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Martin Grossner

Martin Grossner

Google also expected to announce integration of the Assistant into GE appliances.

Google’s developer conference kicks off tomorrow in Mountain View, Calif. One of the expected announcements, according to a Bloomberg report, is the expansion of AI and the Google Assistant to a range of other devices, including the iPhone:

At the Google I/O conference this week, the Alphabet Inc. unit plans to bring it to at least three more places: iPhones, coffee tables and kitchens. The Mountain View, California-based company is set to announce a version of its AI-powered assistant for Apple Inc.’s iPhone as soon as Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The report says that it will be presented as a “free, standalone app” that can be downloaded from the App Store. It’s not clear whether it will be an update of the Google app or a new app called Google Assistant. The report also says that it will integrate with other Google apps installed on users’ iPhones.

Google’s Photos app will reportedly also be enhanced with more AI capabilities (it already has the Assistant baked in). Google will also enable the creation of physical “coffee table books” through the app.

Perhaps most interesting is the expected integration of the Google Assistant into home appliances made by GE:

Google is also integrating its Assistant into GE home appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, washers and dryers. Users will be able to ask the Assistant how many cleaning pods are left in the dishwasher, or tell it to pre-heat the oven to 350F, or ask if the laundry is clean.

Samsung is likely to do something similar with its Assistant, Bixby. Bixby may be partly or wholly based on acquisition Viv. The battle for the smart home is well underway.

Last week, AI was also front and center at Microsoft’s developer conference. The company said that AI was being integrated into all of its products, from Office to the XBox.

If the Bloomberg report is accurate (and I presume it is), the Google Assistant will join Cortana in seeking to lure users away from Siri, Apple’s digital assistant. While Siri has a built-in advantage over rivals, literally, Google Assistant on the iPhone puts additional pressure on Apple to improve Siri’s performance.

In a recent Stone Temple Consulting analysis, Google Assistant was found to be the most comprehensive and accurate vs. Alexa, Siri and Cortana.

Source: This article was published searchengineland By Greg Sterling

A global view of the entire Antarctic region, most of the Southern Ocean, large portions of the southern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as the island of Madagascar and southern Africa.

Scientists believe a massive object that could change our understanding of history is hidden beneath the Antarctic ice.

The huge and mysterious “anomaly” is thought to be lurking beneath the frozen wastes of an area called Wilkes Land. The area is 151 miles across and has a minimum depth of about 2,700 feet.

Some researchers believe it is the remains of a truly massive asteroid more than twice the size of the Chicxulub space rock that wiped out the dinosaurs.

If this explanation is true, it could mean this killer asteroid caused the Permian-Triassic extinction event, which killed 96 percent of Earth’s sea creatures and up to 70 percent of the vertebrate organisms living on land.

However, the wilder minds of the internet have come up with their own theories, with some conspiracy theorists claiming it could be a massive UFO base or a portal to a mysterious underworld called the Hollow Earth.

This “Wilkes Land gravity anomaly” was first uncovered in 2006, when NASA satellites spotted gravitational changes which indicated the presence of a huge object sitting in the middle of a 300-mile-wide impact crater.

Now the internet has lit up with discussions of the mysterious observations after the UFO-hunting crew Secure Team 10 posted a YouTube video about the anomaly.

“To this day, scientists have no idea or way to discover exactly what is buried deep under this thick ice shelf,” the video narrator said.

“This continent has been shrouded in a mystery of its own for years now.”ice.jpg
Ice floats near the coast of West Antarctica.Getty Images

Secure Team 10 suggested the Nazis built secret bases in Antarctica during World War II, which were designed to be used by flying saucers.

The UFO hunters added: “There is some evidence of this coming to light in recent years, with images purporting to show various entrances built into the side of mountains, with a saucer shape and at a very high altitude.”

“This begs the question: how would you enter these entrances without something that could fly and was the same shape as the hole itself?”

Secure Team also suggested the US Navy led a mission to investigate the mysterious continent.

mountain.jpg
A mountain rises out of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.Getty Images

This expedition was called Operation High Jump, which conspiracy theorists believe was an attempt to find the entrance to a secret world hidden underneath Earth.

However, the scientist who first spotted the anomaly believes it is actually evidence of a massive impact crater.

“This Wilkes Land impact is much bigger than the impact that killed the dinosaurs, and probably would have caused catastrophic damage at the time,” said Ralph von Frese, who was a professor of geological sciences at Ohio State University when he discovered the “killer crater” on 2006.

