Corey Parker

Corey Parker

Computer simulations, and the means to visualize them, could be in the palm of your hand in new and potentially revolutionary ways later this year, if rumors about Apple's forthcoming "iPhone 8" bear fruit.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has made an assortment of remarks, heralding augmented reality and virtual reality as potential cornerstones of the company's future. Combined with rumors of a new dual-lens forward facing camera system and advanced facial recognition software in the "iPhone 8," it's possible that Apple's true interest in the space could be revealed later this year.

While virtual reality promises users a more immersive experience, by sinking a user in the environment with video and audio cues, augmented reality instead offers a hybrid and more social approach, merging a virtual world with the one around us.

Augmented reality is a clear interest for Apple. Rumors about the hardware in the "iPhone 8" coupled with Apple CEO Tim Cook's remarks about the technology suggest that the company is going to dive deep into augmented reality very soon.

Virtual reality

For about three decades, the term "virtual reality" has been used as a catch-all for any sort of real-world simulation or modification. Initial implementations were used by the entertainment industry for relatively compact rides in amusement parks, with additional user by the military for flight simulator training.

Early implementations employed conventional displays in conjunction with mechanical haptics to provide full feedback of the environment to the user. 
Because VR is an immersive and largely solitary experience that requires a headset, it's an unlikely fit for Apple. Instead, the company is likely to embrace an offshoot of VR, augmented reality, in a way that can allow users to interact with the world— and others— around them, via the iPhone.

Augmented reality

AR is less hardware- and software-intensive than VR, using the combination of a camera and display such as those found in the iPhone to manipulate and generate overlays over the surrounding real-life environment. Augmented reality can be used to guide a user on a street, or highlight businesses as a user travels through a town. 

Another possible use case is capture of virtual creatures with the flick of a finger, after spotting them in the park on a daily walk such as in Niantic's "Pokemon Go."

Done properly, augmented reality could be readily adopted by the iPhone crowd —assuming it can be made "friction-free." As it turns out, that's an area where Apple historically has excelled. 

Tim Cook on augmented and virtual reality

"The smartphone is for everyone, we don't have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it's for everyone. I think AR is that big, it's huge," Cook said in an interview in February. "I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives. And be entertaining." 


"I view AR like I view the silicon here in my iPhone, it's not a product per se, it's a core technology. But there are things to discover before that technology is good enough for the mainstream," Cook concluded. "I do think there can be a lot of things that really help people out in daily life, real-life things, that's why I get so excited about it."
"I think AR is that big, it's huge" - Tim Cook

Apple's tangible moves in the AR and VR sector

Apple has made a number of strategic hires and acquisitions over the last five years to further its AR ambitions.

Motion capture specialist Faceshiftwas acquired in 2015, with machine learning and computer vision startup Perceptio grabbed earlier that year.

German AR firm Metaio and Flyby Media also go hand-in-hand with in-house development of transparent displays, iPhone-powered VR rigs, AR maps and other related technologies described in recent patent filings.

In January, Apple was reassigned IP from Metaio for an AR device with advanced point of interest labelling. Specifically, a pair of patents detail a mobile AR system — or smartphone —capable of detecting its surroundings and displaying generated virtual information to users in real time. 

The "iPhone 8" and augmented reality

While the "iPhone 8" may not be sold to customers on AR prospects alone, it appears to be setting the table for wider adoption of the technology.

According to recent rumors, the sensor expected to be used in this year's "iPhone 8" is intended for a practical face scanning utility, and not solely or specifically for augmented reality application.

However, the technology described for the sensor appears to be a micro-miniaturized version of a LIDAR mapper or rangefinder.

LIDAR is a proven technology, with resolution and accuracy dependent on a combination of factors, not the least of which is the integration of the laser and the sensor —which Apple's acquisition of Primesense in 2013 appears intended for.

To properly overly the environment requires accuracy —which a rear-mounted LIDAR installation supplementing existing range finding equipment associated with the iPhone camera would give. It also requires heavy-duty processing power, which the existing A10 Fusion processor also has —and any successor would as well.


According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, the new camera system expected to arrive in Apple's "iPhone 8" will enable 3D sensing and modeling in applications, which could be used for a range of capabilities including replacing the head of a character in a 3D game, or taking a 3D selfie.

Beyond proprietary camera software, Apple has other AR- and VR-related edges over its competition as well. For example, the iPhone only has a few resolutions, where Android devices have literally hundreds. 

The "iPhone 8" is expected to be thinner and lighter than even the iPhone 7. This could allow for less user fatigue, whether installed in a headset, or held by the user for an AR environment overlay.

Apple as iterator, not innovator

First off the starting blocks doesn't guarantee victory —just ask Eiger Labs or Creative Media how their corporate fortunes are doing in the wake of the iPod, how Microsoft's tablet initiative fared after a 2002 debut, or how Samsung's smart watches are selling.

Apple wasn't the first to the computer mouse, the digital media player, an internet-connected phone, or the tablet form factor. It waited until the technology and time was right, perfected each form factor —making it truly "friction free" to adopt. 

