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6:13PM

Another day, another debunked Microsoft privacy- violation myth

Another day, another debunked Microsoft privacy violation myth

This time, it is the completely unsubstantiated, and rather thoroughly debunked lie that Microsoft would be giving security firm FireEye telemetry data from ALL Windows 10 devices.

I caught a whiff of the initial news during one of the few moments I was able to sneak online as I was OTG, and it pissed me the eff off!

Why would Microsoft do this I wondered?

Especially since it wasn’t a condition explicitly opted into by Windows 10 users.

And it pissed me off more.

Then, I got a few emails on the subject from acquaintances. I became most concerned, however, when I received an email from my most bleeding-edge client. This is a man who consumes the latest-and-greatest. Nevertheless, and even after migrating his company to it, he still has some reticence around Windows 10, for business IP reasons.

These untruths do not help.

Not at all!

After a few times thinking about it, especially on the jettrain back home, I started composing a blog post lambasting Microsoft for pulling a Google/Facebook/Uber.

Crisis averted.

However, upon getting home, I got an alert from a saved search for that keyword that it was all a mistake.

However, this isn’t the first. Or fifth. Or one-hundredth time Windows 10 has gotten a bad rap because of false assumptions, outright lies, or just plain FUD?

Right?

So, who is to blame?

Who is to blame?
Microsoft.

You got it.

Instead of a top Microsoft honcho to come out and unequivocally state why Microsoft needs that information, silence.

In the stead of this, Microsoft cowardly employs a legion of surrogates that try to do the job for them.

Bitte, wachsen eine Wirbelsäule, ja?

I believe Microsoft needs to simply, and plainly detail what the telemetry data is being used for.

Plainly, I say. Not in the obfuscating legalistic verbiage their current ToS and EULAs detail.

Oh, and Microsoft NEEDS to find a way of making this gathered telemetry opt in. By clearly enumerating the benefits it delivers.

Right now, it doesn’t, or isn’t hurting Microsoft, the brand.

One day, these myths just might.

How does that saying go again?

A lie repeated often enough will be treated as the truth.

Never fails.

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8:38PM

The Logitech K780 Multi_device Keyboard Review

1This, is the tablet keyboard I have been waiting for!

I use several tablet devices on a daily basis: ElitePad 1000 G2, HP Pro Tablet, Dell Venue 8 Pro, Apple iPad, Apple iPad Air. Also, my iPhone and Windows Phone.

Not counting the Surface and Surface Pro devices which have their own keyboards.

One thing I find myself reaching for a keyboard to augment my input, and user experiences

Even with the iPads, and their myopically-vaunted touch-first user interfaces, the user experience is certainly enhanced with the use of a keyboard.

Please, stop bullschtakoing about how iOS is built from the ground up for touch. For evidence, iPad Pro, and official Apple iPad keyboards. ‘Nuff said?

So, I need a keyboard.

Preferably one that I can move across all my devices.

k780-multi-devibbbe-keyboard

Unboxing and OOBE
The K780 came in a form-fitting box with adequate padding. The bottom of the box also doubled as a setup guide.

K780 also came with built-in batteries. Pulling a tab activated the batteries, and it was time to go.

Setup was dead easy: set the tablet device to search for K780 via Bluetooth, then push the required device selector button on the K780 keyboard.

Easy.

I like easy.

The same process worked for all the devices I used in this review.

Note: you can also use the Logitech Unifying receiver if your system does not come with Bluetooth.

Using the Logitech K780 Multi-Device Keyboard
snip_20161119222301The first thing that sets the K780 apart is the integrated device stand.

This is immediately useful.

K780 users no longer need to be concerned with carrying a stand for their devices when using the keyboard.

Secondly, the K780 is a full-size keyboard, with and integral numeric keyboard.

People, this is mungo cool!

For me, a typical use is having both a tablet an my iPhone resting on K780 while using either one of the devices.

No, while up to three devices can be connected to the K780 at once, only one device can be in use. However, switching between devices is as easy as selecting the device from the three device-selector keys on the keyboard.

Logitech K780 is a soft-touch keyboard, with large round and roundish keys. They are easy to use, and the travel is just fine. The numeric keypad is a boon, and the price is just right.

Conclusions
1Category winners are always in the same arena as the losers.

What always sets them apart though, are the little things, the little attention to detail.

The Logitech K780 is one of those winners.

It checks off several things I need, and added a few I did not know I needed.

The integrated, full-length device stand is one of them. The numeric keypad is another. The former lets me use any of my tablets and for the most times, two devices side-by-side, and the latter obviates the need for me to use a full laptop.

The only missing want for me, is backlighting.

Still, this is a superb device.

Accordingly, we bestow the SmallBizWindows Business Ready Award of Excellence upon the Logitech K780 Multi-Device Keyboard.

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k780-multi-device-kfeyboard

Devices Used

  • HP ElitePad 1000
  • HP Pro Tablet
  • Dell Venue 8 Pro
  • Apple iPad
  • Apple iPhone

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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1:03PM

The new HP Z2 Workstation is very Droolworthy, and Ready For SMBs

I have been a user of HP Workstations since I first reviewed the then entry-level HP xw4600 in July of 2008, an exclusively using them as my desktop PCs since.

HP’s Z-Series workstations have been both performance, features, and, in a departure from the general view of HP, stylistic, leaders. ZWorkstations have also been very forward looking and future proof, and outright outliers in their spaces, whether for design, eco-friendliness, and embedded functionality such as Thunderbolt and the ZDrive. They were also the first to deliver an all-in-one workstation, and an all-in-one touchscreen workstation.

Why the epistle, you may ask?

