Do You Know What it Feels Like to Get Hacked?

Do You Know What It Feels Like To Get Hacked? | Social Media Today

Hopefully your answers is “no”, and the intention of this blog is to keep you cyber safe in 2017.

Remember the hack of the Ashley Madison site? The top 3 passwords used on that site were “123456”, “12345” and “password”.

While there are no guarantees that malicious actors won’t get to your information, the following tips will decrease the probability of having your personal information hacked.

Let’s do some cyber maintenance. In addition to changing your passwords, learn other ways to make your cyber presence safer.

1. Have Complicated, Unique, Difficult-To-Crack Passwords

Hate changing your passwords for your social media, online banking, Amazon.com and other online accounts? So do I. But having someone invade your privacy, social channels, or even financial information is a lot worse.

A good solution to create strong passwords (and track them at the same time) is to sign up for a password storage tool. 1Password carries a yearly fee, and I’ve also heard good things about a free tool called LastPass.

All you need to do, once you have such a tool, is to create one really complex password and remember it. Then you can let the tool auto-generate all your other long and tricky passwords, which you won’t need to remember.

2. Never Reuse a Password

Don’t use the same password or slightly modify it to use it on multiple accounts.

Make each password unique, with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, special characters – at least 9 characters, ideally more.

3. Update Your Passwords Regularly

Change your passwords periodically (at least every 6-12 months). While having a really difficult password is the number one way to protect your accounts, changing your password can’t hurt.

4. Prevent “Dictionary Attacks”

Don’t use dictionary words, your pet’s name, your college or any other words that have an obvious correlation to you as a person. These are easy to find, even just via Google, and so-called “dictionary attacks” – which are extremely common and simple – can crack those passwords in no time.

NOTE: Personally, I also discourage publishing your birthday on LinkedIn or Facebook as this date is a crucial detail to cracking and taking over your (online) identity; especially in the USA where birth date and social security number ARE your identity.

5. Keep Your Security and Privacy Settings Current

Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media channels occasionally change their privacy options, which is easy to miss (or dismiss) as such updates are not particularly interesting.

For a safe 2017, visit your social channels and review your privacy and notification settings. While you’re there, disconnect access for apps you no longer use.

6. Enable Two-Factor-Authentication

Something often dismissed as too complicated is two-step-verification.

Most social platforms, banks and other accounts now provide this as an option – here’s how it works:

  • In addition to your password, every time you sign in, you get a text message or app notification with a code that you need to enter before you get access to your account.
  • You’ll be asked to specify your trusted device(s) to receive the code, e.g. your iPhone or iPad, so only you have access.

7. Don’t Store Passwords in Your Browser

I know, it seems convenient but hackers feel the same way.

Browser attacks are very common – here’s some more information on common threats by Kaspersky.

8. Have a Security Program Installed

You need a virus protection program at a minimum, and many of these now come with privacy packages to help you in case you do get hacked.

Here’s a suggestion for 10 virus protection programs. Also consider a service that alerts you to invasions into your personal information, like changes in your credit report. One option is Lifelock.

9. Install Software Updates

Don’t dally when it comes to installing updates to your applications, operating system or website. While I admit that I sometimes wait a few days when a new OS update comes out so that the main bugs can be fixed first, I never wait for more than a week.

10. Be Suspicious of URLs Before You Click

Phishing is generally an attempt to get users to click on a malicious URL that will upload a virus if you do.

Never click on a URL sent by your bank, PayPal or other account that requires you to sign in.

Often, malicious actors will steal your password that way, or upload a virus. Instead, go to the site directly and log-in from there to check on any message.

Also, be suspicious about the senders of any message you receive via email or social media. Sometimes when I see a shortened link, I ask the sender to give me the URL to look it up myself or I pass.

 

 

[Source:- Socialmediatoday]

Facebook to Stop Paying for Exclusive Live-Stream Content – What Does That Mean?

Facebook to Stop Paying for Exclusive Live-Stream Content – What Does That Mean? | Social Media Today

In June last year, reports circulated that Facebook was paying media companies and celebrities millions of dollars to broadcast exclusive content on Facebook Live in an effort to boost their rapidly expanding live content ambitions.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook had signed over 140 separate contracts, at a cumulative cost of around $140 million, to get these high profile users onto Facebook Live, which was seen by many as the platform’s first big step into the next stage of online content, towards building Facebook as a video platform to rival not only YouTube and other online providers, but one which might also challenge traditional TV itself.

Twitter too has signed exclusive live-stream deals, and YouTube’s also working on original content, and with more and more people consuming more and more video content online, the next stage of media consumption does appear to lie in the hands of online platforms.

But now, things may have taken a turn – according to Recode, Facebook is set to stop paying publishers and celebrities to create live video on the network.

Does this mean live-streaming hasn’t proven as popular as Facebook had hoped?

Changing Attitudes

As per Recode, numerous publishers have noted that Facebook is de-emphasizing Live in talks with them, and none of them expect Facebook to renew their existing paid live-stream deals.

“Instead, Facebook is pushing publishers to create longer, premium video content as part of a larger effort led by Facebook exec Ricky Van Veen. The hope is to get more high-quality video onto the platform and into your News Feed — the kind of stuff, presumably, you might find on Netflix.”

Recode does note that Facebook never intended for these paid deals to be a long-term arrangement, that they were more focused on getting Live off the ground – but still, it raises the question. Is Facebook not seeing the return from Live they expected?

