Posts tagged Google

Google-Car

Quick look: Google’s self driving car

Google’s sensors avoid trouble, even when other drivers try to distract the cars

Google’s self-driving car technology likely will not be available for several more years – think 2017 or beyond. Recently the company took a number of reporters on little rides to show off what the car’s technology can do now. Here’s a look at the picture profile Reuters shot at the event.

A Google self-driving vehicle drives around the parking lot at the Computer History Museum after a presentation in Mountain View, Calif.

A look at the sensing/camera device on the roof of the Google Lexus RX 450h car.

A closer look at the roof mounted sensor because of the roof-mounted laser sensor which spins 10 times a second, gathering a 360-degree view of the car’s surroundings.

Another sensor mounted on a Google self-driving vehicle. According to a Reuters story: Other drivers who spot the self-driving car often swerve in front of it and tap on their brakes, hoping to gauge the Google car’s reaction, according to the two Google staffers in the car’s front seats. Another favorite involves car drivers waving their hands in the air, in an attempt to get the Google driver-seat staff member to take his or her own hands off the wheel and prove the car is really steering itself. “We just laugh at them,” said one of the Google staff members in the car.

Google’s cars have never “caused” an accident in self-driving mode, although they have been involved in a few fender benders, such as an incident in which a Google car stopped at a red light got rear-ended, Chris Urmson (pictured here], the head of Google’s self-driving car project told Reuters.

A screen displays views from various onboard sensors in a Google self-driving vehicle.

Picture given out by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles shows a Google self-driven car in Las Vegas, May 1, 2012. Nevada’s Department of Motor Vehicles approved the nation’s first autonomous vehicle license in 2012.

A video look at Google’s car and report on Computer History Museum’s new driverless car exhibit.

Google of course isn’t the only company interested in driverless cars. Here we take a look at Ford, MIT and Stanford efforts.


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Exclusive: Google may offer Wi-Fi for cities with its Google Fiber

Cities getting gigabit-speed fiber Internet could also gain Wi-Fi networks

Google is considering deploying Wi-Fi networks in towns and cities covered by its Google Fiber high-speed Internet service.

The disclosure is made in a document Google is circulating to 34 cities that are the next candidates to receive Google Fiber in 2015.

Specific details of the Wi-Fi plan are not included in the document, which was seen by IDG News Service, but Google says it will be “discussing our Wi-Fi plans and related requirements with your city as we move forward with your city during this planning process.”

If the plan goes ahead, it would be a further step by Google toward competition with traditional telecom carriers. For citizens of the cities involved, it could mean increased reliance on services by the dominant Internet company.

Google declined to answer specific questions about the plans but in an emailed statement said, “We’d love to be able to bring Wi-Fi access to all of our Fiber cities, but we don’t have any specific plans to announce right now.”

Google Fiber is already available in Provo, Utah, and Kansas City, and is promised soon in Austin, Texas. It delivers a “basic speed” service for no charge, a gigabit-per-second service for US$70 per month and a $120 package that includes a bundle of more than 200 TV channels. Installation costs between nothing and $300.

Google has sent the 34 cities that are next in line for Google Fiber a detailed request for information and they have until May 1 to reply.

It asks for a list of all the addresses in each city and a description of building types, and requests numerous geospatial data files containing information on streets, boundaries, rights of way, manholes, utility poles, zoning types and the condition of pavement across the city.

Google is also asking cities to identify locations it would be able to install utility huts. Each 12-foot-by-30-foot (3.6-meter-by-9.1-meter) windowless hut needs to allow 24-hour access and be on land Google could lease for about 20 years.

The huts, of which there will be between one and a handful in each city, would house the main networking equipment. From the hut, fiber cables would run along utility poles — or in underground fiber ducts if they exist — and terminate at neighborhood boxes, each serving up to 288 or 587 homes.

The neighborhood boxes are around the same size or smaller than current utility cabinets often found on city streets.

Once each municipality has sent the information to Google, the Mountain View company said it will conduct a detailed study.

“This process will take some time, but we hope to have updates on which cities will get Fiber by the end of the year,” the company says in the document.


