that have been mapped to the Xbox One controller. A single button press can send a video call to the background, turning off the camera feed but retaining the audio while the user boots up a game or begins watching a television show.

The new app also brings some improvements to the way Skype utilizes the Xbox One’s Kinect camera peripheral. The camera can use auto zoom to focus in on the caller, panning and zooming as necessary, but there’s also a new manual zoom option that allows users to fine-tune their camera positioning by hand — the triggers of the controller zoom in and out, while the right stick can be used to pan around.

While the focus of the Creators Update has largely been the PC, Microsoft hasn’t been ignoring the Xbox One. As well as this new version of Skype, the company has introduced a swathe of new features to the system as part of the update, like its budding gameplay streaming platform, Beam.

Anyone who has already installed Skype on their Xbox One should find that the app updates to the UWP version automatically. If you don’t already have the app, it’s available now via the Xbox One app store.

Skype boss to lead Motorola Solutions software unit – John Pletz Technology Blog

Motorola Solutions has hired a Microsoft veteran as its first head of software.

Andrew Sinclair, who has been leading Skype, joins Moto as the maker of police radios and dispatch equipment looks to put more emphasis on software and services. Last year, Motorola spent $1.3 billion on four software and service acquisitions and stepped up its hiring of coders.

“Today, we estimate Motorola’s software business is less than 10 percent of revenues, primarily centered in 911 answering centers and first-responder command centers,” Raymond James analyst Tavis McCourt wrote in a research note today. “We can only presume the company will continue to be acquisitive on this front.”

Sinclair, who lives in Seattle, was at Microsoft for nearly 12 years before joining the team at Skype, which Microsoft acquired.


Moto got some other good news last week: It’s a partner with AT&T in the contract to build FirstNet, a nationwide network for public safety designed to allow different departments and agencies to communicate.

AT&T declined to say much about the 25-year, $46.5 billion deal to build out a dedicated, secure broadband network for emergency communications. The idea, approved by Congress in 2012, grew out of problems first responders encountered during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when different emergency departments were unable to communicate with each other.

Since then, police and other emergency workers have taken advantage of smartphones, which took off a decade ago. But they’re using the same networks as the public, which are insecure and often unreliable during emergencies.

Motorola is expected to play a role in FirstNet providing capabilities, such as push-to-talk, that would allow devices such as smartphones using cellular LTE technology to communicate with traditional radios used by police, fire and other emergency workers. That’s one of the reasons Motorola is beefing up its software capabilities.

Motorola has been talking for years about the advent of public-safety LTE, which would bring smartphone capabilities to handle real-time video and other technologies. But it’s been a slow journey. The biggest benefits to Motorola likely will come from selling new equipment, software and services for its customers who will use the new network or others like it. (States could opt out of FirstNet.) Last year, public-safety LTE accounted for about $140 million of Motorola’s $6 billion in total revenue.

It remains to be seen whether the rollout of broadband and open-source technologies that has disrupted the traditional phone, television, music and other communication businesses will weaken Motorola’s core business of selling handheld radios and other equipment to first responders. In its recent annual report, Motorola notes that “FirstNet’s stated intent (is) to reduce handset prices.” It also said: “New technologies such as voice over LTE or push-to-talk clients over LTE could reduce sales of our traditional products. The shift to smart public safety and the prevalence of data in our customer’s use cases results in our competing in a more fragmented marketplace.”

Investors aren’t worried. The stock is holding steady at about $85 per share, just shy of a 52-week high set Jan. 25.

Hands on with Skype Preview, now accessible on the Xbox One’s Alpha ring (video)

For a few months now, Skype’s UWP Preview app has been available in the ready to install list, albeit inaccessible. Until now!

It appears that this only works on the Xbox Insider Program‘s Alpha ring as of writing, but if you’re able to get it elsewhere, let us know in the comments!

For those who are in the Alpha ring: if you have previously downloaded Skype Preview for Windows 10, the app will be in your Ready to Install list under Games & Apps. If not, you can search for Skype in the Xbox Store and download the Preview app.

