Tag Archives: TECHNOLOGY

Top 5 best infrastructure management services

If you run your own business, you no doubt use a ton of IT equipment and software on a daily basis, covering a range of purposes. And it’s very easy for all this stuff to pile up and become overwhelming.

This is where effective IT infrastructure management software is essential. It provides you with the ability to manage company processes and policies, computing equipment, data, contacts, human resources and security systems.

Normally, infrastructure management (IM) can be sorted into different use categories, such as storage management, network management, system management, server management, workstation management, IT security management and application support.

The ultimate aim of this technology is to help you streamline your internal IT processes – but you’ll also get a plethora of other benefits, too. For instance, you can ensure you conform to internal and external regulations, enhance data flows, run an efficient IT operation and avoid wasting time duplicating efforts.

There are plenty of IM software packages out there, and they’re suitable for a variety of different businesses and sectors. Large vendors such as HP, IBM and Microsoft all offer IM software. In this article, we’re going to highlight five of the best.

When it comes to software, it’s hard to beat American tech giant Microsoft, and the company has a great tool for infrastructure management. Configuration Manager is a suite of IM tools developed for IT managers and experts.

This solution deals primarily with operating systems, malware protection, power consumption and IT hardware. It can work on a variety of devices and across different work applications.

In terms of core features, the software offers device management, power management, update management, endpoint protection and inventory reporting. You can also use it to deploy Windows 10 quickly and efficiently on new devices.

  • PagerDuty is an excellent infrastructure management solution. It offers incident and dispatch features for multiple services and applications, and has been tailored for a plethora of businesses and industries.

    This is primarily a system monitoring and alert platform, providing incident management through a web or mobile application. What’s great is that it can send crucial infrastructure alerts through phone, SMS and push notifications. It can even send them to specific people or groups via email.

    Feature-wise, the software offers team scheduling management, real-time collaboration information through different devices and platforms, system and user reporting, always-on delivery and business-grade security. There are also integrations with apps and services such as Slack, AppDynamics, Desk.com, Watcher, ZenDesk and more than 200 others.

    If you’re after a cloud-based infrastructure management platform, you should check out Datadog. The system offers monitoring and analytics management for businesses of all sizes and sectors, as well as maintaining a rich and yet simple interface.

    The software can work with a wide selection of systems, apps and devices, and there are integrations which cover the likes of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Slack, SQL Server, Docker, Apache, Campfire and even PagerDuty above. And like PagerDuty, you have the option to receive alerts – in this case, the software will alert you to performance problems via email.

    You can create your own IM dashboards, too. They offer high-resolution metrics and graphs covering data such as hosts, devices, tags, rates, ratios and averages. There’s also the ability to search for different metrics and events.

    Formerly known as LabTech, ConnectWise Automate is a remote monitoring and management platform designed by IT service providers for technology companies, and it provides automated IT service.

    With a focus on network management, this solution offers powerful cloud-based reporting and visibility into your IT capabilities, allowing you to perform almost any IT management task remotely and efficiently.

    Meanwhile, on the automation front, ConnectWise will analyse all your systems, solve problems and reduce time spent visiting on-site assets. As well as being able to access the software from a PC, there’s also an app for iOS and Android devices.

    Automation isn’t for everyone, but it’s certainly handy if you want to speed up internal processes. There’s a free trial available, so you don’t have to rush into making a final decision as to whether you want to adopt ConnectWise.

    Pulseway’s Real-Time Remote Monitoring and Management Software is one of the most popular and highly commended services of its kind. It lets you monitor Windows, Mac and Linux computers, and provides you with real-time status on network performance, system resources and logged in users.

    There’s a mobile app for iOS and Android devices, meaning you can track and manage all your IT resources remotely. You also get access to advanced IT automation so you don’t have to spend time on mundane tasks, such as maintenance, backup and security checks.

    You can set up alerts, too. Like some of the other systems mentioned here, they’ll flag any system issues that could potentially lead to damage or failure, and you can tailor them based on your IT devices. Pulseway is suitable for smaller firms and businesses all the way up to large enterprises.

          

Office 2007 still a popular choice for businesses despite security risks

You may be aware that Microsoft’s venerable Office 2007 is no longer supported as of last month, but that hasn’t stopped over two-thirds of businesses using the productivity suite.

