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Corey Parker

Corey Parker

THANE: In less than two months of the police unearthing of one the biggest international scams run from call centres in Mira Road, the crime branch here filed a 5,786-page chargesheet that lists strong evidence against the persons accused of duping thousands of American citizens of millions of dollars.

The chargesheet named nearly 80 accused, including the 23-year-old fugitive kingpin Sagar Thakar alias Shaggy, who is said to have planned and executed the racket. Two minors were also named in the chargesheet.

Evidence was also obtained from search engine giant Google, with investigators learnign of the purchase of Magicjack, a device used for the VoIP calls that were made to US citizens by call centre employees who posed as US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officer.

The chargesheet mentioned CCTV footage on the goings-on inside the call centres. There were statements of 10 witnesses, taken down under Section 164 of the CrPC, about the activity inside the call centres.

Some of the accused are also likely to turn approver in the case, said a senior police officer. Supplementary chargesheets will also be submitted in court.

The chargesheet runs into several volumes and the investigators annexed several vital records, including about the modus operandi and supporting proofs.

 

The agreements by the companies for the premises, the SOPs for the call centres, the complaints made by the victims in the US and the statements made by several witnesses were also annexed to the chargesheet.

The accused were charged under sections 384, 419 and 420 read with section 34 of the IPC and sections 72(1), 75 of the IT Act and section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act.

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THANE: In less than two months of the police unearthing of one the biggest international scams run from call centres in Mira Road, the crime branch here filed a 5,786-page chargesheetthat lists strong evidence against the persons accused of duping thousands of American citizens of millions of dollars.

The chargesheet named nearly 80 accused, including the 23-year-old fugitive kingpin Sagar Thakar alias Shaggy, who is said to have planned and executed the racket. Two minors were also named in the chargesheet.

Evidence was also obtained from search engine giant Google, with investigators learnign of the purchase of Magicjack, a device used for the VoIP calls that were made to US citizens by call centre employees who posed as US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officer.

The chargesheet mentioned CCTV footage on the goings-on inside the call centres. There were statements of 10 witnesses, taken down under Section 164 of the CrPC, about the activity inside the call centres.

Author:  Nishikant Karlikar

Source:  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/

Here’s what you don’t want to do late on a Sunday night. You do not want to type seven letters into Google. That’s all I did. I typed: “a-r-e”. And then “j-e-w-s”. Since 2008, Google has attempted to predict what question you might be asking and offers you a choice. And this is what it did. It offered me a choice of potential questions it thought I might want to ask: “are jews a race?”, “are jews white?”, “are jews christians?”, and finally, “are jews evil?”

Are Jews evil? It’s not a question I’ve ever thought of asking. I hadn’t gone looking for it. But there it was. I press enter. A page of results appears. This was Google’s question. And this was Google’s answer: Jews are evil. Because there, on my screen, was the proof: an entire page of results, nine out of 10 of which “confirm” this. The top result, from a site called Listovative, has the headline: “Top 10 Major Reasons Why People Hate Jews.” I click on it: “Jews today have taken over marketing, militia, medicinal, technological, media, industrial, cinema challenges etc and continue to face the worlds [sic] envy through unexplained success stories given their inglorious past and vermin like repression all over Europe.”

 

Google is search. It’s the verb, to Google. It’s what we all do, all the time, whenever we want to know anything. We Google it. The site handles at least 63,000 searches a second, 5.5bn a day. Its mission as a company, the one-line overview that has informed the company since its foundation and is still the banner headline on its corporate website today, is to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. It strives to give you the best, most relevant results. And in this instance the third-best, most relevant result to the search query “are Jews… ” is a link to an article from stormfront.org, a neo-Nazi website. The fifth is a YouTube video: “Why the Jews are Evil. Why we are against them.”

The sixth is from Yahoo Answers: “Why are Jews so evil?” The seventh result is: “Jews are demonic souls from a different world.” And the 10th is from jesus-is-saviour.com: “Judaism is Satanic!”

There’s one result in the 10 that offers a different point of view. It’s a link to a rather dense, scholarly book review from thetabletmag.com, a Jewish magazine, with the unfortunately misleading headline: “Why Literally Everybody In the World Hates Jews.”

I feel like I’ve fallen down a wormhole, entered some parallel universe where black is white, and good is bad. Though later, I think that perhaps what I’ve actually done is scraped the topsoil off the surface of 2016 and found one of the underground springs that has been quietly nurturing it. It’s been there all the time, of course. Just a few keystrokes away… on our laptops, our tablets, our phones. This isn’t a secret Nazi cell lurking in the shadows. It’s hiding in plain sight.

Are women… Google’s search results.

 Are women… Google’s search results.

Stories about fake news on Facebook have dominated certain sections of the press for weeks following the American presidential election, but arguably this is even more powerful, more insidious. Frank Pasquale, professor of law at the University of Maryland, and one of the leading academic figures calling for tech companies to be more open and transparent, calls the results “very profound, very troubling”.

He came across a similar instance in 2006 when, “If you typed ‘Jew’ in Google, the first result was jewwatch.org. It was ‘look out for these awful Jews who are ruining your life’. And the Anti-Defamation League went after them and so they put an asterisk next to it which said: ‘These search results may be disturbing but this is an automated process.’ But what you’re showing – and I’m very glad you are documenting it and screenshotting it – is that despite the fact they have vastly researched this problem, it has gotten vastly worse.”

And ordering of search results does influence people, says Martin Moore, director of the Centre for the Study of Media, Communication and Power at King’s College, London, who has written at length on the impact of the big tech companies on our civic and political spheres. “There’s large-scale, statistically significant research into the impact of search results on political views. And the way in which you see the results and the types of results you see on the page necessarily has an impact on your perspective.” Fake news, he says, has simply “revealed a much bigger problem. These companies are so powerful and so committed to disruption. They thought they were disrupting politics but in a positive way. They hadn’t thought about the downsides. These tools offer remarkable empowerment, but there’s a dark side to it. It enables people to do very cynical, damaging things.”

Google is knowledge. It’s where you go to find things out. And evil Jews are just the start of it. There are also evil women. I didn’t go looking for them either. This is what I type: “a-r-e w-o-m-e-n”. And Google offers me just two choices, the first of which is: “Are women evil?” I press return. Yes, they are. Every one of the 10 results “confirms” that they are, including the top one, from a site called sheddingoftheego.com, which is boxed out and highlighted: “Every woman has some degree of prostitute in her. Every woman has a little evil in her… Women don’t love men, they love what they can do for them. It is within reason to say women feel attraction but they cannot love men.”

 

Next I type: “a-r-e m-u-s-l-i-m-s”. And Google suggests I should ask: “Are Muslims bad?” And here’s what I find out: yes, they are. That’s what the top result says and six of the others. Without typing anything else, simply putting the cursor in the search box, Google offers me two new searches and I go for the first, “Islam is bad for society”. In the next list of suggestions, I’m offered: “Islam must be destroyed.”

