GOOGLE, SPEAK TO ME!: Google Assistant now has a voice in smart speakers

Washington – VIJAY SHAH via HEATHER KELLY and CNN

Google Assistant, the voice-activated virtual personal assistant technology widely used on home devices and mobile phones, is destined to make an appearance on new ‘smart speakers’ fitted with screens, reported CNNtech magazine, an imprint of U.S. news network CNN, recently.

The devices, known at Google HQ as ‘smart displays’, are a step up from the current wave of internet connected home speakers such as Alexa/Amazon Echo devices. Instead of just a round box with a speaker and lights, the new technology incorporates a screen for greater user-friendliness and accessibility.

Image credit: www.nextdayblinds.com/

 

Google announced the technology officially at the renowned CES technology show which was held in Las Vegas, USA from the 9th to the 12th of January this year, and the first smart displays packaged together with the Google Assistant are planned to made available in stores and online later in 2018. Not only will the displays be an improvement on current assistant devices, but also remove the need for people to rely on using mobile phones in having to stand them up in, say, the kitchen.

Google has partnered with hardware manufacturers such as Lenovo of China, and has shown some prototypes. According to CNNtech, the smart displays are sleek rectangular devices, much like a tablet, which can be stood up on counters and tables like a picture frame.

The smart displays are expected to have compatibility with other Google products, such as Photos, Duo and searches using the eponymous search engine. There is also the possibility of being able to watch YouTube videos. The company also announced it has grand plans for its Assistant, hinting that it is planning to bring the voice to more smart televisions, headphones and Android Auto, an app that links Android devices with systems in vehicles.

SOURCES:

HEM Newsbreakers, HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-newsbreakers

Bangladesh News 24, HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/bdnews24

“Google’s assistant now works on smart speakers with screens” – Heather Kelly, CNNtech/Cable News Network/Time Warner (8 January 2018) http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/08/technology/google-assistant-smart-speakers-screens/index.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Google Assistant with notepad and glasses” – NDB Photos, Flickr (16 March 2017) https://www.flickr.com/photos/142305740@N05/33433114166

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OUR HIGH-TECH FUTURE: 5 technologies that will shape our tomorrow

Have you ever wondered what kind of technologies will become established in our world in the next 20, 30 or 50 years? Super-thin mobile phones with holographic screens, robot servants, perhaps those flying cars from the Back to the Future films we are still waiting on?. Well I do not keep a crystal ball in my bedroom, but in August 2017, Spanish-language online magazine TecNovedosos played soothsayer and predicted what technologies we might be using and experiencing in our daily lives in the future, perhaps as early as the next decade.

Technology has made leaps and bounds in the past few years. Just remember that only ten years ago, smartphones were just getting on the market, and you can realise the rapid strides we have made in innovation. Here are the five technological developments that could be coming to a house, high street or hospital (maybe) near you.

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and clones

In 1996, the world witnessed the birth of the world’s first cloned animal, Dolly the sheep. Today we have robo-lawyers that can help fill out asylum applications, virtual holographic assistant on the London ‘Tube’ and every other website seems to have a chatbot. Virtual assistants like Siri and Google Assistant are now a standard feature on many phones. In the future, these ‘e-ssistants’ could become more human-like, perhaps crossing into physical technology as cyborgs, which could talk like us and be almost indistinguishable from flesh-and-blood humans.

Super processors

British scientists are said to be working on a ‘quantum computer’ the size of a sports stadium. This super-comp will have processing power far greater than any current system we have in place currently. It is hoped that this massive hunk of circuitry may unlock cures for diseases that now cannot be treated, solve complex scientific problems and even the enigmas of life.

Smart objects

The ‘internet of things’ is a interconnected setup where electronics like your refrigerator, microwave and heating systems, for example, are linked up via the internet to enable you to run your house and life better. For example, your fridge could tip you off if your milk is about to go off, or if you need to stock up on carrots. An IoT fridge could even place the shopping order for you based on what it detects inside it. In the future, advances in nanotechnology could see microscopic computing systems incorporated into everyday objects such as clothing and hygiene devices, that could even be controlled by your voice. Imagine telling your mop to jump out and start cleaning your kitchen.