According to a new report from Spiceworks, 68% of firms are still using Office 2007 somewhere in their business, even though it is no longer receiving any security updates (or indeed other patches).

As for the most commonly used version of Microsoft’s suite, that’s Office 2010, which 83% of firms are using. And it’s certainly not the latest Office 2016, which is only being used by 17% of businesses.

That said, there’s brighter news for Office 365, as 53% of companies are using the subscription-based offering, and a further 17% are planning to shift to the cloud-based suite within the next two years.

That rather dwarfs the amount of businesses using G Suite, Google’s rival online product, which is only used by 17% of organizations.

Ancient Office

The research, which encompassed IT departments across the US, UK and Canada, came up with a further very worrying nugget: some firms (3%) are even still using Office 97.

Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks, commented: “Although they’re aware of the security risks of running end of life software, many IT departments haven’t had the budget, time, or resources required to implement new productivity suites and train end users accordingly.

“However, as IT budgets and staff begin to grow in 2018, more organizations will look to invest in newer cloud-based and as-a-service productivity suites with more resources to manage the transition.”

In other words, Office 365 is expected to be the biggest growth area among the various incarnations of Microsoft’s productivity suite, particularly when it comes to enterprises with more than a thousand staff members, Spiceworks observes.

      

Consumers offered more choice on IoT

Vodafone is going a bit IoT-crazy. The company has already launched a new range of IoT products and an accompanying consumer service. Now, the company has tapped into the growing interest in IoT and announced an agreement with TechData to integrate a range of IoT services.

The pan-European deal will allow resellers and systems integrators across Europe to access Vodafone’s value-added IoT services. This, in turn, will enable customers to integrate IoT into their own businesses.

Under the terms of the agreement, Tech Data’s IoT SIM-enabled devices, hardware and software will be able to be combined with Vodafone’s Managed IoT connectivity services for remote monitoring and control of industrial operational applications, mobile asset tracking, fleet management, building security, network access and worldwide device management solutions.

New opportunities

Victor Paradell, vice president, IoT & Analytics Solutions at Tech Data, said: “The agreement is a breakthrough as Tech Data is now able to offer a comprehensive, end-to-end Vodafone IoT connectivity solution across Europe.”

He welcomed the new agreement. “We’re excited to partner with Vodafone and help solution providers grow their businesses with new recurring revenue streams based on connectivity for IoT applications. Interest in IoT is stronger than ever, enterprise investment is increasing, and so is the number of IoT connections.” The rollout of the new service will start in the UK before the end of the year, with other services coming on stream in the new year.

      

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on how it’s different from Apple and Google

Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella is in the middle of a whirlwind tour across the world for his book “Hit Refresh” which talks about how he is in the process of reinventing the company. Right now he is visiting India, and from giving the keynote at the first edition of the India Today Next Conclave to sharing stage with legendary Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble, Nadella has been on an energetic mission spreading the gospel of this new Microsoft which he terms as being empathetic, and being an innovator which will help people do more.

As he walked into the room along with Anant Maheshwari Microsoft’s India head, Nadella spots my iPad and a colleague’s iPad and cheerfully says, ”You need to get a real computer, my friend.”

This was the very essence of what Nadella is doing with Microsoft. He is quietly confident about the technology his company is inventing and championing and at the same time, he stays humble and true to his own roots.

At being asked a question about his faux pas at Grace Hopper Celebration for women’s event, he immediately admits his mistake and says, “It was a huge learning experience for me because the answer I gave was utter nonsense.” But he goes beyond this and says that he made changes to the compensation structure of his leadership team where they are judged by numeral metrics for improving diversity and compensation of women in Microsoft.

“One of the things we have done — than saying a set of words — we changed the compensation of me and my leadership team where we now have to make numeric progress. I feel there is more to be done. In fact, Melinda Gates joined Microsoft as a computer scientist, the number was at 35 percent and now it has dropped to 17 percent so there is a lot more to do to make computer science attractive,” he said.

Even when it was pointed out that he achieved the zenith at Microsoft despite flunking IIT exams in India and not attending an Ivy League university in the United States, he talked about how it was important to keep learning from mistakes.

“I look at it and say let’s have perspective. What matters more isn’t what you did yesterday but what your posture of learning is tomorrow. That’s where parents and institutional leaders can be elitist and we have to be about identifying kids and giving them the confidence to not be know-it-alls but be learn-it-alls. It is my personal philosophy flunking exams has definitely taught me as long as I’m learning I’m fine. Failure is part and parcel of life, the question is what you going to do about it,” Nadella told me humbly.

