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Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore

Microsoft is providing "legal advice and assistance" to employees who might be affected by President Donald Trump's executive action on immigration, the company says.

On Friday, Donald Trump signed an executive order for "extreme vetting" that halted the US' refugee program and blocked citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for at least 90 days — even people who already have visas and legal permits to live in the United States.

The countries affected are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

"We share the concerns about the impact of the executive order on our employees from the listed countries, all of whom have been in the United States lawfully, and we’re actively working with them to provide legal advice and assistance," says a Microsoft spokesperson.

Earlier this week, before Trump signed the order in question, Microsoft tucked language into its quarterly earnings report, warning that "we are limited in our ability to recruit internationally by restrictive domestic immigration laws," and that "changes to U.S. immigration policies that restrain the flow of technical and professional talent may inhibit our ability to adequately staff our research and development efforts."

Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have both spoken out against President Trump's immigration action. "It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues," Pichai wrote in an e-mail to Google employees.

Author : Matt Weinberger

Source : http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-donald-trump-immigration-order-2017-1

I love technology and I love being a tech CEO. It’s a good job really because it’s all I know, I was programming when I was 11!

I love the fact that the advancement of technology means you never actually get any closer to the finish line. Whatever you achieve today just lets you see further and the you see there is more to do. It’s an incredible driving force that moves you on and the process of that you deliver amazing creativity. (It surprises me occasionally that some people don’t realise technology is creative. It is!)

Technology is an impossible war to win.

You can win battles, definitely – Microsoft won the desktop OS, Apple and Google call a tie in smartphones. You can concede battles too – see how Microsoft stepped back from music and effectively mobile now . And you can definitely get killed in the fighting – just look at Blackberry and Nokia. But you can actually never win the war because the war ever ends, it just moves on and that’s what drives us all forward. And actually the art of survival as a tech company is to move onto the next frontier at the right time.

There was a big illustration of that yesterday when Google reorganised itself creating a parent company called Alphabet and moving the search engine business down into a company called Google and pulling non-search businesses out of Google into their own separate companies.

Google's announcement is online at the new Alphabet company website at abc.xyz

Google won the search battle, but the victory only lasts so long

In the west, at least, Google won the war for search, we all know that. Yahoo! stopped doing search ages ago, Ask Jeeves and Altavista went the way of the dodo and no-one seriously uses Bing despite Microsoft’s best efforts. But Google knows that search as we know it will die eventually and that’s why the reconfiguration of the company isn’t just corporate faffing, it’s an essential part of the company’s survival.

Let me explain.

15 years ago some of us were Yahoo! users – we preferred their human curated directory, Some of us were Ask Jeeves users – we liked the charming way it appeared to answer questions, or at least that’s what the branding said. But while we all used different search engines we all searched the same way. We went to a search engine website on a desktop PC, typed in our keywords and key phrases and hit Search. Boom – results came, And it felt like magic.

But that’s changing now.

I search on Google less today than I did a month ago.

And I definitely search less on Google today than I did a year ago. That’s despite Google’s search getting better almost every day!

Another search engine hasn’t taken Google’s place – other ways of getting what I want are creeping in and replacing the whole concept of a search engine.

In time, search “engines” as we know them will vanish.

I’m in Boston today and as I was packing for my flight last night I wanted to check the weather. But I didn’t go and check Google like I used to, I just spoke across the bedroom to Alexa, the voice inside my Amazon Echo “Alexa, what’s the weather like in Boston?”. Alexa heard and she read me a three day weather forecast as I was packing. No search engine needed.

After packing I was back at my desk on my Mac and wanted to look up the definition of a word on Wikipedia. But I didn’t go to Google like I used to. I just hit CMD+ Space on my keyboard, typed straight into the Spotlight universal search field built into Mac OSX and immediately got search results for that word from across my Mac, the entire Reward Gateway storage cloud at work and, of course, the internet and Wikipedia. All of that data searched in less than a second and it didn’t use Google.

When I went to bed and docked by iPhone to charge for the night I couldn’t remember my flight time “Hey Siri, check times for Lufthansa flight 422 tomorrow” and Siri responded with an internet search containing those flight details.

This technology is here now.

Now I’m a tech entrepreneur so you can expect me to be a bit of an early adopter and at the more extreme end of the curve on this stuff but I promise you this stuff is here now. It might not be in every home yet but it will be and Google’s reformat of the company just shows outwardly what they’ve known and been working on for years. Google have been investing hundreds of millions in the next battle for many years – connected home with Nest and self driving vehicles just the highest profile ones.

Google the search engine will die eventually – it won the battle yes but it will die of old age replaced by something else, probably quicker than anyone will expect. But I’m pretty certain that Alphabet, with it’s incredible innovation, talent, resources and hunger for advancement will be here in the future. And generations of the future might find it odd that the world’s biggest transport company, or the world’s biggest “something” started as a search engine.

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Author : Glenn Elliott

Hoping to scour through public records and expose corruption, crime or wrongdoing? The Investigative Dashboard might be your best bet.

