Category Archives: Technology

Facebook tests split News Feed that keeps friends front and center

Facebook is currently testing a new dual-feed setup that separates Page-generated posts from ads and posts from friends, The Guardian reports. The trial is currently underway in six countries — Bolivia, Guatemala, Cambodia, Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka.

Under this arrangement, the main News Feed is still populated by things shared by friends and family as well as advertisements. But posts shared by Pages — like those of publishers, for example — are moved to a secondary feed. The tests began last week and Slovakian journalist Filip Struhárik told The Guardian, “Pages are seeing dramatic drops in organic reach. The reach of several Facebook Pages fell on Thursday and Friday by two-thirds compared to previous days.” And that number was confirmed by analytics service CrowdTangle, stats from which showed that popular Slovakian Facebook Pages saw two-thirds to three-quarters reductions in their Facebook reach.

This could be bad news for outlets that heavily rely on Facebook traffic and it stands to impact their revenue. Matti Littunen, a senior research analyst with analytics company Enders Analysis told The Guardian, “The biggest hits will be to the likes of Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Business Insider, who create commoditized content aiming for the biggest reach.”

Facebook has been playing around with how it presents content to its users. It recently gave News Feed an overhaul, making it easier to navigate, and brought its Explore Feed to desktop. The company also redesigned its Trending section in order to incorporate different viewpoints on a popular topic, began testing a feature that gives more detailed information about an article’s publisher and has introduced a slew of changes aimed at combatting the spread of fake news.

A Facebook spokesperson told Engadget that as of now though, there are no plans to expand this test further. “With all of the possible stories in each person’s feed, we always work to connect people with the posts they find most meaningful. People have told us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family, so we are testing two separate feeds, one as a dedicated space with posts from friends and family and another as a dedicated space for posts from Pages,” said the spokesperson. “To understand if people like these two different spaces, we will test a few things, such as how people engage with videos and other types of posts. These tests will start in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia. We have no current plans to roll this out globally.”

Source:

https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/23/facebook-tests-split-news-feed-friends-front-and-center/

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Garmin Speak lets you bring Alexa along in the car

Amazon and Garmin have teamed up to bring the wisdom and subservient attitude of Alexa to a car near you.

The Garmin Speak is an Echo Dot-like device that sits in the dash of your car and brings the full range of Alexa skills into the car. What’s more, the Garmin Speak integrates Alexa services through the car stereo, meaning you can listen to music, audiobooks, news and weather through a full-fledged sound system (comparatively) instead of tiny speaker.

You can also use Garmin’s turn-by-turn navigation by simply saying “Alexa, ask Garmin.”

What’s more, users will be able to place orders on Amazon and control their smart devices at home through the Garmin Speak. So if, for example, you forgot to turn off the lights or lock the door (and you have the smart home accessories capable of doing that for you), you can simply take care of it from the driver’s seat.

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The Garmin Speak will use data from your smartphone, once you download the free Garmin Speak app, through a connection via Bluetooth or AUX cord.

There are plenty of smart assistant services out there for drivers, including CarPlay, Google Android Auto, Alexa herself, and Cortana, some of which are integrated at the OEM level.

Garmin Speak is available now for $150 here.

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Garmin Speak lets you bring Alexa along in the car

Facebook is testing a CV feature to take on LinkedIn

It looks like Facebook is considering barging in on LinkedIn’s turf.

Facebook is currently trialling a CV feature, according to screenshots posted on social media — a move that would put it in direct competition with professional social network LinkedIn.

Matt Navarra, director of social media for The Next Web, has shared screenshots of the resume feature sent to him by web developer Jane Manchun Wong, who saw it appear on her Facebook profile.

The feature lets users list their professional experience and education, as well as their contact details, an image, and other information — just like Microsoft-owned LinkedIn does.

Of course, it’s already possible for people to list their job history and education on Facebook. But do you really want prospective employers to see your private Facebook profile? Instead, the new feature appears to combine all the relevant information into a single, professional-looking package — away from personal photos, status updates, and other Facebook posts people might not wish to share with recruiters and the wider world.