Microsoft is different from Apple and Google

But the bigger and pressing questions were surrounded around the fact despite Microsoft’s recent success in the cloud computing business, it was being viewed as an enterprise company, but not a glamorous maker of consumer electronics like Apple, Nadella leans on this monk-like zen and sense of clarity of how Microsoft is a different company than say other tech titans like Apple or Google.

“Whenever we have done things that come naturally to us we’ve been successful. Even if it’s a consumer product it is a tool. I fell in love with Microsoft technology because of what it created.”

“In a way, I don’t want to take away from whatever success Apple or Google are having. We are very different companies. We are not some middleman in the marketplace. We are a tool creator we are not a luxury good manufacturer. That’s not who we are. We are about creating technologies so that others can build,” he states with a sense of monk-like clarity.

Nadella makes one thing crystal clear for Microsoft to win it is not a zero-sum game that Apple, Google or some other technology company has to lose. He is also willing to make hard decisions if there is a clear diction from the market.

“You take a look at what we did with groove and Spotify. Look at the Harmon and Kardon speaker. In some sense, it is a fantastic Cortana speaker but also for Spotify. The last time I checked there were a lot more Spotify people than Groove people. So let us bring the best of what Microsoft has to a Spotify user and create consumer fans. So that’s the approach we want to take,” he says echoing a similar hardiness he displayed when he swiftly jettisoned Nokia’s smartphone business that he had inherited which had already lost the market to Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone.

Microsoft is a different kind of a consumer company

Nadella is quite comfortable with the fact that it doesn’t make phones or widely sold consumer electronics. He feels it is a different type of a consumer-facing company. He cites the example of the Surface hardware unit.

“Even with Surface, we created a premium product and premium brand and basically said you know what every OEM should create a lower priced model. We want to democratise things. I want to us to be proud of what we can do,” he says.

His lieutenant in India Anant Maheshwari weighs in and states that Microsoft has plans to launch the new LTE models of the Surface tablet which have already arrived in China, though their arrival is gated by mass-market demand.

Nadella is also very happy about what Microsoft is doing with mixed reality, a buzzword it uses for virtual reality and even the tools that come included as a part of Windows.

“What we are doing in gaming that’s a consumer for consumer franchise. We have doubled down on it in a big way whether it is Xbox live or mixer, game pass, PC or console gaming,” he says.

He also says that there are 100 million people using the paint application on Windows machines which has been a staple of the operating system for decades. With the latest release of the operating system, he talks about how he’s proud that Microsoft is enabling painters to join the mixed reality bandwagon.

      

Samsung Pay vs Apple Pay

Samsung Pay was released for consumers in the UAE six months ago, and last week Apple followed suit by making Apple Pay available in the UAE as well. Both these services allow the user to pay at thousands of locations using their Galaxy smartphones or iPhones.

We compared Samsung Pay to Apple Pay to find out which one was easier to set up, which banks were supported, and, where you could use these services. That last one was a bit tricky to measure since there are thousands of places that accept both. We’ll get into how we decided to test that later, but let’s start by talking about which devices support these platforms.

Which phones do Samsung Pay and Apple Pay work with?

Samsung Pay is available on the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S8 devices as well as the Galaxy S6 edge+ along with Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy Note 8. Also supported are 2016 and 2017 versions of Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 models as well as 2017 model of Galaxy A3. On the wearable side, it works with Gear S3 and Gear Sport.

The total number of devices that work with Samsung Pay are twelve phones and two wearables.

Apple Pay is available on the iPhone SE, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and, the iPhone X. All three generations of Apple Watch are also supported as well as any Mac that is 2012 or newer.

The total number of devices that work with Apple Pay are ten phones, three wearables and a lot of Macs.

Looking at the total number of devices supported by either platforms, Apple Pay pulls ahead of Samsung Pay.

Which banks support Samsung Pay and Apple Pay?

What you need to be clear about is that Apple and Samsung are not financial institutions. Instead they are solutions that enable you to use your bank’s debit or credit card through your phone.

Not all banks are supported by either platform but we have listed the banks that are currently working on these platforms as of late October.

