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Jay Harris

Jay Harris

Ever wonder what you would look like with long, wavy hair? I think you’d look great. But how can you try on a few looks without spending a fortune at the salon, or hours in photoshop? I’m glad you asked. All you need is a selfie and Dreambit, the face-swapping search engine.

The system analyzes the picture of your face and determines how to intelligently crop it to leave nothing but your face. It then searches for images matching your search term — curly hair, for example — and looks for “doppelganger sets,” images where the subject’s face is in a similar position to your own.

A similar process is done on the target images to mask out the faces and intelligently put your own in their place — and voila! You with curly hair, again and again and again. It’s a bit like that scene in Being John Malkovich. Just as creepy depending on what face you’re putting in what situation. Keri Russell looks great in every style, though, as the diagram below shows.

faceswap proces

The process by which faces are detected, masked, and replaced.

 

It’s not limited to hairstyles, either: put yourself in a movie, a location, a painting — as long as there’s a similarly positioned face to swap yours with, the software can do it. A few facial features, like beards, make the edges of the face difficult to find, however, so you may not be able to swap with Rasputin or Gandalf.

Dreambit is the brainchild of Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, a computer vision researcher at the University of Washington (she also does interesting work in facial recognition and augmented reality). And while it is fun and silly to play with, it could have more serious applications.

Kemelmacher-Shlizerman has also created systems that do automated age progression, something that can be useful in missing persons cases.

“With missing children, people often dye their hair or change the style so age-progressing just their face isn’t enough,” she said in a UW news release. “This is a first step in trying to imagine how a missing person’s appearance might change over time.”

In an email to TechCrunch, Kemelmacher-Shlizerman noted that the software is still very much in beta mode and as such can’t exactly be used by the FBI.

Source :https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/21/this-amazing-search-engine-automatically-face-swaps-you-into-your-image-results/

Thursday, 11 August 2016 18:13

Wikipedia Search Engine WikiSeek Launches

Palo Alto based startup SearchMe has kept a low profile since being founded in March 2005. The company, which has 17 employees and raised $5 million from Sequoia Capital over two rounds, will launch a number of what founder Randy Adams calls “long tail search engines” in the near future. The first product they are launching is WikiSeek, which went live about an hour ago and will be officially announced on Wednesday.

WikiSeek is a search engine that has indexed only Wikipedia sites, plus sites that are linked to from Wikipedia. It serves two purposes. First, it is a much better Wikipedia search engine than the one on Wikipedia (and has been built with Wikipedia’s assistance and permission). Second, the fact that it also indexes sites that are linked to from Wikipedia means that, presumably, it will return only very high quality results and very little spam. It won’t show every relevant result to a query, but it will certainly give a good overview of a subject without all the mess.

The search results also include a tag cloud which contains Wikipedia categories containing the search term. Results can be quickly filtered by clicking on one of those categories (see screen shot, click for larger view). The first three results of a query are always Wikipedia content (unless there are not three results) and are shaded blue. The remaining results are below the shaded area.

In addition to the search engine, WikiSeek has two additional tools – a search plugin for FireFox, IE7 and Opera, and a really useful greasemonkey-like Firefox extension that will change the way Wikipedia looks on that browser by adding a “WikiSearch” button to the search box (see screen shot below). Click that button and see WikiSeek’s Wikipedia-only results. It’s faster and better than the results Wikipedia returns through its native search feature.

SearchMe is donating “the majority” of revenue generated from advertising on WikiSeek to the Wikimedia Foundation. Adams told me earlier this evening that WikiSearch is a showcase product for their technology, and they are happy to help the Wikipedia community as much as possible by donating those revenues.

Confusion with Wikiasari

WikiSeek will undoubtedly be confused with the much discussed Wikiasari search engine that was announced by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales last month. In fact, in our original post on Wikiasari, we included a screenshot that we later learned was not a prototype of Wikiasari. We corrected that post, and asked “the Wikisearch Screenshot Isn’t Wikiasari, So What Is It?” It was actually an early WikiSeek prototype, then called WikiSearch. Question answered.

wikiseekwp

https://techcrunch.com/2007/01/16/wikipedia-search-engine-wikiseek-launches/

Race, education, socioeconomic factors all linked to lower online participation

Recruiting minorities and poor people to participate in medical research always has been challenging, and that may not change as researchers turn to the internet to find study participants and engage with them online, new research suggests. A study led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis concludes that unless explicit efforts are made to increase engagement among under-represented groups, current health-care disparities may persist.

