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What your hybrid workforce needs from their laptops | IT PRO

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What your hybrid workforce needs from their laptops | IT PRO

Delivering the features employees need under our new working models

As a result of the widespread shift to remote working brought about by the pandemic, many businesses are now embracing a hybrid working model. This means that instead of bringing employees back to the office full-time, organisations are enabling their staff to split their time between their home and the office.

This move, which enables employees to enjoy the benefits of working remotely while also allowing them the option to collaborate in person, means businesses need to ensure their workforce is equipped with devices that keep up with their demanding productivity workflow. This means high-performance laptops are a must, as well as machines that enable fuss-free remote manageability and enterprise-class security tools.

The AMD Ryzen™ PRO 6000 Series processor has enabled a new generation of laptops that have been designed with hybrid workers in mind, complete with top performance for video conferencing, endless connectivity options and a huge array of business-grade security features. 

We take a look at some of the features that are a must-have for your hybrid workers.

Performance

Remote working, and the shift to hybrid working that has followed, has enabled a new type of working. Time spent on Microsoft Teams, for example, increased by 100% from 2020 to 2021, and employees are now spending more time than ever using cloud-based applications that allows them to better collaborate with their colleagues working from different locations.

Your employees need a business-grade laptop that will keep up with these ever-changing and ever-demanding tasks. An AMD Ryzen™ PRO 6000 Series processor-based laptop can do just that; not only does its 6nm “Zen 3+” architecture enable fast performance but it also has been designed with flexible working in mind. For example, the HP EliteBook 865 G9 – which packs an AMD Ryzen™ 7 6800U processor – makes use of the CPU’s intelligent features to accelerate performance while employees are using Microsoft Office applications while running a conference in Microsoft Teams.

What’s more, thanks to the next-gen connectivity options offered by the built-in CPU’s built-in AMD RDNA™ 2 graphics, the EliteBook 865 supports the latest HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 2.0 standards, up to four 4K screens, and the latest high-quality codecs, ensuring your staff have the ultimate working from home setup.

Battery life is another must-have for today’s employees who need reliable portability for hybrid work anywhere. The aforementioned HP EliteBook 865 – which also boasts a 14-inch 16:10 aspect ratio display, a sleek and lightweight design, and runs Microsoft’s Windows 11 out of the box – has been rated the leading business-grade laptop when it comes to battery life, offering up to 26.15 hours of non-stop productivity from a single charge*.

Security

Security is another key consideration when choosing the right hardware for your hybrid workforce.

An AMD Ryzen™ PRO 6000 Series processor-powered laptop helps protect your employees against even all kinds of attacks. The CPUs, which are the first x86 processors to integrate the Microsoft Pluton security processor**, are designed to offer chip-to-cloud protection against cyberattacks. The Pluton chip helps to eliminate vectors of attack while helping to protect critical data – such as users’ identifying information and encryption keys – from falling into the hands of hackers. 

If you opt for an AMD Ryzen™ PRO 6000 Series processor-based laptop such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X13, you’re also gaining a number of additional security tools from the built-in privacy shutter to the fingerprint scanner embedded into the laptop’s business-grade keyboard.

Manageability

With employees splitting their time between their home and the office, not to mention coffee shops and various co-working spaces, manageability has become a difficult task for IT admins, forced to contend with a multitude of devices and an endless number of networks.

However, with an AMD Ryzen™ PRO 6000 Series processor-based laptop, managing your fleet of devices is simple. The CPU’s come with an integrated AMD Manageability processor, which offers simplified deployment and management that is compatible with your current infrastructure – so no expensive overhauls required.

For example, let’s say you equip your employees with AMD Ryzen™ PRO 6000 Series processor-powered Lenovo Z16 laptops. You’ll be able to deploy hardware quickly and easily thanks to the CPU’s support cloud-based tools such as Windows Autopilot, you’ll have flexibility thanks to the processor’s open standards and features, and management at scale with be easier than ever thanks to AMD Ryzen™ PRO 6000 Series’ support for modern management solutions, such as Windows Endpoint Manager. 

The AMD options

The AMD Ryzen™ PRO 6000 Series processor-based laptop, which is sure to offer your hybrid workers all of the tools they need to work quickly and reliably from any location, is already shipping in a number of business-grade laptops. 

There’s the Lenovo ThinkPad X13, which not only offers unmatched performance and an all-day battery life, but also boasts a high-resolution 13.3-inch touchscreen display, a Dolby Audio Speaker System for high-quality audio, and up to 2TB PCIe SSD storage.

