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Code Jumper: Physical Programming Language for Visually Impaired Students

The abstract world of coding is ideal for people who are blind or visually impaired, but there is a high barrier to entry to begin with the students who first have to learn to touch the type, for example.

Today at the BETT training fair, Microsoft announced Code Jumper, a wired hardware device designed to teach blind children or those who have an otherwise compromised vision to code.

ALSO READ: Microsoft Unveils Several Educational Features on Microsoft Teams

Instead of rummaging through tablet screens or typing in laptops, students extract brightly coloured plastic pods, connecting them with thick white wires and then adjusting the pod buttons and knobs. These physical components will be used to create computer programs that can tell stories, make music and even beat jokes.

“There’s really no equivalent to this physical way of programming,” said Jonathan Fogg, head of IT and information technology at the New College of Worcester.

Early access to basic coding skills is important, Fogg said, because many children who are blind or visually impaired are attracted to careers in computer science. He thinks this is partly due to the fact that many of the abilities children with low vision develop to navigate the world make them good at the kind of computational thinking that is useful for a career in computer science. And, he said, traditionally it was a career more accessible to those who are blind or visually impaired, due to tools such as screen readers.

“This is an opportunity for thousands of people to have significant and well-paid jobs,” said Larry Skutchan, director of technology and product research for APH.

Microsoft video on Code Jumper

Watch the video from Microsoft on Code Jumper explaining the technology below:


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Microsoft Unveils Several Educational Features on Microsoft Teams

Microsoft recently unveiled quite a lot of new features in Microsoft Teams focusing on educational customers such as the new Grade Sync feature that will automatically send grades from Teams Assignments to Student Information System, the ability for teachers to grade Teams Assignments from Teams app for iOS and Android, a new and simplified assignments experience, Moodle LMS integration, rubric sharing, assignment categories, Safari support, stickers and more.

New Educational Features on Microsoft Teams

1. Grade Sync to connect Teams to your SIS!  Say hello to Grade Sync, which automatically sends grades from Teams Assignments directly to your Student Information System, saving teachers lots of time. Grade Sync will be coming to systems like PowerSchool, Infinite Campus, Capita SIMS and many others soon. If you would like to join the Grade Sync preview release, sign up here.

2. Mobile grading. You asked and we answered. Now, teachers can grade Teams Assignments from anywhere on an iOS or Android device using the Teams app!

ALSO READ: Microsoft Teams for Android Updated with New Call-related Features

3. Turnitin integration.  Turnitin allows teachers to check student submissions for multiple forms of plagiarism and helps teach the value of academic integrity, proper attribution, and authentic writing. With our new integration, coming soon, Turnitin subscribers will have access directly within Teams Assignments!

4. Free Computer Science Curriculum in Teams with MakeCode!  This month, we’ll kick off a beta which will allow teachers to access MakeCode, Microsoft’s free platform for creating engaging computer science activities directly within Teams Assignments. Teachers can help students get started building their own programs using drag-and-drop block coding or JavaScript. You can even provide feedback to students and grade.

5. Assignments are faster and easier to use. Coming soon, you’ll see a new and simplified assignments experience. With the latest updates, you’ll be able to grade faster than before and save time creating new assignments.

Source: Microsoft

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You Can Now Blur Background on Skype Desktop App for Windows and Mac

Microsoft lately made public a new Skype Insider Preview build for its Desktop apps for Windows, Mac and Linux. This skype desktop app v8.37.76 update currently allows you to blur your background during video calls.

Also Read: Why Skype for Business Is a Tool Every Business Needs Right Now

Regardless of whether you want the focus of the call to only be on you, or you are in a busy place that doesn’t need to be seen blur my background will carefully blur everything except you.

Skype Desktop App

How to Enable Background Blur on Skype Desktop App

Anybody can enable this feature during a call in two ways, by right-clicking on your own video or through the new on-hover video settings. The new on-hover settings to camera button allow you to quickly switch camera or turn on blur my background with ease.


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Microsoft Adds Two New Offering for Microsoft 365 Security

Microsoft is growing its new Microsoft 365 subscription packages by adding two additionally pricing structures to help customers ease into the future of the company’s software and services offerings.

The first of the two new offerings come in as Microsoft 365 Identity & Threat Protection with Azure ATP, Windows Defender ATP and Office 365 ATP, Microsoft Cloud App Security and Azure Active Directory for $12.00 per user per month for customers.

The second offering combines Microsoft 365 Information Protection & Compliance package with Office 365 Advance Compliance and Azure Information Protection services for $10.00 per user per month.

There are no price increases or service impacts associated with any of these changes. The new Identity & Threat Protection and Information Protection & Compliance offerings are designed to provide customers with simpler purchase, deployment, and adoption of these security and compliance workloads.

The two new offerings are poised to be enticing protection bundles for customers who require certain aspects of Microsoft’s 365 solutions without shelling out for the Full Monty of Microsoft 365 E5 which includes everything but the kitchen sink for $54.00 per user per month.

According to Microsoft’s corporate vice president Ron Markezuch, the new plans will be offered in parallel to all Microsoft 365 plans but appear to be aimed at customers on the E3 track.

The new plans are set to appear for customers starting February 1, 2019, and if necessary, customers will still be able to purchase security and compliance components as standalone items.

culled: OnMSFT


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Microsoft May Be Planning a Consumer Subscription of Its Microsoft 365 Bundle

Microsoft is apparently working on a consumer version of Microsoft 365, the enterprise bundle that includes Windows 10, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet spotted a recent job posting for a Product Manager for the “M365 Consumer Subscription” that will join a new team “building a customer-focused subscription globally for Microsoft’s various consumer services.”