It’s not clear how many people currently have access to the resume feature, or what Facebook’s ultimate intentions are here. The social network often tests features on a small number of users before rolling them out more widely (or not), and a spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for more information.

But just the fact that Facebook is experimenting with this is further evidence of how the Californian firm is increasingly trying to transcend its roots as a simple social network and move into the professional sector. In 2016, it launches Facebook At Work — now called Workplace — a modified version of Facebook designed for teams in the office to use.

Source:

http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-tests-cv-resume-feature-linkedin-2017-10

Steve Wozniak announces tech education platform Woz U

Steve Wozniak, one of Apple’s three original founders, has launched a new training initiative designed to get people ready for “high-paying technology” jobs.

The Woz U digital institute is initially launching as an online-only affair and promises to deliver a “new approach” to education for tech industry jobs. For now, the curriculum focuses on training for computer support specialists and software developers (.Net, JavaScript, Ruby, Java, and Python), but it will later expand into other facets of the STEM realm, including cybersecurity, mobile apps, and data science.

“Our goal is to educate and train people in employable digital skills without putting them into years of debt,” explained Wozniak in a press release. “People often are afraid to choose a technology-based career because they think they can’t do it. I know they can, and I want to show them how.”

Woz U may be confined to the online world for now, but plans are afoot to open brick-and-mortar campuses in more than 30 cities across the U.S. and globally.

Talent shortage

Online education and recruitment platforms have emerged as big business in recent times, with an anticipated “global workforce crisis” looming. According to research from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which looked at “workforce supply-and-demand dynamics” across 25 major economies through the year 2030, there will be major labor shortages in some regions and surpluses in others. This imbalance has opened the doors to a number of initiatives that seek to plug shortages in the domestic U.S. market by scouting overseas.

Mark Zuckerberg-backed Andela, for example, announced a $40 million raise earlier this week to connect tech firms with Africa’s best software developers.

Woz U is ultimately designed to train people and get them working as quickly as possible, joining the dots between a company’s hiring efforts and people willing to put in the effort to get trained — or retrained — for tech roles. For now, the platform constitutes a mobile app that features an aptitude test and matches people with the technology career “best suited for them,” according to the institute.

The business will expand to multiple platforms over time, including Woz U Enterprise for technology companies seeking to recruit and train directly though a subscription-based curriculum or on-site programs. There will also be a K-12 Woz U Education facet aimed at school districts to encourage young people to pursue a career in the tech industry.

Later, there will be a Woz U Academy that promises one-on-one instruction, and the Woz U Accelerator program scheduled for 2019 will help hone students’ skills.

Source:

https://venturebeat.com/2017/10/13/apple-cofounder-steve-wozniak-launches-woz-u/

Mastering Apps: A Beginner’s Guide To Start Making Money With Apps Free on Amazon

Communication technologies are constantly advancing to keep up with the times. Messaging apps are huge right now. Completely overtaking social media by becoming the primary way we communicate online.

When most entrepreneurs are starting out, they like to read articles on “how to make a killing with your first app,” “building the multi-billion dollar app” and most books related to this topic. They are glued to this side of the story and blinded to the other. To have your own success story you have to find out why other apps fail. The painful truth is there are more failed apps than successful ones.

Google commits $1 billion in grants to train U.S. workers for high-tech jobs

The nature of work is changing on a global level at a rapid pace. Sure, it’s not the first time work has been dramatically impacted by technology, but the growth of automation, robotics, AI and the like have the potential to displace jobs at an unprecedented rate. And Google will almost certainly be one of the driving forces behind that transformation.

The search giant has regularly expressed a desire to help stem some of that negative impact, and now it’s putting its money where its mouth is to the tune of $1 billion. CEO Sundar Pichai announced Grow with Google at an event earlier today in Pittsburgh, PA. Over the next five years, the initiative will commit $1 billion to nonprofits aimed at training American workers and helping build business.

The location of the event will not be lost on anyone who has followed Pittsburgh’s growth over the last few decades. The Steel City has long served as an ideal example of an economy that’s rebounded from the brink of disaster. In Pittsburgh’s case, technology was a primary driver, thanks to Carnegie Mellon, which has helped transform it from post-Rust Belt depression to one of the country’s leading tech hubs. These days, the walls of Pittsburgh’s former factories house cutting-edge innovations in fields like robotics and autonomous driving.

