Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Microsoft Kinect sensor is coming back to life with a new version — but it’s not for Xbox

A customer plays an Xbox 360 game with Microsoft's Kinect sensor.

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A customer plays an Xbox 360 game with Microsoft’s Kinect sensor.
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Joe Raedle / Getty Images

  • After getting discontinued in the Fall of 2017, the Microsoft Kinect is back, but not for gaming.
  • Project Kinect for Azure is a version of the pioneering camera/sensor array, designed for businesses. It integrates with the Microsoft Azure cloud.
  • Project Kinect could help build more accurate robots, or facial recognition systems for public spaces.
  • But it’s almost definitely not coming to Xbox. Sorry.

The Microsoft Kinect is back! Sort of.

It’s been a long, weird road for the Kinect: First launched in 2010, the futuristic Microsoft Kinect used infrared cameras to let you control Xbox games just by moving your body. Enthusiasm for the Kinect proved to be short-lived, though – after years of sluggish sales and gamer backlash, Microsoft discontinued the Kinect in late 2017.

So it’s a surprise to see Microsoft use its annual Build conference to unveil Project Kinect for Azure – an updated version with a “next-generation depth camera” and a processor suited for artificial intelligence.

As you may have guessed from the name, though, this new Project Kinect almost definitely won’t be coming to Xbox.

Instead, it’s designed to integrate with the Microsoft Azure cloud computing service. The same technology that was once used to control games like “Dance Central” and “Kinect Adventures” will now be used to help provide precision guidance for robotic assembly systems, or to do facial recognition and tracking in an office building or retail store.

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“FRU” for the Xbox One makes you use your body to help navigate puzzles and challenges.
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Through Games

In a real way, this has been a long time coming. While the Kinect never really lived up to its promise in video games, it was an instant smash hit with hobbyists and hackers. The Kinect’s cutting-edge depth sensors made it an ideal, low-cost choice for robots and interactive art exhibits.

Furthermore, this is actually Microsoft’s second crack at trying to make the Kinect into a business-focused product. Back in 2011, it pitched the Kinect at businesses, providing tools to integrate it with workplace software. That effort never really took with customers.

This time, though, things have changed a little: One of the hot new trends in enterprise technology is “edge computing,” where smart devices, like this Project Kinect, do a bunch of their own processing before sending data up to the cloud. A smart camera, like this, would fit the bill exactly and give Microsoft a hardware product of its own to offer customers as it pursues the edge computing market.

Still, for gamers, this news could be a little bittersweet. It’s a reminder of what could have been, as a technology created for the Xbox moves on to new markets and greener pastures. It’s worth remembering, though, that much of the Kinect’s technology went into the Microsoft HoloLens, its futuristic “hologram” goggles.

On a final note, there is still a little hope for Xbox gamers. The original Kinect originally came to the Windows PC by way of some clever hacking from dedicated enthusiasts. Maybe, just maybe, this business-focused Project Kinect could come to the Xbox by way of similar efforts.

How to write the perfect email subject line for job hunting

Make a good first impression.

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Make a good first impression.
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Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr

With an estimated 269 billion business emails sent every day, it’s harder than ever to get yours noticed.

And since email is often the first point of contact for job seekers and hiring managers, the subject line can make all the difference.

It not only communicates who you are and what you want but also can be a marketing tool that shows off your qualifications and helps you stand out.

So how do you motivate a reader to click on your email and give you their time?

Depending on the context, career and communication experts offer the following advice that job seekers should bear in mind when crafting their job-search subject lines.

Here’s how to write the perfect subject line for your next job search, complete with some examples:


Keep it short

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Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr

A typical inbox reveals about 60 characters of an email’s subject line, while a mobile phone shows just 25 to 30 characters, said Amanda Augustine, career expert at TopResume.

With such limited space, eliminate any unnecessary words like “hello” and “thanks,” and get right to the point in about six to eight words.

Example: Human Resources Assistant Application


Place the most important words at the beginning

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Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr

A whopping 50% of emails are now read on mobile phones, said Dmitri Leonov, a VP at email management service SaneBox.

Since you don’t know how much of the subject line hiring managers would be able to see from their smartphones, it’s important to put the most important information at the beginning of the subject line. Otherwise, compelling details could get cut off.

Example: Marketing Manager with 8 Years of Experience


Be clear and specific

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Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr

Recruiters spend just six seconds reviewing a resume, said Augustine, so they likely spend even less time scanning a job seeker’s email.

The subject line should communicate exactly who you are and what you’re looking for without a recruiter needing to open the email.

Don’t use a vague subject line like “résumé for opening,” and instead specify which opening you’re applying for.

Example: John Smith Following Up on Sales Position


Use logical keywords for search and filtering

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Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr

Hiring managers typically have filters and folders set up to manage their email and probably won’t focus on your message when they first see it, said Leonov.

That’s why it’s important to include keywords like “job application” or “job candidate” that will make the email searchable later.

Example: Job Application: John Smith for Social Media Manager


Include the position and your name

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WOCinTech Chat/Flickr

For a standard job application, Augustine said the most important information to include in the email subject line is the job title and your name, as well as the job’s ID if it has one.

Anything less will require the hiring manager to spend time opening the email and trying to decode it.

