Roblox, Massive Tween Gaming Platform, Goes Public

Popular tween gaming platform Roblox filed to go public on Thursday. The company declined an interview, citing a quiet period.

Source: Roblox, massive tween gaming platform, goes public – CNN

My son and I, OneWildRide,  are hooked on the Roblox game Theme Park Tycoon 2   I’m fixated on building out my park.  For beginners, there are the “out of the box” rides you can buy, and the amount of items you can use to accessorize your park is staggering.    Not only can you add “canned” rides, such as the Gravatron, but the theme park builder can add all different types of roller coasters, water rides, park transportation, etc.

Users of the Theme Park Tycoon 2 are Graded by:

  • number of active users in your park
  • the amount of money you make based on park admission, pay per ride, and concession stands
  • People can “like” your park, and provide feedback at the entrance

Commoditizing Roblox Games

I will shamefully admit that I purchased Roblox Bucks, with real dollars, that can be used on a plethora of items to build my Theme Park.  For example, the Theme Park has a height limit for how high you can build your roller coasters, so naturally, the builder/user has the ability to purchase to lift the height requirements.  You can also purchase additional “packs” that provide the builder enhancements to their rides, such as running the ride in reverse or looping the ride three times instead of the default single loop.  There’s also the conversion of USD to Roblox $$ because builders need to buy the components to build water rides or roller coasters.  You can even purchase concession stands (e.g. Popcorn Vendors).  The builder of the amusement park must also buy/build restrooms and spread out trash cans throughout the park.  There is also the concept of day and night, so make sure to buy/place lamps across the park.

Pay to Play – AI Bots = Theme Park $$

These “auto” bots/characters paying to play in your park may leave if they are dissatisfied, such as no bathrooms.  Also, without trash cans, there will be visible trash on the ground that must be painfully cleaned up, pile by pile, or left there to pile up.  On the flip side, these AI amusement goers will pay:

  • Park Entrance Fees
  • Pay Per Ride
  • Pay to use the loo
  • Pay for Concession Stands, such as Soft Drinks, Popcorn, and Pizza
  • Pay for Theme Park Memorabilia, such as Santa Hats, Tis the Season!

The Theme Park Builder sets the prices for EVERYTHING.  The AI Bots have “thoughts”, such as “This ride is really cheap.” to help you gauge your ride pricing, or “I’m Hungry”, to imply you should buy/place concession stands throughout your park.

Minecraft Anyone?!

I should say someone should have seen this coming, several someones.  You build this Theme Park at the “block” level, very similar to Minecraft, however, it seems, as far as I can tell, the graphics of Roblox seem somewhat superior to Minecraft, although this is a very debatable topic.  Minecraft has lots of 3rd party “mods” or customizations/modifications to the game.  Minecraft has had a lot of time to cultivate its userbase as well as a marketplace for users to buy these modifications.  Roblox as an application/gaming platform seems intriguing in light of the IPO.  I wonder what the highest-grossing games are on the Roblox platform.

Availability

Roblox Theme Park Tycoon 2 is available on Xbox, iPad / iPhone, and Windows to name the environments we use, jumping from device to device wherever is convenient.

Multiplayer Environment

My son constantly wants me to go over to his Theme Park, and go on rides he has just built.  It’s really a lot of fun to go to other builders’ parks.  There is a basic transit system to move between amusement parks.  You can get LOTS of ideas by looking at other builders’ parks, some of these parks put the “real world” amusement parks to shame.  So far, I’ve seen six (6) people playing concurrently, where you can see who has the most Roblox Bucks, and who’s park has the most visitors currently.  Naturally, if you’re not the big kahuna, you’ll want to stroll by the other builders’ parks.  If you are in close proximity, if you time it right, you can log in to the same server, and play with friends.  Doesn’t always seem to work quite right when people jump on and off the game.  There is probably a feature I’m not using to guarantee the same server with friends, maybe the “Premium” version of Roblox?

Build Your Own Roblox Games?  Monetary Incentives?

Wow, I really didn’t contemplate it that much.  I didn’t even think about the possible monetary returns from building one’s own Roblox game.  Not sure what the requirements would be to be a developer, how easy or hard it would be to build Roblox games, i.e. is there a coding language to use, a proprietary language, or just a simple graphical tool to build games.  No clue if there is a “developer/partner” annual cost, which is what I paid when developing applications for the iPhone / iPad.  Also, playing on the iPad / iPhone Roblox platform hosting the Theme Park game, would Apple get a percentage of “In-App” purchases for Roblox dollars?  We purchased Roblox bucks from the PC, and XBOX, so it didn’t occur to me there would be margin paid to the platform on which it runs.

Disclosure – I am not a “Premium” Roblox member or a “game” builder.

