Monthly Archives: May 2016

Better Excel Integration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 brings many improvements and new features as Microsoft continues to work towards a single in-app experience where users can perform tasks in one place without having to continually switch applications.

Designed to eliminate the time and effort of application switching, the integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Excel has been improved. Users can easily take CRM data and open it in Excel Online (CRM Online Only) to easily analyze data, run what-if scenarios, and do quick calculations, all within the familiar Excel interface.

CRM ExcelIntegration 1 Better Excel Integration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

Once your analysis is done, you can easily import any changes back into CRM directly from Excel Online.

CRM ExcelIntegration 2 Better Excel Integration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

Let’s see just how easy it is to open and work with CRM and Excel… Start with a view of the data you wish to work with. From the Actions bar, select Open in Excel Online.

CRM ExcelIntegration 3 Better Excel Integration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

Your data is inserted into an Excel spreadsheet with the familiar Microsoft Office Ribbon.

CRM ExcelIntegration 4 Better Excel Integration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

After modifying your data, simply click Save Changes to CRM and your data is submitted for Import.

CRM ExcelIntegration 5 Better Excel Integration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

So now you have taken the data from CRM, opened in Excel, performed analysis and some modifications and imported your changes back to CRM all without having to open a separate application.

Are you on the road working from your tablet or mobile device? Not to worry, export and analyze data in Excel from mobile devices with added support for CRM for Tablets and CRM for Phone apps.

CRM ExcelIntegration 6 Better Excel Integration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

Excel integration is further improved through the introduction of Excel and Word templates, but more on that next time!

For the complete list of what’s new, download the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Release Preview Guide.

Beringer Associates is a leading Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in Microsoft Dynamics CRM and CRM for Distribution. We also provide expert Managed IT Services, Backup and Disaster Recovery, Cloud Based Computing and Unified Communication Systems.

by Beringer Associates

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Why Slack collaboration catches on where others can't

TTlogo 379x201 Why Slack collaboration catches on where others can't

Each quarter, the editors at SearchContentManagement recognize a content management technology for innovation and market impact. The product selected this quarter is Slack.


Slack collaboration software

Latest release dates:

Mobile apps: iOS 3.0 April 2016;
Android 2.10.0 May 2016.

Latest desktop applications:
Microsoft Windows 2.0.3 April 6, 2016;
OS X 2.0.2 April 26, 2016;
Chrome OS 1.0.3 December 6, 2013.

What it does

Slack is a cloud-based collaboration tool that enables users to chat one-on-one or in groups, as well as share documents. While Slack began as a communication tool, as it gains currency among enterprises, it is broadening into a collaboration platform with capabilities beyond just messaging.

Why it matters

While there are numerous collaboration tools on the market, from SharePoint to Jive to Huddle and Basecamp, Slack collaboration’s claim to fame is a real-time communication tool that doesn’t take workers out of their native application environments to exchange information.

With its various application programming interfaces and integrations, it’s easy for employees to work in Slack, but also to build capabilities on top that access documents and information from within the application, rather than having to toggle between numerous apps to get information.

Slack is also known for being developer friendly. It’s possible to build capabilities on top of Slack that meet particular business needs. At Spredfast, a social marketing company based in Austin, Texas, engineers built capability on top of Slack that enables them to send You Earned It (YEI) points to employees — points redeemable for cash — to recognize their good work. They can receive and redeem points seamlessly within Slack.

While the tool began largely as a chat platform, it is widening its reach into areas of traditional enterprise content management functionality to overlap with other collaboration software such as SharePoint — Microsoft’s “Swiss Army knife” tool for collaboration and content management.

Feature drilldown

Channels. This feature enables you to generate communication among team members, either internally within an organization or externally.

Private groups and one-to-one messaging. Slack supports more traditional communication among team members and groups, which enables teams to share sensitive information privately.

File sharing. Instead of sharing files via email, employees can share documents directly within the Slack collaboration app.

