David J. Redcliff

David J. Redcliff

As an entrepreneur or solopreneur, you are well aware of the fact that without a solid marketing framework, the longevity, revenues, and profits of your organization might not stand a chance of ascendancy. As a small business owner, you can have a great team along with great products designed to resolve the present day issues of a market segment, but if you fail to create enough awareness to said segment in relation to your company’s existence, it could lead to the demise of your entrepreneurial venture.

As a result, most of us would agree that having a solid marketing framework for your business is essential. But what marketing mediums are best to utilize to promote your products?

Traditional Mediums Aren’t The Only Mediums

There are many traditional marketing mediums to use to promote your products and they include:

  • Bulk Mail
  • Television Ads
  • Radio Ads
  • Billboard Ads
  • Print/Magazine Ads
  • Telemarketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Door-To-Door Marketing
  • Referral Marketing/Word Of Mouth

But in addition to these traditional, well-known mediums, are many innovative and alternative mediums that are working for many entrepreneurs and solopreneurs already. Many of these innovative and alternative mediums are lower in cost than some of the above traditional mediums, as well as more impactful, profitable, and productive.

The following  innovative and alternative mediums could prove to be impactful, profitable, and productive for your small business.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing visitors and traffic to a website through  various strategies that help the website appear higher in rankings on search engines such as Google. There are a number of marketing strategies that could be used for this, many of which will be covered here in this very article.

Press Releases

Producing many press releases over short periods of time helps to build up backlinks in major search engines like Google and shows others that your company is innovating. There are many great press release services online that you could use, some of which allow you to buy packages to send out hundreds of press releases over a period of time, which helps to not just generate news, but build up links in various search engines as mentioned.

Video Marketing

With video marketing, you would incorporate online videos into your marketing campaigns to promote products and services, or you might establish online vlogs using sites such as YouTube to provide commentary on various topics. Both of these aspects work to improve your visibility. Also using video marketing could help provide better email open rates if you include video in the subject line of your email and link to video content in the body of your email, could allow you to reach a broader internet audience, could increase the effectiveness of your online landing pages, and more. You have the option of creating your own vlog, or marketing through another blog from another content creator, that’s currently catering to your target market segment.

If you’re focusing on SEO, you might want to invest in your own video hosting service like Wistia, but if your goal is to use a social platform to spread the word about your video the Youtube might be your best bet.

Blogging

A blog is an online journal that’s regularly updated with articles and postings to a hosted website. Some blogs are created for personal entertainment use only, while others are created for commercial reasons such as to promote a product, service, genre, or movement. Blogs are inexpensive to operate, and allow you to accomplish a number of things:

  1. Allows you to connect with your target market segment
  2. Helps establish you as a category authority
  3. Helps drive traffic to your website
  4. Helps build awareness for your products/services
  5. Helps with SEO rankings by showing search engines that you’re operating an active site.

You can even use your blog to generate additional revenue in a number of ways, such as selling affiliate products through the blog, selling your own products directly through the blog, and more. Also you can create revenue indirectly through the blog, such as generating traffic and converting a percentage of said traffic to buyers/clients of products and services that you sell outside of the blog.

You have the option of creating your own blog or marketing through another blog from another content creator that’s currently catering to your target market segment.

Podcasting

A podcast is an online radio show that’s available for download off the web. You could choose to host your own podcast or market through an established podcast of another host. Within the podcast, the host will usually do a live endorsement of a product by recommending it to their audience, so make sure to choose carefully a podcast that  targets the same market segment as your customers. Or, a marketer could create an commercial spot during the commercial section of the podcast to promote their products/services.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-per-click advertising through popular services such as Google AdWords, allows businesses to display ads but only pay for them when people actually click on the ads. A business could use keywords and other aspects to set up their pay-per-click campaigns.

Remarketing

Remarketing incorporates aspects of pay-per-click, but functions a bit differently. Remarketing is where a business will set up an advertisement and if a person clicks on the ad but doesn’t make a particular purchase, the customer will notice that the ad (or a similar ad) seems to follow them around the internet to various websites. The purpose of the marketing strategy is to keep reminding the particular “clicker” about their interest in a product or service, to get them to eventually make a purchase.

Marketing Through Other Website/Social Media Ads

Website and social media ads (such as those on LinkedIn and Facebook) are posted ads to tailored audiences of a particular website or in the case of social media, to particular users of that platform. One can usually get a good breakdown of the website’s audience as well as the social media platform’s users, to make sure that the ads are going out to the target market segment in question.