Developed by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), Investigative Dashboard contains a number of tools and resources meant to make it easier for journalists and civil society researchers to investigate and expose corrupt individuals and businesses. Its investigative tools include databasesvisualization tools, and a search engine.

Journalists can also access the dashboard’s catalog of external databases, which links to more than 400 online databases in 120 countries and jurisdictions — from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

We spoke with developer Friedrich Lindenberg about getting started with the dashboard and using these tools to their full potential:

Searching for leads

Investigative Dashboard’s database houses more than 4 million documents, data sources and more that are sorted into 141 collections.

Journalists can use a custom-built search tool, Aleph — which Lindenberg built himself — to search the database either by specific terms related to their investigation or by category.

“Often as a journalist, you want to find out ‘Where can I find information about this person or this company?’” Lindenberg said. “What you want then is a place where you can search as many data sources as possible. That's why we're bringing together a lot of government data, corporate records and other kinds of information from previous investigations that we have exclusive access to, and all of that is searchable.”

Additionally, journalists can get email alerts for their chosen search terms so they’ll always be notified of new developments regarding the individuals or companies they’re investigating.

“As we get more and more data, what we can quite easily do is run your list of people that you're interested in against all these sources and see if there's new leads popping up,” Lindenberg said. “One of the things we're trying to do with Aleph is create incentives for people to write down names of people they’ve investigated previously or would like to know more about. Then we will continuously send you a feed of stuff that we dig up.”

Mapping and visualizing

Investigative Dashboard links to Visual Investigative Scenarios (VIS), a free data visualization platform built to show networks of business, corruption or crime, turning complex narratives into easy-to-understand visual depictions.

Journalists can input entities like people, companies, political parties or criminal organizations, then draw connections between them and attach documents as evidence. Once a visualization is complete, it can be exported for online, print or broadcast use.

Research support

Journalists can also directly ask OCCRP researchers to help them investigate companies or individuals of interest. OCCRP has access to certain commercial databases that may be prohibitively expensive for some journalists to use. While users can’t access these commercial databases via the Dashboard, OCCRP researchers are there to lend a helping hand, Lindenberg explained.

“One of the cool parts of this is that basically, as OCCRP, we've purchased subscriptions to some commercial databases that are otherwise inaccessible to journalists,” he said. “We can't give everybody access to them because then we'd break the terms of service, but what we can do is have our researchers look up the things you might be interested and then give you back the documents they find there.”

Once users with a Dashboard account submit a ticket describing the person or entity they’re investigating, OCCRP researchers will search these databases to see what, if anything, comes up.

Uploading files

OCCRP encourages journalists to upload their own documents and data using its personal archive tool. After creating an account, journalists can upload documents, create watchlists and organize their research. By default, all uploaded documents are private, but users can share their documents with others or make them public if they choose.

To make sure no false data or documents are uploaded to Aleph, OCCRP bots periodically crawl through public documents to verify and cross-reference them, Lindenberg explained.

Author : Sam Berkhead

Source : http://ijnet.org/en/blog/journalists-investigating-corruption-free-tool-offers-millions-searchable-documents

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 11:47

What you need to know about Social Search

Unless you have been living in a ‘content free’ cave (maybe those avoiding Brexit or Trump), it’ll come as no surprise that search significantly drives the buying decision making process. Search marketing, in the context of online searching via sites like Google, is a dominant touchpoint for researching and reviewing everything from cars to cats. According to ‘Search Engine Land’, Google handles at least 2 trillion searches annually. As search is so accessible (with rise to mobile) in providing a wealth of relevant information, buying without an initial Google search is painfully uncomfortable… I dare you to try it.

Google is the number one brand according to the 2017 ‘Brand Finance Global 500’, and is quite honestly a force of its own. So readers may be thinking that ‘Google Search’ is sitting happily on its throne, and maybe it is for now, however there is a new kid in town who is rallying a challenge. Its name also begins with ‘S’, and can be more accurately described as a transition from adolescence to adulthood – welcome aboard ‘Social Search’.

Social media has always been a hotbed for brand awareness, community building and audience engagement, however it is increasingly playing an important role in discovery. From new cooking recipe hacks to undiscovered places to travel, brands are catching on to capitalising in this newsfeed melting pot. Upon attending a restaurant launch in Central London, the Owner proudly announces that the event pictures will be posted on Instagram during the evening. It demonstrates that a ‘searcher’ can access more content on social media than they will through a ‘traditional’ Google search in the first week.

Fake news is regularly out-trending real news and most of our mainstream press is owned by highly biased billionaires with corporate interests. Here's how to support the free media. 

Networks such as Facebook and Pinterest are lapping up the evolved user relationship with search, focusing on creating ‘walled gardens’ to retain users within their comfortable social network setting. It also plays into the hands of the social user, creating a frictionless experience as they interact and engage with friends, followers and brands in one place.

Social media is evolving rapidly, and looking at Facebook’s successful additional features like Marketplace and Facebook Live, it is apparent they’re working hard to retain user content within its own environment. Content is critical to play in search, more recently video, which is why Facebook, Instagram and ironically only this week, Google owned Youtube, have live streaming features to provide immediate and richer engagement to our newsfeeds.

