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Jasper Solander

Jasper Solander

Sometimes, trawling through job boards just doesn’t cut it.

LinkedIn and Glassdoor are great places to search for jobs–if the companies you’re interested in are actively posting positions there. But what about companies that use lesser-known job boards or only post openings on their websites?

It seemed at first like Google for Jobs–Google’s new job search engine–was going to be the ideal solution to this problem. Google for Jobs is designed to provide a central source for jobs posted in different places across the web by displaying job results at the top of the results page for related keywords. But even it doesn’t show everything.

To get a job into the results, companies either have to post to specific job boards or mark up jobs on their websites with structured data. Companies that don’t post integrated job boards–or that lack the technical expertise required to mark up pages with structured data–do not appear in the results.

There’s only one way to find jobs posted anywhere online, and it’s to conduct a Google search. But if you just search for a job title, you’ll spend more time sifting through results than you’d spend checking every job board that exists.

Instead, learn how to use Google search operators to find exactly what you’re looking for–the job opening that is right for you.

WHAT ARE GOOGLE SEARCH OPERATORS?

A normal Google search usually looks something like this:

When you submit that query, Google understands you’re looking for results that use the words writing and jobs. It also considers other factors–location, historical search behavior, and what other people are usually looking for when they search for the same term–and uses all of that data to produce relevant results.

It’s a sophisticated and wonderful system, but it’s not perfect. It can’t be perfect because the search writing jobs could be shorthand for many different types of requests:

  • Show me results for all writing jobs.
  • Show me results for local writing jobs.
  • Show me job boards where I can find listings for writing jobs.
  • Show me results that explain how I can become a professional writer.

Because Google can’t know exactly which request you’re making, it shows a blend of results that it believes satisfies each of those requests.

To narrow down the results to exactly what you’re looking for, provide more specific guidance: either add more words to the search or use search operators–commands you can type into Google’s search box to provide more specific guidance on the types of results you’re looking for.

WHICH GOOGLE SEARCH OPERATORS ARE HELPFUL WHEN SEARCHING FOR JOBS?

While Google recognizes many different search operators, not all are applicable to searching for a job. For a job search, there are nine search operators you may want to use:

1)  Surround terms with quotation marks to force an exact match. When searching for the term writing jobs, Google looks for results with the words writing and jobs. To find results that use the exact phrase writing jobs—both words used together and in that order—surround the term with quotation marks.

2) Use OR to search for either one thing or another thing. Say you wanted to find jobs for either a marketing writer or business writer. Use the OR operator to tell Google to that you want to see results for either of those terms.

3) Use a minus sign to exclude results that contain specific words. Say the last search produced a lot of results for technical writer jobs. Add a minus sign to the search to tell Google not to populate results that contain the word technical.

4) Use parentheses to group terms. Some companies say, writer, some say copywriter, and some say, blogger. Tell Google to look for any of the three by grouping them into parentheses. The example below tells Google to look for the terms marketing writer, marketing blogger, and/or marketing copywriter.

5) Use the site: operator to find results only on a specific website. This is useful when searching for jobs on sites with hundreds or thousands of job postings. If you prefer Google’s search capabilities to those on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Upwork, or any other major job board, you can use Google’s search engine to look at posts on those specific sites with the site: operator.

6) Use the intitle: operator to only show results with search terms used in the page title. For most job posts, the page title is going to be the title of the specific job. Narrow results by using the intitle: operator to limit the search to pages that only use search terms in the title–not in the body text. Also, note that the intitle: operator only applies to the first word that appears after it. To look for multiple terms, include multiple intitle: operators.

7) Use the allintitle: operator to look for multiple terms in a page title. Instead of prefacing every word with the intitle: operator, use the allintitle: operator to tell Google to look for multiple words in the title. Keep in mind, however, that the allintitle: operator will pull everything that appears behind it, so it can skew results when combining multiple search operators in a single query.

8) Use the intext: operator to look for a single word in the body text of a post. Lots of job posts include a responsibilities or requirements header. Narrow your search with an intext: operator to only show results that include one of those words in the body of the content. Follow the search marketing writer with intext: requirements to see only results that include the terms marketing and writer anywhere and requirements somewhere in the body text.

9) Use the allintext: operator to look for multiple terms in a page’s body text. Similar to allintitle:, allintext: tells Google to only show results with body text that includes all of the search terms listed. To find results for marketing writer with job requirements in the body text, follow the search marketing writer with allintext:job requirements.

Keep in mind that the formatting of each site operator is very important. Google only understands the OR command when both letters are capitalized. It only recognizes the site: command if there’s no space between the command and what follows it.

A FEW FINAL TRICKS FOR EDGE CASES

While the other search operators can be used for anyone performing any job search, these final three operators really only work for very specific scenarios.

If browsing the entirety of the web is just too overwhelming but you still want to save time searching for jobs, use the following search to get results from specific job boards–but without having to visit each one separately.

This search tells Google to pull results from only LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Do the same thing with as many sites as you’re interested in checking by adding additional OR and site: operators for each additional job board you want to check.

If you want to look at the career pages of specific companies instead of searching the entire web–but you aren’t sure what companies you’re interested in–use the related: operator to look for companies similar to the one you already like.

If you’re interested in working for Zapier, for example–but Zapier doesn’t have any relevant open positions–this search produces homepage results for companies that are similar to Zapier.

If you’re only looking for education or government jobs, use the site: operator to limit results to .edu or .gov domains.

Source: This article was published fastcompany.com By JESSICA GREENE—ZAPIER

Answer: a whole lot of things. But prospects for the IoT are not all bleak. We talk to the man behind the Internet of Shit Twitter account and others for their insight.

If the Internet of Things (IoT) industry is the Jedi order, with Philips Hue lightsabers and "smart" cloud-based Force powers, then popular Twitter account Internet of Shit is a Sith Lord. At a time when the technology industry seems eager to put a chip in everything, consequences be damned, Internet of Shit puts a name to the problem of new, useless electronics and highlights that some of these products may not be as benign as we think.

SecurityWatch

I spoke with the account's operator under the condition of anonymity, a courtesy PCMag extends when we feel the public good outweighs all other considerations. I will refer to this person as IOS. I would love to say that I met IOS in a darkened parking garage, but our conversation took place over Twitter direct message and email. Ho-hum.

The Internet of Shit's Twitter account focuses on the niche and the popular. In the case of, say, paying for a meal using a smart water bottle, it rightly questions the utility. It highlights the absurdity of having to wait for fundamental necessities, like light and heat, that are unavailable after "smart" products receive firmware updates.

As you might imagine, the Internet of Shit is able to eviscerate the industry it mocks so effectively because that industry is close to its heart. "It happened so naturally," IOS said. "I used to spend a lot of time on Kickstarter and saw the rise of the Internet of Things there. It seemed like every other day some mundane object was having a chip shoved into it, but nobody—even in the media—was being that critical about it. [Websites] would just say things like, 'Wow, we can finally get the internet in an umbrella.'"

IOS sees himself as something of a devil's advocate or collective conscience for consumer culture. In his eyes, the Twitter account is a much-needed sanity check on Silicon Valley's faux-optimism run amok. "When we go too far, the important question technology people tend to forget is: Who actually needs this? An oven that can't cook properly without the internet? Why aren't people designing these things better?"

But more than poor design and specious claims of utility, IOS's primary concern is one of privacy and, ultimately, personal security: "I do see IoT as inherently risky, though. I don't trust these companies not to leak my data or not to be severely hacked in the future."

In a Medium post written early in the Twitter account's life, IOS said he was worried that companies would begin looking for ways to monetize data gathered from people's homes. From that story: "If Nest wanted to increase profits it could sell your home's environment data to advertisers. Too cold? Amazon ads for blankets. Too hot? A banner ad for an air conditioner. Too humid? Dehumidifiers up in your Facebook." 

