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Jay Harris

Jay Harris

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Google Search finds quality of newsy content algorithmically
  • Search results to omit fake news through improved ranking signals
  • India marks 2x growth in daily active search users on Google

Google Search already receive some artificial intelligence (AI) tweaks to enhance user experience. But with the swift growth of inferior-quality content, Google is now in the process of improving the quality of its search results. VP of Engineering Shashidhar Thakur on the sidelines of Google for India 2017 on Tuesday stated that Google is making continuous efforts to cut down on the amount of fake news content listed on its search engine.

 

"Whether it's in India or internationally, we make sure that we uphold a high bar when it comes to the quality of newsy content. Generally, in search, we find this type of content algorithmically," Thakur told Gadgets 360. The algorithms deployed behind Google Search look for the authoritativeness of the content and its quality to rank them appropriately. Thakur said that this continuous improvement will uplift the quality of the search results over time.

"We improve ranking signals on our search engine from time to time to overcome the issue of fake news. Signals help the system understand a query or the language of the query or the text or matching different keywords to provide relevant results," explained Thakur.

Similar to other search engines that use code-based bots to crawl different webpages, Google Search indexes hundreds of billions of webpages consistently. Once indexed, Google Search adds webpages to different entries that include all the words available on those pages. This data is then processed to the Knowledge Graph that not just looks for any particular keywords but also picks user interests to give relevant results.

Related...

"Inferior-quality content on the Web isn't a new and special problem," Thakur said. "But certainly, it is a problem that we need to solve by continuous tuning and making the underlying search algorithms better. This is indeed a very crucial area of focus for us."

Google isn't the only Web company that is taking the menace of fake news seriously. Facebook and Microsoft's Bing are also testing new developments to curb fake news. A recent report by Gartner predicted that fake news will grow multifold by 2022 and people in mature economies will consume more amount of false information over the information that is true and fair.

Having said that, Google is dominating the Web space and its search engine is the most prominent area for counterfeit content. Thakur at the Google for India stage revealed the number of daily active search users in India has grown two times in the last one year. The Mountain View, California-headquartered company also released Google Go as the lightweight version of the flagship Google app on Android devices.

 

Source: This article was published gadgets.ndtv.com By Jagmeet Singh

 

Saturday, 03 June 2017 15:01

New Trends In Traffic Generation

Worried about the next Google slap? Do you only rely on Search Engine traffic? Don’t know where to start when you need to drive traffic to your site? If yes, this article is for YOU! Whatever you do on the net, you will always deal with Traffic Generation…the holly grail.

To make it short, you have 2 main types of traffic :

1) Search Engine traffic

What is it? : organic traffic coming from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, MSN

Pros :

– This traffic is free 
– Traffic is highly targeted 
– Volume of traffic can be very high

 

Cons :

– you don’t control it 
– you rely on robots to analyze your site and deliver some traffic 
– you need to get indexed…without being de-indexed (once again, you rely on search engines policy and algorithms) 
– short term

2) Referred Traffic (I know Search engine traffic is also a sort of referred traffic, but let’s put SE traffic apart from this category)

What is it? Traffic coming from third party sites (other than search engines) and is a result of a “manual / human” action.

Examples : article directories, social bookmarking services, forums, partners, text link ads, banners, directories, rss…

Pro :

– you control it 
– you have a lot of means to develop it (almost unlimited ; a lot are free) 
– it’s highly targeted 
– You can pay to get better targeting and control over your referred traffic 
– Long term

Cons :

– Time & resources consuming 
– Repetitive tasks

Now, through my membership, my forum, my readings of other forums, I know that most webmasters mainly rely on search engines traffic, our first category.

The aim of the present article is to throw the light on a different angle of the Traffic Generation big box!

Summary : the right way to get into traffic generation is to forget about search engines.

Focusing on search engine traffic gives a too narrow vision of traffic generation. It does not reveal all the opportunities existing outside of the search engines (understand all the way to generate Referred Traffic).

In addition, as you’ve seen from the cons above, you accept to rely on something you never control, and this is a HUGE risk in your marketing strategy.

Warning : I do not say, you should not care about search engine traffic. I say that it should not be your priority, and the first door you try to open when dealing with traffic generation. It’s a question of point of view.

Now, on the other hand, focusing on developing what we called Referred Traffic is a more positive, constructive and profitable attitude and marketing strategy.

Not only will you build traffic for the long term, but you will also “manually” control your traffic, either by submitting your content, your sites, your feeds, or by exchanging links, content, traffic with partners, being active on forums, blogs…

Doing it this way will give you a lot of power and effectiveness. Those sources of Referred Traffic only vanish…if you decide to let them vanish. Once again, you control everything.

Now, you have some positive side effects :

 

– By building Referred Traffic, you give a lot of food to search engines to index your site, understand them, and rank them well…

– …thus developing naturally your Search Engine Traffic!

Try to develop Referred Traffic by submitting your sitemap to Google, and you will understand the difference between the 2 approaches.

Google and other search engines tend to change their algorithms quite often to produce more relevant content for users of their engines. Sometimes, your site is getting de-indexed in a day just because of this.

Are you lost, is your site dead? It could if you only relied on Search Engine traffic. It has no impact if you focused on building Referred Traffic.

In one case, you feel bad and like if you had wasted your time. In the other case, you don’t even notice it (on the long run ; of course, you can see a fall in traffic coming from a given search engine)

But even then, your site has a lot of chances of being re-indexed when you’ve build Referred Traffic, simply because the search engines food is still there! And this is a HUGE difference and one of the most valuable asset you can develop.