If you’re a business, take note. Social media is surely establishing itself in search, and you can expect to see greater opportunities to advertise in this space. Moreover as social commerce makes a resurgence, with photo-happy Instagram ‘tags’ and Pinterest ‘buyable pins’, it demonstrates an evolving consumer behaviour for brands to capitalise on. So watch this social space!

‘Social Media Business Success’ is a free 2 hour workshop hosted by Unleash Digital Ltd on Sat 25th Feb 9.30am-11.30am, Wimbledon. Secure your place now at https://unleashdigitalsocialmedia.eventbrite.co.uk

Author : Ross Macintyre

Source : http://www.thelondoneconomic.com/news/business/need-know-social-search/12/02/

Monday, 13 February 2017 11:36

5 Creepy Tools She Uses to Stalk You Online

THUMBING THROUGH YOUR date’s Facebook profile will give you some basic information: her friends, interests, and probably what she was up to last weekend. Think that’s all she knows about you? Think again. Click through for five of the tools, tricks, and trendy apps that are helping your lady dig for dirt (if there's any to find, of course). 

Lulu

What it is: A free app driven by female Facebook users who rate datable and undatable dudes on a 10-point scale. The review system is multiple choice with no custom comments allowed. Only positive and negative preset hashtags such as #EpicSmile, #StrongHands, #CheaperThanABigMac, and #GoneByMorning can be published.

How it works: Women can search for men by name, or browse by high or low score, location, or category (e.g., sexual panthers, sweet guys, funny guys).

How women use it: “The Lulu app gives girls essential intel on the guys in their lives, whether they’re looking for a fling, a relationship, a guy for their friend, or just some fun,“ says Alexandra Chong, Lulu's founder and CEO. “One negative review might not mean much, but 10 could point to a trend.”

Try it: See how you measure up. Download the app and click on My Stats.

SpyDialer.com

What it is: A free website that can reveal who’s really in your address book. 

How it works: The site allows anyone (ahem, your lady friend) to type in a cell phone number and listen to that person’s outgoing voicemail message, without dialing.

How women use it: “You’ve moved into an exclusive zone, but another girl’s number keeps popping up on your cell phone. You lie and say, ‘It’s Bob.’ But if your girl writes down the number, spy-dials it, and gets a message like ‘Hi, this is Roberta,' you’re screwed,” explains Maria Coder, author of InvestiDate: How to Investigate Your Date. 

Try it: Enter your number and listen to your voice message. Creepy, right?

[pagebreak]

Facebook.com’s Graph Search

What it is: A search engine that finds photos, similar interests, and other information about the site’s users.

How it works: Instead of listing links, it combs information using real language, like, “photos of Bob Smith on New Year's Eve.”

How women use it: “[Women] can find all photos [guys] are tagged in, even if it is not on their wall,” says Jason Silver, president of We Just Match, a personalized matchmaking service. “The first thing I look at are people's pictures. You can see what they're doing, how they dress, and who they surround themselves with.”

Try it: Search for yourself. Type in your name, a category of interest such as photos, and a location.

CriminalCheck.com

What it is: A no-fee database of sex offenders in the United States (with the exceptions of Nebraska, New Jersey, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont).

How it works: By typing in a first and last name, (zip code and middle name are optional), records of offense are at her disposal. “The site is a gold mine of information, complete with photos, physical descriptions, the type of crime someone committed, weapons used, home address, whether the victim was a minor, and much more,” Coder says.

How women use it: If your name pops up, she'll stop answering your calls. “There is no advantage to appearing on this site,” Coder says. “You don’t end up listed on a site like criminalcheck.com if you have a squeaky clean record.”

Try it: Type in your name. Here's to hoping you don't share your identity with a criminal.

GenderGuesser

What it is: An online tool that determines if texts were crafted by a male or female. It is 60-70% accurate.

How it works: “The words you use can reveal identifying features. GenderGuesser uses an algorithm to try to determine if the writer of a text is male or female,” Coder says.

How women use it: Catfish, anyone? If she has yet to meet you face-to-face, it can reveal whether you're the person you claim to be. “If you have enlisted the help of a paid writer or service to help you woo someone online, this site might ‘out’ you,” Coder adds.

Try it: Find a sample text in your phone. Type it into the system and see if GenderGuesser correctly determines the writer's sex.

Author : Hilary Sheinbaum

Source : http://www.mensfitness.com/life/gearandtech/5-creepy-tools-she-uses-stalk-you-online

Saturday, 11 February 2017 16:51

What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong

If you’re an average reader, I’ve got your attention for 15 seconds, so here goes: We are getting a lot wrong about the web these days. We confuse what people have clicked on for what they’ve read. We mistake sharing for reading. We race towards new trends like native advertising without fixing what was wrong with the old ones and make the same mistakes all over again.

Not an average reader? Maybe you’ll give me more than 15 seconds then. As the CEO of Chartbeat, my job is to work with the people who create content online (like Time.com) and provide them with real-time data to better understand their readers. I’ve come to think that many people have got how things work online quite mixed up.

