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DEC
12

Facebook opens AR platform and “world effects” to all developers

Facebook is trying to close the augmented reality gap with Snapchat with the help of an army of third-party developers. Today, eight months after debuting its Augmented Reality Camera Effects platform and AR Studio tool at F8, Facebook is allowing all developers to start building AR experiences for its Facebook Camera. That includes “World Effects” — Facebook’s copy of Snapchat’s World Lenses — that augment your environment with 3D objects rather than just your selfies.

AR Studio becomes available to all developers today, and World Effects will open up there in the next few days for use on Facebook and Messenger. For example, on Messenger you’ll be able to add a 3D heart floating above someone’s head, add an arrow to point to something in a panorama or add a celebrating robot that plays music to jazz up a drab video.

Facebook’s new World Effects

“We want artists, developers, brands and more creators to be able to build and share amazing AR experiences,” writes Facebook director Ficus Kirkpatrick. “By opening AR Studio to all creators, we’re taking steps towards making AR more a part of everyday life.”

Facebook’s opportunity here is to take advantage of Snapchat’s anti-developer attitude. Snapchat has yet to fully embrace third-party AR content beyond some basic image frame submissions and work with a few fine artists like Jeff Koons. Meanwhile, Facebook has been operating a developer platform for more than a decade, and has fostered a huge community of coders looking to get their content in front of Facebook’s massive 2 billion user audience.

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DEC
12

How to Use Instagram's Newest Featuring: Following Hashtags

There’s a new feature on Instagram that makes it a bit easier to find content centered on a variety of topics.

In an update on Tuesday, the Facebook-owned app now allows users to follow hashtags. If folks are interested in dogs, food, or just about anything else that’s been shared on the site, they can follow a hashtag and see public photos shared by users that have that hashtag attached. Content with the followed hashtags will then be shown in the user’s feed.

The feature, which was earlier reported on by The Verge, is an important one for those who use Instagram—not only as a place to see what friends and family are up to, but also have an interest in topics and want to see content relevant to their interests. It’s also a nice way to identify people to follow.

So if you’re interested in finding a way to follow hashtags and find relevant content, now’s as good a time as any to start. And it’s surprisingly easy.

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DEC
12

Google is launching 3 new experimental apps on both Android and the iPhone

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai.Justin Sullivan / Getty Staff
Google is launching a new research project to develop so-called "appsperiments." Appsperiments are new apps that use some of Google's experimental technologies. The company is releasing three new apps today, on both Android and Apple's iOS.


Google is launching three new experimental apps, named Storyboard, Selfissimo!, and Scrubbies, on iOS and Android (we first saw the news via The Verge).

The first will come just to Android, while Scrubbies is an iOS exclusive; Selfissimo!, on the other hand, will be released on both platforms.

The three apps are parts of a first round of products inside the Google's new, so-called "appsperiment" program. More apps will come, but the current lineup focuses on photography.

The apps are all built on experimental technologies — a bit like Motion Still, the iOS app that transforms Apple's Live Photos into universally shareable gifs.

"[The apps] rely on object recognition, person segmentation, stylization algorithms, efficient image encoding and decoding technologies, and perhaps most importantly, fun!" reads Google's blog post.

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DEC
12

10 things you must consider before building a website

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1. What do you want to do?

Too many people do not truly understand what they want when they set up a website – particularly if doing so by themselves. It’s very easy to get it wrong and create an unsearchable blog when you actually want a functioning platform that’s capable of accepting payments or bookings.

One common mistake made right at the start of the process is choosing the wrong WordPress (the most popular website and blogging management system on the web). There exists WordPress.com and WordPress.org (helpfully near identical in name), the former is hosted by Wordpress and acts more like a blog, whereas the latter allows you to host your own website or blog, upload the CMS and add plugins – things that allow you to customise functionality and add features – to your heart’s content.

The initial setup on some other platforms, such as Wix and Squarespace, can be less problematic but if you’re creating something for serious business, it’s advisable to remove guesswork entirely.