If you’re still with me, you should now understand my point : when dealing with bots, you need to act as a human…which means you should not try to talk to them Give them some “bot food” that you build naturally by developing a Referred Traffic Generation Strategy.

Here are 10 easy “pieces” to do what we described above :

Once you have a site…

 

1) Find some related blogs, read them, identify trends, and post comments (no stupid comments, no spam of course) with a link back to your site where you’re also discussing the topic

2) Do the same with related forums. Use search engines (!) to find relevant forums. Register and start being active on these forums. Use your signature to put a link back to your site

3) Create a blog (if you don’t have one) and post on a regular basis on it. Use a service like feedburner to syndicate your content with other webmasters.

4) Submit your feeds, blogs, and site to niche directories

5) Find “authority” sites in your niche, analyze them and contact the webmasters to :

a) propose a link exchange (you should first put a link to their site), 
b) if you’re selling a report or an ebook, propose them to become an affiliate (give them a fre.e copy of your ebook first), and make it easy for them to manage their promotion 
c) if they have a newsletter, read it, understand it, and then ask the webmaster if you can have a sponsored ad into it, or even better a solo ad where you could advertise your site, newsletter, ebook… 
d) propose content exchange with link back to each other’s website 
e) build a relation with them

6) The most effective : write articles and submit them to article directories (some with big traffic, and some niche related ones)

7) Social bookmarking and social networking :

a) build a Squidoo lens (see Squidoo Profits for more details: http://www.squidoo-profits.com). You can find many sites like Squidoo and build pages about your niche on these ones too. You can link them to your main niche sites, you can link back to your blogs, or even to your other “squidoo” like pages, thus creating a “niche social net” all relevant to your niche. 
b) build a myspace account and create a profile around your niche, then build your “list” of friends around this profile 
c) submit your site to social bookmarking services (digg, technorati, del.icio.us …) 
d) You can also comment on the most popular entries with a link back to your site, blog, or squidoo lens.

8) Use videos and sites like youtube.com (and similar) to drive traffic to your niche site. Produce a short video (2-3 minutes) around your site, your niche and you. Link to your Videos from your “niche social net” (see 7) ) Also, ask webmasters to put a link to this video (once you have build a relation with them) – Or they can upload it to their server and brand it with their affiliate ID, if you have an affiliate program

9) Make it viral : your best source of (new) traffic…is your (current) traffic!

Use some “Tell a friend” features on your site to have them promote your site. You can provide incentives (such as a free report, a coupon for your ebook…)

10) Paid Traffic : yes…all the above techniques do not cost a penny…(unless you pay for advertising on a partner’s site)

You can pay to get targeted traffic : you can advertise through text link ads, banners, that will appear on high traffic sites.

You should seriously consider paid traffic. Do not see it as a cost, but rather as an initial investment to boost your site. Also, if your site is correctly monetized, then paid traffic is the easiest way to get some quick metrics about this, and to make it profitable quickly.

As you see we could easily expand this list. But, those are, in my opinion, the most important sources of Referred Traffic.

Now, compare the above list with Search Engine traffic, and you will see why your approach should focus on generating Referred Traffic and not Search Engine Traffic. This type of traffic will come naturally anyway…

 

JP Schoeffel is a full time Internet Marketer specialized in Site monetization and Traffic generation. He operates a monthly membership (http://www.Niches-In-A-Box.com) where he provides a complete business to his members, month after month, as well as comprehensive training center.

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Source: This article was published goodherald.com By Ayat Ahadi

The e-commerce businesses today realize the importance of exploring Customer Behavior. They know how pivotal it can be to increase sales. Research has it that around 96% Americans have made at least one online purchase in their lives. Out of these, 80% bought in the previous month alone. After all, it is more about enhancing your site visits and business than anything else. Similarly, checkout page discount codes is a handy way to get your customer back to buying more. A study reveals that up to 54% customers are willing to buy more products if there is a discount. Naturally, lower price translates into more sales. Here’s what you can do to offer discount codes on checkout page:

 

Does Consumer Psychology Work?

The famous Marketing Experiment by Dr. Flint McGlaughlin is at work here, which suggests that consumers think of the first price as an average. For instance, seeing a “15 – 30% off” scheme will make them believe that most items are 15% while others are 30% off. Trevor Banes – marketer at CouponBend endorses the research and states that you see a perception at play in the marketing experiment that still works. The consumer psychology comes into play every time you offer them an attractive discount on the checkout page. Furthering his point, he claims that promoting discount coupons on the checkout page is like hitting the nail on the head. It creates doubt in customer’s mind whether or not to buy the offer. Despite not being a scientist, a marketer knows how the art of psychology for selling works. In other words, by creating a sense of scarcity or urgency, marketers can lure you into buying immediately. The same analogy is at work on the checkout discount offers. They see the consumer reaching the checkout page and offer a discount to sweeten the deal, leaving the customer in two minds and eventually buying the offer. Helpful tips and checklist pages like party planning checklist are best place to offer discount codes to customers.