The new HP Z2.

z2-02

Gaze.

Actually, drool. (It’s okay. I’m doing the same.)

Just in case the diminutive size isn’t apparent, this is the Z2 placed next to a cup of expresso.

z2-00

In entry guise, it can drive 3 monitors while the performance model can drive 6 monitors – SIX! – right out of the box!

The specs have me rather interested:

Intel Xeon E3-1200 V5, 32GB max of ECC or non-ECC RAM, 4 USB 3.0, 2 USB 3.0 Type-C, HP Z Turbo Drive G2, 2GB NVIDIA Quadro M620, integrated Wi-Fi.

z2-03

Moreover, it comes ready for a VESA mount.

Right away, I can envision several usage scenarios for this product where its combo of power, size, and expandability would be a boon.

*All specs mentioned are either for the ‘Performance SKU – the top model – or for a max spec unit.

Excellent work again, HP Fort Collins.

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More info on the Z2 can be found here.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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4:06PM

Shiny New Logitech Things to Review

I have a trio of Logitech human input devices, or HIDs here at the Orbiting Dacha for review.

They are the Logitech K780 Multi-Device Keyboard, the Logitech M330 Silent Plus Mouse, and the Logitech M720 Triathlon Multi Device Mouse.

k780-multi-device-keyboard

logitech-m330-silent-plus

m720-triathlon-mouse

I have wanted to try the K780 Multi-device for a while. I have been a use of the Logitech K380 keyboard, and I like their multi-device keyboards as it allows me to just just one keyboard across multiple mobile/portable devices.

Likewise, the M720 is basically an MX Plus sans some functionality, and the silent Plus is just intriguing.

Let’s do this!

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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8:00AM

The HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 Review

The HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 is the best, most capable inkjet printer we have tested.

By far. So far.

It is capable, speedy, easy to use, affordable in both capex and opex, and displays a gracious élan generally not seen in this space for a while.

It is a SmallBizWindows Superstar Product.

Let’s start from the beginning.

The HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 Wide-Format Printer
3A wide-format all-in-one, the OfficeJet Pro 7740 is one of the business inkjet devices created by HP’s vaunted Boise operation, formerly helmed by the renowned Vyomesh Joshi.

As one of the “Pro” line of HP OfficeJet printers, it is targeted squarely at businesses.

You can print, copy, scan, and fax.

Sadly, faxing documents is still a thing for several businesses, and is accepted over emailed documents!

According to published specs, it is supposed to be rather speedy, both for black-and-white, and color prints.

Let’s delve in.

Edwin_Catalog_Frt_w_Output_HR_v1_8bit

Unboxing and OOBE
The OfficeJet Pro 7740 came in a box that didn’t rattle when shaken at my location.

Seems trite or trivial, but I always do this, not only for review devices, but also for everything I order. For I believe that a snug fit generally means care had been given to packaging, with a resulting reduction in returned equipment.

I opened the box to a boxy, yet stylish printer, with little protrusions or protuberances spoiling the line. The design language here is sleek, smart, reminiscent of old HP LaserJet III and, – dare I say it? – the Apple LaserWriter printers from days gone by.

It came with a set of inks cartridges, a quick start guide, a power cable, and some safety info as required by the authorities.

Me being me, I opted to use the quick start guide. I plugged the device in, and we were on.

I inserted the ink cartridges when asked, entered the SSID of the network it would be connected to and voilà, I was good to go!

Internal Testing
The OfficeJet Pro 7740 was used as the primary printer here at the Orbiting Dacha for a week in place of a black-and-white laser printer.

I wanted to see if the users experienced delays, or felt a drop-off in the outputted b&W or grayscale documents.

I also used it to print out a very good number of color documents, from presentations, to slide decks, to full-color photographs. I also made a fair number of tabloid-sized prints.

The OfficeJet Pro 7740 performed impressively well.

Sadly, it was soon time to take it to a real-world environment for further testing.

HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 Wide Format All-in-One, Left facing, no output

AbsolutelyRealWorld Testing
The environment chosen for our real-world review was for a partner at a structural engineering firm.

This firm uses several high-end printers that output in large format. They also have a couple of individual large-format printers for their draughtspersons.

Fortuitously, the OfficeJet Pro 7740 was offered for review, and so it came in.

I unboxed the device, and plugged it in. I added some letter-sized paper into the printer, then demonstrated the HP Direct Print feature by asking my tester to print to it from her HP z620 workstation.

I tell ya: that brought smiles.

I then had it connected to their wired network, and properly configured for her.

The easy discoverability of the OfficeJet 7740, and indeed of all HP devices by Microsoft Windows is impressive.

It really is.

For the past three weeks, the printer was the deskside adjunct to the big printers and plan printers in use at that firm.

It was a success.

For one, the deskside production of tabloid-sized output meant that my tester could make changes on-the-fly for either her staff, or for consultation with her partners.

As with our use of the OfficeJet Pro 7740 at The Orbiting Dacha, they ran the printer through stress tests designed to max out the performance of the printer in order to determine the suitability of the OfficeJet Pro 7740 for their deskside output requirements. They also almost ran it in tabloid mode, as that was their preferred output format.

According to her, it eliminated the need for the distraction of walking across the office to the printer room for printed output.

Furthermore, being able to generate such clear output was definitely worth it.

The speed of the printer was another factor in their satisfaction with the printer.

Also, it fitted the ROI they are looking for in a deskside large-format printer.

Finally, it comfortably beat their current printers by a considerable margin.

HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 Wide Format All-in-One, Right facing, no output

The Review
OOBE
One of the very first things I look for in a device is the OOBE, or Out-Of-the-Box-Experience.