And, like most of the rest of the developments its known for, Apple isn't going to be first to AR or VR. Google Glass rose and died in less than two years, and is beyond a niche in the company's Mountain View headquarters, if it isn't completely dead —all because the product didn't work well.

Virtual reality is tied up in litigation between Zenimax and Facebook, after the latter made a multi-billion dollar bet on the technology.

Apple stands at a point with the "iPhone 8," controlling the current specs and future development of a near-ubiquitous device sold in the millions per quarter, where it can call the shots in AR for now, and the next decade at least.

Source : appleinsider.com

Now it's a darknet marketplace that hopes a bug bounty scheme can improve security for its clientele.

To keep its customers out of trouble, Hansa, a popular darknet marketplace for selling illicit goods, is following legitimate businesses by paying researchers for reporting security flaws.

It is one of many darknet marketplaces seeking to meet demand for anonymous trading once offered by fallen drugs bazaar Silk Road. With its buyers and sellers likely to be of interest to law-enforcement agencies as well as hackers, Hansa announced on Reddit last week that it had launched a bitcoin bug bounty to keep clients safe.


How does internet technology change the reality of what humans do? In this book, Jamie Bartlett explores some of the internet's wilder shores in search of an answer.

Bug bounties are gaining in popularity in the world of legitimate business as a means of improving product security.

Google has operated its bug bounties for six years, and more conventional organizations, including some automakers, airlines, and the US Department of Defense, are now using them to attract bug reports, often through bounty programs run by Bugcrowd and HackerOne.

For Hansa, being an arena where anonymity is prized and exposure can lead to jail time, the highest value rewards are for bugs that could result in users being identified.

Hansa's operators say they will offer 10BTC for any bugs that could "severely disrupt" Hansa's integrity in a way that would expose the IP address, or personal information of a user or seller. After last month's spike in the value of bitcoin, this sum is greater than $10,000.


Less critical bugs are valued at 1BTC each, while simple "display bugs or unintended behavior" will earn researchers 0.05BTC.

CyberScoop, which first reported the new bug bounty, notes that Hansa is responsible for about $3m in trade. The hidden website launched the bounty following reports of a bug on AlphaBay, another post-Silk Road marketplace, that exposed private messages containing user names and delivery addresses. According to CyberScoop, Hansa has already received reports of non-critical bugs.


Despite Hansa's intention to improve its own measures, security and privacy researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis told CyberScoop that the bounty is unlikely to achieve much for darknet markets.

"The problems pervading onions [the nickname for websites accessed on the Tor network] are caused by bad assumptions at the software design level, the reliance on web technologies designed for an internet without consideration for privacy," Lewis said.

"Bug bounties are only a patch. What we really need are new privacy-oriented software stacks, servers, blog platforms."

Author : Liam Tung

Source : zdnet.com

Users of the popular  Web service are being warned to restart their web browsers after a terrifying vulnerability was discovered.

The serious security flaw can allow cyber criminals to access personal data including photos, contacts and videos in a matter of seconds.

Worryingly, it appears the simple hack can be performed without the user ever knowing.

According to security firm Check Point, the flaw can be exposed by the hacker sending a single fake image to WhatsApp users.

Although the shared snap might look innocent enough, hackers can use it to mask a piece of malicious code buried within.

Once the image has been downloaded, the code gets to work infiltrating the computer - granting hackers full access to the WhatsApp account.

WhatsApp Web users are being warned to restart their browsers

WhatsApp: Hidden Tips, Tricks and Features You Never Knew

WhatsApp is the world's most popular messaging app but you probably don't know all of the tricks and features hidden up its sleeve. Here's everything you need to know to master WhatsApp.

WhatsApp - Hidden tricks and features you probably don't know, but definitely should be using
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WhatsApp - Hidden tricks and features you probably don't know, but definitely should be using

To matters worse, once the criminals have accessed your account, they can use your log-in to forward further fake images to all of your contacts, spreading the malicious code wide and gaining access to hundreds of further accounts.

The vulnerability, which was discovered by Check Point, was found to trouble those who use the desktop WhatsApp service.

It also affect those signed up to the rival messaging platform, Telegram.

Fortunately, having discovered the problem, the security firm alerted WhatsApp of the problem on March 8 and the messaging behemoth has already patched the problem.

“This new vulnerability put hundred of millions of WhatsApp Web and Telegram Web users at risk of complete account takeover,” said Oded Vanunu, Check Point’s head of product vulnerability research.


“By simply sending an innocent looking photo, an attacked could gain control over the account, access message history, all photos that were ever shared, and send messages on behalf of the user.”


WhatsApp users could soon get a landscape mode

How to enable or disable WhatsApp's new security feature

WhatsApp now telling users that they must restart their browsers immediatley to avoid being targeted by the scam.

Speaking to technology website, The Verge, a WhatsApp spokesperson said: "“We build WhatsApp to keep people and their information secure,

“When Check Point reported the issue, we addressed it within a day and released an update of WhatsApp for web. To ensure that you are using the latest version, please restart your browser.”

This latest update comes as  to its hugely popular smartphone app.

One of the features currently being trialled in beta is the addition of a landscape mode.

Code for a landscape has been hidden in the latest beta software release on iOS.