The job posting doesn’t explicitly mention what this “Microsoft 365 Consumer subscription” will include, but the project is supervised by the Modern Life & Devices team, which oversees many different products. “As one of the company’s largest multi-billion-dollar revenue businesses, the area includes the Windows platform and ecosystem, the Microsoft Surface device portfolio, Office 365 consumer services, Skype, Microsoft’s intelligent agent in Cortana and search efforts with Bing, as well as the Microsoft Education Team,” the job listing says.

ALSO READ: Cloud for Africa: Microsoft Azure Region in Africa Going Live Within Weeks

This new Microsoft 365 Consumer subscription may focus more on “prosumers.” This what Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Modern Life and Devices suggested when he unveiled Microsoft’s new “Modern Live Services” initiative earlier this year. The exec acknowledged at the time that Microsoft’s core value proposition is productivity and that the company should try to make productivity more sexy.

One question we have is if Microsoft will also plans to include its own Surface hardware in the Microsoft 365 Consumer subscription. Adding the brand new Surface Go to the mix would certainly help to make the bundle more appealing, especially for consumers who have yet to buy a Surface device.

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Cloud for Africa: Microsoft Azure Region in Africa Going Live Within Weeks

Over a year or more, Microsoft reported that it would convey two new data centres situated in South Africa, South Africa North in Johannesburg and South Africa West in Cape Town.

Presently, year and a half later, Microsoft South Africa’s Director of Commercial Partners, Lionel Moyal, has reported that the two Azure datacenter locales are expected to go live “within weeks” towards the end of 2018.

ALSO READ: Microsoft to Release Google G Suite to Office365 Migration Tool

Calling the centres “a cloud for Africa”, he noticed that “latency won’t be an issue any more.”

The declaration pursues Amazon saying in October 2018 that AWS was to open Data Centers in South Africa by 2020.

Lionel was addressing business people and new companies at the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2018 in South Africa, where he urged specialists to skill up in cloud technologies, machine learning, AI, mobile technologies, development tools, noted that he anticipated that South Africa would include 112,000 IT explicit jobs by 2022.

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Image Functionality for Microsoft’s Sticky Notes App Coming Soon

Recently, Microsoft’s Jen Gentleman teased some upcoming image functionality for the Sticky Notes app earlier yesterday on her Twitter account.

Sticky Notes App image functionality

The tweet simply read, “What say you?  #WindowsInsiders” and was accompanied by an image of the feature in action on three different sticky notes. The hashtag used obviously implies that Windows Insiders will get to test images in Sticky Notes before the functionality is rolled out to the average user.

The modern Sticky Notes app began as a lightweight alternative to OneNote but has been gaining more and more features recently, making it a potential future rival for the latter.

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Microsoft to Release Google G Suite to Office365 Migration Tool

Microsoft is readying tools to help customers migrate from G Suite to Office 365 which could be available by the second quarter of 2019.

Microsoft added to its Office 365 roadmap last week mention of a coming Google G Suite to Office 365 “migration experience.” The offering is in development and will be ready by Q2 calendar 2019, according to the roadmap.

ALSO READ: Microsoft Unveils Azure Virtual WAN and Azure Firewall

G Suite office365 migration

Here’s the roadmap entry, in full:

“We’ve heard the feedback and we’re excited to announce the new G Suite migration experience which will allow you to directly migrate email, calendar and contacts from Google G Suite to Office 365! Our highly secure solution ensures your data is directly migrated to Office 365, with no resting points along the way. We’re also adding support for migrating mailbox in batches.”

As Morgan noted, Google already has an Exchange migration tool. And while admins already can migrate IMAP mailboxes from G Suite using migration endpoints, but this option doesn’t migrate contacts or calendar items in an automated way, Morgan noted.

On, Tony Redmond wonders whether the reason Microsoft is finally working on these migration tools is because migration from the Exchange on-premises installed base to Office 365 is tailing off and Microsoft needs “more fuel to maintain its growth.”

There’s no word on when Microsoft will show off a preview of this coming tool.

Culled from ZDNet

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Google Is Retiring Its Old G Suite Contacts App next Year

Google launched a Material Design variant of its Contacts web app in 2015, and now the firm has refreshed it with its new Google theme and is moving it out of preview shortly.

In a blog post (and an email sent to G Suite subscribers), Google has indicated that it will banish the older contacts web app by February of 2019.

We haven’t been told about the timeline for non-G Suite users, but it is very likely that Google is working on the same schedule for consumers.

ALSO READ: 10+1 Reasons Why Your Business Needs G Suite for Increased Productivity

G Suite Contact App

In any case, by January 15, 2019, Google will begin offering the new contacts by default, users will be able to opt out, but just for a month. By February 15, there would be no more option to revert. Google will be turning off the old version completely.

For what it’s worth, Google’s contact app is an excellent management app with Gmail integration. It doesn’t quite have all the bells and whistles Microsoft’s redesigned Outlook contacts app does, but one can argue it hardly needs them.

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Your Microsoft Sticky Notes Can Be Accessed via a Browser Anywhere Anytime

Microsoft has finally released the web version of Microsoft Sticky Notes. Your Sticky Notes can be accessed at and all notes will be sync with all devices using the same Microsoft account.

ALSO READ: Goodbye to Microsoft OneNote Desktop Application

The web version functions more or less the same as the Windows 10 Sticky Notes app by enabling you to alter the note’s colour from the top-right corner menu but at the same time includes some text formatting options as well along the bottom of the screen. Unfortunately, there’s no support for handwritten notes with neither touch nor Surface Pen currently working but typing works fine.

Do you think you’ll ever use Sticky Notes on the web instead of the official app?

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