2. What do your customers want to do?

So you’ve decided to set up a business – or at least digitalise an existing business. Do you know who your customers are? What they are looking for? How they will search for it?

Market research needs to be done very early on but it’s also something you should never stop doing. People age, preferences and habits change, what works now won’t work in 10 years... all obvious, yes? You’d be surprised by how many businesses forget about this.

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DEC
11

Google's AR Stickers are here, and photos will never be the same again

Who needs real friends when you have an AR squad?

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Need another reason to switch to Google's Pixel 2 phones? How about an augmented reality squad?

Unveiled with all its fall hardware in October, Google has finally launched its anticipated "AR Stickers" feature that lets all Pixel phones (that includes first-gen models) place virtual characters and objects from the likes of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Stranger Things and then snap creative photos and videos with them.

Google's AR Stickers aren't a new idea — Snapchat and a bunch of other apps have had augmented reality features for a while — but by incorporating them into the Pixel and Pixel 2's main camera app, the company has a chance to make its camera more appealing.

AR Stickers require a Pixel phone running on Android 8.0 Oreo (so you'll have to update if you want them), and they're very much like playing with AR Bitmoji in Snapchat, which are a lot of fun.

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DEC
11

HP laptops found to have hidden keylogger

Image copyright HP Image caption Hundreds of HP laptop models were affected

Hidden software that can record every letter typed on a computer keyboard has been discovered pre-installed on hundreds of HP laptop models.

Security researcher Michael Myng found the keylogging code in software drivers preinstalled on HP laptops to make the keyboard work.

HP said more than 460 models of laptop were affected by the "potential security vulnerability".

It has issued a software patch for its customers to remove the keylogger.

The issue affects laptops in the EliteBook, ProBook, Pavilion and Envy ranges, among others. HP has issued a full list of affected devices, dating back to 2012.

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DEC
11

Net neutrality: 'father of internet' joins tech leaders in condemning repeal plan

More than 20 internet pioneers and leaders including the “father of the internet”, Vint Cerf; the inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee; and the Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak have urged the FCC to cancel its vote to repeal net neutrality, describing the plan as “based on a flawed and factually inaccurate” understanding of how the internet works.

“The FCC’s rushed and technically incorrect proposed order to repeal net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the internet we worked so hard to create. It should be stopped,” said the technology luminaries in an open letter to lawmakers with oversight of the Federal Communications Commission on Monday.

Quick guide

Net neutrality

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What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) treat everyone’s data equally – whether that’s an email from your mother, a bank transfer or a streamed episode of Stranger Things. It means that ISPs, which control the delivery pipes, don’t get to choose which data is sent more quickly, and which sites get blocked or throttled (for example, slowing the delivery of a TV show because it is streamed by a video company that competes with a subsidiary of the ISP) and who has to pay extra. For this reason, some have described net neutrality as the “first amendment of the internet”.

Why is net neutrality under threat?

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DEC
08

The Top Web Design Trends of 2017

In the world of web design, it’s never too early to start looking ahead. However, it’s also important to analyze the past.

As 2017 closes, take a look at the fastest rising design trends of the year to gain important insights into what today’s users expect from a modern website, as well as how previous trends may inform web design in 2018 and beyond.

Here’s an examination of 2017’s top web design crazes – and one trend you can expect to see soon.

Greater Design Freedom in Layout

We began 2017 with a lingering emphasis on minimalist website design. Minimalistic sites were – and still are – popular for sites in virtually any industry. Users came to expect a minimalist approach to design, such as neutral colors and predictable navigation tools.

Yet as 2017 continued, there was a noticeable push for a less-rigid design format. A free, controlled-chaos layout with unique locations of elements and a marked dissonance of dependency between them became the modus operandi for many popular sites.

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DEC
08

The Anatomy of a Successful Website Pop-up

Websites used to be filled with lots of noise – pages full of flashy, ugly color schemes, too much text jammed into small spaces, and pop-ups that jumped out of the browser and annoyed the heck out of visitors.