In a study of 967 people taking part in genetic research, the investigators found that getting those individuals to go online to get follow-up information was difficult, particularly if study subjects didn’t have high school educations, had incomes below the poverty line or were African-American.

The new findings are available online July 28 in the journal Genetics in Medicine.

“We don’t know what the barriers are,” said first author Sarah M. Hartz, MD, PhD. “We don’t know whether some people don’t have easy access to the internet or whether there are other factors, but this is not good news as more and more research studies move online because many of the same groups that have been under-represented in past medical research would still be missed going forward.”

Hartz and her colleagues offered participants detailed information about their ancestry as part of genetic research to understand DNA variations linked to smoking behavior and nicotine addiction. Some 64 percent of the people in the study answered a survey question stating that they were either “very interested” or “extremely interested” in that information, but despite repeated attempts to get the subjects to view those results online, only 16 percent actually did.

The numbers fell to 10 percent or lower among people with low incomes and no high school diplomas, as well as among study subjects who were African-American. Such groups traditionally have been under-represented in medical research studies.

“This is particularly relevant now because of President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative,” said Hartz, an assistant professor of psychiatry.

The project seeks to recruit 1 million people and analyze their DNA to understand risk factors related to a variety of diseases. Ultimately, the project seeks to develop personalized therapies tailored to individual patients.

“Our results suggest that getting people to participate in such online registries is going to be a challenge, particularly if they live below the poverty line, don’t have high school diplomas or are African-American,” Hartz said.

Because 84 percent of American adults now use the internet and 68 percent own smartphones, some researchers have believed that traditional barriers to study recruitment — such as income, education and race — would be less important in the internet age.

In the Precision Medicine Initiative, researchers plan to collect information about diet, exercise, drinking and other behaviors, as well as about environmental risk factors, such as pollution. The study will allow participants to sign up by computer or smartphone, and recruitment aims to match the racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the United States. The idea is to make it as easy as possible to enroll, but Hartz’s findings suggest signing up on the internet won’t eliminate every barrier.

Hartz

As part of the Washington University study, the smokers who participated were given the opportunity to have their DNA analyzed by 23andMe, a personalized genetics company. The participants were able to receive reports detailing where their ancestors came from, based on 32 reference populations from around the world. That information was available through a secure, password-protected online account set up and registered by the individual through the 23andMe website.

Each subject received an e-mail from the researchers with instructions on how to log on to the 23andMe website and retrieve the information. After a few weeks, the researchers sent another e-mail to those who did not log on. Then, the researchers made phone calls, and, if the subjects still didn’t log onto the site, they were sent a letter in the mail.

Even after all of those attempts, only 45 percent of the European-American participants who had high school educations and lived above the poverty line ever looked at the information. Among African-American participants who graduated from high school and lived above the poverty line, only 18 percent logged onto the site.

“Our assumption that the internet and smartphone access have equalized participation in medical research studies doesn’t appear to be true,” Hartz said. “Now is the time to figure out what to do about it and how to fix it, before we get too far along in the Precision Medicine Initiative, only to learn that we’re leaving some under-represented groups of people behind.”

https://source.wustl.edu/2016/07/use-internet-medical-research-may-hinder-recruitment-minorities-poor/

What are business attributes, and why should local businesses care? Columnist Adam Dorfman explores.

When checking into places on Google Maps, you may have noticed that Google prompts you to volunteer information about the place you’re visiting. For instance, if you check into a restaurant, you might be asked whether the establishment has a wheelchair-accessible entrance or whether the location offers takeout. There’s a reason Google wants to know: attributes.

Attributes consist of descriptive content such as the services a business provides, payment methods accepted or the availability of free parking — details that may not apply to all businesses. Attributes are important because they can influence someone’s decision to visit you.

Google wants to set itself up as a go-to destination of rich, descriptive content about locations, which is why it crowdsources business attributes. But it’s not the only publisher doing so. For instance, if you publish a review on TripAdvisor or Yelp, you’ll be asked a similar battery of questions but with more details, such as whether the restaurant is appropriate for kids, allows dogs, has televisions or accepts bitcoins.

