Posts tagged Makes

Facebook Makes Messenger Mandatory

Facebook’s plan to monetize Messenger through payments just got one step closer to reality. Now users who want to keep messaging their Facebook friends will be forced to download the standalone Messenger app.

In the next few days, Facebook will fade out the messaging option from its main iPhone and Android apps. Now users worldwide will experience what European Facebook users underwent in April, where Facebook first tested a standalone app for messaging.

The social network hasn’t exactly been subtle about its plans to monetize the messaging function. In June, the company snagged PayPal President David Marcus to oversee Messenger, and clearly expected Marcus to use his payments expertise.

See also: PayPal President David Marcus Is Taking His Talents To Facebook

Messenger hit 200 million active users and people now send 12 billion messages a day, Facebook said in a statement. It’s unclear so far how this would be monetized, but in the 2014 second quarter conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that “over time there will be some overlap between [Messenger] and payments.”

The move is similar to FourSquare’s corralling of some of its app’s functions into an exclusively check-in app Swarm. However, as tech companies continue to split up their apps into increasingly specific categories, the question that remains is whether users will be content to have multiple Facebook and Foursquare apps on their phones.

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Seo In-guk tells of what makes his role attractive – The Korea Herald

Seo In-guk tells of what makes his role attractive
The Korea Herald
“When we lead our lives, we sometimes use others as shields to protect ourselves and we sometimes even lie,” Seo told the reporters. “My character Lee is free from all that that and that's why his presence can be a relief to stressed office workers.”

and more »

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YP’s “Mybook” Makes Local Search More Social

Local search provider YP has been investing in its mobile app, doing brand advertising and generally seeking ways to better compete with rivals such as Google, Foursquare and Yelp. It doesn’t have the reach of Google or the content of Yelp but with its mybook feature the company may have…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Why Python Makes A Great First Programming Language

Python is now the most popular introductory language at American colleges, a recent Association for Computing Machinery study reports.

In an analysis of the top 39 computer science departments as ranked by U.S. News in 2014, the general-purpose programming language has replaced Java as the budding computer scientist’s first exposure to writing code. Eight of the top 10 CS departments (80%), and 27 of the top 39 (69%), teach Python in their introductory courses.

Invented 23 years ago, Python’s discovery as a great tool for first-timers has been more recent. The beginner-oriented Raspberry Pi has certainly influenced Python’s new role as a teaching tool, but also its increasing adoption at organizations like Google, Yahoo and NASA that make it valuable to know even after a programmer is no longer a beginner. In modern times, it has routinely been ranked as one of the eight most popular programming languages since 2008.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, Python is my first programming language, too. I’m halfway through Zed Shaw’s Learn Python The Hard Way on my road to mastery. And in this liberal arts student’s studies, I’ve noted a few key characteristics that make Python easy to grasp.

Here are some of the reasons Python makes a great first programming language.

Very Minimal Setup

To show you just how easy it is to get started with Python, let’s literally get started with Python.

On a Mac, find your Terminal program and open it. On a PC, find the PowerShell program and open that. It’ll be a blank box where you can write in text prompts.

Do that now. Write in the word “python” and hit Enter. You should see something like this:

If you don’t see that and instead see the words “python is not recognized” or something similar, you need to download Python, Python 2 to be exact, and try again.

Either way, it only takes a single word to get your computer to run Python. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

It’s Written In Plain English

Python is so easy that we’re going to write our first Python program right now.

If you’re still running Python from the last section, type CTRL-Z on a Mac or “quit” on a PC to exit.

Now create a new blank Python file using Nano, a basic command line text editor. All you have to do is give it any name and end it with the suffix “.py” so your computer understands it is a program intended to be read by Python. The “nano” prompt simply opens it in Nano.

This is the most basic Python program you can write, a command that simply prints the words “Hello world” on your computer screen. Compare it to Java and C’s “Hello World” programs, which are each several lines long. There’s no weird syntax, no cryptic variables. Anybody can look at this one line and figure out what it does.

Save, and then run the file with the “python” command. It’ll print your program:

Errors Appear On Runtime

When you’re learning something for the first time, you’re inevitably going to make mistakes. Python makes it easy to identify and fix these mistakes immediately. That’s because Python displays errors at run time, instead of simply failing to compile the program.