So many firms fall down on their faces right here.

HP is an outlier here. I am often able to use HP devices without worrying about device drivers because they just work right out of the box. This kind of experience breeds confidence that a device won’t let you down even in tough situations where internet access is problematic.

Secondly, and this was also the case with the OfficeJet Pro 250 Mobile Printer we tested a couple of months ago, the devices were automagically discovered by Windows and provisioned with a single click. For busy ROBOs or SOHOs, this is rather ideal. You also do not have to worry about the insecurity of having to load drivers from media which may have been compromised with slipstreamed malware, a definite nightmare in this day and age.

Installation
While HP’s instantaneous and simple instructions are nice, they hide the amount of backend work that makes for easy discoverability and provisioning.

Connecting to networks are dead easy, and the touchscreen user interface is intuitive, showing that careful thought had gone into that UI design.

I like that a lot.

Like I always say, this stuff is NOT rocket science. Make it simple, make it useful, and stay out of the way of your users.

They did.

In Use
The OfficeJet Pro 7740 is fast. In fact, the initial hiccup when it is receiving data to output is forgotten when multiple pages start briskly loading up in the output tray.

OfficeJet Pro 7740 is versatile. Having multiple document trays standard is very smart. Not even do my tester’s architect clients generate tabloid output at all times. However, the ability to generate such output ad hoc is an added boon for them. Adding to this versatility if the ability to print directly from non-Windows devices, such as iOS devices, such as the ubiquitous iPhones, and from iPads as well. I understand this can be done with Android devices. However, I am yet to meet up with an Android device at businesses we are affiliated with…..

It can also be secured with the use of HP JetAdvantage Private Print, which keeps prying eyes away from your stuff until you are physically at the printer, and direct it to print.

Scanning was a breeze. Both out testers locally and at the structural engineering firm were able to scan and copy a variety of odd-sized documents

Conclusions
3
Our tester’s firm was also selected for a reason: they already had both large enterprise devices there, and a couple of deskside devices we had tried and recommended.

However, one quote from our tester sums it up best: “This is the best printer we have had here. By far. It just works very well for my needs.”

There you have it.

Pitted against enterprise-class large-format color laser printers, and against other deskside large-format printer, the HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 not only prevailed, even as a newcomer, but kicked the other similar devices to the kerb.

It is well priced, and consumables are, both for an HP printer, and an inkjet, priced rather reasonably.

Plus, it looks good!

For this and the robust specs on this device, as seen here, it is the recipient of the SmallBizWindows

Superstar Award.

It is also an automatic entrant in both the SmallBizWindows Printer of the Year and Scanner of the Year categories.

OfficeJet 7740 HP20160620235

Some HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 Technical Specs (From HP.com)

  • 11 x 17 inch printing
  • Automatic two-sided printing, fast print speeds, and an auto document feeder help ease your day.
  • Print speed ISO: 21 ppm (black); 17 ppm (color)
  • Increase paper capacity to 500 sheets with the included second 250-sheet paper tray.
  • Tap & swipe the smartphone-style color touchscreen for timesaving shortcuts.
  • The 35-page ADF handles documents up to legal size (21.6 x 35.6 cm), so you finish duplex jobs quickly.
  • Print, scan, and copy in standout color on sizes up to 11 x 17 inches (A3), for bold documents and presentations at up to 50% less cost per page than color laser.
  • Fax up to 8.5 x 14 inches (21.6 x 35.6 cm).

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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12:06PM

Shiny New Things: HP ProDesk 600 PC & HP Z22n 21 inch Display

As part of the HPE Proliant ML10 review, we have decided to see the test client with the hardcover novel-sized HP ProDesk 600 ‘desktop’ computer, coupled with an HP 22” monitor.

The ProDesk 600 is one of those devices you have to see to believe, especially if you remember, as I do, the old full-size AT personal computer cases from the days of yore.

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This is a midline system, with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

The 22” display we have paired it with is an entry-level model, without any frills. Or without any that we know of, to be exact.c04866706

*HP. HPE. I’m finding it hard to keep track!

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11:50AM

The HPE Proliant Entry-Level Server Review Series

Focus, and sometimes, unrelenting focus, is a requirement for success for small businesses.

Small business owners have that focus, and more.

However, sometimes, a singular focus on what you do best blinds one to the ancillary components of that success, and has them subconsciously spending valuable time on the adjuncts to their businesses that help with their success.

Case in point is computing.

Over the course of my journeys into the World of the SMB Owner, I have chanced upon several owners who, by either neglecting the capital expenditures (capex), operating expenditures (opex), or the ungodly combination of both, for their computing infrastructure, either hinder the growth of their firms, or unknowingly end up spending more money on either personnel, or external services or technicians.

Thankfully, there is help.

Server-based computing alleviates the issues SMBs have with the above, and also the very real issues of data and intellectual property theft, user identification and authentication, [company] network access and control, device vetting, and more.

HPE Proliants to the rescue
HPE has the Proliant line of servers, spanning from towers to rackmounts, all the way to blades, including SuperDome X!

The entry-level tower servers will be the focus of this blog series.

The specific entry level servers will be the HPE Proliant ML10, the Proliant ML30, and the Proliant ML150.

Over the next several months, I will bring you a series of articles of the use of these servers in real world situation where the use of the specific server model in use in that scenario hopefully positively impacts the firm.

We are also engaging with the fine folks running the HPE Flex Solutions team, explained here, to being you their takes on best-of-breed solutions for the chosen scenarios.

HPE Flex Solutions
As you know, Flex Solutions were derived by HPE to speed up go-go-market situations for VARs and solution providers. By using them here, we will show how those recommendations and bundles actually do so in real-world scenarios.