This is the equivalent of going into a library and asking a librarian about Judaism and being handed 10 books of hate

Danny Sullivan

Jews are evil. Muslims need to be eradicated. And Hitler? Do you want to know about Hitler? Let’s Google it. “Was Hitler bad?” I type. And here’s Google’s top result: “10 Reasons Why Hitler Was One Of The Good Guys” I click on the link: “He never wanted to kill any Jews”; “he cared about conditions for Jews in the work camps”; “he implemented social and cultural reform.” Eight out of the other 10 search results agree: Hitler really wasn’t that bad.

A few days later, I talk to Danny Sullivan, the founding editor of SearchEngineLand.com. He’s been recommended to me by several academics as one of the most knowledgeable experts on search. Am I just being naive, I ask him? Should I have known this was out there? “No, you’re not being naive,” he says. “This is awful. It’s horrible. It’s the equivalent of going into a library and asking a librarian about Judaism and being handed 10 books of hate. Google is doing a horrible, horrible job of delivering answers here. It can and should do better.”

He’s surprised too. “I thought they stopped offering autocomplete suggestions for religions in 2011.” And then he types “are women” into his own computer. “Good lord! That answer at the top. It’s a featured result. It’s called a “direct answer”. This is supposed to be indisputable. It’s Google’s highest endorsement.” That every women has some degree of prostitute in her? “Yes. This is Google’s algorithm going terribly wrong.”

I contacted Google about its seemingly malfunctioning autocomplete suggestions and received the following response: “Our search results are a reflection of the content across the web. This means that sometimes unpleasant portrayals of sensitive subject matter online can affect what search results appear for a given query. These results don’t reflect Google’s own opinions or beliefs – as a company, we strongly value a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures.”

Google isn’t just a search engine, of course. Search was the foundation of the company but that was just the beginning. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, now has the greatest concentration of artificial intelligence experts in the world. It is expanding into healthcare, transportation, energy. It’s able to attract the world’s top computer scientists, physicists and engineers. It’s bought hundreds of start-ups, including Calico, whose stated mission is to “cure death” and DeepMind, which aims to “solve intelligence”.

And 20 years ago it didn’t even exist. When Tony Blair became prime minister, it wasn’t possible to Google him: the search engine had yet to be invented. The company was only founded in 1998 and Facebook didn’t appear until 2004. Google’s founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are still only 43. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is 32. Everything they’ve done, the world they’ve remade, has been done in the blink of an eye.

But it seems the implications about the power and reach of these companies is only now seeping into the public consciousness. I ask Rebecca MacKinnon, director of the Ranking Digital Rights project at the New America Foundation, whether it was the recent furore over fake news that woke people up to the danger of ceding our rights as citizens to corporations. “It’s kind of weird right now,” she says, “because people are finally saying, ‘Gee, Facebook and Google really have a lot of power’ like it’s this big revelation. And it’s like, ‘D’oh.’”

MacKinnon has a particular expertise in how authoritarian governments adapt to the internet and bend it to their purposes. “China and Russia are a cautionary tale for us. I think what happens is that it goes back and forth. So during the Arab spring, it seemed like the good guys were further ahead. And now it seems like the bad guys are. Pro-democracy activists are using the internet more than ever but at the same time, the adversary has gotten so much more skilled.”

Last week Jonathan Albright, an assistant professor of communications at Elon University in North Carolina, published the first detailed research on how rightwing websites had spread their message. “I took a list of these fake news sites that was circulating, I had an initial list of 306 of them and I used a tool – like the one Google uses – to scrape them for links and then I mapped them. So I looked at where the links went – into YouTube and Facebook, and between each other, millions of them… and I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

“They have created a web that is bleeding through on to our web. This isn’t a conspiracy. There isn’t one person who’s created this. It’s a vast system of hundreds of different sites that are using all the same tricks that all websites use. They’re sending out thousands of links to other sites and together this has created a vast satellite system of rightwing news and propaganda that has completely surrounded the mainstream media system.

He found 23,000 pages and 1.3m hyperlinks. “And Facebook is just the amplification device. When you look at it in 3D, it actually looks like a virus. And Facebook was just one of the hosts for the virus that helps it spread faster. You can see the New York Times in there and the Washington Post and then you can see how there’s a vast, vast network surrounding them. The best way of describing it is as an ecosystem. This really goes way beyond individual sites or individual stories. What this map shows is the distribution network and you can see that it’s surrounding and actually choking the mainstream news ecosystem.”

 

Like a cancer? “Like an organism that is growing and getting stronger all the time.”

Charlie Beckett, a professor in the school of media and communications at LSE, tells me: “We’ve been arguing for some time now that plurality of news media is good. Diversity is good. Critiquing the mainstream media is good. But now… it’s gone wildly out of control. What Jonathan Albright’s research has shown is that this isn’t a byproduct of the internet. And it’s not even being done for commercial reasons. It’s motivated by ideology, by people who are quite deliberately trying to destabilise the internet.”

One of Jonathan Albright’s diagrams showing how the traditional news media has been ‘surrounded’ by rightwing sites.

 A spatial map of the rightwing fake news ecosystem. Jonathan Albright, assistant professor of communications at Elon University, North Carolina, “scraped” 300 fake news sites (the dark shapes on this map) to reveal the 1.3m hyperlinks that connect them together and link them into the mainstream news ecosystem. Here, Albright shows it is a “vast satellite system of rightwing news and propaganda that has completely surrounded the mainstream media system”. Photograph: Jonathan Albright

Albright’s map also provides a clue to understanding the Google search results I found. What these rightwing news sites have done, he explains, is what most commercial websites try to do. They try to find the tricks that will move them up Google’s PageRank system. They try and “game” the algorithm. And what his map shows is how well they’re doing that.

That’s what my searches are showing too. That the right has colonised the digital space around these subjects – Muslims, women, Jews, the Holocaust, black people – far more effectively than the liberal left.

“It’s an information war,” says Albright. “That’s what I keep coming back to.”

But it’s where it goes from here that’s truly frightening. I ask him how it can be stopped. “I don’t know. I’m not sure it can be. It’s a network. It’s far more powerful than any one actor.”

So, it’s almost got a life of its own? “Yes, and it’s learning. Every day, it’s getting stronger.”

The more people who search for information about Jews, the more people will see links to hate sites, and the more they click on those links (very few people click on to the second page of results) the more traffic the sites will get, the more links they will accrue and the more authoritative they will appear. This is an entirely circular knowledge economy that has only one outcome: an amplification of the message. Jews are evil. Women are evil. Islam must be destroyed. Hitler was one of the good guys.

 

The internet echo chamber satiates our appetite for pleasant lies and reassuring falsehoods and has become the defining challenge of the 21st century

And the constellation of websites that Albright found – a sort of shadow internet – has another function. More than just spreading rightwing ideology, they are being used to track and monitor and influence anyone who comes across their content. “I scraped the trackers on these sites and I was absolutely dumbfounded. Every time someone likes one of these posts on Facebook or visits one of these websites, the scripts are then following you around the web. And this enables data-mining and influencing companies like Cambridge Analytica to precisely target individuals, to follow them around the web, and to send them highly personalised political messages. This is a propaganda machine. It’s targeting people individually to recruit them to an idea. It’s a level of social engineering that I’ve never seen before. They’re capturing people and then keeping them on an emotional leash and never letting them go.”