IOS still stands by these concerns. "The reason the IoT is so compelling to manufacturers isn't that they're adding smart features to your life—that's just a byproduct," he wrote me. "It's more that by doing so, they get unprecedented insight into how those devices are being used, such as how often, what features you use the most, and all the data that comes with that."

IOS says that IoT companies need to be much more upfront about their data-gathering policies, and who can access information that may be gathered by these devices. "The question we all need to decide is what level of access we're willing to give these companies in exchange for the data they get—and who we trust with that is key."

On Christmas Day in 2016, IOS enabled his lights to blink whenever his handle was mentioned on Twitter. The results were intense, anticlimactic, and brief, illustrating perhaps all that IOS loathes about the Internet of Things.

Internet of Insecurity

Far worse than the effect useless IoT devices have on consumers' wallets, though, is the effect they have on personal security. IOS's fears of a marketplace for user data collected by IoT devices is not far-fetched (how do you think free apps and free internet news companies make money?), and there are already other, very real threats.

Attendees at the Black Hat 2016 conference were treated to footage from security researcher Eyal Ronen. Using his research, he was able to seize control of Philips Hue lights from a drone hovering outside an office building. The attack was notable not only for its dramatic results and for using a drone but also because the building was home to several well-known security companies.

Ronen explained to me that he was attempting to demonstrate that an attack against a top-tier line of IoT devices was possible. "There are a lot of IoT hacks aimed at low-end devices that have no real security. We wanted to test the security of a product that is supposed to be safe," he said. He was also keen to attack a well-known company and settled on Philips. Ronen said that it was harder to crack than he initially thought, but he and his team found and exploited a bug in the ZigBee Light Link software, a third-party communication protocol used by several IoT companies and regarded as a mature and secure system.

"It uses advanced cryptographic primitives, and it has strong security claims," said Ronen. "But at the end, in a relatively short time with very low-cost hardware worth around $1,000, we were able to break it," said Ronen.

Video of Ronen's attack (above) shows the lights of the building flashing in sequence, following his commands sent remotely via a hovering drone. If this were to happen to you, it would be annoying—perhaps no more annoying than any of the scenarios IOS highlights on his Twitter account. But security professionals maintain that there are far greater consequences for IoT security.

"In a previous work, we showed how to use lights to exfiltrate data from [an] air-gapped network and cause epileptic seizures, and in this work we show how we can use lights to attack the electric grid and jam Wi-Fi," Ronen told me. "IoT is getting into every part of our lives, and the security of it can affect everything from medical devices to cars and homes."

A Lack of Standards

Ronen's attack took advantage of proximity, but Chief Security Researcher Alexandru Balan at Bitdefender outlined many other security faults that come baked into some IoT devices. Hardcoded passwords, he said, are particularly problematic, as are devices that are configured to be accessible from the open internet.

It was this combination of internet accessibility and simple, default passwords that has caused havoc in October 2016 when the Mirai botnet took major services like Netflix and Hulu either offline or made them so slow as to be unusable. A few weeks later, a variant of Mirai throttled internet access in the entire nation of Liberia.

"The worst of them are devices that are directly exposed to the internet with default credentials," said Balan. "[These devices] can be found with IoT search engines like Shodan or by simply crawling the internet and accessing them with admin admin, admin 1234, and so forth," continued Balan, listing examples of overly simplistic and easily guessable passwords. Because these devices have minimal security and can be attacked from the internet, the process of infecting them can be automated, leading to thousands or millions of corrupted devices.

Not long after news of Mirai broke, I looked at this scenario and blamed the IoT industry for ignoring the warnings about poor authentication and unnecessary online accessibility. But Balan would not go so far as to call these flaws obvious. "[Attackers] need to do reverse engineering on the firmware to extract those credentials, but it's very often the case that they find hard-coded credentials in the devices. The reason for that is that in a lot of cases, there's no standards when it comes to IoT security."

Vulnerabilities like these arise, hypothesized Balan, because IoT companies operate on their own, without universally accepted standards or security expertise. "It's easier to build it like this. And you can say that they're cutting corners, but the main issue is that they're not looking into how to properly build it in a secure fashion. They're just trying to make it work properly."

Even when companies develop fixes for attacks like the one Ronen discovered, some IoT devices aren't able to apply automatic updates. This puts the onus on consumers to find and apply patches themselves, which can be particularly daunting on devices that aren't intended to be serviced.

But even with devices that can be easily updated, vulnerabilities still exist. Several researchers have shown that not all IoT developers sign their updates with a cryptographic signature. Signed software is encrypted with the private half of an asymmetric cryptographic key owned by the developer. The devices receiving the update have the public half of the key, which is used to decrypt the update. This ensures that the update is official and hasn't been tampered with, since signing a malicious update or modifying the software update would require the developer's secret key. "If they do not digitally sign their updates, they can be hijacked, they can be tampered with; code can be injected into those updates," said Balan.


Beyond simply flicking lights on and off, Balan said that infected IoT devices can be used as a part of botnet, as seen with Mirai, or for far more insidious purposes. "I can extract your Wi-Fi credentials, because you've obviously hooked it to your Wi-Fi network and being as [the IoT device] is a Linux box, I can can use it to pivot and start to launch attacks within your wireless network.

"Within the privacy of your own LAN network, authentication mechanisms are lax," continued Balan. "The problem with LAN is that once I am in your private network, I can have access to almost everything that's happening in there." In effect, corrupted IoT becomes a beachhead for attacks on more valuable devices on the same network, such as Network Attached Storage or personal computers.

Perhaps it's telling that the security industry has started looking closely at the IoT. Over the last few years, several products have entered the market claiming to protect IoT devices from attack. I have seen or read about several such products and reviewed Bitdefender's offering. Called the Bitdefender Box, the device attaches to your existing network and provides antivirus protection for every device on your network. It even probes your devices for potential weaknesses. Bitdefender will launch the second version of its Box device this year. Norton will enter its own offering (below), boasting deep-packet inspection, while F-Secure has also announced a hardware device.

As one of the first to market, Bitdefender is in the unique position of having a background in software security—and then designing consumer hardware that would, presumably, be impeccably secure. How was that experience? "It was very hard," answered Balan.

Bitdefender does have a bug bounty program (a monetary reward offered to programmers who uncover and provide a solution to a bug on a website or in an application), which Balan confirmed has helped the development of the Box. "No company should be arrogant enough to believe it can find all of the bugs on their own. This is why bug bounty programs exist, but the challenge with hardware is that there may be backdoors within the actual chips."

"We know what to look for and what to look at and we actually have a hardware team that can take apart and look into each one of the components on that board. Thankfully, that board is not that large."

It's Not All Shit

It is easy to discount an entire industry based on its worst actors, and the same is true for the Internet of Things. But George Yianni, the Head of Technology, Home Systems, Philips Lighting finds this view particularly frustrating.

"We took [security] very seriously from the beginning. This is a new category. We have to build trust, and these [attacks] actually damage trust. And that's also why I think the biggest shame of the products that have not done such a good job is that it erodes trust in the overall category. Any product can be made badly. It's not a criticism of the overall industry."

As is often the case for security, how a company responds to an attack is often more important than the effects of the attack itself. In the case of the drone attack on Philips devices, Yianni explained that Ronen submitted his findings through the company's existing responsible-disclosure program. These are procedures that are put in place to allow companies time to respond to a security researcher's discovery before it is made public. That way, consumers can be assured that they are safe and the researchers gets the glory.

Ronen had found a bug in a third-party software stack, said Yianni. Specifically, it was the part of the ZigBee standard that limits communication to devices within two meters. Ronen's work, as you will recall, was able to take control from a distance—40 meters away with a standard antenna and 100 meters with a boosted antenna. Thanks to the responsible disclosure program, Yianni said Philips was able to roll out a patch to the lights in the field before Ronen told the world about the attack. 