Here’s more information about marketing your business on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Commenting

Comment marketing is where you would join as a user on a popular discussion forum or blog site, then merge into the conversation by posting quality and relevant commentary in relation to the topics at hand. After some time has passed with you posted relevant and quality commentary, you can begin to incorporate light promotion of your products and services within some of your tailored responses. Reddit and Quora could be good mediums for this depending on your target audience, you could do this on other popular blogs that your customers might read.

Big Data Marketing

Finally, big data marketing is basically using a variety of available data such as public data and data you’ve collected over time from your market segment, to use such data intelligence to create more targeted and efficient marketing campaigns. The data in this case, would be used to predict customer behavior and allows you to better utilize your marketing dollars in ways that are timely and profitable.

Source : nav.com

Wednesday, 26 October 2016 00:56

Rethinking Security for the Internet of Things

The consumer sector is estimated to see more than 4 billion connected things in 2016, turning regular households into “smart” homes. However, most of these internet-facing smart devices use various way of communicating making them vulnerable to potential privacy of data risks and security attacks. 

The consumer sector is estimated to see more than 4 billion connected things in 2016, turning regular households into “smart” homes, as the increased number of sensors allows us to control and gain insight into most any device from anywhere in the world.

However, most of these internet-facing smart devices use various way of communicating between themselves and with other appliances. Because of this, security researchers have found that many home network smart devices are not only vulnerable to various types of attacks, but also pose risks to the privacy of user data.

The Privacy Game

While consumer IoT adoption has been growing for a couple of years, consumers have yet to fully realize the amount of data such devices tap into. Everything from medical devices to household appliances and wearables tap into personal information, such as location and biometric data, potentially broadcasting them to either cloud service providers or various mobile apps.

Some home network smart devices need to connect to home networks to broadcast information or function properly. However, security researchers have found these deviceslack proper security mechanisms – encryption, password protection, etc. – when broadcasting this information on the local network or the internet.

While smart devices that use device-to-device communication via Bluetooth, Z-Wave or ZigBee to send small amounts of information from one to another are somewhat safe from online attacks, as the attacker would have to be relatively nearby, smart devices that use device-to-cloud or device-to-gateway communication are prone to remote attacks on the data they handle.

Such smart devices are usually not built with security in mind, but with usability. No security standards are specifically designed to enforce the way smart devices handle data, and manufacturers don’t even have to build update mechanisms into their products for pushing software security fixes.

In some respects, it’s like a car manufacturer starting to mass produce really nice-looking vehicles with racing performance, but not fitting them with airbags or collision safety mechanisms.

Peeping Tom

Some of the worst fears involving home network smart devices involve IP cameras, smart security locks or other smart home devices that can be remotely accessed by cybercriminals and used to either spy on you in your own home or gain access to all your data. This “peeping Tom” scenario is as old as the internet and security researchers have proven that IoT devices could become the ultimate surveillance tools working against you.

Even seemingly benign smart baby monitors have been found vulnerable to remote control, allowing attackers and complete strangers to not only listen to what your children are doing, but also interact with them via built-in microphones.

Other scenarios involve attackers gaining complete control over your entire home network by exploiting a vulnerable smart thing. This could lead to a new type of ransomware, as attackers could even start asking for money to let you inside your own home (by unlocking the smart lock).

Rethinking Security

It’s obvious that traditional security solutions and approaches are not only unfit to secure IoT devices, but they’re also not designed for the task. This means that if laptops, mobile devices and tablets can be protected, home network IoT devices are left facing the internet by themselves.

Rethinking security for IoT is no easy task. Innovative thinking from security vendor Bitdefender has brought forward an integrated home cyber-security solution that can secure such smart devices. Bitdefender Box is a hardware device that can monitor all your household network-connected smart devices and let you know if they’re vulnerable or if they start behaving the way they’re not supposed to.

Bitdefender Box not only allows you to make informed decisions regarding the security of your smart devices, but it also secures PCs, laptops and mobile devices. Providing anti-phishing, malicious websites alerts, and even rogue users trying to connect to your home network, Bitdefender Box is able to secure your entire inter-connected smart home and protect your digital data.

Source: pcadvisor.co.uk

You’ve undoubtedly seen the news about Google’s new smartphones, the Pixel and Pixel XL. Perhaps you’ve read a review or two. Maybe you’ve already double-checked your bank account and pre-ordered a unit. No matter which anticipatory stage you’ve reached, take comfort in knowing that some of the Pixel’s best features are based in software. Every Pixel admirer with an Android smartphone at his or her disposal can experience most of those features on the smartphone they already own, with a little patience, dedication, and electronic elbow grease.

No unsanctioned procedure is without risk, of course, and that goes double for a device as indispensable as a smartphone. We can’t stress enough: if “APK” (Android’s app file format) and “sideloading” (shorthand for installing apps from unofficial sources) sound like foreign turns of phrase to you, and if you find the the idea of dealing with instability, missing features, and all-around bugginess the slightest bit unappealing, this guide isn’t for you.

