Tech round-up for November 9: Microsoft Teams, CIBC's AC Conversion, Solar Roof, and video games galore

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This week, will new home roofs be made of solar panels? Plus, the AC Conversion card is made for world travelers, and the annual video game glut has arrived. But first, Microsoft Teams looks to take on Slack.

Microsoft announces communication and collaborative tool in Microsoft Teams

If you’re young and hip and a technophile, you may be using Slack as a tool for communication.

Well, as part of its continuing reinvention of itself into something relevant and super useful, Microsoft has released a similar communications tool it’s calling Teams.

And for anyone with a commercial subscription to Office 365, the company’s suite of office productivity tools, Teams is a free application.

Teams includes chat functionality, as well as collaboration tools for working on projects, documents, and spreadsheets.

And Microsoft is opening up Teams to developers so they can integrate their software and services. Hootsuite, which helps organizations manage social media, will work with Teams.

Air Canada and CIBC have a solution for world travelers

Sending your kid on a gap year experience? Doing some traveling of your own to visit some faraway places? You don’t have to play around with credit cards or travelers cheques anymore. A new account at CIBC and supported by Air Canada will let you use up to 10 different currencies.

The AC Conversion card is a prepaid Visa account that can be used with a card or your mobile device. You can use your account online, at retailers, and to make withdrawals from ATMs.

The 10 currencies are active in 45 countries. They include:

  • Australian dollars
  • British pounds
  • Canadian dollars
  • Euros
  • Hong Kong dollars
  • Japanese yen
  • Mexican pesos
  • Swiss franc
  • Turkish lira
  • U.S. dollars

The crazy season of video games has begun

Released in the past week are a host of video games that are among the year’s best. Battlefield 1 is a first-person shooter set during the First World War. Titanfall 2, another shooter, is about a pilot and his artificially intelligent bipedal tank.

Dishonored 2 is a game in which players can decide how they want to play, ranging between sneaky or guns blazing. Watchdogs 2 is set in San Francisco, and is an open world adventure that puts players in the guise of a hacker trying to take down a city-wide surveillance system.

And then there’s Pokemon Moon and Pokemon Sun, two versions of the same game that feature some different “pocket monsters” to collect and train.

This is also the week that Sony releases the PlayStation 4 Pro, a new edition of the game console with beefed up specs, and Nintendo drops the NES Classic Edition, a cute little device that is a mini replica of the Nintendo Entertainment System released in 1985, and which comes loaded with 30 games built in to the system.

It’s barely November and there’s already too many things to play.

Elon Musk and Tesla show off roofs constructed of solar panels

So the next phase of Elon Musk’s master plan has been revealed. It involves turning all roofs into power generating surfaces.

But he’s not talking about putting some solar panels on your roof. He wants the roofing tiles to be solar panels. That’s the idea behind Solar Roof and there are four styles of roof tile being offered: slate, smooth, textured, and Tuscan.

The roof panel idea is a product of SolarCity. Musk is the chair of that company and Tesla Motors has made an offer to purchase it, all part of the plan to integrate the power generation with the power storage and use.

The Solar Roof, you see, would be connected to Tesla’s Powerwall 2 battery system (priced at US$5,500 each).

Eric Wesoff, writing in Greentech Media, cautions that providing roofs for homes is “not a semiconductor, mechanical, or financial engineering problem”. It is, said Wesoff, a construction, building, and distribution problem.

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