Here’s where we started to go wrong: In 1994, a former direct mail marketer called Ken McCarthy came up with the clickthrough as the measure of ad performance on the web. From that moment on, the click became the defining action of advertising on the web. The click’s natural dominance built huge companies like Google and promised a whole new world for advertising where ads could be directly tied to consumer action.

However, the click had some unfortunate side effects. It flooded the web with spam, linkbait, painful design and tricks that treated users like lab rats. Where TV asked for your undivided attention, the web didn’t care as long as you went click, click, click. 

In 20 years, everything else about the web has been transformed, but the click remains unchanged, we live on the click web. But something is happening to the click web. Spurred by new technology and plummeting click-through rates, what happens between the clicks is becoming increasingly important and the media world is scrambling to adapt. Sites like the New York Times are redesigning themselves in ways that place less emphasis on the all-powerful click. New upstarts like Medium and Upworthy are eschewing pageviews and clicks in favor of developing their own attention-focused metrics. Native advertising, advertising designed to hold your attention rather than simply gain an impression, is growing at an incredible pace.

It’s no longer just your clicks they want, it’s your time and attention. Welcome to the Attention Web.

At the core of the Attention Web are powerful new methods of capturingdata that can give media sites and advertisers a second-by-second, pixel-by-pixel view of user behavior. If the click is the turnstile outside a stadium, these new methods are the TV control room with access to a thousand different angles. The data these methods capture provide a new window into behavior on the web and suggests that much of the facts we’ve taken for granted just ain’t true.

Myth 1: We read what we’ve clicked on

For 20 years, publishers have been chasing pageviews, the metric that counts the number of times people load a web page. The more pageviews a site gets, the more people are reading, the more successful the site. Or so we thought. Chartbeat looked at deep user behavior across 2 billion visits across the web over the course of a month and found that most people who click don’t read. In fact, a stunning 55% spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page. The stats get a little better if you filter purely for article pages, but even then one in every three visitors spend less than 15 seconds reading articles they land on. The media world is currently in a frenzy about click fraud, they should be even more worried about the large percentage of the audience who aren’t reading what they think they’re reading.

The data gets even more interesting when you dig in a little. Editors pride themselves on knowing exactly what topics can consistently get someone to click through and read an article. They are the evergreen pageview boosters that editors can pull out at the end of the quarter to make their traffic goals. But by assuming all traffic is created equal, editors are missing an opportunity to build a real audience for their content.

Our data team looked at topics across a random sample of 2 billion pageviews generated by 580,000 articles on 2000 sites. We pulled out the most clicked-on topics and then contrasted topics that received a very high level of attention per pageview with those that received very little attention per pageview. Articles that were clicked on and engaged with tended to be actual news. In August, the best performers were Obamacare, Edward Snowden, Syria and George Zimmerman, while in January the debates around Woody Allen and Richard Sherman dominated.

The most clicked on but least deeply engaged-with articles had topics that were more generic. In August, the worst performers included Top, Best, Biggest, Fictional etc while in January the worst performers included Hairstyles, Positions, Nude and, for some reason, Virginia. That’s data for you.

All the topics above got roughly the same amount of traffic, but the best performers captured approximately 5 times the attention of the worst performers. Editors might say that as long as those topics are generating clicks, they are doing their job, but that’s if the only value we see in content is the traffic, any traffic, that lands on that page. Editors who think like that are missing the long game. Research across the Chartbeat network has shown that if you can hold a visitor’s attention for just three minutes they are twice as likely to return than if you only hold them for one minute.

The most valuable audience is the one that comes back. Those linkbait writers are having to start from scratch every day trying to find new ways to trick clicks from hicks with the ‘Top Richest Fictional Public Companies’. Those writers living in the Attention Web are creating real stories and building an audience that comes back.

Myth 2: The more we share the more we read

Do We Read the Articles We ShareTony Haile—Chartbeat 

As pageviews have begun to fail, brands and publishers have embraced social shares such as Facebook likes or Twitter retweets as a new currency. Social sharing is public and suggests that someone has not only read the content but is actively recommending it to other people. There’s a whole industry dedicated to promoting the social share as the sine qua non of analytics.

Caring about social sharing makes sense. You’re likely to get more traffic if you share something socially than if you did nothing at all: the more Facebook “likes” a story gets, the more people it reaches within Facebook and the greater the overall traffic. The same is true of Twitter, though Twitter drives less traffic to most sites.

But the people who share content are a small fraction of the people who visit that content. Among articles we tracked with social activity, there were only one tweet and eight Facebook likes for every 100 visitors. The temptation to infer behaviour from those few people sharing can often lead media sites to jump to conclusions that the data does not support.

A widespread assumption is that the more content is liked or shared, the more engaging it must be, the more willing people are to devote their attention to it. However, the data doesn’t back that up. We looked at 10,000 socially-shared articles and found that there is no relationship whatsoever between the amount a piece of content is shared and the amount of attention an average reader will give that content.

When we combined attention and traffic to find the story that had the largest volume of total engaged time, we found that it had fewer than 100 likes and fewer than 50 tweets. Conversely, the story with the largest number of tweets got about 20% of the total engaged time that the most engaging story received. 