1. Incentivize Your Checkout Page

study reveals that up to 60% customers leave their shopping carts as is and never return. There are several reasons for abandoning carts, but that’s how customers tend to browse e-commerce sites. Call it the e-commerce version of window shopping where customers will compare prices, check gift options and save merchandise to buy later. The simple reason for this behavior is the absence of a discount code. Another study suggests that around 27% customers would abandon their carts only to look for a discount code. To avoid this, you should incentivize your checkout page with a current discount code that works. Keep updating your checkout page discount codes so that customers don’t abandon their carts without in disappointment. Another way to lure customers into buying discount codes on the checkout page is to re-direct them to your discount voucher page, something similar to this. This trick will reduce chances of losing customer midway and help them stay on your page longer.

2. Promote A Sale When The Deal Ends

Sometimes, e-commerce sites come up with a unique idea to promote a discount code on the checkout page. For instance, promoting your sale just before the scheme is about to end sounds great. After all, customers will hastily try to buy the offer, and you’ll end up with decent sales. Another way of putting it is that it triggers customer’s buying desire. Here is a great example 7 of how you should promote the discount offer on your checkout page. Since the deal is about to end, you’ll likely see a lot of traffic on your checkout page so make sure it stays in order and doesn’t crash due to heavy traffic.

 

3. Using Scarcity to Create Buying Urgency

This one is interesting and can bring results almost instantly. Ideally, your site should keep it on the checkout page as that’s where it works. The human psychology operates in a way that it can urge customers to buy something that might run out of store shelves soon. A Study shows that adding a discount coupon will only further sweeten the deal. Tell them that the stock will only last by the end of the month and create a sense of urgency. Here is a success story that helped the store garner enough sales by creating a scarcity of a particular product.

4. Offer A “Difficult To Find” Product In Limited Stocks

The beauty of understanding buyer’s psychology is that you are always exploring new ideas on how to sell your stock quickly. As such, the idea of selling product that’s hard to find and is in limited sounds attractive. Though not new, and has been successfully used by several e-commerce stores, the offer is all too attractive for customers to ignore. Moreover, it would make sense to release “limited versions” of your quality products from time to time. For instance, this e-commerce store is a great success story as it follows a similar psychology trick to sell its products in significant numbers.

 

5. Offer Limited Time Free Shipping

Free shipping is among those e-commerce promotion mantras that always work. After all, who would say no to merchandise that comes without transportation costs? Keep in mind that free shipping best works when offered for a limited period. The idea is to create a sense of urgency among customers for buying the discount code. Off course, without a limited duration, they’ll keep delaying buying decision. To make this psychological trick work best, put the offer on the checkout page and urge them to act now to buy this limited time offer or the time will run out. Here is a great example to learn to promote a limited time free shipping offer to your customers. Once your psychology trick begins to show its effects, and you start to sell in numbers for a while, start improvising and think about newer tricks to lure consumers into buying more from you before leaving the checkout page. Keep in mind that the selling psychology is an intriguing thing and success will likely trigger your ability to come up with innovative e-commerce psychological tricks to sell.

Source: This article was published customerthink.com By Hassan Mansoor

Today Apple has launched iOS 10.3.2 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Apple released five betas of iOS 10.3.2 to developers and the public before rolling out the final version. This update comes a bit over a month since iOS 10.3.1 was released on April 3rd. iOS 10.3.2 is considered a minor point release update containing bug fixes and security improvements for iOS 10.3, which added major features like Find My AirPods, Wi-Fi Calling on iCloud devices with Verizon, a Podcasts app widget, new app animations, an Apple ID Settings menu, weather forecasts in the Maps app, an iCloud storage meter and a complete under-the-hood revamp of the file system.

 

Between June 5th and June 9th, Apple will be hosting the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) where iOS 11 is expected to be announced. But based on Apple's previous software update schedule, iOS 11 will not be available for download until September 2017 when the new iPhone should be unveiled. iOS 11 is expected to have many new features and enhancements including a new Apple Music user interface with an emphasis on exclusive video programming.

What Is Included In The iOS 10.3.2 Update?

iOS 10.3.2 Software Update Amit Chowdhry
iOS 10.3.2 Software Update

The release notes Apple provided does not contain much information. But the betas of iOS 10.3.2 revealed that third-party VPN apps should now work as expected and some of the SiriKit car commands should be fixed. I will add more details to this article as more information comes up.

 

The download size of the iOS 10.3.2 update varies based on the device you have. On the iPhone SE, it appears to be between 160-170MB. And it is between 190-200MB on the iPhone 6S Plus and iPhone 7 Plus.

You can install iOS 10.3.2 by connecting your device to iTunes or downloading it by going to the Settings app > General > Software Update. The iOS 10.3.2 update is available for the following devices: iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPad mini 2 and later and iPod touch 6th generation and later. The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c are not eligible for this update because the update software is compatible for just 64-bit devices.

macOS, watchOS and tvOS Updates

Apple also released macOS 10.12.5 for Mac computers, watchOS 3.2.2 for the Apple Watch and tvOS 10.2.1 for the Apple TV today, all of which have minor bug fixes as well. The macOS Sierra Update 10.12.5 fixes issues where the audio may stutter while playing through USB headphones and support was added for the media-free installation of Windows 10 Creator Update using Boot Camp. The previous updates for watchOS and macOS had notable features like Theater Mode (Apple Watch) and Night Shift (Mac).

You can update the Apple Watch on a connected iPhone while the smartwatch is on the charger with over 50% battery remaining. macOS 10.12.5 is available as a download on the Mac App Store. And you can update the Apple TV through the System menu and tapping on the Software Update.