Screenshots of the landscape layout have been tweeted by the reliable WABetaInfo account, although beta testers will not find the new feature enabled in the latest update.

As the feature is included in the latest beta, it's not difficult to imagine the new layout rolling out to users in the coming weeks and months.


Source : express.co.uk

NASA has rolled out a searchable online archive that assembles more than 140,000 media files for users to search from.

Users can type in a single word to surface all of NASA’s files linked to that term, which they can then download or even embed in their own sites. That includes images, audio files and videos drawn from more than 60 collections of media over nearly 100 years.

Thanks to NASA's public images policy, all of the images are copyright free - including captions and metadata.

This public site runs on NASA’s cloud-native technology, allowing the public to access the files on demand. Although it is not comprehensive, "[The library] provides the best of what NASA makes publicly available from a single point of presence on the web," NASA's John Yembric said in a statement. "Additionally, it is a living website, where new and archival images, video and audio files continually will be added."

So what are you waiting for? Go snag yourself a stellar new space background for your phone or computer. Fair warning: these photos are so mesmerising, you might get lost in space for a while.

Source : standard.co.uk

Yandex, the Google of Russia, has built a voice-activated visual search engine for Facebook. Codenamed “Wonder,” the mobile app lets people ask what businesses friends have visited and what content they’ve consumed, sources confirm. The question is if Facebook will permit the app. Its policy prohibits use of its data in search engines without permission, and Wonder resembles Facebook “Nearby.”

I talked to multiple industry sources who’ve seen Wonder first-hand or currently have a build of it on their iOS device (though an Android version may have been developed, too). The logo you see above is my attempt at an artist rendition of what sources say an early version of the app’s logo looked like. One source said Wonder is “about more than Facebook” which means it could pull in more traditional search results, or just make use of data from the partners I detail below.


A Yandex spokesperson said Yandex “can’t confirm and can’t comment” on Wonder. However, they did admit that “Yandex is working on mining social data. We are building social products.” It also noted it would have an announcement to make on that front in the coming weeks or months, which could certainly be a reveal of Wonder.

Here’s a rundown of how an alpha version of Wonder worked, but note that some design and partnership details may change if it’s released.

Welcome To Wonder

Wonder users can search using voice for things such as “restaurants in Los Angeles my friends have visited.” A horizontal, tile-by-tile scrolling interface lets them view one at a time the restaurants where their Facebook friends have taken photos or checked in. Wonderers can also type to search instead of using voice, or ask to see where a specific friend has gone.

Clicking on a business shows a horizontal stream of photos and recommendations of that place posted by their friends. Another tap brings up Foursquare-powered venue info such as a map, address, and phone number.

Wonder isn’t just for local businesses like Facebook’s recently launched “Nearby” feature built by the acquired Gowalla team. Wonder can pull up music that friends have listened to, let you learn about artists thanks to Last.fm-powered profiles, or preview or buy songs from iTunes. There’s a news discovery component, too. You can see news articles recently read by all your friends or a specific friend and read them within the app through an internal browser.

Yandex’s Passport To The USA

Yandex Maps AppYandex has largely limited itself to Russia and Russian-speaking markets over the years — a market where it is currently the largest search provider. But its share in its home market has come down and been hovering around 60 percent in the last year with competition from Google and others, so it is turning to growth elsewhere.

Just as Google has extended into mobile to expand the potential footprint for its advertising network, Yandex has done the same.

Chief among those efforts have been Yandex’s moves in mobile. A little over a year ago, it bought a company called SPB Software, which develops cross-platform mobile applications and user interfaces.

Some of projects SPB may have helped Yandex with include apps discovery for musicbusiness listings, taxi services (similar to Uber, with a very popular app in Moscow) and more (this Google Play list includes apps for movie listings, ecommerce, Yandex’s Dropbox-like app Yandex.disc, and Yandex.market for ‘personal shopping’ ). In fact, you could think of these as a composite for some of the features of Wonder.

Perhaps most important of all, are Yandex’s location-based and mapping efforts. Yandex’s maps have replaced Google on iOS devices in Russia, and it also provides the search (but not native maps) on Windows Phone devices in the country. These location-based services might just be Yandex’s passport out of Russia (or so it hopes).

Yandex’s Dream, Facebook’s Nightmare?

So Wonder sounds great, especially compared to Facebook’s internal search engine, which is glaringly deficient. There’s no way to search for news read by friends, searching an artist’s name in the music category returns zero results, and if you figure out how to use the Places tab to search for restaurants, you’re met with standard-looking search results. Finding photos or recommendations of businesses from your friends is tough.

Facebook Search Results Places
Facebook tried to fix some of this with Nearby, and did a pretty good job with the business search. Built into a tab in Facebook’s primary mobile apps, Nearby shows you places friends have been, Liked, or recommended. It took a browse-by-category approach to minimizing mobile typing, in contrast to Wonder’s focus on voice commands. However, Nearby doesn’t surface photos taken by friends at places yet, and it might be better off as a standalone app rather than being buried in Facebook for iOS and Android’s navigation.