Lenovo has also upgraded its ThinkPad Z16 with an AMD Ryzen™ PRO 6000 Series processor. This means the stylish laptop is now the ideal machine for employees with demanding workflows, as well as those working in the creative industries that require pin-sharp visuals and slick graphics performance. Alongside its powerful internals, the ThinkPad Z16 packs a massive 16-inch display, an edge-to-edge keyboard, and support for endless accessories thanks to its array of built-in ports.

HP, too, has been quick to upgrade its top-of-the-line EliteBook 845 with an AMD Ryzen 6000 processor. The compact laptop also boasts optional 4G for on-the-go-working.

Whichever AMD Ryzen™ PRO 6000 Series processor-based laptop you choose for your workers, you can rest assured that the device will protect against hackers, enable your employees to keep up with the most demanding of tasks, and ensure they can be easily managed wherever they’re working.

*All battery life claims are approximate. Battery life tested by HP as of 4.7.22, using the Bapco MobileMark 18 benchmark test on an HP Elitebook 865 G9 laptop configured with a 76WHr battery, Ryzen PRO 6850U processor with Radeon graphics, 256GB HDD, 8GB memory, Win 10 Pro, video resolution of 1920 x 1200 x 60 Hz and the power slider set to “better battery.” Actual battery life will vary based on several factors, including, but not limited to: product configuration and usage, software, operating conditions, wireless functionality, power management settings, screen brightness and other factors. The maximum capacity of the battery will naturally decrease with time and use. AMD has not independently tested or verified the battery life claim. For more information about HP’s published battery life testing and the MobileMark 18 benchmark test, see https://results.bapco.com/fdr/63601890f0f14ab5c99c634be6721d95. RMP-33

**As of January 2022, only AMD Ryzen™ 6000 Series processors include the Microsoft Pluton security processor, while AMD Ryzen™ 5000 Series processors and Intel’s latest 11th and 12th Gen processors do not. RMB-24

© 2022 Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. All rights reserved. AMD, the AMD Arrow logo, RDNA, Ryzen, and combinations thereof are trademarks of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Other product names used in this publication are for identification purposes only and may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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NASA Says Hurricane Didn’t Hurt Artemis I Hardware, Sets New Launch Window

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NASA Says Hurricane Didn’t Hurt Artemis I Hardware, Sets New Launch Window

NASA’s Artemis I moon mission launch, stalled by Hurricane Ian, has a new target for takeoff. The launch window for step one of NASA’s bold plan to return humans to the lunar surface now opens Nov. 12 and closes Nov. 27, the space agency said Friday. 

The news comes after the pending storm caused NASA to scrub the latest Artemis I Iaunch, which had been scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 2. As Hurricane Ian threatened to travel north across Cuba and into Florida, bringing rain and extreme winds to the launch pad’s vicinity, NASA on Monday rolled its monster Space Launch System rocket, and the Orion spacecraft it’ll propel, back indoors to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. 

The hurricane made landfall in Florida on Wednesday, bringing with it a catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding that left dozens of people dead, caused widespread power outages and ripped buildings from their foundations. Hurricane Ian is “likely to rank among the worst in the nation’s history,” US President Joe Biden said on Friday, adding that it will take “months, years, to rebuild.”

Initial inspections Friday to assess potential impacts of the devastating storm to Artemis I flight hardware showed no damage, NASA said. “Facilities are in good shape with only minor water intrusion identified in a few locations,” the agency said in a statement. 

Next up, teams will complete post-storm recovery operations, which will include further inspections and retests of the flight termination system before a more specific launch date can be set. The new November launch window, NASA said, will also give Kennedy employees time to address what their families and homes need post-storm. 

Artemis I is set to send instruments to lunar orbit to gather vital information for Artemis II, a crewed mission targeted for 2024 that will carry astronauts around the moon and hopefully pave the way for Artemis III in 2025. Astronauts on that high-stakes mission will, if all goes according to plan, put boots on the lunar ground, collect samples and study the water ice that’s been confirmed at the moon’s South Pole. 

The hurricane-related Artemis I rollback follows two other launch delays, the first due to an engine problem and the second because of a hydrogen leak.

Hurricane Ian has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone but is still bringing heavy rains and gusty winds to the Mid-Atlantic region and the New England coast.

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What You Get in McDonalds’ New Happy-Meal-Inspired Box for Adults

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What You Get in McDonalds’ New Happy-Meal-Inspired Box for Adults

You’ve pulled up to McDonald’s as a full-on adult. You absolutely do not need a toy with your meal, right? Joking. Of course you do.

The fast-food chain will soon sell boxed meals geared toward adults, and each one has a cool, odd-looking figurine inside. 