Cambridge Analytica, an American-owned company based in London, was employed by both the Vote Leave campaign and the Trump campaign. Dominic Cummings, the campaign director of Vote Leave, has made few public announcements since the Brexit referendum but he did say this: “If you want to make big improvements in communication, my advice is – hire physicists.”

Steve Bannon, founder of Breitbart News and the newly appointed chief strategist to Trump, is on Cambridge Analytica’s board and it has emerged that the company is in talks to undertake political messaging work for the Trump administration. It claims to have built psychological profiles using 5,000 separate pieces of data on 220 million American voters. It knows their quirks and nuances and daily habits and can target them individually.

“They were using 40-50,000 different variants of ad every day that were continuously measuring responses and then adapting and evolving based on that response,” says Martin Moore of Kings College. Because they have so much data on individuals and they use such phenomenally powerful distribution networks, they allow campaigns to bypass a lot of existing laws.

“It’s all done completely opaquely and they can spend as much money as they like on particular locations because you can focus on a five-mile radius or even a single demographic. Fake news is important but it’s only one part of it. These companies have found a way of transgressing 150 years of legislation that we’ve developed to make elections fair and open.”

Did such micro-targeted propaganda – currently legal – swing the Brexit vote? We have no way of knowing. Did the same methods used by Cambridge Analytica help Trump to victory? Again, we have no way of knowing. This is all happening in complete darkness. We have no way of knowing how our personal data is being mined and used to influence us. We don’t realise that the Facebook page we are looking at, the Google page, the ads that we are seeing, the search results we are using, are all being personalised to us. We don’t see it because we have nothing to compare it to. And it is not being monitored or recorded. It is not being regulated. We are inside a machine and we simply have no way of seeing the controls. Most of the time, we don’t even realise that there are controls.

Rebecca MacKinnon says that most of us consider the internet to be like “the air that we breathe and the water that we drink”. It surrounds us. We use it. And we don’t question it. “But this is not a natural landscape. Programmers and executives and editors and designers, they make this landscape. They are human beings and they all make choices.”

But we don’t know what choices they are making. Neither Google or Facebook make their algorithms public. Why did my Google search return nine out of 10 search results that claim Jews are evil? We don’t know and we have no way of knowing. Their systems are what Frank Pasquale describes as “black boxes”. He calls Google and Facebook “a terrifying duopoly of power” and has been leading a growing movement of academics who are calling for “algorithmic accountability”. “We need to have regular audits of these systems,” he says. “We need people in these companies to be accountable. In the US, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, every company has to have a spokesman you can reach. And this is what needs to happen. They need to respond to complaints about hate speech, about bias.”

Is bias built into the system? Does it affect the kind of results that I was seeing? “There’s all sorts of bias about what counts as a legitimate source of information and how that’s weighted. There’s enormous commercial bias. And when you look at the personnel, they are young, white and perhaps Asian, but not black or Hispanic and they are overwhelmingly men. The worldview of young wealthy white men informs all these judgments.”

Later, I speak to Robert Epstein, a research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioural Research and Technology, and the author of the study that Martin Moore told me about (and that Google has publicly criticised), showing how search-rank results affect voting patterns. On the other end of the phone, he repeats one of the searches I did. He types “do blacks…” into Google.

“Look at that. I haven’t even hit a button and it’s automatically populated the page with answers to the query: ‘Do blacks commit more crimes?’ And look, I could have been going to ask all sorts of questions. ‘Do blacks excel at sports’, or anything. And it’s only given me two choices and these aren’t simply search-based or the most searched terms right now. Google used to use that but now they use an algorithm that looks at other things. Now, let me look at Bing and Yahoo. I’m on Yahoo and I have 10 suggestions, not one of which is ‘Do black people commit more crime?’

 

“And people don’t question this. Google isn’t just offering a suggestion. This is a negative suggestion and we know that negative suggestions depending on lots of things can draw between five and 15 more clicks. And this all programmed. And it could be programmed differently.”

What Epstein’s work has shown is that the contents of a page of search results can influence people’s views and opinions. The type and order of search rankings was shown to influence voters in India in double-blind trials. There were similar results relating to the search suggestions you are offered.

“The general public are completely in the dark about very fundamental issues regarding online search and influence. We are talking about the most powerful mind-control machine ever invented in the history of the human race. And people don’t even notice it.”

Damien Tambini, an associate professor at the London School of Economics, who focuses on media regulation, says that we lack any sort of framework to deal with the potential impact of these companies on the democratic process. “We have structures that deal with powerful media corporations. We have competition laws. But these companies are not being held responsible. There are no powers to get Google or Facebook to disclose anything. There’s an editorial function to Google and Facebook but it’s being done by sophisticated algorithms. They say it’s machines not editors. But that’s simply a mechanised editorial function.”

And the companies, says John Naughton, the Observer columnist and a senior research fellow at Cambridge University, are terrified of acquiring editorial responsibilities they don’t want. “Though they can and regularly do tweak the results in all sorts of ways.”

Certainly the results about Google on Google don’t seem entirely neutral. Google “Is Google racist?” and the featured result – the Google answer boxed out at the top of the page – is quite clear: no. It is not.

Google and Facebook are thinking long term. They have the resources, money and ambition to do whatever they want

John Naughton

But the enormity and complexity of having two global companies of a kind we have never seen before influencing so many areas of our lives is such, says Naughton, that “we don’t even have the mental apparatus to even know what the problems are”.

And this is especially true of the future. Google and Facebook are at the forefront of AI. They are going to own the future. And the rest of us can barely start to frame the sorts of questions we ought to be asking. “Politicians don’t think long term. And corporations don’t think long term because they’re focused on the next quarterly results and that’s what makes Google and Facebook interesting and different. They are absolutely thinking long term. They have the resources, the money, and the ambition to do whatever they want.

“They want to digitise every book in the world: they do it. They want to build a self-driving car: they do it. The fact that people are reading about these fake news stories and realising that this could have an effect on politics and elections, it’s like, ‘Which planet have you been living on?’ For Christ’s sake, this is obvious.”

“The internet is among the few things that humans have built that they don’t understand.” It is “the largest experiment involving anarchy in history. Hundreds of millions of people are, each minute, creating and consuming an untold amount of digital content in an online world that is not truly bound by terrestrial laws.” The internet as a lawless anarchic state? A massive human experiment with no checks and balances and untold potential consequences? What kind of digital doom-mongerer would say such a thing? Step forward, Eric Schmidt – Google’s chairman. They are the first lines of the book, The New Digital Age, that he wrote with Jared Cohen.

 

We don’t understand it. It is not bound by terrestrial laws. And it’s in the hands of two massive, all-powerful corporations. It’s their experiment, not ours. The technology that was supposed to set us free may well have helped Trump to power, or covertly helped swing votes for Brexit. It has created a vast network of propaganda that has encroached like a cancer across the entire internet. This is a technology that has enabled the likes of Cambridge Analytica to create political messages uniquely tailored to you. They understand your emotional responses and how to trigger them. They know your likes, dislikes, where you live, what you eat, what makes you laugh, what makes you cry.