Samsung: ADCB, Emirates NBD, HSBC, Mashreq, NBAD, RAK Bank, Standard Chartered

Apple: Emirates NBD, HSBC, Mashreq, RAK Bank, Standard Chartered, Emirates Islamic

Samsung Pay supports one more bank than Apple Pay at the moment and from what we’ve heard, two more banks are joining by the end of November. This puts Samsung Pay in the lead with the number of supported banks.

Setting up Samsung Pay and Apple Pay, and their respective apps

The setup process is fairly easy for both of these platform – just make sure your phone is updated to the latest OS. You need a Samsung account to use Samsung Pay or an Apple account to use Apple Pay. The process of adding a bank’s card is similar in both.

On the iPhone, you launch the Wallet app and proceed to add a card. You can then scan the card using the camera or type out the details manually. Once you have added the card, the bank sends you a verification code that’s needed to complete the process. When your iPhone is set up, Apple also lets you set up your Apple Watch if you have one that is already paired with the iPhone.

On your Galaxy phone, the process is fairly similar. You open up the Samsung Pay app and add your card using the camera or typing it manually. Samsung gives you one additional option which is to tap your card on the phone if your card is equipped with NFC chip. Once you card is added, you verify it with your bank.

Following the card setup, Samsung doesn’t automatically let you set up your Gear Watch – you’ll have to separately do that instead. However, aside from your bank card, the Samsung Pay app also allows you to add loyalty cards from the likes of Emirates airlines or the many supermarkets present around Dubai. The Samsung Pay app also has a section for ongoing promotions and vouchers encouraging its usage.

Although the setup process of adding a bank card is similar on both Apple and Samsung devices, we prefer Samsung Pay because of the versatility of the app allowing you to store loyalty cards as well as learn about promotions and receive vouchers.

How it all works

The concept behind using Apple Pay or Samsung Pay is that you’re using your phone for transactions that you’d typically pull your wallet out for. Considering how a mobile phone has become an essential part of our lives, these payment services could potentially make the wallet go in the same direction as dedicated music players or point and shoot cameras.

Although both services sound similar in the way they work, Samsung has an upper hand because it supports NFC and MST technologies, whereas Apple only supports NFC. This technically makes Samsung Pay work across a much larger number of credit card processing terminals. Here’s one example of that: when you’re paying with your credit card, there are two ways a transaction can be initiated. The first method involves the cashier firing up the terminal, putting in the amount you need to pay and then swiping or inserting your credit card to complete the transaction. The second method used by some of the older machines involves the cashier first swiping your card and then entering the amount and completing the transaction.

In our tests, Apple Pay can only be used with the first method where the transaction is initiated by the cashier and you tap to complete it. In other words, you can’t initiate the transaction using Apple Pay. Samsung Pay, on the other hand, works in both instances. You can tap on the side of older terminals using MST which makes the terminal think that a card has been swiped and the cashier can then complete the transaction.

Considering the number of old machines we have come across during our testing of Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, we believe Samsung is ahead of Apple when it comes to the number of places that accept either of these solutions.

Putting it to test: Samsung Pay vs Apple Pay

There are thousands of places where both these payment solutions would work and it would be impossible for us to test these services at every one of these places. Instead, we decided to use it at places that would be a part of our daily lives and picked two members from our team:

Nick Rego uses a Samsung Galaxy S8 as his primary device and was tasked with testing Samsung Pay, while Sam McCluskey has an iPhone 7 and was tasked with testing Apple Pay. Both were asked to go about doing what they would normally do in their everyday lives and use their payment platforms for five transactions each.

Nick’s experience of using Samsung Pay

  1. Nick kicked off his trial with Samsung Pay at a cafe near our offices. A simple croissant and coffee was his fuel for the day and he had no issue tapping his Galaxy S8 on the card reader to complete the transaction.
  2. Lunch was next on the agenda with a similarly positive experience at the lovely Matto Italian restaurant in Business Bay.
  3. Nick’s final stop for the day was Spinneys in Motor City, where a successful tap of the Galaxy S8 at the cashier’s till allowed him to pay for his groceries.
  4. The next day we needed to fuel up a car we were reviewing and so Nick rolled into a petrol station. While we’ve gotten accustomed to handing out bank cards for swiping, we didn’t feel quite the same when handing over our phone to make a payment, so we just ended up quickly popping out of the car to tap on the card reader and pay for our fuel. For this transaction, we also had to sign the receipt, possibly because the card reader was an older model.
  5. Nick’s last treat was dinner and drinks with a few friends in the Marina at Pier 7, and this was about the only time where he had to explain to the waiter what Samsung Pay was when it came to settling the bill.

