Posts tagged actually
If you’ve heard the buzz about paid search query data being stripped out of Google AdWords, you may […]
The post Search Query Data in AdWords Isn’t Dead: Here’s What Actually Changed appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
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Nest Labs’ sudden decision Thursday to halt sales of its smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors surprised users and drew mixed reactions. But what looks at first glance like a black eye was also the sharpest thing the company could have done.
CEO Tony Fadell posted an online notice to consumers warning them that its Nest Protect smoke detectors aren’t actually that smart after all. The company discovered a bug in its algorithm for the Nest Wave gesture, a convenience feature designed to let people disable their alarms by waving their hand. The glitch—which only affects the smoke detector, not the company’s flagship Nest thermostat—makes it possible for users to accidentally turn off the alarm, raising safety concerns.
Press reaction has been harsh. The Verge called it “a big setback.” The Next Web lauded the newly Google-owned company for “handling the issue admirably,” though in the same sentence, it also said the incident was an “awkward smudge on the company’s record….”
Such brickbats miss the point. Nest’s commitment to disclosure and proactive fixes deserves praise, particularly if it can help set a standard for other Internet of Things vendors as smart gadgets proliferate in the real world.
What Nest Did
Nest’s FAQ on the issue states plainly that no actual customers have reported the glitch; the issue was discovered in lab tests only. To minimize the risk of users randomly disabling their alarms, the company is issuing a software update that disables Nest Wave pending a fix; it’s also taken the extra precaution of halting sales and offering refunds to any customer who requests one.
These efforts stop short of a full-blown product recall, but Nest is clearly taking the matter seriously. Unlike other companies, it didn’t require any strong-arming. Nest came out on its own to fess up about the problems.
Tech products are prone to bugs and other unexpected issues. It’s a fact of modern life. And users often have to complain—at times loudly and vigorously—just to get a response from the company responsible. We do this when our phones don’t work the way they should, and suffer through nonsense like “you’re just holding it the wrong way.” Or when companies’ mapping cars wind up hoovering up our Wi-Fi data. Or when smart home products aren’t locked down enough to guard against hacking.
Why That Matters
All of these irritations have actually happened. Examples like the last one, though, are particularly disconcerting because they can actually put people at risk in their own homes.
A couple of months ago, Belkin drew fire for vulnerabilities in its WeMo line of smart home products. The main issue involved security holes and other weaknesses, including weak encryption and insecure authentication. But Belkin made things much worse by allegedly choosing to ignore them once outside researchers informed it of the problems.
That’s what officials at IOActive, the security firm that found the problems, told me. The security warning prompted a federally funded security agency to issue an advisory urging customers to immediately disconnect their WeMo devices.
Having problems is never good. But ignoring them is even worse.
Nest did the right thing in a difficult situation. And knowing the company cares about the integrity of its product—so much so that it’s willing to risk looking bad to resolve problems—should give it more credibility, not less. Because no product or service is flawless. And if you can’t expect perfection, at the very least, you want to know that the companies you trust to keep you safe and secure take the responsibility seriously.
Perhaps co-founders Fadell and Matt Rogers took some learning lessons from their time at Apple. Hopefully they’ll preserve this integrity as they begin life at Google.
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If you do business online (who doesn’t?), then optimizing your site for search is crucial. Organic search results are an excellent place to advertise to potential buyers and reach new clients. Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation exists about how to improve your website and build links to it. The following guide covers key points you should address […]
The post How to Rank a Keyword: The Guide That Actually Tells You How! by @theseoproz appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
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During New York Social Media Week 2014, soft electronics rocked the spotlight. During Tech In Motion’s Wearable Technology Fashion Show, models showed off accessories and clothing that lit up, matched moods, and collected or displayed personal data.
The softer side of wearable technology hides LED lights, battery packs, electronic devices, and even actual computers like the Raspberry Pi, in the folds of clothing fabric. Designers stitch up their concepts—part computer, part craft—with conductive thread. This isn’t just wearable tech—it’s sewable tech.
In a world where Google Glass and Pebble rule the day, it’s easy to overlook their softer cousins just over the horizon. It’s not their heyday yet, but they’re clearly on the way.
The Soft Spot Of Soft Wearables
Look no further than Fashion Week. London-based CuteCircuit debuted its line of glowing iPhone-controlled dresses and suits. CuteCircuit, which has already made waves by designing high-tech gowns for celebrities, is the first wearable electronics company to present a line at Fashion Week.
The fashion industry is clearly warming to wearable tech. Recent examples include Intel’s partnership with fashion house Opening Ceremony to create a “smart bracelet” and Fitbit’s collaboration with Tory Burch to make chic versions of its fitness tracker.
