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Monthly Archives: December 2018

MIT researchers are now 3D printing glass

December 31, 2018 No Comments

While the thought of a machine that can squirt out endless ropes of molten glass is a bit frightening, the folks at MIT have just about perfected the process. In a paper published in 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing, researchers Chikara Inamura, Michael Stern, Daniel Lizardo, Peter Houk, and Neri Oxman describe a system for 3D printing glass that offers far more control over the hot material and the final product.

Their system, called G3DP2, “is a new AM platform for molten glass that combines digitally integrated three-zone thermal control system with four-axis motion control system, introducing industrial-scale production capabilities with enhanced production rate and reliability while ensuring product accuracy and repeatability, all previously unattainable for glass.”

The system uses a closed, heated box that holds the melted glass and another thermally controlled box where it prints the object. A moveable plate drops the object lower and lower as it is being printed and the print head moves above it. The system is interesting because it actually produces clear glass structures that can be used for decoration or building. The researchers take special care to control the glass extrusion system to ensure that it cools down and crystallizes without injecting impurities or structural problems.

“In the future, combining the advantages of this AM technology with the multitude of unique material properties of glass such as transparency, strength, and chemical stability, we may start to see new archetypes of multifunctional building blocks,” wrote the creators.

Gadgets – TechCrunch


Indonesia unblocks Tumblr following its ban on adult content

December 29, 2018 No Comments

Indonesia, the world’s fourth largest country by population, has unblocked Tumblr nine months after it blocked the social networking site over pornographic content.

Tumblr — which, disclaimer, is owned by Oath Verizon Media Group just like TechCrunch — announced earlier this month that it would remove all “adult content” from its platform. That decision, which angered many in the adult entertainment industry who valued the platform as an increasingly rare outlet that supported erotica, was a response to Apple removing Tumblr’s app from the iOS Store after child pornography was found within the service.

The impact of this new policy has made its way to Indonesia, where KrAsia reports that the service was unblocked earlier this week. The service had been blocked in March after falling foul of the country’s anti-pornography laws.

“Tumblr sent an official statement regarding the commitment to clean the platform from pornographic content,” Ferdinandus Setu, acting head of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics Bureau, is reported to have said in a press statement.

Messaging apps WhatsApp and Line are among the other services that have been forced to comply with the government’s ban on “unsuitable” content in order to keep their services open in the country. Telegram, meanwhile, removed suspected terrorist content last year after its service was partially blocked.

While perhaps not widely acknowledged in the West, Indonesia is a huge market, with a population of more than 260 million people. The world’s largest Muslim country, it is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and its growth is tipped to help triple the region’s digital economy to $ 240 billion by 2025.

In other words, Indonesia is a huge market for internet companies.

The country’s anti-porn laws have been used to block as many as 800,000 websites as of 2017so potentially over a million by now — but they have also been used to take aim at gay dating apps, some of which have been removed from the Google Play Store. As Vice notes, “while homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, it’s no secret that the country has become a hostile place for the LGBTQ community.”


Social – TechCrunch


911 emergency services go down across the US after CenturyLink outage

December 29, 2018 No Comments

911 emergency services in several states across the U.S. went down after a massive outage at a CenturyLink data center.

The outage began after 12pm ET on Thursday, according to CenturyLink’s status page, and caused disruption across 911 call centers through Friday. Some states saw their services restored throughout the day. CenturyLink did not sy what caused the outage beyond an issue with a “network element,” but said around 11am ET on Friday that the company said that it was “seeing good progress, but our service restoration work is not complete.”

After 8pm on Friday, more than a day later, CenturyLink confirmed that “all consumer services impacted by this event, including voice and 911, have been restored.”

CenturyLink, one of the largest telecommunications providers in the U.S., provides internet and phone backbone services to major cell carriers, including AT&T and Verizon. Data center or fiber issues can have a knock-on effect to other companies, cutting out service and causing cell site blackouts.

In this case, the outage affected only cellular calls to 911, and not landline calls.

Several states sent emergency alerts to residents’ cell phones warning of the outage.

Among the areas affected included Seattle, Washington and Salt Lake City, Utah. Several other states, including Idaho, Oregon, Arizona and Missouri, were also affected, local news has reported.

Many other police departments tweeted out alternative numbers for 911 in the event of an emergency.

Police in Boston, Massachusetts tweeted that their service was restored this morning.

Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates and monitors 911 services, said the commission is investigating the outage.