Samsung Pay score: 5/5

Sam’s experience of using Apple Pay

  1. Sam’s car was in a dire need of a wash and the first place he decided to try Apple Pay was at his neighbourhood car wash where he has used his debit card before. After three tries, Sam gave up and pulled out his debit card to pay.
  2. The next place Sam tested Apple Pay was at his local Enoc petrol station and once his car was filled up, he walked over to the card reader. The attendant entered the pump number, some pin code and vehicle registration number following which the terminal prompted to insert a card. Sam tried his iPhone from every angle he possibly could but could not get Apple Pay to work.
  3. While he was unsuccessful with his first two attempts, the third time finally worked when he headed out to catch up with a friend at Tim Hortons. The cashier entered the amount and Sam proceeded with his iPhone when asked to insert his card to successfully complete the transaction.
  4. The following day Sam made a trip to Choithrams and picked up some groceries and used Apple Pay on his iPhone without any issues by just holding it over the card reader when asked to.
  5. Sam’s final use of Apple Pay was when he woke up on the weekend and impulsively decided to get himself a pair of Birkenstock shoes from Mall of the Emirates. The cashier mentioned that he had received an email earlier notifying about Apple Pay but wasn’t sure how it worked. Sam was happy to educate him and walked out with his new shoes charged using Apple Pay.

Apple Pay score: 3/5

Based on random usage, we found Samsung Pay to work at more places than Apple Pay. This wasn’t much of a surprise considering Apple Pay only supports NFC based payments whereas Samsung Pay supports both NFC and MST technologies, making it work at a lot more places with older card terminals.

Samsung also currently has a lead with the number of banks supporting Samsung Pay, which is expected to further widen by the end of the month when two more banks are expected to join in. That being said, we’re positive that Apple will also increase the number of banks it works with over time.

While Samsung Pay wins over Apple Pay, we’re quite excited about both these solutions being officially available in the UAE. Both these players have helped with the adoption of smartphone usage across the world and with their respective payment services, will help push digital payments as well.

      

You can now pay through BHIM UPI using Paytm

Popular wallet app Paytm has added BHIM UPI support for its Payments Bank service, allowing users to set up a UPI address for sending and receiving money. Paytm says that it “aims to be the largest issuer and acquirer of UPI” and given its large userbase and simplicity of opening an account, this does seem achievable.

How to use Paytm UPI feature?

Using UPI in the Paytm app is very easy – tap on the BHIM UPI icon on the app’s homepage and select your bank. The app will then ask you to verify your mobile number linked to the respective bank account. Once verified, you can then verify or set up a UPI PIN if it doesn’t exist already.

By default, Paytm allots a mobile-number@paytm UPI address, but if you want, you can also set up a custom UPI address. Paytm lets you setup up to 2 UPI addresses at any given point of time.

At the moment, the Paytm UPI feature is available only in the beta version of the Paytm Android app, but the company says that it will be available on iOS soon.

What is BHIM UPI?

BHIM UPI is a government-mandated payments platform that aims to simplify the process of sending and receiving payments. Instead of relying on comparatively complex and slower payment systems like NEFT, UPI makes the entire process simpler and faster. To transfer money, all you need is the receiver’s UPI address, which can be as simple as name@bank – you don’t need to bother about the receiver’s name, Bank name, account number or IFS code.

Further, with UPI, there’s no waiting tim, and with there being plenty of payment apps with UPI support, the entire system is much more smartphone-friendly.

      

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update causing serious issues with Surface Pen

Been having trouble with your Surface Pen? Just installed the new Fall Creators Update for Windows 10? Apparently these two occurrences are not unrelated, as there are plenty of reports of folks suffering the stylus blues after installing Microsoft’s latest upgrade for its desktop OS.

As Computerworld reports, confused hybrid owners have been making multiple posts across the net (mainly Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 users) complaining that the Surface Pen is randomly glitching, simply not working for writing in some cases, and pinch-to-zoom functionality is failing in others.

As mentioned, this problem has cropped up after upgrading to the Fall Creators Update, and at least for some folks, appears to be happening after their Surface device wakes from sleep.

