7 New Things to Expect at Apple WWDC ’18

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Apple has officially announced the 2018 Worldwide Developers Conference. The event will kick off with a keynote speech at 10 a.m. on June 4 at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. And while WWDC is a developer-centric event, Apple also uses the conference to announce new software and hardware developments. Here are seven […]
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10 Stupidly simple things I wish Google Home would do

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

I love my Google Home(s). I’ve been using two of them for nearly a year in my apartment, and they were recently augmented by a couple of JBL Link speakers with Assistant and a Google Home Mini at work. I call upon them frequently throughout the day to ask about the weather, play music, set reminders and calendar events, control my smart home devices, and more. And I have spent countless hours testing and checking everything they can do, which culminated in a very long but super detailed Google Home tutorial that I suggest you read.

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10 Stupidly simple things I wish Google Home would do was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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3 Things You Need to Know About the Controversy Over Google’s Quick-Loading AMP Pages

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Ah, the 90s. The clothes were loud, the rom-coms cheesy (but also the best). Oh, and the internet? Insanely slow. Pages loaded line by line — or, worse, pixel by pixel. It was hard to do more than check your email (AOL, of course) or a quick search on Alta Vista or Ask Jeeves.

Today’s internet has proliferated in part thanks to its speed, which is about 100 times faster than it was in the late 90s. Some elements of the internet will get faster still, especially as more people around the world use their phones to access it.

Enter Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Tech giant and internet overlord Google has been using it for a while. But now the company is saying they want a lot more of the internet to be using them.

“Do I want the internet to turn into a giant AMP-hill?” you may ask yourself. Here’s everything you need to know in order to understand why Google’s plan is actually a pretty big deal.

What is It?

Your friend sends you an article via text. It seems interesting. You try to click it. Instead of reading the article in what seems to be a reasonable amount of time, you’re still staring at the loading screen. That’s because the site your friend has directed you to is cluttered with ads and optimized only for desktop. And you’re on your phone. Sigh.

AMP is designed to change that. It’s an open-source website-publishing technology that site-owners can use without losing the value of having ads on their site. Google spearheads the development of the open-source library.

To use AMP, developers make an alternate version of their site using AMP’s open-source library. It works across multiple platforms and is compatible with most browsers.

With AMP, web pages load faster and appear portable — the way you might have experienced when reading articles from Facebook or Apple News via your phone. AMP provides that lickety-split service for all the sites you’d access via your mobile browser. Some sites use this, but certainly not all.

AMP for All

Google wants to see AMP everywhere. According to a recent blog post, the company wants to convince the group that handles the internet’s web standards to adopt a technology that takes cues from the AMP framework. “We now feel ready to take the next step and work to support more instant-loading content not based on AMP technology in areas of Google Search designed for this,” Malte Ubl, tech lead for the AMP Project at Google, wrote in the post.

“This content will need to follow a set of future web standards and meet a set of objective performance and user experience criteria to be eligible,” the post continued, listing a number of “lessons learned” from Google’s AMP experience.

Speed, At A Cost

That sounds like a wonderful idea. Who wouldn’t want their internet to work faster, especially on the go?

But it’s Google we’re talking about here. As The Verge described, instead of working as “a steward of the web,” Google has become its “nefarious puppet master.” That is, some believe Google is pushing the proliferation of the internet in ways that enrich the company, but don’t necessarily make people’s lives better, all under a facade of altruism. Not cool.

Indeed, some web developers and publishers enthusiastic about an AMP-filled future internet are worried about what might happen if Google takes the lead. One group wrote an open letter that criticized Google AMP as a way to keep users “within Google’s domain and divert traffic away from other websites for the benefit of Google.” They added: “At a scale of billions of users, this has the effect of further reinforcing Google’s dominance of the Web.”

In short, opponents feel Google is strong-arming sites to support a format that might just becoming another way to keep the internet under Google’s control. And the fact that it’s open source doesn’t meant it’s impartial.

Of course, Google find this to be unfair. “This is honestly a fairly altruistic project from our perspective,” David Besbris, Google’s VP of search engineering, told The Verge. ”It wasn’t like we invented AMP because we wanted to control everything, like people assume.”