We are starting this series with the HPE Proliant ML10 Server.

HPE Proliant ML10 Server
The HPE Proliant ML10 server is a tower server which comes in what is now akin to what was known as the mini-ATX form factor.

It is priced for the very small of small businesses, and is expandable for that space. It has 6 internal hard drive bays, is equipped with Intel Xeon CPUs, multiple USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, and up to 8GB of RAM.

We have chosen a firm to run a capability and functionality scenario against.

Subsequent blog posts will reveal the test scenario, and more details.

HPE Proliant ML30 & Proliant ML150
Our review regimen for the afore-mentioned servers will commence once we identify, and validate firms that fit into the target space for them.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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6:04AM

Shiny new thing to review: HPE Proliant ML10 Gen9 Server

838124-425We have received a shiny new HPE Proliant ML10 Server for review at AbsolutelyWindows.

This server will be a part of our upcoming in-depth look at HPE’s entry-level servers, announced here, and to be expanded on here.

While diminutive, this server seems ready for business. It it outfitted with a 3.30 GHz Intel Xeon E3-1225, 8 GB of RAM, and dual 2TB hard drives.

The box also comes with a 1 Gb embedded NIC, 6 USB ports – 4 USB 3.0, and surprisingly for its low price, a pair of DisplayPort ports.

The box has been here for over three weeks, and I have commenced setting it up for the review regimen slated for it.

Please stay tuned.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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4:27AM

Shiny new thing: Dell XPS 15

A shiny new Dell XPS 15 laptop is now in full effect at The Orbiting Dacha.

This is the newest version of our 2016 SmallBizWindows Product of the Year.

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Unlike the tested product back then, this device has the latest available Intel i7, a 500 GB SSD, and…tada..the pièce de résistance…that beauuutiful touchscreen 4K InfinityEdge display.

I have decided to take personal charge of the long term review for this baby.

People note: these are the sacrifices I make. For you.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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4:23PM

Shiny New Thing to review: Epson Home Cinema 5040UB 3D Projector

We have here the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 5040UB 3LCD projector for review.

This is a wireless 3D projector with both 1080p resolution, and HDR compatibility.

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It is taking the place of our trusty Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3500 3D projector for the next several weeks before emplacement at a final location.

Selected review media include the entire Star Wars saga, among others.

I shall keep you informed.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:19AM

Photo Album: the Social Compass Influencer Breakfast at Dell EMC World 2016

There was an influencer breakfast at Dell EMC World.

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It was rather cool, with Dell staffers trying to get attendees to familiarize themselves with the lay of the land that is the Austin Convention Center.

Event photographs were taken, and the event tchotchke was…tada…a compass, of which #2 Son was the recipient*. Now, it name of this gathering made even more sense.

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Dell EMC World 2016

Dell EMC World 2016

Dell EMC World 2016

Dell EMC World 2016

Dell EMC World 2016

*He immediately wanted to go off into the greenbelt behind the Orbiting Dacha to try it out!

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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5:27AM

Andy Marken’s Content Insider #490 - Teens

Gen Z is More Prepared, More Savvy than You Think

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I was hoping I wouldn't have to. Sometimes it skips a generation.
I was hoping it would pass you by.”

– Harold Howard, “Teen Wolf,”  Wolfkill, 1985

Today’s teens are the ones who are in line to take over business, the world.

They’re the first generation to not know life before the Internet, the Web, apps, smartphones, constantly being connected and being able to tap into any news, information, entertainment anywhere in the world.

Obviously, they’re screwed up.

Except they’re not!
It’s important to know and understand them because (and let’s be crass about it) they are the big customers of tomorrow and, according to world census figures, they’re a big market:

  • Silent Generation (69+) – 10.5 percent of the population
  • Baby Boomers (50-68) – 23.6 percent
  • Gen X (38-49) – 15.4 percent
  • Millennials (20-37) – 24.5 percent
  • Gen Z (19 and under) – 25.9 percent

Gen Z is rapidly coming into its own in terms of influence, consumption and spending power so the more you understand them, the better chance you have to be the product/service they want to adopt, support, use and recommend.

Wiki’s co-founder, Jimmy Wales noted, "It is clear that this generation is using technology in a way that is smarter, more involved and beneficial to their future. We can learn a lot from how this unbounded, younger generation interacts with technology and are able to quickly adapt to this rapidly changing media landscape."

Strong Understanding
Compared to the generation before them, Gen Zers appear to have a good grasp of the world they’re going to inherit. Perhaps it is because Internet access has made it easy for them to judge “facts” for themselves.

According to a research report by OfCom:

  • 60 percent want their jobs to impact the world
  • 26 percent currently volunteer
  • 76 percent are concerned about our impact on the planet
  • 76 percent would like to turn their hobbies into fulltime jobs
  • 72 percent want to start their own businesses someday

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Financial Focus – Today’s teens are already looking to the future with over half (62 percent) putting almost half of their earnings into savings. That may not sound like much but it represents more than $44B annually. They are certain they’ll fail at least once in their lives but feel it will be a learning experience. In addition they plan to someday have a home and car.

Parents of teens and Millennials got involved with the Internet when content was mostly text; but for teens, it is just one giant TV/new/information/radio channel they can tap into with any device that’s at hand – when they want, where they want, how they want.

According to a research report by Marko, there are real differences between Gen Z and Millennials:

 

Gen Z

  • Five screens
  • Communicate with images
  • Create things
  • Future focused
  • Realists
  • Want to work for success

Millennial

  • Two screens
  • Communicate with text
  • Share things
  • Focused on the present
  • Optimists
  • Want to be discovered

Since they were almost literally born connected the Internet, Gen Zers’ Internet use is high, regardless of the device. But as a clear indication of what tomorrow holds for device, app producers and online/onsite retailers, a growing volume of their access is being done with mobile devices.