And what next? Rebecca MacKinnon’s research has shown how authoritarian regimes reshape the internet for their own purposes. Is that what’s going to happen with Silicon Valley and Trump? As Martin Moore points out, the president-elect claimed that Apple chief executive Tim Cook called to congratulate him soon after his election victory. “And there will undoubtedly be be pressure on them to collaborate,” says Moore.

Journalism is failing in the face of such change and is only going to fail further. New platforms have put a bomb under the financial model – advertising – resources are shrinking, traffic is increasingly dependent on them, and publishers have no access, no insight at all, into what these platforms are doing in their headquarters, their labs. And now they are moving beyond the digital world into the physical. The next frontiers are healthcare, transportation, energy. And just as Google is a near-monopoly for search, its ambition to own and control the physical infrastructure of our lives is what’s coming next. It already owns our data and with it our identity. What will it mean when it moves into all the other areas of our lives?

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg: still only 32 years of age.

 Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg: still only 32 years of age. Photograph: Mariana Bazo/Reuters

“At the moment, there’s a distance when you Google ‘Jews are’ and get ‘Jews are evil’,” says Julia Powles, a researcher at Cambridge on technology and law. “But when you move into the physical realm, and these concepts become part of the tools being deployed when you navigate around your city or influence how people are employed, I think that has really pernicious consequences.”

Powles is shortly to publish a paper looking at DeepMind’s relationship with the NHS. “A year ago, 2 million Londoners’ NHS health records were handed over to DeepMind. And there was complete silence from politicians, from regulators, from anyone in a position of power. This is a company without any healthcare experience being given unprecedented access into the NHS and it took seven months to even know that they had the data. And that took investigative journalism to find it out.”

The headline was that DeepMind was going to work with the NHS to develop an app that would provide early warning for sufferers of kidney disease. And it is, but DeepMind’s ambitions – “to solve intelligence” – goes way beyond that. The entire history of 2 million NHS patients is, for artificial intelligence researchers, a treasure trove. And, their entry into the NHS – providing useful services in exchange for our personal data – is another massive step in their power and influence in every part of our lives.

Because the stage beyond search is prediction. Google wants to know what you want before you know yourself. “That’s the next stage,” says Martin Moore. “We talk about the omniscience of these tech giants, but that omniscience takes a huge step forward again if they are able to predict. And that’s where they want to go. To predict diseases in health. It’s really, really problematic.”

For the nearly 20 years that Google has been in existence, our view of the company has been inflected by the youth and liberal outlook of its founders. Ditto Facebook, whose mission, Zuckberg said, was not to be “a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission to make the world more open and connected.”

The more we argue with them, the more they know about us. It all feeds into a circular system

Jonathan Albright

It would be interesting to know how he thinks that’s working out. Donald Trump is connecting through exactly the same technology platforms that supposedly helped fuel the Arab spring; connecting to racists and xenophobes. And Facebook and Google are amplifying and spreading that message. And us too – the mainstream media. Our outrage is just another node on Jonathan Albright’s data map.

“The more we argue with them, the more they know about us,” he says. “It all feeds into a circular system. What we’re seeing here is new era of network propaganda.”

We are all points on that map. And our complicity, our credulity, being consumers not concerned citizens, is an essential part of that process. And what happens next is down to us. “I would say that everybody has been really naive and we need to reset ourselves to a much more cynical place and proceed on that basis,” is Rebecca MacKinnon’s advice. “There is no doubt that where we are now is a very bad place. But it’s we as a society who have jointly created this problem. And if we want to get to a better place, when it comes to having an information ecosystem that serves human rights and democracy instead of destroying it, we have to share responsibility for that.”

 

Are Jews evil? How do you want that question answered? This is our internet. Not Google’s. Not Facebook’s. Not rightwing propagandists. And we’re the only ones who can reclaim it.

Source : https://www.theguardian.com

Author : Carole Cadwalladr

Saturday, 03 December 2016 16:09

7 Things Really Successful People Do Quietly

We all want to believe we have the potential to be super successful. When it comes down to it, the prime thing that separates successful people from the rest of us are smart decisions. A common pitfall on the way to success is boasting, exaggerating, or losing your perspective. However, by changing the way we approach challenges, we can better position ourselves to attack the next obstacle successfully. 

Let’s take a look at this inspiring video first. At 6:17, it’s when you have to pay extra attention to.

To help unlock the secrets of successful people, the following seven qualities are ones you should try to do quietly.

They Network

One thing truly successful people do quietly is network. In the professional world, networking is a balance between corporate interests and personal relationships. This means that overwhelming your new connections with business concerns can easily work against you. Not only that, but advertising far and wide your intentions to network could lead to new connections catching wind of your business strategy. This often makes people feel as if the have bee used and will impede your ability to form meaningful connections.

 

They Start New Projects

Successful people also start new projects with humility. Whether a new undertaking is at home or work, if your project is ultimately shelved, postponed, or changed, advertising your new undertakings too early could make you look foolish. That and bragging too much about new opportunities can be a tempting setting in which to lampoon your current or old positions. Don’t forget that mocking your previous positions is nothing more than ego run amok. Nearly everyone starts off small, and making fun of this will likely alienate those beneath your position.

Additionally, being too open about fresh projects could give competitors inside information and allow them to offer competing products or services that are better than yours.

They Deal With Challenges

Other things successful people do modestly is conquer challenges. Much like being too open about upcoming projects, giving away too much information about the challenges you’re currently facing might give competitors an extra edge. Not only that, challenges and assignments tend to look more intimidating while you are dealing with them; and seeming too stressed out or swamped could make you appear less capable, especially if your boss, or future employers, are considering you for a project. If you complain widely regarding feeling overwhelmed, you may miss out on a new opportunity or promotion.

They Incubate Ideas

Successful people also know to consider ideas quietly. Even if an idea you have leads to a successful project or venture, it usually takes time to refine a concept before it makes any sense. In addition, competitors are happy to steal ideas from others, so it’s better to quietly sit on a plan until you’re putting it into practice.

They Interact Socially with Humility

Much like networking, interacting socially is something successful people do quietly. Flaunting accomplishments and opportunities is off putting and abrasive. Additionally, nobody appreciates it when somebody habitually drops names. Basically, treat everyone you interact with as equals and value and foster humility.

They Manage Employees Ethically 

Another way successful people become and stay successful is by managing any employees under them privately and with respect. Employees always prefer when their superiors communicate with them in private. This way you avoid potentially embarrassing someone in front of others and preserve a professional atmosphere.

 

They Invest

Finally, something potential successful people do quietly is invest. Whether you are investing in real estate or stocks, giving away all your personal details can come off as crass if the people you’re sharing this with are not as financially secure. Additionally, giving away too much information about your investments is another way to give competitors information they can use to further their pursuits.

Source : http://www.lifehack.org/

Auhtor : Alicia Prince

The Internet offers researching lawyers a ton of information from countless sources. All for free.

Rather than publishing a book or a journal article, legal professionals with niche expertise can share their research, insight, and commentary in a blog post. Lawyers conducting research can turn to Google and have a list of relevant sources — often such blog posts. Lawyers will soon be turning to Alexa for answers.

Should lawyers avoid such online resources, never before available, because they’re free and not provided by a legal publisher charging a subscription?

