Microsoft revenue beats as remote work boosts Teams – Benchmarking Change- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Microsoft Corp has beaten Wall Street sales and profit expectations, powered by sharp demand for its Teams chat and online meeting app and Xbox gaming services as the world shifted to working and playing from home because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The company’s shares, up over 12 percent this year, rose about 5 percent in extended trading.
The results reflect Chief Executive Satya Nadella’s focus over his six-year tenure on cloud computing, in which companies tap Microsoft’s data centers for computing power – a growing business dominated by Amazon.com Inc’s Amazon Web Services.
For the fiscal fourth quarter, Microsoft gave business-unit forecasts that were below analyst estimates, predicting tough times for LinkedIn and some small-business software sales.
“Ultimately, Microsoft is not immune from what is going on broadly in the world in terms of GDP growth,” Nadella said on a conference call with investors.
But results benefited from sales of its Windows operating system and Surface hardware devices as people upgraded personal computers to work or study from home. Microsoft also cited all-time-high engagement on its Xbox Live gaming service, with 90 million monthly active users.
“The biggest missed opportunity was in Surface, where demand was huge, the channel inventory was depleted, and supply chain constraints reduced finished goods output,” said Moor Insights & Strategy analyst Patrick Moorhead. “I believe the company could have easily sold 15-20 percent more if available.”
Microsoft also benefited from strong demand for its Teams collaboration software, which Nadella said on a conference call now has 75 million daily active users and competes with Zoom Video Communications Inc and Slack Technologies Inc . The demand influx strained Microsoft’s data centers, forcing it to limit new cloud customers’ usage and prioritize healthcare and government users.
In an interview, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood said some of the increased Teams usage came from subscribers with access to the software as part of a broader package and turned it on for the first time. In other cases, Hood said, Microsoft offered Teams in a free trial to large customers.
“In those instances, you also won’t see revenue, but seeing great usage obviously is terrific for us longer term if people want to convert that to a paying seat,” Hood said. “While I’m really excited about the long-term potential for revenue, you won’t see it in this (fiscal third) quarter, or really even in Q4. It’s more about people being more and more engaged with Microsoft products.”
Responding to analysts’ questions, Microsoft executives declined to specify when they would start charging Teams customers on free trials. “Immediate term, we are mostly building out the relationships, adding new customers, adding intensity and usage in existing relationships,” Nadella said on the call.
Third-quarter sales were helped by demand for cloud services. However, Azure growth slowed to 59 percent from 62 percent in the second quarter, which company officials said was a result of how large the business has become.
“Despite the slowed growth, (Azure) operates at approximately 10 times the scale of Google (by annual revenues) and has seen better enterprise adoption so far,” said Daniel Elman, an analyst at Nucleus Research.
Microsoft said revenue for its “commercial cloud,” a combination of Azure and the cloud-based versions of software such as Office, rose 39 percent to US$13.3 billion.
The business’ gross profit margin, a key measure of cloud profitability that Microsoft has told investors it expects to improve, was 67 percent versus 63 percent last year.
Microsoft also said capital expenditure was US$3.9 billion, up from US$3.4 billion a year earlier and less than the US$4.5 billion the previous quarter. However, Hood told Reuters that supply chain constraints due to the coronavirus pandemic had delayed some spending to build Azure data centers, which will likely be higher next quarter as the company works to catch up.
Revenue in the Intelligent Cloud segment, which includes Azure, rose 27 percent to US$12.28 billion, beating analysts’ consensus estimate of US$11.87 billion according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Revenue rose 15 percent to US$35.02 billion in the third quarter ending March 31, beating estimates of US$33.66 billion.
Net income rose to US$10.75 billion, or US$1.40 per share, from US$8.81 billion, or US$1.14

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ANZ to ‘heavily’ embrace SRE for new banking platform – Finance – Cloud- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

(L-R) Kelsey Hightower (Google) and Chris Venter (ANZ).