“When an emergency strikes, it’s critical that Americans are able to use 911 to reach those who can help,” said Pai in a statement. “The CenturyLink service outage is therefore completely unacceptable, and its breadth and duration are particularly troubling.”

“I’ve directed the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to immediately launch an investigation into the cause and impact of this outage. This inquiry will include an examination of the effect that CenturyLink’s outage appears to have had on other providers’ 911 services,” he said.

Updated at 9pm ET on Friday: with an update from CenturyLink, confirming the outage was resolved.

Mobile – TechCrunch


Microsoft launches a new app to make using Office easier

December 29, 2018 No Comments

Microsoft today announced a new Office app that’s now available to Windows Insiders and that will soon roll out to all Windows 10 users. The new Office app will replace the existing My Office app (yeah, those names…). While the existing app was mostly about managing Office 365 subscriptions, the new app provides significantly more features and will essentially become the central hub for Office users to switch between apps, see their pinned documents and access other Office features.

The company notes that this launch is part of its efforts to make using Office easier and help users “get the most out of Office and getting them back into their work quickly.” For many Office users, Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel are basically their central tools for getting work done, so it makes sense to give them a single app that combines in a single place all the information about their work.

Using the app, users can switch between apps, see everything they’ve been working on, as well as recommended documents based on what I assume is data from the Microsoft Graph. There’s also an integrated search feature and admins will be able to customize the app with other line of business applications and their company’s branding.

The app is free and will be available in the oft-forgotten Microsoft Store. It’ll work for all users with Office 365 subscriptions or access to Office 2019, Office 2016 or Office Online.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


SEO tips, tools, and how to’s: Best of 2018

December 29, 2018 No Comments

It’s that time of the year again: reflecting on the year that’s past as we prepare for 2019 lurking around the corner. In this article, we have a roundup of some of our fan favorite pieces from 2018 on SEO.

From how to’s to tips to tools, these were some of our highlights from the past year. SEW spark notes, if you will.

If you missed these pieces throughout the year, they’ll be worth a read. And if you’ve already read them, never hurts to refresh!

On Monday, we’ll have a roundup of our top articles on search industry news and trends.

1. How to force Google to recrawl your website

If you have launched a new website, updated a single page on your existing domain, or altered many pages and/or the structure of your site, you will likely want Google to display your latest content in its SERPs.

While Google’s crawlers are obviously pretty good at their job — indexing countless new pages simply from natural traffic and links from around the web — it never hurts to give Googlebot a little assistance.

In this article, we look at a few ways to alert Google’s crawlers to new URLs on your site.

2. How to set up event tracking in Google Analytics

Because one can never have enough Google Analytics insight, right?

One of the most useful features in GA, event tracking lets you capture all kinds of information about how people behave on your site.

In this article, we go step by step through two different ways you can set up event tracking: first, by adding the code manually, and second, by using Google Tag Manager.

This is a great tutorial for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with the task.

3. A quick and easy guide to meta tags in SEO

Meta tags help search engines and website visitors determine what the content of your page is about. 

They’re placed in the <head> section of a HTML document and need to be coded into your CMS. Depending on the platform you use, this can be quite less intense than it sounds.

Many “out of the box” solutions provide extremely user-friendly, labelled sections such as “meta description” calling your attention to exactly what goes where.

In this article, we take a look at why meta tags are important, along with the six main types of meta tags to focus on for SEO.

4. An SEO’s survival guide to Single Page Applications (SPAs)

For anyone who’s ever had questions about what SEOs should do with Single Page Applications (SPAs), this article is for you. Long, thorough, entertaining, and full of resources.

We start out looking at how the popularity of SPAs, Angular, and React have spiked in the last several years. Many developers eagerly embrace JavaScript for website development — and while that may have been rather inconsiderate of SEO ease (what else is new), it seems JS really is here to stay.

This article is bit of a coming to terms with that reality, accepting SPAs as part of our SEO future, and even dipping our toes in, if you will.

We look at what developers like about JS, how it was never intended for web page content delivery, common SEO problems of SPAs, and a host of other questions you might be asking.

Finally, we end with eleven recommendations for further reading — really, this could become the whole rest of your holiday break — on how Google treats SPAs, core principles of SEO for JS and for SPAs, and more information than you could want.

5. How to check your Domain Authority: 4 tools to use

Domain Authority (DA) serves as a handy heuristic in the SEO industry. It helps tell us how likely a site is to rank for specific keywords, based on the SEO authority it holds.

