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Investigating the Value of Managed IT Services

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Managed IT services can present a lot of benefits for small businesses. Since not many smaller businesses can afford to staff expert IT technicians, managed IT services are an attractive alternative that allows an organization to get the IT support and management they need to keep their business running efficiently. Today, we’ll go over all the benefits a managed service provider can present a small business,and just how a MSP delivers significant returns on your IT support investments.

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Slack acquires Missions to help users automate work tasks inside chat

As Slack continues to grow its paid business users, the company is looking for ways to help customers build integrations that make sense for the work they do.

Slack announced today that it has acquired Robots and Pencils’ Missions, an app that allows Slack users to build tools to automate simple routines without code. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Paid users are already big fans of Slack integrations.There are currently 1,500 apps available in the Slack app directory. The company says that 94 percent of users in that bracket use apps and integrations, while 65 percent of teams have built their own. Building an integration certainly isn’t an easy process for non-tech teams to handle, Missions is focused on a more visual flow that ditches some of the complexity.

Missions’ technology lets people create workflows for tasks that they might normally have to talk about inside Slack and then carry out the process off-chat. With Missions, Slack hopes that users can help teams boost productivity by making things more simple for a variety of repeatable processes.

Onboarding seems to be an area where Slack sees a lot of potential for this tech, ensuring that new employees know what documents they need to fill out, who in the company they need to meet and other tasks they’ll have to complete. Other potential areas for the app to help users include managing approvals and rejections in the  hiring process as well as internal ticketing.

The company says that they’ll be supporting Missions’ customers for free for the next few months as they begin to build the technology into their platform. When you can start playing with this tech? The company said they’ll have more to share “later this year.”

Original author: Lucas Matney
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No Man’s Sky Next seeks to right the game’s wrongs

For a certain kind of gamer, the premise of No Man’s Sky, that of an endless procedurally generated space universe teeming with life, was intoxicatingly perfect, almost too good to be true. After overselling that dream to the disappointment of just about everybody, Hello Games is back to make amends with a major new update: No Man’s Sky Next.

No Man’s Sky Next will introduce a spate of updates, including long-awaited full multiplayer gameplay, a visual update to improve textures and add detail, first to third-person perspective switching, unlimited base building and command freighters that allow you to create, upgrade and dispatch a fleet of ships from the comfort of your own bridge. You can see a few of those changes implemented in the trailer below.

The update, which will hit on July 24 as a free update to PlayStation and PC, also brings the advent of No Man’s Sky for the Xbox — great news for some console gamers who wanted to check it out without committing to a whole new system.

Whether No Man’s Sky Next will truly flesh out and deepen the innovative exploration game in a satisfying way remains to be seen, but both longtime players and those who followed along with curious hesitation now have something to look forward to. Happily, the wait won’t be long.

Original author: Taylor Hatmaker
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Sharecuts is creating a community for sharing Siri Shortcuts

With the upcoming release of iOS 12, Apple is introducing a new app called Shortcuts that will allow users to build custom voice commands for Siri that can be used to kick off a variety of actions in apps. While some apps will directly prompt users to add a Shortcut to Siri, the new Shortcuts app will offer more shortcut suggestions to try, plus the ability to create your own shortcuts and workflows. Now, there’s a new resource for shortcut fans, too – Sharecuts, a directory of shortcuts created and shared by the community.

The site is still very much in the early stages.

Plus, iOS 12 is still in beta testing itself, and the Shortcuts app can only be installed by developers who request access via an invite.

But by the time iOS 12 releases to the public later this fall, Sharecuts’ directory will be filled out and a lot more functional.

The premise, explains Sharecuts’ creator Guilherme Rambo, was to make an easily accessible place where people could share their shortcuts with one another, discover those others have shared, and suggest improvements to existing shortcuts.

“I was talking to a friend [Patrick Balestra] about how cool shortcuts are, and how it should be easier for people to share and discover shortcuts,” says Guilherme. “He mentioned he wanted to build a website for that  – he even had the idea for the name Sharecuts – but he was on vacation without a good internet connection so I decided to just build it myself in one day,” he says.

The site is currently a bare bones, black-and-white page with cards for each shortcut, but an update will bring a more colorful style (see below) and features that will allow users to filter the shortcuts by tags, vote on favorites, among other things.