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Born Connected – Following the Millennial generation, Gen Zers (1995 – 2009) started their journey when the Internet was already established. As a result, they’ve been the first generation to know everything – documents, data, images and entertainment – is online. Accustomed to using whatever device is at hand, they will be the most studied, analyzed and tracked generation … until the next generation comes along.

Since they are rapidly becoming a major market, Harold Howard said, “An explanation is probably long overdue.”

According to Pew Research, males tended to use the Internet more than females, and rural teens were more likely to access the iNet than urban teens (99% vs. 94%). However, females were slightly more likely to use mobile access than males (25% vs. 20%).

Key findings were:

  • 78 percent of teens have a cell phone, almost half (47%) smartphones.
  • 23 percent of teens have a tablet computer
  • 95 percent of teens use the internet
  • 93 percent of teens have a computer or have access to one at home
  • Seven in ten (71%) teens with computers access say it’s shared with others

Sharing But…
Being online almost every waking moment, teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than in the past.

However they are also taking more aggressive steps to manage their privacy and are concerned about third-parties (businesses, advertisers) accessing their information.

Or, as Harold Howard noted, “It's not as bad as it looks.”

Pew Research found:

  • 91 percent post a photo of themselves
  • · 71 percent post their school name
  • · 71 percent post the city or town where they live
  • · 53 percent post their email address
  • · 20 percent post their cell phone number
  • · 60 percent of teen Facebook users set their Facebook profiles to private (friends only)
  • · 56 percent say it’s “not difficult at all” to manage the privacy controls on Facebook
  • · 33 percent say it’s “not too difficult.”
  • · 8 percent say that managing their privacy controls is “somewhat difficult”

Managing activities include:

  • 59 percent have deleted or edited their posts
  • 53 percent have deleted comments on their profile/account
  • 45 percent have removed their names from photos
  • 31 percent have deleted or deactivated their profile or account
  • 19 percent have posted items they later regretted sharing

Them, Not Me
A study by Camp Mobile found that 81 percent of teens felt their peers shared too much information.

Teens have embraced app downloading in a major way (especially games) however, a growing number uninstall or avoid apps because of security/privacy concerns.

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Free, But – Today’s teens’ first choice – like everyone – is a free app. However, if the app wants too much personal information or can track them they will not download it and if it’s already on their device, they’ll uninstall it. They’re just as careful with their online social media persona and monitor it more closely than older generations.

Girls have become especially sensitive to location information monitoring and have disabled the features on their smartphones and apps.

A recent research report found:

  • 58% of teens have downloaded apps to their phones, tablets
  • 51% have avoided apps due to privacy concerns
  • 26% have uninstalled an app because they found out it was collecting personal information
  • 46% have turned off location tracking features on their phone or app
  • Girls are more likely than boys to disable location tracking (59% vs. 37%)

eMarketer estimates 97 percent of Gen Zers will use the Internet this year and that regular social media activity will increase to 86.5 percent. A growing number will keep a closer eye on how much they reveal to the world, including selfies.

Unlike Millennials, Gen Zers prefer hangouts like Snapchat and Whisper to Facebook and Twitter. They’re very visually oriented and, having been immersed in it since the beginning, are very tech-savvy.

They’ve grown up in the DIY (do-it-yourself) environment, focus on how things are made, seek peer recommendations/affirmation and are usually early adopters of products that are practical yet cool.

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Comparing Gen Zers to earlier generations, it’s a lot like Harold Howard said, “You're going to be able to do a lot of things the other guys aren't.”

Stiles gave sellers some sound advice, “Do the right thing.”

Andy Marken is President of Marken Communications

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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4:11AM

Off to Dell EMC World 2016, Austin, Texas

I am off to Dell EMC World 2016, in Austin, Texas

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This is the inaugural event, as it is the first combined event from the merged company.

For those just exiting a stasis pod, Dell Computer Inc., went private back in 2013, and just about 7 weeks ago, closed a deal in which it purchased mighty EMC Corporation for the low-low price of $67 billion.

This, without a doubt, makes the newly renamed Dell Technologies, Inc., one of the three ‘Big Kahunas’ in the IT space, along with IBM and Microsoft.

I have not included Apple, a primarily consumer company here, and not Amazon, which is basically an e-commerce firm, here as well.

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Dell can now boast of being the ONLY information technology OEM that can deliver a whole stack.

This is my first time attending a Dell event, despite having gone to numerous EMC events in the past.

I look forward to it, and to bringing you my thoughts on my experiences there.

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10:40PM

Dell Technologies surprised Us with their announcements at MS Ignite 2016

One company I have started following closely –– is Dell Technologies*.delltechnologies

At the start of the recently-concluded MS Ignite event in Atlanta, I feared that Dell would be so much in the throes of integrating with their latest acquisition, EMC Corp, that they – Dell – wouldn’t be in a position to do, or offer much.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that much was going on, and they had the following to offer.

Their initial bang was with the Microsoft Cloud, Azure.

For Azure, Dell announced the following new offerings:

Azure Backup a flexible, secure, scalable backup solution in Microsoft’s cloud management portfolio. With no capital investment and consumption-based pricing, this service delivers significant cost savings while protecting data running in virtual machines or on physical servers, as well as in Azure.

Azure Dev/Test Labs – a service that allows developers and testers to create and provision Windows and Linux environments quickly using reusable templates and pre-provisioned environments in Azure. As a result, customers can minimize time and waste, control costs and scale-up load testing efficiently.