Do you plan to update to iOS 10.3.2 right away? Are there any problems you are having with iOS? Please leave a comment with your thoughts!

Source: This article was published forbes.com By Amit Chowdhry

The price of flagship smartphones has skyrocketed in 2017... but are these increases in prices justified?

Are phones getting too expensive? I’d argue, yes.

Do you need a flagship phone for your daily driver? I’d argue in the negative – no, you really don’t; there are many, many awesome phones out there and a lot of them can be acquired for less than $400/£300

Should you get the latest iPhone every year? Probably not.

But people do – millions of them, each and every year. Apple, Samsung, Google and whoever else you care to name have ALL increased the price of their flagship offerings in 2017.

 

Apple is expected to unveil the first $1000+ phone later on this year in the form of the iPhone 8.

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, which are both fine, fine handsets, arguably the best Android phones available right now, retail for just shy of $1000 unlocked.

Back in the day, the Samsung Galaxy S4 retailed for £589.95 in the UK.

This is a dramatically lower figure. So what’s changed? Samsung’s upped its game, of course, improving the specs, hardware and design of its phones. But to the tune of over 300/400 quid? Not a chance.

Each Galaxy S8 handset costs Samsung $307 (or £240) to build, meaning the company is making a very tidy profit margin – around $45 more than it cost to make the Galaxy S7.

Apple’s even worse: its iPhone 7 costs $224.80 to make and it sells them for $649 (and that’s for the base model).

Costs will have increased with 2017’s iPhone 8, which is now scaling up, but Apple will still be making the same HUGE profit margin on each phone, as all it has to do is increase the price per unit accordingly.

Hence the $1000+ iPhone 8.

 

Which brings me back to my original point: Paying $1000 For A Phone Is Kinda Stupid When You Think About It.

First, $1000 is A LOT of money. Second, are you getting THAT much value from your phone, or could you get just as much using a lower-cost model? Third, why are you buying this $1000 over a $600 or even $500 phone like the OnePlus 3T, which is just as good and has similar specs/performance.

Seriously: why are you (and millions of other people) limbering up to pay $1000+ for a new phone in 2017? Couldn’t that money be used elsewhere?

There are a myriad of cheaper options out there. Some, like the OnePlus 3T are actually better – I’d take that handset over a new iPhone any day of the week.

Don’t believe me? Check out this guide to the best, brilliant-yet-affordable Android phones I put together. All the handsets on this list are superb, so be sure to check them out.

But What If You Like The iPhone?

You mean: what if I have expensive tastes? Simple: get an iPhone – but don’t buy the latest and greatest; go for last year’s model and you will save a fortune (even more so if you buy reconditioned).

Apple supports its iPhones for A LONG TIME, meaning those running an iPhone 6 will still probably get at least another two solid year’s worth of updates from Apple before it is consigned to the rubbish heap.

Moral of the story? If you’re looking to save money, don’t by a new iPhone – buy it reconditioned from somewhere like Gazelle. The phone will look new, get software updates for years to come, and cost you A LOT less than a brand new one.

Once you’ve done this you’re free to shop around for the best data and minutes packages on the web.

Android’s a little different, in that ALL Android phone makers are terrible at supporting their handsets with consistent, timely updates. Case in point: some Galaxy S7 models are ONLY just receiving Android Nougat, an update that came out almost 12 months ago.

This is a big downside. You can get around it by rooting your Android phone, though this isn’t something everybody is comfortable doing.

Still, with Android you have WAY more options when it comes to getting your hands on cheaper phones that are very impressive. The OnePlus 3T is my ultra recommendation, followed by the Google Nexus 6P if you can find one. Beyond this you have the Xiaomi MI5 and handsets like the one’s listed here.

 

If you’re looking to save some bucks in 2017, you might want to check out some of the phones I’ve mentioned above. They’re all superb and, best of all, retail for WAY LESS than $1000.

Source : This article was published knowyourmobile.com By Richard Goodwin

There's nothing quite like the feeling of pure, ice-cold hydration. Some of us get our water for free from the tap. The rest pay for it — at the cost of roughly $100 billion a year.
 
At that steep a price tag, you might assume buying the bottled stuff would be worth it. In most cases, you'd be wrong.
 
For the vast majority of Americans, a glass from the tap and a glass from the bottle are virtually identical as far as their health and nutritional quality are concerned. In some cases, publicly-sourced tap may actually be safer since it is usually tested more frequently.
 
There are exceptions, however — people living near private wells do not enjoy the same rigorous testing as those whose water comes from public sources, and some public sources are not properly screened, as was recently seen in Flint, Michigan.

 

 
But there are plenty of reasons to stop shelling out for bottled water. Read on to find out all the things you didn't know about your drinking water.

The first documented case of bottled water being sold was in Boston in the 1760s, when a company called Jackson's Spa bottled and sold mineral water for "therapeutic" uses. Companies in Saratoga Springs and Albany also appear to have packaged and sold water.

Sources: GreatLakesLaw.orgFineWaters.com

Across the globe, people drink roughly 10% more bottled water every year, but Americans continue to consume more packaged H2O than people in other countries do.

Source: Container Recycling Institute

At 12.8 billion gallons, or 39 gallons per person, Americans today drink more bottled water than milk or beer.

Source: Beverage Marketing Corporation 

Last year was the first time Americans drank more bottled water than soda. "Bottled water effectively reshaped the beverage marketplace," Michael C. Bellas, Beverage Marketing's chairman and CEO, said in a recent statement.