Azure DevOps 6 “Most Wanted” Features

Integration of SharePoint into Azure DevOps and Toss the Current Wiki

JIRA and Confluence a powerful combination. Microsoft should ditch the Wiki integrated into the Overview module, and use SharePoint (lite) instead. Put your best foot forward!

Backlog “Feature Timeline” Filtering

As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, the add on “Feature Timeline” by Microsoft is a fantastic bridge between Agile and Waterfall, displaying a Feature [i.e. Milestone] timeline. Expand upon this module with additional capabilities, such as filtering Features by Tags.

Microsoft Teams Chat mentions in Azure DevOps (ADO) Product Activity Feeds

I like trolling the Activity Feed on my Dashboard as much as the next person. Let’s add some external, yet related data sources, such as Microsoft Team Chats directly correlated ADO Team == Microsoft Team. Is that a setting, linking MS Azure DevOps Team to Microsoft Team? Should be…

Auto-generation of Release Notes After Each Build from Repos into the Azure DevOps Wiki

  • Similar to Java Doc, in line code comments roll up into C# Function doc
  • Commits Required to Specify Correlated Work Item IDs
  • Dynamic Wiki Page creation for each build, including release notes, unit test suite execution results

Ability to Create Azure DevOps Wiki pages from within Power Automate (i.e. MS Flow)

Shared Queries Segregated by Teams within the Project

Teams each have their own view of relevant Team information such as Dashboards per team

The Power of Collective Consensus for Story Point Effort Estimations

Blind Concurrent Flip

The bartering of effort estimations between a team of 5 or more is really cool to witness and even further awesome to negotiate the consensus process. Not quite the process of the US Congress, but still attempting those on the periphery, extreme right or left of the bell curve of outliers to move toward the consensus. Discuss and draw near the point of consensus under which individuals discover their own need for resolution under grounds of somewhat tangible to their position of an item so complex gives one hope for a grander purpose.

A synonymous flip of the cards leading to the reveal moment is humbling when a team, after several rounds of dissonance, start into a pattern yielding the voting of a collective cohesion. Why do we start voting along a mutual agreement without the need for cohesion?

Can I Convince You to..

What if Chris Wallace facilitated a Planning Poker exercise between the two presidential candidates instead of a debate, driving consensus between the two presidential hopefuls?

Businesses Need a voice

Restaurants Need a Voice

When that phone rings, you should have a consistent and professional voice. This voice can help you bring customers through your doors. “How can I help?”, your virtual hostess asks. Would you like a color menu texted to your phone? Or how about hearing today’s specials from the chef? Maybe your potential customers want to be added to a “Call Ahead” list or make a reservation. No Problem. The virtual host or hostess can help with that and more. Once the customer is greeted at the door of your establishment, your physical host looks at a Google Shared calendar and sees you’ve called ahead. Entertainment could be essential to bring back indoor dining. Texting your customers with a list of events, comedians, Jazz, wine tasting, etc. can help entice your loyal customers from takeout/pickup to indoor entertainment.

Press 5 for Billing – Medical Offices Need a Voice

Make that budding therapy practice of three therapists sound like a flourishing practice with the appropriate level of support staff.

Construction, Contractor, Billing, New Business, Reception: An Army of One

Contractors try to maximize their hours in the field on client sites, and if you’ve got a small company, you need to balance implementing the business, such as billing and invoicing, while taking care of business. A simple automated phone solution can help maximize time on revenue. Whatever your task, such as resending your client a lost invoice can be automated, sending their latest digitized bill. Even for new business, scheduling an on-site quote with your prospective customer can be done without any intervention, automated availability, and scheduling within your Google calendar. In seconds, over the phone, the automation can check when you are available in your calendar, and then schedule the time. The cost of implementing this solution is a fraction of what you would expect.

Let’s Get Started

If you would like more information on cost and setup details, please click here. Or, you can reach me ian@rosemansolutions.com.

Best Learning Management Systems for Education | ZDNet

In the context of our new normal, we present our guide of 12 very capable learning management systems, each of which provides a different take on managing learning. We’ll show you LMS solutions tailored to K-12 and higher education, LMS solutions aimed at the enterprise and SMBs, and even one that helps you sell your own courses (AbsorbLMS) and another that optimizes the ability to provide custom certifications (TalentLMS).

Source: The best learning management systems for education, enterprise, and small business | ZDNet

Challenges beyond learning technologies for K-12 education are the social development challenges, especially in the younger ages transitioning into the education system.

Also, special needs children who require direct attention, and are pulled out of mainstream class time for one on one assistance are at the highest risk.  We need to figure out how to best provide for these children in a “remote-only” configuration were “close contact” is required to help mitigate issues such as attention deficit.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) for Structured Data Sources

When people think of Data Loss Prevention, we usually think of Endpoint protection, such as Symantec Endpoint Security solution, preventing the upload of data to web sites, or downloaded to a USB device. The data being “illegally” transferred typically conforms to a particular pattern such as Personal Identifiable Information (PII), i.e. Social Security numbers.