ANZ Banking Group is set to “heavily” embrace site reliability engineering in the way it operates its forthcoming connected banking platform, now being built under the ANZx transformation.
The transformation’s general manager of technology Chris Venter revealed that he – and other ANZx staff – visited Google’s Sunnyvale headquarters, where site reliability engineering (SRE) was “a big part of [the] discussion.”
As a discipline, SRE’s owes its roots to Google in the early 2000s. It uses software to resolve operational challenges such as “availability, latency, performance, efficiency, change management, monitoring, emergency response, and capacity planning”, according to Google documentation.
“My team and myself recently went to Sunnyvale and we spent some time with Google, and a big part of our discussion was on Site Reliability Engineering,” Venter said.
“We got to learn a little bit about how Google does Site Reliability Engineering, and it’s a concept we’re going to be embracing heavily as we build out our capabilities.”
The bank also met with Google developer advocate Kelsey Hightower on his return to Australia last month, having first hosted Hightower in Australia nine months earlier where he spent time with ANZ’s engineering squads “learning about our technology landscape and some of our engineering practices”.
Hightower said he had seen improvements in ANZ’s engineering and cloud maturity in the nine months between visits.
“Nine months ago, there were a lot of ideas, diagrams, graphs and ‘what we want to do’ or ‘what are the best practices’,” Hightower said in comments recorded at ANZ that were revealed this week. 
“This time around, there’s a lot more live demos. That’s a big leap between ‘we have this idea’ to ‘here’s what we’ve done’.
“I think you’ve [ANZ] gone from asking for the best practices to actually practicing [them].”
Hightower said ANZ’s challenge would be to “take the cultural aspects” of how Google approached SRE and to apply them in a banking context.
However, he noted that ANZ appeared to “have the foundation pieces in play” to do so.
ANZ said in recruitment advertisements this week that engineers “within the ANZx Platforms SRE squad … will be responsible for building and running the cloud platforms of Australia’s largest financial institution.”
“You will also be responsible for designing and writing software to improve the reliability of ANZ services,” the advertisement reads.
“Don’t let that scare you though, we’re doing things differently for the cloud. 
“You will apply SRE principles to ensure we monitor and measure what is important, you will automate our platforms and services for reliable operations at scale, including automation of our security and governance controls.
“You will also assist development teams to apply the same principles to achieve quality in their releases and will be a subject matter expert on running services well on the cloud, sharing this experience with engineers across the organisation.”
‘Stop the train’
Hightower said one mark of a good SRE team was in them having “a little bit of authority to stop the train” – essentially to call a temporary halt to activities while a performance issue is fixed.
“As a bank, the highest level SLA that you have is the customer experience: can the customer buy things? Can they see their transactions? Can they transfer money?” Hightower advised.
“When that experience is disrupted by the technology behind it, it’s your SRE team that understands that part of the business and has the monitoring and metrics in place to say, ‘Hey, we have to stop the train’. 
“Maybe you have to pause releases for a little while until you focus on reliability. Maybe you have latency targets that affect the experience.
“Then maybe there’s going to be software engineering that goes specifically to keep the experience bar where you’ve promised your customer.”
Hightower also said one of the individual traits he looked for in an SRE engineer was an appreciation for “the boring aspects of this job”. 
“Reliability can sometimes be a very boring thing,” he said.
“It’s not always about building new features or changing a technology because it’s new. 
“It’s really understanding what reliability means, and doing your very best to defend it.
“So the qualities I look for are: if you observe that the system is getting slow, do you have the ability to go as deep as possible … [and] do whatever it takes to get to that true root cause analysis, step back and present that data to the business and to the team, and then follow that up with either custom tooling, improving the libraries that are being used, or maybe writing a little bit of code. 
“That’s the philosophy that I’m looking for is someone that can identify a problem, own it to completion and back it up with data so that it becomes the culture.”

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PEXA sets up Cloud Academy to upskill staff – Training & Development – Cloud- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) has set up an internal ‘academy’ to train and certify staff in cloud skills and ultimately unlock potential from its cloud-based environment.
The company, which offers an electronic alternative to paper conveyancing, wasn’t “born in the cloud” but has “spent significant time uplifting our core platform into the AWS ecosystem,” general manager of technology John Natsioulas told iTnews.
“This work continues to evolve every day as we iterate on our core platform,” Natsioulas said.
“We would like to see our product teams more knowledgeable about AWS in general and have the ability to self-service to a much higher level, working with our cloud engineering team to ultimately improve the speed to customer value.”
PEXA already had a strong internal capability in the cloud engineering team that directly oversaw its operating environment.
“The team works very closely with our delivery teams and AWS partners to solve challenges, and we have had a lot of success so far,” Natsioulas said.
The company is now looking to build cloud skills outside of IT.
“As our product teams grow, we are finding that we want a lot more to exist in the cloud,” Natsioulas said.
“We believe that bringing everyone along a certification journey will not only equip them for future success but allow for greater ideation on how we can best utilise the Cloud for what the technology team want to do to support business objectives.”
Though PEXA began exploring the establishment of a cloud academy “a while ago”, go-live wound up coinciding with the escalation of the COVID-19 crisis.
“With all of us working from home, the cloud academy became an essential tool to keep the team motivated,” Natsioulas said.
“Not only does it allow for virtual learning, but teams also get an opportunity to break up their day.”
PEXA will put all 100 of its broader technology team through the academy, along with other staff from across the business, where Natsioulas said there had been “lots of interest” in the program.
“Ideally, we would like 100 percent of the technology team certified by the cloud academy,” he said.
“This includes those who may not be ‘on the tools’ day to day.
“While a majority of our employees will receive baseline Practitioner certification, many individual tech engineers will achieve higher levels or focus on specialities, receiving Associate, Professional and Specialist level certification.”
Raising the base level of cloud fluency across the organisation is anticipated to help teams “zero in on the right technology and products to focus on.”
PEXA anticipates being able to “make decisions faster; [and] discuss, develop and unleash new product ideas by unlocking possibilities, all with better outcomes for our members and the citizens of Australia.”
The company joins others such as NAB and IAG in setting up internal cloud academies to upskill staff and expand their use of cloud into all aspects of the business.