But designers didn’t know any better back then or, rather, they were simply working with the only design trends and best practices they were aware of.

Times have changed much since then.

Web developers and designers aren’t limited by technology or technique anymore, which means there are no more excuses for bad design. This pertains to each element found on a WordPress website, from the home page header image to contact forms, as well as typography to pop-ups. Everything matters now when designing for the user experience.

Today, I want to focus on what makes for good pop-up design–something I consider to be a critical piece in the conversion process. Specifically, I’d like to examine the anatomy of a successful WordPress pop-up and how this exciting design element can drive your conversion rate through the roof.

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DEC
08

Net Neutrality supporters protest outside Verizon in NYC

CNET también está disponible en español.

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DEC
08

WordPress Malware Infects Victims Through Pirated Premium Themes

teslathemes

WordPress users have reason to be wary as a malware campaign has now been seen to infect new victims.

The campaign in question was unleashed by unknown person(s) earlier this year (The first known infection happened in July.) However, it’s only now that the malware is using pirated (nulled) premium themes as a means to infect victims. The malware is called wp-vcd.

In this new phase of the attack, the malware comes preinstalled within pirated premium themes that are available for download from websites other than WordPress. Such websites are notorious for providing as downloads pirated themes, scripts and plugins for CMS platforms like WordPress. (CMS or Content Management System refers to a computer application with which you could create and edit digital content. It could support more than one user in case of organizations or group efforts- or it could be used by individual users)

In the case of wp-vcd, the malware adds to the site’s backend a secret user as an administrator. This admin’s username would be “100010010.”  This is the backdoor account that attackers use to infect websites. Once the websites are infected in this manner, at later dates, the attackers could initiate scripted attacks.

According to Denis Sinegubku, a security researcher at Sucuri, a web security firm, since late November, the wp-vcd malware has been used by attackers so that they could insert spam on the infected websites. Among these spam messages were also ones that led the users to those websites that offered the pirated themes for download in the first place. In this manner, the creators of the wp-vcd malware were able to expand the number of sites infected with their malware.

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DEC
08

7 Steps To Sell Your Boss On Social Media Marketing

Posted on Nov 30, 2017 | Views : 545

With words like “tweet,” “blog” and “unfriend” entering our standard lexicon, there's no question that social networking has a significant place in our culture. It's no surprise that many companies have been using social media to connect and communicate with their customers online, in fact this has been going on for years now.

But the benefits of social networking aren't always immediately apparent to some. And that is especially true for businesses who are interested in having a lot of control over their brand name and brand image. Convincing some that every business has something to gain from social media marketing can be difficult. It can be hard to see how social media marketing can result in a positive return on investment (ROI).

When it comes to convincing your boss or colleagues to invest in social media, it helps to have a plan. Here the seven steps you can take when it comes to selling social media marketing to your boss or company.

1. Explain

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DEC
08

The best tech of 2017

Of all the tech products that came out this year, no single product was more talked about than the iPhone X.

Rumors about Apple’s new phone started well before 2017 even began. The pressure was on for Apple to deliver a redesigned iPhone that would revolutionize the smartphone once again.

What would an iPhone with a screen that stretched corner-to-corner look like? How would it work without a home button? Would Face ID really be a better replacement for Touch ID? Is $1,000 too expensive for a smartphone?

Everyone seemed to have questions and concerns. But Apple put all those fears to bed when it unveiled the iPhone X in all of its glass and stainless steel glory at the tranquil Steve Jobs Theater located at its new Apple Park campus.

As often is the case, Apple under-promised and over-delivered. All of the reports about the iPhone X’s ugly notch, huge dual camera lens bump, and death of the home button were largely misguided. 

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DEC
08

Visual Personal Branding: How to Build a Loyal Following With Images

Want to create a strong connection with your followers?

Wondering how to capture photos that authentically tell your brand’s story?