“All the environmental changes that would have resulted from the impact would have created a highly caustic environment that was really hard to endure. So it makes sense that a lot of life went extinct at that time.”

Source: This article was published nypost.com By Jasper Hamill

Monday, 15 May 2017 18:17

Tech addiction: clicking for kicks

A new book claims almost half of us have some kind of behavioural addiction involving screens or the internet, and that has worrying implications for us as social beings.

Do you have a problem with the way you're using digital devices?  

In the living room, the car, the classroom, the bedroom and even the loo - the boundaries of what is normal and appropriate technology use seems to be constantly shifting and difficult to define.

 

There's really not a lot of advice out there to help users. Instead, the world's wealthiest companies are recruiting the brightest people on the planet to design technology and apps that you'll find difficult to switch off.

No one's really provoking us to disconnect, use less bandwidth, check email less frequently, post fewer photos, 'like' less, and stop sending Snapchats.

Meanwhile, it's become so easy to assemble an online 'audience' of friends and followers who we can share our inner thoughts, pictures of cats and videos with, creating an instant feedback loop, where 'likes' and a whole spectrum of reactions are the ultimate goal.

Adam Alter thinks we have a problem with technology, and it's getting worse. In his book Irresistible: Why We Can't Stop Checking, Scrolling, Clicking and Watching,he claims that almost half of us have some kind of behavioural addiction involving screens or the internet. This has worrying implications for our families, our children and ourselves.

And he says this addiction knows no boundaries.

“There are a lot of tech titans who publicly describe their products in glowing terms, but privately they were very careful about how much they used the product and how much they allowed their kids to use them.

“Despite all the advantages that make themselves and their kids unlikely to become addicts to some substances, there’s something universal about addiction to screens and these experiences,” Alter says.

Irresistible cover image

Irresistible cover image Photo: (Supplied)

And just because no substance is involved the addiction is just as powerful, he says.

We have long known that slot machines are addictive for example.

Apps and social media platforms are, he says, “all part of the attention economy”.

“Any device released is trying to capture your limited attention.”

And to do that they are made to be as “engaging” as possible.

So how do we turn off? Carve out some non-screen time? It’s an uphill battle Alter says, as these devices are designed to invade our every waking moment.

"If you don't allow those early periods of maturation to happen naturally, if you don't allow people to have face to face time and instead place kids in front of screens, I think they will never form into the people they could and should have been had they experienced social interaction. That's how big an issue I think this is likely to be." Adam Alter -  'Irresistible'

“Pick a time of the day when you know you do the same thing every day, say dinner time, I never have a screen with me at dinner time, when dinner time begins, therefore screen time ends.”

He says that technique is very useful and people who reduce their time spent with tech, after an initial withdrawal, all agree on the outcome.

“They all, almost universally, say it makes their lives feel richer, more colourful, more interesting.”

On the other hand heavy social media users also tend to agree it is subtracting from their lives.

“Very few people say ‘I feel wonderful, I feel it’s only been enriching’. It’s like eating a lot of sugar, it feels good in the short term but somehow there’s a hollowness to it  - and I don’t walk away from a face-to-face interaction feeling that.”

Irresistible: Why We Can't Stop Checking, Scrolling, Clicking and Watching by Adam Alter is published by Bodley Head.

Source: This article was published radionz.co.nz

The infamous hacktivist group Anonymous has released a chilling new video — urging people across the globe to “prepare” for World War 3 — as the US and North Korea continue to move “strategic pieces into place” for battle.

It seems we're all going to die fairly soon, but before that happens, we need to kill all the deer.

I'll get to the deer killing in a moment, but first let me expand on our impending and unfortunate demise.

FROM OUR PARTNERS:
Stephen Hawking Says He Fears He Would Not Be Welcome in the United State.

Stephen Hawking, the famed theoretical physicist, predicts that humankind has about 100 years to find a new planet. A promotion for a BBC documentary he appears in notes: "With climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics and population growth, our own planet is increasingly precarious."

Nothing worse for a planet than being overdue for an asteroid strike.

While Hawking is undoubtedly more intelligent than I are — I'm more of a theoretical journalist — other recent news has led me to believe that 100 years is too generous. I'm thinking we'll be lucky to make it through next week.

First off, in case you haven't noticed, we have an uncomfortably large number of world leaders who are: a) erratic narcissists; and b) armed with nuclear weapons.