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Lord Sugar criticised for sharing Covid-19 falsehoods on Twitter | World news- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Lord Sugar has been criticised for sharing a coronavirus conspiracy theory on social media.
The Apprentice star tweeted a claim purported to be from a Japanese scientist saying that Covid-19 was man-made.
Independent fact-checking charity Full Fact later debunked the claims.
A statement on its website said: “Various posts on Facebook claim that the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Professor Tasuku Honjo has said that coronavirus is ‘not natural’. The claim was also shared on Twitter, including by Lord Sugar. We’ve been asked to check this by lots of readers. This claim is false.”
Lord Sugar later tweeted to say that he believed his earlier tweet to be “fake news”, but defended his decision to share it. He wrote: “I just passed it on. I didn’t write it.”
When Lord Sugar was asked by one Twitter user what the source of the information in his original tweet was, he replied “who knows?”.
In a separate post addressing someone who had told him to “concentrate on removing fake news from your feed”, he said: “Shut your face.”
Earlier this week, Professor Honjo released a statement via Kyoto University about his name being used to spread unfounded conspiracy theories.
It said: “In the wake of the pain, economic loss, and unprecedented global suffering caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, I am greatly saddened that my name and that of Kyoto University have been used to spread false accusations and misinformation.”
On Wednesday, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport minister Baroness Barran urged celebrities not to “fan the flames” around coronavirus by spreading misinformation.
She also stated the need for people to follow public health guidance as members of the House of Lords warned of a rise in “fake news”.
On Monday, Conservative MP Julian Knight, who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee suggested that Twitter should remove the verified “blue tick” status for accounts that shared misinformation about the pandemic.
He told the Commons: “Some of the most pernicious pieces of disinformation – such as [false claims linking coronavirus and] 5G and, let’s be frank, the lie about the government’s fake NHS accounts – have been amplified by blue tick verified users on Twitter.”
Lord Sugar has been contacted for comment.

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Beats By Dre, Terra Chips, Samsung, Old Navy: Tempemail Marketing Awards USA 2020 winners- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Daughters of the Evolution, Beats By Dre, Terra Chips, Samsung and Old Navy are among the brands who have won at Tempemail Marketing Awards USA 2020.
Designed to honour the agencies, publishers, brands and platforms showing excellence and innovation, these awards bring together some of the biggest names in modern marketing.
The current Covid-19 situation means that Tempemail won’t be hosting the usual celebration dinners to announce our winners. Instead, this year we’re sharing the exciting news in a variety of ways via our digital channels with all our nominees and winners.
Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Daughters of the Evolution scopped the Grand Prix for their campaign, ‘Lessons in Herstory’. Meanwhile PMG, Zambezi, Haworth Marketing & Media and Beats by Dre were awarded New Product or Service Launch and Global Integrated Strategy for the global launch of Powerbeats Pro.
Check out some of the amazing winners or watch the full ceremony below:
powered by Crowdcast
Grand Prix/Cause Related/Best Use of Tech/ Mobile strategy
Campaign: Lessons in Herstory
Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Client: Daughters of the Evolution

Daughters of the Evolution wanted to tackle the power imbalance between men and women in society. At the root of the problem: adolescence, when a person’s identity is being formed.
Goodby Silverstein & Partners found that less than 11% of stories in US-history textbooks are devoted to women, meaning children are prevented from accessing a balanced representation or stories of how women have contributed to society.
Convincing educational publishers to rewrite, reprint and redistribute textbooks across America was a major hurdle. Together with The New York Times bestselling author Kate Schatz and the power of augmented reality, they ‘rewrote’ one of the most popular US-history textbooks without changing it at all. The app currently features stories of 75 women from the 19th century. All students need to do is scan any photo of a man in the textbook to unlock a related story about a forgotten woman in history.
Juror’s thoughts: “This is powerful! Wresting back control of history from the patriarchy who has controlled is breathtaking. This is using tech to disrupt. This should be in every girl’s – and boy’s – list of essential school items. Amazing job.” Jason Chebib, vice president, consumer planning, Diageo.