Azure Business Continuity Solution – utilizes multiple Azure services delivered with Dell EMC consulting, provisioning, break/fix support, and single-source pay-as-you-go billing. This solution brings enterprise-class business continuity to small businesses by making it accessible and radically simpler without having to design, build, or maintain it on their own.

The rather interesting about the above services is that they are Pay/Go Dell services built atop Azure, maintained by Dell EMC staffers, and without typical long-term contractual commitments.

Another offering that caught my eye was the Dell EMC Hybrid Cloud System for Microsoft.

This solution enables Dell customers to power their hybrid cloud environments by benefiting from the industry’s first integrated, hybrid cloud solution that offers simplified, automated deployment and maintenance capabilities and unparalleled hybrid cloud governance, control, and policy-based automation for Azure with an optional, unique payment solution to reduce investment risk:

Converged? Converged. CONVERGED!!!
Unless you have been living in Middle Earth, you must know about converged systems**.

Here, Dell is delivering some new converged systems to leverage the Microsoft stack. Two new solutions were added to the Dell portfolio:

a) Dell EMC Validated System for Microsoft SQL is designed for superior performance, significant cost savings and scalability for future needs. It allows customers to process in-memory online transaction processing (OLTP) workloads up 30 times faster with Microsoft SQL Server 2016, as well as consolidate sprawling legacy databases with the latest Dell EMC PowerEdge R830 servers for a modern data warehousing solution with exceptional performance and total cost of ownership

b) The Dell EMC Validated System for Microsoft Exchange is a pre-architected and validated datacenter solution for email workloads. The highly scalable system delivers faster time to value by shortening the design, delivery and configuration time for Exchange Server 2016. Designed for exceptional scalability, this converged system lowers cost of ownership through resource consolidation, optimized storage design and efficient system management built on the Dell EMC PowerEdge R730xd server.

As I am informed, these new Dell EMC Validated Systems can be configured, quoted and ordered in minutes, while lifecycle management tools allow customers to easily deploy, scale and update systems.

Additionally, the information below was imparted:

  • Software Defined Data Center / Cloud with Windows Server 2016 - Key for success in 2016 and beyond – Windows Server 2016 with Storage Spaces Direct on Dell EMC PowerEdge Servers
  • Microsoft Azure Stack On-Premises cloud – seamless interface with frictionless connection to Azure
  • Cloud Enablement with Windows Server 2016 – Highly refactored the Nano Server Windows Server 2016 deployment option for born in-the-cloud applications with small OS footprint
  • Server Management – Dell EMC’s OpenManage Integration Suite for Microsoft System Center for seamless, agent-free server management
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2016 – Offers real time insights across transactional and analytical data, with a secure, scalable database platform from advanced analytics to in-memory performance and industry leading OLTP. It is equally important to operate all your big data operations on an infrastructure that reduces your TCO, delivers high performance that is secure and seamlessly manageable using your existing, familiar tools.
  • Database and analytics platforms – Dell EMC redefines database and analytics platforms for mission critical compute, storage and networking by combining the best efficiencies of x86 compute platform with flash storage and high performing network capabilities to meet the demands of next generation applications.

The graphic below is a handy cheat sheet.

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  1. Thanks to @JimGant, @SarahVatDell, and the Social Media team there.
  2. I must read up on the Dell Validated Systems Portfolio.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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8:36PM

Symphony Innovate 2016: Symphony Meetings & Symphony Webhooks API

Presentation1“The Future of Work”

Haven’t you heard it before?

It sounds so innocuous, but it is a loaded concept.

Back in the day, computer programs that facilitated or helped businesses or their employees do work were called “productivity applications”.

In the nascent days of the personal computer, or PC, era, these were, in no particular order, Lotus Development’s Lotus 1-2-3, WordStar’s and WordPerfect’s namesake products, Borland’s Quattro Pro, Ashton-Tate’s dBASE, Software Publishing Corp’s Harvard Graphics, etc., etc.

Real time communications consisted of PSTN telephony, which Ma Bell ruled with a very iron fist. Email was rather esoteric, and very limited.

Today, for desktop productivity applications, we have Microsoft Office.

And some challengers I only have peripheral competitive knowledge of. I don’t get bogged down with them, so I won’t bore you with them either.

However, work has moved away from just one desktop.

Workers today are more likely to be distributed among several locations, in several companies, and tasked with different goals.

What keeps things humming along are the telephone or some sort of messaging, and the venerable email. For those who have a need to collaborate closely, Microsoft Skype for Business (formerly Lync) is very likely to be in use, as it is the market leader in this space.

However, there are several limitations surrounding Skype4Biz, as I will call it going forward.

Into this breach stepped Symphony Communications, with their first product, which is simply and eponymously called Symphony.

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What is Symphony?
Symphony is a secure collaborative communications platform that allows multi-party, multi-domain (multi-company) messaging and social chat.

It was built from the onset to have end-to-end encryption, and global financial-level compliance and auditing.

It is built on an extensible platform that allows applications built for it to preserve those security and compliance features.

Symphony is also cross-platform, available on the web, on iOS, and on Android.

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Symphony Meetings
As of Thursday, October 6, 2016, Symphony now allows for recordable real-time multi-party communications.

Dubbed Symphony Meetings, this new feature empowers users to initiate audio, video, screen-share communications in real time. This multi-user communications functionality is backed into Symphony, and can be instantiated by any registered user. It is compliant in that sessions are recorded and available for compliance auditing, and control. It should be stressed that Symphony’s end-to-end encryption scheme is always in full effect over all communications.