To explore how to develop your visual personal brand on Instagram and beyond, I interview Jenna Kutcher.

More About This Show

The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and creators discover what works with social media marketing.

In this episode, I interview Jenna Kutcher, host of the Goal Digger Podcast. She’s formally a professional wedding photographer. Thousands of people have taken her online course, The Instagram Lab.

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DEC
07

Top 5: Reasons to pay attention to your company's audience on social media

If your company has social media accounts, you have an audience. Even if you don't, your customers use social media, and they may be talking about your business anyway. Here are five reasons you need to pay attention to what they're saying:

1. It helps hone your message.

When you know the mood of your customers you have a better chance of making yourself understood. Read the room people. The Internet is your room now.

SEE: Job description: Social media analyst (Tech Pro Research)

2. You can make decisions before you're forced into it.

If you see what's driving your customers, you can anticipate what they might need or want next and be ready.

3. You can change a bad experience into a good one.

If you understand why your audience feels the way they do about your product you can fix it and tell them in a way they'll here. Hopefully before the dissatisfaction spreads.

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DEC
07

The Real Way to Build a Massive and Engaged Social Following

Do you get the feeling that the world of social media is experiencing a big shift? For example, Instagram content has become so repetitive that a styled photo isn't enough to stand-out anymore.

It feels like power is flowing back to those influencers who created, or are creating, a real following of engaged users. This shift will mean that the engagement of one's account is more important than the size of its following.

Now that the Instagram robots are virtually marginalized and the "growth hack" tips and tricks are obsolete, how do you build a massive following of users who are actually engaged? I don't have the answer, so I interviewed someone I know who does: Matt Gottesman of Hustle & Deal Flow.

I first met Gottesman when he interviewed me on his podcast - and I've followed him ever since. I admire how authentically and quickly he's built an engaged community of more than 135,000 followers on Instagram

If you're just launching a new brand, or want to take your brand to a new level, you should consider these 5 big secrets for building a strong social media following.

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DEC
06

7 Digital Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Digital marketing is a field that evolves at a rapid rate, but it is essential that you keep on top of things as a business owner. The online world seems to be one that will only continue growing in popularity, so your company needs to be ready to be at the forefront of any changes and developments that occur. While you are likely to have already read a lot of information about digital marketing strategies that you should take, you may not have read all that much about things you should avoid doing. This is what we will be focusing on within this article.

By reading about some of the most common mistakes that companies make, you will put yourself in the strongest position to avoid repeating them. Trial and error is an approach that occurs naturally in a lot of businesses, but if you can cut back on the errors as much as possible, you should find that the path ahead of you is much smoother. So, let’s get going with the top five digital marketing mistakes that your business should avoid.

1. Failing to establish clear goals

Like any strategy that you put in place, you need to have a clear idea of exactly what you are trying to achieve. Otherwise, you won’t have any measure of what you are working towards and you are likely to directionless in your approach. Rather than vague aspirations, your goals should be clearly measurable as much as possible so that each of your objectives is clearly supported. When you have these goals, you can also evaluate how challenging they have been to hit and whether or not you need to shift your approach. After all, a digital marketing strategy is made up of a number of different components so you need to decide which aspects take precedence over others.

2. Not looking closely at your analytics

A digital marketing campaign is not something that you can simply set in motion and leave to run its course. You need to be monitoring things on a regular basis, ensuring that its performance is meeting the required level. There are plenty of analytical tools out there which allow you to monitor exactly where traffic is coming from to your site.

That doesn’t mean that you need to be worrying if there is a drop one day, but you should be looking at the wider trends that will make a difference to your overall strategy. As an example, the channel that is providing the highest volume of traffic may be returning the lowest quality of leads. Therefore, you need to be focusing your attention on converting the traffic you are obtaining into buyers rather than browsers.

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DEC
06

18 web design tools to speed up your workflow in 2018

The right web design tools can streamline your workflow, helping you work smarter – rather than harder – and more efficiently. After all, you want to invest your energy in solving problems, delighting users and creating beautiful designs. You don’t want to waste it on dull, repetitive and soul-sapping tasks. 