Many of these publishers are incentivizing this via programs like Google’s Local Guides, TripAdvisor’s Badge Collections, and Yelp’s Elite Squad because having complete, accurate information about locations makes each publisher more useful. And being more useful means attracting more visitors, which makes each publisher more valuable.

android crowdsource
   

It’s important that businesses manage their attributes as precious location data assets, if for no other reason than that publishers are doing so. I call publishers (and aggregators who share information with them) data amplifiers because they amplify a business’s data across all the places where people conduct local searches. If you want people to find your business and turn their searches into actual in-store visits, you need to share your data, including detailed attributes, with the major data amplifiers.

Many businesses believe their principal location data challenge is ensuring that their foundational data, such as their names, addresses and phone numbers, are accurate. I call the foundational data “identities,” and indeed, you need accurate foundational data to even be considered when people search for businesses. But as important as they are — and challenging to manage — identities solve for only one-half of the search challenge. Identities ensure visibility, but you need attributes to turn searches into business for your brand.

Attributes are not new, but they’ve become more important because of the way mobile is rapidly accelerating the purchase decision. According to seminal research published by Google, mobile has given rise to “micro-moments,” or times when consumers use mobile devices to make quick decisions about what to do, where to go or what to buy.

Google noted that the number of “near me” searches (searches conducted for goods and services nearby) have increased 146 percent year over year, and 88 percent of these “near me” searches are conducted on mobile devices. As Google’s Matt Lawson wrote:

With a world of information at their fingertips, consumers have heightened expectations for immediacy and relevance. They want what they want when they want it. They’re confident they can make well-informed choices whenever needs arise. It’s essential that brands be there in these moments that matter — when people are actively looking to learn, discover, and/or buy.

Attributes encourage “next moments,” or the action that occurs after someone has found you during a micro-moment. Google understands that businesses failing to manage their attributes correctly will drop off the consideration set when consumers experience micro-moments. For this reason, Google prompts users to complete attributes about businesses when they check into a location on Google Maps.

At the 2016 Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple underscored the importance of attributes when the company rolled out a smarter, more connected Siri that makes it possible for users to create “next moments” faster by issuing voice commands such as “Siri, find some new Italian restaurants in Chicago, book me dinner, and get me an Uber to the restaurant.” In effect, Siri is a more efficient tool for enabling next moments, but only for businesses that manage the attributes effectively.

And with its recently released Google My Business API update to version 3.0, Google also gave businesses that manage offline locations a powerful competitive weapon: the ability to manage attributes directly. By making it possible to share attributes on your Google My Business page, Google has not only amplified its own role as a crucial publisher of attributes but has also given businesses an important tool to take control of your own destiny. It’s your move now.

http://searchengineland.com/google-mining-local-business-attributes-252283

It’s surprising the internet works at all, given the age of its core software. The question is, can we catch it before it falls over?A panel of academic experts recently took part in a discussion on the future of the internet, and among other things highlighted its fragility, the ease with which it can be disrupted and its seeming resistance to change.

The weaknesses arise primarily from the fact that the internet comprises protocols for Layer 3 networking in the TCP/IP stack, invented many years ago.“There are a lot of challenges for the internet. We face daily problems,” said Timothy Roscoe, a professor at ETH, Zurich’s science, technology and mathematics university in Zurich.

 

“Most of what we do is at Layer 3, which is what makes the internet the internet.” However, new and incredibly popular services, such as YouTube, Netflix, Twitter and Facebook, have put pressures on these protocols.

 

New age, old protocols

Laurent Vanbever, an assistant professor at ETH, said: “There is a growing expectation by users that they can watch a 4K video on Netflix while someone else in the house is having a Skype call. They expect it to work but the protocols of the internet were designed in the 1970s and 1980s and we are now stretching the boundaries.”

The internet is often described as a network of networks. What makes these networks communicate with one another is BGP, the border gateway protocol. In essence, it’s the routing protocol used by internet service providers (ISP). It makes the internet work.

Roscoe said: “BGP is controlled by 60,000 people, who need to cooperate but also compete.” These people, network engineers at major ISPs, email each other to keep the internet running.

 

Routing for trouble

“When you visit a website, you really don’t know where your internet traffic goes,” said Roscoe. One would assume the route network traffic takes from a user’s computer to the server is the shortest possible.