So far, though, much of that activity involves “hard” accessories like bracelets. Actual clothing items, like Sporty Supahero, a light-up cycling jacket, or body metric tracker Hexoskin, are still highly expensive prototypes. What gives?
“It’s hard to make wearable tech washable,” said Kristin Neidlinger of Sensoree. “So far, electronics in fabric are tricky and delicate.”
Don’t Wash Me
Neidlinger designed a series of Mood Sweaters for the Wearable Technology Fashion Show, which are designed to help people with sensory processing disorders wear their feelings on the outside; the sweater is designed to change color to reflect the wearer’s mood. But since they’re netted with LED lights and conductive thread, they are currently dry-clean only.
There’s also the issue of battery packs, which can be large and unwieldy, sometimes creating an unsightly lump.
“It’d be great to take a CuteCircuits outfit apart to see where they hide the battery pack,” said Leslie Birch of Geisha Teku. Birch’s fashion show creation, the Florabrella, is a Blade Runner inspired umbrella with LED lights that change color to match the user’s outfit.
One of Birch’s solutions? To hide the battery holder inside a T-shirt tag. The LED Sequin that Birch uses in this project is hand-washable. But there’s still no way to toss conductive clothing in the wash.
Soft electronics are lighting up the runway, but it’ll be a while until they’re in our closets. Designers know what the problems are, but they don’t have solutions yet.
A Thriving DIY Community
If you can’t wait for soft wearables to get here, you’re not alone. Thousands of do-it-yourself minded makers have taken the craft into their own hands.
“I think a lot of it has to do with customization,” said Birch. “If people want their electronic clothing to look cookie cutter, they’d go to Old Navy and buy the hoodie with the built in earbuds. I can make something that nobody else has.”
One of the largest communities is at Adafruit, a DIY electronics hobby company. The company’s director of wearable electronics, Becky Stern, comes up with products, tutorials, and contests each #WearableWednesday on the community blog.
Stern got started in soft electronics in college, when she took a class on making wireless toys. In part thanks to things like the Adafruit Beginner LED Sewing Kit, it’s easier than ever for people of all ages to get started making wearable technology, no prior engineering knowledge required.
“Building electronics with your hands is certainly a fun brain exercise, but adding crafting into the mix really stretches your creativity,” said Stern. “Sewing is fun and relaxing, and adorning a plush toy, prom dress, or hat with a circuit of tiny parts can make you feel like you’re some kind of futuristic fashion designer.”
Just like Internet of Things tinkerers have the Raspberry Pi and Arduino Uno as tools of choice, the soft electronics community also has adapted devices specifically for this hobby.
The Lilypad Arduino is a set of sewable electronic pieces developed by MIT Media Lab professor Leah Buechley. It’s smaller and flatter than an Arduino Uno, and is especially designed to be stitched to fabric with conductive thread. Buechley herself showed off its abilities with a biking jacket capable of LED turn signals just over your shoulder blades.
A similar platform is Adafruit’s FLORA, which the company released just last year. FLORA can be daisy chained with various sensors for GPS, motion, and light. On release, its touchstone project was a sparkle skirt that lights up when you move.
There aren’t any hard numbers on the DIY wearables community, but it’s clear from browsing members’ projects on Instructables that this group is far broader than your typical collection of electrical engineers. Stern also noted that there are 10,000 copies of FLORA in the wild, and the company ships them worldwide.
According to Stern, it’s simple. Make electronics touchable, and watch them take off.
“Playing with sensors and conductive textiles breaks electronics out of their hard shells and makes them more relatable,” she said.
Lilypad Arduino embroidery photo by Becky Stern; inline photos courtesy of Adafruit, Sensoree
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There has been a bit of buzz around rich snippets over the last few years, and for good reason. Rich snippets are an excellent way to make your content stand out on SERP against all of the competition. After all, you work tirelessly trying to rank on a SERP, but that really doesn’t mean a […]
The post The Time Has Come: How to Actually Create a Video Rich Snippet by @highervis appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
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This post is part of Hire Education, an occasional series about technological innovation in education and how it’s reshaping the way students prepare themselves for a transformed workforce.
The brave new word of free, online college-level courses finally makes it possible to get an inexpensive degree-equivalent education in many fields. Employers, though, might be less impressed with the supplemental coursework, unless you’re looking for a job in technology or computer science.
Generally, massive open online courses—still often known by the unwieldy acronym MOOCs—are focused on providing courses that will improve skills in specific topics, frequently focused on technology, science and mathematics. These courses provide students with completion credentials once they have passed a class.
But the trend in online education is relatively new, having boomed over the last two years. So while students are flocking to these services—Udacity boasts 1.6 million students in over 200 countries—many employers remain skeptical of the nontraditional education.