Well Google said it, so we should take their word for it, right? It is, of course, not that easy. Google has so many proprietary assets controlling how people make content and put it online — it’s not exactly at the cutting-edge of the so-called Open Web. Furthermore, as Ars Technica pointed out, critics of Google’s AMP project believe it’s possible to deliver the same fast content simply by “not doing things that are slow.”

Google will likely continue to invest in AMP, and get others to do the same. We’ll see if their opponents become even more vocal, or whether surfing the web via mobile continues to feel like a 90s throwback.

The post 3 Things You Need to Know About the Controversy Over Google’s Quick-Loading AMP Pages appeared first on Futurism.


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How to Fix All the Things You Hate About Meetings with AI

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meeting room

Meetings have gotten a bad rap over the years, with people mistakenly assuming every meeting is a productivity drain. In fact, good meetings can be a huge boost, especially if they help you work through issues and come up with new ideas.

For meetings to be useful, though, it’s important to find ways to overcome the very things that have traditionally spoiled meetings.

Here are five common meeting annoyances, as well as some tips that can help fix them.

Too Many Notes

Capturing information in meetings has always been complicated, especially once flip charts and whiteboards get involved. Some businesses still rely on this method of data gathering, finding that their frantic scribbles help get their ideas on paper.

However, at the end of the meeting, someone is usually tasked with collecting all that information, which too often means trying to decipher handwriting and turn incomplete thoughts into something coherent.

Microsoft Pix, along with tools like smart markers and electronic whiteboards like Kaptivo, provide a way to capture those scribblings, improving on the information to create useful content that can be later used. All this done through new advancements in AI.

It’s important to find a way to make sure any data gathered during a meeting is collected and shared with those who can use it to get results for your business.

Nobody Is Taking Notes

As you’re speaking to a roomful of people, is anyone taking notes? If not, how can you be sure the information discussed will be remembered after everyone leaves the room?

Note-taking is an ongoing issue for meeting leaders, especially as technology has gradually made offices paperless. It’s important that meeting organizers fully embrace technology, making it as easy as possible for participants to bring their laptops or tablets into the meeting to take notes.

Applications like GoWall move meetings beyond talking heads, equipping attendees with the tools they need to not only take notes, but to share them with others in the audience. As others speak, employees can add their own notes to a group wall, inspiring others in attendance to build on those thoughts.

Virtual Attendees Don’t Share

Virtual meetings with AI have given remote team members the ability to attend meetings, whether they’re on the road or they always work from home. Unfortunately, those same remote attendees may not be as engaged as those who are in the room, since doing so means finding a way to chime in.

Zoom provides a “raise hand” feature that lets your remote workers signal that they have something to say. Always pay close attention to avoid missing these alerts. You should also make a concerted effort, with every meeting, to give remote workers an equal chance to participate in the meeting. In addition to asking each person to give a brief update, also include some of your remote workers in the agenda each month to make sure they feel included.

Several People Dominate

Everyone has been in a situation where a “meeting hog” takes over the conversation, either lengthening a meeting or cutting into the time that might have been used by others. It’s up to meeting organizers to keep everyone on track, quickly steering the conversation if someone begins to dominate.

SmartSheet’s free meeting agenda templates can give you the start you need to create professional-quality agendas. You’ll find with an agenda in place, your meetings are shorter but on topic and your attendees are engaged, since they’ll know what to expect.

Participants Aren’t Engaged

Is everyone in your meeting paying attention from start to finish? The only way to gauge this is to look around the room and see if anyone has checked out, but even then you may not know. This becomes even more complicated with remote workers, since they could be surfing the internet or watching TV and you’d never know. If they aren’t captured on video at all times, they may even get up and walk way at various intervals.

One long-popular trick to ensure people stay engaged is to randomly call on people to speak on the topic at hand. Make an effort you include remote participants in that effort. If you’re hosting virtual events like webinars, coordinators like Virtual Venues specialize in helping hosts keep attendees interested.

Although many have preconceptions about meetings with AI, they don’t have to be a reality. With the right tools and techniques, you can change the way your staff feels about meetings, whether they’re in the office or working from home. Make sure you measure the results to determine whether your tools are working, including pulling reports and noting whether the items discussed in the meeting were followed up on after the fact.

The post How to Fix All the Things You Hate About Meetings with AI appeared first on ReadWrite.