Surgical nano-robots

We already have robots that can perform surgery and tiny endoscope cameras that can be swallowed as a pill. Future developments in nano-technology could point the way for microscopic robots that can be delivered into the bloodstream via a simple injection and identify or even obliterate harmful viruses or cells, such as that found with cancer.

A longer life

Some scientists think that within the next century, humans will not find it strange if they make it past their 150th birthday. Researchers in the US working with genetics have found ways to switch off the genes associated with ageing in human bodies. By deactivating them, they could extend the lifespans of certain cells. By 2030, it is hoped that doctors will be able to make their patients live longer just by doing a bit of genetic tinkering, without harming the patient’s health.

What other technological developments do you think will revolutionise our future in the next ten years? Please leave your ideas in the comments section below this post.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Alexander Ochoa, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/AlexanderOchoaQ

“Las 5 tecnologías que cambiarán el mundo en los próximos años” – ANews via TecNovedosos (14 August 2017) https://www.tecnovedosos.com/tecnologias-cambiaran-mundo/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Future Connected City: 2086” – JCT 600, Flickr (12 August 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/143789194@N03/28650310590

 

FACEBOOK COMMENTS: Three new comment tricks (tested out by HEM News Agency)

If you are a regular Facebook user, then you are probably really big on leaving comments on pictures, posts and videos you like (or make you want to kick in your computer screen). You have seen all sorts of comments, ranging from the downright weird and the abusive, to declarations of love (finished off with a tonne of hearts and heart-eyes emojis, no doubt), mini essays on intellectual topics and politics, and gushing comments. You probably know your way around Zuckerberg’s pet project very well. Right? Well maybe not! Let me explain.

As you may know, Facebook has recently introduced many major and minor changes to the website experience and interface design, for example adding extra emojis to show reactions to posts (instead of the bog-standard thumbs up like) and introducing Twitter-style round display pictures for personal profiles and public pages alike.  But did you know there are three more ‘Easter eggs’ to be discovered, when you write a comment using certain special words? Well, you are about to find out here (thanks to BetterMe). The author will also be testing them out himself live and giving his own impression, because you know sometimes it has to be seen to be believed.

 

  1. Congratulations!!

This one is really epic and perfect for the party people. So your sister has announced her engagement, your best mate is having a baby, or your housemate has just winged a new promotion at work. What do you say? Well surely a congratulations is in order!. If you type in the word ‘congratulations’ or ‘congrats’ into the comment box, your screen will suddenly be filled with a cascade of cartoon balloons and confetti. It is brief, lasting a few seconds, but it is really cute and contemporary and just adds to the happy atmosphere. While the standard congrats earns a flurry of orange and blue party stuff, if you congratulate the birth of a baby, you get instead pink or blue balloons depending on whether the new bundle of joy is a girl or boy. Mood mode made!

2. Heart-to-heart

Feeling in lurve? Fingers twitching to spread some virtual affection to your bestie, bae, or even bro (nothing wrong in a little bromance!). Give that extra oomph to your affections by typing ‘XOXO’ into the comment box. Your screen will fill with hearts (sadly, I tested this at the time of writing and it appears not to be working) so you can drop some love on your loved ones’ newsfeeds.

3. Give them the thumbs-up

Apparently, if you type in the word ‘Rad’, your screen will become a waterfall of thumbs ups. The unmistakable Facebook fist of appreciation is a highly recognisable symbol that has become a defining moment of social media. Unfortunately at the time of writing, this feature appears to be not working also, so I am a little disappointed. 

 

So while sadly, only one of three of these comment gems appears to be working in the UK at least, do not fret. You can also spice up your comments by inserting an image by clicking on the small camera icon to the right inside the comment box, or to make things really interesting, throw in a GIF by clicking on the GIF icon to the immediate right of the camera one. The GIF feature is one of Facebook’s latest and has proved a huge hit. It makes use of extensive GIF libraries run by GIPHY and tenor, two influential animated image repositories.

You will become king/queen of comments in no time…

SOURCES:

Marie Hiles via Facebook.