While no one knows for sure, those critical of live-streaming have taken this as a clear sign that it’s a failed offering, that the closure of other live video platforms like Meerkat and Blab were indicators of a doomed idea that’ll never take off and deliver.

But then again, Facebook’s still investing big money into their Facebook Live ad campaign, and they recently noted that millions of people around the world used Facebook Live to broadcast their New Year’s celebrations. Both of these relate to consumers, as opposed to publishers, but the signs all point to Live’s ongoing growth, while Facebook-owned Instagram is still in the middle of rolling out their own live-stream offering to all users.

So could it be that Live is now seen as a consumer product and not a publisher option? And if so, where does that leave Facebook’s ongoing video ambitions?

A Question of Perspective

On balance, the suggestion that Facebook Live may not be delivering seems unlikely. Publishers are seeing big results with Live content, generating huge viewership and engagement, providing them with a whole new way to reach a larger audience. Monetization, of course, has been a key concern, but Facebook’s working to resolve that, with a wider roll-out of mid-roll ads (which have been available for some publishers in Live since last August) and the likely coming implementation of Live commercial breaks.

With those tools in place, maybe Facebook simply doesn’t need to pay publishers anymore, maybe they’ve been able to demonstrate the potential of Live enough to no longer need to make incentive payments to keep them broadcasting.

This was the view of Nick Cicero, the CEO of video analytics software platform Delmondo, whom I sought for his thoughts:

There are more ways for publishers to make money from Facebook than ever before, and they’ve rolled out things like branded content tags and custom post types to facilitate this. I don’t see them moving away from live video at all, just expanding the various types of video content all publishers could produce, distribute and monetize.”

 

[Source:- socialmediatoday]

Samsung Galaxy S8 Release Date, Specifications, Price, and More: What the Rumours Say

Samsung Galaxy S8 Release Date, Specifications, Price, and More: What the Rumours Say

With the Galaxy Note 7 debacle, Samsung has lost a lot more than just billions of dollars last year. The South Korean giant has spent considerable time and effort in making amends to Galaxy Note 7 buyers, fixing its reputation, as well as identifying the cause behind the smartphone’s explosions. And the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8 is its first big bet to move past the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco.

Therefore, it is no surprise that all eyes have been on Samsung Galaxy S8 leaks, much more than for other flagship smartphone, as 2017 is expected be the year of redemption for the company. Curious about the Samsung Galaxy S8? Here’s everything we know about the Samsung’s 2017 flagship.

Samsung Galaxy S8 launch date

While Samsung was expected to be on schedule and launch the Galaxy S8 in February, recent reports indicate a delay due to the Note 7 fiasco and major design changes. The smartphone was expected to be unveiled at MWC this year, but Naver reports a further delay. The most recent pegged launch date is at April 18, and Samsung will launch the Galaxy S8 at a dedicated Unpacked event. The Samsung Galaxy S8 release date is not known, nor its release date in India.

Samsung Galaxy S8 price

The price of the Galaxy S8 is still a mystery, but a few reports hint that due to the major changes, the smartphone will be priced a little higher than the Samsung Galaxy S7. Goldman Sachs predicts that the Galaxy S8 will see a rise in prices by up to 15 to 20 percent compared to its predecessor. Of course, for now, what the Samsung Galaxy S8 price in India will be is not known at this point.

Samsung Galaxy S8 display

Samsung Galaxy S8 is pegged to have a dual-edged curved display with almost negligible bezel. There was an early report that pegged the screen-to-body ratio at 90 percent. The recent photo leak shows that the display takes up all the space, and only the top and bottom bezel are seen; a promotional video by Samsung that is said to feature the upcoming Galaxy S8 also shows that the smartphone has thin bezels on the sides, and that the display takes up most of the front panel. The top bezel of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 houses the speaker, front camera, and the sensors, while the bottom bezel only houses the logo. As for specifications, one report indicates that the Samsung Galaxy S8 will feature a 5.5-inch 4K (2160×3840 pixels) Super AMOLED display and will boast of an impressive pixel density of 806ppi.

Samsung Galaxy S8 iris scanner

Samsung Galaxy S8 is expected to feature an iris scanner, which will allow users to unlock the smartphone just by looking at it. The feature made its debut on Samsung devices with the Galaxy Note 7, so it won’t be a stretch to imagine this same functionality on the Galaxy S8 as well.

Samsung Galaxy S8 will come in two variants

However, a separate leak also suggests that the company could launch its next flagship smartphone in two screen size variants – 5.7-inch and 6.2-inch. The larger variant is expected to be called the Galaxy S8 Plus, which is said to have the model number SM-G9550/SM-G9550X; the smaller Galaxy S8 variant, on the other hand, is said to have the model number SM-G9500/SM-G9500X. More recently however, screen sizes of 5-inch and 6-inch were tipped for the same models.

Samsung Galaxy S8 will not have Home button

Samsung is expected to ditch the Home Button, and have an all-display front. The iconic capsule shaped button at the bottom will be ditched, along with the capacitive buttons as well. A recent photo leak testified to this rumour further, but the image strangely didn’t show any on screen buttons either.