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What’s A Proton Battery? Three Things You Need To Know.

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Most of your everyday electronics run off of lithium batteries — you know, the ones that you can never seem to find in your drawer when the remote is dead? Yet the days of the double-A may be ending. Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have created a prototype of an alternative battery that runs on carbon and water.

This is the first-ever rechargeable proton battery, an energy storage solution that runs off on cheap, environmentally friendly materials. But why do we need to change the way we store power? Here are three things you need to know about this energy source of the future, and about why it’s time to phase out those batteries currently rusting at the bottom of your recycling bin. (Don’t worry, we don’t know how to get rid of them either.)

1. The proton battery is made of much more abundant materials.

The planet’s supply of lithium is concentrated in just a few countries, and the other rare earth metals that go into lithium batteries are an increasingly scarce, expensive resource. In contrast, the proton battery has an electrode made of carbon, one of the most abundant materials on our planet, and is charged by splitting water molecules.

“The advantage is we’re going to be storing protons in a carbon-based material, which is abundant, and we are getting protons from water which is readily available,” said the project’s lead researcher, John Andrews, to The Guardian.

2. It’s rechargeable.

The RMIT battery can be plugged into a charging port just like any other rechargeable battery. What happens next is remarkably simple: the electricity from the power supply splits water molecules, generating protons, which bond with carbon in the battery’s electrode. The protons are then released again to pass through the fuel cell, where they interact with air to form water and generate power.

According to an RMIT press release, experiments showed that the tiny battery — with an active surface area of only 5.5 square centimeters (0.85 square inches) could store as much energy per unit as commercially available lithium-ion batteries.

3. It produces zero carbon emissions.

Mining traditional batteries’ lithium and other rare earth metals can have a host of environmental consequences, including dumping chemicals into ecosystems and clearing land of vegetation. In addition to the carbon footprint of mining, processing the conductive materials requires significant energy, which still most often means electricity that comes from fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, producing the carbon and water needed for this new battery have pretty much zero environmental impact; currently, the main emissions footprint of the battery would be the source of the electricity used to charge it.

The RMIT team estimates that their proton battery could be commercially available within five to ten years. That’s also good news for the environment, as battery storage needs are expected to skyrocket with the growing shift to clean energy. Without good batteries to store energy on sunny or windy days, we won’t be able to take advantage of these power sources when the weather turns. According to Andrews, when their battery is available, it will even be competitive with Tesla’s Powerwall, and perhaps one day the huge Tesla battery already making waves in his country.

The post What’s A Proton Battery? Three Things You Need To Know. appeared first on Futurism.


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The Power of Doing Things For The Right Reasons

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keith krach

I believe in karma: we all reap what we sow. But I also believe in doing things for the right reasons without any expectation that you might somehow be paid back for your actions in the future.

This is what I call “pure heart” where you’re only motivation is to help others in need. And sometimes it is during the worst of times when someone’s true heart actions make the most impact.

For example, I’ll never forget the tragic events that unfolded on 9/11. As it happened, our company was hosting a large conference for our financial services customers in New Orleans the day the planes struck the World Trade Center. As the news trickled in—this was far more than just an accident—a dilemma quickly presented itself: many of our customers were based in New York City and were soon worried sick about their colleagues and family members.

But with the airports under lockdown, how were we going to get the 1,000 people attending our conference home?

And that’s when I witnessed one of the most amazing pure heart moments of my life. Without waiting to be told by anyone, our conference coordinator had called up several local bus companies and rented every vehicle she could inside the city. She then helped coordinate a plan where she set up tables by state as a way to get people organized.

We then gathered everyone together and explained what we knew about the situation. I asked everyone to bow their heads in a moment of silence for the fallen. I then told them we had rented busses to take them back home. But, if anyone was more comfortable waiting until things quieted down, we told them we would cover their rooms.

Most people wanted to get home, however, so we loaded everyone we could on the busses along with food and alcohol to help pass the time.

But even as we loaded up the busses, we noticed people wandering over from a nearby hotel. They had also been attending a conference, they told us, but the people hosting it had just disappeared. “Do you have any room on your busses for us?” they asked.

“Of course,” we said, as we boarded as many people as we could before sending them off toward home.