We're all one poorly timed joke about Kim Jong Un's haircut away from becoming charred meatloaf.

In addition to that, there's a 2,000-square-mile hunk of ice about to break off the Antarctic Peninsula. The Larsen C ice shelf already had a 110-mile crack in it, but last week, scientists announced the crack now has a second branch.

Before long, a piece of ice the size of Rhode Island will be adrift and sea levels might rise because the ice shelf was keeping ice from nearby glaciers from sliding into the water.

The nukes and the asteroids and the giant icebergs and the epidemics and the oceans enveloping us all sound bad enough. But the universe is also trying to kill us on a more up-close and personal level.

We know that if we don't exercise we're either going to die or not be ready for bathing suit season, two equally terrifying fates.

But now we learn that the gym where we get our exercise might also be deadly, thanks to the unspeakable filth left behind by grotesque fellow gym goers.

The fitness equipment rating website FitRated.com — it's where I go to research workout equipment I buy and never use — had a laboratory evaluate swabs from treadmills, exercise bikes and free weights at three different chain gyms.

Here's what was found: "The average exercise bike harbors 39 times more bacteria than a cafeteria tray. Typical free weights have 362 times more germs than a toilet seat. And the treadmill you're running on averages 74 times more bacteria than a typical public bathroom faucet."

Cool.

Knowing that most of us bring our phones to the gym, it's a good bet we're hauling all those germs home with us and our fingers should be quarantined in infectious disease tents.

A safer workout would be to just do pushups in a bus station restroom and then jog off a cliff.

Anyhoo, death is all but certain, so let me get to the part about murdering the deer.

wildlife
A deer grazes as cars pass by in Valley Forge National Historical Park in February 2009. (Laurence Kesterson / McClatchy-Tribune)

For starters, I have never trusted deer. Their innocent, wide-eyed adorableness shtick always struck me as a cover for something sinister.

When I saw "Bambi," I hoped for a sequel — one where the hunter comes back to finish the job.

Turns out my gut was right. A recent article in Popular Science revealed that forensic scientists recorded the "first known evidence of a deer scavenging human bones."

The researchers were doing a study where they leave a human corpse in the woods to monitor how it decays and gets picked away at by various woodland creatures.

Let's pause a moment and consider the conversation that led to that corpse being volunteered:

"Hey Grandpa, what should we do with your body after you die?"

"Scatter my ashes in the ocean."

"Sure thing, Gramps! I definitely won't sell your corpse to scientists who want to plunk it in the forest and watch it get eaten!"

What a legacy.

A camera was trained on the corpse and what the researchers saw will forever change how you view deer. From the Popular Science report: "On Jan. 5, 2015, the camera caught a glimpse of a young white-tailed deer standing near the skeleton with a human rib bone in its mouth. Then it happened again on Jan. 13 — the camera caught a deer with another rib sticking out of its mouth like a cigar."

Like a cigar?!?!

These allegedly skittish mammals are just biding their time, waiting for us to kick the bucket so they can munch on our delicious ribs.

If death is around the corner — and it most certainly is — I'm ready to meet my maker, but I'll be darned if I'm going to let some bloodthirsty buck feast on my remains like a four-legged slob at a rib buffet.

No, we need to strike first and preserve the sanctity of our soon-to-be irradiated or gym-disease-ridden corpses. I want every deer dead as soon as possible.

Every human should be eating venison around the clock. You too, vegans. You're going to have to suck this one up for the team.

There can be no deer left when we are wiped out by giant slabs of ice or space rocks or whatever. Because if there are, those furry forest monsters will be licking their smug chops, prancing around with our rib bones in their mouths, knowing they pulled off a con for the ages.

Bambi, indeed.

Listen to Rex Huppke and WGN radio host Amy Guth discuss politics each week on the "Guth and Huppke on Politics" podcast at chicagotribune.com/guthhuppkepodcast.

What you think is reality is a lie. And we have the proof.

Back in 2015, the nation—nay THE WORLD—came together to furiously debate an issue that would have—until very recently—been considered completely absurd: What color is this dress?

Is it blue and black or white and gold? To me, it's obviously blue and black. But apparently, only about half the internet agrees with me. Weirdos.

Well, as it turns out even scientists are also somewhat befuddled about what exactly is going on there. But what this controversy did is shed some light on a fundamental truth: Your brain sucks. All our brains suck. Or let me put it another way: Our brains are actually really amazing, but they're not nearly as infallible as we like to think they are.