Samsung Galaxy S8 fingerprint scanner

Traditionally, all Samsung smartphones have integrated the fingerprint sensor underneath the Home Button, but because the Home Button is being let go, the fingerprint sensor may reside at the back of the phone. Another report notes that the device may sport an optical fingerprint scanner that will enable reading thumb print through the display as well.

Samsung Galaxy S8 virtual assistant

Samsung is widely leveraging its Viv Labs acquisition to introduce “an enhanced artificial-intelligence service” in the Galaxy S8. The developers at Viv previously founded Siri which is now Apple’s digital voice-assistant on mobile devices. Samsung is calling its version Bixby, and will use the new virtual assistant in mostly all the native apps that will come pre-installed in the Galaxy S8. A separate rumour indicates that the male voice of the assistant will be called Bixby, while the female voice will be called Kestra.

Samsung Galaxy S8 processor

The Galaxy S8 flagship smartphone will likely be powered by the recently announced Snapdragon 835 SoC from Qualcomm while an Exynos 8895-based variant is also being rumoured. It will be paired with a 6GB of RAM or an 8GB of RAM.

Samsung Galaxy S8 pressure sensitive display

Following Apple’s lead, Samsung may integrate a pressure-sensitive display technology in its next flagship. Notably, Samsung’s technology is expected to work similarly to Apple’s 3D Touch tech introduced with the iPhone 6s. The technology will be able to distinguish between a light tap and deep press, enabling access to more functions just by pressing harder.

Samsung Galaxy S8 storage

The Galaxy S8 is also rumoured to sport a 256GB storage variant. It is unclear whether this will be the only storage option, or one of the storage variants made available in the market. If Samsung follows tradition, then a separate microSD slot for further expansion of memory will also be offered with Galaxy S8. Just to put things into perspective, the predecessor was offered in 32GB and 64GB storage variants only.

Samsung Galaxy S8 camera

Early leaks point at a dual camera setup at the back – one 16-megapixel lens and another 8-megapixel lens. However, the latest leaks hint that due to the large display in the front, a dual camera setup will be hard to cram in. The camera, however, will see and upgrade and the Samsung Galaxy S8 may finally become the company’s first smartphone to feature autofocus functionality on the front camera.

Samsung Galaxy S8 audio jack

Just like the iPhone 7 rumours, the audio jack leaks of the Galaxy S8 have been aplenty. Reports indicate that Samsung is getting rid of the old 3.5mm audio standard, and will bundle a 3.5mm-headphone-to-USB Type-C adapter, just like Apple. A separate report also hints that Samsung will launch wireless headphones alongside as well.

Samsung Galaxy S8’s Continuum-like feature

Lastly, the Galaxy S8 is also tipped to come with something similar to the popular Continuum feature seen on Windows 10 Mobile devices. This means that you could use your smartphone on your PC by connecting the device to the monitor, and the keyboard and mouse via Bluetooth (presumably). According to the leak, the feature is being called the Samsung Desktop Experience.

 

 

[Source:- gadgets360]

Google DeepMind: What is it, how does it work and should you be scared?

Image result for Google DeepMind: What is it, how does it work and should you be scared?

Today concludes the five ‘Go’ matches played by AlphaGo, an AI system built by DeepMind and South Korean champion, Lee Sedol. AlphaGo managed to win the series of games 4-1.

‘Go’ is a strategy-led board game in which two players aim to gather and surround the most territory on the board. The game is said to require a certain level of intuition and be considerably more complex than Chess. The first three games were won by AlphaGo with Sedol winning the fourth round, but still unable to claim back a victory.

What is DeepMind?

Google DeepMind is an artificial intelligence division within Google that was created after Google bought University College London spinout, DeepMind, for a reported £400 million in January 2014. 

The division, which employs around 140 researchers at its lab in a new building at Kings Cross, London, is on a mission to solve general intelligence and make machines capable of learning things for themselves. It plans to do this by creating a set of powerful general-purpose learning algorithms that can be combined to make an AI system or “agent”. 

Suleyman explains

These are systems that learn automatically. They’re not pre-programmed, they’re not handcrafted features. We try to provide a large set of raw information to our algorithms as possible so that the systems themselves can learn the very best representations in order to use those for action or classification or predictions.

The systems we design are inherently general. This means that the very same system should be able to operate across a wide range of tasks.

That’s why we’ve started as we have with the Atari games. We could have done lots of really interesting problems in narrow domains had we spent time specifically hacking our tools to fit the real world problems – that could have been very, very valuable. 

Instead we’ve taken the principal approach of starting on tools that are inherently general. 

AI has largely been about pre-programming tools for specific tasks: in these kinds of systems, the intelligence of the system lies mostly in the smart human who programmed all of the intelligence into the smart system and subsequently these are of course rigid and brittle and don’t really handle novelty very well or adapt to new settings and are fundamentally very limited as a result.

We characterise AGI [artificial general intelligence] as systems and tools which are flexible and adaptive and that learn. 

We use the reinforcement learning architecture which is largely a design approach to characterise the way we develop our systems. This begins with an agent which has a goal or policy that governs the way it interacts with some environment. This environment could be a small physics domain, it could be a trading environment, it could be a real world robotics environment or it could be a Atari environment. The agent says it wants to take actions in this environment and it gets feedback from the environment in the form of observations and it uses these observations to update its policy of behaviour or its model of the world. 

How does it work? 