Again, we did all of this without thinking and without a thought as to the cost. It was just part of our culture to take care of our customers because we thought of them as part of our family. We knew how scared they were and how much they wanted to be home with their families, so we did everything possible to make that happen. That’s what I mean by pure heart.

A few weeks later, we also did our best to help the victims of the attack, which included purchasing a new fire truck for a firehouse in Manhattan that had lost five of its brothers. Again, we didn’t do this as a PR stunt or to get attention: we just felt it was the right thing to do.

Did karma ever pay us back for those good deeds? Perhaps. I know many of the customers we helped bus home that day remain friends to this day. But the biggest takeaway is that we knew we made a positive impact on the lives of thousands of people.

How can you put a price on that?

The post The Power of Doing Things For The Right Reasons appeared first on ReadWrite.


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4 Things to Know About the Gadget That Will Charge Devices in Seconds

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When your phone’s battery reaches that critically low point, recharging it seems to take eons. If it’s your electric car’s battery that’s low on juice, then having to wait for a charge might be more than an inconvenience if you’ve found yourself stuck somewhere miles from a charging station.

What if you didn’t have to wait hardly at all for your phone to be back in working order? Or to get your car back on the road? What if you only had to wait a few seconds to go from dead battery to that glorious 100 percent charged feeling?

Donald Highgate, director of research at Superdielectrics Ltd. and his team have set out to make that vision a reality. Highgate’s team has created a material that amps up the potential of supercapacitors – devices that can both charge up and release their energy rapidly.  Their capacitance for storing energy is “super” because it’s both electrostatic and electromechanical. Therefore, supercapacitors (also called “ultracapacitors”) are kind of like a mashup of normal capacitors and a normal battery.

Highgate has teamed up with researchers from Bristol University and Surrey University to create a supercapacitor that’s not just better than traditional batteries, but that could one day be superior to lithium-ion batteries. So how do they plan to do it? Here are four things to know.

Eye On / Ion

The material Highgate’s team is using actually got its start as the basis for high-tech contact lenses. The soft, flexible material turned out to be really good at holding an electrostatic field — which was just what they needed, as that’s how supercapacitors produce their energy.

Not Your Standard Charger

Supercapacitors don’t create electricity in the traditional way though: they create electrostatic fields. They also only store comparatively small amounts of power; good for jump-starting batteries in devices like your phone, a car, or a train, but “jumping” a battery is not quite the same as providing a steady supply of power. They’re also quite costly and therefore aren’t likely to be a consumer’s first choice.


Other than cost, one of the prohibitive limitations of supercapacitors compared to lithium ion batteries is that they have poor energy denisity: they can’t hold very much energy, and they can’t hold it for a very long time. That’s why supercapacitors in their current form wouldn’t be great for keeping electric cars charged — you’d have to re-up every couple of miles.

Highgate and other researchers working on similar projects are extending the power and range of supercapacitors with materials that enhance these abilities. They don’t necessarily have to be special or rare materials, either: Materials like the soft polymers originally meant for contact lenses that Highgate’s team is using or the graphene-based materials that can super-charge a supercapacitor’s energy-storing power are fairly accessible.

Working With Lithium-ion

While the long term goal may be for amped-up supercapacitors to surpass lithium-ion batteries as the go-to power source for devices, cars, and assembly lines, in the short term it’s more likely that they’ll be used together. When working in tandem, the two create a very strong, reliable power supply — which is especially good news for electric vehicles.

Highgate’s polymer and the other souped-up supercapacitors are very much still emerging solutions that may not be available for years yet. But as the world strives to move toward renewable energy, we’ll need a broad range of sustainable, affordable, alternatives to our traditional energy networks. And faster phone chargers would be cool, too.

The post 4 Things to Know About the Gadget That Will Charge Devices in Seconds appeared first on Futurism.


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Hands on: Things 3.4 for Mac and iPhone connects apps to generate To Do tasks faster

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If you’re willing to adjust and learn a few tricks, the new tools in Things 3.4 are a boon for both you and developers of your favorite apps.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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Workflow update adds image masking, enhanced Things integration & more

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Workflow, the automation app Apple acquired last March, has been updated to version 1.7.8 with additional features and enhancements…. Read the rest of this post here

Workflow update adds image masking, enhanced Things integration & more” is an article by iDownloadBlog.com.
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