New Product or Service Launch/Global Integrated Strategy
Campaign: Global Launch of Powerbeats Pro
Agency: PMG, Zambezi, Haworth Marketing & Media
Client: Beats by Dre

PMG, Zambezi and Haworth Marketing and Media had the opportunity to help Beats by Dre stand out and be taken seriously in a new way, with Powerbeats Pro, the brand’s most technically advanced product to date.
The goal was to make a version of performance so compelling that it transcended the category.
However, it wasn’t enough to simply talk about product features – everyone else was doing that with similar headphones. By connecting features and benefits to athletes and sports enthusiasts, it sparked emotional connections with the audience and fed their own sense of performance.
Juror’s thoughts: “The strategy was clear, the creative was beautifully executed and the product looks great.” Ezra Englebardt, brand strategy lead, luxury and lifestyle brands, Wayfair.

B2B
Campaign: Infinity Screening
Agency: Iris
Client: Samsung

For the launch of its flagship Galaxy S10, Samsung challenged Iris to come up with a training program which would educate its Verizon sales representatives on the new handset.
Iris created a fully immersive training program in the form of a film festival, disguising training as a series of immersive and entertaining experiences: ‘EnterTRAINment’.
Taking into account what the Verizon sales representatives were passionate about and the cinematic features of the new Galaxy S10, the Samsung Infinity Screening was born.
This festival invited the sales reps to view influencer video content and interactive demonstrations while learning about the phone’s new features. From this, the employees showed solid knowledge of Samsung’s device features.
Juror’s thoughts: This was very clever and they totally nailed it for the audience. It really takes internal activation to the next level!” Mike Ruby, creative director, Flexport.

Retail/Social Media Strategy
Campaign: Sky’s the Limit
Agency: PMG
Client: Old Navy

Old Navy made its mark on International Women’s Day 2019 by crafting an activation to authentically represent the brand’s commitment to gender equality.
The brand launched to the skies, sharing inspiring messages over major US cities. They encouraged women to look up and be inspired, not only on International Women’s Day, but every day – with empowering phrases in the clouds including ‘Shatter the Ceiling’ and ‘Women’s Day Everyday.’
In order to expand on its experiential component’s impact, PMG combined influencer marketing, social amplification and digital editorial extensions.
Juror’s thoughts: “Old Navy and PMG created an impactful way to support gender equality that tactfully supported the Old Navy retail business. By leading with standout experiential and supplementing with thoughtful digital marcomms, including influencer and social media execution, they helped drive the conversation surrounding equality. With consumers purchasing and wearing the themed T-shirts, the conversation surrounding equality would last beyond International Women’s Day (IWD). The Sky’s the Limit campaign is the deserving winner as they thoughtfully increased brand love and retail sales without the use of consumer promotion discounts.” Michael Park, director of marketing, Feelmore Labs.

Consumer
Campaign: That’s an InnovAsian Occasion!
Agency: Duncan Channon
Client: InnovAsian

InnovAsian, “Coworker Aggravation” from Duncan Channon on Vimeo.
Duncan Channon was challenged to alter the low awareness of Chinese frozen food brand, InnovAsian, which was living in the shadow of category champs PF Chang’s.
To capture people’s attention, the agency set out to reinforce the InnovAsian brand name and associate it with key moments when people would really be in the mood for a frozen meal.
The mantra became, ‘That’s an InnovAsian occasion,’ and led to a series of fast, fun TV spots to gain traction. Awareness jumped by 400% and it begant to outsell PF Chang’s in several key markets.
Juror’s thoughts: “Simple but elegant brand awareness and sales campaign. I love the bookend use of 15-second spots that cleanly show the product and drive home the brand name.” Margaret Hammer, senior manager, email marketing, Mailchimp.
For a full rundown of the winners, visit Tempemail Marketing Awards USA website. You can also watch the live stream of the virtual awards show here, where we announced the highly commended and award winners on Thursday 30 April.