Pichai noted in his address that the city also holds special meaning for him. “It was the first city I saw in America when I came here 24 years ago,” he explained. “I was here before the internet really took off, but the city was already changing. The number of high-tech jobs had doubled.”

 

The company is committing $10 million to Goodwill as part of the initiative — the largest Google.org has committed to one organization. That money will be used to help launch the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator, aimed at preparing the American workforce for high-tech jobs. Grow with Google also will take the form of a national tour hosted by libraries and community organizations aimed at bringing training and career advice directly to local towns and cities. That’s part of the company’s goal of committing one million hours to employee volunteering over the next five years.

“At Google, our mission is to make sure that information serves everyone, not just a few,” Pichai explained in the address. “A child in a school here in Pittsburgh can access the same information on Google as a professor at Carnegie Mellon. In the end, the internet is a powerful equalizer, capable of propelling new ideas and people forward.”

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Google commits $1 billion in grants to train U.S. workers for high-tech jobs

Tim Cook says the tech ‘doesn’t exist’ for Apple to make good augmented reality glasses

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been talking up augmented reality for the past year, but don’t take that to mean that Apple will launch a dedicated AR product anytime soon. In an interview with The Independent, Cook said that currently “the technology itself doesn’t exist” to make augmented reality glasses “in a quality way.” And Apple, he said, won’t ship an AR product unless it can deliver “a great experience.”

Cook identified two problems with current AR devices. Their field of view and the quality of their displays, he said, aren’t there yet. “Anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with,” Cook told The Independent. “Nor do I think the vast majority of people would be satisfied.”

He’s not wrong. Current augmented reality headsets all leave something to be desired. Microsoft’s HoloLens works, but it has a limited field of view and requires a large headset. Meta’s is less expensive but similarly huge. And Google Glass (which doesn’t even totally count as augmented reality) flopped badly immediately upon release.

But even if Apple doesn’t plan on diving into dedicated AR hardware, it already made an enormous play for the augmented reality market this year — perhaps doing more than any company to date. With the release of iOS 11 last month, recent iPhones were granted the ability to perform all kinds of AR tricks using something Apple calls ARKit. It lets developers make augmented reality games and makes it easy for camera apps to implement augmented reality stickers.

That means Apple is in an early position to be at the center of a possible boom in augmented reality experiences. Cook seems to believe as much. He compared the introduction of AR features to the introduction of the App Store. “Now you couldn’t imagine your life without apps,” he said. “AR is like that. It will be that dramatic.”

Even if it won’t happen right away, there are already signs that Apple is exploring dedicated AR hardware. The company has a patent application that envisions augmented reality glasses, and Apple reportedly has a team of over 1,000 people working on AR. In typical Apple fashion, Cook told The Independent that Apple has no interest in rushing into the market just to get a head start. “We don’t give a rat’s about being first,” he said. “We want to be the best.”

Source:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/11/16458944/apple-ar-glasses-tech-doesnt-exist-says-tim-cook

Oculus “Dash” replaces your computer monitor with VR

Dash is reminiscent of a Minority Report-style interface, where windows dangle in the air and can be moved around with the wave of a hand. Dash will let you code inside VR, but also bring along your favorite desktop experiences like Facebook and Messenger, YouTube, and Spotify.

Developers will especially enjoy the ability to debug VR apps while actually running them via Visual Studio, Unity, and Unreal. Screens appear in full-fidelity inside Dash, and you can access the rest of your PC beyond the core apps.

Customizable Home

The revamped Oculus Home lets you make your startup screen for Rift into your fantasy geek palace. You can pick all sorts of sensible or sci-fi furnishings, like art, seating, and toys. You can show off trophies of your in-game achievements, and even play retro video games. Oculus is planning to let you hang out with friends inside Home in the future.