“3 Facebook comment secrets that you didn’t know” – Giuzel Sadiieva, BetterMe/BetterMe.tips https://betterme.tips/8381-3-facebook-comment-secrets-didnt-know.html#8381

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Facebook Favourites Menu” – Mixy Lorenzo, Flickr (30 October 2011) https://www.flickr.com/photos/ladymixy-uk/6328712598

EHI LIVE 2017: Two days left until leading healthcare event

Birmingham – VIJAY SHAH

People in the world of healthcare technology are eagerly awaiting the arrival of ehi LIVE 2017 in just two day’s time, as the UK’s leading get-together for experts and users of digital healthcare gets ready at Hall 1 of the NEC Arena in Birmingham on the 31st October and 1st November 2017.

 

ehi LIVE, an event which aims to bridge the gap between medical technology, clinicians and their patients, is a yearly occurrence and is organised by international exhibitions agency Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions. ehi LIVE will look at key developments in the digital healthcare field, such as hospital record keeping, cybersecurity, healthcare innovations and new methods of bringing technology into patient-doctor interactions. The event also plays host to a special ‘Knowledge Hub’ which features experts in the fields of digital health and cyber security, offering their thoughts on the latest developments and concepts such as the cloud, wearables, informatics, ‘big data’ and social media, and how these can benefit patients, doctors, nurses and healthcare providers such as the NHS.

ehi LIVE will host nine individual conferences within the event, alongside an exhibition with a lineup of 150 companies and providers in healthcare. An expected total of more than 4,000 attendees are expected to visit the event over the two days. There will also be a late night drinks bash and an awards ceremony.

Key speakers taking the stand at ehi LIVE 2017 include Will Smart, the chief information officer of NHS England; Claire Murdoch, the National Mental Health Director, also from the English NHS, alongside their colleague Dr. Robert Varnam, head of general practice development. Also speaking will be Prof. Daniel Ray (data director and informatics professor at NHS Digital in Leeds) and Paul Park, a CCIO at Oxfordshire CCG. Exhibitors include Elsevier, Fujifilm, Hospedia, HP, IBM Watson Health and LG Electronics, among many others in household names and new entrants in the digital healthcare field.

DISCLAIMER: The author of this article is employed by Informa.

SOURCES:

“Informa Accounts” – HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/informa-accounts

ehi Live 2017, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/EHILive

“ehi LIVE, UK’s largest ehealth exhibition 31Oct- 1Nov 2017, Birmingham” – ehi Live/Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions/Informa https://www.ehilive.co.uk/en/home.html

“EXHIBITOR LIST” – ehi Live/Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions/Informa https://www.ehilive.co.uk/en/exhibit/exhibitor-directory.html

IMAGE CREDIT:

ehi Live 2017, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/EHILive

 

AN ATM STICKUP: Two methods used to fleece cash machines

Philipsburg – VIJAY SHAH via TecNovedosos

Earlier this year, specialists working at Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab announced at a conference held in the Dutch Caribbean territory of Sint-Maarten that bank robbers have found two new, and quite ingenious ways to target ATMs and relieve them of their cash deposits. The IT experts made a presentation in front of delegates at the Computer Security Summit Summit, held on the 4th of April, 2017, where they warned that thieves were upping their game in their attacks on automated bank tellers and gone were the days when all it took was a rope, a heavy-duty vehicle and a small amount of explosives to break into an ATM.

 

According to a report published in Spanish language online magazine tecnovedosos.com, sophisticated robbers now have two tactics at their disposal, cases of which have already been reported by banks in Russia and Europe. In many of these cases, the robberies only took a matter of seconds.

The first tactic reported by security specialists involves a small hole being drilled into the ATM keypad without triggering the machine’s automatic security sensors. A hacker then uses special equipment to directly access the onboard computer. The hacker then decodes the machine’s electronic signals, essentially forcing the machine to electronically hand over all its cash. The ATM is emptied of its cash reserves by the robbers. This tactic exploits a vulnerability in a certain model of ATM, manufactured by a single company, though which company it was was not mentioned by the Kaspersky Lab researchers.

The second tactic involves a more elaborate and far-reaching approach targeting the bank itself. Malicious cybercriminals target the bank’s IT systems with a powerful virus that targets the part of the network that manages the ATMs. Once the virus is entrenched, it is remotely activated by the criminals using the bank’s own systems. A command is sent out by the virus to the ATMs to release their cash reserves. The robber needs then only to pay a visit to the compromised ATM and withdraw all the money, a procedure that takes only a few minutes and will not arouse the suspicions of bank security staff, and also cuts out the risk associated with traditional bank robberies involving ‘stick-ups’, in the eyes of criminals.