 

But often, according to Roscoe, this is not the case. “I have seen network packets taking remarkably bizarre paths across the internet,” he said, and added that Pakistan was able to route all YouTube traffic through its servers, blocking the traffic, and effectively taking YouTube offline.Due to the way BGP and other protocols work, he said, there is “very little control over where traffic goes”. The question is why there is so little control.

Mark Handley, a professor of network systems at University College, London, said: “The internet is built out of a set of networks, where the operators have their own desires about what they want their network to do. Internet operators partially hide pricing and routing policy information, while needing to communicate with their neighbours.”

So, there’s a paradox, driven by competition to route traffic, and they [the operators] “are hiding who they will talk to, while trying to talk to each other”, said Handley.More recently, Edward Snowden’s revelations propelled into the public domain the ease with which the internet’s traffic can be routed and moved, highlighting the mass collection of internet data by US government spooks.

 

No need for internal change

Adrian Perrig, a network security professor at ETH Zurich, said his group at the university has been working on a new protocol and trying to tackle the internet’s secure routing challenge, in a way that is also more efficient than existing methods.

He said: “The architecture was started as an academic exercise, but we realised it is not that hard to deploy, as we do not need to change the internals of networks. We only need to change the points where different ISPs touch each other.”

So far, three major ISPs have begun deploying the new protocol along with a few banks ­– who want to gain greater transparency over their network packets. Perrig and his team are attempting to develop a protocol that can easily be deployed.

 

Too complex to change

Matt Brown, site reliability engineering head at Google, said: “A lot of the core protocols of the internet we rely on are very old. There are many improvements that need to be made to give us the level of robustness and security needed for the role the internet has in society.”But, he argued, it is still extremely hard to upgrade these protocols. “With a network you get network effects. You are effectively constrained by the lowest common denominator, like the last person who hasn’t upgraded who holds everybody back.”

For instance, he said the digital subscriber line (DSL) router provided by ISPs to people at home to allow an internet connecting may be four years old, yet it contains critical protocols.

“Getting new functionality to everyone in the world is a huge challenge,” he added. For instance, while the number of available IPv4 addresses has effectively run out, Google recently found that only 10% of the world’s traffic has upgraded to the next version, IPv6.There is a cost for ISPs if they want to make these changes. Moreover, as the slow rollout of IPv6 is revealing, many prefer to stick with old technology, simply because it can be made to work.

Source:  http://www.computerweekly.com/news/450296912/Network-Collapse-Why-the-internet-is-flirting-with-disaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally ready to get off the grid? It's not quite as simple as it should be, but here are a few easy-to-follow steps that will at the very least point you in the right direction.

If you're reading this, it's highly likely that your personal information is available to the public. And while you can never remove yourself completely from the internet, there are ways to minimize your online footprint. Here are five ways to do so.

Be warned however; removing your information from the internet as I've laid it out below, may adversely affect your ability to communicate with potential employers.

1. Delete or deactivate your shopping, social network, and Web service accounts

Think about which social networks you have profiles on. Aside from the big ones, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, do you still have public accounts on sites like Tumblr, Google+ or even MySpace? Which shopping sites have you registered on? Common ones might include information stored on Amazon, Gap.com, Macys.com and others.

To get rid of these accounts, go to your account settings and just look for an option to either deactivate, remove or close your account. Depending on the account, you may find it under Security or Privacy, or something similar.

If you're having trouble with a particular account, try searching online for "How to delete," followed by the name of the account you wish to delete. You should be able to find some instruction on how to delete that particular account.

If for some reason you can't delete an account, change the info in the account to something other than your actual info. Something fake or completely random.

new-screen-delete.png

 

Using a service like DeleteMe can make removing yourself from the internet less of a headache.

2. Remove yourself from data collection sites

There are companies out there that collect your information. They're called data brokers and they have names like Spokeo, Crunchbase, PeopleFinder, as well as plenty of others. They collect data from everything you do online and then sell that data to interested parties, mostly in order more specifically advertise to you and sell you more stuff.