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Brands need to embrace change and act in culturally relevant ways, otherwise they could risk being forgotten if they’re too quiet warn creative luminaries- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The pandemic has undoubtedly shifted consumer and marketer behavior, but does advertising still have an obligation to change the world for the better? Speaking to Tempemail during the Digital Transformation Festival, creatives from Adobe, VML Y&R and Publicis•Poke looked at how brands have responded to the crisis, and the role of creativity and brand purpose.
Can brands really do marketing for good?
Coronavirus has interfered with marketing plans and messages, resulting in brands having to work out appropriate ways to respond. “A lot of brands have been very reactive,” says Publicis•Poke art director, Edie Crosland-Wood. She applauds the fashion industry for its speedy re-manufacturing of luxury goods into medical equipment and raising money for those tackling the crisis. From LVMH to Burberry to Gucci to Bulgari– these fashion brands have stepped up to helping society and health authorities and aid funding to fight the spread of the virus.
Adobe senior manager of business development, Meg Moss cites Ford and Wieden+Kennedy’s snap decision to swap out a piece of planned media and replace it with a payment relief campaign as exemplary. “That was early March,” she says. “Their response was activated within days [of the lockdown]. It felt like the right thing to do. It was also great for branding and served a purpose.”
Crosland-Wood has also been impressed with how brands are adapting their offerings in their bid to stay relevant to audiences. Audible, for instance, has offered hundreds of free ebooks for people to enjoy in isolation. Adobe Stock took a similarly considered approach, says Moss, taking the time to assess the new working styles of their creative community and push out creative solutions inspired by their needs.
We’re all struggling, but are you embracing change? Business agility and authenticity in the time of crisis
“There’s always been this talk of being agile,” says VMLY&R New York executive creative director, Harsh Kapadia. “But it’s taken a global pandemic for brands to realize that we need to start getting agile in action.”
Working out what role brands need to take is essential and what message they want to put out, even more so. Speed is important but understanding what consumers want or need could be more rewarding long-term. “You have to be authentic,” says Kapadia.
“Authenticity comes from what your brand has always been about. You still need to be that, but be empathetic about what’s happening around you; about how you can naturally be helpful, useful or even entertaining in a time when everything around you looks scary.”
No one knows how long the pandemic will last and what effect it will have worldwide, but Kapadia assures marketers that it’s changed consumer behavior for good. He recommends that businesses need to embrace the change and consider new ways to act in culturally relevant ways, otherwise brands could risk being forgotten if they remain too quiet.
“Everybody’s embracing the opportunity that’s presented,” says Moss. She calls this this the first wave of the pandemic and reckons that there will come a time for pushing out different sorts of messages.
Amid Covid-19 brand storytelling will keep us going
“Everything we’re seeing from agencies at the moment is thanking the essential workers; the long epic music, the monologues, the sincere visual storytelling, etc. But we know that that’s a wave and history tells us that we’ll move through it; there will be humour and a change in how we address people.”
Wanting to stay ahead of the curve with new content while remaining relevant and sensitive to consumers’ feelings requires some balance, the panel agreed.
“Whatever you do, there has to be this underlining sense of empathy,” says Crosland-Wood. “But that doesn’t mean we have to be downbeat. We need to relearn tone of voice and figure out what’s appropriate. And that’s quite beautiful. Traditionally, when we answer briefs, we have a refined best practice, but this pandemic will force creatives to think outside the box.”
“There is an opportunity to be brave without the repercussions,” adds Crosland-Wood about how creatives can inspire a brand’s cultural shift. “This is the opportunity to inspire change. We’ve already had to change our entire way of life. Everything is different for us; from how it used to be and what we’re used to.”
But she reminds marketers that not all brands have to adapt their messages to incorporate the pandemic: “Some consumers don’t want that critical shift from their beloved brands; they don’t want that cultural change,” she says. “Brands need to think whether they can use this opportunity to have a more cultural impact on their audience’s lives” and decide whether resonating with the crisis now will be effective long term.
Is this the time for a creative breakthrough for the industry?
Perhaps the pandemic could spell the future for a creative breakthrough and pave the way for new working methods between creatives and clients? Moss encourages brands to “respond in a way that feels most true to your brand.” Crosland-Wood thinks that an age of increased brand transparency wouldn’t go amiss and is optimistic about the lessons brands could learn.
For Kapadia, marketers producing memorable brand content during these times will emerge victorious. Those that can evoke a reaction or put a smile on a consumer’s face will be more likely to be remembered favorably. He concludes by rhetorically asking brands to show up for their consumers: “Tell me how can you be here for me, rather than just telling me ‘We are here.’ Action it.”
View the full recording of ‘Creative breakthrough: Can marketing truly change the world?’ digital panel in partnership with Adobe Stock

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Gears Tactics review – brains meet brawn in strategic spin-off | Games – Blog – 10 minute

Bloody sci-fi shooter series Gears of War and the term “tactics” may not seem like natural bedfellows, given that these games are best known for their macho space soldiers and chainsaw machine guns. Yet strategy has always played a far bigger role in the games than may be initially apparent. After all, the key innovation of the titles was to add cover-and-fire manoeuvres into a fast-paced action game. Gears Tactics simply inverts the emphasis. Whereas previously the tactical layer existed to complement the action, here all that gore greases the cogs of a smart and fiercely entertaining strategy machine.
Set before the original Gears of War, Gears Tactics sees players control squads of soldiers led by two veterans of its seemingly eternal conflict: walking chin Gabe Diaz and weaponised moustache Sid Redburn. Together, they seek to eliminate a troublesome general of the Locust Horde, a race of brawny subterranean monsters who have taken over Earth.
Gears of War’s storytelling has always held ambitions somewhat beyond its ham-fisted reach, but if you’ve previously enjoyed watching its slabs of virtual muscle do emotions, know that Tactics tells its story with pizzazz if not subtlety, featuring lovingly crafted cinematics, top-tier voice acting and some fairly major reveals for what is essentially a spin-off.