The technology behind DeepMind is complex to say the least but that didn’t stop Suleyman from trying to convey some of the fundamental deep learning principles that underpin it. The audience – a mixture of software engineers, AI specialists, startups, investors and media – seemed to follow. 

Suleyman explains 

You’ve probably heard quite a bit about deep learning. I’m going to give you a very quick high-level overview because this is really important to get intuition for how these systems work and what they basically do. 

These are hierarchical based networks initially conceived back in the 80s but recently resuscitated by a bunch of really smart guys from Toronto and New York.

The basic intuition is that at one end we take the raw pixel data or the raw sensory stream data of things we would like to classify or recognise. 

This seems to be a very effective way of learning to find structure in very large data sets. Right at the very output we’re able to impose on the network some requirement to produce some set of labels or classifications that we recognise and find useful as humans. 

How is DeepMind being tested? 

DeepMind found a suitably quirky way to test what its team of roughly 140 people have been busy building. 

The intelligence of the DeepMind’s systems was put through its paces by an arcade gaming platform that dates back to the 1970s. 

Suleyman demoed DeepMind playing one of them during his talk – space invaders. In his demo he illustrated how a DeepMind agent learns how to play the game with each go it takes. 

Suleyman explains 

We use the Atari test bed to develop and test and train all of our systems…or at least we have done so far. 

There is somewhere on the magnitude of 100 different Atari games from the 70s and 80s. 

The agents only get the raw pixel inputs and the score so this is something like 30,000 inputs per frame. They’re wired up to the action buttons but they’re not really told what the action buttons do so the agent has to discover what these new tools of the real world actually mean and how they can utilise value for the agent. 

The goal that we give them is very simply to maximise score; it gets a 1 or a 0 when the score comes in, just as a human would. 

Everything is learned completely from scratch – there’s absolutely zero pre-programmed knowledge so we don’t tell the agent these are Space Invaders or this is how you shoot. It’s really learnt from the raw pixel inputs. 

For every set of inputs the agent is trying to assess which action is optimal given that set of inputs and it’s doing that repeatedly over time in order to optimise some longer term goal, which in Atari’s sense, is to optimise score. This is one agent with one set of parameters that plays all of the different games.

Live space invaders demo

An agent playing space invaders before training struggles to hide behind the orange obstacles, it’s firing fairly randomly. It seems to get killed all of the time and it doesn’t really know what to do in the environment. 

After training, the agent learns to control the robot and barely loses any bullets. It aims for the space invaders that are right at the top because it finds those the most rewarding. It barely gets hit; it hides behind the obstacles; it can make really good predictive shots like the one on the mothership that came in at the top there. 

As those of you know who have played this game, it sort of speeds up towards the end and so the agent has to do a little bit more planning and predicting than it had done previously so as you can see there’s a really good predictive shot right at the end there. 

100 games vs 500 games

The agent doesn’t really know what the paddle does after 100 games, it sort of randomly moves it from one side to the other. Occasionally it accidentally hits the ball back and finds that to be a rewarding action. It learns that it should repeat that action in order to get reward. 

After about 300 games it’s pretty good and it basically doesn’t really miss. 

But then after about 500 games, really quite unexpectedly to our coders, the agent learns that the optimal strategy is to tunnel up the sides and then send them all around the back to get maximum score with minimum effort – this was obviously very impressive to us. 

We’ve now achieved human performance in 49/57 games that we’ve tested on and this work was recently rewarded with a front cover of Nature for our paper that we submitted so we were very proud of that. 

How is it being used across Google? 

Google didn’t buy DeepMind for nothing. Indeed, it’s using certain DeepMind algorithms to make many of its best-known products and services smarter than they were previously. 

Suleyman explains

Our deep learning tool has now been deployed in many environments, particularly across Google in many of our production systems.

In image recognition, it was famously used in 2012 to achieve very accurate recognition on around a million images with about 16 percent error rate. Very shortly after that it was reduced dramatically to about 6 percent and today we’re at about 5.5 percent. This is very much parable with the human level of ability and it’s now deployed in Google+ Image Search and elsewhere in Image Search across the company.

As you can see on Google Image Search on G+, you’re now able to type a word into the search box and it will recall images from your photographs that you’ve never actually hand labelled yourself. 

We’ve also used it for text and scription. We use it to identify text on shopfronts and maybe alert people to a discount that’s available in a particular shop or what the menu says in a given restaurant. We do that with an extremely high level of accuracy today. It’s being used in Local Search and elsewhere across the company. 

We also use the same core system across Google for speech recognition. It trains roughly in less than five days. In 2012 it delivered a 30 percent reduction in error rate against the existing old school system. This was the biggest single improvement in speech recognition in 20 years, again using the same very general deep learning system across all of these. 

Across Google we use what we call Tool AI or Deep Learning Networks for fraud detection, spam detection, hand writing recognition, image search, speech recognition, Street View detection, translation. 

Sixty handcrafted rule-based systems have now been replaced with deep learning based networks. This gives you a sense of the kind of generality, flexibility and adaptiveness of the kind of advances that have been made across the field and why Google was interested in DeepMind.

GoogleDeepmind, AlphaGo and Go: the discussion

Techworld editors discuss the implications of AlphaGo beating all the humans.

The number of scientists and world-famous entrepreneurs speaking out on the potential dangers of AI is increasing week-by-week, with renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and PayPal billionaire Elon Musk being two of the most outspoken anti-AI advocates. 