Now you could search for yourself on these sites and then deal with each site individually to get your name removed. Problem is, the procedure for opting out from each site is different and sometimes involves sending faxes and filling out actual physical paperwork. Physical. Paperwork. What year is this, again?
Anyway, an easier way to do it is to use a service like DeleteMe at Abine.com. For about $130 for a one-year membership, the service will jump through all those monotonous hoops for you. It'll even check back every few months to make sure your name hasn't been re-added to these sites.

3. Remove your info directly from websites

First, check with your phone company or cell provider to make sure you aren't listed online and have them remove your name if you are.

If you want to remove an old forum post or an old embarrassing blog you wrote back in the day, you'll have to contact the webmaster of those sites individually. You can either look at the About us or Contacts section of the site to find the right person to contact or go to www.whois.com and search for the domain name you wish to contact. There you should find information on who exactly to contact.

Unfortunately, private website operators are under no obligation to remove your posts. So, when contacting these sites be polite and clearly state why you want the post removed. Hopefully they'll actually follow through and remove them.

If they don't, tip number four is a less effective, but still viable, option.
4. Delete search engine results that return information about youSearch engine results includes sites like Bing, Yahoo and Google. In fact Google has a URL removal tool that can help you delete specific URLs.

Google's URL removal tool is handy for erasing evidence of past mistakes from the internet.

For example, if someone has posted sensitive information such as a Social Security number or a bank account number and the webmaster of the site where it was posted won't remove it, you can at least contact the search engine companies to have it removed from search results, making it harder to find.

5. And finally, the last step you'll want to take is to remove your email accountsDepending on the type of email account you have, the amount of steps this will take will vary.
You'll have to sign into your account and then find the option to delete or close the account. Some accounts will stay open for a certain amount of time, so if you want to reactivate them you can.

An email address is necessary to complete the previous steps, so make sure this one is your last.

One last thing...Remember to be patient when going through this process. Don't expect it to be completed in one day. And you may also have to accept that there some things you won't be able permanently delete from the internet.

Source: http://www.cnet.com/how-to/remove-delete-yourself-from-the-internet/

If you're reading this, it's highly likely that your personal information is available to the public. And while you can never remove yourself completely from the internet, there are ways to minimize your online footprint. Here are five ways to do so.

Be warned however; removing your information from the internet as I've laid it out below, may adversely affect your ability to communicate with potential employers.

1. Delete or deactivate your shopping, social network, and Web service accounts

Think about which social networks you have profiles on. Aside from the big ones, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, do you still have public accounts on sites like Tumblr, Google+ or even MySpace? Which shopping sites have you registered on? Common ones might include information stored on Amazon, Gap.comMacys.com and others.

To get rid of these accounts, go to your account settings and just look for an option to either deactivate, remove or close your account. Depending on the account, you may find it under Security or Privacy, or something similar.

If you're having trouble with a particular account, try searching online for "How to delete," followed by the name of the account you wish to delete. You should be able to find some instruction on how to delete that particular account.

If for some reason you can't delete an account, change the info in the account to something other than your actual info. Something fake or completely random.

new-screen-delete.png

Using a service like DeleteMe can make removing yourself from the internet less of a headache.

Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET

2. Remove yourself from data collection sites

There are companies out there that collect your information. They're called data brokers and they have names like Spokeo, Crunchbase, PeopleFinder, as well as plenty of others. They collect data from everything you do online and then sell that data to interested parties, mostly in order more specifically advertise to you and sell you more stuff.

Now you could search for yourself on these sites and then deal with each site individually to get your name removed. Problem is, the procedure for opting out from each site is different and sometimes involves sending faxes and filling out actual physical paperwork. Physical. Paperwork. What year is this, again?

Anyway, an easier way to do it is to use a service like DeleteMe at Abine.com. For about $130 for a one-year membership, the service will jump through all those monotonous hoops for you. It'll even check back every few months to make sure your name hasn't been re-added to these sites.

3. Remove your info directly from websites

First, check with your phone company or cell provider to make sure you aren't listed online and have them remove your name if you are.

If you want to remove an old forum post or an old embarrassing blog you wrote back in the day, you'll have to contact the webmaster of those sites individually. You can either look at the About us or Contacts section of the site to find the right person to contact or go to www.whois.com and search for the domain name you wish to contact. There you should find information on who exactly to contact.

Unfortunately, private website operators are under no obligation to remove your posts. So, when contacting these sites be polite and clearly state why you want the post removed. Hopefully they'll actually follow through and remove them.