 

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Chromebooks’ success punches Microsoft in the gut

Chromebooks’ success punches Microsoft in the gut
Amazon, NPD Group trumpet sales of the bare-bones laptops in 2013 to consumers and businesses
Chromebooks had a very good year, according to retailer Amazon.com and industry analysts.

And that’s bad news for Microsoft.

The pared-down laptops powered by Google’s browser-based Chrome OS have surfaced this year as a threat to “Wintel,” the Microsoft-Intel oligarchy that has dominated the personal-computer space for decades with Windows machines.

On Thursday, Amazon.com called out a pair of Chromebooks — one from Samsung, the other from Acer — as two of the three best-selling notebooks during the U.S. holiday season. The third: Asus’ Transformer Book, a Windows 8.1 “2-in-1″ device that transforms from a 10.1-in. tablet to a keyboard-equipped laptop.

As of late Thursday, the trio retained their lock on the top three places on Amazon’s best-selling-laptop list in the order of Acer, Samsung and Asus. Another Acer Chromebook, one that sports 32GB of on-board storage space — double the 16GB of Acer’s lower-priced model — held the No. 7 spot on the retailer’s top 10.

Chromebooks’ holiday success at Amazon was duplicated elsewhere during the year, according to the NPD Group, which tracked U.S. PC sales to commercial buyers such as businesses, schools, government and other organizations.

By NPD’s tallies, Chromebooks accounted for 21% of all U.S. commercial notebook sales in 2013 through November, and 10% of all computers and tablets. Both shares were up massively from 2012; last year, Chromebooks accounted for an almost-invisible two-tenths of one percent of all computer and tablet sales.

Stephen Baker of NPD pointed out what others had said previously: Chromebooks have capitalized on Microsoft’s stumble with Windows 8. “Tepid Windows PC sales allowed brands with a focus on alternative form factors or operating systems, like Apple and Samsung, to capture significant share of a market traditionally dominated by Windows devices,” Baker said in a Monday statement.

Part of the attraction of Chromebooks is their low prices: The systems forgo high-resolution displays, rely on inexpensive graphics chipsets, include paltry amounts of RAM — often just 2GB — and get by with little local storage. And their operating system, Chrome OS, doesn’t cost computer makers a dime.

The 11.6-in. Acer C720 Chromebook, first on Amazon’s top-10 list Thursday, costs $199, while the Samsung Chromebook, at No. 2, runs $243. Amazon prices Acer’s 720P Chromebook, No. 7 on the chart, at $300.

The prices were significantly lower than those for the Windows notebooks on the retailer’s bestseller list. The average price of the seven Windows-powered laptops on Amazon’s top 10 was $359, while the median was $349. Meanwhile, the average price of the three Chromebooks was $247 and the median was $243, representing savings of 31% and 29%, respectively.

In many ways, Chromebooks are the successors to “netbooks,” the cheap, lightweight and underpowered Windows laptops that stormed into the market in 2007, peaked in 2009 as they captured about 20% of the portable PC market, then fell by the wayside in 2010 and 2011 as tablets assumed their roles and full-fledged notebooks closed in on netbook prices.

Chromebooks increasingly threaten Windows’ place in the personal computer market, particularly the laptop side, whose sales dominate those of the even older desktop form factor. Stalwart Microsoft partners, including Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, have all dipped toes into the Chromebook waters, for example.

“OEMs can’t sit back and depend on Wintel anymore,” said Baker in an interview earlier this month.

Microsoft has been concerned enough with Chromebooks’ popularity to target the devices with attack ads in its ongoing “Scroogled” campaign, arguing that they are not legitimate laptops.

Those ads are really Microsoft’s only possible response to Chromebooks, since the Redmond, Wash. company cannot do to them what it did to netbooks.

Although the first wave of netbooks were powered by Linux, Microsoft quickly shoved the open-source OS aside by extending the sales lifespan of Windows XP, then created deliberately-crippled and lower-priced “Starter” editions of Vista and Windows 7 to keep OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) on the Windows train.