Strategy that feels like action … Gears Tactics. Photograph: Microsoft
Indeed, Gears Tactics has lost little of the series’s perennially high production values in the switch from shooter to strategy, boasting stunning visuals and slick animations alongside an incredibly intuitive interface. Also like earlier games, it is ferociously violent, with your soldiers frequently bursting and dismembering the Locust with bombs, bayonets and chainsaws.
Gears Tactics is a strategy game designed to feel like an action game, and this philosophy goes beyond the sharp visuals and the viscera dispersion rate. Any given mission sees your squad pitted against a much larger number of Locust, with each side taking turns to move their units between cover and eliminate as many of the opposing force as possible. Your soldiers have a limited number of “action points” per turn. These can be used to move, shoot at an enemy or deploy special abilities such as “overwatch”, which lets you set up ambushes, firing at any enemy who wanders into its cone-shaped kill-zone.
This foundation is familiar among tactics games, but Gears adds to it abilities such as “executions”, where theatrically killing an incapacitated enemy gives teammates an additional action point. Moreover, certain soldier-types sport powers such as “bayonet charge”, letting them rush across the battlefield to quickly take an enemy out of commission. Many abilities can be upgraded to provide free actions or even add actions to your pool. Some of the combinations you can pull off are truly exhilarating. In the late game, one of my snipers could pop the heads of a half-dozen Locust in a single turn.
Gears Tactics constantly encourages players to push forward into battle, to be aggressive and daring and think on their feet. Yet, while boldness is often rewarded, recklessness will be punished severely. Even the lowliest Locust grunt can blast half a health bar off one of your soldiers, while together they create overlapping overwatch traps that need to be surgically dismantled to prevent your squad from being wiped out.

The way the game injects pace and momentum into a traditionally slow-burn genre is its greatest success, so it isn’t surprising that it is weakest when the pace falters. Gears Tactics lacks the broader strategic layer of games such as XCOM, featuring instead a linear story campaign. This is the right call, but problems arise with the side missions embedded into this structure. Initially, they’re a welcome opportunity to flex your tactical muscles, whether you need to hold two separate control points against assault, or retreat from an encroaching artillery barrage as the Locust try to slow you down. In the latter acts, however, Gears Tactics forces you to complete two or even three side missions before moving on to the next story beat.
There is a logic to the idea – soldiers sent on one side-mission cannot be deployed in another, so you need to manage your squads carefully to ensure success. But it has the effect of slowing progress to a crawl when the story should be ramping up to the conclusion. There also aren’t enough mission types to prevent a sense of repetition creeping into those final hours. The latter half of the third act is a slog when it should be a sprint.
Nonetheless, Gears Tactics is a triumphant twist on an old favourite, capturing the fury and spectacle of its shooter-based brethren while also offering a more cerebral experience. Gears has always exhibited shades of American football, from the hypermasculine tone to its disconcertingly swole characters. Now it has the conspicuous brains to match its conspicuous braun.

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Ok Zoomer: how seniors are learning to lead more digital lives | Life and style – Blog – 10 minute

“I used to look at some people using WhatsApp video and think, I wonder what that’s all about,” says 74-year-old Jillian Cheetham. “Now, you know, I’ve discovered it’s pretty easy.”
Her book club, which has been going for 10 years, has just had its first Zoom meeting. “It was lovely to be together again and feel that we can keep on going,” Cheetham says.

“There’s no wine and cheese on the table or tea and cake at the end of it, it’s not as much fun when it’s virtual. But we’re discussing a book we all really enjoyed. And, apart from a few hitches like some people’s frames freezing, it was really, really satisfying.”
A few short weeks ago, that would have been unthinkable.
“Technology wasn’t really relevant until perhaps the last 25% of my career,” says Cheetham, a former high school teacher, business owner and financial industry professional.
“There was no training whatsoever. And if my computer wasn’t turning on I’d ring IT and they’d sort it out. Up until about 2000 you could learn the program specific to what you needed to do. There wasn’t a need to go beyond that if you didn’t want to.”
But that’s all had to change for her generation: “We’ve been forced to encounter technology in a very different way if we want to continue to have any quality of life.”
The need to connect is precisely what’s driving many seniors to do just that, according to RMIT’s Dr Torgeir Aleti, who’s researching how technology helps support connectedness and social inclusion among older people.
This confirms what he and his colleagues have suspected for a long time: “It’s just a stereotype that is constantly perpetuated, that seniors don’t know this stuff.
“The idea that it’s not for me, I don’t have the skills, or the resources, or I’m afraid of being bullied, or of doing something wrong – these things are now being pushed into the background because we’re in a situation where it’s that or just patting the cat for two weeks while I’m waiting to … go out again,” Aleti says.
Many are turning to younger generations for help, with mixed results.