If they don't, tip number four is a less effective, but still viable, option.

4. Delete search engine results that return information about you

Search engine results includes sites like Bing, Yahoo and Google. In fact Google has a URL removal tool that can help you delete specific URLs.

screen-shot-2016-06-28-at-11-34-49-am.png

Google's URL removal tool is handy for erasing evidence of past mistakes from the internet.

Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET

For example, if someone has posted sensitive information such as a Social Security number or a bank account number and the webmaster of the site where it was posted won't remove it, you can at least contact the search engine companies to have it removed from search results, making it harder to find.

5. And finally, the last step you'll want to take is to remove your email accounts

Depending on the type of email account you have, the amount of steps this will take will vary.

You'll have to sign into your account and then find the option to delete or close the account. Some accounts will stay open for a certain amount of time, so if you want to reactivate them you can.

An email address is necessary to complete the previous steps, so make sure this one is your last.

One last thing...

Remember to be patient when going through this process. Don't expect it to be completed in one day. And you may also have to accept that there some things you won't be able permanently delete from the internet.

Editors' note: This article was originally published in December 2014. It has been updated with only a few minor tweaks.

Tuesday, 05 July 2016 12:21

Yes, the internet is like a utility

Imagine you are launching a startup and you require speedy internet access for you and your customers. Imagine you are one of the customers.

Now imagine speed that is not quite up to snuff to the Amazons and Netflix of the world — your would-be competitors. You’d quickly go under. And those consumers? Color them frustrated because they’ve been denied choice.

Preventing that is the promise of a 2-1 ruling recently by a federal appeals court for net neutrality, the concept that broadband service companies shouldn’t be able to create slow lanes and fast lanes based on ability to pay. Tech giants such as Amazon and Netflix have supported net neutrality.

Of course, that’s not how those representing broadband providers characterize the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. They say the ruling for net neutrality will stymie innovation because it won’t encourage improved connections.

No; just as likely, more competitors for internet services will enter the field and they will provide innovation — and a level playing field in which the consumer benefits because of more choices. If this ruling stands, broadband companies won’t be able to divide those dependent on the internet into haves and have-nots.

This case pitted the Federal Communications Commission against those representing the broadband companies, which were clearly hungry for the ability to be high-cost gatekeepers.

The latest ruling is premised on the notion that the internet is more public utility than a mere conveyance for cat and puppy videos. It is more than an information provider, what the broadband companies argued in successfully challenging net neutrality earlier. If the ruling stands, the federal government can regulate the pipeline to encourage equal access for everyone.

It’s hard to argue with the concept. Whether for work or play, imagine your broadband service even clunkier — as in slower — than it is today.

Those opposing net neutrality have pledged to take this all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And there is no reason not to believe them. This is why this ruling still offers but a promise of net neutrality.

But it is a promise that portends a level playing field for businesses and consumers. We hope the Supreme Court sees this as clearly.

Source:  http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/editorials/article/Yes-the-internet-is-like-a-utility-8337056.php

Most search marketers understand that it's important to understand your demographics before you can be successful in an SEO campaign. You need to understand who your customers are, why they might be searching for your business, and what kinds of things they want to see when they get to your site.

Accordingly,market research is one of the first steps you'll need to take when planning an SEO campaign. With it, you'll be able to target the right keywords, craft the right content, and eventually get that target market to convert more often.

Unfortunately, there are a number of misconceptions and flawed approaches that prevent search marketers from researching their prospective audiences effectively.

Budgeting

The first problem comes in budgeting, both in terms of time and money. As you might imagine, the more time and money you invest in market research, the more raw information you're going to get. If you don't invest enough time, for example, you may not gather enough information to form a suitable conclusion. If you don't invest enough money, you might not get reliable information. But the problem also extends to the other end of the spectrum; if you invest too much at the outset, you may end up with redundant information or waste too much time and money for your information to be worth it.

The Right Questions to Ask

You also need to know what kinds of questions to ask. Simply learning "more" about your users isn't going to help you directly when it comes to planning your target keywords, creating an overall content strategy, or sketching a plan for your link building campaign. Keep your focus not on independent identifiers (such as education level or geographic location), but instead on how those identifiers relate to your campaign (such as how familiar they are with your industry, or how they're likely to search). Most marketers get caught up in seeking information without a tie back to a practical takeaway.