Having seen many companies grapple with a public security breach or the result of a security researcher's work, Yianni and Philips's response may sound like after-the-fact back-patting—but it really was a success. "All our products are software-updatable, so that things can be fixed," Yianni told me. "The other thing[s] we do [are] security risk assessment, security audits, penetration testing [hiring people to attack your product or organization, then using the info to keep bad guys from doing the same] on all of our products. But then we also run these responsible disclosure processes, so that if something does come through, we're able to find out in advance and fix it very quickly.

"We have an entire process where we can push software updates from our entire cloud down to the [Hue Hubs] and distribute it to all of the lights. That's super important, because the space is moving so fast and these are products that are going to last 15 years. And if we're going to make sure that they are still relevant in terms of functionality and to be sufficiently secure for the latest attacks, we need to have that."

In his correspondence with me, Ronen confirmed that Philips had indeed done an admirable job securing the Hue lighting system. "Philips [has] put a surprising amount of effort in securing the lights," Ronen told me. "But unfortunately, some of [its] basic security assumptions that relied on the underlying Atmel's chip security implementation were wrong." As Balan pointed out with Bitdefender's work on the Box, every aspect of the IoT device is subject to attack.

Philips also designed the central Hub—the device required for coordinating networks of Philips IoT products—to be inaccessible from the open internet. "All connections to the internet are initiated from the device. We never open ports on routers or make it so that a device on the internet can directly talk to the [Hue Hub]," explained Yianni. Instead, the Hub sends requests out to Philips's cloud infrastructure, which responds to the request instead of the other way around. This also allows Philips to add extra layers to protect consumers devices without having to reach into their home and make any changes. "It's not possible for the [devices] to be communicated with from outside the Hub unless you're routed through this cloud where we can build additional layers of security and monitoring."

Yianni explained that this was all part of a multilayered approach Philips took to securing the Hue lighting system. Since the system is composed of several different pieces—from the hardware inside the bulbs to the software and hardware on the Hue Hub to the app within users' phones—different measures had to be taken at all levels. "All of them need different security measures to keep them safe. They all have different levels of risk and vulnerability. So we do different measures for all of these different parts," said Yianni.

This included penetration testing but also a bottom-up design intended to thwart attackers. "There [are] no global passwords like what was used in this Mirai botnet," said Yianni. The Mirai malware had dozens of default passcodes that it would use in an attempt to take over IoT devices. "Every [Hue Hub] has unique, asymmetrically signed keys to verify firmware, all this stuff. One device having its hardware modified, there's no global risk from that," he explained.

This also applies to the value of IoT devices. "A lot of these products tend to be connectivity for the sake of connectivity," he said. "The need to automate everything inside your home is not a problem many consumers have, and that's very hard to get your head around. We think that products that do well are the ones which offer an easier-to-understand value toward consumers."

The Irresistible Internet of Things

Knowing the risks about IoT, and even acknowledging its frivolousness, certainly hasn't stopped people from buying smart lighting such as Philips Hue, always-listening home assistants such as Google Home$129.00 at Best Buy or the Amazon Echo$179.99 at Amazon, and yes, smart water bottles. Even the operator of Internet of Shit is a huge IoT fan.

"The real irony behind the Internet of Shit is that I'm a sucker for these devices," said IOS. "I'm an early adopter and work in technology, so a lot of the time I can't resist these things." IOS lists Philips connected lights, the Tado thermostat, the Sense sleep tracker, smart speakers, the Canary camera$159.99 at Amazon, and Wi-Fi-connected plugs among his futuristic home amenities.

"I'm aware that the account got accidentally far bigger than I ever imagined, and I don't ever want to discourage people from going into technology—I think that experimenting with dumb ideas is how great ideas can be born, which is something that Simone Giertz taught me a little bit," said IOS.

Giertz, an absurdist roboticist and YouTuber, is the mind behind Shitty Robots. Her creations include a drone that gives haircuts—or, rather, fails to—and a massive hat that places sunglasses dramatically on her face. Think of it as Rube Goldberg with a healthy dose of Silicon Valley cynicism.

The person behind IOS does report that he is trying to rein in his early-adopter instincts these days. "I think the moment I had to update my lightbulbs' firmware to turn them on was a bit of a realization for me..."

Bitdefender's Balan said he uses light bulbs that double as Wi-Fi repeaters. These devices extend both light and Wi-Fi to every corner of his home. But they are also loaded with many of the vulnerabilities he derided, including weak default passwords. When it comes to the IoT, though, he remains undaunted.

"It's like sex," he told me. "You wouldn't do it without a condom. We like sex, sex is awesome, we're not gonna give up sex just because it's dangerous. But we're gonna use protection when we're doing it." Instead of lapsing into paranoia, he believes consumers should rely on security companies and educated friends who can identify the companies that take security seriously with bug bounties and secure, frequent update tools.

And does the drone-piloting hacker Ronen use IoT? "Currently, no," he said. "I am afraid about the effect is has on my privacy and security. And the benefits are not high enough for my needs."

Even your humble author, who has resisted the siren song of talking smoke detectors and color-changing lights for years, has started to crumble. Recently, in an effort to spruce up the office for the holidays, I found myself setting up three separate smart lights. The result, was horrifyingly, compellingly beautiful.

Meanwhile, a brand-new Philips Hue light is sitting in my Amazon shopping basket. Someday soon, I'll press the Buy Now button.

Source: This article was published on pcmag.com by MAX EDDY

I was going to start this post with some goofy anecdote about people standing in line at Starbucks while tapping away on their smartphones like zombies but, to be perfectly honest, the ridiculous product you’re about to see doesn’t even warrant that much effort. It’s a phone case that makes coffee. Why? Because combining two popular things is apparently the peak of creativity these days. Just look at this ridiculous thing.

It’s called Mokase, and it’s literally a case for your smartphone that makes a tiny amount of coffee which you then pour out. It uses special cartridges which, unlike a Keurig pod or other single-serving coffee gadgets, contains pre-made espresso which is basically just sitting and waiting to be poured.

Using a special app (of course) you have to send a prompt to the case to begin heating the coffee, and once it’s done you just pour it out. It can heat up the coffee to between 50 and 60 degrees celsius, which is around 120 to 140 degrees fahrenheit.

Originally a Kickstarter project, the Mokase has since been suspended by its creators, but not because it’s failing — in fact, it’s the opposite. In an update post on the Kickstarter page, its creator, Clemente Biondo, says that due to the reception it’s received, the team has decided to just start production of the gadget and push it up for sale as quickly as possible.

As you can see in the promo videos, the case is absolutely massive, and the amount of actual hot coffee it can provide is quite small. The concept of a tiny portable coffee heater makes almost no sense whatsoever, and the fact that it’s built into a phone case — which, by the way, will fit iPhone 6, 6s, 7, and 7 Plus as well as many Samsung and Huawei phones and even the LG G5 — just makes it that much more insane.

Source: This article was published on bgr.com

This week, a massive international array of the most powerful radio telescopes on the planet set its sights on the most camera-shy subject of all, the black hole. Badassly known as the Event Horizon Telescope, the global web of telescopes seeks to capture the first image of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

Normal radio telescopes aren’t capable of seeing the closest known black hole to Earth, affectionately known as Sagittarius A*, though at 26,000 light years away, it isn’t exactly close. Researchers have gazed at the suspected black hole for years, so at least they know where to look — you can’t exactly find these things on the fly. Paradoxically, the rim of a black hole is actually extremely bright, as soon-to-be black hole food heats up while sliding toward the event horizon, nearing the point of no return. That’s how scientists are able to locate a black hole’s neighborhood, but to really get a good look isn’t half as easy.

While it isn’t unusual for a radio telescope to actually be comprised of a whole bunch of telescopes in something known as an array, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) takes that to the next level, combining a collection of the world’s most sophisticated telescope arrays into one seriously powerful mega-array.