The problem is that Yandex’s Wonder may be a bit too great and employ too much of Facebook’s data. In May, Facebook updated its Platform Policies to include the statement “You must not include data obtained from us in any search engine or directory without our written permission.” Facebook tells me this was designed to keep your friends from volunteering your private information to public search engines. But Wonder could definitely be interpreted as a search engine, especially considering its built by Yandex, and the policy doesn’t only apply to private data.

facebook-nearby-map TitledIn fact, Facebook apparently learned that Yandex was developing Wonder around the time it changed its policy, and the line could have been added to protect Facebook’s future endeavors in search from invaders like Yandex. Therefore, Wonder might get its public Facebook data access shut down if it doesn’t have permission, and I’ve heard Yandex is actually worried this will happen pre- or post-launch.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself explained at TechCrunch Disrupt SF that Facebook is getting into search:

“Search is interesting. I think search engines are really evolving to give you a set of answers…’I have this specific question, answer this question for me’. Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer the questions people have. ‘What sushi restaurants have my friends gone to in New York in the last six months and Liked?’ These are questions that you could potentially do at Facebook if we built out this system that you couldn’t do anywhere else. And at some point we’ll do it. We have a team working on search.”

Facebook Nearby, since it launched, could answer that sushi question, but so could Wonder thanks to Facebook’s data. With local business discovery comes lots of opportunity for monetization through sponsored placement and other channels. Facebook may not want some other company cashing in on this.

There is hope, though. Facebook struck a status update licensing deal with Yandex in 2010 to allow public posts from Pages to appear in the Russian search engine. In exchange Facebook got a widget on the Yandex home page that helped it sign up Russian users when it was still fighting off local social network VKontakte. Russian news outlet Ria Novosti also reported that Zuckerberg visited Yandex’s headquarters in Moscow in the Fall and held talks with management there.

Perhaps Facebook and Yandex could come to some sort of partnership around Wonder, such as a revenue share or allowing it to use Facebook data in exchange for more promotion of Facebook on Yandex. Other possibilities include Facebook buying the app from Yandex, cloning it the way Facebook copied Snapchat to build Poke, or working out a larger deal where Yandex assists Facebook with its search strategy. If Facebook was really feeling generous, it could just give Yandex permission to use the necessary data in Wonder.

No matter the outcome, sources say Yandex has proven there’s wondrous potential for Facebook in mobile search.

Author : Josh Constine

Source : techcrunch.com

On June 26, Google will force users of its Google Talk messaging service in Gmail to switch to Hangouts, another company messaging service.

It's the end of an era that started in 2005, and the culmination of a transition from Google Talk to Hangouts that started back in 2013.

But what does this mean for office workers who use Google Talk to chat with coworkers, family, and friends all day long?

Luckily, not much. Hangouts is a pretty solid replacement for Google Talk. Your chat contacts will transfer over, and you'll still be able to chat in Gmail — it'll just look a little different.


Here's a Google Talk chat window:

Google TalkKif

And here's what Hangouts in Gmail looks like:

HangoutsKif Leswing

Heavy users might notice that the chat sidebar built into Gmail looks different. The Google Talk Android app will also be phased out, and Android users should download Hangouts instead.

Ultimately, for most people, this transition won't be a major change.

Here's how Google described the transition in a blog post:

Fully transitioning Google Talk to Hangouts: Google Talk launched in 2005 as a simple chat experience between Gmail users. In 2013, we began replacing Google Talk with Hangouts, while still giving users the option to continue using Google Talk. Hangouts offers advanced improvements over Google Talk such as group video calling and integration with other Google products. With the introduction of Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat, which add further improvements in meetings and team collaboration, it is now time to say goodbye to Google Talk.

Talk users within Gmail will receive a prompt in the next few weeks, inviting them to switch to Hangouts. After June 26, users will be automatically transitioned to Hangouts, unless contractual commitments apply. For users that preferred the Google Talk look, there is a Dense Roster setting in Hangouts that provides a similar experience.

Google also outlined the differences between the two programs in a chart. In general, the company sees Hangouts as its business-focused chat, somewhat like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Hipchat.

If the new Hangouts doesn't work for your messaging needs, Google has several other messaging programs, including Allo, Duo, Android Messages, and Google Voice.

Author : Kif Leswing

Source : businessinsider.com

As Google becomes increasingly sophisticated in its methods for scoring and ranking web pages, it's more difficult for marketers to keep up with SEO best practices. Columnist Jayson DeMers explores what can be done to keep up in a world where machine learning rules the day.

Google’s rollout of artificial intelligence has many in the search engine optimization (SEO) industry dumbfounded. Optimization tactics that have worked for years are quickly becoming obsolete or changing.

Why is that? And is it possible to find a predictable optimization equation like in the old days? Here’s the inside scoop.

The old days of Google

Google’s pre-machine-learning search engine operated monolithically. That is to say, when changes came, they came wholesale. Large and abrupt movements, sometimes tectonic, were commonplace in the past.

What applied to one industry/search engine result applied to all results. This was not to say that every web page was affected by every algorithmic change. Each algorithm affected a specific type of web page. Moz’s algorithm change history page details the long history of Google’s algorithm updates and what types of sites and pages were impacted.