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Oculus “Dash” replaces your computer monitor with VR

Virtual Reality Helps Distract Kids from Painful Medical Procedures

Tell a child they need to undergo another painful medical procedure, and you’ll probably have a kid who’s racked with fear and anxiety. Tell that same child they’ll have a chance to zap flying cheeseburgers in outer space while their doctor works on them, and they might feel a little different.

That night-and-day difference in how kids respond to the pricks and prodding of their doctors is the reason for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford’s groundbreaking use of virtual reality technology. As one of the first hospitals in the country to implement distraction-based VR therapy in every patient unit, Packard Children’s lets kids participate in fun and relaxing immersive experiences that can significantly reduce their anxiety — and even their pain.

Experts have already found virtual reality has a major impact on kids’ stress levels. “VR is often so unfamiliar that it is instantly engaging and incredibly distracting,” Veronica Tuss, a child life specialist with the hospital’s Child Life and Creative Arts Department, told Stanford Medicine News Center. “If I’m preparing a child for their very first IV, and they share with me that they don’t want to see what’s happening procedurally, I know I need a distraction that is visually engaging. With VR, an often-intimidating setting suddenly becomes this really cool thing or place that they get to explore. It can minimize the experience of getting the IV to the point that we may actually turn a negative experience into a positive one.”

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This isn’t the first time Packard Children’s has introduced innovative methods to ease patients’ worries. In 2015, Sam Rodriguez, M.D., and Thomas Caruso, M.D., the co-founders of Packard Children’s Childhood Anxiety Reduction through Innovation and Technology (CHARIOT) program, which is leading the VR rollout, introduced the Bedside Entertainment and Relaxation Theater (BERT). The system projects videos on a large screen attached to patients’ gurneys so they can watch movies and music videos all the way to the operating room. Pretty cool stuff.

And in early 2017, CHARIOT launched an interactive video game called Sevo the Dragon, which projects on the BERT screen and gamifies the administration of anesthesia, so the tiniest patients have something fun to do while breathing medicine through a mask.

Caruso and Rodriguez are currently collaborating with Silicon Valley-based software engineers to create original VR content that’s specifically tailored to pediatric patients. Spaceburgers, the duo’s first game, was developed in collaboration with Juno VR, and it allows the kids to listen to relaxing music as they fly through outer space and zap objects.

Researchers are now investigating how much of an impact VR actually has on pain and anxiety levels during certain procedures, and so far, the results are promising. Kids who are engaged with VR tend to be more cooperative, less fearful and experience less pain during procedures like blood draws.

Source:

http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/other-gadgets/virtual-reality-distract-kids-painful-medical-procedures.htm

The UK gets its first ocean-cleaning ‘Seabin

It’s no secret that the world’s oceans are full of floating waste. Things like plastic not only pollute the natural ecosystem, but pose a very real threat to its inhabitants. Back in December 2015, we were first introduced to the concept of the Seabin, a floating natural fiber garbage bin that can suck in pollutants in docks and marinas and leave the water pristine.

Its creators needed help making the concept a reality, taking to Indiegogoto raise enough funds to deploy their marine disposal units all over the world. With over $260,000 in their pocket, two Australian surfers, Pete Ceglinski and Andrew Turton, have today embarked on that journey, installing the world’s first production Seabin in Portsmouth (UK) harbour.

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The Times reports that the Seabin has been installed near the base of the Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) team. The group is typically known for its attempting to bring sailing’s most prestigious prize — the America’s Cup — back to Britain, but it’s also keen to reduce its environmental impact while doing so. The team has already committed to not eating meat on a Monday, only sources sustainable seafood and will now oversee the Seabin as it filters around the protected cages of over 1,000 oysters located near its pontoon.

The Seabin’s creators say that each unit can collect around 1.5kg of waste a day and hold up to 12kg until it’s full. That amounts to 20,000 plastic bottles or 83,000 plastic bags a year. It houses a large natural fibre net and the dock-based pump only collects debris floating on top of the water, including surface oils, ensuring fish are safe.

Plenty of other places are trialling the Seabin, including Spain’s Port Adriano and the Port of Helsinki (Finland). They will officially go on sale in “early November,” costing around £3,000 ($3,957).

Source:

https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/11/seabin-portsmouth-harbour/

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