Bottom line, measuring social sharing is great for understanding social sharing, but if you’re using that to understand which content is capturing more of someone’s attention, you’re going beyond the data. Social is not the silver bullet of the Attention Web.

Myth 3: Native advertising is the savior of publishing

Who ScrollsTony Haile—Chartbeat 

Media companies, desperate for new revenue streams are turning to native advertising in droves. Brands create or commission their own content and place it on a site like the New York Times or Forbes to access their audience and capture their attention. Brands want their message relayed to customers in a way that does not interrupt but adds to the experience.

However, the truth is that while the emperor that is native advertising might not be naked, he’s almost certainly only wearing a thong. On a typical article two-thirds of people exhibit more than 15 seconds of engagement, on native ad content that plummets to around one-third. You see the same story when looking at page-scrolling behavior. On the native ad content we analyzed, only 24% of visitors scrolled down the page at all, compared with 71% for normal content. If they do stick around and scroll down the page, fewer than one-third of those people will read beyond the first one-third of the article.

What this suggests is that brands are paying for — and publishers are driving traffic to — content that does not capture the attention of its visitors or achieve the goals of its creators. Simply put, native advertising has an attention deficit disorder. The story isn’t all bad. Some sites like Gizmodo and Refinery29 optimize for attention and have worked hard to ensure that their native advertising experience is consistent with what visitors come to their site for. They have seen their native advertising perform as well as their normal content as a result.

The lesson here is not that we should give up on native advertising. Done right, it can be a powerful way to communicate with a larger audience than will ever visit a brand’s homepage. However, driving traffic to content that no one is reading is a waste of time and money. As more and more brands start to care about what happens after the click, there’s hope that native advertising can reach a level of quality that doesn’t require tricks or dissimulation; in fact, to survive it will have to.

Myth 4: Banner ads don’t work

Tony Haile—Chartbeat 

For the last few years there have been weekly laments complaining that the banner ad is dead. Click-through rates are now averaging less than 0.1% and you’ll hear the words banner blindness thrown about with abandon. If you’re a direct response marketer trying to drive clicks back to your site then yes, the banner ad is giving you less of what you want with each passing year.

However, for brand advertisers rumors of the banner ad’s demise may be greatly exaggerated. It turns out that if your goals are the traditional brand advertising goals of communicating your message to your audience then yes, most banner ads are bad…. but…. some banner ads are great! The challenge of the click web is that we haven’t been able to tell them apart.

Research has consistently shown the importance of great ad creative in getting a visitor to see and remember a brand. What’s less well known is the scientific consensus based on studies by Microsoft [pdf], Google, Yahoo and Chartbeat that a second key factor is the amount of time a visitor spend actively looking at the page when the ad is in view. Someone looking at the page for 20 seconds while an ad is there is 20-30% more likely to recall that ad afterwards.

So, for banner ads to be effective the answer is simple. You have to create great creative and then get it in front of a person’s face for a long enough period for them to truly see it. The challenge for banner ads is that traditional advertising heuristics about what works have been placing ads on the parts of the page that capture the least attention, not the most.

Here’s the skinny, 66% of attention on a normal media page is spent below the fold. That leaderboard at the top of the page? People scroll right past that and spend their time where the content not the cruft is. Yet most agency media planners will still demand that their ads run in the places where people aren’t and will ignore the places where they are.

Savvy web natives like Say Media and Vox, as well as established players like the Financial Times, are driven by data more than tradition and are shaping their advertising strategy to optimize for experience and attention. A small cadre of innovative media planners are also launching an insurgency and taking advantage of their peers’ adhesion to old heuristics to benefit from asymmetrical information about what’s truly valuable.

For quality publishers, valuing ads not simply on clicks but on the time and attention they accrue might just be the lifeline they’ve been looking for. Time is a rare scarce resource on the web and we spend more of our time with good content than with bad. Valuing advertising on time and attention means that publishers of great content can charge more for their ads than those who create link bait. If the amount of money you can charge is directly correlated with the quality of content on the page, then media sites are financially incentivized to create better quality content. In the seeds of the Attention Web we might finally have found a sustainable business model for quality on the web.

This move to the Attention Web may sound like a collection of small signals and changes, but it has the potential to transform the web. It’s not just the publishers of quality content who win in the Attention Web, it’s all of us. When sites are built to capture attention, any friction, any bad design or eye-roll-inducing advertorials that might cause a visitor to spend a second less on the site is bad for business. That means better design and a better experience for everyone. A web where quality makes money and great design is rewarded? That’s something worth paying attention to.

Author : Tony

Source : http://time.com/12933/what-you-think-you-know-about-the-web-is-wrong/

Marketers have long considered organic search a lost cause on Baidu due to the abundance of ads, but new laws in China are changing the game. Contributor Hermes Ma discusses the state of Baidu SEO and provides recommendations for marketers looking to break into the market.

Recently, I attended Baidu’s annual search conference for agency partners in Beijing. One of the premier search events in China for SEO professionals, the conference was hosted by engineers from Baidu’s core search and Webmaster Tools teams.