But Microsoft has no browser-based OS to show Chromebook OEMs, and has no light-footprint operating system suitable for basement-priced laptops except for Windows RT, which is unsuitable for non-touch screens. And unlike Google, Microsoft can hardly afford to give away Windows.

But Microsoft’s biggest problem isn’t Chrome OS and the Chromebooks its ads have belittled: It’s tablets. Neither Microsoft or its web of partners have found much success in that market.

Baker’s data on commercial sales illustrated that better than a busload of analysts. While Windows notebooks accounted for 34% of all personal computers and tablets sold to commercial buyers in the first 11 months of 2013, that represented a 20% decline from 2012. During the same period, tablets’ share climbed by one-fifth to 27%, with Apple’s iPad accounting for the majority of the tablets.

“The market for personal computing devices in commercial markets continues to shift and change, said Baker. “It is no accident that we are seeing the fruits of this change in the commercial markets as business and institutional buyers exploit the flexibility inherent in the new range of choices now open to them.”

But when you’re at the top of the personal computing device heap — as Microsoft was as recently as 2011 — words like “change” and “choice” are not welcome. From the mountaintop, the only way is down.


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Google creates network for tech startups

Network of support starts in seven North American cities

Google announced today it is building a network for tech entrepreneurs in seven North American cities.

The venture, dubbed Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network, is focused on connecting emerging local tech companies and leaders with each other, as well as with resources at Google.

The company is partnering with tech hubs in Chicago, Denver; Detroit, Durham, N.C., Minneapolis, Nashville and Waterloo, Ontario.

“Through our work in more than 100 countries, we’ve been incredibly impressed with the catalyzing impact that tech hubs have had: helping startups grow, and creating jobs in local communities in the process,” wrote John Lyman, head of partnerships for Google for Entrepreneurs, in a blog post. “We’re partnering to create a strong network, providing each hub with financial support alongside access to Google technology, platforms and mentors, and ensuring that entrepreneurs at these hubs have access to an even larger network of startups.”

The hubs, he said, offer a new approach to starting a successful new business.

“We’re excited to exchange ideas and connect hubs with each other and with Google to have an even bigger economic impact on local communities,” Lyman added.


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Hottest Android news and rumors for week ending Jan. 18

All quiet on the Galaxy S IV front, but plenty going on elsewhere.After a CES week during which the Android world was all a-twitter over a device that wasn’t even revealed at the show, the previously hyperactive Galaxy S IV rumor mill has quieted down, mostly. It’s likely to only be a momentary respite, however, as the device is heavily tipped to be released at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month.

MORE OFFBEAT: The dumbest products of CES 2013

Perhaps the biggest news on the most hotly anticipated Android device so far in 2013 is that an ostensible screenshot of mobile benchmarking results has been published by a Japanese-language blog), which points out that the 1.8GHz CPU speed matches up with Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa eight-core SoC. (More on the Octa later.)

Given the source, it’s important to remember that this should be taken with many grains of salt – even the inclusion of the point about the Exynos 5 Octa could easily be read as a little too circumstantially convenient. (Like Manti Te’o confessing to Lance Armstrong on Oprah or something.)

Still, I can’t deny that the pairing of Samsung’s two biggest headline grabbing topics makes sense. We’ll see what happens (probably) at MWC at the end of February.

Speaking of the Exynos 5 Octa, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs is unsurprisingly not a fan, according to a report from Unwired View. Essentially, he told reporters in China yesterday, Samsung is just covering for the fact that the four high-performance Cortex-A15 cores drain a ton of power by jamming four slower but less demanding Cortex-A7s into the SoC alongside them, and attempting to reap a publicity windfall by boasting about their eight-core processor.

While Jacobs is correct in noting that all eight of the Octa’s cores won’t operate at the same time, I’m not sure why he’s saying this means the SoC is going to suck. OK, so it’s not a “true” eight-core SoC, but the idea of using the low-power cores for light work and switching to the A15s for more serious tasks still makes sense, and could well back up Samsung’s claims of improved battery life and better performance. Seems like fairly ineffectual spin to me.