As I understand it, this new feature is currently limited to 20 simultaneous users. However, that number will be increased by Q1 2017.

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Symphony Webhooks API, the Symphony Foundation, and the Symphony platform

One aspect of Symphony Communications I understand better now, is the rôle of the Symphony Foundation.

As divulged to me by Symphony CEO David Gurle, Symphony Foundation was established almost concurrently with Symphony, and it was charged with harnessing the power of open source to encourage developers to create great apps that would leverage the power of Symphony.

Accordingly, at Symphony Innovate 2016, the Symphony Webhooks API was announced.

This API opens up Symphony to 3rd-party applications that deliver value in specific or relevant verticals, freeing the Symphony team from having to develop for, or target every conceivable usage scenario. This platform extensibility also allows for faster innovation across apps.

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Company Momentum
One of the cool things shared at Symphony Innovate 2016 was company, and user momentum

Currently, Symphony is being used by over 116,000 users, a pleasing number over their year-end projections of 110,000 users by the end of 2016.

These users are spread over 100+ companies. These financial industry users comprise of 86,866 sell-side users, and 19,700 buy-side users.

Symphony also has 8,700 individual users utilizing it from 36 of their partner companies.

The Symphony Innovate 2016 Series
As announced here, I was at Symphony Innovate 2016 last week in New York City.

Over a series of articles, I will be bringing you my thoughts on the event, and of my interview with David Gurle, founder and chief executive officer of Symphony.

More information, and download links for Symphony, which is free to use for individuals, can be found here: www.symphony.com.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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6:05PM

Symphony Innovate 2016

I am in New York City for Symphony Innovate 2016.

Presentation1This is an event sponsored by Symphony where about 300 financial and information technology executives from around the world are brought together to acquaint them not just with Symphony – their eponymous product, related mobile apps, and platform, but with forward-edge technologies for the financial services sector, including the numerous applications, content, and apps facilitating what looks to be an industry-wide migration to Symphony.

Since you asked, Symphony is a secure, compliant messaging and collaboration platform providing the end-to-end encryption, compliance, and security that is good enough for the global financial industry.

It is available via the web, and as iOS and Android apps.

Symphony Innovate 2016 starts tomorrow, October 5, 2016, at 9.00 AM Eastern.

Session information is here.

John Obeto is CEO of Blackfriars Capital
© 2002 – 2015, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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8:05AM

Shiny New Thing: the HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 Large-format Printer

I am in possession of the new HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 Printer.

This is a large-format multifunction device that can deliver full color output all the way to 11” x 17”, also known as A3.

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It is very cool looking, primarily while in color, in HP’s new simple, ultra-elegant design language.

As you can see from the image above, I have unboxed it, and I am ready to commence testing.

Oh, and according to HP, it can print, fax, scan, copy, and web(?)!

I, for one, do not know what that last capability is.

But, I aim to find out.

Onward, ho!

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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8:03AM

Is Microsoft ceding K12 to inferior devices?

Is Microsoft ceding K12 to inferior devices?

Meaning Windows and associated services?

I certainly hope not!

The Catholic parochial schools in this area are well vested in all things technology.

More than that, they make sure that their students are required to use these devices.

Sounds good so far, right?

Except, get this, the required platforms and devices are iPads and…gasp!.....Chromebooks!

Yes, iPads and Chromebooks!

You can just imagine how verklempt I was when I was told I would have to buy iPads and a Chromebook.

I bought the iPads.

I just couldn’t pull the trigger on a Chromebook. Sadly, HP didn’t have a worthy Chromebook at the time, and I certainly wouldn’t pollute my internal network with the crap from other Chromebook OEMS.

The scary thing is, the same schools use these devices to connect to Microsoft's services, using Office 365 for Education (or whatever it is called!) for their messaging and collab, and Microsoft Office for their productivity applications.

Speaking separately to the head techdroids at the schools my kids attend, I was informed by them that a primary reason was the fact that the regional K12 players didn’t push PCs.

Moreover, I was told, the tablets out there – 2 schools – didn’t have a good enough MDM suite to work well in the education space, and most importantly, none of the PC OEMs had devices cheap enough, and with consistent enough quality to place. Obviously, these yum-yums hadn’t done their homework.

With the Chromebooks, the situation was much worse: the VAR came in with an entire hardware +software + MDM solution built around albeit crappy Chromebooks. No PC solution providers came up with similar solutions. Since the techdroid at that location wasn’t super techy, he leapt at the lifeline.

Think about this: these kids are going to grow up using non-Windows products until college!

I think someone on the Microsoft Education team has some ‘splaining to do!

I think there is a massive opportunity for Microsoft-focused VARs who target the education market – sadly, we don’t Sad smile - to take share from these low-hanging fruit.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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7:58AM

HPE Flex Solutions & the Busy VAR

One of the harder things for a busy VAR or solution provider to do is keep abreast of all the options available for a full-featured OEM such as HPE when trying to architect solutions for a project or client.

One pretty cool helper from HPE is the HPE Flex Solutions

What are HPE Flex Solutions?

Flex Solutions are a series of best-practices, engineered hardware and software solutions created by HPE in pre-tested configs that are optimized for the solution they are targeted against.

Running the gamut from the very small of businesses through the midmarket, and to the lower enterprise, Flex Solution also have upgradable options, and care packs that bring about clear messaging about the value prop contained within that solution.

As stated a few days ago, I am embarking on a review series on entry-level HPE Proliant tower servers. In the past, I would perform ad hoc configs for the devices as they enter and exit the various review regimes we put them through.

No longer.

I will be using HPE Flex Solutions to help configure the servers to task, and report on whether the delivered solutions were on point, up to par, and worth the effort in real and simulated use.