Source: Beverage Maketing Corporation

 

It's not cheap. At an average cost of $1.22 per gallon, we're spending 300 times more on bottled water than we'd spend to drink from the tap. But that number could be even higher, some analysts have pointed out, since most sales are for single bottles.

Source: Business Insider

Soda companies are aware of how lucrative bottled water can be — corporations from Coca-Cola to PepsiCo have been investing in bottled water. Pepsi recently bought a 30-second Super Bowl ad to debut its new premium bottled water brand "LIFEWTR."

But research suggests that for most Americans, the stuff in a bottle is not better for you than the stuff in your tap. In fact, a recent report found that almost half of all bottled water is actually derived from the tap. In 2007, Pepsi (Aquafina) and Nestle (Pure Life) had to change their labels to more accurately reflect this.

Sources: Food and Water WatchCNN

Tap water is also typically tested for quality and contamination more frequently than bottled water. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for conducting those tests.

Tap water is also typically tested for quality and contamination more frequently than bottled water. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for conducting those tests.
Unsplash/Averie Woodard
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

 

However, if you live in one of the 15 million (mostly rural) US households that gets drinking water from a private well, the EPA isn't keeping an eye on your water quality. "It is the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain the safety of their water," the agency states on its website.

However, if you live in one of the 15 million (mostly rural) US households that gets drinking water from a private well, the EPA isn't keeping an eye on your water quality. "It is the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain the safety of their water," the agency states on its website.
Drinking water, including that from wells, can become contaminated.Aungkul Intaraprasong/Shutterstock
Source: EPAScientific American

 

Research suggests that the water from many of these wells is not safe to drink. In a 2011 report, 13% of the private wells that geologists tested were found to contain at least one element (like arsenic or uranium) at a concentration that exceeded national guidelines.

Research suggests that the water from many of these wells is not safe to drink. In a 2011 report, 13% of the private wells that geologists tested were found to contain at least one element (like arsenic or uranium) at a concentration that exceeded national guidelines.
Dora Martinez cooks food at her home in a trailer park near Fresno, Calif. in 2015. She and her neighbors get notices warning that their well water contains uranium at a level considered unsafe by federal and state standards.AP Images
Sources: Scientific AmericanUS Geological Survey

The recent resurgence in bottled water's popularity may be due to rising concerns about the purity of tap water. A recent Gallup poll found that 63% of Americans worried a "great deal" about the pollution in drinking water — the highest percentage since 2001.

And when it comes to taste, most of us probably can't tell the difference. A recent blind taste test survey by students at Boston University found that only a third taste-testers identified the tap water sample correctly.

Source: Boston University

 

Making bottled water is also an extensive, resource-heavy process. A study in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that roughly 32-54 million barrels of oil went into producing the amount of bottled water consumed in the US in 2007.

Making bottled water is also an extensive, resource-heavy process. A study in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that roughly 32-54 million barrels of oil went into producing the amount of bottled water consumed in the US in 2007.
Source: Live Science

It also takes more water to make a bottle of water than it does to fill it. A recent study from the International Bottled Water Association found that North American companies companies use 1.39 liters of water to make one liter of the bottled stuff.

It also takes more water to make a bottle of water than it does to fill it. A recent study from the International Bottled Water Association found that North American companies companies use 1.39 liters of water to make one liter of the bottled stuff.
Pete Norton/Getty Images
Source: International Bottled Water Association

 

But hey, you might be thinking: At least they get recycled, right? For every six water bottles Americans use, only one makes it to the recycle bin, according to National Geographic.

This article was published in businessinsider.com by Erin Brodwin
Tuesday, 18 April 2017 17:38

What is Torrenting?

One of the first things a person does after booting up a brand new PC is download a different web browser, especially if you’re on a Windows platform. Unless your system came with a torrenting client pre-installed (which is highly unlikely), using a typical client-server approach to data transmission is pretty much the way things go.

Most files get downloaded from servers that are usually always switched-on, and thus readily available, because they serve as central points of contact for any user (aka “client”) who wishes to download files.

This method of transmitting data using a client-server architecture does have one major risk a user should know about: if servers go down for any reason at all and there’s no current mirrors of the server in question, you’re pretty much out of luck.

There is no way to obtain files in such a case.

However, it’s said that more than a third of the world’s Internet traffic now runs on BitTorrent. Not just PCs and Macs, but also many advanced routers now support BitTorrent tech for uploading and downloading files.

Torrenting takes a peer-to-peer (P2P) approach when transferring files. Instead of maintaining data in one central location, it relies on users (aka peers) to send and receive parts of a file, as needed, directly to and from each other.

Because there is no concept of a master directory for P2P file sharing, an index of records is maintained centrally, in locations known as “trackers.” These trackers keep an eye on peers that are supplying and requesting data.

However, trackers may not necessarily track every single file shared using BitTorrent. These trackers cannot be considered to be “universal” or “comprehensive,” much less “authoritative.”

The process of using BitTorrent  technology to transmit files is usually called torrenting. The protocol is standardized and has resulted in a variety of BitTorrent  apps being developed and utilized on a large scale (even on mobile devices).

However, the distributed nature of BitTorrent doesn’t necessarily mean a file will always be available to download, from one source or the other, whenever you wish.

Depending on the number of peers that a torrent has (which often corresponds to the popularity of a torrent’s content), a user may have multiple active sources, or none, for the time being.