The Nexus 4 official wireless charger has appeared on the site of Norwegian store Dustin Home, providing a slick pad on which to charge the Nexus 4 that you still probably don’t have. Presumably, this means that it’ll become available soon in the U.S., but this is a product release story involving the phrase “Nexus 4,” so who really knows?

(Hat tip: Android Central)
But wait! The Nexus 4′s availability problems will soon be a thing of the past, according to an LG executive who spoke to Challenges.fr Wednesday. LG France director of mobile communication Cathy Robin says production of the Nexus 4 is due to increase by mid-February, which could ease the supply crunch. As of this writing, both the 8GB and 16GB models are still sold out on the Play Store.

(Hat tip: r/Android)
Android Police has what it says is an internal Sprint document, which asserts that the company plans to offer a $400 device credit to new family plan customers who port at least one line in from a competitor. The deal’s supposedly set to roll out tomorrow, so you don’t have long to wait, if you’re interested.

All quiet on the Galaxy S IV front, but plenty going on elsewhere.


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Google Is Trying to Fix Its Targeted Ad Attitude Problem

Yesterday the company announced a new feature that not only informs users why targeted ads appear but also provides a little ammo to detonate an unsavory targeted ad. “You can also go to the Ads Preferences Manager to make changes that improve the ads that you’re seeing, including blocking specific advertisers you’re not interested in or turning off ads personalization entirely (of course, you can change your mind at any time),” explains Susan Wojcicki, SVP, Advertising on The Official Google Blog. Being “targeted,” these ads are kind of like mind-readers, showing what Google thinks we would want. “We try really hard to show you ads that are relevant,” explains lead software engineer, Diane Tang in Google’s promotional video. Sometimes, though, Google’s robots don’t quite get it right; certain targeted ads feel creepy and can even venture into hurtful territory. But now, Google’s giving the user a little revenge power, allowing users to delete certain targeted ads. Unfortunately, while the process provides a little catharsis, it doesn’t keep other, similar annoying ads from popping up.

 

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Related: Do We Lie to Google?
If a user sees an add that doesn’t sit well with them, clicking the “Why this ad?” link in the ad will give a pseudo explanation of why you got the ad: it can be based on search, a combination of search terms, Web history, or the contents of the e-mail or inbox, for Gmail-related ads.

Related: Why Are the Major Networks Afraid of Google TV?
Related: Mixed Buzz Over Google Buzz
The explanations aren’t too satisfying, as you can see above. But, Google also gives the option to block certain advertisers from showing up, in the Ads Preferences Manager. It will show recent ads that came up on Google search or G-mail, there you can block away the annoying advertisement forever — unless for some reason you change your mind.
Related: Five Tips for Larry Page, Google’s New CEO

Related: Facebook and Google Join Forces to Oppose Privacy Bill
The problem with this, is that it doesn’t change the way Google picks ads. It will still rely on the same algorithm that reads Gmail and remembers Web history, which wouldn’t work for some, like an anonymous friend of The Atlantic’s Rebecca Rosen. Said friend didn’t appreciate Google’s “Save Your Relationship” and “Is He Lying?” ads after a bad break-up with her boyfriend. “This snarky little message in my face really pissed me off!,” the friend told Rosen. And simply blocking the ad wouldn’t really make this problem go away, because another related ad would pop up, too.
The only refuge Google offers is to entirely opt-out of personalized ads completely. But that makes everything spammier. Those who opt in for personalized ads get 10 percent fewer ads than those who receive random advertisements, according to Google. These people are also more likely to click, which is why Google prefers the personalization. But for the recently separated, more unrelated ads might be less harsh than a stream of heartbreak.

Privacy a concern as Google+ links with Google’s other sites

Users must be alert about having their real identity from Google+ replace pseudonyms in other Google services

Google’s work to integrate its Google+ social networking site broadly with its other services could raise red flags for users who want to closely guard their privacy.

 


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Google wants Google+ to be more than a stand-alone social network. It envisions Google+ integrating with most, maybe all, of its Web applications and sites to provide social sharing capabilities and possibly a uniform online identity.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Google+ poised for push into the enterprise. | And check out the slideshow: 10 ways to enhance Google+ | [ Stay ahead of the key tech business news with InfoWorld's Today's Headlines: First Look newsletter. ]

But there is a crucial difference between Google+ and other company services like Gmail, whose users have long been able to use pseudonyms to protect their privacy, if they wish. Google+ currently requires all members to use their real names — a policy on which it has said it will bend, but not how or when.