Our brains filter a constant tsunami of stimuli and piece the important parts together to recreate what we know as "reality." And they do all this in damn-near real time—which is really impressive if you think about it. But here's the thing: a big chunk of what we consider "reality" actually consists of our brains making guestimates.

We know this because researchers have devised ways to consistently fool our brains into seeing things they're not really seeing—even when our brains know that's not what they're seeing. These little reality busters are known as "optical illusions."

Just think about the last movie or TV show you watched. As much as you might have been affected by the story, you weren't really watching those events taking place. Your gullible brain was presented with a rapid series of static images, which fooled it into thinking it was watching an event. This little trick is known as "the phi phenomenon."

We don't think of TV as an illusion, but that's just because it's common. But the truth of the matter is it's just Hollywood taking advantage of our easily tricked skull mush.

While our brains are complex, beautiful machines that help us maneuver fairly successfully through a big complicated world, they are far from perfect. Check out these 22 optical illusions that prove just how much our brains really, truly suck sometimes.

NOTE: Some videos in this feature offer A LOT of stimuli and probably should not be clicked on by those known to suffer from epilepsy or similar conditions.

1- Imaginary Colors

 

Hit play above and then stare at the screen (apologies for the magic show soundtrack music; it's not part of the illusion). The image will change along the way and your brain will add an interesting temporary effect. (Toggle backwards to confirm reality.) 

This is an example of an afterimage—when the eyes' receptors are so stimulated that they still tingle after the fact. In this case, they overcompensate with complementary colors (i.e. the solid, vivid white turns black; the orange turns blue; and the blue turns fleshy).

2- When You Don't Know How to See a Roof

Watch the above video. Not only does your mind misinterpret what it sees in the foreground, it doesn't seem to understand what's going on in the mirror image in the background. Your brain just got doubled p0wned. This misunderstanding takes place because 1) the brain can't accurately render depth from a single vantage point (i.e. a video) and 2) the brain likes to "see" right angles (the kind that would occur should the curve of the roof continue—it would meet a plane perpendicular to the axis of the roof). (Source)

3- When a Circle Isn't a Circle

The above circle is just a series of dots rotating within a larger circle, right? What could be more obvious? Oh… I guess just watch the video to see how your brain failed once again.

4- Motion Without Motion

Stare at this image and you'll see how the flickering circles in your periphery appear to be moving even though they are absolutely stationary (try staring at just one and you'll see). This illusion is attributed to the Cornsweet effect, which is what happens when the brain fills in information based on slight changes in gradient. (Source)

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5- Your Mind Can (Consciously) Play Tricks on Itself

Your brain is a powerful thing, but it can be tricked—sometimes quite easily. And here's one other weird wrinkle: it can consciously trick itself. The above is a prime example of something called pareidolia, whereas the brain perceives a familiar pattern where there is none. 



In the case of the video above, the mind perceives movement where none actually existed—it's just random static. But, as you see, the mind can control the direction of the apparent movement just by thinking "left, right" or "up, down." (Source)

Moving Pictures

6- Moving Pictures

This image is not animated. Don't believe me? Try staring at just one part of the image and you'll see it will stop moving. This is an example of a "peripheral drift illusion." It is thought that this illusion occurs because of the slight differences in time it takes to process different luminances (how intense the light is from a particular area). This slight lag in mental processing tricks the brain into perceiving movement that isn't really there. (Image)

7- You Don't Know Your Colors

Stare at the black cross in the middle of this graphic. Soon you'll begin to see a green dot moving around the perimeter. Eventually, all the pinkish dots disappear, leaving a lonely solo green dot traveling along the edge. But it's all a lie. There is no green dot and the pink dots never really disappear. 



This is known as the "lilac chaser illusion." It's a combination of several physiological phenomena including 1) the previously mentioned "phi phenomenon" in which we perceive continuous motion between separate objects viewed rapidly in succession (used in development of early cinema); 2) afterimages in which overstimulation of specific cones in the eye can "tire" them out while surrounding cones not affected by that particular stimulation will send the brain the complete opposite stimuli (in this case, green); and 3) the fact that our brains tend to ignore blurry stimuli that are in the periphery of our vision, a phenomenon called "Troxler's fading." (Source)

How Many Black Dots Can You Count?

8- How Many Black Dots Can You Count?