Those telescopes are located all over the world, from the Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment in Chile’s northern desert to Hawaii’s James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea. The collaboration even includes the South Pole Telescope, located near the southernmost point on the planet. Their spacing around the globe is a feature, not a bug — maximizing the distance between the mega-telescope’s component parts effectively ups the resolution of the resulting combined image.

Even with the international collaboration, it’s a tricky task. Looking for an event horizon is like looking for a needle in a haystack, except the needle isn’t visible at all — you can only just barely discern its subtracted outline in the surrounding hay. It isn’t a search for nothing, but rather a search for the edge of nothing. (Whoa.)

The Event Horizon Telescope’s observations will run from April 5 to April 14, intercontinental good weather permitting. That means they’re well underway now, so let’s hope that the Event Horizon Telescope, purpose-built for black hole hunting, has a shot at doing what nothing else can.

Source : techcrunch.com

For anyone who is really concerned about keeping their thoughts private there is only one piece of reliable technology: write with a pen on paper, and burn what you’ve written when you’re done. For the rest of us, who want to get things done, there is an inevitable trade-off which we still don’t entirely understand. We now carry with us everywhere devices that give us access to all the world’s information, but they can also offer almost all the world vast quantities of information about us. The sense of personal integrity and boundaries that seems self-evident is actually the product of particular social arrangements which are profoundly affected by technology even though it doesn’t determine them. Technological change could move us towards our better selves or our worse ones, but things can’t stay as they are.

To go online is to descend into a world as transparent as an aquarium – and this aquarium is full of sharks. The newly discovered vulnerability in WhatsApp’s procedures is only the latest in an apparently unending succession of moments of unintended transparency.

It would be a mistake to see these problems as primarily technological because that would suggest that their solutions would be technological, too. In fact, the preservation of personal privacy and collective security online is a political and social task as much as it is one for the very few experts who understand the ramifications of mathematical magics like public key cryptography. Technological solutions will only work within a legal and political context, and the real threats to privacy come not from vulnerable widgets but weak laws, careless users and feeble oversight. The WhatsApp encryption scheme is proof against anyone who does not control or threaten the company’s own networks, which is something only a government could do. But sufficiently ruthless governments would not hesitate to do so if they had the opportunity. And against sufficient ruthlessness and physical power, technology is ultimately no defence. Although we can use schemes of encryption that are mathematically impossible to crack, so long as the password is known to anyone it can be tricked or even tortured from its holder.

Adding to this problem is the increasingly permeable border between state and non-state actors. When the FBI could not crack the iPhone used in the San Bernadino shootings, it turned to a private firm in Israel, which could. But that company has in turn now been hacked, and meanwhile many of the devices designed for use by law enforcement, which can suck all the information out of a captured mobile phone, can now be bought freely over the internet by any private company – or mafia outfit.

These threats can seem very distant. It’s easy to suppose that you will never come to the attention of a hostile state apparatus. On the other hand, the commercially motivated attacks on privacy pervade the whole of the internet, and in fact fund most of it today. Websites routinely collect as much information as they can about the users and then sell it on to data brokers for use in personally targeted advertising campaigns. Facebook (which, incidentally, owns WhatsApp) has built its entire titanic empire on this trade. Even when this data is anonymised, the protection is leaky, and in any case, someone who knows everything about you except your name is in a much stronger position than one who knows your name but nothing else.

But the real danger comes when these two kinds of loss of privacy combine so that the knowledge gained for commercial ends is used for political manipulation too. It is in the interests of advertisers to short-circuit rational thought and careful consideration, but it is even more in the interests of demagogues to do so. Against this we must rely on moral and intellectual defences much more than the supposed magic of advanced technology.

Source: theguardian.com

This week, a massive international array of the most powerful radio telescopes on the planet set its sights on the most camera-shy subject of all, the black hole. Badassly known as the Event Horizon Telescope, the global web of telescopes seeks to capture the first image of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

Normal radio telescopes aren’t capable of seeing the closest known black hole to Earth, affectionately known as Sagittarius A*, though at 26,000 light years away, it isn’t exactly close. Researchers have gazed at the suspected black hole for years, so at least they know where to look — you can’t exactly find these things on the fly. Paradoxically, the rim of a black hole is actually extremely bright, as soon-to-be black hole food heats up while sliding toward the event horizon, nearing the point of no return. That’s how scientists are able to locate a black hole’s neighborhood, but to really get a good look isn’t half as easy.

While it isn’t unusual for a radio telescope to actually be comprised of a whole bunch of telescopes in something known as an array, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) takes that to the next level, combining a collection of the world’s most sophisticated telescope arrays into one seriously powerful mega-array.

Those telescopes are located all over the world, from the Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment in Chile’s northern desert to Hawaii’s James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea. The collaboration even includes the South Pole Telescope, located near the southernmost point on the planet. Their spacing around the globe is a feature, not a bug — maximizing the distance between the mega-telescope’s component parts effectively ups the resolution of the resulting combined image.

 

Even with the international collaboration, it’s a tricky task. Looking for an event horizon is like looking for a needle in a haystack, except the needle isn’t visible at all — you can only just barely discern its subtracted outline in the surrounding hay. It isn’t a search for nothing, but rather a search for the edge of nothing. (Whoa.)

The Event Horizon Telescope’s observations will run from April 5 to April 14, intercontinental good weather permitting. That means they’re well underway now, so let’s hope that the Event Horizon Telescope, purpose-built for black hole hunting, has a shot at doing what nothing else can.

Source : techcrunch.com

If you're holding your shiny new Android smartphone and are wondering how to get the most from it, then you've come to the right place.

Whether this is your first smartphone, you've just hopped over from an iPhone, or you've had a number of Android handsets, we've pulled together some of the best Android tips and tricks to help you get the most from your phone.

Android is an ever-changing beast with many faces. There are different versions of the software, there are plenty of different manufacturer skins layed over that Android core, like those from Sony, Samsung or HTC, and there's a limitless level of customisation you can apply from Google Play, or other third-party sources.

That means that few Android devices are alike, but all Android devices have the same foundation. So, starting at the beginning, here's how to master your Android phone. 

Sort out your Google account

Android and Google are like peas in a pod. To use Android, you need to use a Google account. That means everything that goes with it - Gmail, calendars, contacts, YouTube, Google Maps and more.

Getting your account in order is something you can do from your PC before you sign into your new device, letting you use the big screen and keyboard to get things straight.

Google incorporates a contacts system which hides within Gmail on your desktop browser. If you have lots of contacts, import them into Google contacts and manage them there. Managing them on a computer makes it much faster to get everything correct before you get started.

If you have your contacts in another form, there are easy ways to import them to Google, as well as scan for duplicates and so on. As your Android life progresses, it's worth popping back to your core Google contacts list to check that everything is still nice and tidy.

If you're thinking of saving contacts to the SIM card and moving them over, it's not worth the effort: better to find the software to import them from your old phone to your PC, to then feed them to Google. It will make your life easier in the future.

Master transfer tools, or just use Google

Many manufacturers offer transfer tools to help you move old content to new places. This might be a desktop app, but more frequently, it's becoming part of the device when you set it up for the first time. Android now also has the option to restore a previous backup, or set up a device from scratch, as well as offering you the chance to transfer data wirelessly to setup things like your accounts and settings.

Generally speaking, if you've been using Android previously, those items associated with your account will move over without a hitch. However, for things like photos, you might wish to move them to a cloud service if you want to preserve them.

Google Photos is the obvious choice for Android users, because it's associated with your account. You just have to install the app and sign in. You could also use OneDrive from Microsoft or Dropbox, as both offer photo backup options and are widely accessible across platforms. You could also save to a microSD card and move it across, if you have the hardware to support it.

Get to your settings faster

Swiping down the notifications bar will get you access to shortcuts for various hardware toggles. It's here you can turn off things like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi quickly and easily. Many manufacturers edit this area, so Samsung, LG, HTC and Nexus devices all look different.