There may be a risk that people who use their real name in Google+ but use pseudonyms in other Google services may inadvertently expose their real identity by linking Google+ with those services.

Already there are glimpses of how Google+ integrations are altering identity elsewhere on Google. For example, Google has set up a tight integration between Google+ and its Picasa Web photo management service.

For starters, users have to agree to integrate their existing Picasa Web account with Google+ in order to join Google+. If they do so, the displayed user name on Picasa Web accounts becomes the real name used in Google+, replacing the one being used before if different. (The access settings for photos and albums remain the same as prior to the integration, according to Google.)

Without the Google+ integration, Picasa Web users retain the option of using a pseudonym. However, they then can’t have a Google+ account.

Asked for comment, a Google spokesman said via e-mail: “We designed Google+ with privacy in mind, including a number of features that offer users control over what and how they share. We’re always working to provide users with transparency and choice. We’ll continue to do so as we release new features and updates for our products.”

Currently, most Google consumer online services and applications are grouped under a master umbrella account, called a Google Account. It offers individual accounts for Gmail, Docs, YouTube, Calendar, Blogger, Voice, Groups, Reader, and many others.

At this point, Google Account holders can tailor the user name displayed in some of those individual services. For example, one user can have a name shown on his Gmail messages, a different one for his YouTube account and another for a blog published on Blogger. Those names can be pseudonyms.

It’s not clear if options for having different names within a single umbrella Google Account will be maintained as Google pushes forward with the integration of Google+ and other Google services.

Of course, a way to be on Google+ but avoid dealing with its current and future integrations in Google services is to set up a separate Google Account just for it.

Google+ Tips: 4 Tools to Boost Your Social Networking Experience

Getting the hang of Google+ and looking for more? Check out these four Google+ tools that let you easily upload photos in bulk, find new people to follow, translate posts and more.

 

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CIO — While rumors continue to swirl about when the Google+ API will be released to developers, that’s not stopping some people from getting in on the Google+ action.

Whether you’re just starting out on Google+ or consider yourself an advanced user, more and more Google+ enhancements and add-ons are popping up across the Web.

Here’s a look at four new ones that do everything from streamlining bulk photo-uploading to helping you increase your network reach.

1. Google+ Photo Importer for iPhone
If you store your photos on multiple sites such as Facebook, Flickr, Instagram or Photobucket, there’s a new download available in the Apple App Store that lets you upload 100 photos in less than a minute to your Google+ account. This tool is especially handy if you plan on shifting your social networking focus to Google+.

The Google Plus Photo Importer by Dropico costs 99 cents, and while uploads I tested generally took longer than the advertised 60 seconds, it was still impressively fast.

10 Google+ tips for Beginners
Google+ Privacy: 5 Settings You Need to Know

2. Find People on Google+
Looking for more connections on Google+? While its own search feature only lets you find people by name, you can dig a bit deeper to find groups of people with certain characteristics at FindPeopleOnPlus.

Here, you can not only search for people by name, but you can also search by profession, location, relationship status, gender, education, employer, occupation and more, which makes growing your network and tailoring it to your needs a lot easier.

You can also choose to add yourself to its directory. This will keep your FindPeopleOnPlus profile updated and in-synch with your Google+ profile.

3. PlusClout
Akin to Klout.com, a site that measures your social media influence, PlusClout measures the influence a user has on Google+ and rates it from 0 to 100.

When you visit the site, PlusClout will ask you to insert your Google+ ID in order to generate your score. Your ID is the string of numbers that appear in the URL of your profile page.

PlusClout says that while its formula is still evolving, right now it calculates your number based on 15 million public Google+ profiles and items shared, such as posts, comments, +1s, the number of followers you have and the frequency and volume of information sharing.