Skype Preview will eventually replace Skype on Xbox One, which was previously Windows 8-based. The UWP version shares common code with the Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, and HoloLens version of the app, showcasing the power of the platform. Here’s a quick look at the app so far, which appears to be off to a decent start.

The Skype Preview app for Xbox One has a unique interface which is clearly still a work in progress. It’s a little odd navigating the app’s elements with a controller, but given the way Groove has improved since its initial beta phase, Skype should see similar improvements.

The instant messaging experience is a little awkward to navigate on a controller. Some of the icons are very small and fiddly to select. For example, selecting the text field automatically opens the soft keyboard, whether you want it to or not. Additionally, you open the sidebar using the menu key, even though the menu key is supposed to be for opening the hamburger menu, which is a little confusing.

Most of the features seem to work, including video chat, instant messaging, and voice calling. But interestingly, Skype Preview for Xbox One also supports the new UWP File Explorer, allowing you to send files and photos as if you were on PC.

When it comes to unique Xbox One aspects, the app has a tiled contact list and conversation view, which is far easier to navigate with a controller than the Windows 10 columnar view would be. This makes navigation of the app really easy on a TV and shows that the Skype team are considering how to improve the experience per device, rather than making a single app for PC and being done with it.

As of writing, there’s no sign of Skype Preview’s Compact Overlay Mode, which is available to Windows 10 Fast ring insiders. We believe that Compact Overlay Mode will replace Snap Mode on Xbox One, which is removed for the Creators Update. Microsoft is clearly still working to align the APIs between Windows 10 and Xbox One for this feature, but it’s almost definitely on the way.

These are early days yet, and there’s plenty of time to improve the app before it hits the general public. It’s already far faster than the previous Windows 8 version, and the inclusion of the File Explorer is rather encouraging.

Stay tuned to Windows Central for all the latest information from the Xbox Insider Program, and let us know if you’re able to grab Skype Preview on Xbox One in the comments.

Thanks, Jesse C., for the tip!

How to Record Audio Output and Voice on macOS Sierra

This is useful for recording Let’s Plays of Video Games, Skype Calls, and other projects that require the output audio as well as an additional input device.

Soundflower link:

After installing Soundflower you will need to go into Audio MIDI Setup, create a Multi-Output Device, so that you can link all output audio to both your main output and Soundflower, and set the new device as the default device. Then set the input device on the capture software to Soundflower.

To record both your voice (or other input device) along with Soundflower, you will need to create an aggregate device, which will allow the capture software to record multiple inputs at once. Garageband doesn’t support recording of more than two channels (stereo), and since this aggregate device has four, you cannot use Garageband for your project. However, if you record using QuickTime Player’s audio recorder, it’ll keep the four channels separately in the same file, and if you install Audacity and import the recording into an Audacity project, you have control over all four channels individually. You can then export the recording as a stereo audio file.

If you want to record voice and audio output while recording your screen, OBS, or Open Broadcasting Software, is a great tool for that. It lets you add multiple input devices into the same stereo mix. Not only is OBS a great streaming program, it’s recording is excellent too.

Full disclaimer: Recording Skype calls may be unlawful in your area. You must inform every participant in your party that you are recording. I am not responsible of any damages to you or your property, nor am I responsible for any legal troubles you may get into.

Skype Is Getting Better But Older Versions Won’t Work From March : TECH : Tech Times

Good news for users of Skype’s desktop version – Microsoft is working towards making the service better.

However, those who are still on the older version of Skype for desktop will need to update the application soon as come March, it will cease to function.

That’s right, after March 1 older versions of Skype will not work as Microsoft is updating the application to a newer version.

Microsoft made the announcement through a blog post on Feb. 3. In the post, the company revealed that getting rid of the older versions is a part of its strategy to make the transition to the new Skype version smoother and easier.

“Beginning March 1, users running older versions of Skype for Windows desktop (7.16 and below) or Skype for Mac (7.0 to 7.18) will no longer be able to sign in,” stated Microsoft.