Not-so-magic touch

It can be cured by rebooting the machine, or restarting the Intel Precise Touch Device driver in Device Manager – which you can open by simply typing ‘device manager’ into the search bar next to the Start button. You’ll find the relevant driver under Human Interface Devices: just disable, then re-enable the driver here.

Obviously, neither of those workaround solutions are particularly convenient, particularly if this is happening to your stylus on a regular basis.

Microsoft will hopefully be working on a fix for this, although there’s no official acknowledgement of that. However, according to one Microsoft community moderator on the firm’s Answers site: “Engineering asked that anyone afflicted with this use the Feedback Hub App to send in a bug while in the bad state before disabling/re-enabling so that they can get the logs.”

It certainly doesn’t look great when a central peripheral for Microsoft’s flagship convertibles doesn’t appear to have been properly tested with the latest update for Windows 10.

Incidentally, if you’re having problems of any nature with the Fall Creators Update, we’ve got a troubleshooting guide you should take a look at.

  • One of Microsoft’s Surface range is on our best laptops list

      

Best Laptops under Rs. 30000 in India for November 2017

Laptops aka the portable computers are pretty much a necessity these days, be it a college student or an office goer. The demand for budget notebooks has always been the highest and so we have come up with our very own list of entry-level laptops which are priced below Rs. 30000, but offer a decent performance.

The top 10 laptops which have made into the list are absolutely the best you can get under Rs. 30000. Most of these machines are readily available in online stores but are a scarce or costlier in the offline shops. Do note that the prices mentioned here may slightly change from time to time.

The Asus X541UJ-GO459 is the most well-balanced laptop in the list. It not only rocks a 6th generation Intel Core i3 CPU, but also an NVIDIA GeForce 920M GPU. Yes, this Rs. 30k notebook can handle gaming better than some midrange PCs.

Externally, the Asus X541UJ-GO459 is built quite decently. It supports a host of connectivity options ranging from single-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth till Gigabit LAN and DVD Writer. This affordable laptop from Asus comes without Windows OS and you need to manually load it yourself.

Buy Asus X541UJ-GO459 @ Rs 32,639 on Flipkart

The Vivobook X541Ua-Dm1232D will serve the needs of most of the students and working professionals who do not need a powerful graphics processor. While it is a strict no-no for gamers, this laptop from Asus is the perfect choice if you want a laptop for web browsing and running word or excel.

The build quality of the laptop is good enough and it won’t feel cheap in your hands. However, availability is indeed a concern as the Asus Vivobook X541Ua-Dm1232D often goes out of stock at various online as well as offline retailers.

Buy Asus Vivobook X541Ua-Dm1232D at Rs 27,590 @ Amazon India

The Acer Aspire E5-553-T4PT is a well-built laptop with decent specifications. Despite running an AMD chip, it performs quite well in day to day usage. Thanks to the 7th Gen APU chip, the E5-553-T4PT can run low end to middle-class games with standard settings.

However, the best part is that the laptop comes preloaded with Windows 10 operating system which saves you from the hassle of installing a new OS.

Buy Acer Aspire E5-553-T4PT @ Rs 29,990 from Flipkart

This is decent under Rs. 30,000 laptop by Asus. While the 7th generation Intel Core i3 processor is a great performer, we feel the need for an additional GPU. Moreover, there is only a single RAM slot in the notebook. This means, if you want to upgrade the RAM, there is no other way than throwing away the older one.

Apart from this, the Asus Vivobook X541UA-DM1358D is a very good offering. It sports the top notch built quality, which, combined with the Full HD Anti-glare display makes the notebook an excellent entertainment gadget.

Buy Asus Vivobook X541UA-DM1358D @ Rs 28,290 from Amazon India

It is quite surprising to find a laptop with 6th Generation Intel Core i3 priced below Rs. 25,000. The Lenovo Ideapad 110 80UD00RWIH performs like any other laptops in this list while costing much lesser.

If you are facing a cash crunch, this laptop is no less than a savior for you. It will breeze through your day to day works and even serve your media requirements.

Buy Lenovo Ideapad 110 80UD00RWIH @ Rs 24,990 from Flipkart

The HP 15q-by002AX is a well-balanced laptop with an affordable price tag. Powered by the dual-core AMD A9 and the Radeon R5 M430 GPU, the performance can’t be smoother. The notebook would run average games in low to middle settings.