In the interest of covering our bases, there’s the elephant in the room: modified applications. Our guide links to apps that may or may not have been “messed with,” so to speak, at the code level. We’re taking care to source the files from a reputable website, but we can’t guarantee the apps in question don’t contain malicious or damaging code. Downloader be warned.

If none of that’s deterred you and you’re confident in your ability to navigate the technical webs ahead, proceed with caution.

Preparing your Android device

First things first: you’ll need an Android device running Marshmallow 6.0 or newer. You’ll need to prepare it by (1) installing a freely available file explorer (e.g., ES File Explorer), and (2) permitting the installation of apps from third-party sources.

Here’s how to allow the installation of apps from third-party sources:

  • Open your device’s Settingsmenu.
  • Scroll down and select the entry with the title Security or Lock screen and security.
  • Tick or toggle the Unknown sourcesoption.
  • Press OK on the popup.

PIXEL LAUNCHER

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One of the undisputed highlights of the Pixel’s new software is the Pixel Launcher, a home screen (technically) exclusive to the Pixel and Pixel XL. It’s cut from the same cloth as Google’s previous home screen app, the Google Now Launcher, in that it retains Android’s iconic app drawer, folders, and app shortcuts. But improvements and additions abound: There’s a new search icon and voice shortcut, plus a dynamic widget that reflects the current date and weather. There’s a new wallpaper picker, too, and a Google Calendar icon that matches the day’s date.

If all that sounds appealing, good news: installing it is easy enough, but there’s a caveat. Thanks to myriad inter-dependencies, the Pixel Launcher won’t give you access to the Google Assistant, Google’s eponymous intelligent assistant. The Pixel Launcher’s “G” tab normally acts as a shortcut to the Assistant, but it’ll merely open the Google Search app on non-supported devices.

Here’s how to install the Pixel Launcher:

  • You’ll need two application files: the Pixel Launcher itself, and another that’ll pull a rotating collection of high-resolution wallpaper images from Google periodically, in the background. Download both using your device’s internet browser.
  • Once both have finished downloading, use the file explorer you downloaded earlier to navigate to your device’s download folder and install the apps in question.
  • After both finish installing, tap your device’s home screen. You’ll see an option to select the Pixel Launcher; tap it.

That’s all there is to it!

If you tire of the Pixel Launcher, switching back is easy enough. Here’s how:

extended-screenshot-2

  • Open your device’s Settings menu.
  • Scroll down and select the entry with the title Apps.
  • Tap the menu for the Pixel Launcher.
  • Select the Clear defaultsbutton.
  • Tap your device’s home button and select the launcher of your choice.

CAMERA APP

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Google Camera may be available for compatible devices from the Play Store market, but the Pixel and Pixel XL pack a newer version of the app, v4.2, with features that haven’t quite made it to other phones just yet. There’s an overlay that adds shooting grids in 3×3, 4×4, and Golden Ratio configuration, plus a slider for manual exposure control. That’s not all: there’s also a lock focus option, new animations, and performance improvements across the board.

The bleeding-edge Google Camera app doesn’t play as nicely with non-Pixel devices as the Pixel Launcher, unfortunately. Reddit and XDA users have reported success with the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, but only models that have been updated to Android 7.0 Nougat; the app appears to crash on older Nexus devices, like the Nexus 6, and handsets from other manufacturers. There’s a sliver of a chance it might work on other phones, but for now, it’s likely a Nexus-only affair.

If you’re willing to take the plunge, here’s how to install Google Camera v4.2:

  • Download the Google Camera application using your device’s internet browser.
  • After it finishes downloading, install it by navigating to your device’s download folder with your file manager of choice and tapping the Google Camera app.
  • Tap Install.
  • Once the installation finishes, you’ll see an icon for the Google Camera.

That’s all there is to it.

There’s another annoyance to note: if you’ve installed the Google Camera from the app store, it won’t replace it. Instead, you’ll have two Google Camera icons side-by-side in your app drawer. One workaround involves disabling or uninstalling the original Google Camera, but we recommend against it — put simply, it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

DIALER

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There’s more to Google’s Pixels than a new home screen and camera app. Indeed, Google’s spruced up the Google Phone application — the dialer — with a cleaner, more intuitive UI. When you’re in a call, the background’s a translucent blue gradient atop your phone’s wallpaper. The in-call buttons have been enlarged, labeled a little more clearly, and moved below now-prominent Caller ID information. Incoming calls are now answered with an upward swipe (previously rightward) and declined with a downward swipe (previously leftward). On launchers that support it (including the Pixel Launcher and Action Launcher), the dialer’s icon lets you create a new contact from the home screen.