The agenda covered Baidu’s eco-empowerment strategy, its Mobile Instant Page (MIP) project and a wrap-up of the 2016 algorithm updates. The event made it clear to me that 2016 was the year Baidu SEO came into its own. If you aren’t already investing in Baidu SEO, 2017 is your year to start.

The eco-empowerment

The concept of eco-empowerment was introduced by Dai Tan, Baidu’s Chief Architect of Search. With search, Baidu wants every practitioner in the internet ecosystem to have better efficiencies in production, execution and monetization. In order to fulfill eco-empowerment, Baidu needs to provide relevant technology and form a mechanism for the ecosystem, supported by two pillars: page load speed and HTTPS.

Every half-second delay in page loading will cost you 3 percent of user visits. This is why Baidu moved quickly to follow Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) feature with the MIP project (Chinese language). At the same time, security is a critical factor to an engine’s reputation in a market where site hijacks, spams and PII data leaks are rampant. In May 2015, Baidu launched Not Set, which is its own version of Not Provided.

The main accomplishment in the mechanism of Baidu Search is in the release of Spider 3.0 (Chinese language), which was launched in early 2016, dramatically increasing the speed of URL discovery and indexing. As a result, crawl speed has increased by 80 percent, and Baidu is now capable of indexing trillions of web pages in real time. The Divine Domain project planned for mid-2017 promises to further boost indexing speed.

The Baidu Mobile Instant Page (MIP) Project

Mobile Instant Page is a bold name. Even Google’s AMP only claims to be “accelerated.” The results speak for themselves. As reported in the Conference, more than 2,800 sites have implemented MIP, reducing load time by 30 to 80 percent and subsequently increasing landing page clicks from 5 to 30 percent.

The technology and structure of MIP are very similar to Google’s AMP; even the page code is virtually identical. And just as AMP has been a controversial idea in the SEO world since its launch, so is Baidu’s MIP within the Great Firewall of China. Convincing webmasters to adopt this new technology has been a challenge, given the sacrifice of page flexibility in favor of improved loading speed and ranking signals.

Baidu has been fighting its way through obstacles, having learned valuable lessons from AMP’s rollout. A channel has been added in Baidu Webmaster Tools for page submissions. An open-source project is now on GitHub. A tutorial provides quick training for programmers. An integrated development environment (IDE) and an online validator are published. Themes are available for popular content management system (CMS) platforms like WordPress. Most importantly, the “Flashy” icon is now attached to all MIP results on the Baidu mobile search engine results page (SERP).

By December 2016, three months after MIP’s release, Baidu had already indexed more than 900 million MIP pages.

mip-result-baiduAn MIP result entry with the MIP icon on the mobile SERP of Baidu
mip project one-year timelineThe anniversary of the MIP Project

You may see Baidu MIP as a copycat of Google AMP. But there are nuances. First, Baidu MIP is using scripts to maintain compatibility with mobile browsers other than Chrome or Safari in China. In addition, MIP pages put JavaScript before the ending </body> tag, while in AMP, you still put scripts between <head> and </head>. Both MIP and AMP only allow asynchronous scripts, but it doesn’t make a big difference, because neither approach will delay the page rendering.

Baidu’s localization and globalization

Since Google retreated from China in 2006, the only two G-products that remain functional in that market are Google Maps and Google Translate. Mobile internet users are unable to access the AMP in mainland China.

Many people believe that if Google hadn’t been expatriated, Baidu would not have its dominant power in the search market. However, even when Google search was still in China, its market share never exceeded Baidu’s. And Bing, which is still in China, isn’t challenging Baidu at all.

When it comes to other players like QQ and MSN Messenger,  only those engines that are customized for local markets (or work with the government) will have the chance to win the battle against Baidu.

A map of the world showing the real-time activity of Baidu search, on a screen in the lobby of Baidu Building in BeijingA map of the world showing the real-time activity of Baidu search, on a screen in the lobby of Baidu Building in Beijing

Baidu’s ambition is not confined to China. Alliances with partners like Merkle in other regions are helping Baidu to learn about other markets and expand business reach. If you still see Google as a threat to Baidu, you may be wrong. A better term, “frenemy,” may better describe their relationship.

Now, through Google’s DoubleClick for Search, you are able to bid for Baidu pay-per-click (PPC) ads. On the other side, Baidu is actively working with Google on the alignment of AMP-MIP and developing standards for Progressive Web Apps. And finally, Baidu intends to adopt the Schema.org data structure in 2017, having already documented the Schema.org markup support in the MIP specification.

The 2016 algorithm updates

Anti-app-fraud, Ice Bucket, Skynet and Blue-sky are the four main algorithm updates made by Baidu in the second half of 2016, and in almost every month, there was a negative update.