Using a client for local monitoring of the endpoint, the agent detects the transfer of information as a last line of defense for external distribution. EndPoint solutions could monitor suspicious activity and/or proactively cancel the data transfer in progress.

Moving closer to the source of the data loss, monitoring databases filled with Personal Identifying Information (PII) has its advantages and disadvantages. One may argue there is no data loss until the employee attempts to export the data outside the corporate network, and the data is in-flight. In addition, extracted PII data may be “properly utilized” within the corporate network for analysis.

There is a database solution that provides similar “endpoint” monitoring and protection, e.g. identifying PII data extraction, with real-time query cancellation upon detection, leveraging “out of the box” data patterns, Teleran Technologies. Teleran supports relational databases such as Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server, both on-prem, and cloud solutions.

Updates in Data Management Policies

Identifying the data loss points of origination provides opportunities to update the gaps in data management policy and the implementation of additional controls over data. Data classification is done dynamically based on common data mask structures. Users may build additional rules to cover custom structures. So, for example, a business analyst executes a query against a database that appears to fit predefined data masks, such as SSN, the query may be canceled before it’s even executed, and/or this “suspicious” activity can be flagged for the Chief Information Officer and/or Chief Security Officer (CSO)

Bar none, I’ve seen only one firm that defends a company’s data assets closer to the probable leak of information, the database, Teleran Technologies, See what they have to offer your organization for data protection and compliance.

Prevalent Remote Work Changes Endpoint Strategy

Endpoints in our corporate environments of prevalent remote working may highlight the need that relying on endpoints may be too late to enforce data protection. We may need to bring potential data loss detection into the inner sanctum of the corporate networks and need prevention closer to the source of data being extracted. How are “semi-trusted” third parties such as staff augmentation from offshore dealt?

Endpoint DLP – Available Breach Tactics

Endpoint DLP may capture and contain attempts to extract PII data, for example, parsing text files for SSNs, or other data masks. However, there are ways around the transfer detection, making it lofty to identify, such as screen captures of data, converting from text into images. Some Endpoint providers boast about their Optical Character Recognition (OCR), however, turning on this feature may produce many false positives, too many to sift through in monitoring, and unmanageable to control. The best DLP defense is to monitor and control closer to the data source, and perhaps, flag data requests from employees, e.g. after SELECT statement entered, UI Pops up a “Reason for Request?” if PII extraction is identified in real-time, with auditable events that can flow into Splunk.

AR Sudoku Solver Uses Machine Learning To Solve Puzzles Instantly

Very novel concept, applying Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence (i.e. Machine Learning) to solving puzzles, such as Sudoko.  Maybe not so novel considering AR uses in manufacturing.

Next, we’ll be using similar technology for human to human negotiations, reading body language, understanding logical arguments, reading human emotion, and to rebut remarks in a debate.

Litigators watch out… Or, co-counsel?   Maybe a hand of Poker?

Source: AR Sudoku Solver Uses Machine Learning To Solve Puzzles Instantly

Cloud-native as the Future of Data Loss Prevention – Nightfall AI

An interesting approach to Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Data loss prevention (DLP) is one of the most important tools that enterprises have to protect themselves from modern security threats like data exfiltration, data leakage, and other types of sensitive data and secrets exposure. Many organizations seem to understand this, with the DLP market expected to grow worldwide in the coming years. However, not all approaches to DLP are created equal. DLP solutions can vary in the scope of remediation options they provide as well as the security layers that they apply to. Traditionally, data loss prevention has been an on-premise or endpoint solution meant to enforce policies on devices connected over specific networks. As cloud adoption accelerates, though, the utility of these traditional approaches to DLP will substantially decrease.

Established data loss prevention solution providers have attempted to address these gaps with developments like endpoint DLP and cloud access security brokers (CASBs) which provide security teams with visibility of devices and programs running outside of their walls or sanctioned environments. While both solutions minimize security blind spots, at least relative to network layer and on-prem solutions, they can result in inconsistent enforcement. Endpoint DLPs, for example, do not provide visibility at the application layer, meaning that policy enforcement is limited to managing what programs and data are installed on a device. CASBs can be somewhat more sophisticated in determining what cloud applications are permissible on a device or network, but may still face similar shortfalls surrounding behavior and data within cloud applications.

Cloud adoption was expected to grow nearly 17% between 2019 and 2020; however, as more enterprises embrace cloud-first strategies for workforce management and business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re likely to see even more aggressive cloud adoption. With more data in the cloud, the need for policy remediation and data visibility at the application layer will only increase and organizations will begin to seek cloud-native approaches to cloud security.

Source: Cloud-native as the Future of Data Loss Prevention – Nightfall AI

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