The SEO industry began with people deciphering these algorithm updates and determining which web pages they affected (and how). Businesses rose and fell on the backs of decisions made due to such insights, and those that were able to course-correct fast enough were the winners. Those that couldn’t learned a hard lesson.

These lessons turned into the “rules of the road” for everyone else, since there was always one constant truth: algorithmic penalties were the same for each vertical. If your competitor got killed doing something Google didn’t like, you’d be sure that as long as you didn’t commit the same mistake, you’d be OK. But recent evidence is beginning to show that this SEO idiom no longer holds. Machine learning has made these penalties specific to each keyword environment. SEO professionals no longer have a static set of rules they can play by.

Dr. Pete Meyers, Moz’s Marketing Scientist recently noted, “Google has come a long way in their journey from a heuristic-based approach to a machine learning approach, but where we’re at in 2016 is still a long way from human language comprehension. To really be effective as SEOs, we still need to understand how this machine thinks, and where it falls short of human behavior. If you want to do truly next-level keyword research, your approach can be more human, but your process should replicate the machine’s understanding as much as possible.”

Moz has put together guides and posts related to understanding Google’s latest artificial intelligence in its search engine as well as launched its newest tool, Keyword Explorer, which addresses these changes.

Google decouples ranking updates

Before I get into explaining how things went off the rails for SEOs, I first have to touch on how technology enabled Google’s search engine to get to its current state.

It has only been recently that Google has possessed the kind of computational power to begin to make “real-time” updates a reality. On June 18, 2010, Google revamped its indexing structure, dubbed “Caffeine,” which allowed Google to push updates to its search index quicker than ever before. Now, a website could publish new or updated content and see the updates almost immediately on Google. But how did this work?

Google - caffeine updates

Before the Caffeine update, Google operated like any other search engine. It crawled and indexed its data, then sent that indexed data through a massive web of SPAM filters and algorithms that determined its eventual ordering on Google’s search engine results pages.


After the Caffeine update, however, select fresh content could go through an abbreviated scoring process (temporarily) and go straight to the search results. Minor things, like an update to a page’s title tag or meta description tag, or a published article for an already “vetted” website, would be candidates for this new process.

Sounds great, right? As it turned out, this created a huge barrier to establishing correlation between what you changed on your website and how that change affected your ranking. The detaching of updates to its search results — and the eventual thorough algorithmic scoring process that followed — essentially tricked many SEOs into believing that certain optimizations had worked, when in fact they hadn’t.

This was a precursor to the future Google, which would no longer operate in a serialized fashion. Google’s blog effectively spelled out the new Caffeine paradigm: “[E]very second Caffeine processes hundreds of thousands of pages in parallel.”

From an obfuscation point of view, Caffeine provided broad cover for Google’s core ranking signals. Only a meticulous SEO team, which carefully isolated each and every update, could now decipher which optimizations were responsible for specific ranking changes in this new parallel algorithm environment.

When I reached out to him for comment, Marcus Tober, founder and CTO of Searchmetrics, said, “Google now looks at hundreds of ranking factors. RankBrain uses machine learning to combine many factors into one, which means factors are weighted differently for each query. That means it’s very likely that even Google’s engineers don’t know the exact composition of their highly complex algorithm.”

“With deep learning, it’s developing independently of human intervention. As search evolves, our approach is evolving with Google’s algorithmic changes. We analyze topics, search intention and sales funnel stages because we’re also using deep learning techniques in our platform. We highlight content relevance because Google now prioritizes meeting user intent.”

These isolated testing cycles were now very important in order to determine correlation, because day-to-day changes on Google’s index were not necessarily tied to ranking shifts anymore.

The splitting of the atomic algorithm

As if that weren’t enough, in late 2015, Google released machine learning within its search engine, which continued to decouple ranking changes from its standard ways of doing things in the past.

As industry veteran John Rampton reported in TechCrunch, the core algorithms within Google now operate independently based on what is being searched for. This means that what works for one keyword might not work for another. This splitting of Google’s search rankings has since caused a tremendous amount of grief within the industry as conventional tools, which prescribe optimizations indiscriminately across millions of keywords, could no longer operate on this macro level. Now, searcher intent literally determines which algorithms and ranking factors are more important than others in that specific environment.

This is not to be confused with the recent announcement that there will be a separate index for Mobile vs. Desktop, where a clear distinction of indexes will be present. There are various tools to help SEOs understand their place within separate indexes. But how do SEOs deal with different ranking algorithms within the same index?

The challenge is to categorize and analyze these algorithmic shifts on a keyword basis. One technology that addresses this — and is getting lots of attention — was invented by Carnegie Mellon alumni Scott Stouffer. After Google repeatedly attempted to hire him, Stouffer decided instead to co-found an AI-powered enterprise SEO platform called Market Brew, based on a number of patents that were awarded in recent years.

Stouffer explains, “Back in 2006, we realized that eventually machine learning would be deployed within Google’s scoring process. Once that happened, we knew that the algorithmic filters would no longer be a static set of SEO rules. The search engine would be smart enough to adjust itself based on machine learning what worked best for users in the past. So we created Market Brew, which essentially serves to ‘machine learn the machine learner.'”