The ATMs are compromised by robbers quite easily and once the heist is complete, the hackers wipe out the virus to cover their tracks. The virus, known as ATMitch, has been reported by banks hacked into in Russia and neighbouring Kazakhstan.

In the UK, no such cases have yet been reported involving these tactics. Most ATMs are zeroued in on by less technologically savvy robbers who resort to blowing up cash machines or ripping them out of walls. In the past few years, some fraudsters have adopted a more scientific approach, involving attaching special skimming devices to the card reader slots of ATMs, which masquerade as part of the machine and catch people’s card details and PINs, which the robbers gather from the device and then empty the victims’ accounts. Others have been caught attaching pinhole cameras which watch people enter their PINs. ATM users are advised to always shield their PINs when using cash machines, and to be wary of people standing over them or observing them using the keypad.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Tecnología GM 🔹‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/TecnologiaGM

“Descubren dos ingeniosas tácticas para sacarle el dinero a los cajeros automáticos” – tecnovedosos.com/TecNovedosos (5 April 2017) https://www.tecnovedosos.com/metodos-para-robar-cajeros-automaticos/

IMAGE CREDITS:

“Free photo: Scam, Atm, Security, Bank, Money – Free Image on Pixabay – 2048851” – mrganso, Pixabay (4 February 2017) https://pixabay.com/en/scam-atm-security-bank-money-2048851/

“🇸🇽 Sint Maarten on Twitter Twemoji 2.0” – Emojipedia/Emojipedia Pty Ltd https://emojipedia.org/twitter/twemoji-2.0/flag-for-sint-maarten/

OUTLASTING THE ENERGIZER BUNNY: US researcher creates stronger batteries with cheap materials

Houston – VIJAY SHAH via noticiasdelaciencia.com and AgroAlimentando

Batteries are one of the most important elements of our technologically driven society. We rely on them to energise everything from children’s toys and torches, to cars and lorries, yet often they can be the bane of our lives too. Batteries can have their drawbacks, such as catching on fire, running out too quickly, leaking, and performing poorly in wintry weather.

Recently, researchers led by Dr. Yan Yao at the US’ University of Houston have discovered that manufacturing batteries from a new and inexpensive class of materials may help solve the problem of troublesome lithium ion batteries and the like.

 

Yao and team used quinones, a type of chemical organic compound derived from petrochemicals which are easy to obtain and cheap. These recyclable materials were converted into a stable anode compound, which can be used in the manufacture of water-rechargeable batteries. Water-chargeable batteries contain water-based electrolytes that carry current easily, but unlike conventional batteries, do not corrode. Until recently, these kinds of batteries were only really good in the laboratory environment, as their short shelf life made them impractical for situations where replacing the battery regularly is inconvenient, such as in heavy machinery. Despite their short lifespans, water-rechargeable batteries, also known as aqueous-rechargeable batteries are much safer and are more robust.

The main problem with previous models of water-rechargeable batteries has been their anodes, one of three parts in a battery, that is negative when the battery is discharging, and then switches to a positive charge when the battery is being charged up. The anodes in these previous models were intrinsically structurally and chemically unstable, which means that the battery was only efficient for a relatively short period of time.

Yan Yao and the researchers used quinones, which cost as little as $2 (£1.54) per kilogram. They discovered that anodes made from quinones were effective in both acid and alkali batteries as well as newer water-based models using metallic ions. This diversity of usage means that Yao’s technology could be applied to any battery setting for any technology, including for devices not yet invented.

The quinones also help batteries work at a wide range of temperatures, which gives Yao’s batteries an advantage even over other existing aqueous rechargeable battery technology, which still underperforms in cold conditions.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Alejandro Shammah‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/aleshammah

“Baterías con vida más larga gracias a una clase de materiales baratos” – noticiasdelaciencia.com via Agroalimentando – AgroA http://agroalimentando.com/nota.php?id_nota=7753&utm_content=buffer2de86&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Duracell battery AA type” – Anton Fomkin, Flickr (19 November 2008) https://www.flickr.com/photos/antonfomkin/3046002213

 

WANNACRY ATTACK: NHS, major organisations left reeling by co-ordinated hack

 

Winnipeg – VIJAY SHAH via Winnipeg Free Press and ReportCA.net

Several of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service trusts, as well as numerous large companies across the globe are still recovering from a large-scale ‘unprecedented’ ransomware cyber attack which occurred this weekend, ReportCA.net wrote yesterday.