The answer is none. Despite what your eyes are telling you, there are no black dots. There are only white dots that appear to darken in the periphery of your vision. This is an example of a "scintillating grid illusion" (yes, the actual name). 



While scientists have various theories, there is actually no consensus on why this illusion works, other than our brains are all stupid sometimes. (Image)

Are These Lines Parallel?

9- Are These Lines Parallel?

Despite what your eyes are telling you, they are. It is thought that the "café wall illusion" functions due to the high contrast in the two different "bricks." When interpreting images, our brains tend to "spread" dark zones into light zones, a function known as irradiation; this "movement" is probably what causes a false warping effect. (Image)

Which Line Is Bigger?

10- Which Line Is Bigger?

They're both exactly the same, ya knucklehead! (If your brain can't properly discern the length of these lines, surely it can discern the counterintuitive pattern of this slideshow). 



This is an example of the "Ponzo illusion." This little trick takes advantage of the human brain's use of background to judge an object's size. (Image)

Which Orange Circle is Bigger?

11- Which Orange Circle is Bigger?

Yep, your brain sucks again. The orange circles are exactly the same. This is known at the "Ebbinghaus illusion" (or sometimes Titchener circles). It is theorized that the two main visual contributors to this illusion are the difference in the distance between the outer ring and inner circles as well as the completeness of the ring surrounding the "smaller" circle. (Image)

12- Ebbinghaus in Motion

Here's an animation showing the illusion functioning in real time.

Bulge Effect

13- Bulge Effect

Here's an illusion utilizing the "dynamic luminance-gradient effect," and it requires your participation. Move closer to the screen and you'll see the white shade in the middle explode in luminance. (Image)

See Those Pale Shades in the Background?

14- See Those Pale Shades in the Background?

No you don't. That's more brain lies. There are no shades in this image, only lines. This is known as "the watercolor illusion." This is what happens when a polygon has a border made of a bright line, bordered by a darker line of a complementary color: your brain is tricked into "filling in" the shape with the brighter color. (Image)

When a Spiral Isn't a Spiral

15- When a Spiral Isn't a Spiral

What a good-looking spiral, amirght? I guess nothing more to discuss here… unless… no, wait a minute. Run your finger along the spiral and see if you can run the length of it. Something seems off here.



This is the "Fraser spiral illusion." Despite what your eyes tell you, the spiral is actually a series of concentric circles. The background pattern makes the picture so confusing that your brain just fills in information that isn't really there. (Image)

16- Motion in Non-Motion

Here you find a series of slits roving across an illustration, thus allowing only small bits of information at a time. Our brain then fills in the gaps of different stages and recreates the experience of viewing fluid movement. If you're feeling dumb and disappointed in the power of the human brain, don't—as you can see, the cat in this video was also fooled.

Colors That Aren't Colors

17- Colors That Aren't Colors

At first glance, you should see a semi-transparent blue circle overlaying the illustration, but you aren't really. The light blue blotch is the result of an illusion known as "neon color spreading." Similar to the watercolor effect, your brain has been tricked into adding color into the bare negative spaces. (Image)

How Many Legs Does This Elephant Have?

18- How Many Legs Does This Elephant Have?

Stare at it for a bit. You'll figure out what's going on here. This is a form of a "cognitive illusion" in which our assumptions about the world are challenged in a falsified image. (Image)

19- Size Matters

We've seen numerous examples of "afterimages," whereby the brain is prompted to "see" colors that aren't there based on earlier stimuli. However, as the above video shows, the story of after images is even more complex: The brain can be tricked into seeing different colors based on the size of subsequent stimuli. (Source)

20- Dancing Letters

Watch the above video. Think those letters are moving? They're not. You could simply trust me or the maker of the video on this point, or you can verify yourself: Take a straight-edge like a sheet of paper and hold it over the tops of the letters—you'll see that they are perfectly stationary. The changing fill-shade fools the brain into seeing movement that is not occurring. (Source)

21- Warp of Wow

This is one of the most effective illusions I've ever come across. If you concentrate on the center and read the letters as they go along, you will find a swirling vortex of shapes and colors forming around the periphery (but no colors have been added—it's all an illusion). The effect even lasts for a powerful few seconds after you've stopped watching. Whoa.

Coffee Bean Illusion

22- Coffee Bean Illusion

Can you find a man's face hidden among the coffee beans? Trust us, he's in there. 