Many SEOs use Domain Authority to sense-check the quality of their inbound links and to understand how these are affecting their own’s site’s SEO health.

In this article, we round up some of the best ways to check out domain authority. We look at what factors go into DA, and how these tools go about calculating it.

‘Domain Authority’ was devised by Moz and they have naturally taken ownership of this name. Their suite of tools (some of which are discussed in this article) will reveal the authority of particular domains, but dozens of other free tools use Moz’s API to show these scores too.

6. 15 actionable SEO tips to improve your search rankings

This is another quite popular deep dive into SEO tips. We know “improving search rankings” gets a lot of fluff, but this is not that.

Here, we look closely at what makes RankBrain tick, and 15 ways to use that to your fancy.

Sections cover tips around optimizing keywords, optimizing title tags, optimizing descriptions, and reducing bounce rates and dwell times. Fun fact: research by HubSpot and Outbrain found that titles with brackets performed 33 percent better than titles without.

Questions about how to add LSI keywords? How long should long-form content really be? Benefits of long-tail vs medium size keywords? How much difference in clicks will a few characters too long in a headline actually make? All of that and much more (along with lots of screenshots) here.

7. 30 ways to market your online business for free

This article is a roundup of exactly what it sounds like — 30 ways to market your online business for free. It covers everything from emails to social media, from Google Analytics to Search Console, from forums to guest posting, from metadata to Schema.org.

While a few of the ways could be updated — posting to Google+, for instance, might be less helpful anymore — the list still provides some hefty inspiration to anyone needing a little boost of ideas for what to do online.

8. Four tools to discover and optimize for related keywords

This was a quite recent article that has soared. As we know, for SEO these days we need content that includes related concepts, satisfies intent, and provides value. The days of exact keyword matching are far behind us.

In this article, we have four great tools to use when optimizing for related keywords — and of course, how to use them.

For instance, the first tool in the list is TextOptimizer. It takes a term you give it, looks at the Google search results page, extracts snippets, and applies semantic analysis.

With that, it ouputs a list of all the related topics, terms, and concepts that form your topic cluster. From that cluster, it recommends you choose 15-25 of the words for a higher rank.

9. How to optimize your Google My Business listing

Lest we forget: local search.

For those looking to rank higher in searches tied to a user’s location — i.e. users that might be quite near your store and itching to buy something — a Google My Business listing is an essential first step.

This article gives a how to guide for first setting up your listing, claiming and verifying your business, filling out the information, and adding photos. From there, we go over gathering reviews, posting updates, monitoring your profile, and tracking data from Insights.

Of all the many, many things to do in SEO, optimizing a Google My Business listing is very straightforward. It can have a profoundly positive effect on your SEO — a whole wealth of ranking opportunity up for grabs.

The post SEO tips, tools, and how to’s: Best of 2018 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


People lost their damn minds when Instagram accidentally went horizontal

December 28, 2018 No Comments

Earlier today, when Instagram suddenly transformed into a landscape-oriented Tinder-esque nightmare, the app’s dedicated users extremely lost their minds and immediately took to Twitter to be vocal about it.

As we reported, the company admitted that the abrupt shift from Instagram’s well-established vertical scrolling was a mistake. The mea culpa came quickly enough, but Instagram’s accidental update was already solidified as one of the last meme-able moments of 2018.

Why learn about the thing itself and why it happened when you could watch the meta-story play out in frantic, quippy tweets, all vying for relevance as we slide toward 2019’s horrific gaping maw? If you missed it the first time around, here you go.

A handful of memes even managed to incorporate another late-2018 meme, Sandra Bullock in Bird Box — a Netflix original that is not a birds-on-demand service, we are told.

Unupdate might not be a word, but it is absolutely a state of mind.

For better or worse, the Met got involved with what we can only assume is a Very Important Artifact for the cause.

But can we ever really go back? Can we unsee a fate so great, one still looming on some distant social influencer shore? Probably yeah, but that doesn’t mean we won’t all lose it if it happens again.


Social – TechCrunch


Rotating Detonation Engines Could Propel Hypersonic Flight

December 28, 2018 No Comments

It runs on an endless shockwave, but, sadly, it’s still in the prototype stage.
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My product launch wishlist for Instagram, Twitter, Uber and more

December 26, 2018 No Comments

‘Twas the night before Xmas, and all through the house, not a feature was stirring from the designer’s mouse . . . Not Twitter! Not Uber, Not Apple or Pinterest! On Facebook! On Snapchat! On Lyft or on Insta! . . . From the sidelines I ask you to flex your code’s might. Happy Xmas to all if you make these apps right.