Yes, according to Minneapolis lawyer and blog writer for Thomson Reuters, Jeremy Byellin, in a post on the Legal Solutions Blog.

"Google is great for finding answers to random questions that come up such as movie times and trivia answers. However, is your run-of-the-mill search engine truly correct for your legal research?"

 

Byellin argues that you can’t tell if the authority is still valid, verifying resources takes time, there’s no centralized research, and your research is not automatically saved.

But Byellin goes off the tracks contending that the amount information available on the Web is limited as compared to subscription services.

"There is undoubtedly a plethora of information available on free websites. However, it is highly unlikely that these sites have anywhere near the sheer volume of resources that are found on paid legal research (link to Westlaw advertisement) services."

Lawyers I checked with across the country, via a Facebook discussion, aren’t buying the argument that free resources should be avoided.

Per Michigan lawyer and veteran bloggerEnrico Schaefer, whose firm has carved out a national practice, via technology and innovation:

"[Google is] the perfect way to start all research and spot issues. There is no legitimate argument against google-based research for lawyers. Research is always about digging deeper. Just because Google represents the first couple of shovel fulls doesn’t make it any less important than pulling the cases and keycite."

Seattle lawyer and publisher of the IP Litigation Blog, Phil Mann, adds:

"Nine times out of ten, a simple Google search is effective in leading me to blogs discussing the principal cases and relevant law. For “deeper” research, going to Pacer and downloading the principal briefs is often effective, and can save considerable time in writing, too."

Austin family law attorney, Michael Whelan, says the open web is a good place to start:

"We may start with Google to get a quick idea of the issues, but we’ll take that direction to dig deeper. There’s something to be said for starting with far more readable resources when doing general research."

 

California lawyer Emma Louise McCavana agrees:

"Cursory research using Google is a great first step to help identify issues not just legal issues and help begin the path of research. When litigating, Westlaw is the resource of choice for primary law and sources. Google books also allows access to some secondary resources not otherwise available. Reliance, if any, on blogs -tertiary. Trusting your source is key."

There will be certain practices where lawyers feel most comfortable sticking to paid subscriptions. Texas appellate lawyer and publisher of the Texas Appellate Law Blog, Todd Smith says:

"I never rely on Google for legal research, but that’s largely a function of the kind of work I do (civil appeals). Westlaw is a must for me.Most blogs don’t go into the kind of depth I need to be useful for anything other than a 30,000-foot view. That’s not a knock on blogs—you know I’m a fan. I’m generally looking at something in fine detail, and case law and law-review-type commentary are usually a better access point for me."

Texas cybersecurity lawyer and long time blogger, Shawn Tuma, seeing five links to a Westlaw research ad in Byellin’s post, captures it well:

"They are all tools — like any professional uses — tools, multiple tools. You may have the best hammer in the world but, if all you have is a hammer, you’re not building many houses. Of course, when you’re sponsored by the hammer manufacturer, then of course you try to argue that all you ever need is a hammer!I use everything that is available, letting my professional training, experience, and judgment guide me on which tool is the best for a particular job. Anybody that thinks there are absolutes when it comes to this stuff needs to stop focusing on the trees and see the whole damn forest."

I get that I’m biased towards the value of legal blogs. I was also a plaintiff’s trial lawyer for 17 years, who looked anywhere for good information. No question I’d be all over Google today for ideas from other lawyers, briefs, interrogatories, information to impeaching opposing experts — you name it.

I can’t imagine most lawyers today limiting research on Google to movie and trivia times. Free can be good, if used appropriately.

Author:  KEVIN O'KEEFE

Source:  http://abovethelaw.com/

Wednesday, 30 November 2016 11:58

Don't buy these phones

Not every phone is a winner. Check out the handsets that will only crush your mobile dreams.

 

We review a lot of phones here at CNET. A lot. A few are standouts, most are decent and affordable, and a very few just aren't worth the trouble, low price be damned. Gathered below is the rogues gallery of recent disappointments that just weren't able to live up to their promise. Arm yourself with the knowledge of the phones you can safely skip, then cheer yourself up with this list of rock stars.

 

Editors' note: This post updates frequently. It was originally published March 2012.

Sony Xperia XA

sony-xperia-xa-product-3.jpg

 

Despite an eye-catching, barely there bezel and a petite frame, the Xperia XA isn't so great. It has a low screen resolution, a disappointing battery life (it lasted only 8 hours and 45 minutes during our tests), annoying bloatware and just 16GB of storage. Read the full review.

 

BlackBerry DTEK 50

 

Sony_Xperia_XA.png

With the DTEK50, BlackBerry put its own spin on Google's Android OS. And while the software experience was relatively fine, everything else was sort of meh. The camera was weak in low-light settings and the phone's performance was slow. Worst of all, the claim that the device is "The World's Most Secure Android Smartphone" is overblown. In reality, its security features come included in most Android phones. Bummer. Read the full review.

HTC Desire 520

 

 BlackBerry_DTEK_50.png
 

The Desire 520 has a few things going for it. It's affordable, has loud speakers and has expandable storage. But those things can't outweigh the fact that its screen is rather dull, its battery life is short and the plastic casing feels cheap. Read the full review.

ZTE Speed

 

HTC_Desire_520.png

Though its petite design makes it comfortable to handle, the Speed is equipped with a slow processor that makes it anything but. In addition to its unimpressive camera, its 960x540-pixel resolution display doesn't respond very quickly to taps and swipes. Read the full review.

LG Leon

 

ZTE_Speed.png

With its 4.5-inch display, the Leon is pocket-friendly and it's pretty cheap. But its 5-megapixel camera, which lacks touch-focus, captures dull photos and its quad-core processor takes forever to carry out tasks. Read the full review.

 

Source : https://www.cnet.com

Author : 

Saturday, 26 November 2016 13:03

Visual Search for Ecommerce Going Mainstream

Back in 2006, a company named Like.com enabled consumers to upload a photo to search for products. Like.com was popular as a price comparison site, but visual search did not experience wide adoption in the retail community. Google purchased Like.com in 2010.

Fast forward to 2016 and visual search is gaining acceptance. Google’s “Images” search now includes visual search. Last year, Pinterest launched a visual search feature that allows searching part of a pinned photo for products, like the kitchen lamp in the image below. Amazon’s mobile app has included visual search since 2014.

Here are the five primary reasons why visual search is experiencing greater adoption.

1. Advancements in Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is the ability of software to learn based on data provided to it. Visual search is an artificial intelligence challenge, as software needs to identify the items in a photo (uploaded by a consumer) and execute a search to find matching items. This is not easy, given the billions of images, objects, and shapes.

Take a lamp, for example. In the past, a computer would struggle to identify a lamp as it comes in various shapes and sizes and it was not possible to include every shape and size in the learning data, to identify a lamp.

But recent advances in computing power and Big Data analysis allow more data to be crunched. This means a computer can now have the billions of shapes and sizes an object comes in, to make it easier to identify an object.

Being artificially intelligent, a computer is also learning continuously. If a new variation of a lamp appears in a photo, software can compare it with the billions of other lamps, to identify it. This almost guarantees that the right products will be returned for end users when they execute a visual search by uploading a photo.