Sources

Most marketers end up relying only on one or two sources of information; this is inherently flawed. Different data sets are going to offer you slightly different insights, based on their selection samples and their approaches. It's far better to collect information from multiple sources to ensure you have the broadest perspective possible on your target market.

You'll also want to make sure you consult both primary and secondary sources. Secondary sources are sources that have already conducted research and have formed conclusions; for example, the US Census Bureau offers tons of demographic information you can access for free. Primary sources rely on your own research, and often take the form of surveys, interviews, or other firsthand methods of gathering information. These have complementary advantages and disadvantages, so be sure to take advantage of both.

Buying Cycle Considerations

Many search marketers also neglect an important aspect of demographics; the buying cycle. You might know your average customer's interest level, demographic makeup, and maybe even a bit about their search behavior, but at what point in the buying cycle are you targeting them? Are you looking for customers early in the research phase, or customers ready to buy immediately? There's a broad spectrum here (for most businesses), and you can get very different answers from the same target market based on where you set your goals.

The Right Demographics

When it comes to market research, most search marketers start with a demographic in mind. They then work to find more information about this demographic, using the methods and considerations I've mentioned above. This is useful, but it depends on one crucial assumption: that you've chosen the right demographic in the first place. Part of this question ties back to a broader question of your business, but don't underestimate it, and don't leave your assumptions unchallenged. Another demographic may exist in greater numbers, with a greater interest in your business--so don't leave any rocks unturned here.

If you can proactively identify and correct these misconceptions and flawed approaches before they interfere with your market research, you'll establish a better course for your organization's SEO campaign. This isn't a guarantee that all yourinformation will be accurate, or that all your other market research techniques are correct, but it will help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls that prevent this work from being effective. From here, you can combine your market research with your competitive research, and start collecting the best target keywords for your campaign.

Source:  http://www.inc.com/samuel-edwards/what-search-marketers-get-wrong-about-demographic-research.html

Earlier this week, Samsung rolled out support for ad blocking in the new version of its web browser for mobile devices, the Samsung Internet Browser. Third-party developers quickly responded by launching ad-blocking mobile apps that work with the browser. Now those developers are finding their apps are being pulled from the Google Play, and their updates are being declined. The reason? It seems Google doesn’t want ad blockers to be distributed as standalone applications on its Google Play store.

In case you missed it: a few days ago, Samsung introduced ad blocking within its mobile web browser. The feature works a lot like Apple’s support for ad blocking in Safari, which arrived with the release of iOS 9. Specifically, Samsung launched a new Content Blocker extension API which allows third-party developers to build mobile apps that, once installed, will allow those surfing the mobile web via Samsung’s browser to block ads and other content that can slow down web pages, like trackers.

Apparently, Google – which just so happens to be in the ad business itself – is not a fan of this new functionality.

One of the first third-party ad blockers to launch following Samsung’s announcement was Adblock Fast. The app quickly become the top free app on Google Play in the “Productivity” category, but has since been banned from Google Play.

According to Rockship Apps founder and CEO Brian Kennish, maker of Adblock Fast, Google’s app reviews team informed him the app was being removed for violating “Section 4.4” of the Android Developer Distribution Agreement.

This is the section that informs developers they can’t release apps that interfere with “the devices, servers, networks, or other properties or services of any third-party including, but not limited to, Android users, Google or any mobile network operator.”

If that text sounds a little broad-reaching and vague, that’s because it is. It’s also what allows Google to react to changes in the industry, like this one, on the fly.

adblock-samsung

Kennish says that Google’s app reviews team informed him that he could resubmit after modifying his app so it didn’t “interfere with another app, service or product in an unauthorized manner.”

“We’ve been trying to contact Google through their public channels since Monday, and I tried through private ones all day yesterday…but we haven’t gotten any official response from a human – just autoresponders,” notes Kennish.

He suspects that Adblock Fast was the first to be pulled from Google’s app store because it had climbed the charts so quickly and had achieved a 4.25 rating. Kennish says that the app had around 50,000 installs at the time of its removal.