How Does Torrenting Work?

Unlike browser apps and similar kinds of software, where finding download links is a straightforward affair, in the case of torrents, locating sources can get a bit tricky.

If you already know exactly what you want, such as a disk image of a freely available Linux distribution (like Fedora or Ubuntu), it makes sense to go to the vendor’s website, where they’ll give instructions for downloading the necessary files using a torrent client.

Torrenting involves the use of  “.torrent” files, which are plain text files that provide information to the client app about the contents of that torrent, like:

  • Which trackers to use
  • Different file sizes
  • The trackers’ URLs 

Torrent files do not contain the actual contents that get downloaded, they only point your torrent app in the correct direction, so to speak. The client’s app then creates the necessary structure in your PC’s file system, as per the hierarchy given in the torrent file.

Often many files are downloaded simultaneously, depending on the number of connections that get made.

Each torrent has “seeders” and “leechers”.

Seeders are those who have a complete copy of the torrent in question. They just upload parts of the torrent as and when needed, to other users requesting those parts.  Seeders don’t need to download anything (for that torrent) because they already have the complete copy.

Now for leechers, unless you’re the first uploader, all new downloaders start off as leechers. That means you’ll often be simultaneously receiving and sending different parts of the same torrent, while you’re completing a download.

These parts may come from seeders or even other leechers.

In case you don’t have an idea of where to get the files that you need, it’s time to use a search engine. Anyone can use web search engines, such as Google and Bing, but did you know there are search engines specifically meant for torrents?

 

Unfortunately, here is where things start to get a little problematic.

One of the most popular search engines for torrents, Torrentz.com, became practically useless several months ago when its homepage indicated that it no longer functions as a meta-search engine. Just a few days ago, another big torrent search engine, Bitsnoop.com, had to cease operations as well.  

This isn’t the first time file-sharing platforms have been targeted

Why You Should Deal with Torrents Carefully

Many users will remember having used Napster at some point of time. Like BitTorrent, Napster was also used once upon a time to share files and was wildly popular back in early 2002. However, some of the problems applicable to Napster, have plagued torrents today as well.

Given the distributed nature in which files are kept and the fact that most Internet users keep changing their IP addresses from one session to another; this system provides a mild degree of anonymity when sharing content.

Why? Well, it’s because no one has a way of determining the actual identity of the source where you’re downloading the file from, even if the corresponding torrent file was obtained from a reputable source, such as Fedora, Ubuntu, Internet Archive, etc.

This anonymity is in sharp contrast to when you see a padlock icon in the address bar of a browser, upon visiting a website that has been secured using SSL. That security certificate provides a degree of authenticity about the actual identity of the website and its owners.

In the case of torrents, this mild degree of anonymity gets misused for illegally sharing copyrighted material.

Copyrighted material is often in the form of:

 

 

Many users get a copy of these items free of charge and often get away with it without raising any alarms. Naturally, organizations such as the RIAA are up in arms over the resulting loss of revenue.

Hence, law enforcement agencies have become increasingly vigilant about the misuse of such software, as torrenting often amounts to an infringement of intellectual property.

In many jurisdictions of the world, laws have been passed against search engines which enable the discovery of illegally shared copyrighted material.  These rules ask ISPs to restrict access to such services. We do not advocate sharing copyrighted material, whether via torrents or any other method.

Also, if you deliberately want to share something by masking your identity, doing so may raise a few eyebrows for those monitoring the network, whether it’s your ISP or the government. However, it is true that a user’s actual IP address is visible to other peers of your torrent.

Which is slightly risky, because you have no idea about the trustworthiness of the peer who now knows your IP.

 

In Conclusion…

VPNs can do a good job of providing a strong level of privacy while using the Internet for torrenting purposes. For a more general (and current) overview of what VPNs are and how they work, here is a handy explanation of what goes on behind the scenes.

Source : cloudwards.net

Impostor scams resulted in more than 400,000 complaints to the FTC last year. Find out what they are and how to protect yourself from them.

Falling victim to a scam can be embarrassing, frightening, and financially devastating. Unfortunately, sophisticated scam artists know whom to target and how to use psychological tricks to get countless smart, hardworking people to part with their cash.How many people fall victim to scams? Far more than most people realize. Just one specific type of trick -- called an impostor scam -- led to 406,578 complaints to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 2016 alone. Impostor scams prompted the second-highest total number of consumer complaints to the FTC, with only debt collectors causing consumers more trouble. This was the first time more people alerted the FTC to impostor scams than to identity theft.Because impostor scams are cleverly designed to play on your fears, it's hard to avoid falling for them. If scams were easy to avoid, consumers wouldn't have suffered $744 million in losses from fraud in 2016.The seven tips below can help you keep yourself safe and avoid losses.

 

1. Know the common tricks

Impostor scams begin when a scammer calls, sends an email, or sends a letter. The scam artist pretends to be someone they aren't so they can convince you to send them cash or give them your personal information.Scammers usually pretend to be someone in a position of authority or a family member in dire trouble. Common tactics are used again and again by thieves who know what kinds of correspondence prompt people to send money. Some of the most common impostor scams include:

  • The IRS impostor scam: You get a call and are told you owe back taxes. You're threatened with fines, fees, arrest, or deportation if you don't wire money immediately.
  • The "government agent" impostor scam: Someone from "the government" calls with great news: You've won a lottery. You just have to wire taxes and fees first in order to collect your payment.
  • The "debt collector" impostor scam: You get a call or a letter alerting you to the fact you've been sent to debt collections. The letter might look like it comes from a law firm or from a court. It will warn you of dire legal consequences if you don't quickly wire money.
  • The grandparent impostor scam: Your "grandson" or "granddaughter" calls in desperate trouble. They're trapped somewhere and need you to wire cash right away so they can get home. They definitely don't want you to tell Mom and Dad.