Skype users will get almost a month’s time to move over to the new version as the older versions will stop working after the above-mentioned date.

Users of Windows and Mac will be affected by the transition of the messaging application to its updated version.

Skype Latest Features

The updated version promises users a more consistent Skype experience with a redesigned infrastructure that is built to work faster. Microsoft also claims that the new interface is much lighter than Skype’s older versions and also more responsive at the same time.

The updated Skype application for desktop also will allows one to use enhanced features such as group video calling, mobile group video calling and sharing files of a maximum 300 MB through the cloud. Post the update, users will also have the ability to save video messages.

Skype For Windows

One can get hold of the updated version of Skype from its website. The user’s account information will be automatically synced once the latest version of Skype has been downloaded on the desktop. The updated version will also incorporate the user’s password, contacts and past conversations automatically.

The updated Skype will be available for the Windows versions stated below:

Windows 10
Windows 8.1
Windows 8
Windows 7 (both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions)
Windows Vista
Windows XP SP3 (both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions)

Users using Skype version 7.16 or lower in any of the above mentioned Windows version will need to upgrade their Skype applications by the March deadline. All Windows users must have at least a 1GHz processor along with minimum 512 MB of RAM for the update to download and install smoothly.

In addition, Windows 7 users will need to upgrade their Internet Explorer to v11 and Windows XP SP3 users will need to ensure that they are using Internet Explorer 8 or higher versions of the browser.

Skype For Mac

Skype users on Mac must have the following Mac versions to support the latest update.

Mac OS X 10.10 or higher versions of the same
Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

The processor must be minimum 1 GHz Intel with Core 2 Duo and should have RAM of at least 1 GB. Mac users operating Skype version 7.18 or lower will have to upgrade to the latest version of the app.

For more information on Skype for Windows and Mac, please visit the support site.

Photo: Mark Doliner | Flickr 

© 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Jenks middle school students recieve time with NASA astronuat by Skype during special assembly

More than 1,000 Jenks students packed into the Jenks High School Performing Arts Center Thursday for a chance to speak with a NASA astronaut executing a mission in outer space.  

Throughout the week, students from all across the Tulsa area have encountered demonstrations and speeches from former NASA employees discussing their past missions and work for the American space organization. 

However, Jenks students received a special opportunity to speak with a NASA astronaut, Shane Kimbrough, who is currently serving as the head Commander of the International Space Station. 

Nordam, the Oklahoma based aerospace company who helped sponsor the event, created Flight Night Space Week to help inspire local students  undergoing Oklahoma’s Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics programs. 

Nordam Vice President of Culture and Communication, Bailey J.Siegfried, started Flight Night Space Week two years ago and says he wanted to reintroduce space to younger generations.

“I felt like today space isn’t in our kids lives like it once was. The space race and walking on the moon, that inspired generations and we need to reinvigorate and re-energize generations that are going to be going out further than the moon,” Siegfried said.

 After speaking with Commander Kimbrough, students heard from former NASA pilot, Lt. Col Duane Carey, who shared the story of how he became apart of a team that performed missions in outer space.

Carey, who served in the U.S. military as a fighter pilot, captured the attention of students with his childhood story. Carey was raised by a single mother within the inner city of Minneapolis, MN and was not accepted into college until after turning 20-years-old.

Carey, who executed a handful of missions for NASA in space, says he travels all over the world to speak to students about his experiences working for NASA in order to help recruit a new generation of astronauts and engineers. 

‘No longer do we have a generation of kids that are going to do things because we tell them to do it, they’re going to do it because they want to do it. It’s on us to motivate them, to steer them in that right direction,” Carey said. 

By Friday, Flight Night Space Week will reach nearly 10,000 students in the Tulsa area and local organizations along with Nordam will have raised more than $500,000 since beginning the program. 

Jenks Superintendent, Tracie Butterfield, says she jumped for a chance to work with Nordam and urges Tulsans to help Flight Night expand and learn more about STEM programs in Oklahoma.

“I just encourage everyone get involved and make opportunities like this available for our students and students across this state, ” Butterfield said.


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