The pair, along with several others including Bill Gates and Sky cofounder Jaan Tallinn, believe that machines will soon become more intelligent than humans, just as they do in recent Hollywood blockbuster Ex Machina. 

Despite this, Google is keen to develop its AI algorithms as much as possible in order to improve its offerings and boost its profits. 

Suleyman tried to put people’s minds at ease and explain the logic behind all the hype. 

Suleyman explains

Over the last 18 months or so, AI breakthroughs have, I think, created a sense of anxiety or in some cases hype around the potential long term direction of the field. 

This of course is not least induced by Elon [Musk] who recently Tweeted that we need to be super careful with AI because it’s “potentially more dangerous than nukes” and that’s obviously backed up by various publications including Nick Bostrom’s – all culminating in this kind of sense that AI has the potential to end all human kind. 

If you didn’t really pay attention to the field and all you did was read, as I think the vast majority of people do, descriptions of the kind of work that we do on the web then you could be forgiven for believing that AI is actually about this. Whether it’s Terminator coming to blow us up or societies of AIs or mad scientists looking to create quite perverted women robots.

This narrative has somehow managed to dominate the entire landscape, which I think we find really quite remarkable. 

It’s true that AI has in some sense really arrived. This isn’t just a summer. These are very concrete production breakthroughs that really do make a big different but it’s also sad how quickly we adapt to this new reality. We rarely take time to acknowledge the magic and the potential of these advances and the kind of good that they can bring. In some sense, the narrative has shifted from isn’t it terrible that AI has been such a failure to isn’t it terrible that AI has been such a success. 

Just to address directly this question of existential risk. Our perspective on this is that it’s become a real distraction from the core ethics and safety issues and that it’s completely overshadowed the debate. 

The way we think about AI is that it’ll be a hugely powerful tool that we control and direct whose capabilities we limit, just as we do with any other tool that we have in the world around us, whether they’re washing machines or tractors. 

[Source:- Techworld]

What does Brexit mean for the web industry?

After the recent UK referendum result and Brexit looming on the horizon, many British designers find themselves contemplating what the future may hold. But what exactly does the Brexit outcome mean for the web industry? Here, British and European designers have their say…

Hidden opportunities

“It brings a lot of uncertainty,” says UX designer Anna Dahlstrom. “Right now I’m trying to find positives. The low pound makes it cheaper for clients outside of the UK to hire us and I hope that leads to working relationships that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. We’re a talented and creative bunch and Brexit isn’t changing that. Perhaps this mess will further fuel remote working and help bring more opportunities to areas of the UK where there currently are less.

Time to move?

Rachel Andrews, co-founder at Perch CMS says: “Many of the people I have spoken to since the referendum are seriously looking at moving all or part of their businesses into Europe – that includes everything from small companies like mine through to larger startups and big organisations. This is going to have an impact in terms of available jobs in the industry and the vibrancy of the UK tech scene.

Reinventing the wheel

“As the owner of an agency based in a non-EU country, I can say this much: hiring talent from outside is vital, and in Switzerland this has become very difficult,” says Oliver Reichenstein, founder of Information Architects.

“Having offices in Berlin and Tokyo helps. In a financial depression agencies are the first to be hit, and the last to profit from an upswing. With today’s in- and far-sourcing trend, more UX designers and developers will continue to move to corporations, work as freelancers or temp staff. We will have to use our creativity upon ourselves and reinvent how we do business, maybe even letting go of the current model that was fit for the advertising industry. Brexit may accelerate the inevitable.”

Lasting damage

Research director at Monotype Emma Boulton says: “As design professionals, my husband and I made a conscious decision a few years ago to start a business in Wales rather than overseas. We felt that the design industry here, in a UK embedded in Europe, was by far the best place for us.

“Wales has enjoyed an annual net benefit of £245m from the EU, some of which has enriched the digital and arts sectors here. It’s impossible to think of the UK in design terms without Europe. Our rich culture and heritage is interwoven and I can’t help but feel that we will see real and lasting damage by withdrawing.”

Rise in costs

Those who encouraged voters to leave the EU characterised the institution as a redundant bureaucracy, holding us back and making our lives unnecessarily complicated,” comments designer, author and web accessibility advocateHeydon Pickering. “This couldn’t be further from the truth. Unless we are able to negotiate a deal which preserves free movement, typically footloose workers such as web designers – who tend to travel and relocate frequently, dealing with international clients and organisations – will likely see rises in both the cost and the complexity of accessing the global marketplace.”

Time for change

“We are in a crisis of a democracy,” says designer and entrepreneur Lauren Currie. “Brexit was a backlash against the political elite and a reflection of the unrest that has been sleeping beneath the surface for decades. We need to spread the ability to motivate, educate, inspire and inform. Designers are a breed of craftspeople who have the ability to do this. Designers pride themselves in getting beneath the surface of a problem. Now is our chance. I often meet creatives who talk avidly about changing the world. Now is our time!

Money is tight

Left Logic founder Remy Sharp says: “In running an event and needing sponsorship, we’ve seen a disproportionate number of companies turning us down, explaining that they’re reviewing their entire budget process. Money is tight. Personally, I’ll be looking for work that will benefit from a weak GBP. Then there’s our non-UK colleagues who suddenly don’t know whether they’ll remain in the UK, as much as they love the country. Leaving the EU feels like we’re closing a door. This is unlike our industry. Unlike the web.”