“Our generic search engine model can train itself to output very similar results to the real thing. We then use these predictive models as a sort of ‘Google Sandbox’ to quickly A/B test various changes to a website, instantly projecting new rankings for the brand’s target search engine.”

Because Google’s algorithms work differently between keywords, Stouffer says there are no clear delineations anymore. Combinations of keyword and things like user intent and prior success and failure determine how Google weights its various core algorithms.

Predicting and classifying algorithmic shifts

Is there a way we, as SEOs, can start to quantitatively understand the algorithmic differences/weightings between keywords? As I mentioned earlier, there are ways to aggregate this information using existing tools. There are also some new tools appearing on the market that enable SEO teams to model specific search engine environments and predict how those environments are shifting algorithmically.

A lot of the answers depend on how competitive and broad your keywords are. For instance, a brand that only focuses on one primary keyword, with many variations of subsequent long-tail keyword phrases, will likely not be affected by this new way of processing search results. Once an SEO team figures things out, they’ve got it figured out.

On the flip side, if a brand has to worry about many different keywords that span various competitors in each environment, then investment in these newer technologies may be warranted. SEO teams need to keep in mind that they can’t simply apply what they’ve learned in one keyword environment to another. Some sort of adaptive analysis must be used.


Technology is quickly adapting to Google’s new search ranking methodology. There are now tools that can track each algorithmic update, determining which industries and types of websites are affected the most. To combat Google’s new emphasis on artificial intelligence, we’re now seeing the addition of new search engine modeling tools that are attempting to predict exactly which algorithms are changing, so SEOs can adjust strategies and tactics on the fly.

We’re entering a golden age of SEO for engineers and data scientists. As Google’s algorithms continue to get more complex and interwoven, the SEO industry has responded with new high-powered tools to help understand this new SEO world we live in.

Author : Jayson DeMers

Source : searchengineland.com

Space is filled with awe-inspiring wonders, but also immense threats that could obliterate life on Earth as we know it. What are the chances of a rogue asteroid smashing into our planet? That’s just one catastrophe that has scientists deeply concerned. Immense solar flares, gamma-ray radiation bursts, supernova explosions from nearby stars and invasion by extraterrestrial life forms are a few of the potential space-based disasters astronomers believe are possible. So, what are seven threats from outer space that could destroy humanity?

1. Predatory aliens

Some experts think that predatory aliens from outer space could wipe out humanity.

Some experts think that predatory aliens from outer space could wipe out humanity.

Should humanity try and contact alien civilizations? Researchers and space enthusiasts are devising new technologies aimed at broadcasting our existence to potential life forms in other solar systems. These new signaling methods include microelectronic spacecraft containing messages from Earth to laser transmissions beamed to neighboring galaxies.

However, not every astronomer thinks signaling our existence is a wise idea. Lucianne Walkowicz, an astrophysicist at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, cautions that “There’s a possibility that if we actively message, with the intention of getting the attention of an intelligent civilization, that the civilization we contact would not necessarily have our best interests in mind.”

The cosmologist Stephen Hawking echoes this view. In 2010, Hawking told audiences that “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.”

More specifically, the Cambridge scientist noted that the encounter between old world European explorers and Native Americans “didn’t turn out so well” [for the Indians]. Undoubtedly, Hawking raises the prospect that a far more technologically advanced alien culture might seek to exploit or even destroy humanity.

Nevertheless, many scientists believe letting aliens know we’re here is worth the gamble. According to Douglas Vakoch, director of Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence International (METI), “If we don’t tell anyone we’re here, we could miss out on new technology that could help humanity, or even protect us from other, less friendly aliens.” No one knows with certainty how an encounter with an alien species will turn out. They could help us solve our problems or perhaps threaten our existence.

2. Asteroid collision

Asteroids are giant hunks of space rock hurtling through our solar system. These humongous boulders have hit the earth before with devastating consequences. After all, cosmologists believe a mammoth asteroid collision with our planet precipitated the extinction of the dinosaurs several eons ago.

Scientists believe the threat from asteroids is serious enough that they’re developing defensive systems to protect our planet. However, extremely large ones may be impossible to deflect or breakup, even with an inter-galactic nuclear weapon. Experts contend that a big enough hit could engender tsunamis, wildfires and other natural disasters that could render much of the earth virtually uninhabitable.

3. Solar flares

The sun is an immense cauldron of condensed energy. Periodically, it emits tremendous bursts of radiation in the form of solar winds. The earth is protected from the effects of these solar flare-ups by magnetic fields. On occasion, these outbursts are so powerful that their impact is felt on this planet.


For example, in 1859, the effects of a solar storm were evident on earth. The Carrington Event, as the incident is now known, included widespread interference of electrical equipment. Of course, back then the impact of radiation bursts was minimal. Now, however, humanity is a lot more dependent on electronic devices. Scientists speculate that a similar solar storm could knock out communication devices, computers, GPS signaling and power grids. Indeed, every gadget that relies on electricity could be affected. If the solar flare up was big enough, humanity could be thrown into chaos.

4. Satellite demolition derby

China, Russia and the United States are involved in an arms race in space. Likely scenarios for orbital conflict involve kamikaze devices and robot spacecraft that destroy or disable competing satellites. However, scientists warn that a “Star Wars” style conflagration that begins in outer space could trigger a chain reaction that wreaks havoc here on earth.