2. Increased Accuracy in Real Time

The current artificially intelligent systems are able to produce accurate results — quickly. This speed was missing in the past. For visual search to work for consumers on retail sites, the results needed to show up almost as fast as the text-based search.

 

Speed has greatly improved in the last couple of years with advanced computing techniques to not only accurately analyze the uploaded photo but also produce the results in real-time. This has made visual search a feature that can be exposed to end-users without worrying about performance.

3. Availability of Visual Search as a Service

Many common ecommerce features gained wider adoption after vendor(s) made them easily available as a service to the retailers, to integrate with their sites. A good example is the ratings-and-review feature by Bazaarvoice. Once Bazaarvoice started offering this as an easy-to-integrate service, the adoption picked up, with thousands of retailers adding product ratings and reviews to their sites.

A similar adoption is happening with visual search. Slyce and Cortexica, as examples, have made it easier for retailers to integrate visual search into their sites and apps. Once the setup is complete, consumers can upload photos to run their searches. CamFind, a mobile app, offers visual search for free.

Slyce and Cortexica, as examples, offer visual search functionality for ecommerce sites.

Slyce and Cortexica, as examples, offer visual search functionality for ecommerce sites.

4. Growth of Mobile Commerce

The rise of mobile computing has made it natural for the users to take a photo and transfer it anywhere. Retailers can benefit by implementing visual search and enabling the consumers to upload a photo and easily search for a product and then buy it.

5. Mainstream Adoption of Visual Search

Larger retailers — Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney, John Lewis, Urban Outfitters, Home Depot — now offer visual search on their mobile apps. This has led consumers to expect smaller companies to support it, too. Additionally, visual search vendors (such as the heretofore mentioned Slyce and Cortexica) now integrate with popular ecommerce platforms, to make it easier for smaller retailers.

Source : http://www.practicalecommerce.com

Author : Gagan Mehra

Do you have a direct line to Google? You know, that “red telephone” you pick up that helps you cut to the front of the line for anything Google related?

OK, so maybe that doesn’t exist, but it would be great, wouldn’t it?

The next best thing may be the Google Search Console. If the name “Webmaster Tools” rings a bell, then you probably have an idea what Search Console is. Let’s examine it a bit further.

What is Google’s Search Console?

Search Console, formerly Webmaster Tools prior to May 2015, is a no-charge web service by Google for the individuals who manage website properties. It is a place where Google communicates data and statistics about a specific website to the website owners and the professionals who are authorized to manage that website.

From Webmasters to small business owners, Search Console allows individuals or professionals the ability to check the status of their website in Google, as well as analyze data to help optimize their search performance (visibility of a website). Search Console reports key aspects important to the success of your website in Google and provides webmasters with support, learning opportunities and resources.

Search Console is like the dashboard in your car notifying you when things go wrong, or deserve your attention or the attention of a professional. A light indicates when your tire pressure is low or your gas tank is near empty. Search Console indicates areas that may require further testing or diagnosis.

Google’s Search Console can be daunting when you first access it. There are reports and data about technical aspects of your site, messages from Google, links to technical information and solutions, as well as graphs to track your site’s performance in search.

In this post, we will help guide you to effectively using this tool.

Step One: Add Your Site

If you’re new to Search Console, you’ll need to validate the ownership of your site to first start using it. After logging in with a Google account to Google Search Console, you’ll see a button that says “Add Property.” Click the button to start your authorization process for each version of your site: http, https (if you have a secure site), www and non-www versions of your site. Once set up, you can then authorize other users to be added to your account.

There are five ways to authenticate your site for Search Console which include uploading an HTML file to your site (the Google recommended path); add a meta tag to your sites homepage; one requiring you to log into your domain name provider; one that uses your Google Analytics account (if you’re using the right code); and the other uses your Google Tag Manager (if you have Tag Manager installed and in the right place). Not sure which one is best for you? Check out Moz’s “Beginners Guide to Google’s Search Console” for more specifics about the authentication options.

Website access to execute the task of authentication may vary. That’s why Google gives you five handy ways to work around any possible access or knowledge gaps that may exist.

This is a picture of the Google Search Console dashboard. This guide will help you understand the free tool and learn how to improve your website’s performance.

alternate-methods

Navigating Search Console

Once you’ve authenticated a website, you’ll be able to access your website’s dashboard by logging into Search Console’s homepage. Upon logging in you’ll be greeted with a dashboard that looks a little bit like the one shown below.

search-console

“Recent messages” will open an inbox where messages directly from Google are placed. These messages could include suggestions on how to improve your website’s performance, notifications about spam or malicious activity found on your site. Reviewing messages in Search Console can prove helpful, so make a conscious effort to check regularly.

Clicking on “Manage property” to add or remove users or delete the property. Restricted and full access is available, allowing a website owner or admin to provide access to others. Restricted will allow for read-only access, while full allows you to submit and make changes on the website owners behalf.

Clicking on the website URL itself will take you to the dashboard where your data is. The navigation menu to the left shows the available places to navigate to in Search Console. We’ll examine each of these areas in the text below to get you better acquainted.

Upon logging into your dashboard you’ll see a “New and important” section, as well as a “Current Status” area. Upon first logging in, Google will show you some quick data about your site.

new-and-important

New and important: any new messages in your inbox will be shown here, messages from Google.

Crawl Errors: when a search engine navigates to your site and crawls your site/discovers new pages, there are cases when the search engine runs into problems while finding your pages. Crawl errors will include lists of pages which an error occurred.

Search Analytics: The total clicks your website has received from Google search for the past 28 days will be shown when first logging in. Further information is available, including the ability to change dates and compare, can be found by clicking Search Analytics in the navigation menu docked on the left side of the screen in Search Console.

Getting to Know Search Console

A navigation menu is provided to help you find the most important data available in Search Console. It is conveniently docked on the left of your screen when you log in. Four main areas exist to analyze, along with Security Issues and Resources.

Search Appearance: this section covers how a website appears in organic search. When a user has searched and your website is shown a lot of things can factor into why that user clicks your result over another. The Search Appearance section of Search Console will show you data to help you make decisions which improve clicks and overall performance in search results pages themselves.

Search Traffic: here data is compiled which gives insight into the traffic generated from search (desktop/mobile/tablet), the performance of your website when users don’t click, and information that affects the geographic locations your website will show up in Google.

 

Google Index: this section will help you understand a bit better about any issues Google has about understanding what your website is about and how it should show in search. Indexing is the process search engines go through that finds, analyzes and stores information for quick and accurate retrieval. If a search engine has issues understanding and analyzing information, it can result in reduced traffic or sometimes no traffic at all.

Crawl: here data is available detailing what issues, if any, Google encountered when visiting your website. While indexing is the process of finding, analyzing and storing information, crawling is the process a search engine goes through when it’s bot (a computer program developed to find your site and navigate to pages) discovers pages on your site. Depending on how popular pages on your site are, a search engine may crawl your pages multiple times a day or some pages once every couple weeks. In the Crawl section of the Search Console you’re able to tell search engines which pages to crawl and which to not crawl; and understand better about the speed with which Google can crawl your site.

Diving into Search Console

The plethora of information available at your fingertips in Search Console can indicate good and bad news about your site. As you examine and get familiar with each of the sections we outlined above, you’ll want to regularly monitor these sections to learn more about items that might need to be fixed on a site you manage.