 

 

[Source:- webdesignernews]

BT gets another chance to fix its broadband: Here’s what it means for you

BT gets another chance to fix its broadband: Here's what it means for you

Ofcom, BT and OpenReach – what this means to you

BT used to like to tell us that “it’s good to talk”, but this morning it probably wasn’t the happiest of phone calls with the telecoms regulator Ofcom, which has told BT that it needs to seriously work on its relationship with its Openreach subsidiary.

While the regulator hasn’t said the two should completely break up, it is basically telling BT “it’s not me, it’s you”, and has recommended steps that would see BT and Openreach consciously uncouple further than ever before.

As when any relationship goes sour, there’s one big question: What does that mean for the kids? Or in this case, the millions of people in Britain who rely on BT and Openreach to provide their broadband? Read on to find out.

Umm, what actually is Openreach?

BT is a slightly weird company, owing to its unique history. For most of the 20th century, it was owned by the government and was actually part of the Post Office, but in 1984 it was privatised by the Thatcher government.

This meant that BT had a complete monopoly on all of the infrastructure across the country that used to provide our phone lines and today provides our broadband.

Fast-forward to 2016 and this is still mostly the case. It means that whether you decide to get your broadband from Sky, TalkTalk, or BT itself (or one of the many other providers), ultimately the data will be flowing through fibre-optic cables and copper wires that are owned and maintained by BT. It’s why when you sign up for Sky, it still insists that you must have a BT compatible line.

(The only major exception to this is Virgin Media, which has built its own entirely separate network – though other completely separate fibre companies are also growing).

As you might imagine, this situation would theoretically put BT at an advantage. What would stop it from offering faster speeds to BT customers than Sky? It’s for this reason that in 2005 Ofcom insisted that BT keep the Openreach division mostly separate from the rest of the company – and insisted that it must treat other ISP customers the same way that it treats BT consumer customers.

This, incidentally, is why if you’ve ever had a maddening encounter with BT customer services that it sometimes feels that one part of BT isn’t talking to the other – because in the case of Openreach it is literally restricted in how it can do so.

Despite their relative separation, this hasn’t kept BT’s rivals happy. Last year Sky and TalkTalk called for Ofcom to intervene and spin-off Openreach into a completely separate company.

So what has Ofcom told BT to do?

The big news today is that Ofcom appears to partially agree with these concerns and has proposed a package of changes that will see Openreach further separated from the BT mothership. Although it will allow BT to continue to own Openreach, it wants the division to be a distinct entity within the company, with its own board and chairperson (albeit while still wholly owned by BT).

It wants the new company to consult with customers (that’s Sky and TalkTalk – not us consumers) when it makes big infrastructure investments, and it wants the new company to own its assets (the fibre network) and employ staff directly, rather than via other parts of BT, so there are no conflicting loyalties.

It even wants Openreach to have a separate brand and logo, so that people don’t automatically associate it with BT.

What will this mean for customers?

The motivation behind these reforms is that it will hopefully make the market more competitive. This could mean ultimately, better and faster broadband service for customers, or lower prices. By bringing Openreach’s customers into the decision making process, this could mean that better decisions are made about where on the network needs improving.

And Openreach will have to work harder to succeed on its own terms, rather than simply act as an appendage to BT.

Ofcom has also made a number of other demands which could increase competitiveness. For example, it is forcing Openreach to produce an online database detailing where its telegraph poles and underground tunnels are, so that other providers can more easily plug into BT’s network.

It could mean we start seeing more “Fibre to the Premises” broadband from different companies, as they can plug directly into the Openreach network, rather than rely on BT’s existing copper wire network to do the last stretch between the telephone exchange and your house.

This all goes in tandem with other new rules announced by Ofcom, such as automatic compensation when services fail, and new rules to make switching broadband provider less of a nightmare than it is now. If it’s easier to switch, then all ISPs will have to work harder to keep you happy – which can only be good for consumers.

So it could be good news. Ofcom could be the friend that everyone needs: Someone who will tell them the harsh truth, even if they don’t want to hear it.

If BT truly wants to improve its relationship, perhaps it needs to stop being so clingy with Openreach?

 
[Source: Techradar]

What a Burrito Taught Me About Customer Service on Social Media

It began like any other Takeout Thursday at the Metis Communications office. We chose a restaurant, placed a group order on DoorDash (a food delivery service), and eagerly awaited the arrival of our burrito lunch from Boloco. When said lunch arrived, however, there was a problem: Melissa, our agency’s managing partner, found her custom burrito missing. In its place was a teriyaki chicken wrap. After filling out a form on the DoorDash website, we were assured the correct order would be delivered quickly.

That update turned out to be half right. Melissa’s replacement lunch was indeed delivered quickly. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t the order she had placed. We decided to air our grievances on Twitter:

The events that followed, in roughly the order described below, provided us with firsthand insight into the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of customer service on social media. As the socialverse continues to become a hub for customers to praise and grieve about the products and services they use, these are important lessons for any brand, whether you sell software or Sofritas.

1. TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Within 15 minutes of sending our tweet, we received a response from @doordash_help asking us for a direct message about our situation so the DoorDash team could right the issue. This quick response time is critical, especially when your customers are in the midst of a debacle and need a solution.