While the “Chinternet” environment is getting more complicated, Baidu is investing a significant amount of effort to protect and improve the ecosystem they have defined:

Code NameTargets of Penalty
Green Radish Link spam, link trade, comment spam, hacked web pages
Pomegranate Low-quality pages with pop-ups and massive ads
Anti-app-fraud (this update doesn’t have a codename) Mobile pages that lure/deceive users of downloading marketplace apps (Google Play isn’t accessible in China)
Ice Bucket For mobile pages only; app-gate for contents, app-links, popup ads interrupting UX, ads of adults/porn/gambling
Skynet Malicious mobile pages with PII leak risks
Blue-sky Directories for sale, content spam

In late 2016, there has been a drop in discussions around indexing in the Chinese webmaster communities. This seems to signal that Baidu can now better identify pages with low quality.

From the other angle, it is evident that Baidu has a clear view that the mobile-first web is transitioning into a mobile-only web. Apart from the core project of MIP, three out of four algorithm updates are aiming for mobile pages.

Closing thoughts and recommendations on Baidu SEO in 2017

Historically, SEO strategies and investments were second-tier priorities for brands in China. Too many paid ads appeared on the SERP, where organic links had limited exposure, leaving little opportunity for SEO. Additionally, leadership had no idea of how long they would be in their roles. They wanted quick success and shortcuts, suggesting paid search is the best way out.

Things are changing. Due to regulations and the release of China’s Internet Ad Law, Baidu cut down the number of sponsored results in the main column of the SERP from “up to 10” to “no more than 5.” With some exceptions where larger ad formats are served, users will see a much cleaner SERP with fewer ads.

Obviously, it is a positive change for SEOs because paid traffic and organic traffic play a zero-sum game. Organic results now have more viewability with fewer sponsored links overhead.

As my colleague, Adam Audette, wrote in Merkle’s Dossier, your SEO effort is critical and will account for 30–50 percent of traffic online. As such, I offer the following recommendations for your 2017 SEO strategy in China.

  1. If you haven’t used Baidu Webmaster Tools (aka Baidu Zhanzhang), you should sign up immediately. It provides the only eligible data source for SEO and a set of exclusive features, such as brand/site name protection and site link management. (Unfortunately, the interface is Chinese language only).
  2. Site speed and security are increasingly important for your pages indexing and ranking. Page optimization and load speed should receive more focus and budget allocation. Implementing HTTPS should be considered.
  3. For media and publishers, an aggressive inventory setup will probably lead to penalties from the engines. Development on native ads inventory could be a cure, following the new internet advertising law of China, published in September 2016.
  4. Brands with rich content or a firm content strategy should focus on their mobile site. A responsive site may not be adequate in 2017. Adopting MIP should be a priority.
  5. Technical SEO has returned. The gap of knowledge and technology between engines in and out of the Great Firewall is shrinking. Technologies used for Google and other global engines will be soon adopted by Baidu and other local engines. An early implementation on the leading-edge technologies like the structured data markup, MIP and Progressive Web Apps (PWA) will emerge in next a couple of years.

Author : Hermes Ma

Source : http://searchengineland.com/2016-coming-age-year-baidu-seo-invest-2017-268540

Sunday, 22 January 2017 00:47

5 Expert Security Tips for Your Smartphone

We know that our smartphones are capable of doing just about anything which our desktops can do these days. But all too often, we don’t protect our smartphones nearly as well as we protect our computers.

Hackers are just as capable of breaking into your smartphone and they can do all sorts of damage to you once they are in. As 60 Minutes shows, a hacker could break into your phone and find out who you are calling, where you are, and even listen in on your conversations and read your texts. There is the recent incident where several Democratic staffers recently had their phones attacked by foreign hackers looking to uncover private information.

But while there is no such thing as the perfect protection, implementing protection protocols can help keep your phone safe. Upon seeing even simple protections, most hackers will just move on and search for another less-protected phone. Here are a few things which you can do to keep your phone safe.

1. Keep your Phone safe

You may think of hackers as nerds sitting in some basements inputting some complicated program. But that is not the biggest threat to your phone. Your biggest threat is an ordinary thief who snatches your phone, escapes, and then cracks your password to find what is inside.

So the first step to protecting your phone is to do the same things which you should be doing to protect against thieves. Be aware of your environment when you are using your smartphone. Keep an eye out for suspicious individuals, and grip your phone with both hands so it is harder for the thief to rip it away. Also, back up your mobile data to your computer so that you can easily access it if your phone gets stolen.

2. Don’t use your Phone for everything

One of the biggest reasons why hackers try to go after your phone is so that they can uncover sensitive information such as banking information and passwords. But if you don’t have that sort of data on your phone, then there is nothing for the hacker to uncover.

Obviously, you need certain private information on your phone. But what about something like banking information or work-related affairs? Do you really need to check that information now, or can it wait until you get home and check it on your computer?

Avoid accessing confidential information whenever possible, especially if you are using public Wi-Fi. Also regularly clear your browsing history and caches so that hackers have less information to find.

3. Update your phone

Hacking is a war between hackers and software companies. The hackers find loopholes, software companies fix the holes, the hackers find more holes, and so on. But in order to fix those holes, you have to keep your phone updated so that the earlier holes are filled in.

This is particularly important because less competent hackers have to rely on those holes which other hackers have uncovered to get your information. The longer you choose to not update your phone, the more the opportunity to break in and uncover your information.