Open APIs. Slack is built on the premise of integration with other applications, so developers describe the tool as easy to build on top of and integrate with business processes and other applications. Spredfast, for example, built custom functionality on top of Slack to manage a large number of templates and visualizations. The Vizbot identifies where templates are stored by ID or name, indicates the last person to work on it and helps deploy Spredfast code into production with a custom process.

Mobile messaging. Through the Slack mobile app, employees get notifications on their phones. But it also recognizes that constant messaging can be disruptive, and new functionality, such as the Do Not Disturb feature, enables workers to set their phones to indicate their DND status.

Search. Messages and files added to Slack are immediately searchable, so users can return to documents and discussions when needed. Suggestions in the search box minimize the typing and effort associated with searching.

What users say

Given their off hours, Spredfast’s engineering team members started using Slack to communicate on projects. Soon after, adoption spread to the rest of the company’s 500-plus employees. With the ability to build capabilities on top of Slack, such as the redeemable YEI points, Spredfast finds the Slack collaboration tool flexible and easy to integrate with its roster of other tools.

“We believe that connections between your tools make things so much easier,” Courtney White Lowell, Spredfast’s director of global communications, said. “You don’t want one tool to do everything halfway. You want best-in-class tools, but you want them talking to one another so the [experience for users] feels seamless.”

Slack took hold at Spredfast because it didn’t disrupt or refashion the way users worked, but instead enhanced existing processes, White Lowell said.

Tools like Slack enable workers to increase productivity rather than work harder just to communicate. “It worked for the way our teams work,” White Lowell said.

Slack pricing

All licenses are per active user, per month, as follows:
Standard: $ 6.67 billed annually or $ 8 billed monthly
Plus: $ 12.50 billed annually or $ 15 billed monthly
Enterprise: Coming soon. Contact Slack for details 

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ECM, collaboration and search news and features

Table of values for the specific channel of the sound

 Table of values for the specific channel of the sound

I want to write a function that takes sound data and number as input and gives back table of values for the specific channel of that sound.

I have 2-channel sound:

 sound = InputForm[Play[{t Sin[2000 t], (1 - t) Sin[2000 t]}, {t, 0, 1}]]

InputForm gives me SampledSoundFunction for all channels, but I need only for the chosen one. Is it possible to do this?

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Recent Questions – Mathematica Stack Exchange

How to Avoid Fraud Scams at the ATM

The recent spike in ATM compromises and fraud in the US reminds us that something we do all the time — getting cash from a cash machine — can be risky business. However, with so many different types of banks and ATMs, it can be challenging to decipher what is cause for concern and what is just a trustworthy ATM.

Here are four signs that an ATM has been tampered with:

1. It looks different — perhaps it has an unfamiliar layout or appears much newer or shinier than the same bank’s ATMs next to it. Criminals are adept at placing card or cash capture devices and PIN compromise devices in or around ATMs to get quick access to consumer funds. Some even install entire false fronts to ATMs to capture people’s PINs and money. These are often so well disguised that they can be extremely difficult to detect, so properly look at the ATM you are using to try and check it is legitimate.

LAatmFascia 223x300 How to Avoid Fraud Scams at the ATM

False front to an ATM

2. An unusually bulky card insert slot might suggest a “skimmer’. A skimmer is a tool that is attached to the card slot on an ATM and secretly swipes your card details while you’re making a withdrawal – and it’s almost indistinguishable from the real card reader. Look out for anything that seems to cover the arrow heads that point toward the card slot – there should be a gap between the arrows and the card insert point. Also look for any misaligned or even misprinted stickers, as this is often an attempt to cover up where a compromise device has been installed. Try wiggling the card reader.

3. A loose or blocked card slot may suggest the presence of a so-called ‘lebanese loop’. Thieves can place a tiny plastic or metal sleeve or barb into the card reader so that, when you try to withdraw money, your card is caught in the machine. The ATM will continue to ask for a PIN as usual but won’t release the card, which means the funds are not dispensed. , If you are led to believe your card has been swallowed, you may walk away or even enter the bank branch and leave your card and cash to be retrieved by the fraudsters.