If you set email notifications for Twitter mentions or enable desktop pop-ups from Twitter (or a platform such as TweetDeck), be sure to have a system in place for tracking customer outreach and responding in a timely manner.

2. …BUT SO IS CONSISTENCY

We sent a message about the order mix-up right away, to which the DoorDash Twitter account responded with an apology and a promise to credit our account. Immediately, we replied: “Can we get the right order delivered?” Then, the account went dark.

The lesson here: be consistent with your communication on social. If you’re going to reply to a customer, make sure you’re around to continue the conversation.

For example, Dana Miller, senior vice president of client services at Crimson Hexagon (a Metis Communications client), often highlights WestJet as a company that readily maintains this consistency. The Canadian airline shares its social customer service hours in its Twitter bio, so customers know exactly when they can expect a response.

3. SOCIAL CEOS CAN SAVE THE DAY

Our spirits rose when we received a tweet late in the evening from the Boloco CEO himself, John Pepper:

Immediately, the situation gave us a feeling of, “He really cares”.

While it’s not always realistic for a CEO to respond to every incoming complaint, it is possible for company leadership to play an active role in driving positive customer experience on social. This can come in the form of proactive outreach, thanking customers for feedback or welcoming new clients as they come aboard.

4. COMMUNICATE BEHIND THE SCENES

Along with Pepper’s tweet, we also received a tweet from Boloco asking us to email the details about our situation. We did, and we also let John know via direct message that we had done so. Here’s what was cool: John already knew what was going on. He said, “Looks like someone on our team is helping now”, and promised that he would “watch what happens”. Too often, there’s a disconnect between brand representatives engaging on social media and support teams. Because your customers may have multiple communication touch points, it’s important that your internal team has a system in place for coordinating efforts and ensuring customer experiences are seamless.

So, what happened next? Not only did Melissa finally get her burrito, but Boloco delivered a free lunch for our entire team the following week. Talk about delighting your customers. Listening, responding, being nice – these may seem like no-brainers to PR and social pros who’ve been in the business for a while, but, some brands continue to struggle with how to get it right. Thanks, Boloco, not just for the feast, but also for reminding us how great customer service looks, feels and even tastes.

 

 

[Source:- Socialmediatoday]

What is Retargeting? (And How Does it Work?)

retargeting

Retargeting is one of our favorite marketing buzzwords, but it’s also a great way to increase conversions and bring people back to your website.

Retargeting is a paid advertising strategy that involves putting your ads in front of people who have visited your website, after they have clicked away and visited other websites.

Here’s how retargeting looks from a consumer’s perspective:

A couple weeks ago, I was looking at a pair of rain boots online, and I liked them so much that I sent the link to my best friend. A few days later, she sent me a text saying that she kept seeing ads for rain boots everywhere she went online.

And they were following me around too.

THIS IS RETARGETING, AND HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:

You paste a piece of code (called a pixel) into the HTML (usually the header or footer) of your website, and that allows you advertise to people who have visited your website in the past. They will see your retargeting ads when they visit other websites, apps or emails.

Was I freaked out that a pair of rain boots had the ability to follow me around the internet? Not at all.

Here’s why I appreciated the retargeting:

Sometimes you’re browsing rain boots and then something shiny distracts you and the next thing you know you’re watching videos of cats getting scared by cucumbers until 3 am you’ve totally forgotten about that thing you really wanted to buy.

And I’m not alone. 89% of users have either a positive or neutral reaction to retargeting.

So if potential customers visit your site without converting (and 98% of website visitors don’t convert on their first visit) retargeting is the key to getting them back.

Don’t just chalk it up as a loss if the consumer doesn’t convert on their first visit. Instead, send them a reminder and nudge them back in the right direction.

The great thing about retargeting is that you can use it to target your past visitors across various platforms. Users can be retargeted via search ads, banner ads, social media ads and even email.

WHERE CAN CONSUMERS SEE YOUR RETARGETED ADS?

Google calls retargeting “remarketing” and it’s pretty easy to do. If you already have an AdWords account, you just need to set up retargeting, add the pixel to your website and create a remarketing list.

You can set AdWords remarketing campaigns to display either in searches or on Google’s display network.

SEARCH ADS

Retargeting with search ads allows you to hyper-target people who have not only visited your site but also searched for specific keywords.

This is great, because if I had forgotten where I found those boots I really liked, I’d search for them again. And if the website is running a search ad retargeting campaign, I could see their ad in the search results.

Be aware, though, that you’ll need 1000 unique site visitors before your remarketing search ads will show up in Google search results.

BANNER ADS

When you retarget people who have previously visited your website using Google’s display network, you have the opportunity to reach a lot of people. Display network ads reach 90% of Internet users, with more than 2 million websites, from Poetry.com to Gmail, displaying banner ads.

Retargeting ads on the display network also allow you to target in a different way than other display ads. Normally, display ads have something to do with the website the user is viewing – so if they’re looking at a recipe website, they’ll probably see ads about food.

However, with retargeting, the ads don’t have to correspond to the website the user is browsing. They might be looking at a recipe, but if you’re running retargeting ads, they could also be seeing your ads on that recipe site.

Your Display Network retargeting ads will start to work once you’ve accumulated 100 unique visitors within a 30 day period

FACEBOOK

Instead of just boosting a post and trying to get more Facebook reach, you can go one better and reach users who’ve visited your website. Once you have Facebook’s pixel installed, you can track who is visiting your site and create an ad campaign using a custom audience of people who have visited your website.