4. Look into encryption

There are a lot of people out there who think that encryption and password protection are the same thing. This is incorrect. Encryption scrambles your phone’s data so that even if the hacker just hacks your phone while bypassing the password request (and they can do that), the data will be completely illegible. Just look at the recent controversy between Apple and the FBI on breaking into a terrorist’s Apple phone, and that should give an idea of how hard it can be to break into an encrypted phone.

Encryption can do a lot to protect your phone’s data and the good news is that all iPhones and newer Android versions come with their phone automatically encrypted once you set a password (tip: set a password for your phone). But if you have an older version, you will have to encrypt it yourself by going into the security section of your phone’s settings.

5. Be careful using public Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Public Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are easy to use, but they are an easy gateway for hackers to get into your mobile phones. As CNN notes, hackers can trick your phones into connecting to spoof Wi-Fi or Bluetooth accounts which just end up sending all your cell phone’s data right to the hacker. Hackers can also take advantage of vulnerabilities in Bluetooth software as another way into your cellphone.

So try to rely on your phone’s 4G network instead of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and never let your phone automatically connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots. If you do, then it is possible for hackers to realize your phone is connected and hack in even while you have no idea that your phone is connecting to the Wi-Fi network in the first place.

Author: Michael Prywes
Source: http://www.lifehack.org/466933/5-expert-security-tips-for-your-smartphone

Laszlo Bock spent 10 years running human resources at Google, where his innovations helped grow the search engine into a technology giant with more than 60,000 employees.

For his next challenge, Bock’s focus will be more modest. He’ll be a strategic advisor to Thumbtack, a startup with about 500 workers that matches customers with service providers like plumbers and house keepers. The site is similar to Task Rabbit, but with a greater emphasis on skilled professionals.

Founded in 2009, Thumbtack has the backing of prominent venture capital firms like Sequoia Capital, and is on the verge of a major growth spurt. Bock will help the company devise recruiting strategies and serve as a coach and mentor to Thumbtack’s leadership, the company said in a statement.

At Google, Bock streamlined a cumbersome hiring process, aggressively used data to better measure employee performance and helped create the company’s distinct corporate culture, which includes free meals and “ Take Your Parents to Work” days. His 2015 book, Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead, became a best seller.

Bock, who left Google in December, will be spending one day a week at Thumbtack, leaving him enough time time to launch his own, yet-to-be-named employment-focused startup.

Author: Oliver Staley
Source: https://qz.com/888063/laszlo-bock-the-man-who-revolutionized-googles-goog-hiring-is-joining-a-handyman-startup

Web browsers of today are basically from the last millennium, a time when the web was full of documents and pages," says Krystian Kolondra, Head of Opera browser. "With the Opera Neon project, we want show people our vision for the future of the web.

Since it's inception twenty years ago, the internet has become an essential part of our lives. Every day, billions of people access it using their favorite web browsers. But the internet keeps changing, and so must the browsers.

In the past year, Opera has stepped up the game for browsers, introducing novel features such as free VPN and native ad-blocking, but the company has realized it's now time for someone to properly challenge the browser industry.

What is Opera Neon

Opera Neon is a concept browser built from the same browser engine as the Opera browser; it's designed to allow users to focus on the most important part of the internet: the content. Opera Neon will provide users with fun ways to interact with web content, including the ability to drag and push things around, and even to even pop content out from the web.
A completely new user interface debuts in Opera Neon. It includes:

  • New start page using users' current desktop background image.
  • A left sidebar with video player, image gallery, and download manager.
  • A new visual tab bar on the right side of the browser window that makes it easier to distinguish between tabs.opera-neon-envisions-future-web-browsers_602

  • An intelligent system that automatically manages tabs; like gravity, frequently-used tabs float to the top, while rarely-used tabs will sink to the bottom.
  • A completely new omnibox, supporting top search engines and open search.

Also, new ways of enjoying web content have been added:

Video pop-out, which lets users to watch videos while browsing other web pages.opera-neon-envisions-future-web-browsers_601
Snap-to-gallery, which allows users to snapshot and crop any part of a web page and save to the gallery for later use.opera-neon-envisions-future-web-browsers_600
A split screen mode which allows for two pages to be used simultaneously.opera-neon-envisions-future-web-browsers_604

Opera Neon and Opera browser

Opera Neon is a concept browser, meaning a vision for the future of browsers. It will not replace the current Opera browser. However, some of its new features are expected to be added to Opera this spring.

Opera Neon is available for testing as a free download for Windows and Mac.

Watch the product video and the behind the scenes video.

About Opera

With two decades of history, Opera has grown up, side-by-side, with the internet. From browsers, data managing and security apps, to news apps, we connect more than 350 million users and industry partners to the internet, giving more experiences, more data, more money saved, more ideas, more control, more content, and more of what they like. Opera Software AS is a privately held company and is headquartered in Oslo, Norway.  

Follow our news at http://www.opera.com/blogs/news/.


Source : http://www.tweaktown.com/pressrelease/10986/opera-neon-envisions-future-web-browsers/index.html

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