Messages & Manual Actions

Google tends to share good and bad news with us in the messages section of Search Console. While helpful tidbits about how to improve performance might show up, there are also other messages Google may share. These may include notifications your site has a manual webspam action against it. This notification indicates Google has found your site to contain malicious spam or violate Google’s Terms of Service resulting in pages or your entire site being demoted or taken out of Google completely. Pay attention to messages and the manual action section of Search Console to ensure you’re on top of any issues as they arise.

Search Appearance: HTML Improvements

As Google crawls your website, information is found in specific areas on your page important for SEO. This includes meta titles and descriptions, indicating what a page contains. In HTML Improvements, Google outlines specific meta data which may be duplicated, is too long or too short, missing, or non-informative. Titles should be 50-55 characters (600 pixels) and unique on each page. Descriptions should be unique, and roughly 155 characters or less.

Search Analytics

Some of the most important information you’ll use to analyze performance can be found under Search Analytics.

  • Find out how many clicks from search engine pages occurred during a specific time period. Keep in mind that Search Console limits data to 90 days
  • Gain an understanding about the number of times a website was shown in search results, called impressions
  • Click-through rate is monitored, which is the ratio of users who clicked on your website’s listing in a search results to those in total who saw it the search results
  • Lastly, your site’s average position for specific keyword queries

These metrics are then able to be graphed in handy charts illustrating upward or downward trends. Search Console reports information about the specific keywords or landing page your site ranks for with these metrics, too. Look for the following:

  • Keywords or landing pages that see large dips in impressions, click-through-rate or clicks
  • Keywords that show a large decrease to average search position
  • Keywords or landing pages that differ greatly in performance between mobile, desktop or tablet

Index Status

The number of pages you currently have in Google’s index should reflect the amount of content you publish and pages you keep live on your site. By examining the Index Status section of Search Console, you discover increases or decreases in the total number of indexed pages historically. What date did a spike happen? If you don’t know why a large increase or decrease happened it might be time to investigate.

Content Keywords

In this section, Google helps share some of the key phrases they associate with your site. See a word that doesn’t make sense? This may indicate an issue on your site or with the links pointing to your site. Spam words showing in the Content Keywords section of Search Console could happen if you have hacked pages on your site unknowingly and indicate the need to investigate.

Crawl Errors & Stats

As a search engine discovers pages on your site, it can encounter a few issues gaining access to pages. In the Crawl Errors report you’ll be notified of these issues including: Server Errors, Soft 404s and Not Found pages for both mobile and desktop.

  • Server errors can be caused by issues with your hosting provider. The crawler may experience an issue if your hosting provider goes down and pages cannot be found
  • Soft 404s are errors resulting from URLs not existing on your site. In these instances, the pages don’t exist and your site isn’t showing a 404 error
  • 404s are errors indicating a page does not exist. It shows the user a 404 page and indicates the page is no longer there

Crawl Stats indicate the rate at which a crawler is finding pages, pages crawled per day (high and low), time it took to download and kilobytes downloaded in total. This historical perspective allows for insight into spikes which can then be investigated. A spike in time it took to crawl is something worth determining the cause. If search engines experience issues crawling your site, they very well could miss important information your prospective customers need to see.

Sitemaps

Every website should have a sitemap, if yours does not I highly recommend building one today. A sitemap shows a search engine all of the pages on your site in one simplified and easy to read format for a bot to understand. XML sitemaps are the most common format and accepted by Google, too. In Search Console, web property owners can submit their sitemaps and monitor the number of pages submitted and subsequent pages Google indexes. Any errors encountered with the sitemap are shown in this section. Take note of large differences between the number of pages submitted in a sitemap and the number of pages indexed. A large difference may indicate an issue and should be investigated.

 

Security Issues & Other Resources

Spam is prevalent online and the security of your website could be at risk if not managed. Google takes precaution and communicates if they discover any indication of spam or security threats on your site. If Malware is detected, Search Console will indicate it in the Security Issues section. Be sure to monitor this area regularly and check out the other resources available, too.

Summary

Search Console is an amazing resource for anyone managing or overseeing the marketing of a website today. Without this handy tool, you’re missing out on in-depth information to help you improve the amount of traffic you get from organic search. Take a few moments to sign into Search Console today, trust me you won’t regret it!

Source : http://www.business2community.com

Auhtor : Kaila Strong

The restaurant manager who speaks with poise and grace to the patron complaining loudly about the wait service. The levelheaded friend you call in your greatest times of need. The compassionate but composed rescue worker who aids victims after a natural catastrophe. The partner who angers rarely, forgives easily, and assumes accountability for their actions. The successful CEO who balances her profession, her family responsibilities, and her personal hobbies with equal measures of calm and confidence.

What do these people have in common?

In two words: Emotional Intelligence. A relatively new trend in the realm of pop culture and psychology today, Emotional Intelligence — or EQ — has existed since the beginning of time. According to Psychology Today, the preeminent site for mental health education and information, Emotional Intelligence is defined as an aptitude for identifying and managing emotions, and the emotions of others. It consists of three primary skills: the ability to analyze interior emotions and the feelings of those around them, the capacity to apply emotions to tasks, and the facility to take control of emotions — whether it’s managing their own before they veer out of control, or having the strength and capability to make another person smile, settle down, or handle a situation appropriately.

Those with high Emotional “IQs” have been proven to enjoy more prosperity in life. Whether they’re in a social or professional environment, they thrive. Studies demonstrate they have fewer mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. Their personal lives aren’t train wrecks, precisely because they’re lived from the point of thoughtful — and meaningful — decisions. They outperform others, excel at their jobs, are happy in their relationships, and consistently work towards attaining positive results in all aspects of life. So, the question is, what don’t they do?

Here are 7 things emotionally intelligent people, as a rule, avoid:

1. They don’t get caught up in other people’s drama.

One of the hallmarks of Emotional Intelligence is empathy, and those with high EQs extend it to everyone they cross. But there’s an enormous difference between displaying empathy towards a friend or loved one and allowing another person’s rage or misery to incense, dominate, or merely influence one’s well-being. Think of the histrionic behavior of your co-worker who is “distraught” not because she’s going through a break-up but because her friend is. Or that cousin of yours who, instead of focusing on her individual personal crises, purposefully seeks out people who are distressed so that her problems disappear via distraction — a habit so ingrained she can’t seem to address her the complications in her own life.

 

Emotionally intelligent people, on the other hand, listen carefully, provide gentle, loving, but authoritative advice, and offer assistance. But they don’t permit others’ lives and reactions to rule their own.

2. They don’t complain.

Whining and grumbling implies two things — one, that we are victims, and two, there are no solutions to our problems. Rarely does an emotionally intelligent person feel victimized, and even more infrequently does an emotionally intelligent person feel that a solution is beyond their grasp. Instead of looking for someone or something to blame, they immediately think of how to constructively address the dilemma. They also know that their complaints influence the emotional responses of those around them, and instead search for ways to bemoan the dissolution of a relationship or a disappointment with a friend in private, effective ways — whether it’s taking a yoga class, meditating alone at a park, or simply getting their feelings out on the page.