Lebanese loop 2 How to Avoid Fraud Scams at the ATM

A so-called “Lebanese loop”

4. If the PIN pad feels loose, thick, or sponge-like, then it may be a fake. This longstanding way of capturing people’s PINs is known as a “PIN-pad overlay” – the true PIN pad is covered by a counterfeit keypad such that, although pressing the buttons correctly causes the ATM to register your PIN, it is simultaneously being captured by the criminal. Sometimes these digits are even instantaneously being transferred by WiFi to a waiting accomplice to record and use later.

Even if none of the above apply, be aware of your surrounding environment. Do not accept help from seemingly well-meaning strangers and don’t allow yourself to be distracted while at an ATM.

Typically fraudsters work best in teams, and distraction is a good way of scamming innocent victims to obtain a card or PIN. If an ATM is surrounded by individuals inexplicably loitering, try to use a different machine. Sometimes these will be confidence tricksters who, for example, have deployed a cash or card trap and will become “helpful” when you run into trouble. While you are distracted, an accomplice can quickly check your PIN or remove and conceal your card or cash.

When taking money out of an ATM, stand close to the machine and shield your PIN carefully. Do this even if there is no one nearby — in case criminals have installed a camera at the ATM. Once you have completed the transaction, put your money and card away before leaving the machine.

If you spot anything unusual about the machine, or there are signs of tampering, make sure you leave it well alone and report it to the police or your bank immediately so they can investigate.

Ultimately, always remember to be alert and put your personal safety first – if someone is crowding or watching you, then cancel the transaction and go to another machine.

You can find good card fraud protection tips at Financial Fraud Action UK, European ATM Security Team and Forbes.

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Adult See Saw Lesson

Overgrown children get catapult lesson.

1259834473 seesaw prank Adult See Saw Lesson“Seesaw throw.”
Image courtesy of

British Telecom Tests VPN Service In Shanghai Free Trade Zone

British telecom operator BT just submitted an application to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to gain a license to operate a value-added telecom business in China’s Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone.

The license is related to BT’s VPN value-added service, which it sells to companies in China who rely on virtual private networks. There are many companies who already provide VPN services in China, including China Unicom, China Telecom, 21Vianet, Diyixian, and Neusoft, but many foreign companies choose foreign providers like BT or AT&T for these types of services in China.

The company said no further detail is available on the scope of their VPN service as they has not yet received their license.

Both foreign and Chinese media often erroneously report that VPN services are illegal in China, but these types of privacy services actually have always been legal in China. Danny Levinson, founder of China-based VPN provider, says journalists don’t understand how business is done in China or what is legal or how companies register their scopes of businesses, so often misinformation is spread.

Levinson says, “When you sign an office lease in China, often the first guys knocking on your door are the telecom company who offer a menu of services including VPN services. VPN services are legal in China, but companies who are unregistered in China are not legally allowed to sell their unregistered services. So foreign companies like AT&T, Cisco, and BT need to get the correct licenses before they can sell. VPN services are illegal if sold by an unlicensed provider, but legal if sold by a company whose scope of business includes that type of service.”

During the World Economic Forum held in Dalian in September 2015, BT China president He Weiqin said that BT was actively applying for its value-added business license in China. On May 18, 2016, BT Group chairman Michael Rake revealed that he recently visited MIIT and was seeking opportunities to bring BT’s products and technologies to the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone. With the boom in fintech, online payments, and e-commerce in China, VPN services complement the privacy and security needs of companies in China.

BT is reportedly the largest broadband operator in U.K. In the financial year ended March 31, 2016, BT Group realized revenue of about GBP18.9 billion, which was about CNY180.4 billion; and its profit before tax was about GBP3 billion, which was about CNY28.9 billion. On January 29, 2016, BT completed its acquisition of EE, the largest mobile operator in U.K., for about GBP12.5 billion.