The meal has an odd name — the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box — that’s based on the fashion brand collaborating with McDonald’s on this promotion. 

According to McDonald’s, the box is inspired by the memory of enjoying a Happy Meal as a kid. The outside of the box is multicolored and features the chain’s familiar golden arches. 

The first day you can get a Cactus Plant Flea Market Box will be Monday, Oct. 3. Pricing is set by individual restaurants and may vary, according to McDonald’s. It’ll be available in the drive-thru, in-restaurant, by delivery or on the McDonald’s app, while supplies last.

You can choose between a Big Mac or 10-piece Chicken McNuggets. It will also come with fries and a drink.

Now about those toys. The boxes will pack in one of four figurines. Three of the four appear to be artsy takes on the classic McDonald’s characters Grimace, Hamburglar and Birdie the Early Bird, while the fourth is a little yellow guy sporting a McDonald’s shirt called Cactus Buddy.

In other McD news, Halloween buckets could be returning to the chain this fall. So leave some room in your stomach for a return trip.

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Why companies like iHeartMedia, NBCU rely on homegrown IP to build metaverse engagements

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Why companies like iHeartMedia, NBCU rely on homegrown IP to build metaverse engagements

To avoid potential blowback from a skeptical audience, retailers as well as media and entertainment companies are learning to invest in their homegrown intellectual properties while building virtual brand activations inside Roblox or Fortnite.

Take, for instance, when they get it wrong.

Earlier this week, Walmart launched its own Roblox world — called Walmart Land — and was roundly mocked for it across social media given the announcement’s disjointed brand message and apparent lack of life. In one viral tweet, a Twitter user described a clip of Walmart CMO William White introducing the Roblox space as “one of the saddest videos ever created.”

This video of Walmart’s chief marketing officer on a stage in Roblox talking about its new “Walmart Land” experience is one of the saddest videos ever created. pic.twitter.com/HtIIToShKs

— Zack Zwiezen (@ZwiezenZ) September 26, 2022

To some extent, this sort of criticism is to be expected during the early days of the metaverse.

“Walmart is an iconic brand; when you see them coming into a platform like Roblox, people are going to be 10 times more critical of what is being launched,” said Yonatan Raz-Fridman, CEO of the Roblox developer studio Supersocial.

But Walmart’s size is not its only disadvantage as it dips its toes into Roblox. Although Walmart has a widely recognizable brand, it owns few intellectual properties that users are actually interested in experiencing virtually — a shortcoming reflected by the somewhat cavernous emptiness of Roblox’s Walmart Land.

Provided by NBCUniversal

The success of other recent brand activations is evidence that media and entertainment brands are better equipped to build metaverse spaces that can dodge online skepticism, thanks to their wealth of owned IP.

“They are having to reinvent themselves, to a certain degree, but that is in their DNA,” said Jesse Streb, global svp of technology and engineering at the agency DEPT. “So they have a unique advantage over, say, some kludgy company that sells lumber, or a construction company.”

For example, iHeartMedia’s Roblox and Fortnite spaces were inspired by the mass media corporation’s wealth of popular real-life events, such as the Jingle Ball Tour and iHeartRadio Music Festival, with virtual versions of musicians like Charlie Puth performing pre-recorded concerts that allow real-time audience interaction.

“There’s a strong brand association with the IP, down to a station level — you’re in the New York area, you probably know Z100,” said iHeartMedia evp of business development and partnerships Jess Jerrick. “The same is true for the event IP, or the IP that we now have in the podcasting space, and of course our radio broadcast talent. So there’s no shortage of really strong IP we can bring into these spaces.”

Translating real-life properties into the metaverse is also an enticing prospect for brands that view metaverse platforms as an experimental marketing channel, allowing them to bring tried-and-true IP into their virtual activations instead of designing them from the ground level. This was part of the strategy behind the recent Tonight Show activation in Fortnite Creative, which was designed in collaboration between NBCUniversal and Samsung. “We’re looking at it holistically — how do we find fans in new ways, and use IP that fans love in new ways?” said NBCU president of advertising and client partnerships Mark Markshall.

Since opening on Sept. 14, iHeartLand has already enticed over 1.5 million Roblox users to visit. The company aims to retain that attention with a schedule of virtual programming featuring popular musicians and personalities.

“At our core, we are essentially an influencer network; our broadcast talent are some of the most connected, most engaging influencers at work in media today,” said Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeart Digital Audio Group. “That gives us this sort of superpower, to be able to go into new-ish platforms, like Roblox or Fortnite, because we talk to our listeners through those influencers.”

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