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  • Apache Spark speeds up big data processing by a factor of 10 to 100 and simplifies app development to such a degree that developers call it a "game changer."

  • The K Desktop Environment (KDE) is one of the earliest Linux desktop environments, dating all the way back to 1996, predating even the popular GNOME desktop environment, which was started in 1999. On Aug. 25, the core KDE desktop, Plasma, got an incremental update to version 5.4 that builds on the innovations that the first Plasma 5 release introduced in July. Among the many changes that users will notice with Plasma 5.4 are more than 1,400 new icons for all KDE applications, providing a more streamlined, modern look and feel to the desktop. Also new to Plasma 5.4 is an optional Application Dashboard that provides a different way to open up applications. Finding an application, or anything else on the KDE desktop, is also improved by way of enhanced search history in the integrated KRunner search tool that is part of the desktop. Plus, the 5.4 update now provides initial support for the Wayland display server that is intended to be a replacement for the decade-old X-Window server. KDE as a desktop environment is available on multiple Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, Fedora and openSUSE. In this slide show, eWEEK examines some of the key features of the KDE Plasma 5.4 desktop.

  • CloudOps is a new-gen feature set for building, scaling and managing infrastructure and applications across various IT environments.

  • Before the Internet, advertising and marketing was nothing if not unscientific. Companies bought space or time for certain rates in specific publications or radio/TV shows, wrote/designed and placed ads, and then hoped readers would see an ad and act on it—"hope" being the operative term. Marketing was entirely hit or miss. Since the mid-'90s—and especially since the introduction of the smartphone 15 years ago—electronic marketing has created a sea of change in the world of selling and company image-building. Not only are users attached to the carriers of messaging (smartphones, tablets, laptops), but marketers can pinpoint people, places, products and buying tendencies through Internet clicks like never before. Interaction between seller and buyer is personal and immediate. This all has led to vast new marketing efficiencies and to entire new e-marketing sectors within IT. This eWEEK slide show traces the history of major e-marketing innovations during the last 44 years through 11 milestone events. Sources include eWEEK archives, Statista.com, Computerhistory.org, The New York Times, Poynter.org and Cookiecentral.com, with organizational help by Atri Chatterjee of Act-On Software.

  • On her way to rival platforms, Microsoft's virtual assistant makes a stop at Google's mobile phone operating system.

  • The August Power BI update allows Excel users to import their work into Microsoft' cloud-powered business intelligence tool.

  • The data center engine can ingest real-time data streams from the IoT, data-driven customer interactions and business insight platforms.

  • Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana and Google Now are currently the leading virtual personal assistant products. But Amazon is getting into the race with its own personal assistant, called Amazon Echo. This digital assistant is interesting for a variety of reasons. For one, it's a smart home device that can be used for a variety of tasks. Plus, the device can be useful in the office as well, thanks to its ability to listen to simple questions and respond with answers. But its biggest difference is the fact that it isn't an app that's made to run on smartphones or PCs. It runs on a free-standing speaker that's connected to the Internet. For home use, it can respond to voice commands to play music, switch on lights or control smart devices. Whether Echo will ultimately succeed as a personal assistant remains to be seen. But what is clear is that the device has all the features that a person would want to make their lives just a little easier and more productive. Read on to find out more about Amazon Echo and the features that make it a desirable assistant to have around the home or office.

  • OutSystems announces new software and services to support customers that have standardized on the Sap enterprise software stack.

  • SEATTLE—This year's LinuxCon North America event highlighted the latest in Linux and open-source technologies, and showcased both the expected and unexpected. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the appearance of Microsoft as both a sponsor and exhibitor at the event. For most of Linux's existence, Microsoft has been a vocal opponent of Linux and open source, but apparently, that's now changing. No LinuxCon conference would ever truly be complete without an appearance by Linux creator Linus Torvalds, who this year took part in a keynote question-and-answer session with Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin. Torvalds talked about security and Linux's future. Among the products on display at the conference was a new IBM Linux-only mainframe called the LinuxONE. This year's LinuxCon conference also included the co-located ContainerCon event, which brought speakers from Docker, Oracle and Amazon to the keynote stage to discuss the latest innovations in container technology. Here we take a look at some of the highlights from the LinuxCon conference.

  • VIDEO: Linux Foundation head Jim Zemlin discusses how Microsoft, which was once anti-Linux, is participating in the foundation's open-source initiatives.

  • Maxymiser said its platform optimizes more 20 billion customer experiences per month for brands such as Lufthansa, Tommy Hilfiger and Wyndham.

  • Dragon Anywhere, a mobile application available this fall for iOS and Android, brings Nuance's voice dictation to mobile devices for the first time.

  • Rubrik's new-gen backup and recovery software was developed by the key engineers who were also behind Google, Facebook, VMware and Data Domain.

  • Microsoft includes Docker-compatible containers and new SDN features in today's technical previews for Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016.

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