On the outside, the laptop looks quite decent and has a great display panel. The best part of the HP 15q-by002AX is its 4-cell battery which can last as much as 6 hours with a full charge.

Buy HP 15q-by002AX @ Rs 27,990 from Flipkart

The Acer ES1-572-33M8 is another cheap notebook which can very well be your daily driver. Powered by the proven 6th Generation Intel Core i5, it is the perfect laptop for office works and media consumption. All this combined with an International Travellers Warranty, the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G is actually too good a deal!

Buy Acer ES1-572-33M8 @ Rs 25,990 from Flipkart

The Dell Vostro 3468 is a decent laptop which can satisfy your office or college requirements. Powered by the latest 7th Generation Intel Core i3 Processor, the notebook can open web pages and run 4K videos with ease. The built quality of the portable PC is above average in terms of sturdiness.

However, Dell’s choice of material is quite substandard in the Vostro 3468. Also, the laptop does not come with Windows 10 preinstalled and you need to load it up manually on your own.

Buy Dell Vostro 3468 @ Rs 29,999 from Amazon India

The HP 15-bg001AX is another blockbuster laptop that offers exceptional price to performance ratio. For a price tag of just Rs. 28,990, this notebook packs the AMD Radeon R5 M430 GPU, which is usually found in machines costing upwards Rs. 40,000. Apart from the aging AMD A8 7410 CPU, there is nothing we can complain about the HP 15-bg001AX.

The notebook also has a second RAM slot and you can always buy another RAM stick and slide it into the notebook for additional memory management. The brand new laptop supports up to 16 GB of RAM.

Buy HP 15-bg001AX @ Rs 26,490 from Flipkart

Dell is well known for its rugged built quality and the Inspiron 5567 is built like a tank. The premium construction combined with a gorgeous Full HD 1080p display looks generously appealing. If you look past the older 6th Generation Intel Core i3 processor, this laptop is not a bad choice for its asking price.

However, we don’t like the fact that the Dell Inspiron 5567 neither comes with Windows 10 preinstalled nor has a dedicated GPU.

Buy Dell Inspiron 5567 @ Rs 30,990 from Flipkart

Wrapping it up

These are the absolute best laptops you can get within Rs. 30,000. Go through each of the 10 notebooks carefully and choose the one that is best suitable for you. A little tip: “Swap the Hard Disk of the laptops with an SSD and you will forget that these are just entry-level PCs.”

      

Meet your new NHS GP: a 24/7 video-calling app that’s set to cut waiting times

The National Health Service has officially launched a smartphone service that allows you to see a GP 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Called GP at Hand, the service allows patients to make a video call with an NHS GP on their smartphone, saving the need to go to an actual doctor’s surgery.

What’s more, the service looks to slash waiting times, with many getting an appointment often minutes after booking, a stark difference to the weeks that some GP appointments can take to book in.

After your consultation, your doctor can send any prescriptions to a pharmacy of your choosing, where you can then pick up your medicines at a time to suit you.

The service has recently been trialled in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and following that successful trial, is being rolled out to the rest of London. According to the press release, a rollout for the rest of the country is coming in the near future.

Swift and efficient

We tried out GP at Hand during the trial period and were very impressed with the service. We were able to book an appointment for 40 minutes time, the service was easy to use, and the doctor we saw was knowledgeable, with a kind manner.

Of course, not all ailments are able to be diagnosed over a video call, and in these circumstances, you would be sent to an affiliate physical practice where a doctor will be able to physically examine you.

The service is provided by Babylon, a digital healthcare company, and is essentially exactly the same health care service that Babylon offers, simply free-at-the-point-of-use rather than paid-for.

Obviously, it will be the NHS footing the bill, with patients registering GP at Hand as their GP practice. For some, there may be a concern about a private company taking on the services of the NHS, and we asked Babylon CEO Ali Parsa about this when we interviewed him a few months before time of writing.

His response was that “every GP is a paid service. It’s a business. So that’s fine, but they’re being paid by the National Health Service… Why couldn’t the NHS pay Babylon to be your GP?” And it looks like Dr Parsa has got his way.

According to the official press release, the trial was met with overwhelming positivity, with over 90% of users involved giving it five stars. It is an interesting proposition taking healthcare digital, seeing as so much of the rest of our everyday lives is now being run from our smartphones.