The ‘cyberextortion’ attack, which involved hackers accessing computers via phishing emails, and locking systems and encrypting company data, also affected numerous firms engaged in the manufacturing, finance and transport sectors. Government agencies were also caught up in the debacle. Technicians at the NHS, which offers subsidised healthcare in the U.K., scrambled to limit the spread of the ransomware, which caused problems with accessing patient data and hospital appointments, among other things. Many companies ordered their employees to disconnect their workstations from the Internet and to avoid opening emails from unfamiliar sources.

Such was the scale of this weekend’s mass attack, Microsoft was moved into changing its cybersecurity policy, making free of charge updates and patches for computers running older packages such as Windows XP, which many small and medium enterprises still rely on, due to the expense of system upgrades or lack of technical knowledge and ICT skills.

 

 

 

Apart from the NHS, Spain’s Telefonica and Iberdrola also reported computers being targeted. The German national railway Deutsche Ban was another victim. ReportCA.net published a photo taken by an eyewitness at Chemnitz rail station, showing a display board for train times. The screen was partly obscured by a red and white pop-up with a padlock logo, a sight reported by other victims of the attack. The hackers locked out users and demanded payment in bitcoin currency to release encrypted data. Other victims included the Russian Interior Ministry, the country’s mobile phone operators MTS and MegaFon, French car maker Renault, and football clubs in Europe. One long-established club, IF Odd, said Saturday that its online ticketing service was crippled by the ransomware.

The British home secretary Amber Rudd said that one in five of her country’s 248 NHS trusts, which manage hospitals and patient services above general practitioner level, had been hit. Thousands of patient appointments and operations, including for serious conditions, were cancelled, as medical staff were frozen out of their databases and systems. According to Rudd, 48 trusts were affected, but quick reaction times by their ICT departments meant that as of yesterday, only six were still reporting issues. The National Cyber Security Centre also stepped in to mitigate the impact of the attack.

Cybersecurity officials urged both individuals and companies to ensure they regularly update their anti-virus and security systems, enact security updates if they are Windows users and to back-up data on a separate server or in the cloud.

The source of the attack is as yet unknown, although Russian and Chinese hackers have targeted companies and governmental agencies in the West in past years. Two cybersecurity firms, Avast and Kaspersky Lab, have said that the ransomware attacked PCs in 70 countries, with Russia the most affected. There have been reports that the hackers used the WannaCry ransomware program, said to have been based on spying technology utilised by America’s NSA (National Security Agency). More than 36,000 infections were detected by yesterday. It is reported that the hackers behind ‘WannaCry’ stole the hacking tools from the NSA, which created the tool to exploit a loophole in Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

Ori Eisen, founder of Trusona cybersecurity firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, warned that the WannaCry attack is just the beginning and another more advanced attack could have serious and potentially lethal implications. Speaking with the Associated Press news agency, Eisen said: This is child”s play, what happened. This is not the serious stuff yet. What if the same thing happened to 10 nuclear power plants, and they would shut down all the electricity to the grid? What if the same exact thing happened to a water dam or to a bridge?” he asked.

“Today, it happened to 10,000 computers,” Eisen said. “There”s no barrier to do it tomorrow to 100 million computers.”

Intranational policing agency Europol described the attack as at “an unprecedented level and will require a complex international investigation to identify the culprits.”

The onslaught of WannaCry was successfully halted after a 22-year-old British cybersecurity researcher, known only by his or her tag ‘MalwareTech’ accidently stumbled across a ‘kill switch’ that disabled the ransomware. By entering a nonsensical domain name, MalwareTech was able to stop the malware spreading further. He or she purchased the domain name for around £9, yet this quick thinking decision saved companies millions in potential damage control. The kill switch only worked for those not affected however, and many organisations who were already hit were forced to pay the ransom demand or call up emergency data stocks.