The dialer, as with the camera, is a little capricious when it comes to compatibility. Users are reporting that it works on the Nexus 5X and 6P, but non-Nexus phones are a shot in the dark. Your mileage may very.

Here’s how to install the Pixel dialer:

  • Download the dialer application using your device’s internet browser.
  • After the download completes, navigate to your phone’s download folder using a file browser, and select the Google Phone application.
  • Tap Install.

In order to use Google Phone, you’ll have to set it as your default dialer. Here’s how:

  • Open Settings.
  • Select the Apps menu.
  • Tap the Gear icon in the top-right corner.
  • Select Phone app from the list, and choose Phone.

Rounded icons

Fancy the Pixels’ spiffy rounded icons? You’re not the only one. Luckily, they’re easy to obtain: a crafty developer extracted them, packaged them in a compressed folder, and hosted the whole shebang online.

Here’s how to nab ’em:

extended-screenshot

 

  • Download the icons using your device’s browser.
  • Navigate to your device’s download folder using a file browser, and then extract the icons from the compressed folder.
  • Install Awesome Icons, a free app from the Play Store.

Now you’re ready to begin assigning new icons:

  • Open Awesome Icons, and tap the image icon next to any compatible app.
  • Select the entry under the Icons header, and then tap Picture.
  • That’ll launch the Open frommenu. From it, tap your file browser.
  • Navigate to the folder containing the extracted icons, and select the icon that corresponds to the app you chose.
  • At the cropping screen, ensure the selection area includes the entire icon. Hit Crop, then OK.
  • Repeat the process for any remaining icons.

The icons aren’t perfect, granted. They’ll only appear on your home screen, not your app drawer, and the list of supported apps is far from exhaustive, but for an unofficial fix, it ain’t bad.

GOOGLE ASSISTANT

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There’s a way to get the Google Assistant on most modern Android devices, and it’s hardly a secret: Allo, Google’s new text messaging app. The Assistant’s accessible in a dedicated tab within the app, or by typing in “@google” before a query.

We reviewed the Assistant thoroughly a few weeks back, but our consensus bears repeating: the Assistant’s really darn cool. It can look for restaurants nearby, pull up personal photos, run searches, look at flights, and find nearby events. It can provide quick access to a restaurant’s phone number and menu. It can play games like tic-tac-toe. And it can give you alerts at specific times of the day.

Sadly, Google doesn’t intend to bring the Assistant to non-Pixel devices anytime soon. But take comfort in the fact that enterprising developers are actively attempting to shoehorn the Assistant into unsupported devices. Someday soon, you may not need a Pixel or Pixel XL to have Google’s conversational AI at your fingertips.

Source : digitaltrends.com

Wednesday, 19 October 2016 11:56

5 Skills You Need to Become a Researcher

Following on from the previous article on skills required when working as a lecturer, this article will examine five of the most important skills you need to become an excellent academic researcher. Obviously each field, arts, science or social science, has its own specialist skills that you must acquire, but here are five generic research skills that will help you achieve your goals.

1. Project Management

Every research project requires some degree of project management; this is a term you often hear being used, but what does it mean?

Project management essentially means good planning. You will have to define your research in terms of achievable aims, the time and resources needed to do this. You will have to provide a step by step plan of how you intend to carry this out. This stage of your research must be completed in order to get external funding, so without this skill your research project will not even get off the ground. If you are currently working on someone else's project as an assistant, try to learn as much as possible from them about the details of planning and running a project. Set achievable aims and realistic estimates of time, manpower and money needed.

2. Handling Budgets

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Another important skill is learning how to manage a budget effectively. Without this skill you will never be able to lead your own research project. It's something that you may not have done in any great depth for your PhD.

As an academic you might have administrative support to help you hold the purse strings, but the final decision-making and responsibility will come down to you. As with your own domestic budget, keeping a regular check on monies in and out is vital: do not bury your head in the sand if things appear to be going wrong. Make sure you match your research goals to the money you have been awarded. Do not over-commit yourself in the hiring of other staff, or running collaborative workshops, both of which can cost a lot of money. But equally remember that the money is there to be spent, do not hoard it! And finally, make sure you keep good records of your income and spending: your university, funding body or the ‘tax man' may want to see your records at any time.

3. Team leading/managing

Being good at working with others is a difficult skill to achieve especially in the academic world when we are used to working with a large degree of autonomy. However a research project often requires the assistance of others: colleagues at your institution and elsewhere, administrative staff and possibly people in the private sector as well.