For example, cosmologists explain that the destruction of just a handful of satellites could start a demolition derby situation as clouds of space shrapnel pose a threat to everything in orbit. As satellites get knocked out or come down cell phone service, GPS signaling and the Internet as we know it would cease to exist.

5. Earth gets devoured by a wandering black hole

Experts think a wandering black hole in space could  one day swallow up the earth.

Astronomers think a wandering black hole in space could one day swallow up the earth.

Black holes are among the most mysterious phenomenon in existence. They are created when dying stars collapse in on themselves and their incredibly dense mass deforms the fabric of space and time. Consequently, intense gravitational fields surrounding a black hole devour all matter in their vicinity. Not even light, which travels 186,000 miles a second, can escape the whirlpool of destruction emanating from the eye of a black hole.  

Many astronomers believe that “recoiling” black holes — which have been ejected from their host galaxies like a rock in a slingshot — are wandering throughout the universe. A very small one could pass through the earth without causing too much trouble, scientists say. But one with as much mass as our moon could create unprecedented problems. Some cosmologists believe our planet would be obliterated, others suggest we’d be brought to the end of time, while still others suggest the earth could wind up in a parallel universe. Black holes are as much an undiscovered territory as death.

6. Gamma-ray bursts

Gamma-ray bursts are intense spurts of radiation focused into a narrow beam. They are created by exploding supernovas or pulsating binary star systems. A gamma-ray burst aimed at the earth could destroy the ozone layer. Such an event is not likely. However, scientists believe they’ve found evidence that the earth was hit by gamma rays in the 8th century.

Humanity, of course, survived that incident. But next time we may not be so lucky. After all, as professor Ralph Neuhauser at the University of Jena notes, “Gamma-ray bursts are very, very explosive and energetic events.” Indeed, the amount of energy emitted is thought to be equal to a billion trillion suns, which is more than enough to fry the earth’s atmosphere.


7. Interstellar dust clouds

The danger of a rogue asteroid, comet and planet hitting the earth is enough to keep many scientists up at night. Less well-known, however, is the hazard our planet could face if it passed through an interstellar dust cloud.

This threat was first recognized by the British astronomer William McCrea back in 1975. Essentially, it’s possible that as our solar system hurtles through space that it could pass through gaseous and molecular dust clouds created by the remnants of long-expired stars. This cosmic dust could cause global cooling on a massive scale as sunlight is filtered before reaching the earth. If the cosmic dust cloud was thick enough, then humanity could be plunged into another Ice Age.

Once every 26 million years

Space events typically impact the earth once every 26 million years.

Space events typically impact the earth once every 26 million years.


Outer space seems a long way off. But intergalactic events have impacted life on earth — both for good and ill — in big ways before. According to astronomers “at least some mass extinctions are caused by influences outside our world.” Indeed, the consensus seems to be that the earth is visited by cosmic catastrophes once every 26 million years.

With that in mind, I asked astronomy professor Irving Robbins, of the College of Staten Island (CUNY), what he thought about the probability that the earth could get hit with a galactic event. Here’s what he had to say:

“Our planet has been hit about every 26 million years by a major asteroid or comet impact with global damage. Currently, we are about one million years overdue for such an impact, which may or may not happen. This is the reason in the last two decades numerous operations on earth have been searching for NEO or Near Earth Objects which would pose a threat to our existence. Since we are very good at orbital calculations, so far, no major threat exists. But, minor ones (wipe out a city on this level) could pop up soon. Hopefully, we will catch real threats early and do something about it. If the target is an asteroid we could have years of planning. But if it’s a comet (and a possible global disaster), we only have a few months. Currently, no defense exist.”

Author : Scott O’Reilly

Source : thealternativedaily.com

REDMOND, Wash., March 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Last week, AOL shut down DMOZ.com, the official homepage of the DMOZ Internet Directory. However, the directory was quickly re-launched at DMOZLive.com. The new site represents the final iteration of the human-curated Internet directory and includes the same powerful browsing and searching tools. The DMOZLive.com version of the directory is made available through a Creative Commons Attribution license from the DMOZ organization.

"While automated search engines have become standard, we believe there's still value in human curation, as evidenced by site traffic data," says DMOZLive.com Founder Douglas Olson. "Humans are still better at understanding the content, motive and quality of web pages, and organization that information in a comprehensible way. It's worth noting that the search engine titans like Bing and Google continue to employ humans to test their automated systems, so even they recognize this fact.

Moreover, DMOZ is an important piece of Internet history, as its roots go all the way back to 1998. We felt it was important to preserve this resource and the countless hours of mostly volunteer work it represents."


The official DMOZ site, which was owned and operated by AOL, helped millions of Internet users make sense of the web and discover practical resources that may otherwise have gone unknown. A small army of volunteer editors worked to maintain the directory, which received several million page views each week. AOL has not commented on its closure of the site, and only provided two weeks notice prior to closure.