Android has a grid of quick settings shortcuts if you're on one of the recent versions of Android like Lollipop or Marshmallow, which most new devices are. Swipe down with two fingers and it will take you straight to those toggles. 

If you want to head to the full setting menu, tap the cog at the top of the notifications area when you swipe down. 

Watch your data

Although some contracts give you unlimited data, it's always worth looking out for how much you're consuming, so that you can avoid an unwanted bill by making sure you don't go over your data limit.

Head into the settings menu and in the top section "wireless and networks" you'll find the option for data usage. This is where the phone keeps track of your data use and you can set an alert for your limits so you don't over spend.

You can also see what is consuming data which is a quick way to spot apps that might be using a lot of data when they don't need to be. You can then go to that app and tinker with the settings, perhaps set it to update on Wi-Fi only.

Data not working?

Smartphones are complex beasties and sometimes things just stop working. The bar says you have full reception, but nothing is moving, you can't get that site to load or that tweet to send.

Try flipping the phone into Aeroplane/Airplane mode and back again. This will sever your connection and re-establish it, and hopefully things will start moving again. You can get to Aeroplane mode via the quick settings grid mentioned above, or with a long press of the standby button.

Managing Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi will keep you connected and saves your data costs, but there's an option in Android to alert you to open networks. When walking down a typical street, it will constantly ping you, asking if you want to connect.

Usually these networks aren't open, they require log-in once you've connected. Head into settings > Wi-Fi > advanced settings and disable the feature to be left alone.

If you're looking for the WPS option on Android, which is really handy to quickly connect to a router, you'll find it in settings > Wi-Fi. It may appear with the WPS arrows, or be hiding in the menu.

Wi-Fi not working?

Just like cellular data, sometimes Wi-Fi goes on the blink. Often, just opening the quick settings and toggling Wi-Fi off and then back on again, will re-establish the connection.

Glorious displays ... eat battery

The wonderful display on your Android devices is also the thing that's going to eat the battery. Although it often looks the best at full brightness, that's not very beneficial to your battery. Opting for auto brightness will often give you the best balance of brightness and the visual impact you're after.

Some devices will then let you tailor auto brightness so you can increase or decrease within that scale. Bumping it down a notch on long days will help prolong your battery.

If you're just not happy with the auto brightness, then try the app Lux Lite. This will take over the display brightness control, as well as letting you bump it up or down from the notifications area.

Also look at your display sleep settings. There's no need for it to stay on longer than you need it, so head into settings > display > and look for "sleep" or "display timeout" and pick something shorter.

How do I take an Android screenshot?

Simply hold standby and volume down at the same time and you'll get a screenshot of whatever you're looking at. Not everything can be captured, however. Some protected content, such as video playing in some apps, won't appear in your screenshot.

Screenshots are stored in the gallery in their own folder, but if you're looking to share, you can do straight from the notifications bar once it's saved.

What is the best Android keyboard?

Simple: the one that works for you. You don't have to put up with the keyboard your device comes with. There are loads of options for the keyboard, from the manufacturer's version that Samsung or HTC bundle in, through to the stock Android keyboard, or third party keyboards like SwiftKey Skype.

First up, you might want to turn off the vibration feedback on keypress, which you'll find in settings > language & input (or language & keyboard) where all the keyboard settings lie. Sometimes the vibrations get backed up and once your fingers start flying, they can't always keep up, which is annoying. The buzzing of the vibration may also be really annoying to those around you. Some vibrations get hidden in the sound and notification setting. Again, less is more, as they say.

Although some of the manufacturer keyboards are pretty good, the stock Android keyboard (available on Google Play) is also good, but we're fans of the advanced features of SwiftKey (pictured above), which is well worth a try too, because of the strength of its predictive suggestions. It's also free.

Get some apps

Phones used to be for making calls. Now they're for doing everything. No matter what you're after, there's bound to be an app perfect for the job, from shopping to banking, to reading to dating.

Apps are found in the Play Store. From here you can download a world of free or paid-for applications. However you don't have to do it through your phone. Once signed in with your Google account, you can do it from a browser, pushing the required app through to your handset. Just head to Google Play in your browser to get started.

It's worth noting that apps update regularly on Android. That's not necessarily because there's something wrong, but because there are constant changes to bring in refinements, optimisations or new features.

However, you'll want to make sure you're only updating those apps when connected to Wi-Fi. In Play Store, head to settings and you'll find the option to control how your apps get updates.

You're also free to install apps that aren't on Google Play. This may include beta software direct from developers, or something like Amazon Underground. If you want to do this, you'll have to enable that option. Go to settings > security and you'll find the option to enable apps from "unknown sources". Be warned, however, that you may expose your device to risks if you choose to do so.

Which is the best Android browser?

There are lots of browsers available for Android, with each offering a range of different options. The stock browser is Chrome and that's the best Android browser.

However, when you're looking at a new device, you might find that you have another browser, likely one that has been tinkered with by the device manufacturer. More often than not, you can ignore it and go straight for Chrome.

If your device doesn't have it, Chrome is on Google Play, and if you're a Chrome desktop user, you'll find plenty of syncing through your Google account, including browser and search history, bookmarks and autofill details, which are really handy on the move. 

Customise your Android home pages

The homepage is front of the queue when it comes to customisation. Your new phone will probably come with a range of shortcuts and widgets spread across a number of pages.

If you don't want them, delete them with a long press and drag them to the trash can. You can also usually delete the pages they're sitting on: there's no need to have seven home pages if they're all empty.

Different versions of Android and different manufacturers have slightly different approaches to home page customisation. Normally a long press on the background wallpaper, or a pinch on the background will get you started, but it differs from device to device.

Use Android folders

Folders are a great way to organise your apps on your home page. To be extra efficient, you can also place folders on the shortcut bar at the bottom of the display.

This means you can have lots of your core apps to hand without them cluttering up your home page, so that lovely wallpaper of your cat remains visible.

To create a folder, just drag one app shortcut over another and a folder will be automatically created.

Some devices will also let you make folders in the apps tray (menu) which is a great way to organise everything in there and make it easier to find your app. That said, if you've done a good job with folders on your home page, you'll find yourself rarely using the main apps tray.

What Android Launcher should I use?

If you're new to Android, the term launcher might be confusing. The launcher is basically the home pages, the apps tray and the shortcut bar at the bottom.

Your device will come with a stock launcher in place, that of the manufacturer. If you don't like it and want a different look to your phone, it's really easy to switch to an alternative and there are loads in Google Play. From Android 4.4 KitKat upwards, it's easy to manage the different launchers you have installed for easy switching.

When you install a new launcher, the original stays on the phone so you're not losing it, you're just telling the phone to use a different launcher instead, meaning you can escape from the looks of HTC Sense or Samsung TouchWiz if you don't like it and have something a little more unique.

We're big fans of Google Now Launcher. It give any Android phone a simple stock Android look and feel, with Google Now only a swipe away.

How to backup your Android photos

To address the age-old problem of how to make sure your photos travel with you, no matter what device you're using, there are lots of options. This used to be dependant on a third-party app, but now it's handled by Google Photos.

Google Photos was formerly integrated into Google+, but has been split out in the past year as a standalone app and service. It's the stock gallery on Android devices, although many like Sony and HTC will supply something different. All devices can access Photos, however, and it has backup integrated into it.

All you have to do is head into the settings and choose which Google account you'd like to backup. That means you can, for example, save all your device photos to a personal account rather than a work account you might lose access to in the future. You get the option of selecting to backup a smaller version or the full thing.

If you want to escape from Google, you can do the same with other apps, such as Microsoft's OneDrive or Dropbox. Both will offer to backup your photos and videos. Check your settings though, as you probably don't want to be backing up over phone data, just when on Wi-Fi.

SD card or not?