If you are managing the project you need to know two main things: how to get the best out of each of your workers, and how to make their working experience a positive one. Without both of those factors, your team may fall apart. Being a good communicator is important. Asking each person to play their part is vital, but so is listening to them, asking for their feedback on decisions or asking what is wrong if they are not happy. Being able to assess each colleague's needs and vulnerabilities is essential if you are going to be able to lead them as a team.

4. Handling Data

Depending on your field the sorts of results you get from your project will vary widely. It could be results from experiments within a laboratory, statistical evidence gathered from work in the field or qualitative material gleaned from interviews or from research in an archive or library. Whatever sort of results you get, you need to be able to handle large amounts of data efficiently and effectively. Without this skill you will never get to the exciting stage of actually analysing your results.

So how do you handle data successfully? By being well organised and planning ahead. While you may not be exactly sure of what you will produce, you will know what sort of data storage you need, both electronically and on paper, so organise this immediately. You must not lose any work because of incompetence or disorganisation. So design and set up your database now; organise storage for hard copies of raw materials and catalogue them clearly. Make sure you keep records of who is collecting what as you go along, so that when it comes to writing up your research later, you have all the answers you need at your fingertips.

5. IT skills

Closely linked with point 4 is the necessity of developing IT skills. It is unlikely you will be running your own research project without being fairly IT literate, but there are always new methods or packages to learn about, so don't stop!

For example, are there any data collection or storage packages that would help your research that you are unfamiliar with? What about analytical tools for working with large amounts of data? Perhaps you need something bespoke and experimental for your project that you could help to design. It could be that a bibliographical tool might help you write up your research. Also think about ways that you can develop your IT skills to present your work in ever more exciting ways. Can you build your own website for example?

IT is a very important area for researchers. Like our own fields of interest, IT never stands still, there is always a way to improve your skills even further.

Source: jobs.ac.uk

According to a new study published today from the American Civil Liberties Union, major social networks including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have recently provided user data access to Geofeedia, the location-based, social media surveillance system used by government offices, private security firms, marketers and others.

As TechCrunch previously reported, Geofeedia is one of a bevy of technologies used, secretly, by police to monitor activists and the contents of their discussions online.

The ACLU said in a blog post that both Twitter and Facebook (which owns Instagram) made some immediate changes in response to their study’s findings.

“Instagram cut off Geofeedia’s access to public user posts, and Facebook cut its access to a topic-based feed of public user posts,” the ACLU said.

The ACLU also noted in their post:

“Neither Facebook nor Instagram has a public policy specifically prohibiting developers from exploiting user data for surveillance purposes. Twitter does have a ‘longstanding rule’ prohibiting the sale of user data for surveillance as well as a Developer Policy that bans the use of Twitter data ‘to investigate, track or surveil Twitter users.’”

On Tuesday, following the publication of the ACLU findings, Twitter announced that it would “immediately suspend Geofeedia’s commercial access to Twitter data"

A Facebook spokesperson tells TechCrunch:

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“[Geofeedia] only had access to data that people chose to make public. Its access was subject to the limitations in our Platform Policy, which outlines what we expect from developers that receive data using the Facebook Platform. If a developer uses our APIs in a way that has not been authorized, we will take swift action to stop them and we will end our relationship altogether if necessary.”

It’s worth noting that Facebook’s platform policy generically limits developers.

For example, it says developers are not permitted to “sell, license, or purchase any data obtained” from Facebook or its services. And they can’t transfer data they get from Facebook, including “anonymous, aggregate, or derived data,” to any data brokers. Finally, developers are not permitted to put Facebook data into any search engines or directories without the social network’s explicit permission.

We have reached out to Geofeedia for comment but executives were not immediately available for an interview.

A public relations consultant for Geofeedia sent a lengthy statement, attributed to Geofeedia CEO Phil Harris, defending the company’s practices in general. An excerpt follows:

“Geofeedia is committed to the principles of personal privacy, transparency and both the letter and the spirit of the law when it comes to individual rights. Our platform provides some clients, including law enforcement officials across the country, with a critical tool in helping to ensure public safety…

Geofeedia has in place clear policies and guidelines to prevent the inappropriate use of our software; these include protections related to free speech and ensuring that end-users do not seek to inappropriately identify individuals based on race, ethnicity, religious, sexual orientation or political beliefs, among other factors.

That said, we understand, given the ever-changing nature of digital technology, that we must continue to work to build on these critical protections of civil rights.”

Update: A company statement from Geofeedia was added to this post after it was originally published. 

Source : https://techcrunch.com

Google yesterday announced it will introduce a fact check tag on Google News in order to display articles that contain factual information next to trending news items. Now it’s time for Facebook to take fact-checking more seriously, too.

Facebook has stepped into the role of being today’s newspaper: that is, it’s a single destination where a large selection of news articles are displayed to those who visit its site. Yes, they appear amidst personal photos, videos, status updates, and ads, but Facebook is still the place where nearly half of American adults get their news.