This isn't really an optical illusion in the tradition sense, as much as it's a tricky (if simple) piece of Photoshop work. If you can find the face in under three seconds, the NIH's website reports (without giving any specifics) that "the right side of your brain may be more developed than most." The right side of the brain being the hemisphere generally associated with art, creativity, and imagination. (Image)

Source : This article was published pcmag.com By EVAN DASHEVSKY

President Trump will be watching and listening. Time to batten down the hatches.

Protecting individual privacy from government intrusion is older than American democracy. In 1604, the attorney general of England, Sir Edward Coke, ruled that a man’s house is his castle. This was the official declaration that a homeowner could protect himself and his privacy from the king’s agents. That lesson carried into today’s America, thanks to our Founding Fathers’ abhorrence for imperialist Great Britain’s unwarranted search and seizure of personal documents.

They understood that everyone has something to hide, because human dignity and intimacy don’t exist if we can’t keep our thoughts and actions private. As citizens in the digital age, that is much more difficult. Malicious hackers and governments can monitor the most private communications, browsing habits and other data breadcrumbs of anyone who owns a smartphone, tablet, laptop or personal computer.

President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism of encryption technology and interest in expanding government surveillance have technologists and civil libertarians deeply concerned.

As an ethical hacker, my job is to help protect those who are unable, or lack the knowledge, to help themselves. People who think like hackers have some really good ideas about how to protect digital privacy during turbulent times. Here’s what they – and I – advise, and why. I have no affiliation or relationship with any of the companies listed below, except in some cases as a regular user.

Phone calls, text messaging and email

When you’re communicating with people, you probably want to be sure only you and they can read what’s being said. That means you need what is called “end-to-end encryption,” in which your message is transmitted as encoded text. As it passes through intermediate systems, like an email network or a cellphone company’s computers, all they can see is the encrypted message. When it arrives at its destination, that person’s phone or computer decrypts the message for reading only by its intended recipient.

For phone calls and private text-message-like communication, the best apps on the market are WhatsApp and Signal. Both use end-to-end encryption, and are free apps available for iOS and Android. In order for the encryption to work, both parties need to use the same app.

For private email, Tutanota and ProtonMail lead the pack in my opinion. Both of these Gmail-style email services use end-to-end encryption, and store only encrypted messages on their servers. Keep in mind that if you send emails to people not using a secure service, the emails may not be encrypted. At present, neither service supports PGP/GPG encryption, which could allow security to extend to other email services, but they are reportedly working on it. Both services are also free and based in countries with strong privacy laws (Germany and Switzerland). Both can be used on PCs and mobile devices. My biggest gripe is that neither yet offers two-factor authentication for additional login security.

Avoiding being tracked

It is less straightforward to privately browse the internet or use internet-connected apps and programs. Internet sites and services are complicated business, often involving loading information from many different online sources. For example, a news site might serve the text of the article from one computer, photos from another, related video from a third. And it would connect with Facebook and Twitter to allow readers to share articles and comment on them. Advertising and other services also get involved, allowing site owners to track how much time users spend on the site (among other data).

The easiest way to protect your privacy without totally changing your surfing experience is to install a small piece of free software called a “browser extension.” These add functionality to your existing web browsing program, such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari. The two privacy browser extensions that I recommend are uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger. Both are free, work with the most common web browsers and block sites from tracking your visits.

Encrypting all your online activity

If you want to be more secure, you need to ensure people can’t directly watch the internet traffic from your phone or computer. That’s where a virtual private network (VPN) can help. Simply put, a VPN is a collection of networked computers through which you send your internet traffic.

Instead of the normal online activity of your computer directly contacting a website with open communication, your computer creates an encrypted connection with another computer somewhere else (even in another country). That computer sends out the request on your behalf. When it receives a response – the webpage you’ve asked to load – it encrypts the information and sends it back to your computer, where it’s displayed. This all happens in milliseconds, so in most cases it’s not noticeably slower than regular browsing – and is far more secure.

For the simplest approach to private web browsing, I recommend Freedome by F-Secure because it’s only a few dollars a month, incredibly easy to use and works on computers and mobile devices. There are other VPN services out there, but they are much more complicated and would probably confuse your less technically inclined family members.

Additional tips and tricks

If you don’t want anyone to know what information you’re searching for online, use DuckDuckGo or F-Secure Safe Search. DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn’t profile its users or record their search queries. F-Secure Safe Search is not as privacy-friendly because it’s a collaborative effort with Google, but it provides a safety rating for each search result, making it a suitable search engine for children.