EMAILS

A popular way to retarget site visitors who abandon their shopping carts is via email. Targeted emails can be sent to remind them what they left in their cart or even offer promotions.

On the Kissmetrics blog, there’s a great example of a company called Peak, which was able to recover 12% of abandoned shopping carts with email retargeting .

[Source:- Socialmediatoday]

Build 2016: how to watch the live streams and what happened on Day 1

Build 2016: how to watch the live streams and what happened on Day 1

Today, Microsoft showed off what it’s been cooking up for Windows, Xbox One and evenHoloLens at its annual developer conference, Build 2016.

While it’s largely aimed at the folks that make the apps you use every day, Microsoft is broadcasting the conference’s two major keynotes straight from the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Calif, so that fans (and devs who couldn’t make it) can see what’s next for Microsoft as it happens.

Watching the keynotes is almost painfully easy. Just head to Microsoft’s newfangled Build 2016 page, scroll down a bit and press that play button. You can even watch today’s keynote on demand from this page.

Tomorrow’s second and final keynote begins at 8:30am PT (or 11:30am ET, 4:30pm GMT, 1:30am AEST) on that same page.

While there was a ton of interesting, exciting news to come out of the first Build keynote, a hefty chunk of it was speaking directly to developers, not the average Joe (teehee). So, here’s what happened during Microsoft’s Build 2016 Day One keynote that matters to you.

build 2016

The Anniversary Update

Also known as “Redstone” (though, Microsoft hasn’t confirmed that), this major update is slated to launch later this summer – hence the name – for not only Windows 10, but for Xbox One as well. The update brings a slew of new changes specific to certain devices.

For one, Windows Ink will provide existing apps enhanced controls and optimization when using a stylus, ideally Microsoft’s Surface Pen. On stage, enhanced Sticky Notes will recognize handwriting and offer contextual solutions, like creating a calendar event if a word like “tomorrow” is written.

Cortana will see major upgrades as well, such as contextual, automated functions based on what you’re currently doing within an app. Not to mention that the Anniversary Update will introduce her to Xbox One.

  • Read more about the Anniversary Update here

build 2016

Xbox One goes Dev Mode

Microsoft’s Phil Spencer took the stage to talk up Xbox One Dev Mode, promised way back at the 2013 launch of the console and landing as part of the Anniversary Update.

This new mode allows any old, retail Xbox One unit to transform into a developer kit with the press of a button. While most of us lay folk won’t even bother with this feature, that’s not the point.

What this does is allows any developer out there to begin creating apps and even games for Xbox One without having to bug Microsoft for a developer kit, as they had to in the past. One of the biggest hurdles to console game making has just been knocked down.

  • Read more about Xbox One Dev Mode here

build 2016

HoloLens ships to devs, starts to revamp medicine

We already knew that HoloLens would ship to developers starting March 30, but today’s on-stage confirmation and heartfelt exchange between co-creators Alex Kipman and Kudo Tsunoda sealed the deal.

The developer kit box was shown off on stage as well, but more important was the demonstration put on by a group of Case Western University doctors. It showed off how 3D rendering and remote participation can enhance the learning experience for would-be doctors and nurses.

  • Read more about HoloLens at Build 2016 here

build 2016

Bots, bots, bots

Despite the Tay debacle, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella carried on with evangelizing the firm’s mission to bring Bots – or intelligent agents that live within other apps and services – to the forefront of computing.

So much so, in fact, that Microsoft issued a Bot Framework for developers to easily create, manage and deploy said bots to various Windows apps. Furthermore, the company took it one step further with its Cognitive Services suite of tools that can further enhance bots with machine learning capabilities that Microsoft has developed over the years.

  • Read more about Microsoft’s bot-buoyed vision here

build 2016

Skype already feels the bot craze

Speaking of which, Microsoft issued a series of bots (and support for third-party bots) to Skype that you can play around with right now. They include live audio/video to text translation, support for bots to communicate with you directly that Cortana can immediately handle and more.

Microsoft also teased that Skype is coming to HoloLens, with gesture drawing support and Cortana’s machine intelligence built in.

 
[Source:- Techrader]

What Does Social Chatter Tell Us About the Final Four?

March is a brilliant month, if for no other reason than playing host to the NCAA basketball tournament, otherwise known as March Madness. The past two days saw a critical round of the tournament in the Elite 8.

By now, we all know who won each game on the hardwood, but did those results permeate each team’s online conversation? We’ve pitted each team against their rightful, real-life opponent to see if social mirrors reality.

Elite 8 – Saturday Night

Kansas – over 14,000 mentions

Villanova – over 15,000

Winner: Villanova

Oregon – over 10,000 mentions

Oklahoma – over 9,000 mentions

 

Winner: Oregon

Elite 8 – Sunday Night

North Carolina – over 13,000 mentions

Notre Dame – over 7,000 mentions

 

Winner: North Carolina

Virginia – over 10,000 mentions

Syracuse – over 24,000 mentions

 

Winner: Syracuse

If we were to look at the overall winner from the Elite 8, it would be Syracuse with 18% of all team mentions. It is followed then by North Carolina with 15% and Villanova with 14%.

We’ll have to get through this week to see what the Final Four and championship have in store for us.

 

[Source:- Socialmediatoday]