Facebook has a responsibility to do better, then, when it comes to informing this audience what is actually news: what is fact-checked, reported, vetted, legitimate news, as opposed to a rumor, hoax or conspiracy theory.

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It’s not okay that Facebook fired its news editors in an effort to appear impartial, deferring only to its algorithms to inform readers what’s trending on the site. Since then, the site has repeatedly trended fake news stories, according to a Washington Post report released earlier this week.

The news organization tracked every news story that trended across four accounts during the workday from August 31 to September 22, and found that Facebook trended five stories that were either “indisputably fake” or “profoundly inaccurate.” It also regularly featured press releases, blog posts, and links to online stores, like iTunes – in other words, trends that didn’t point to news sites.

Facebook claimed in September that it would roll out technology that would combat fake stories in its Trending topics, but clearly that has not yet come to pass – or the technology isn’t up to the task at hand.

In any event, Facebook needs to do better.

It’s not enough for the company to merely reduce the visibility of obvious hoaxes from its News Feed – not when so much of the content that circulates on the site is posted by people – your friends and family –  right on their profiles, which you visit directly.

Plus, the more the items are shared, the more they have the potential to go viral. And viral news becomes Trending news, which is then presented all Facebook’s users in that region.

This matters. Facebook has trended a story from a tabloid news source that claimed 9/11 was an inside job involving planted bombs. It ran a fake story about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly which falsely claimed she was fired. These aren’t mistakes: they are disinformation.

Facebook has apologized for the above, but declined to comment to The Washington Post regarding its new findings that fake news continues to be featured on the platform.

 

In addition, not only does Facebook fail at vetting its Trending news links, it also has no way of flagging the links that fill its site.

Outside of Trending, Facebook continues to be filled with inaccurate, poorly-sourced, or outright fake news stories, rumors and hoaxes. Maybe you’re seeing less of them in the News Feed, but there’s nothing to prevent a crazy friend from commenting on your post with a link to a well-known hoax site, as if it’s news. There’s no tag or label. They get to pretend they’re sharing facts.

Meanwhile, there’s no way for your to turn off commenting on your own posts, even when the discussion devolves into something akin to “sexual assault victims are liars” (to reference a recent story.)

Because perish the thought that Facebook would turn of the one mechanism that triggers repeat visits to its site, even if that means it would rather trigger traumatic recollections on the parts of its users instead.

There is a difference between a post that’s based on fact-checked articles, and a post from a website funded by an advocacy group. There’s a difference between Politifact and some guy’s personal blog. Facebook displays them both equally, though: here’s a headline, a photo, some summary text.

Of course, it would be a difficult job for a company that only wants to focus on social networking and selling ads to get into the media business – that’s why Facebook loudly proclaims it’s “not a media company.” 

Except that it is one. It’s serving that role, whether it wants to or not.

Google at least has stepped up to the plate and is trying to find a solution. Now it’s Facebook’s turn.

Facebook may have only unintentionally become a media organization, but it is one. And it’s doing a terrible job.

Source : https://techcrunch.com

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — They are there when you need them most, smartphone cameras anxious to catch those special moments.

But New York Times bestselling author David Pogue says if that’s all you are using your phone’s camera for you are missing out.

“I would argue, use the camera to take pictures of things you don’t intend to save,” he says. “Just a memory jogger.”

In his book, Pogue’s Basics, David has a number of ideas for ways to make your cell phone camera make your life easier.

For instance, he says, “Take a picture of a claim check, so if you lose it, you will have a record of it. Take a picture of your children when you enter a theme park, so if you get separated, you can show the authorities what your children were wearing.”

Other ideas include taking a couple of pictures of where you park your car in a mall parking lot or a parking garage just in case you come out of the store a bit bewildered.

If you want to save money at the grocery store before you leave home, “Take a picture of your open refrigerator.”

You may never need it, but the next time you are standing in front of the wall of milk in the grocery store trying to remember how much you have left at home, look at the picture. There it is looking right at you and you can confidently tell your spouse, “Oh, we do have milk.”

And it doesn’t stop there.

Take a picture of your pantry before you leave so when you are in the store staring at pasta, or bread, or anything else wondering, “Do we have any at home?” you have the picture to refer to and zoom in to check that shelf.

You would be surprised how much money you will save when you are no longer buying things you already have at home and don’t need.

The notes section of your phone can also come in handy if you use it like Kristin Alverez.

“I make a list; I have a notes app on my phone.”

Kristin was making her way through the grocery store with 7-week-old Beckett asleep in a carrier in the grocery cart.