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The CRM App for Outlook: Getting Things Started

When interfacing Dynamics CRM through Outlook, you have three options. The first option is Using Server Side Synchronization and Folder-Level Tracking to Enable Email Tracking from Any Device. The second option, and probably the most popular one, is downloading the CRM for Outlook Add-in to your Microsoft Outlook. The last

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 The CRM App for Outlook: Getting Things Started

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PowerObjects- Bringing Focus to Dynamics CRM

Techniques for Building Data Lakes for z/OS Big Data for Machine Learning with Ironstream

Big Data Lakes 5 25 16 Techniques for Building Data Lakes for z/OS Big Data for Machine Learning with Ironstream

Build a z/OS Data Lake for Machine Learning Using Ironstream and Splunk (Credit: Kevin Gill & NASA via Flickr)

Has your data science team taken a dip in a data lake lately?

Unlocking knowledge from raw data is a recognized goal for most organizations, but multiple paths can lead to actionable insight. It has been clear for well more than a decade that insight can be gained through a traditional data warehouse using business intelligence tools and dashboards. In other words, Big Data may dominate the news, but insights are still to be found through disciplined use of mature BI tools.

“Data lakes are not appropriate for all corporate storage,” says Datamation’s Christine Taylor.

Then what’s the buzz about data lakes?

Dip Into Data Lakes
Important distinctions can be made between a data warehouse and a data lake.

The data in a data warehouse is structured, sometimes with extensive metadata or pre-aggregated data designed to facilitate reporting of key performance indicators. A data warehouse can be organized to support predetermined requirements, such as budgeting or compliance. While a data warehouse does not typically reach petabyte levels, data warehouses can be quite large. Because warehouse data must be structured, specialists refer to deposits to a data warehouse as “schema on write,” since the data model is known in advance.

A data lake, on the other hand, may combine both structured and unstructured data. As KD Nuggets suggests, in a data lake “the data structure and requirements are not defined until the data is needed.” As a result, specialists refer to deposits to a data lake as “schema on read.” Uses for data lakes are still being discovered, but it is fair to say that the data lake is early in the adoption cycle, with most success stories coming from data scientists rather than the broader community of data warehouse users. As Tamara Dull at SAS explained in the KD Nuggets report, “A data lake is not a data warehouse. They are both optimized for different purposes, and the goal is to use each one for what they were designed to do.”

“What data lakes do well – very well – is to improve business analytics and BI by integrating results from multiple knowledge sources,” Christine Taylor adds.

Filling Lakes on z/OS
Not surprisingly, IBM sees z/OS as a platform perfectly designed to swell with data lakes for a multitude of emerging enterprise needs. Most recently, IBM has advocated real time analytics in z/OS from “multiple sets of data,” especially using a version of Apache Spark specifically designed for z/OS. The IBM offering includes the Spark cure plus Spark SQL, Spark Streaming, the Spark Machine Learning Library and Graphx. According to IBM, there exists a family of use cases for which z/OS IMS, VSAM, DB2 or SMF data can be accessed through Spark SQL.

Splunk is often mentioned as a useful tool for creating and exploiting data lakes. In a Datamation survey, Splunk has the ability to extract useful interpretations from sources as diverse as machine logs, social media data, sensor streams, application transactions and website data.

Machine Learning in Splunk
Splunk is increasingly seen as one of the go-to tools for data collected from the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT data can be readily collected through an array of z/OS and mainframe hardware features without resorting to offsite cloud latency and cost. Tony Cosentino at Ventana Research described Splunk’s current sweet spot as “. . . dealing directly with distributed, time-series data and processes on a large scale.”

One of the emerging benefits for a Splunk data lake is the ability to use machine learning. Splunk has released its Machine Learning Toolkit application (visit Github for details). Splunk’s IT Service Intelligence (ITSI) product was constructed using the Machine Learning Toolkit, and the approach can be generalized to a wide variety of other pattern recognition tasks.

Suggested uses for Splunk Machine Learning include predicting customer churn, detecting insider threat, managing capacity and recognizing maintenance issues.

Recently Medical Mutual of Ohio announced that it was using Splunk Enterprise to assist in fulfilling computer security objectives. Splunk enables Medical Mutual to fuse data from multiple data sources collected through Syncsort Ironstream and help identify potential breaches or other security risks.