I am actually intrigued at this product, and I am looking forward to reviewing it in an attempt to see if our best practices jibe with HPE’s recommendations.

Stay tuned.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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7:56AM

Andy Marken’s Content Insider #487: Customer Leads

Marketing is a Company-Wide Function, Not a Department

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“To do something, anything, is hard. It's much easier to blame your father, your mother, the environment, the government, the lack of money; but even if you find a place to assign the blame, it doesn't make the problems go away.” – Pierre Dulaine, “Take the Lead,” New Line Cinema, 2006

For all of our new tools, all of the rich data, the growing sophistication of our technology, all of our talking about the importance of the customer being in charge of the relationship, the thing we have achieved is to completely obfuscate what business is doing today.

We have laid out a beautiful storyline that no one (consumer or marketer) will disagree with -- relationship commerce creates valuable interactions and deep relationships with shoppers over time.

A long-term personalized relationship makes sense. Every junior business/marketing person knows that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.

Over time, that sticky customer retention policy grows a strong, healthy customer base because satisfied customers tell others.

Research continually shows that the first places a prospective customer turns for recommendations are friends, family, users and reviewers.

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Reliable Source – When people are considering a product or service, the first thing they do is ask trusted friends and family. The second thing they do is go online and research the item based on third-party and advocate reviews as well as user feedback/reports. Usually, they’ve made up their mind before visiting the store or web site.

BAM! Everyone wins!

Nevertheless, we haven’t made much progress since Henry Ford’s customer-centric approach when he said, “A customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black."

More recently, retailers like Target, Macy’s and others have begun “stimulating” the relationship with beacon technology.

My wife thought it was great when she downloaded the stores’ app and “exclusive” deals were sent to her iPhone.

After that, it became spooky, creepy.

That’s not marketing. It’s pumping out ads.

So she uninstalled them … all of the store apps! And it will take a helluva’ lot to get her back.

She, and everyone who walks into the store, want a MinorityReport relationship.

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Hello Again – Retail beacons still have a long way to go from being used to push ads and specials to being effective tools that assist the consumer (not the store). Until retail folks understand that they need to use beacon technology to provide consumers with information and assistance rather than a barrage of unnecessary, unwanted ads.

The store’s beacons recognize her phone, welcome her back, ask if she’s looking for something specific or would like some recommendations – all based on her previous purchases/considerations.

Somewhere, hidden deep in the store front retailer’s data cloud, that information is available – you know it, I know it.

The same is true of online sites.

Push advertising—even the ads that are designed to engage the customer, are irrelevant today. Detailed strategies and tactics have outlived their usefulness.

Customers don’t separate marketing from the product … it is the product.

They don’t separate marketing from the in-store, online experience … it is the experience.

They also don’t separate service/support from marketing … it is the company.

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Crumbled – Companies have to tear down their marketing walls and empower/encourage everyone in the firm to be in marketing so they can meet and exceed the customers’ expectations. The consumer doesn’t recognize organizational segmentation and neither should the firm if it wants to succeed.

Many of today’s “personalized” approaches are ineffective because they are based on a siloed view of the customer.

Management loses sight of the fact that the ultimate goal is to create value for the customer; which means targeting the right people, at the right time, in the right place, on the right device, with the right content.

Silos and departmental walls have to be replaced by enabling a complete, consumer-centric marketing team from the inside out and the bottom up.

Firms have to rethink and reprioritize how and where customer discussions begin and end.

Ultimately, the reprioritization will be rewarded with improved customer data insights.

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Focused Path – Consumers today don’t simply buy a product or service. They invest a lot of time in researching every aspect before they make a purchase because increasingly, they are buying the company/people behind the product. If their expectations are met, they become a strong advocate for the firm, product and team.

In the new arena, management has to come to grips with the fact that the company is no longer selling to a customer but earning the right (privilege) to be part of the continuing stream of engagements/discussions.

By breaking down the barriers, the entire organization can gain a clearer, richer view of the customer at his/her various touch points. Then they will be better able to develop/deliver relevant content, offers, recommendations and assistance.

No one said it would be easy; but focusing on what’s important to the marketing department rather than the buying public(s) falls short of consumer expectations.

Fortunately, more executives are waking up to the fact that personalization will build stronger and longer-lasting customer relationships.

To shift the organization focus on delivering a superior customer experience, Accenture Interactive and Forrester Consulting recommend actions that center around the customer experience rather than traditional marketing touch points.

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Refocused Efforts – With the growing expectations of the consuming public, smart firms are reorganizing, reprioritizing activities throughout the organization. They understand that the consumer is control of the selling and purchasing process and are making everyone in the organization responsible for marketing.

The challenge for senior management isn’t that they don’t recognize the challenges, it’s just that there’s a growing inability to take action internally.

According to Forrester, many marketing teams lack the necessary customer experience skills when it comes to activities such as project management, data analytics and collaboration. To be effective, they recommended that firms permanently comingle business, design, development and customer relations teams to stimulate and facilitate information sharing.

In today’s always connected, always on environment, companies will have to make a dramatic shift from trying to drive purchases to engaging and working with the consumer at the beginning of the buying journey.

The customer is in charge of the decision and you’re there to provide key information, assistance and guidance along with way.

The key is to be there for the customer at the critical moment in the buying journey.

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Being there for the customer means marketing has to let go of yesterday’s idea that they can control the process and the outcome.

Perhaps that’s what Pierre Dulaine meant when he said, “Those are the people who show up to get it.”

It’s all about being on the dance floor or watching from the sideline!

Andy Marken is founder and CEO of Marken Communications

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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