If you're lucky enough to have a microSD card slot on your device, there are a few things you should know about it. 

MicroSD is a great place for storing additional content for your device, or to expand the storage you have. If you have a device that's running Android 6 Marshmallow, the latest version, you might have access to something called Flex Storage. Flex Storage lets you use the microSD card as expanded internal storage. The microSD card's capacity will be assimilated and used for everything the phone wants.

Flex Storage is a great option for those with a low storage device, like 8GB, as it means you can expand it and accept more apps. If you opt not to use Flex Storage, you can't use it for installing more apps - it will only be used for storing files, like music or photos.

Importantly, if you're opting to use microSD, you should buy the fastest card you can to ensure that you're not slowing the phone down when it comes to accessing the data you have on it.

Managing Android music

Google's own music service (Play Music) will let you upload your music to the cloud from your Mac or PC, effectively backing it up on Google's server. You'll then be able to stream or download this to your device.

If you've been an iTunes customer, that's no problem. The Music Manager you download for PC or Mac can find your iTunes music and upload it, but beware, it will take some time and will possibly be quite a lot of broadband data.

But once done, it's all available to your Android device(s), or through any browser. Note, however, that music you download to your Android device through Play Music can only be listened to with the Play Music app.

If you've bought music from Amazon MP3 in the past, the Android app will let you stream or play songs from that service too and there are plenty of other options for players and streaming services.

Alternatively you can just load all your content onto your phone's memory, and as we mentioned, using microSD for this job is likely to be the best option, if you can.

Moving files to and from your phone

Android is great in that it gives you so much flexibility for carrying and using all sorts of files. Embracing the cloud is preferable to using wire and you have plenty of options to get access to those PDFs or whatever else you want. You can use Google Drive to move files easily and you can then access these through any browser, or on any Android device, or with apps elsewhere.

Google's apps will let you edit them easily and there are free applications for things like Docs and Sheets, ideal for working on your documents on the move. Alternatively, Microsoft offers free Office apps for Android, although some features are only available to Office 365 subscribers. It works in cohoots with OneDrive, again.

Alternatively, Dropbox will do much the same thing. Install the app and you'll be able to move files through the cloud over to your device.

If you do want to use wire - and that's sometimes better for larger files like video - then you have several options. Many manufacturers bundle software with devices, although this tends to focus on photo and music syncing and is often more trouble than it's worth. Instead, you can just access the device through Windows once plugged in via USB, so you can just drag and drop files. 

On a Mac, you'll need to install an application called Android File Transfer. Once in place, you can again drag and drop directly to your device's memory.

Note however, that there are various settings on your phone to handle USB connections. You'll be given the choice of what you want to do, but these days, using cloud syncing is often the fastest option.

Author: CHRIS HALL
Source: http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/110621-android-for-beginners-tips-and-tricks-for-your-new-smartphone

In 2014, Dave Kerpen, chief executive of Likeable Local and author of "The Art of People," received a postcard that illustrated the traits and behaviors of successful and unsuccessful people.

The card came from fellow Entrepreneurs' Organization member Andy Bailey, the chief executive of Petra Coach, a business-coaching service. Although the two CEOs have never met, Kerpen said in a 2014 LinkedIn post that the postcard has had a profound effect on him, "reinforcing values I believe in and reminding me on a daily basis of the attitudes and habits that I know I need to embrace in order to become successful.

"The postcard, at right, points out 16 big differences between successful and unsuccessful people. Below we highlight six of our favorites, plus seven others Kerpen shared with us in a recent interview.

Read on to find out what distinguishes superstars from everyone else:

1. Successful people embrace change; unsuccessful people fear it

"Embracing change is one of the hardest things a person can do," Kerpen says in his 2014 LinkedIn post.

With the world moving fast and technology accelerating at a rapid speed, it's imperative that we embrace these changes and adapt, rather than fear, deny, or hide from them, he says. Successful people are able to do just that.

2. Successful people talk about ideas; unsuccessful people talk about people

Instead of gossiping about people, which gets you nowhere, successful people discuss ideas.

"Sharing ideas with others will only make them better," Kerpen says.

3. Successful people accept responsibility for their failures; unsuccessful people blame others

Truly successful leaders and businesspeople experience ups and downs in their lives and careers, but they always accept responsibility for their failures.

He says blaming others solves nothing: "It just puts other people down and absolutely no good comes from it."

4. Successful people give others all the credit for their victories; unsuccessful people take all the credit from others

Letting people have their moments to shine motivates them to work harder and, consequently, makes you look better as a leader or teammate.

5. Successful people want others to succeed; unsuccessful people secretly hope others fail

"When you're in an organization with a group of people, in order to be successful, you all have to be successful," Kerpen says.

That's why the most successful people don't wish for their demise — they want to see their coworkers succeed and grow.

6. Successful people continuously learn; unsuccessful people fly by the seat of their pants

The only way to grow as a person, professional, and leader is to never stop learning.

"You can be a step above your competition and become more flexible because you know more," he writes. "If you just fly by the seat of your pants, you could be passing up opportunities that prevent you from learning (and growing!)."

7. Successful people ask how they can help others; unsuccessful people ask how they can help themselves

Kerpen told Business Insider that the best question you can ask when you first meet an influential person isn't "How can you help me?" but "How can I help you?"

Of course, you should be willing and able to help the person if they take you up on your offer.

But regardless of whether they accept or decline, he says simply offering your assistance makes people feel warmer toward you, and makes them more inclined to help you when you need it.

8. Successful people take a chance and ask for what they want; unsuccessful people are afraid of failure

"Rejection and failure are two of the most paralyzing fears," he says, and they often prevent people from asking for what they really want.

"If we don't ask for what we want we think on some level that we can't fail; we can't get rejected," Kerpen says. "But in reality we're almost guaranteed that we're going to fail because we're not going to get what we want.

"In "The Art of People," he gives the example of a salesperson who was failing to win any customers, simply because she wasn't asking directly for their business at the end of her pitch. Once she started being more forthright, her sales increased.

If you want to be successful, your mantra should be something like "Embrace the fear of no; then ask for the yes."

9. Successful people are always looking to better understand themselves; unsuccessful people don't care about introspection

"The first step in learning how to better influence others to get what you want in your career and in life, is to understand yourself," Kerpen writes in the book.

Specifically, he says you should understand your unconscious motivations, what shifts your mood, and how you best interact with others.

If you're looking to learn more about yourself, Kerpen recommends the Enneagram assessment, cowritten by Mario Sikora. The assessment divides people into nine categories, including those who strive to be connected and those who strive to be detached.

You can find the Enneagram in Sikora's book, "Awareness to Action," or in "The Art of People."

10. Successful people listen first and never stop listening; unsuccessful people talk too much

Kerpen says that the single most important and underrated skill in business, social media, and life in general is listening.

It's hard to do, he said, because when we get excited about our ideas, all we want to do is talk about them. But the less we talk, the easier it is to persuade other people to like those ideas — and to like us.

Kerpen writes: "Listening and letting people talk is key to winning them over in life, in business, and in all human relationships."

11. Successful people are vulnerable and transparent; unsuccessful people are protected and secretive

In the book, Kerpen writes that we learn from an early age that crying, and showing emotion in general, is a sign of weakness.

Yet he experienced firsthand the power that comes from letting yourself be vulnerable. At a management retreat for Likeable Media's executive team, Kerpen asked everyone to share the most difficult experiences they'd ever had and what they learned from them.Several people, including Kerpen himself, ended up crying, and as a result they felt "superconnected as a group.

"Kerpen writes:

As it turns out, sincerely powerful emotions — especially those powerful enough to cause tears — are quite influential in connecting with other people. If you can get yourself to experience a level of vulnerability with someone to the point where you're moved to tears, you will be able to relate to that person — and he or she can relate to you — on a much deeper level.