Open up, the program we just wrote before and intentionally make an error. Here, I’ve omitted a necessary quotation mark.

When I try to run the program, Python tries to point out where I went wrong:

Instead of displaying a blank screen where your program should have been, Python will run your buggy program and try to help you troubleshoot it.

Shallow Learning Curve

I began coding Python last week with the program above. A few days later, I’ve programmed my own basic text editor and calculator using Python.

Because Python has so little overhead and excess code, it becomes easy to grasp continually more difficult concepts since they mimic English sentence structure we’ve seen before.

We just built the most basic program possible. But even just knowing what you know about Python now, I bet you can take a guess as to what the following program does:

I’ll run this program using the Python command.

Sure enough, it lists how many students and teachers there are, and does a basic division problem for us. Did you guess correctly?

For the reasons above and many more that more experienced Python programmers can explain better than I, Python makes a great first programming language, especially if you don’t really consider yourself the math and science type. It’s really no surprise that American universities have come to the same conclusion.

Logo via the Python Foundation

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How Chromecast Makes Shared Viewing Easier: Bat Squeaks

Using the Chromecast with friends is about to get better, thanks to this handy update: Google announced at its Google I/O developer conference that users will no longer have to join the same network, just to cast videos and music to Chromecast-connected TVs. 

What Google didn’t announce, at least on stage, was how that was going to work. Turns out, mobile devices will be able to link to Chromecast via ultrasonic signals undetectable to the naked human ear—not too different from the high-pitched signals bats use for echolocation.

The idea is to make shared Chromecast experiences among several users in a room easier. So Chromecast engineers focused on trying to eliminate the need for friends to type in sometimes complex passwords just to join the host’s Wi-Fi network. 

Ultrasonic pairing will work, even if the phone is on a cellular connection. Here’s how: Chromecast users first configure their devices to connect with devices that are in close proximity. Then friends use Netflix, YouTube or another Cast-enabled app to request Chromecast access, prompting the TV dongle to emit distinct ultrasonic audio. The mobile detects that and pairs with the Chromecast. If it fails, users can also type in a PIN code that pops up on screen. 

GigaOm notes that ultrasonic networking was the brainchild of Google engineer Boris Smus, whose Web app project used it for messaging and pairing last year. 

In related Chromecast news, it appears that YouTube won’t be hogging TV Queue anymore. Other apps will get the ability to support this handy feature, which lets multiple people add videos to a single viewing queue. 

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Nest Makes Its Move In The Smart Home

Developers, you have a new smart-home platform to play with. Google’s Nest unit has formally unveiled an API (see our API explainer) that will let independent programmers create new applications for the company’s smart thermostats and smoke alarms. Nest’s press release is embedded below.

The main idea behind the program is to let a variety of other devices—everything from smartwatches to smart lighting to smart cars—connect with Nest’s products to share data and act together more intelligently. They’ll do so by way of their apps, which developers can modify to use Nest API functions that, say, read data from one of its smart smoke detectors or change the thermostat temperature.

Nest actually announced the developer program last September; today just marks its formal launch. Here’s a list of the functions provided by the Nest API.

Some Ideas To Get You Started

That opens the door to a variety of new applications, some of which Nest is showcasing as part of today’s announcement. For instance:

  • Logitech’s Harmony Ultimate remote will let you set the temperature on a Nest thermostat without getting up from the couch;
  • The popular online service IFTTT—a way of programming new behaviors into your existing online services by combining them using the formulation “if this then that”—will now work with Nest, allowing new “recipes” such as “if my detector senses smoke, text my neighbors”;
  • Google’s voice-activated smartphone search will let you set the temperature by saying “OK Google” and issuing a voice command, while its Google Now personal assistant can tell Nest when you’re nearing home and have it start warming or cooling your home before you get there (Updated: see below);
  • Smart LED bulbs from the Australian company Lifx will flash red if a linked Nest Protect detects smoke, helping you see through the haze and even alerting hearing-impaired people who might not hear the alarm.

Not all of those applications may strike you as equally exciting at first glance. And while almost all of them are available immediately (a few, such as the Google services, won’t debut until the fall), it’s also worth noting that the products involved may not be in widespread use yet. It’s not clear, for instance, how many people currently own Whirlpool washers they can control with an app—which, by the way, will now coordinate with the Nest thermostat to schedule cycles around peak energy-usage periods.