3. They don’t always say yes — to others and themselves.

Like empathy, self-control and conviction are sure signs of an emotionally solid person. Emotionally intelligent people are well-aware that a second glass of wine will lead to negative consequences the next morning, just as they know that an invitation to go on a spontaneous weekend rendezvous will detract them from fulfilling their preexisting commitments. They are definitive about their decisions, rather than saying “I don’t know, maybe?” or “Perhaps I’ll skip the gym today,” which invites doubt — and with that, heightened anxiety, even depression.

The more often emotionally intelligent people exercise their right to say no, and the more frequently they rely on their willpower, the freer they are to concentrate on their ambitions and overall well-being.

4. They don’t gossip.

Emotionally acute people sidestep gossip as determinedly as they skirt drama. To involve themselves in scandalous talk, they know, is to shame another for a supposed error — and an emotionally intelligent person understands that all humans are equally deserving, and that what others might perceive as a mistake is an opportunity for improvement.

5. They don’t count on others for happiness or confidence.

Emotionally intelligent people are self-sufficient in all manners of life, including their contentment and peace of mind. They have learned that to bank on someone else making them feel joyful or worthy is to put themselves at risk for disappointment and hopelessness. Rather, they take their emotions in their own hands and find hobbies that delight them, strive for achievements that will lead to a sense of self-worth, and search within for love and acceptance.

 

 

6. They don’t engage in negative self-talk.

While few of us are entirely immune to thinking (or saying) pessimistic statements that begin with “I” (“I’m unattractive,” “I should have done better,” “I’m pathetic”), emotionally intelligent have the ability to curb cynical thoughts before they fall down the proverbial rabbit hole. Instead, they rely on facts to come to conclusions. For some, it’s a mere glance at their experience and accomplishments outlined on their CVs; for others, it’s the appearance of a clean and organized house, or an internal analysis of what they’ve done right.

After all, emotionally intelligent people acknowledge that negative thoughts are just that — thoughts — just as they recognize that the derogatory interior voices they hear are theirs to turn down, tune out, or silence completely.

7. They don’t dwell on the past.

People who exist more in their past than in their present are susceptible to a barrage of mental and spiritual grievances, from regret and nostalgia to agitation and trepidation. Emotionally intelligent people honor their pasts — the people they have loved, the mistakes they have made, the opportunities they’ve eschewed — but are mindful of the importance of living squarely in the here and now.

By learning from the past (instead of dwelling on it), the emotionally intelligent have the power to inform their present — without diminishing their ability to advance or harness three of the most vital emotions of all: Self-satisfaction, gratitude, and hope.

Source : http://www.lifehack.org

Author : LAURETTA ZUCCHETTI

Marketers have much more to consider this holiday season as they try to optimize campaigns and turn on a dime. Will gift cards catapult sales through smartphones? How do Google AdWords and Bing Ads play a role in local search targeting? Which direction should brands take when driving foot traffic through search engine optimization and paid search to local stores?


Today marks the start of a shopping frenzy both online and offline as retailers prepare for a combination of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. HookLogic, a Criteo-owned company, released its first round of ecommerce data Monday.

 

HookLogic pulled data in aggregate over the first two weeks of November from its retailer network, which includes Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Toys 'R Us, Macy's and other retailers.

 

Interestingly, online sales fell 5% the day before the presidential election, compared with the year-ago date, and 16% the day of the election. The day after the election, ecommerce plummeted 23% year-over-year.

 

While it fell during the days surrounding the election, ecommerce made a quick comeback -- climbing 24% YoY on the Thursday after the election as consumer confidence rebounded and Americans were ready to get back to their holiday shopping.ecommerce also shows interesting dynamics based on devices used for shopping. During the two weeks analyzed, desktop shopping remained flat while access on mobile phones rose 3 percentage points compared with the same days in 2015. Smartphones took share from tablets, which declined 3 percentage points YoY.

 

 

 

 

 

Driving purchases through smartphones has its benefits. Adobe Digital Insights predicts that mobile Web site visits will overtake desktop for the first time during the holiday season. But although more Web traffic will come from mobile, the devices will drive only 34% of revenue. Consumers also tend to put less in their  carts when on a smartphone -- an average of $35 less per transaction.

 

Despite the rise of searches on mobile devices, consumers will continue to do most of their buying on desktops and in stores this year. Prosper Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow believes many consumers will search online and in store, browse ad circulars and even login to Facebook to find inspiration for unique and memorable gifts for friends and family.

 

Goodfellow's prepared statement, published Monday with survey findings from the National Retail Federation, found that nearly 56% of shoppers have already started buying holiday gifts -- the second-highest level in the history of the survey, down slightly from the record nearly 57% during the same time last year. Only 3% said they were finished shopping.

 

The NRF survey, which asked 7,206 consumers about holiday shopping plans, was conducted November 1 through November 8.

 

Gift card will become a popular gift this year. Most can be purchased online. And while there's no data to back up the fact, it seems the online purchase of gift cards could help to increase sales through smartphones.

 

The NRF shows that holiday shoppers are planning to purchase an average of three gift cards with an approximate value of $46 per card, the second most-popular gift after clothing.Some 61% of shoppers said they would buy clothing.

 

Some 56% will give gift cards; 44%, books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games; 42%, toys; 31%, food or candy, and 30% plan to give some form of electronics.Spending on gift cards is expected to reach $27.5 billion, up from last year’s planned $26 billion. Restaurant gift cards at 35% are the most popular types, followed by department stores at 33%, Visa/MasterCard/American Express at 22%, coffee shops at 21% and entertainment at 17%.

 

 

 

Author:  Laurie Sullivan

Source:  http://www.mediapost.com/

 

 

 

 

Following Google’s crackdown on San Francisco area locksmiths and plumbers for abusing home service ads, the company has since introduced a verification process that comes with the distinction of being “Google guaranteed”.

Here’s what it looks like in search results:

IMG_3099

Tapping on one of the results brings you to the home service ad for that particular business, which goes into further detail about what the Google guarantee means.

IMG_3100

Tapping on Learn More will bring you to an information page with full details about the Google guarantee, how it works, and what it covers.

”When you book an eligible home service pro on Google, you are protected by the Google guarantee. If you’re not satisfied with the work quality, Google may refund up to the amount paid for the job.”

For Businesses
If you’d like to activate the Google guarantee for your business, simply complete this form. You’ll be asked for some general contact info and a few details about the job.

For Customers
If an issues arises with a Google guaranteed service provider and you need to submit a claim, Google invites you to contact customer support at (844) 885–0761. The team will then investigate and decide on a resolution.

 

Coverage

  • If you’re unhappy with the work performed, you can submit a claim and Google will cover the invoice amount up to a lifetime cap of $2,000.
  • The job must be booked through Google Home Services. Any future work completed by the same provider, unless booked through Home Services, is not covered.
  • Jobs completed before September 14, 2016, are not covered.
  • Currently only locksmith and plumbing jobs are covered.

For more information on why Google is offering this service specifically to locksmiths and plumbers, please see this post: Google Fights Fraud by Cracking Down on Plumbers and Locksmiths.

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com

Author : SEJ STAFF

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