In addition, the company could have gotten on Google’s radar by pushing out an update that offered a better user experience. (Some people didn’t realize it only worked on Samsung’s 4.0 browser and left 1-star reviews. The update was meant to better highlight the app’s requirements.)

crystal-android

Meanwhile, as of the time of writing, other ad blockers are still live, including Crystal and Adblock Plus (Samsung Browser). However, that may not be the case for long.

Crystal’s developer Dean Murphy also just submitted an update that’s just been declined by Google’s app review team for the same reason cited above. Again, Google references section 4.4 of the Developer Agreement as the reason for stopping the update from going live.

“I have appealed the update rejection, as I assume that I am rejected for ‘interfering’ with Samsung Internet Browser, citing the developer documentation that Samsung have for the content blocking feature,” explains Murphy. “I’m still awaiting their reply.”

Adblock Plus tells us that its new app, an extension for Samsung’s browser, is still live, and they have not yet heard from Google about its removal. However, they have also not tried to update the app yet, according to co-founder and CEO Till Faida.

From our understanding of the situation, Google will continue to support mobile browsers that can block ads within themselves, either via built-in functionality (as with the Adblock Plus browser), or via extensions (as with Firefox, Javelin, Dolphin browsers, etc,) but only when those extensions are not distributed via APKs (downloadable apps) on Google Play.

Or to put it more simply: browser apps that block ads are okay; ad blocking apps are not.

It’s not clear at this time why Crystal and Adblock Plus (Samsung Browser) have not also been pulled from Google Play. But killing a developer’s ability to update their app has a similar effect as a full removal, in terms of both sending a message to the individual app developer, as well as the wider developer community.

Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Google only offered the following statement:

“While we don’t comment on specific apps, we can confirm that our policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers.”

Given the situation at hand, it seems that Samsung will need to re-evaluate how its ad-blocking feature is being implemented. Either it will need to build in support for non-APK extensions, or it will need to figure out another way for developers to distribute their APK files outside of Google Play, such as in a self-hosted app store.

Source:  http://techcrunch.com/2016/02/03/google-boots-ad-blockers-from-google-play/

Google is marking Safer Internet Day, which falls today, by introducing new authentication features to Gmail to help better identify emails that could prove to be harmful or are not fully secure.

The company said last year that it would beef up security measures and identify emails that arrive over an unencrypted connection and now it has implemented that plan for Gmail, which Google just announced has passed one billion active users. Beyond just flagging emails sent over unsecured connections, Google also warns users who are sending.

Gmail on the web will alert users when they are sending email to a recipient whose account is not encrypted with a little open lock in the top-right corner. That same lock will appear if you receive an email from an account that is not encrypted.

encrypted gmail

Encryption is important for email because it lowers the possibility that a message might be hijacked by a third-party. Google switched to HTTPS some while ago to ensure that all Gmail-to-Gmail emails are encrypted, but not all other providers have made the move. Last year, Google said that 57 percent of messages that users on other email providers send to Gmail are encrypted, while 81 percent of outgoing messages from Gmail are, too.

Another measure implemented today shows users when they receive a message from an email account that can’t be authenticated. If a sender’s profile picture is a question mark, that means Gmail was not able to authenticate them.

authenticated gmail

Authentication is one method for assessing whether an email is a phishing attempt or another kind of malicious attack designed to snare a user’s data or information.

“If you receive a message from a big sender (like a financial institution, or a major email provider, like Google, Yahoo or Hotmail) that isn’t authenticated, this message is most likely forged and you should be careful about replying to it or opening any attachments,” Google explained in its Gmail help section.

 

Unauthenticated emails aren’t necessarily dangerous, but, with this new indicator, Google is giving users more visibility on potential threats to help them make better decisions related to their online security.

Finally, because good news is supposed to come in threes, Google said today that it is gifting users 2GB of addition storage for Google Drive at no cost. To grab the freebie, simply complete the new security checkup for your Google account.

The process, which Google claimed takes just two minutes, will see you check your recovery information, which devices are connected to your account and what permissions that you’ve enabled. Google offered the same deal last year for Safer Internet Day, and the company said the 2GB expansion is open to all users — including those who snagged 2GB last year. (Small caveat: the offer isn’t open to Google Apps for Work or Google Apps for Education accounts.)

Simply head to your Google account to get started.

Source:  http://techcrunch.com/2016/02/09/gmail-now-warns-users-when-they-send-and-receive-email-over-unsecured-connections/

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