I find the best teachers are people of my own generation. That seems to work best for me

Jillian Cheetham

“Over the phone, it’s, ah, it always starts off civil, and I always begin with the intention that somehow I’ll be able to solve her problem for her,” says Cheetham’s daughter, Naomi. “But as you know personally with technology, sometimes it becomes overwhelming, no matter how tech-savvy you may be.”
Tasks that could easily be demonstrated in person quickly turn into a multi-step tangle of complicated workarounds – like talking someone through using Zoom for the first time.
“I taught her to do a video call on WhatsApp first, and how to switch her camera around so I could see what she was doing on her screen rather than her face. It was an enormously clunky way to do it,” Naomi says.
“That’s when I realised she’d need a cheat sheet. I used the Snipping tool to show all the screens. It was like Ikea instructions – as few words as possible.”
Her mother sent that on to others, who passed it on to their friends too.
“Naomi is great,” Cheetham says, “I can’t sing her praises enough.”
But … “I find the best teachers are people of my own generation. That seems to work best for me, anyway.”
Glen Wall, the vice-president of U3A Network Victoria, agrees.
He’s seen a remarkable uptake in technology among members of the University of the Third Age organisation, which runs courses for older people, and has been moving classes online since early March. In less than three weeks 15 tutors in his area of Whittlesea were running sessions over Zoom, taking about half their students – the early adapters – with them. Wall says a second wave is now coming onboard.

U3A students join a remote ukulele class on Zoom
“People are sort of socially figuring it out,” he says. “I know of a 94-year-old … who talked his 93-year-old mate into buying his old iPad off him. He bought a new one and he’s taught his mate to push that button so he can talk to him every morning.”
“Community connecters” are crucial to spreading the knowledge.
“They’ll be the sort of person that can use technology or find out how to, and then have the ability or passion to share the experience,” Wall says.
One such person is U3A member Awhina Te Amo, a full-time carer for her 70-year-old mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Before social distancing, Te Amo accompanied her mother to line dancing, choir, tap dancing, chair aerobics and tai chi. Now a lot of it is virtual.
“We also stay connected with others through WhatsApp, email, and I’m currently working on a YouTube channel,” Te Amo says. “We have a little group on Facebook and I’m teaching others what I’ve been learning. I’m just passing on the knowledge as best as I can.”

Relying on a trusted circle of people is the key to solving many technology dilemmas, according to Wall. “If a person talks about what they are looking to do – not how – in their group of friends, they will most likely find someone that’s actually done it. And that person will show them.”
Meanwhile, Cheetham is persevering with the unfamiliar. “If there’s one thing this coronavirus is going to do, it’s going to shift the balance from interactions more strongly in the direction of tech communication,” she says.
“So it’s one thing to prefer something else, but to be functional my generation are going to have to do it.”
Tech support for seniors
U3A Online and RMIT’s Shaping Connections project are both great places for older Australians to start building their technological skills. The federal government also has helpful resources, including an e-safety page for seniors; a number of short courses with detailed instructions on everything from online shopping to using apps; and a series of webinars about staying safe online.

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Research shows that users desire a sense of normalcy from brands- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

It’s remarkable how quickly a ‘new normal’ can embed itself in our culture and in our lives. Humans are clearly very adaptable, as within little over a month we’ve dramatically changed the way we live and, largely, settled into it.
But the deluge of depressing and tragic news is one thing we all struggle to get accustomed to, and this new research from Twitter suggests that many people want other content to consume, content that for a moment allows us to forget about the fear and uncertainty of the global coronavirus pandemic and instead explores the mundane, nice things in life – cocktails, modern art, penguins, beer, books, and cookies.
In fact, 64% of respondents said that brands should continue advertising their products as normal, while 52% of them said that this content helped give them a sense of normality in their own lives.
However, a huge 93% of respondents agreed that the tone needs to change, which means that as brands we need to find a way to operate in this new atmosphere of sickness and death. Not something you’ll find in your corporate social media policy handbook.
Some companies have thrown in the towel and simply shut down, not seeing a way to adapt their tone to this harsh new reality (a missed opportunity for a furniture brand, while rival West Elm were cleverly offering Zoom backgrounds).
When asked what brands should be doing in social media during the COVID-19 crisis, the themes that came up were supporting front-line staff (82%), supporting vulnerable people in their community (86%), providing reliable, accurate information (89%) and showing acts of kindness (74%).