To add security to your email, social media and other online accounts, enable what is called “two-factor authentication,” or “2FA.” This requires not only a user name and password, but also another piece of information – like a numeric code sent to your phone – before allowing you to log in successfully. Most common services, like Google and Facebook, now support 2FA. Use it.

Encrypt the data on your phone and your computer to protect your files, pictures and other media. Both Apple iOS and Android have settings options to encrypt your mobile device.

And the last line of privacy defense is you. Only give out your personal information if it is necessary. When signing up for accounts online, do not use your primary email address or real phone number. Instead, create a throw-away email address and get a Google Voice number. That way, when the vendor gets hacked, your real data aren’t breached.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.By Timothy Summers

In the fierce battle for attention in the App Store, how do you stay ahead of the competition? Contributor Gilad Bechar shares 5 trends and App Store Optimization tactics that can help you.

The Apple iTunes App Store has to evolve. The number of apps is growing exponentially, and user behaviors are constantly changing, making it critical for the App Store to adjust. Some of the products of this evolution are long-awaited features and capabilities, playing catch-up with Google Play. Others are attempts to take creative initiative in improving the user experience in the App Store.

App Store Optimization (ASO) in 2017 demands that app publishers stay one step ahead of the competition by taking advantage of newly available features and techniques. Failure to do so and sticking to old, out-of-date ASO strategies can cost you, as a publisher, in visibility and discoverability levels.

So, which new trends and ASO features do you absolutely have to know in 2017?

1. Review replies (with iOS 10.3)

With the release of iOS 10.3, Apple will finally allow app publishers and developers to respond to user reviews in the App Store. This long-awaited update will lead to higher rankings for publishers who pay attention to the contents of their reviews.

Users are more likely to award an app a higher rating if their comment receives a satisfactory response. Currently, users who encounter an issue with an app will rarely turn to support before abandoning it and rating it as poor.

By allowing developers to comment on user reviews, Apple will be opening another communication channel between users and app publishers to help with troubleshooting and support on the App Store page itself. Publishers should make use of this ability to win back disappointed users and increase retention rates.

2. In-app ranking mechanism (with iOS 10.3)

Another important addition that can help boost app rankings through higher ratings is the ability to include the ranking mechanism in the app without redirecting to the app page in the store — thus saving the user another step on their way to give your app the five stars it deserves.

To avoid abuse of this feature, Apple will be allowing app developers to bring up the rating dialogue up to three times a year. If a user rates the app, the prompt will not appear again. If it appears and the user dismisses it three times, the developer will have to wait for another year before asking the user for their satisfaction level of the app.

3. Search Ads

Apple Search Ads have proven to be a cost-effective user acquisition channel in initial experiments and tests. Apple’s unique combination of ASO and ad bidding not only boosts app visibility and discoverability, but also boosts the app’s organic search rankings for keywords targeted even after the campaign is over.

Search ads also let you include a list of negative keywords, helping you target the users you want. For example, if you want to exclude users least likely to pay for in-app purchases, you can experiment with adding the word “free” to your negative keywords.

We expect publishers to continue adopting this tool, and Apple to expand its global availability and enhance targeting capabilities.

4. Keyword boost campaigns

Currently, the iTunes App Store algorithm evaluates the relevance of a keyword to an app based on user installs originating from search results for that keyword. Keyword boost campaigns, which have recently gained popularity, involve numerous tactics to try to get users to download the app after searching for a targeted keyword or keywords.

Since this is often considered a “black-hat” tactic by Apple, it’s important that it’s applied carefully — preferably by experienced app marketers who’ve successfully promoted apps through keyword boost campaigns in the past without being penalized by Apple.

5. Deep linking & app indexing

App Store search results are an important source of organic traffic, but they’re not the only one. As mobile apps begin to replace mobile websites, Google is working to provide users with relevant search results within Android and iOS apps. Although this ASO technique has been around since 2015, its popularity is sure to rise in 2017, especially with e-commerce and news apps looking to turn mobile web users into app users.

Using app indexing, the result displayed and promoted in Google Search results is a link into the app itself for users who have the app installed. These links lead the user directly to the product or content page relevant to the search query inside the app. Users who do not have the app installed will be directed to the app page in the App Store to install the app. If your app and mobile website have similar content, you can associate them with one another to optimize discoverability across available channels.