All these scams have two things in common: a sense of urgency and a claim that something bad will happen if you don't pay up. If you're told there's a problem your cash can solve, think twice about giving in to the fear the caller tried to instill in you.

2. Do an internet search before sending cash

When an impostor scam is being operated, scammers don't just target one person; they'll call thousands of people and present the exact same scenario. This works to your benefit, because these scams make the news.If you've received an email, letter, or phone call alerting you to a situation that requires you to send money or provide personal information, take to the internet and type the scenario into a search engine. You may immediately find warnings about a scam that is sweeping the nation.It's unlikely that your grandson is trapped in Canada at the exact same time there's a major scam going on where people pretend to be grandkids trapped in foreign countries -- so if that scenario comes up in your search, you'll know you were targeted by a trickster.

3. Protect your social-media accounts

Impostor scams are most effective when the caller seems to have information about you and your family. Your "grandson" may know the names of his mom, dad, and siblings. The "debt collector" may have details about where you live, where you work, and the car you drive.How do scammers get this info? Often, you unwittingly give it to them by sharing your life on social media. Your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other accounts provide lots of details. Scammers use this personal information to convince you they know who you are.To reduce the chances that your social-media information will be used against you, consider making your accounts private so only friends and family can see what you post. If you must have public profiles and pages, be cautious about the personal information you provide and be aware that others could use your data to trick you.

4. Don't trust caller ID

When a scammer calls and tells you they're from the IRS, Health and Human Services, or another government agency, your caller ID may show that the phone call actually is coming from the federal government.The problem is that the caller ID may not be correct. The Federal Trade Commission warns that caller IDs can be faked. Scammers make calls look as if they are coming from official sources, even though the call may be coming from anywhere in the United States, or even from outside the country.Although you shouldn't trust caller ID to prove a call is legitimate, write down the number if you suspect you're being scammed. The FTC might be able to use it to trace the party who is committing impostor crimes.

5. Tell the caller you'll call back

A perpetrator of an impostor scam wants you to provide your personal information or commit to sending money during the first phone call. But you don't have to let the call you received be the only contact. Tell the caller you'll call back, hang up, and go online to look up the official number of whoever was supposedly calling.If the call came from the "IRS," go to the IRS.gov website to find contact details. If the call was from your "bank" or a "law firm," call back a number you find on the company's official website. If the call was supposedly from your grandchild, call the number you have stored under their name -- and if you don't have one, call their parents. Whoever you get on the line can tell you whether the call was legitimate.

 

6. Never, ever send funds via wire transfer

It's extremely unlikely that there's a legitimate situation that would require you to wire money. If you owe someone cash, there should be multiple ways to pay -- including sending a check in the mail. A wire transfer isn't a common payment method, and in fact, the FTC categorically states: "The government will not ask a consumer to wire money, and it is illegal for telemarketers to ask you to pay by wire."Scammers prefer wire transfers because the money is difficult to trace and virtually impossible to recover. If you're asked to send money via a wire transfer, this is a likely scam. Just don't send it.

7. File a complaint with the FTC

If you get a call you think is a scam, let the FTC know by filing a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint. The FTC won't help you to resolve your specific situation, but it will provide information about steps to take if you suspect a scam.The FTC will also record your complaint to track patterns of criminal behavior. The information you provide could help others avoid becoming victims.

The $16,122 Social Security bonus you could be missing 
If you're like most Americans, you're a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known "Social Security secrets" could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $16,122 more... each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we're all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.

 

Teresa Kersten is an employee of LinkedIn and is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors; LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft. Christy Bieber has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook and Twitter. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Source : fool.com

(This article about job hunting is adapted from What Color Is Your Parachute? 2017 Edition by Richard N. Bolles.)

Some of the 10 traditional job hunting methods that follow have a pretty good track record and will repay you for time spent pursuing them. But others have a really terrible track record and are a waste of your time and energy.

The success rate figures cited are a mash of studies I’ve seen, plus, where no studies have been done, my own impressions over the past 45 years of working with job hunters or career changers and writing What Color Is Your Parachute?:

 

1. Looking for employers’ job postings on the Internet. This method apparently works just 4% of the time, on average.

 he anecdotal evidence is sometimes impressive. You will hear stories of job hunters who’ve been tremendously success­ful in using the Internet to find a job. For example, there’s the systems administrator in Taos, N.M., who wanted to move to San Francisco and posted his resumé at 10 p.m. on a Monday night on San Francisco’s Craig’s List site. By Wednesday morning, he had over 70 responses from employers.

The question is: Are stories like this flukes or is his a univer­sal experience? Sadly, it turns out that this job-search method actually doesn’t work for very many who try it. One exception: if you are seeking a technical or computer-related job, an IT job or a job in engineering, finances or health care, the success rate rises to around 10%.

2. Posting, or mailing out, your resumé to employers. This works at getting you a job (or, more accurately, at getting you an interview that leads to a job) only 7% of the time, apparently.