Instagram

See More Like This – A button on feed posts that when tapped inserts a burst of similar posts before the timeline continues. Want to see more fashion, sunsets, selfies, food porn, pets, or Boomerangs? Instagram’s machine vision technology and metadata would gather them from people you follow and give you a dose. You shouldn’t have to work through search, hashtags, or the Explore page, nor permanently change your feed by following new accounts. Pinterest briefly had this feature (and should bring it back) but it’d work better on Insta.

Web DMs Instagram’s messaging feature has become the defacto place for sharing memes and trash talk about people’s photos, but it’s stuck on mobile. For all the college kids and entry-level office workers out there, this would make being stuck on laptops all day much more fun. Plus, youth culture truthsayer Taylor Lorenz wants Instagram web DMs too.

Upload Quality Indicator – Try to post a Story video or Boomerang from a crummy internet connection and they turn out a blurry mess. Instagram should warn us if our signal strength is low compared to what we usually have (since some places it’s always mediocre) and either recommend we wait for Wi-Fi, or post a low-res copy that’s replaced by the high-res version when possible.

Oh, and if new VP of product Vishal Shah is listening, I’d also like Bitmoji-style avatars and a better way to discover accounts that shows a selection of their recent posts plus their bio, instead of just one post and no context in Explore which is better for discovering content.

Twitter

DM Search – Ummm, this is pretty straightforward. It’s absurd that you can’t even search DMs by person, let alone keyword. Twitter knows messaging is a big thing on mobile right? And DMs are one of the most powerful ways to get in contact with mid-level public figures and journalists. PS: My DMs are open if you’ve got a news tip — @JoshConstine.

Unfollow Suggestions – Social networks are obsessed with getting us to follow more people, but do a terrible job of helping us clean up our feeds. With Twitter bringing back the option to see a chronological feed, we need unfollow suggestions more than ever. It should analyze who I follow but never click, fave, reply to, retweet, or even slow down to read and ask if I want to nix them. I asked for this 5 years ago and the problem has only gotten worse. Since people feel like their feeds are already overflowing, they’re stingy with following new people. That’s partly why you see accounts get only a handful of new followers when their tweets go viral and are seen by millions. I recently had a tweet with 1.7 million impressions and 18,000 Likes that drove just 11 follows. Yes I know that’s a self-own.

Analytics Benchmarks – If Twitter wants to improve conversation quality, it should teach us what works. Twitter offers analytics about each of your tweets, but not in context of your other posts. Did this drive more or fewer link clicks or follows than my typical tweet? That kind of info could guide users to create more compelling content.

Facebook

(Obviously we could get into Facebook’s myriad problems here. A less sensationalized feed that doesn’t reward exaggerated claims would top my list. Hopefully its plan to downrank “borderline content” that almost violates its policies will help when it rolls out.)

Batched Notifications – Facebook sends way too many notifications. Some are downright useless and should be eliminated. “14 friends responded to events happening tomorrow”? “Someone’s fundraiser is half way to its goal?” Get that shit out of here. But there are other notifications I want to see but that aren’t urgent nor crucial to know about individually. Facebook should let us decide to batch notifications so we’d only get one of a certain type every 12 or 24 hours, or only when a certain number of similar ones are triggered. I’d love a digest of posts to my Groups or Events from the past day rather than every time someone opens their mouth.

I so don’t care

Notifications In The “Time Well Spent” Feature – Facebook tells you how many minutes you spent on it each day over the past week and on average, but my total time on Facebook matters less to me than how often it interrupts my life with push notifications. The “Your Time On Facebook” feature should show how many notifications of each type I’ve received, which ones I actually opened, and let me turn off or batch the ones I want fewer of.

Oh, and for Will Cathcart, Facebook’s VP of apps, can I also get proper syncing so I don’t rewatch the same Stories on Instagram and Facebook, the ability to invite people to Events on mobile based on past invite lists of those I’ve hosted or attended, and the See More Like This feature I recommended for Instagram?