Above: current site

Guilherme says while the backend is being built to support a larger number of users, only a few people have been invited to upload for the time being. But in the upcoming release, the site will offer a “featured” selection of shortcuts chosen by some well-known members of the Apple community who will serve as curators.

The uploads to the site will also be moderated in the future, to prevent malicious shortcuts and spam from being included in the directory.

The site itself isn’t a new business or startup, Guilherme says, just a side project for now.

It’s written in Swift and open-sourced on GitHub so others can contribute. The page already has a list of ideas for improvements to the Sharecuts site, including the new design, plus more ways to refine, sort, and organize the shortcuts.

It remains to be seen how popular Siri Shortcuts will be with the mainstream iPhone user base.

With iOS 12, Apple is turning its iPhone into an “A.I. phone,” but I believe the Shortcuts app and workflows will remain a power user feature for some time. Mainstream users will gradually warm up to the idea of customizing their Siri interactions by getting prompted to create voice commands by their favorite apps. (E.g. Your coffee shop’s mobile ordering app may push you to add a “Coffee time!” shortcut to Siri.)

Over time, that may lead them to iOS 12’s Shortcuts app to do even more.

But in the near-term, power users will be busy taking advantage of the new Shortcuts app and Siri features to test the powers of Shortcuts. And with Sharecuts, all the other shortcuts enthusiasts can benefit from their enthusiasm and activity, too.

If you already have the beta Shortcuts app installed, you can try out some of the shortcuts featured on Sharecuts today. A couple of the interesting picks include the Siri News Reader which will read you headlines from an RSS feed, the Bitcoin Price checkers, and an always useful tip calculator.

Turn Siri into a personalized news reader with Shortcuts – here’s how I can listen to headlines from @macstoriesnet and @9to5mac via Siri 😎

(Also: thanks @_inside for letting me upload this shortcut to his @sharecutsapp directory. You can find it here: https://t.co/1hBmLB3qhb) pic.twitter.com/PZolKQlKrg

— Federico Viticci (@viticci) July 9, 2018

Above: The news reader shortcut, from Federico Viticci

Those interested in contributing to Sharecuts in the future can register here for an invite.

Original author: Sarah Perez
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Twitch streamers can now let viewers react with GIFs

Giphy is coming to Twitch . For the first time, Giphy is bringing its library of animated GIFs to the Amazon-owned game streaming service. The company today is launching a Giphy extension for Twitch streamers that will allow viewers to react in real-time using GIFs during a broadcast. The idea is that GIFs could make streams more engaging and entertaining, which would, in turn, attract retain viewers for longer periods of time.

Twitch extensions were first introduced last year, but only recently did Twitch add support for running multiple extensions at once. That could encourage more developers to try out the Giphy extension, without having to give up their other favorite overlays.

To use the new extension, the streamer will first configure which part of the screen area will be used to display the GIFs viewers post. Once the extension is activated, viewers will be able to access it during a broadcast via a Giphy icon and the search terms they enter into the message bar.

Twitch is not the first game streaming site to experiment with GIF reactions. The newer site Caffeine had this as a feature, too, but pulled it before launch because they found it could be used for harassment. Twitch and Giphy are hoping to not make the sane mistake by curating the catalog of GIFs that can be shared.

According to Twitch, Giphy’s content is moderated to remove those GIFs that are “overtly offense” to any race, gender, ethnicity or community. It’s also limiting GIFs to those with a PG rating and below, which will prohibit users from posting GIFs with violence, sexual references, and other lewd terms, it says.

“Extensions are a great framework designed to make channels on Twitch more interactive so creators can better engage and retain their fans,” said Amir Shevat, Twitch VP of Developer Experience, in a statement. “With Giphy tapping into their extensive library of animated GIFs for their new Extension, it adds a fun and compelling new element to the social video experience that is sure to resonate with the current meme generation.”

Extensions are one of Twitch’s differentiating features in the game streaming market. Thanks to Twitch’s scale, there are now thousands of these add-ons and overlays in development, and over 250 which have gone live since the feature’s launch. Dozens of these, including Giphy’s, also work alongside others, allowing streamers to better customize their broadcasts and channels.

Original author: Sarah Perez
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Managed IT services can present a lot of benefits for small businesses. Since not many smaller businesses can afford to staff expert IT technicians, managed IT services are an attractive alternative that allows an organization to get the IT...

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