SOURCES:

HEM Newsbreakers, HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-newsbreakers

Report 24 Canada, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Report24CA

“Unprecedented global “ransomware” attack seeks cash for data” – Winnipeg Free Press via ReportCA.net (13 May 2017) https://reportca.net/2017/05/unprecedented-global-ransomware-attack-seeks-cash-for-data/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Wana Decrypt0r screenshot.png” – WannaCry via SecureList, Wikimedia Commons (12 May 2017) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wana_Decrypt0r_screenshot.png

 

FRANCE ELECTIONS: Last runoff between Macron and Le Pen begins, hackers cause havoc

Paris – VIJAY SHAH via JON HENLEY and The Guardian

The last stage of the French presidential elections has begun in earnest, with the European country’s voters choosing between centre-leaning former economist Emmanuel Macron and leader of the far-right nationalist party Front National, Marine Le Pen, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reports.

Akin to the recent U.S. presidential elections where Russian hackers were accused of interfering with the system to guarantee a win for current president Donald Trump, the French voting rally has been marred by recent reports of a ‘massive online dump’ of campaign data by unknown parties and attributed to Macron’s new political movement.

 

Ten of thousands of stolen emails and documents, some claimed to be fake, were put in the public domain. Fearful of the likely impact on the outcome of the election, the French government has made it a criminal offence for the data to be published. The Senate also declared an electioneering blackout lasting until the close of polls today at 8 pm local time.

Macron’s election team, the En Marche! movement, condemned the hack, saying that it was clearly an attempt at democratic destabilisation, like that seen during the last presidential campaign in the US,”

The bitter and divisive at times runoffs are a litmus test for the future direction of politics not only in France, but also in Europe, particularly as politics in the developed world increasingly swings towards the far-right. Far-right candidates were recently just about kept out of the presidential palace in Austria, and are increasingly grabbing a greater share of the vote in the U.K. and Netherlands. The two forerunners in the French elections are also polar opposites. The Guardian writes: Macron, a 39-year-old former banker and economy minister running as an independent centrist, is economically liberal, socially progressive, globally minded and upbeat. Le Pen is a nation-first protectionist who wants to close France’s borders and possibly leave the euro and the EU.”

The last polls, published on Friday, suggest that Emmanuel Macron has a lead over Marine Le Pen of around 22-23 percentage points, buoyed in part by a recent controversial televised debate, where Le Pen was said to have spent more time laying into her rival than promoting her party’s policies to the country’s electorate.

“The commission calls on everyone present on internet sites and social networks – primarily the media, but also all citizens – to show responsibility and not pass on this content so as not to distort the sincerity of the ballot,” the national election commission said on Saturday.

Most French media decided not to break the news of the hack, whose origin was not mentioned by the Guardian. France’s leading broadsheet, Le Monde, declared it would not publish any of the 9 gigabytes of leaked data, due to both its volume and the risk of influencing the election’s outcome.

“If these documents contain revelations, Le Monde will of course publish them after having investigated them, respecting our journalistic and ethical rules, and without allowing ourselves to be exploited by the publishing calendar of anonymous actors,” the paper said.

The data was dumped onto popular sharing service Pastebin under a profile named EMLEAKS. The targeted political movement, Macron’s En Marche! (On the March!) were not perturbed by the public release of the data, saying that most of the emails were from day-to-day operations, and that some files were false, put in with the dump to ‘sow doubt and disinformation’.

France’s vote will be run in stages, with residents of the country’s overseas departments and territories being the first to mark their ballot papers. Saint Pierre and Miquelon, a small dependency off the coast of Canada’s Newfoundland island, will be the first to cast their votes. French people in the diaspora will also take priority in voting, before Metropolitan France’s 47 million voters will begin visiting around 70,000 polling stations today.

SOURCES:

Google News https://news.google.co.uk/?ar=1494148359

“French election: voting begins as France decides between Macron and Le Pen” – Jon Henley, The Guardian/Guardian News and Media Limited (7 May 2017) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/07/voting-begins-in-final-round-of-french-presidential-election

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:French presidential election P1200051.jpg” – David Monniaux, Wikimedia Commons (14 April 2007) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:French_presidential_election_P1200051.jpg

GOOGLE SEO: What are the SEO trends in 2017?

London, UNITED KINGDOM
MEHFUZ HUSSAIN (writer) with VIJAY SHAH (editor)

 

This article was written by Mehfuz Hussain, a digital marketing specialist based in London with expertise in online marketing concepts and Google Analytics.