Uber/Lyft/Ridesharing

“Quiet Ride” Button – Sometimes you’re just not in the mood for small talk. Had a rough day, need to get work done, or want to just zone out? Ridesharing apps should offer a request for a quiet ride that if the driver allows with a preset and accepts before you get in, you pay them an extra dollar (or get it free as a loyalty perk), and you get ferried to your destination without unnecessary conversation. I get that it’s a bit dehumanizing for the driver, but I’d bet some would happily take a little extra cash for the courtesy.

“I Need More Time” Button – Sometimes you overestimate the ETA and suddenly your car is arriving before you’re ready to leave. Instead of cancelling and rebooking a few minutes later, frantically rushing so you don’t miss your window and get smacked with a no-show fee, or making the driver wait while they and the company aren’t getting paid, Uber, Lyft, and the rest should offer the “I Need More Time” button that simply rebooks you a car that’s a little further away.

Spotify/Music Streaming Apps

Scan My Collection – I wish I could just take photos of the album covers, spines, or even discs of my CD or record collection and have them instantly added to a playlist or folder. It’s kind of sad that after lifetimes of collecting physical music, most of it now sits on a shelf and we forget to play what we used to love. Music apps want more data on what we like, and it’s just sitting there gathering dust. There’s obviously some fun viral potential here too. Let me share what’s my most embarrassing CD. For me, it’s my dual copies of Limp Bizkit’s “Significant Other” because I played the first one so much it got scratched.

Friends Weekly Spotify ditched its in-app messaging, third-party app platform, and other ways to discover music so its playlists would decide what becomes a hit in order to exert leverage over the record labels to negotiate better deals. But music discovery is inherently social and the desktop little ticker of what friends are playing on doesn’t cut it. Spotify should let me choose to recommend my new favorite song or agree to let it share what I’ve recently played most, and put those into a Discover Weekly-style social playlist of what friends are listening to.

Snapchat

Growth – I’m sorry, I had to.

Bulk Export Memories – But seriously, Snapchat is shrinking. That’s worrisome because some users’ photos and videos are trapped on its Memories cloud hosting feature that’s supposed to help free up space on your phone. But there’s no bulk export option, meaning it could take hours of saving shots one at a time to your camera roll if you needed to get off of Snapchat, if for example it was shutting down, or got acquired, or you’re just bored of it.

Add-On Cameras – Snapchat’s Spectacles are actually pretty neat for recording first-person or underwater shots in a circular format. But otherwise they don’t do much more, and in some ways do much less, than your phone’s camera and are a long way from being a Magic Leap competitor. That’s why if Snapchat really wants to become a “Camera Company”, it should build sleek add-on cameras that augment our phone’s hardware. Snap previously explored selling a 360-camera but never launched one. A little Giroptic iO-style 360 lens that attaches to your phone’s charging port could let you capture a new kind of content that really makes people feel like they’re there with you. An Aukey Aura-style zoom lens attachment that easily fits in your pocket unlike a DSLR could also be a hit

iOS

Switch Wi-Fi/Bluetooth From Control Center – I thought the whole point of Control Center was one touch access, but I can only turn on or off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It’s silly having to dig into the Settings menu to switch to a different Wi-Fi network or Bluetooth device, especially as we interact with more and more of them. Control Center should unfurl a menu of networks or devices you can choose from.

Shoot GIFs – Live Photos are a clumsy proprietary format. Instagram’s Boomerang nailed what we want out of live action GIFs and we should be able to shoot them straight from the iOS camera and export them as actual GIFs that can be used across the web. Give us some extra GIF settings and iPhones could have a new reason for teens to choose them over Androids.

Gradual Alarms – Anyone else have a heart attack whenever they hear their phone’s Alarm Clock ringtone? I know I do because I leave my alarms on so loud that I’ll never miss them, but end up being rudely shocked awake. A setting that gradually increases the volume of the iOS Alarm Clock every 15 seconds or minute so I can be gently arisen unless I refuse to get up.

Maybe some of these apply to Android, but I wouldn’t know because I’m a filthy casual iPhoner. Send me your Android suggestions, as well as what else you want to see added to your favorite apps.

[Image Credit: Hanson Inc]


Social – TechCrunch


See Peru’s Pastoruri Glacier Melting via Drone-Mounted LEDs

December 26, 2018 No Comments

Photographer Reuben Wu devised a creative way to shoot Peru’s Pastoruri glacier at night.
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Some Insights Into Bing’s PPC Audiences

December 26, 2018 No Comments

Insights about Bing’s in-market audiences and the Microsoft Audience Network, from the PPC experts at Hanapin.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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