Our amazing Intensive Care Unit Team at #Maidstonehospital now have somewhere more comfortable to relax
Thanks to a generous sofa donation from @DFS#Maidstone
Our staff are v grateful @MTWnhspic.twitter.com/fnv8FSVJd6
— MTW Charity (@MtwCharity) April 9, 2020
People see brands as being in a unique position where they can step up, and direct considerable resources to help in a crisis as with DFS in the above tweet, donating sofas to healthcare facilities.
New rules for a new era
There’s clearly a coronavirus-era social playbook emerging here. New rules that have sprung up organically in reaction to this unexpected crisis, but that are becoming set in stone. As more brands play that way, it sets consumer expectations which in turn solidifies these ad hoc rules further.
Look at your industry and how the big players are adapting. Look outside to the bigger consumer sectors. What new language and conventions are forming?

A message from our Reebok family to yours: give yourself #PermissionToPause. pic.twitter.com/BVXzKkfPNq
— Reebok (@Reebok) April 6, 2020
The playing field is level and empty
While now is not the time to be opportunistic, the fact remains that it’s become pretty quiet out there on the ad platforms, for most industries anyway. Expedia, one of the internet’s biggest ad spenders said this week that they usually spend $5 billion a year on ads, whereas their 2020 bill will be less than $1 billion.

Recent research from Gupta Media found that the average CPM on Facebook has sunk below $2 for the first time in the company’s history. It’s just a lot less competitive out there, and for lots of reasons now is not the time to disappear from your customers’ lives.
Keep advertising, change the tone
While many marketers are delaying campaigns, even product launches, there’s an argument for keeping some ‘always-on’ inventory live to remain present in your customers’ lives (if you’re still operational of course).
Think about how you can creatively adapt your tone to celebrate your brand, keep the audience entertained and provide value in their lives.

As the Twitter research suggests, people want brands to be there, whether it’s to offer support and positivity or simply to distract from late night doom-scrolling.
Dominic Cook, co-founder and co-CEO, 33Seconds

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Tech firms criticised for ‘lack of answers’ on Covid-19 disinformation | World news- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

MPs have berated leading tech firms for failing to answer questions about taking responsibility for disinformation in the coronavirus pandemic, accusing the companies of giving vague, preprepared answers.
Representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter appeared in front of a Commons select committee but struggled to give satisfactory responses to politicians, who wanted to know what they were doing to combat issues such as false claims linking 5G to the pandemic.

In one unusual exchange, Facebook’s UK public policy manager Richard Earley was repeatedly asked by Labour’s Kevin Brennan about his seniority within the global Facebook team, and whether he had ever met company founder Mark Zuckerberg.
“I have seen him, I haven’t personally met him,” said Earley, who also said he had not met Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister who now works as Facebook’s global policy chief.
Zuckerberg has refused to appear in front of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, resulting in a formal summons from parliament. The Facebook boss has ignored the demand without facing any punishment – and has since stayed away from the UK – although Earley insisted the company took the work of the committee seriously.
Earley was criticised for not being able to confirm the number of content moderators the firm currently had reviewing explicit material. He said Facebook had taken steps to “minimise any negative impact on our ability to review content” during the pandemic, including moving responsibility for the most serious content review subjects – such as child abuse material and self-harm content – to its available full-time employees, and putting in place systems that allowed other contracted moderators to work from home.
“We’ve also had a large number of employees who don’t even review content in their daily roles volunteering to step forward and help make sure we did not see significant negative impacts on that queue,” he said.
But when pressed by the committee on whether Facebook had the same number of moderators working as before the pandemic, or fewer, Earley said he was unable to answer because the situation was changing each day.

Twitter’s UK head of government, public policy and philanthropy, Katy Minshall, was asked directly whether she would be removing potentially damaging tweets by Donald Trump.
“We have taken action on tweets that break our rules, that absolutely includes world leaders. If any tweet breaks the rules, we will take appropriate action,” she said.
Asked again if Twitter had ever reduced the reach of Trump’s tweets, Minshall said the company had taken action against other world leaders and was willing to mark politicians’ tweets as potentially harmful if they overstep the mark.
“I didn’t actually detect an answer there,” said committee chairman Julian Knight.
Earlier in the hearing Stacie Hoffmann, a cybersecurity expert from Oxford Information Labs, a cyberintelligence company, said the coronavirus pandemic showed that social networks are capable of removing damaging content when they really want to.
She suggested this exposed the flaw in their previous focus on finding technical solutions to removing material: “They didn’t want to talk about human content moderation.”

Callout
callout-coronavirus

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