Search Engine Optimisation has seen many changes in 2016 thanks to Google. From the launch of its ambitious AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Project in February 2016, Google has shaken up the way traditional SEO worked. Understandably, Google knows well that the best way to dominate the industry is to be aware of how search engines are changing, and strategising SEO and content techniques accordingly. The world of SEO continues to evolve at high speed. While some SEO techniques have been a staple for several years, there will be many new ones that you will have to pay attention to. Here are some of the game-changing trends to help you stay ahead this year.

 

Photo credit: BigOakInc.com

 

1. Mobile-first Approach by Businesses

With ongoing improvements in the mobile computing field, browsing on mobiles has become equivalent to desktop browsing if not more In many countries, mobile browsing is more popular and dominant than via traditional desktops and laptops. In the last few years, the plethora of new smartphones with internet capabilities has changed the way search engine look at them. Remember Mobilegeddon?

A few months ago, Google said, “To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.” This influenced their latest search algorithm which prioritised ‘responsive’ websites at the cost of older, mobile-unfriendly sites.

So, in 2017, your top priority is to separate your desktop and mobile measurement plans to account for the fundamental differences between mobile and desktop behaviour.

 

2. Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Google Rank Brain

There is no doubt, Google’s main focus in 2017 is on Artificial Intelligence. If you followed the Google I/O event 2016, most announcements were related to AI. Google also said that the speech recognition errors have reduced from 25 to 8 percent. It’s been officially named Google’s third-most important ranking factor. Voice search will grow even more in 2017, with better voice recognition and understanding.

 

3. Infographics

Infographics make complex information eye-catching, shareable and easily digestible. An image coupled with information tends to stay in the minds of readers. Such content generates more social shares and also generates leads. Of course, your content should also be suitable enough to add Infographics to it, and they can really make it pop.

 

4. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) takes centre stage

A great way to ensure better user experience is switching over to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). More brands are using this option as Google also has begun to favour the use of AMP. It contains three sections – AMP HTML, AMP JS, and Google AMP Cache. Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) allows websites to make pages equipped for loading right away onto mobile screens. Interestingly, sites that have switched over to AMP are given more visibility with a special icon in Google searches.

 

 

5. Branding gets personal

There is no denying the power of personal branding. If used strategically, it can be a powerful tool in ensuring the success of SEO campaigns. Even social media platforms like Facebook refine their algorithms to favour individual posts over branded posts. Also, once you have a personal brand in place, it gets much easier to boost user trust and engagement. This, in turn, will up the traffic to your site.

 

6. HTTPS Everywhere

Google has inducted https as a ranking factor in its algorithm. Since then many companies hurriedly made the transition from HTTP to HTTPS in order to protect their own and their users’ privacy. It helps even more if there is money transactions happening on the website (e-commerce) and gives consumers extra confidence about their privacy. Let’s expect more websites switching to HTTPS than ever before in the history of the Web.

 

7. Focus on Content Curation

Though many people do not realise it, content marketing and SEO needs to work together for better results and visibility. Include all types of content in the mix: press releases and newsletters as well as articles and blog posts. A good content mix will help you increase backlinks on authority websites and establish you as an expert in your field. This strategy will help you boost your business to the top of Google’s SERPs.

 

2017 will see a massive hike in Internet usage. People are more concerned about the content they read. Now is the right time to prepare a well-developed strategy to survive in the market and beat the competition. As an SEO marketer, you have to be prepared for changes. Keep an close eye on SEO trends in 2017. All the best everyone!

 

IMAGE CREDITS:
“Google SEO Magnifying Glass” – BigOakFlickr, Flickr (1 July 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/31682982@N03/27940989741
“Free illustration: Seo, Web Page, Responsive – Free Image on Pixabay – 2016484” – Templune, pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/seo-web-page-responsive-web-design-2016484/

INSTAGRAM: 18 facts and statistics you probably never knew

Instagram is currently one of the world’s most popular social networks by usage and membership. Owned by Facebook, and lovingly known by its fans as simply ‘Insta’, the site is a valuable treasure trove of pictures and memories and offers a glimpse into the lives of its 600 million or so active users. While Instagram has developed a reputation as a bit of a narcissist’s heaven with many users flooding it with selfies, posing like there is no tomorrow, it also has become a valuable resource for creatives such as photographers and graphic designers to showcase their work, and many celebrities use it to give their fanbase a way of keeping up to date with their daily goings-on. And of course, if you ever feel hungry or have no idea what’s for supper tonight, then Instagram’s impressive collection of food photos is the ideal place for culinary inspiration. Not to mention those awesome filters.