►To get started filling your z/OS data lake, first ingest all the Ironstream specifics at

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Digital Darwinism: Where Do You Stand?

digital darwinism Digital Darwinism: Where Do You Stand?

Level 1 on the Digital Maturity Framework is “Business as Usual,” where an organization is described as having leaders who rebuff the need for change.

Business as Usual organizations:

  • Support a traditional funnel approach to the customer journey.
  • Departments are not collaborative in their work to manage customer experiences, contributing to a disjointed and dated customer journey.
  • Digital literacy and expertise exist in pockets of the organization but are not a prime concern at the executive level.
  • Minimal research has been done on digital and traditional customer behaviors, preferences, and path to purchase.
  • Organizations are still following technology-first, not customer-first, roadmaps and processes that are outdated.

Sound familiar?

Altimeter didn’t specify the percentage of businesses in each of their six models, but I suspect many agencies are still dealing with leaders of Business as Usual organizations, and this is a tough slog for digital agencies.

The opportunities for immediate results might be great; but the probability of frustration in dealing with Business as Usual clients is likely to be greater if you don’t recognize the signs of resistance before you engage with them.

If you do recognize those signs, here’s a three-step strategy to help you help your client:

  • Plan for lots of educational conversations and to support your point of contact with plenty of ammunition to deliver to the executive suite.
  • Build in those activities to your projects and ensure that your messages are reaching their targets.
  • Don’t assume your everyday point of contact is delivering your content to the right person at the right time. Plan regular program reviews. Early and often.

More likely, you’re dealing with businesses in Digital Maturity Level 2, or “Present and Active,” where there are change agents inside who recognize opportunities to experiment – pushing boundaries and acting in a “beg forgiveness” manner. And the customer is more in the forefront of programs.

In Present and Active organizations, according to Altimeter:

  • Early adopters recognize digital, mobile, and social, and all disruptive technologies introduce new opportunities to test and learn internally and externally.
  • Executives take notice, and alliances are formed to further promote “test and learn” programs.
  • Leaders develop proficiency in their department’s tool(s) but have little visibility into other technologies used across the company to gauge customer behaviors, engagement, and interactions.
  • New work creates internal buzz and concern around change, and pilots reveal need for customer experience (CX) leadership.
  • The need to prove the ROI of
 CX programs sparks conversations between departments that eventually lead to sharing and collaboration.


The challenge for agencies with Present and Active clients is to recognize that these change agents (your connections) are, indeed, disruptive.

And unless they (and you) deliver positive results – in revenue with a healthy ROI – it’s likely you’ll be seen as the problem if forgiveness isn’t easily earned.

Reporting is essential here. The more data you can provide to Present and Active leaders, the more you’ll be seen as positive change agents, helping them push departments to work together, collaborating for results.

I’ve found that – with my own Present and Active clients – communications between managers and their leaders is usually the difference between buzz and concern.

If leadership can’t see that your digital programs are delivering awareness, pipeline, revenue, and ROI – your programs aren’t working.

So spend the time to create executive dashboards for Marketing, Sales, and CX leadership (oftentimes the CEO in SMB) to ensure they see results. And make sure those dashboards are relevant not only to the C-Suite, but to board members as well.

  • Develop and deliver regular reports to your clients’ leadership teams – with data AND analysis – in order to train them to analyze themselves.
  • Coach your clients to report weekly to their leadership team members on accomplishments, roadblocks and results.
  • Find and nurture cross-functional relationships (starting with sales, but moving quickly to customer success and IT) that further align departments on providing customer value – whether attracting, nurturing, closing, or retaining them.

Digital Darwinism at Work 

Change is constant. And digital Darwinism works on clients and agencies in a very egalitarian manner.

Agencies who can map their clients along a digital maturity curve will very likely craft programs, reports and relationships that are relevant, and drive revenue and positive results. (For both parties.)

And those who don’t recognize the digital maturity of their clients are likely to spin wheels, frustrate clients (and your own team members), and end up as road kill – or worse yet, going extinct – as other agencies find ways to help clients (maybe even yours) move up the digital maturity framework.

Where does your agency stand?

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