For obvious reasons, she wants her grocery time to be efficient so she keeps her cell phone handy at home and the notes section ready when needed.

“It’s cumulative, so as the week is going on, I just add things to it,” she says.

Smartphones in the grocery aisles have become commonplace as families use them to make sure the necessary items get home, even sending pictures of the specific product that is needed.

Pogue says there is another “basic” secret hiding in your phone that makes setting an alarm faster than finding the app, clicking on the clock, then alarm, then dialing in the time you want an alarm.

“If you learn only one thing, this is it, just hold down the button, and say, ‘Wake me at 7:45 a.m. That’s it,” says Pogue. “Your alarm is set for 7:45 a.m.”

On an iPhone just tell Siri, for an Android phone, do it through “Hello Google.”

You can turn off your alarm the same way. Just push and talk.

“Turn off all my alarms,” Pogue says into his phone, and a second later Siri responds, “Okay, all your alarms have been turned off.”

If you have ever noticed your phone is stuck in 3G and you just know there is 4G LTE around. Instead of powering the phone off and back on, Pogue says, “Put it in airplane mode and back out again.” That wakes the phone up to search for better service.

And if you are traveling and suspect you are not getting your messages or email, Pogue says, “Send yourself a text, and that forces the phone to come to the cell network, and all of a sudden they will all flow in.”

Finally, a couple of things about using your smartphone camera for those keepsake pictures.

Smartphones have to focus when taking a picture and sometimes that split second to focus is enough to miss the shot. So, hold your phone up and touch and hold the screen where you want it focused. On the iPhone a yellow box will appear telling you the focus is locked. (It’s an option you must turn on in the Android phone and so is this next item.)

When the moment comes to take the picture, use the volume button on the side of the phone, which will give you less shake.

“If you hold down on volume key, you won’t just take one picture, you’ll take 10 per second,” Pogue says, “Later you can delete all the bad ones, but you’ll find you have that one perfect shot of the child putting the bowl of spaghetti on her head.”

These suggestions just scratch the surface of everything David Pogue covers in his books: Pogue’s Basics and Pogue’s Basics: Life.

Source: pittsburgh.cbslocal.com

 

Google is fighting back against fraud with an advanced verification process for plumbers and locksmiths.

An email sent out to Google’s top contributors states the company’s plan for an advanced verification process is being beta tested in San Diego. All locksmiths and plumbers currently verified will have to go through the new verification process. Failure to do so before November 1 will result in the loss of verification and the removal from Google Maps.

Of course, any new applications will have to go through the new process as well, which said to be simple. It includes a combination of questions from Google and completing an application with a third party verification company. The new application process is said to take about two weeks to complete.

The entire advanced verification process for plumbers and locksmiths in the San Diego area is explained in this Google My Business help article. The process will also be used for plumbers and locksmiths using AdWords.

Why Locksmiths? Here’s Why.

Did you know that one of the biggest online scams is perpetrated by so-called locksmiths? Google knows, and the issues are finally being taken seriously.

 

It only takes a few bad actors to ruin it for the rest. In this case, the bad actors are individuals or companies claiming to be locksmiths to make some quick cash. Here’s how the scam works.

Locksmith Scam:

  • After being locked out of one’s home and not knowing what to do, a quick Google search brings up a list of local locksmiths.
  • Google returns AdWords ads and Google My Business listings for locksmiths promising cheap or inexpensive service rates.
  • Calling one of these bargain locksmiths actually routes you to an offshore call center, where they dispatch someone local to come to your door.
  • The locksmith shows up and, before trying any other options, immediately drills the lock open and slaps you with a large bill for the service.
  • The cheap service you thought you were getting then turns into a large expense.
  • Congratulations, you can now get back into your home but you’ve become a victim of locksmith fraud.

This locksmith scam has been well documented over the past few years and even written about in the New York Times. To get an idea of how rampant it is becoming, search for “locksmith scam” in Google.

Google’s advanced verification should cut down on the amount of fraudulent locksmiths found in ads and search results. As for why plumbers have to go through an advanced verification, I’m not quite sure. I tried to research online plumbing scams but was unable to find anything.

Google is notoriously secretive about why it makes the decisions it does. Regardless, I have reached out for comment in an attempt to gain further information.

Source: Search Engine Land

 

 

 

As of late June, 32.5% of page one Google results now use the HTTPS protocol, according to a new study from Moz.The esteemed Dr Pete published a blog post this week on the data they’ve been tracking in the two year period since Google announced HTTPS was to be a light ranking signal in August 2014.

The results are definitely enough to give SEOs pause for thought when it comes to considering whether to switch their sites to a secure protocol.

What is HTTPS?