 

 

With the help of content, social media and online marketing blog The Social Ms, here are twenty facts and statistics about the photo-sharing network you probably had no idea about.

  1. By the end of 2016, Instagram reported it had 600 million active users, that is, people who use their accounts and upload photos or images. This is an additional 100 million shutterbugs joining the service since September 2015
  2. Instagram has a rapidly increasingly ‘growth base’ with rises of 15 per cent, and there is no sign of it slowing down. In the United States alone (its biggest market), the number of users is expected to hit 116.3 million (34.8 per cent of the then population) and become the second-most popular social network, overtaking Twitter, fellow photo social network Pinterest and micro-blog Tumblr, according to recent figures by eMarketer.
  3. Not surprisingly, just like all social networks, Insta is a hit with the young ‘uns. For all age groups of Internet users, 28 per cent use it, 55 per cent of people between the ages of 18-29 are Insta-fanatics, forming its largest demographic, according to the Pew Research Center in the US. The centre also reported that 52 per cent of teens aged between 13 and 17 were also fans of Instagram.
  4. Instagram has good product loyalty. Fifty-nine per cent of its users post daily, and another 17 per cent use it at least once weekly, according to the Pew Research Center.
  5. The site has enjoyed massive growth rates in some subjects, according to MediaPost. Beauty (74% growth rate), ‘big box’ (128%) and household goods (149%) have been some of the most popular topics, at least for businesses using their Instagram accounts to promote their goods to private users. For the rest of us, I assume selfies probably have a growth rate of 100,000 per cent (I kid).
  6. Instagram is big money for marketers. In 2015, it netted advertising revenue of USD $500 million (GBP £407 million). It is expected that this year, Insta will make more money from its advertising platform on American mobile handsets than Google and Twitter, claims eMarketer.
  7. Although Instagram is US-founded and run by a big American tech company, most of its success has been from outside. Eighty per cent of its users are non-American.
  8. Over 80 million photos are uploaded per day. There is believed to be more than 40 billion images crammed into Insta’s servers and users generate an astonishing 3.5 billion likes per day, says ClickZ.
  9. The most prestigious account, going by popularity and celebrity anyway, is the one owned by U.S. singer Selena Gomez. She has 99.5 million followers allegedly.
  10. The most liked photo over all of Insta was one by reality show star Kendall Jenner. The picture of her lying on her back, eyes closed with her hair spread out and arranged into hearts got 3.5 million likes.
  11. If you post a photo, fifty per cent of comments will appear within six hours, meaning a good post will stick around and not get lost in the noise.
  12. Instagram is quite secure, with only eight per cent of its accounts said to be fake, according to an unnamed Italian security firm.
  13. Like any social network, people sometimes do get bored of posting or other things happen in their life that pull them away. The same Italian firm discovered that nearly 30 per cent of account are rarely used or inactive, usually posting one post per month or less, according to Business Insider.
  14. For businesses, Insta is marketing gold. Forrester published stats that suggest people engage with brands ten times more on Insta than they do on Facebook. Facebook ads are annoying, I grant you that.
  15. One-third of Instagram users have used their mobile to purchase a product online.
  16. Fifty-three per cent of Instagrammers, as fans are sometimes called, are following brands.
  17. As humans love seeing faces, this fact is probably not surprising, but selfies and group photos on average are 38 per cent more likely to get liked, than other kinds of pictures, such as inanimate objects.
  18. The most Instagrammed food is… pizza.

 

SOURCES:
HEM Bloggers List, The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-bloggers-list
Susanna Gebauer‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/dreckbaerfrau
“20 Instagram Facts And Statistics You Should Know” – Susanna Gebauer, The Social Ms/Friendly Fellows UG (haftungsbeschränkt) (23 September 2016) https://blog.thesocialms.com/19-instagram-facts-and-statistics-you-should-know/
IMAGE CREDIT:
freestocks.org via Pexels (13 January 2016) https://www.pexels.com/photo/lg-smartphone-instagram-social-media-35177/