DMOZLive.com is now home to the only remaining full-featured version of the DMOZ Internet Directory, which comprises over 3.5 million sites across 800,000 categories. Typical categories range from business, computers, games and the arts to news and shopping. Within each top-level category are numerous subcategories, many of which have subcategories of their own, and so on. The result is a hierarchy of relevant content moving from the general to the specific in a way that feels natural to human users. This structure has been largely unchanged since the directory's creation in 1998.

As a global project, the directory includes regional content in 91 languages. Pages in Arabic and Hebrew are formatted with the appropriate right-to-left text. Users can search the full text of directory categories as well as individual site descriptions in any of the 91 available languages. The current version of the DMOZ Internet Directory also boasts a clean, modern interface that makes for easy navigation.

Easily the most unique and powerful feature of DMOZLive.com is the ability to execute a wide range of custom searches. Above each list of categorized web sites, a custom search bar encourages users to "search the below sites." With this feature, users are assured that a specific, targeted search will not return the flood of generalized and often irrelevant results typical of broader search engines. Mining the web's information to uncover knowledge has always been a challenge, but DMOZLive.com has been designed to make the task a little easier.

"Finally, we want to express our sincere thanks to the dedicated DMOZ editors around the world who have helped keep the Open Directory Project moving forward," added Olson. "DMOZ has always represented the very best of the web and of the human spirit of discovery, cooperation and sharing. We're proud to continue making the final version of the DMOZ Internet Directory available for as long as possible."

About DMOZLive.com

DMOZLive.com is operated by Midnight Design Productions, a technology company focused on building innovative web sites and services. The company leverages world-class design and development experience to build websites that bring communities together.

Contact Info:

Douglas Olson
Midnight Design Productions, LLC
16541 Redmond Way #512C, Redmond, WA 98077
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Source : prnewswire.com

There's been heaps of controversy associated with Microsoft's latest operating system Windows 10 since it was launched, but the latest issue takes the cake – apparently Windows has been quietly logging every single keystroke users make on their keyboards from the beginning. Even better, that data is being constantly sent to Microsoft's servers on a regular basis.

We're not sure why on earth Microsoft would want users' keystrokes, as this data is only really useful to cybercriminals seeking to crack passwords to steal sensitive data, and IBTimes UK has asked the computing giant to clarify, but in the meantime, it is possible to solve this problem.

Here's advice on how to turn off the Windows 10 keylogger:

Concerned about privacy? Then always say no

If you haven't yet installed Windows 10 but are thinking of upgrading, then your road ahead is simple. When you install Windows 10, make sure that you select 'custom install'.

Read all the options on the installation window carefully, and make sure you always select 'no' for all options relating to sending data to Microsoft. It is also safe if you simply choose to just say 'no' to all options – it will not affect your usability on Windows 10.

I have Windows 10. What should I do?

If you have Windows 10 installed, then you need to go to the Start menu and then select Settings > Privacy > General. Turn off the option that reads, 'Send Microsoft info about how I write to help us improve typing and writing in the future'. To be safe, restart your computer after selecting this option.

I have technical knowledge. Is there anything else I can do?

Yes, there are several things you can do to prevent being tracked. The problem is that even if you turn tracking options off, if in the future Microsoft decides that it wants the options to be turned back on for any reason, it can easily do so during the monthly Patch Tuesday through the automatic Windows Updates function.

There are ways that you can prevent this from happening, however, please be aware that these methods come from the user community, and some of these fixes could potentially cause problems to your PC. We've listed possible options ranked from "harmless" to "most likely to mess up your computer".

Method One: Windows Update MiniTool
Rank: Harmless

The Windows Update MiniTool freeware by MajorGeeks allows users to check for Windows Updates and see a description of what they do. You can decide whether you want to install the available updates, hide the ones you don't like and even delete updates that have been installed that you disagree with.

This software explains what the updates do with a user-friendly interface, and if you are not happy with the changes, you can easily search for and reinstall them.

Method Two: Set up a metered connection to reduce updates

Rank: Harmless

If you don't think you have the time to review incoming Windows Updates, you could also choose to set up a feature in Windows 10 that was designed by Microsoft to help users who have low internet bandwidth.


Instead of receiving all Windows Updates, Microsoft cuts out updates that are unimportant, and only send you priority updates that fix critical security problems (to keep the hackers out) or stability problems affecting the operating system.

Please note however that this will only work if you are on a Wi-Fi connection, but not if you're using an Ethernet cable to connect to the internet.

To do this, go to the Start menu and then select Settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi.

In Wi-Fi, click 'Advanced Options' and then select 'on' for the option 'Set as metered connection'.

Method Three: Turn off Windows Updates completely

Rank: Not advisable

If you think you know better than Microsoft, then you could just choose to disable Windows Updates completely. Some people with advanced technical knowledge have done this, and they routinely check for important updates, but we wouldn't advise it, as this means you could risk missing critical patches from Microsoft.

However, this is how you do it:

Go to the Start menu and type 'Run' in the search field. Click on the program, type "services.msc" and then click 'OK'. Look in the list of services, find the 'Windows Update' listing and double-click on it. Click on the drop down menu for 'Startup type' and select 'Disabled', then click OK to confirm and restart your computer.

You can change this back at any time using the same method and selecting 'Automatic' or 'Manual' from the drop down menu.

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