As the rollout continues, we’ll make sure to bring you all the latest on where it is coming to and how successful it is.

      

Companies need to wise up about IoT

So you want to be an all-connected company? Well, you can join millions of others around the world. As we reported earlier this week, a Zebra survey found that European companies are proceeding apace with IoT deployement – but the speed of the deployment is masking some serious concerns.

The Zebra survey found that there were plenty of companies well advanced in the process – 25% of European companies surveyed are already investing £3.4m or more in IoT annually, with 66% planning to increase that investment in the next couple of years. And plans are already far advanced, 83% of these companies think their IoT deployments are more than half complete.

But that’s really not the whole story. There’s been a rush to deploy IoT without thinking of the consequences – implementing IoT means more than just purchasing devices – and companies haven’t always considered what implementing IoT means in any detail. The Zebra survey found that 53% of European companies hadn’t implemented any plan as to how that IoT vision would be used – buying devices is only one part of the process.

According to Richard Hudson, EMEA vice president and general manager for Zebra, “Leveraging operational data and deriving actionable insights provides clear benefits, but that doesn’t mean it is always an intuitive process. For example, business cultures where performance data is gathered and passed through a long chain of approvals are rarely suitable to get the benefits needed from real-time intelligence.”

And this gets to the heart of the issue. What makes the difference with IoT rollout is not the availability of connected devices but, the way they’re being used and the way that they’re incorporated into business process. “

New technology has a limited effect when no one uses it. As Hudson explained “One of the most cited challenges from last year’s Harvard Intelligent Enterprise Symposium was new user adoption. He said that it’s not enough to run a few days of training and think that your workers are primed to meet all the challenges that IoT will bring. “This goes beyond training and education and extends to behaviour and culture as well as ease of use and integration with existing workflows. Enterprises need to think about stakeholder identification and alignment, the process of governance, project and resource management along with the learning curve and experience of their team members.”

This cultural change matters; the Zebra survey revealed more than a third of European companies have no plan to address the cultural changes needed to deploy IoT with 60% of them not looking to address resistance to adopting IoT.

Hudson said there were different forms of resistance but all of them could be detrimental to the roll-out of IoT. “One example is the natural disruption that emerges from introducing new processes. A short-term drop in productivity can be expected when changes are implemented, or a rise in errors based on a lack of familiarity with new tools. If a company makes a significant IoT deployment with no planned introduction, it will lead to frustration or unwillingness to engage with new technology. We’ve highlighted a number of ways in which companies are managing staff expectations and education about IoT deployments, such as better training (which European businesses are more likely to offer).

Drive to analytics

What’s driving this deployment is the need to know more about customers, employees, processes, transport … well, just about everything in fact.

And here, companies are getting clued about the future. Most companies are aware of the need to implement comprehensive analytics systems and, when asked in the Zebra survey, the vast majority thought they had the right systems in place. For example, 70% of companies globally shared information from their IoT devices with their employees more than once a day, of which more than two-thirds share in real or near-real time.

This sort of deployment makes it sound like companies are getting geared up for the revolution that IoT will bring, but even if this is only half the story. There have been attempts to install analytics systems, however, according to Zebra, only 32% of companies provide actionable information to all employees, and information is sent either via email (69%), which is not really providing a fully integrated system, or as raw data (62%), which means there is still a good deal of processing to do.

There’s little doubt that IoT has become one of those phrases – like digital transformation and Big Data – that have become an essential part of marketing teams’ armoury. And, of course, there’s a close correlation between all three terms – transformation is often driven by making better use of data, which has been gathered from a host of connected devices.

The Zebra survey makes sobering reading though. It may be great news for the IoT vendors but the fact that so few companies have a comprehensive business plan as to what should be done with that information – and even fewer have implemented the sort of changes in business processes that are needed to make those changes work – should be an eye-opener to CIOs.

There will no doubt be many companies who protest that they have a very clear strategy as to what they’re doing with IoT – indeed, the Zebra survey bears that out. But there are also many who haven’t and these businesses need to work out what they need to be doing to make IoT deployment a success.

Given the type of upheaval that a successful rollout could entail, this would probably mean the involvement of a variety of departments: finance, marketing, HR, facilities etc. Those who think that IoT is purely about technology are heading down a blind alley.