Thankfully, new web design tools are being released all the time to help you simplify processes, and reduce time and effort – most notably in UI design. 

Here, we look at 18 brilliant web design tools for 2018 that will help you become more productive in the coming year. Some are brand spanking new; others have been around for a while. But all have the potential to save you time, energy and budget in your web design projects.

01. Sketch

Sketch is rapidly replacing Photoshop as the UI design tool of choice

We’ll start with the most obvious. Yes, we know everyone’s heard of Sketch – Bohemian Coding’s vector UI design tool – but anecdotally it seems there are still a lot of web designers relying on Photoshop for UI design (and that's despite the release of Adobe XD, Adobe's shiny new prototyping and wireframing tool – one of the newest additions to Creative Cloud – which comes in second on this list). 

Rory Berry, creative director at Superrb, rightly feels that using Photoshop for web deign is a mistake. He made the switch to Sketch in 2017, and highly recommends it. “Having been a user of Photoshop for over 10 years, it was hard to change and learn something new,” he says. “But literally after the first day of using Sketch, there was no looking back. I’m a total convert.”

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DEC
05

Microsoft and Qualcomm unveil Always Connected PCs with built-in LTE and battery life measured in days

At the Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit in Maui today, Microsoft and Qualcomm announced Always Connected PCs, Windows 10 computers that can turn on instantly, offer built-in LTE connectivity, and feature battery life measured not in hours but in days. Partners Asus and HP announced the first Windows 10 devices powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets: the Asus NovaGo and the HP ENVY x2. Lenovo is also working on its own Always Connected PC, but the company isn’t yet ready to share details.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Microsoft has tried running Windows on ARM before with its Surface RT tablet running Windows RT. That project was largely a failure, but the company is trying again.

A year ago, Microsoft said it was working with hardware partners to build Windows 10 computers powered by Qualcomm chipsets. At Build 2017 in May, a session showed off Windows 10 running on ARM with support for existing Win32 apps (unlike Windows RT, which only worked with apps specifically compiled for the OS), but otherwise there were very few updates. Now, Microsoft is finally ready to talk, and let its partners show off devices. But they’re still not quite ready — general availability is slated for spring 2018.

Still, Microsoft and Qualcomm want to talk about the three features that Always Connected PCs boast over other computers:

The screen turns on “instantly” whenever you pick up the device. Unlike other Windows 10 PCs, you never have to wait for it to wake up.Built-in LTE means you are online everywhere you have cellular service. Anywhere your phone has data, your PC is also connected.Battery life that lasts days means you can charge your PC as little as once a week, and not have to carry around power cords.

Microsoft has worked closely with Asus, HP, and Lenovo to “push the boundary of a Windows PC,” Matt Barlow, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Windows and devices, told VentureBeat. Barlow noted that these are truly Windows 10 computers that have everything you would expect: Start Menu, Windows Hello, File Explorer, Paint 3D, Office, Minecraft, and so on.

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DEC
05

Make your old home security system smart with this simple kit

Startup Konnected found a use for your janky old wired home security system -- to convert it into a SmartThings- or Home-Assistant-powered security system via its $69 Alarm Panel (roughly £50 and AU$90 converted). 

Expected to ship to backers globally in February 2018, the Alarm Panel has raised over $115,000 on Kickstarter. Konnected's original funding goal was just $25,000; two weeks are left on the campaign. 

Here's how it's supposed to work. Remove your system's existing circuit board and replace it with Konnected's version. Each port is supposed to correspond to a particular door/window sensor, smoke alarm, motion detector or other piece of home security hardware. 

While this doesn't sound like the simplest installation, it (in theory) is about the same as setting up a thermostat. Swap out the circuit board behind your old security system's main control unit, install the Konnected Alarm Panel in its place and return the same wires to their corresponding ports.

Note: Always consult a qualified professional if you have questions about the installation. 

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