Example: Data Scientist, No. 123456 – John Smith Application


List your designations to show that you’re qualified

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Mario Tama/Getty

The subject line should be a place to distinguish yourself and immediately catch a recruiter’s eye.

Augustine said to include any acronyms you have that are pertinent to the job. For example, you might add MBA, CPA, or Ph.D. after your name, depending on its relevancy to the position.

Example: Marketing Director – John Smith, MBA


If someone referred you, be sure to use their name

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Sean Gallup/Getty Images

If you’ve been referred by a mutual acquaintance, do not save that for the body of the email, said Augustine. Put it in the subject line to grab the hiring manager’s attention right away.

Moreover, she suggests beginning the subject line with the person’s full name.

Example: Referred by Jane Brown for Technical Writer position


Don’t use ALL CAPS

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Sorbis/Shutterstock

Using all caps may get someone’s attention, but in the wrong way. It’s the digital equivalent of yelling, and your job is to make the email as easy as possible for a recruiter to read rather than giving them anxiety, said Leonov.

Instead, use dashes or colons to separate thoughts, and avoid caps and special characters like exclamation points.

Example: Job Inquiry: Award-Winning Creative Director now in New York

This is an updated version of an article previously written by Jenna Goudreau.

Google’s former HR boss shared the company’s 4 rules for hiring the best employees

Laszlo Bock, the CEO of Humu, left Google in 2016 but his management principles remain strong at Google and its parent company Alphabet.

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Laszlo Bock, the CEO of Humu, left Google in 2016 but his management principles remain strong at Google and its parent company Alphabet.
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Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

  • Former Google HR boss Laszlo Bock outlined Google’s foundational approach to management in his 2015 book “Work Rules!”
  • Google’s, and later Alphabet’s, detail-oriented approach to hiring is a primary reason how it became one of the world’s most successful companies.
  • Bock’s approach to hiring prioritizes setting uncompromising high standards and making the process inclusive of each candidate’s potential colleagues.

Each year, Google receives more than two million job applications from around the world and hires several thousand of those candidates.

It takes an average of six weeks to secure a hire, and every candidate needs to be screened by their potential boss, potential colleagues, and a hiring committee.

“If you wondered if this takes a lot of Googler time, it does,” Google’s former SVP of People Operations Laszlo Bock wrote in his 2015 book, “Work Rules!.” Bock left Google at the end of 2016, but his principles remain at Google and its parent company Alphabet.

Bock wrote that in the early days of Google, hiring would take four to 10 hours of a manager’s time each week, with top executives spending a full day on it. By 2013, the company had grown to 40,000 employees but had slashed that time to one and a half hours a week. (Today, the company has more than 60,000 employees.)

He explained that years of research and experimentation helped Google get hiring exceptional people down to a near science. “There are four simple principles that can help even the smallest team do much, much better at hiring,” he wrote.

We’ve explained them below.


1. Set an uncompromising high standard

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

You will be able to quickly determine if someone is worth even an initial interview by setting the bar high and not budging it.

“Before you start recruiting, decide what attributes you want and define as a group what great looks like,” Bock wrote. “A good rule of thumb is to hire only people who are better than you.”

This applies to all positions, he explained. If you’re hiring an administrative assistant, don’t simply look for someone who can answer a phone and schedule your meetings – find someone who will make your job easier by organizing your time and priorities better than you ever could.

And if an employee search is taking longer than you would like, be patient and concentrate more of your effort on the task.

“Do not compromise,” Bock wrote. “Ever.”


2. Find candidates on your own

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Google

Google works with some recruitment firms, but only in specific situations in which outside expertise is a requirement, such as building a new team in another country.

The company has used third-party job boards like Monster in the past, but pulled back from them after its reputation grew sufficiently, mostly because it found that too many of those sites’ users send out generic mass job applications.

Google now relies on its own careers portal and the referrals it solicits from Googlers. And when your company begins growing, Bock said, “ask your best-networked people to spend even more time sourcing great hires.”

He also recommended that managers make use of LinkedIn, Google+, alumni databases, and professional associations to discover talent.


3. Put checks in place to assess candidates objectively

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Spencer Platt/Getty

An organization the size of Google can afford to have a large group of people spend time with each candidate, but even smaller companies need to avoid placing the burden of hiring someone onto one individual.

“Include subordinates and peers in the interviews, make sure interviewers write good notes, and have an unbiased group of people make the actual hiring decision,” Bock wrote.

“Periodically return to those notes and compare them to how the new employee is doing, to refine your assessment capability.”


4. Provide candidates with a reason to join

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Google’s Mountain View headquarters.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Jonathan Rosenberg, advisor to Alphabet CEO Larry Page, used to keep 200 Google employees’ résumés in his office.

“If a candidate was on the fence about joining Google, Jonathan would simply give them the stack and say: ‘You get to work with these people,'” Bock wrote.

According to Bock, the candidate would look through the impressive collection, including everyone from the inventor of JavaScript to Olympic athletes, and ask Rosenberg if he had cherry-picked them – to which he would honestly reply no. The technique worked every time.

“Make clear why the work you are doing matters, and let the candidate experience the astounding people they will get to work with,” Bock wrote.

This is an updated version of a story that ran on February 18, 2016.