Online-Educated And In The Workplace
Udacity, a popular online-course platforms that focuses specifically on technology-related courses, is working hard to encourage the acceptance of its remotely educated students in the workforce.
See also: The Traditional College Lecture Is Dead
The company recently announced the Open Education Alliance (OEA), a group of employers and educators that provides access to post-secondary education and encourages students to pursue careers in technology. Members of Udacity’s OEA include Google, AT&T, Intuit and Cloudera.
“We’ve heard from our students that many of them are motivated to advance their career opportunities,” said Clarissa Shen, vice president of strategic business and marketing at Udacity. “Employers and industry partners we work with are hiring our students.”
Udacity’s job placement program also actively works with students to help attain employment from its network of over 300 companies ranging from leading Fortune 500 companies to smaller startups.
“Out of our user base, ten to 15 percent of our students at any given time have opted in to post their resumes,” Shen said. Students are also encouraged to promote their coursework on resumes and LinkedIn accounts, as well as set up profiles on GitHub.
Coursera, another online teaching startup, says it wants to offer people a way to obtain a lifelong education, regardless of whether they get a degree at the end or not.
The company offers a “signature track” program in which students can pay anywhere from $30 to $70 to secure an official Coursera completion certificate that they can then advertise to employers.
“We ask students at the end of the course to share how they’re using a verified course certificate,” said Chris Heather, a product manager at Coursera. “It ends up that students are professionals that have a college degree or higher, and the main reason they actually take the courses is to advance their career.”
So while online courses are supplemental to professionals who have already taken a traditional university route, these online platforms might prove to be crucial to students who either can’t afford, or have no desire to attend college, but still want a good job in the workforce.
Degrees, Huh—What Are They Good For?
According to a study from the Brookings Institution earlier this year, about half of all U.S. jobs that require science, technology, engineering and math training are available to workers without a four-year college degree. Those jobs account for about five percent of all U.S. positions.
This bodes well for the likes of Coursera, Udacity and edX, the non-profit partnership between Harvard and MIT. Students can pay a minimal fee to complete coursework in lieu of a university education and still succeed in high tech fields.
In an interview with the New York Times, Google’s senior vice president of people operations, Laszlo Block, said that the proportion of employees at the company who don’t have college degrees has increased over time. In fact, there are some teams at Google on which 14 percent of employees never went to college.
“After two or three years, your ability to perform at Google is completely unrelated to how you performed when you were in school,” Block told the NYT. “Because the skills you required in college are very different.”
Tamir Duberstein understands firsthand how learning a new skill after college can create additional job opportunities. He began taking MOOC classes through MITx, now edX, and segued into the inaugural Udacity courses focused on computer science.
He completed five courses focusing on computer science and programming and was encouraged to post his resume on Udacity’s platform. Because of his coursework, he now has a job as a programmer at Square, the San Francisco-based payments startup.
Udacity courses undoubtedly helped him get hired, he said in an email interview. “Udacity personnel actively put me in touch with my recruiter at Square.”
With a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Waterloo, Duberstein had never studied computer science, and decided to pursue the subject online. The coursework on Udacity is very different from the traditional classroom, he said, in fact he was happy to work on assignments, unlike his experience in college.
In Academia, The Degree Is King
Academics scoff at the idea that online certificates might rival university degrees, although of course that skepticism is a bit self-serving. If people turn to MOOCs over college, and the platforms can educate a higher number of students at a faster pace, then universities would need fewer professors leading lecture halls.
Sanjay Sarma, director of digital learning at MIT, believes traditional university degrees still hold sway in the workplace.
“When I’m hiring someone for the long-term to lead the company, I want to make sure that their … interdisciplinary skills and critical thinking are very developed,” he said in an interview with ReadWrite earlier this year. “So there, it matters and would matter to me that they did go to a good school and get a great education.”
Technical skills like programming and mathematics can be learned online, but interpersonal relationships and leadership qualities still can’t be perfected through MOOC classrooms, something many companies value in their employees.
A recent informal poll by a recruitment strategy expert Brad Petersen at Success Communications Group yielded some interesting insights. One respondent claimed that while some managers are slanted towards giving more weight to someone with a traditional college degree, they try to approach the topic of education equally.
“The person who usually gets an online degree or certification is juggling full time work, maybe didn’t have the opportunity to go to full-time college (like me) and typically has more real world experience,” the recruiter said.
This is congruent with both Coursera and Udacity’s student bodies. Both companies report that while all students are taking courses to hone their skills, a high number of them are already employed and are using the courses to become more attractive as candidates for promotion or to other potential employers.
Photo via Flickr user ilikespoons
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