In case you need a refresher, here is Jim Yu’s explanation of the difference between http and HTTPS:

HTTP is the standard form used when accessing websites. HTTPS adds an additional layer of security by encrypting in SSL and sharing a key with the destination server that is difficult to hack.

And here is Google’s 2014 announcement:

“We’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now, it’s only a very lightweight signal, affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals, such as high-quality content.”
But over time, the promise that Google would strengthen the signal “to keep everyone safe on the Web” seems to be coming true…

HTTPS as a ranking signal in 2014

Searchmetrics found little difference between HTTP and HTTPS rankings in the months after the initial Google announcement. Hardly surprising as it did only affect 1% of results.Moz also saw very little initial difference. Prior to August 2014, 7% of page one Google results used HTTPS protocol. A week after the update announcement, that number increased to 8%.

So we all went about our business, some of us implemented, some of us didn’t. No big whoop. It’s not like it’s AMP or anything! Amirite?

SMASH CUT TO:

HTTPS as a ranking signal in 2016

Moz has found that one-third of page one Google results now use HTTPS.

moz https results

 

As Dr Pete points out, due to the gradual progression of the graph, this probably isn’t due to specific algorithm changes as you would normally see sharp jumps and plateaus. Instead it may mean that Google’s pro-HTTPS campaign has been working.

“They’ve successfully led search marketers and site owners to believe that HTTPS will be rewarded, and this has drastically sped up the shift.”
Projecting forward it’s likely that in 16–17 months time, HTTPS results may hit 50% and Dr Pete predicts an algorithm change to further bolster HTTPS in about a year.

Source:  https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/07/07/https-websites-account-for-30-of-all-google-search-results/

 

 

Islamic terrorists are arming themselves with the technical tools and expertise to attack the online systems underpinning Western companies and critical infrastructure, according to a new study from the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology.

The goal of the report was to bring awareness to "a hyper-evolving threat" said James Scott, ICIT co-founder and senior fellow.

Dark web marketplaces and forums make malware and tech expertise widely available and — with plenty of hackers for hire and malware for sale — technical skills are no longer required. A large-scale attack could be just around the corner, said Scott.

"These guys have the money to go on hacker-for-hire forums and just start hiring hackers," he said.

U.S. authorities are well-aware of the rising threat posed by Islamic terrorists armed with advanced cybertools. In April, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter declared a cyberwar against the Islamic State group, or ISIS. Ransomware chatter rose to prominence on dark web jihadi forums around the fall of 2015 and continues to be a topic of debate, particularly among members of ISIS and Boko Haram.

"I had the same position that I have right now with this in December of last year with regards to ransomware hitting the health-care sector," said Scott. "We were seeing the same exact thing."

Much of the chatter on jihadi chat boards comes from Europeans and Americans, often social outcasts living vicariously through the online reputation of their handle — including disenfranchised teens or jailhouse Muslim converts turned radicals, Scott said. They may not have strong coding skills, but they have access to Western institutions and businesses and are looking to leverage that access to serve ISIS.

An example of the sort of conversation that takes place on Islamic dark web forums involved a cleaner in Berlin who worked the overnight shift and wanted to know how they could help, said Scott. Others chimed in, explaining how the janitor could load malware onto a USB device and plug it into a computer to allow them to remotely hack into the network.

"That is the kind of insider threat that we are going to be facing," said Scott. "That is what they are seeing as the next step — an army of insider threats in the West."

"These guys have the money to go on hacker-for-hire forums and just start hiring hackers"
-James Scott, ICIT co-founder and senior fellow.

Though not known for being particularly sophisticated in their use of technology — beyond the use of encrypted messaging services and creating malicious apps — Islamic terrorists are now aggressively seeking ways to bridge gaps in their knowledge, said Scott. This may come in the form of hiring hackers, recruiting tech-savvy teens and educating new recruits.

"They are rapidly compensating for that slower part of their evolution," said Scott.

For example, ISIS operates what can best be described as a 24-hour cyber help desk, staffed by tech-savvy recruits around the globe. There are always about six operatives available to address questions, for example, about how to send encrypted messages, and strategize about how to leverage local access into cyberattacks. They also share tutorials, cybersecurity manuals and YouTube links, and try to recruit other techies, said Scott.

"It is obvious that cyber jihadists use dark web forums for everything — from discussing useful exploits and attack vectors, to gaining anonymity tips and learning the basics of hacking from the ISIS cyber help desk," he said. "Setting up properly layered attacks is incredibly easy even if one has a modest budget. All one needs is a target and a reason."
ICIT will present its findings and identify possible solutions for protecting critical infrastructure — along with a panel of industry experts and government officials — on June 29 in Washington.

Source:  http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/15/the-cyber-jihad-is-coming-says-this-security-firm.html

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