12. Successful people keep a positive attitude; unsuccessful people get negative too often

Kerpen writes in the book that a positive attitude is contagious, especially when it comes from a leader.

At a conference he attended more than a decade ago, one of the speakers recommended that people answer "Fantastic!" instead of something lukewarm like "fine" when someone asks, "How are you?

"Kerpen writes that the speaker "claimed that by using this word, you'll attract whoever you're talking to and make that person want to be around you, because no matter how anyone else is feeling, fantastic is probably better, and who wouldn't want to feel fantastic?"

13. Successful people are committed to gratitude and acts of kindness; unsuccessful people put themselves first

Kerpen concludes "The Art of People" by revealing the ultimate paradox, as explained by his wife: "The secret to getting everything you want at work and in life is treating people well, not trying to get everything you want.

"In other words, nice guys finish first, he says.

Here's an example of how being nice may have helped Kerpen's career. After meeting with a venture capitalist named Rich, Kerpen sent him a bonsai tree as a way of thanking him for his time.

Unfortunately, before he even received the bonsai, Rich decided not to invest in Kerpen's business. Once the bonsai arrived, however, Rich moved to introduce Kerpen to another VC who might be a better fit, and that second VC ended up investing in Kerpen's business.

Author: Jacquelyn Smith and Shana Lebowitz
Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/major-differences-between-successful-and-unsuccessful-people-2016-3/#-1

Thursday, 29 December 2016 00:18

The 12 best free blogging platforms

It used to be said that everyone has a book in them. These days, it might be more appropriate to argue everyone has infinite tweets, snarky Facebook updates, and semi-random comments in them. But plenty of people retain a thirst for more thoughtful writing, and also a desire to share it as widely as possible – and these are the best blogging platforms to go about doing that.

Blogs might have fallen out of fashion a touch, due to the onslaught of social networks, but there's something about having a space that's properly yours, potentially free from the distractions of a billion adverts and countless competing status updates. And the best thing is, there are a load of free blogs out there to get you started.

In this round-up, we explore 12 of the best blogging platforms for newcomers who want to get a free blog up and running. And not a LOLcat in sight!

01. Contentful

No one knows how they're going to want to display their articles a few years down the line, so Contentful provides a way to separate your content from your design. It calls this an "API-first" approach, so your content is stored on their servers and you can call it into any design or platform as you like. So if you want to build a completely different site in a few years time, it's easy to bring everything in as it's set up to be portable from the start. 

02. Jekyll

Jekyll takes your raw text files, which may be written in Markdown, if you like, and turns them into a robust static site to host wherever you want. It's the engine behind GitHub Pages, which means you can host your blog on there for free. 

Making your blog with Jekyll avoids the need to work with technicalities such as databases, upgrades and so on, so there are fewer things to go wrong, and you can build something completely from scratch. 

03. WordPress

If the folks over at WordPress are to be believed (and they seem suitably trustworthy sorts), it now 'powers' over a fifth of the internet.

It's easy to see why: on WordPress.com, you can rapidly create a new blog entirely for free, with a reasonable amount of customisation; alternatively, most web hosts provide WordPress as a free single-click install, and more info on what's possible there can be found at WordPress.org.

Newcomers might find WordPress a touch bewildering initially, but it's the best free option for anyone wanting a great mix of power, customisation and usability.

04. Tumblr

To some extent, Tumblr feels a bit like a half-way house between WordPress and Twitter. It offers more scope than the latter, but tends to favour rather more succinct output than the former.

Decent mobile apps make it easy to submit content to a Tumblr blog from anywhere, though, and it's reasonably easy to customise your theme to make it your own.

Tumblr also has a strong social undercurrent, via a following model combined with notes and favourites. Although be mindful that the service has quite a few porn bots lumbering about, which may give the faint-of-heart a bit of a shock should they check every favourite off of their posts.

05. Blogger

Best blogging platforms: Blogger

You'd hope with a name like 'Blogger' that Blogger would be a decent free service for blogging. Fortunately, it is. Sign in with your Google ID, and you can have a blog up and running in seconds, which can then be customised with new themes. It is, however, a Google service, and so be a touch wary, given how abruptly that company sometimes shuts things down that millions of people were happily using.

06. Medium

Best blogging platforms: Medium

Medium is the brainchild of Twitter's founders, and appears to be their attempt to do for 'longreads' what they once did for microblogging. The result is a socially-oriented place that emphasises writing, although within an extremely locked-down set-up. It's a place to blog if you want your words to be taken seriously, and if you favour a polished, streamlined experience. But if you're big on customisation and control, look elsewhere.

07. Svbtle

Best blogging platforms: Svbtle

Describing itself as a "blogging platform designed to help you think", Svbtle is fairly similar to Medium in approach. It again strips everything right back, resulting in a bold, stylish experience that pushes words to the fore. It could easily become your favourite blogging platform for the act of writing, but it again relies on you also wanting something extremely simple and not caring a jot about customisation.

08. LiveJournal

Best blogging platforms: LiveJournal

One of the veterans of this list, LiveJournal (like Blogger) started life in 1999. Perhaps because of its age, it rather blurs the lines (the site says "wilfully") between blogging and social networking.

The result is more of a community that affords you your own space, but that also very much encourages communal interaction. It is possible to fashion something more private, but to get the most out of LiveJournal, you need to be prepared to delve into discussion as much as writing.

09. Weebly

Best blogging platforms: Weebly

Weebly bills itself more as a website-creation system than something for solely creating a blog. It's based around drag-and-drop components, which enable you to quickly create new pages.

However, blogging is also part of the system, and you get access to customisable layouts, a bunch of free themes, and the usual sharing features you'd expect, to spread your words far and wide.

10. Postach.io

Best blogging platforms: Postach.io

Postach.io claims it's the "easiest way to blog". It's from the people behind Evernote, and, naturally, is deeply integrated into their system.

Essentially, you just connect a notebook to Postach.io and then tag notes as 'published' to make them public.

However, you get some customisation, too, including a bunch of themes, the means to embed content from other sites, Disqus commenting, and the option to instead use Dropbox for storing content.

11. Pen.io

Best blogging platforms: Pen.o

Pen.io's approach is also rather different from its contemporaries. Unusually, it doesn't require a login — instead, you define a URL for a post and set a password.

Images can be dragged into place, and you can create multi-page posts using a tag. And that's about it.

Really, it's a stretch to call Pen.io a blog in the traditional sense, but it's a decent option for banging out the odd sporadic post, especially if you don't want any personal info stored.

12. Ghost

Best blogging platforms: Ghost

Something slightly different for our final entry. Unlike the others on this list, Ghost is only free if you download and install it yourself; use the Ghost site and you pay on the basis of traffic.

However, this system differentiates itself in other important ways: it's entirely open source, and while writing you get a live preview of how your post will end up.

You need to be technically minded for this one, then, but it's a worthy alternative to WordPress if you're happy to get your hands dirty and have your own web space that's awaiting a blog.

Author: Craig Grannell
Source: http://www.creativebloq.com/web-design/best-blogging-platforms-121413634

Whether you do SEO for a living or consider yourself a newbie, most people involved in search engine marketing know that there are two ways to go about it.

White hat and black hat.

White hat SEOs are the Jedi. We have tons of midi-chlorians in our bloodstreams and work for the forces of good in the universe.

This means promoting high-value content, engaging in deep keyword research to win in SERPS, and in general, promoting our websites or the websites of our clients using the methods that follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Black hat SEOs are the Sith. They are afraid that doing high-quality work to boost rankings takes too much time, so they take shortcuts that aren’t exactly laid out in Google’s best practices.

And we all know that fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering…

sad dog

Some of these black hat techniques can be attractive to people who are new in the SEO space! Ranking well in search engines takes a lot of time and effort, and finding ways to hack the system is understandably appealing for those new to search engine marketing.