You can also browse people with the highest PlusClout in categories such as bloggers, designers, entrepreneurs and the most-followed users on Google+. Click on any of these names and you will see their current PlusClout score, a graph of their score over the last five days, and websites associated with that person.
4. Google Translate for Google+

If you want to connect with people from around the world but find that language is a barrier, this is a must-download Google Chrome extension.

Google Translate for Google+ is a powerful tool that inserts a button into your Google+ streams, letting you quickly interpret a chunk of foreign text.

Microsoft hopes to draw Android developers to Windows Phone

Microsoft is trying to woo Android application developers, offering them help in porting applications to Windows Phone.

The company has released a Windows Phone API mapping tool for Android developers to help them find their way around the Windows Phone platform. Developers should think of the tool as being like a translation dictionary, Senior Technical Evangelist for Interoperability Jean-Christophe Cimetiere wrote in a blog post.

 

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REVIEW: Developers find a lot to love in Windows Phone 7 Mango

It has also published a white paper, “Windows Phone 7 Guide for Android Application Developers,” describing the differences between the two platforms, including the way they handle inactive applications and multitasking.

For Windows Phone to become a success, Microsoft and partners like Nokia have to convince developers to add the operating system to the list of platforms they target.

Android and Apple’s iOS are the most popular operating systems among developers, according to a survey by VisionMobile published this week. It found that 67 percent of developers target Android, and 59 percent target iOS.

Windows Phone is the seventh most popular platform, with just 36 percent of developers working on apps for it: More still target Symbian, the OS that Nokia is abandoning in favor of Windows Phone, the survey found, although Symbian’s share fell to 38 percent in June from 46 percent a year earlier.

Microsoft has already reached out to iPhone app developers with specific Windows Phone guidance and an API mapping tool for iOS.

This summer, it plans to expand the scope of the API Mapping tools to include the features in Mango, the next major upgrade of Windows Phone.

Enterprise software developers are starting to show an interest in having their applications running across a range of mobile devices. Last week, German company Software AG acquired Metismo, developer of a platform that can convert Java apps to run natively on Android, BlackBerryOS, Windows Phone and webOS.

Microsoft System Center

This section of the MSDN® Library hosts developer information for System Center products, which help manage IT computing environments. The System Center products support performance and health state monitoring, software updates and deployment, data storage and recovery, reporting, and operations management. The following System Center products expose programming interfaces.
System Center Configuration Manager

 

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System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (formerly known as System Management Server or SMS) helps automate and manage deployment of operating systems and applications. Configuration Manager also manages software updates and configuration. This provides a comprehensive asset management tool for servers, desktops, and mobile devices.
Resources

System Center Configuration Manager Software Development Kit

System Center Configuration Manager SDK download

System Center Configuration Manager TechCenter

Previous version: SMS SDK 2003 3.1 Introduction
System Center Operations Manager

System Center Operations Manager 2007 (formerly known as Microsoft Operations Manager), allows you to monitor servers, applications, and client computers to provide a view of the health state for your IT environment. This view of the health state is key to being able to respond rapidly when events and problems occur. You can monitor events, services, alerts, and performance information across many operating systems and applications. Additionally, you can access management packs for various Microsoft software applications, which help you to discover, monitor, troubleshoot, and resolve problems for a specific technology component.
Resources

System Center Operations Manager 2007 SDK

System Center Operations Manager SDK download

System Center Operations Manager TechCenter

Previous version: Microsoft Operations Manager
System Center Reporting Manager

System Center Reporting Manager (SCRM) 2006 is a reporting tool that consolidates event and performance information from Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005 and change and configuration management information from Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003, and combines this information with business context data from sources such as Active Directory Domain Services. SCRM 2006 uses Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services as the foundation of its reporting capabilities.

The SCRM 2006 Software Development Kit provides the necessary documentation for customizing existing SCRM 2006 reports. SCRM 2006 reports are customized using Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Business Intelligence Studio and make extensive use of SQL stored procedures and SQL views in the SCRM 2006 presentation database MCTS Online TrainingMCITP Online Training.
Resources

SCRM 2006 Software Development Kit

System Center Reporting Manager download

System Center Reporting Manager TechCenter

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