Even with the ever-growing competition for user attention in the App Store, ASO remains the most cost-effective method to acquire loyal, ROI-positive users. Keeping up with the constant changes to the App Store algorithms and ecosystems is the only way to get ahead of the competition in 2017.

This article was published in marketingland.com By Gilad Bechar

Some of the coolest discoveries made by NASA — like the personality of Martian soil, for instance — are often so small in scale that it’s easy to forget just how big many things in space really are. A new discovery made by researchers working with data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory helps put things in perspective. The group just reported its findings of an absolutely colossal “tsunami” of hot gas cruising through the nearby Perseus Galaxy Cluster, and it’s so big that the wave alone absolutely dwarfs our entire galaxy. 

space news

The researchers findings, which is slated to be published in the June 2017 issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, suggests that a flyby of a smaller galaxy cluster billions of years ago essentially stirred up the gas of the Perseus cluster, creating a swirling formation in which the colossal wave formed.

The wave is thought to measure some 200,000 light-years across, which is about double the size of our own Milky Way. It’s categorized as a Kelvin-Helmholtz wave, which essentially means that its creation was a byproduct of an instability between mismatched fluids, and that its size is a direct result of the strength of the magnetic field of the cluster itself. The wave will eventually dissipate, but not for many millions of years.

But before you start wringing your hands over the admittedly creepy images NASA has provided to illustrate the discovery, you should know that Perseus is a whopping 250 million light years from Earth, and the gas tsunami, while intimidating in a simulation, is essentially just a a far-off galaxy cluster blowing off a bit of steam, and nothing that could affect Earth.

This article was published in bgr.com By Mike Wehner

April was a relatively mellow month in the social media world. Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube were the only networks that rolled out new updates.

Nevertheless, there were a few SEJ articles this month geared toward helping marketers make the most of their social media strategies.

For example, which brands are successfully tapping into the desires and needs of their target audience on social media? This post compiles 10 outstanding examples of social media campaigns you need to see.

Another post provides 10 Tips to Increase Sales on Instagram. The biggest reason to use Instagram for business? The Instagram engagement rate beats not only the other social media channels but also nearly every other traffic source.

Just over a year ago, Facebook released Reactions. Five new emojis joined the venerable Like button — Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry — with the aim of giving users a little more freedom to express their emotional responses to posts. This post covers practical tips to help you get the most out of Reactions and increase brand affinity.

How are businesses using social listening today? To find out, research firm Clutch recently surveyed 300 marketers. Respondents all used social media monitoring tools for their jobs at medium and large B2B and B2C U.S. companies. Here are six ways social media listening benefits businesses today.

Finally, here are the exciting social media updates you may have missed in April.

Facebook

Facebook is testing its related articles feature to help users discover more stories about trending topics. Heading forward, Facebook will show you related stories before you click on an article.

Better video metrics are critical for marketers and businesses on Facebook, especially considering users are now watching more than 100 million hours of video every day. Here are the five changes to Facebook video metrics that marketers need to know.

  1. New: Aggregate Minutes Viewed
  2. New: Video Metric Benchmarks
  3. Change: Aggregate Video Views
  4. Update: Date Range Analysis
  5. New: Sorting Options

People who read your Facebook Instant Articles will now be able to Like your page or sign up for your email newsletter from within your article. That’s because Facebook announced it has given all publishers access to two new call-to-action units: an Email Signup CTA and a Page Like CTA.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn launched Matched Audiences, which gives advertisers three new targeting tools: website retargeting, account targeting, and contact targeting. Matched Audiences is now available for all of LinkedIn’s ad formats. This brings LinkedIn more in line with what Facebook (custom audiences) and Twitter (tailored audiences) have offered to advertisers for years.

LinkedIn also launched Lead Gen Forms. This new feature in Sponsored Content campaigns removes a huge barrier on mobile devices: filling out forms. LinkedIn hopes conversation rates on mobile devices will rise with the new forms.

YouTube

YouTube significantly reduced the threshold that must be met for users to initiate live streams from their YouTube channels. When YouTube live streaming was first introduced back in February, channels had to have at least 10,000 subscribers to initiate a live stream. Now that threshold has been reduced to 1,000 subscribers.

Google is ramping up its efforts to ensure ads do not appear alongside questionable YouTube videos. Its latest measure involves blocking ads from appearing on channels with less than 10,000 total views.

This article was published in searchenginejournal By Debbie Miller

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