When I was starting out, I used a few of the techniques detailed below and guess what? I got no results! My websites were all indexed correctly, but I wasn’t able to get anything to rank for meaningful searches until I learned the ways of the White Hat Jedis.

So what happens when you try to implement black hat SEO strategies? You may make slow progress for some time, but you’ll eventually get hit with a Google Penalty.

If you’ve already been hit with a penalty, it’s time to read The Definitive Guide to Recovering From a Manual Search Penalty.

What Are Google Penalties?

Penguin

The original Penguin update was launched in 2012. Google relies heavily on links from one domain to another to determine a website’s authority. The penguin update crawled the web for any website attempting to game the number of links pointing to their site.

Over 10% of search results were affected, some of which were removed from Google search results entirely.

Since then, website owners and professional SEOs have been keeping a pulse on Google’s search algorithm updates.

Panda

The Panda update is a bit different. Its goal is to filter search results to prevent “low quality” sites’ content from ranking. While the definition of “low quality” is subjective, Google has their own course on creating valuable content, so it’s easy to see what they consider to be high-quality when it comes to digital content.

What Do Google’s Penalties Do?

If your website gets hit with either a Penguin or Panda penalty from Google, the results are the same: the loss of your current ranking position in search results and a huge dip in your organic traffic. All because of a few black hat methods you used to try to promote your website.

And if your website relies heavily on organic traffic from Google, a penalty could result in a downward spiral that could put you down for good.

Black Hat Strategies to Avoid

While there are many strategies black hat SEOs use to try to game Google and rank well in search results, these are the most highly used and the most likely to get your website penalized by Google.

Links

Getting in trouble with the internal links in your website or external websites linking to you could result in a penguin penalty. Here’s what you want to avoid when it comes to links.

Buying Links

Why most people do it: Arguably the most important ranking factor is the quality and quantity of links back to a website. It’s logical to think that buying links from websites with high Domain Authorities is the easiest way to get backlinks without putting in a lot of work.

Why you shouldn’t do it: Buying links is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It’s an easy way to get on Google’s bad side and receive an automatic or manual penalty. It’s unlikely you’ll get away with buying links without leaving a trail. Google tracks links that are likely purchased and those which are likely natural, so gaming Google is more difficult than you’d think.

Reciprocal Links

Why most people do it: When Website A offers to link to Website B, Website A might think it’s a good idea to ask Website B to link back to them as well. That way, they get a bit of link juice in return.

Why you shouldn’t do it: If there’s a purpose for both websites to link to each other, such as a partnership, then reciprocal links make sense. But if the entire purpose of the two-way link is “link juice,” you run the risk of getting penalized.

Footer Links

Why most people do it: A backlink from the footer of another website is seen as valuable because it’s a link back from every page on their website. Because all pages contain a footer, when you add the link just once, it’s like adding a backlink from every page on that site.

Why you shouldn’t do it: Similar to reciprocal links, if there’s a purpose, like telling readers who built the site, then it makes sense to include it. If the link is purely included to gain authority, is from a completely disconnected website or contains non-branded anchor text, the risk of a penalty is real.

Hidden Links

Why most people do it: By hiding text or links, some people think that you can include lots of links back to your site without Google even knowing about it.

Why you shouldn’t do it: Googlebots are smart and know when your website has any hidden text or links. Having hidden links is bad, but the double whammy comes in the fact that Google crawlers can see a different website than your visitors. That’s a big no-no and is one of the easiest ways to get penalized and drop in the rankings.

Comment Spam

Why most people do it: Some websites allow users to add a comment below a post, and sometimes those comment sections allow links. This is an easy way to link back to your site, right?

Why you shouldn’t do it: Wrong. Linking back to your site in the comment forms of other websites is spammy and something Google doesn’t want to see. In Google’s eyes, links should be earned through quality and valuable content, not posted in a comment form in just a few seconds. If you can add something to the conversation and a link back to your site in a comment is relevant and brings value to the readers, then it’s probably OK to include it. If not, try something a little less black hat.

Anchor Text Overuse

Why most people do it: Most SEO beginners are susceptible to this. When trying to rank a page or post for a specific search phrase, they try to link back to their websites using related anchor text. For example, someone trying to rank “brand new sailboats for sale” would link back to their website with 100 links, all with the anchor text, “brand new sailboats for sale.”

Why you shouldn’t do it: Again, Google sees what you’re trying to do. You’re attempting to rank well for a specific search phrase by using contextual anchor text. In the past, this worked pretty well! But not so much today. Google prefers branded anchor text instead of keyword anchor text — it’s more natural to link back using the anchor text, “Marty’s Boat Emporium,” because it’s more natural and suggests the link validates trust.

Malicious Backlinks

Why most people do it: To be clear, nobody does this to themselves on purpose. Nobody attempts to get links back to their website from malicious websites. Unfortunately, there are many black hat SEOs, spammers, and hackers out there who embrace the dark side and will try to damage another site by linking to it from a site that is spammy or even unindexed.

Why you shouldn’t do it: When a site that Google deems is spammy links to your site, it can hurt your ranking. If you see links from precarious websites coming to your website, it’s most likely they didn’t pick your site specifically, and they link to everyone. If you do find that there are suspicious websites linking to your website, use the Google Search Console Disavow Tool to ask Google to ignore the link.

Content

Publishing content that doesn’t provide any real value to your website visitors is grounds for a panda penalty. Here’s what to avoid when it comes to content.

Duplicate Content / Content Theft

Why most people do it: Producing high-quality, valuable content takes a lot of time and effort. For that reason, some people think they can take content published on another website and reuse / repurpose it on their own. Now your website can have great content without the pain of producing original content, right?

Why you shouldn’t do it: Not quite. Google is very particular about duplicate content and, in general, doesn’t like to see the exact same content spread across multiple domains. If you find a piece of content that you think your audience would find really valuable, it is possible to republish that article on your website as long as you have the permission of the original author and fully disclose the fact that it’s being republished. But if you’re thinking about blatantly copying content from another site, you’ll run the risk of a Google penalty.

Over-Optimization / Keyword Stuffing

Why most people do it: This is another common error for those new to the SEO world. Some people think that the more they optimize a page, the better their page will rank, so they include ten H1 tags and repeat the keyword phrase they’re trying to rank for over and over again.

Why you shouldn’t do it: This actually used to work. In 2000, if you wanted to rank for “purple elephant,” all you had to do was include the phrase “purple elephant” a few times in your title, a few times in your H1 tags, and ad nauseam in your content. But in 2017, Google is looking for the content that provides the most value to searchers. That means over-optimizing is out and focusing on giving the most comprehensive answer to a user’s queries is in.

Hidden Content

Why most people do it: Similar to hidden links, some people think they can include content that’s the same color as the background of the site. They do this to include textual keyword phrases in the website without affecting their users’ experience.

Why you shouldn’t do it: Again, Googlebots know when your website has any hidden text or links. Google’s priority is the users, and hidden content definitely counts as a bad user experience because it’s something bots can see but your visitors can’t. This is a big no-no and is one of the easiest ways to get penalized.

Security

While having an unsecured website can’t technically get you a Penguin or Panda penalty, it could result in the loss of your valuable rankings.

Hacked Website

If your website gets attacked or injected with malicious code and Google finds out, they can block your website for people using their search engine.

Not only will this cause you to lose the trust of anybody who visits your site from organic search, but it will cause your website to drop in the rankings just like a Penguin or Panda penalty would.

While it’s true you may receive a notification through Google Analytics that your site has been hacked, it still could mean a real penalty for your website in search results if Google knows your site contains malicious code.

To Wrap It Up

It should seem obvious that when it comes to black hat SEO, the numbers just don’t add up. Produce high-value content, follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and most importantly, don’t be in a rush.

Do yourself a favor and become a Jedi, not a Sith. It will pay off in the long run.

Author:  Joe Howard

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com/11-black-hat-techniques-can-kill-seo-campaign/180601/?ver=180601X3

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