And I’m being generous with that estimate. One study suggested that only 1 out of 1,470 resumés actually resulted in a job. Another found the fig­ure to be even worse: 1 job offer for every 1,700 resumés floating around out there.

3. Answering local newspaper ads. This method works some­where between 5 and 24% of the time. The range is due to the level of sal­ary being sought. Job hunters looking for low-level salary jobs find this method works 24% of the time; those looking for a high salary find it works only 5% of the time.

4. Going to private employment agencies or search firms for help. These agencies used to place just office workers; now it’s hard to think of a category of jobs they don’t try to place, especially in large metropolitan areas. This method apparently works between 5%and 28% of the time.

The wide varia­tion in the success rate is due to the fact that these agencies vary greatly in their staffing (ranging from extremely competent down to inept or running a scam). But, at their best, agencies are four times more effective than just depending on your resumé.

5. Answering ads in professional or trade journals, appropriate to your field. This method apparently works only 7% of the time. A directory of these associations and their journals can be found at Directoryofassociations.com.

6. “Job Clubs.” There are hundreds of job-hunting support groups that call themselves “job clubs.” Sorry, they are not. They tend to meet only once a week, and then for only a couple of hours. That’s why their job-hunting success rate is usually around 10%, if that.

 

A true “job club” is something quite different. When the late Nathan Azrin coined the term, it meant that job hunting was a 9 to 5 job, Monday through Friday, every week, for group members. You met with other job hunters between 9 am and 12 pm each day. From 1 to 5, you went out and visited places individually, doing informational interviews or keeping appointments you’d set up. Before going out, you’d share with the group what kind of job you were looking for, so you had other eyes out looking for leads. These job clubs had success rate of 84%.

7. Going to the state or federal employment office. It could be the unemployment service office or one of the federal government’s nationwide CareerOneStop business centers, now alternatively called AmericanJobCenters to get instructions on how to better job hunt and find leads. This method works 14% of the time.

8. Going to places where employers pick up workers. If you’re a union member, particularly in the trades or construction, and you have access to a union hiring hall, this method will find you work, up to 22% of the time. But the job may last just a few days.

Moreover, this is not a method open to a large percentage of job hunters. Only about 7% of private sector employees are union members these days.

The modern-day version of “pickup work” is the so-called sharing economy, where you can use, say, your home (Airbnb) or car (Uber or Lyft) to make extra money.

9. Asking for job leads. With this method, you ask family members, friends and people you know in the community (or on LinkedIn) if they know of any place where someone with your talents and background is being sought. It works 33% of the time.

By asking for job leads, you have an almost five times better chance of finding a job than if you had just sent out your resumé.

10, Knocking on the door of any employer, office or manufacturing plant. This method works 47% of the time and works best with small employers. Sometimes you blunder into a place where a vacancy has just developed.

 

By knocking on doors, you have an almost seven times better chance of finding a job than if you had just depended on your resumé.

Source : forbes.com

  • Around 20 per cent of dark web pages use pictures and data from regular sites
  • Tracking scripts set up to analyse browsing behaviour are on 27% of dark pages
  • This may allow 'surface' sites like Google to track the behaviour of criminals

Criminals using the dark web to buy drugs and even hire hit men could be unmasked.

That's because the dark web - a secret network that requires specialist software to gain access - is rife with trackers that could be used to follow the browsing behaviour of its members.

Researchers reported that internet companies such as Google could track the behaviour of dark web users by exploiting these privacy faults.Scroll down for video 

 

Criminals using the dark web to buy drugs and even hire hit men could be unmasked, according to new research

Scientists found serious privacy faults when they investigated the Tor network, a dark web service that uses encryption to hide the identity of its users.

'The dark web is maybe not as dark as it seems,' Iskander Sanchez-Rola at the University of Deusto, Spain, who led the investigation, told New Scientist.

They analysed more than 1.5 million deep web pages as part of their investigation. 

The team found connections between the dark web and regular internet browsers, known as surface browsers.

They found that more than 20 per cent of of dark web pages included pictures and documents that originated on surface websites.

Companies that own these page elements can track when they are accessed by someone on the internet.

This could give internet companies a window into hidden criminal activity.

The researchers said that Google could keep tabs on up to 13 per cent of dark web domains if they made use of this privacy fault.

They also found that tracking scripts set up to analyse browsing behaviour are present on 27 per cent of dark web pages.And almost 43 per cent of this software originates from Google, they said.

The Silk Road: The Deep Web has existed for more than a decade but came under the spotlight last month after police shutdown the Silk Road website - the online marketplace dubbed the 'eBay of drugs - and arrested its creator
The Silk Road: The Deep Web has existed for more than a decade but came under the spotlight last month after police shutdown the Silk Road website - the online marketplace dubbed the 'eBay of drugs - and arrested its creator

They added that if a hidden and surface web page are using the same tracking scripts, it is possible for anyone to follow a user's browsing behaviour.

And when a dark web user moves from the dark web to a normal web page, it may be possible to reveal their identity.The links between the surface and dark web could also reveal the IP addresses of people using Tor services. 

'This research has demonstrated for the first time how much of the dark web is intrinsically linked to the surface or clear web,' security researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis said to New Scientist.

 

She has developed software called OnionScan, which analyses the dark web to search for faults in privacy.Up to 35 per cent of dark web servers could be exploited to reveal the identity of their users, she said.

Source : dailymail.co.uk

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