But these applications should give you a good sense of how Nest sees its future in the smart home—as a kind of traffic cop for other gadgets, one that leverages the data it’s collecting about residents to inform and work with other connected devices.

It’s worth noting that Nest officials don’t embrace the idea that their products are becoming “hubs” that connect and coordinate other devices, except in specific and user-friendly ways. “We’re building this symbiotic experience” between Nest’s gadgets and third-party devices, Greg Hu, director of Nest’s developer program, told me in an interview. “It’s not about a single side becoming the hub and controlling the other.”

Instead, Hu said, Nest wants to promote new applications that make life easier for people in straightforward and easy-to-understand ways that don’t ask too much of them. That emphasis on user friendliness and simplicity hews both to Nest’s roots in Apple (co-founders Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers both hail from Infinite Loop) and the spare design characteristic of its new parent Google.

Update, 8:30am, June 24: Hu emphasized to me that Google’s apps for the Nest use the same API as any other developer, and didn’t get any special access to data. Nest has also been clear that customers will need to authorize data sharing for apps that connect to its thermostat or smoke detectors.

This is contrary to the impression you’d get reading, say, this shoddy Wall Street Journal article, which hypes the notion that Nest will “share some user information with corporate parent Google for the first time since its February acquisition.” It’s technically true, but misleading in effect because Nest will share “some customer data” with any app developer whose users opt into the sharing.

Data, Data Everywhere

The data Nest gizmos collect on their households is central to making these new applications work. Its thermostat “learns” from the behavior of residents as they turn it up and down, eventually figuring out how to program itself. It will even turn down the heat or air conditioning when residents are away, a conclusion it will reach after a certain period in which no one adjusts the temperature and the thermostat’s built-in infrared sensors detect no motion. Nest’s Protect smoke detectors likewise carry eight different sensors, including four that detect movement.

And despite a recent setback for its Protect smoke detectors (including a product recall), Nest’s ambitions are clearly growing in this respect. On Friday, for instance, it acquired the home surveillance-camera maker Dropcam for a reported $555 million, providing it yet another platform for collecting data that can be mined and used in new ways.

Nest is careful to note that its privacy policy prohibits the sharing of that information without customers’ permission, including with its parent Google. Hu declined to comment on Dropcam, saying the company doesn’t yet have anything to add beyond its Friday blog post announcing the acquisition.

Battle Beyond The Hub

Nest, of course, is far from alone in its desire to infuse the smart home with some actual intelligence. Rival SmartThings recently launched a similar developer effort aimed at creating new applications that link together a variety of digital appliances, even launching a sort of app store you can browse for new features (albeit in a sort of convoluted way).

Crowdsourced product-maker Quirky is launching a new company called Wink to distribute its own software for connecting automated home gadgets; 15 companies reportedly have plans to launch 60 Wink-compatible products in July. And, of course, Apple is also testing the smart-home waters, having just announced HomeKit, another new software protocol also aimed at making a variety of smart devices controllable by “third party apps”—on the iPhone, natch.

Nest’s Hu said the company is playing a different game than its competitors. “Technology in the home is something we take seriously,” he said. “It’s about keeping things simple and easy to understand, not just connecting loads and loads of devices.”

Here’s the full Nest release:

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Boss of a Leicester web company Anicca makes shortlist of top SEO firms – Leicester Mercury

Boss of a Leicester web company Anicca makes shortlist of top SEO firms
Leicester Mercury
The boss of a Leicester web company has been shortlisted in a prestigious table of Britain's best search engine optimisation (SEO) and Google marketing businesses. Ann Stanley, managing director of Anicca, has been placed alongside the top SEO people …

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Microsoft’s SMX Advanced Keynote: Cortana Makes People More Likely To Search

We’re ready to get started on day two of SMX Advanced, and today’s opening keynote promises to talk about the future of search. Microsoft’s Marcus Ash (Group Program Manager for Windows Phone) and Rob Chambers (Group Program Manager, Applications and Services Group) will be here…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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What Makes A Million Dollar E-Commerce Business?

As e-commerce business brokers, we get to see and value a wide range of e-commerce businesses, both good and others not so good. Owners come to us in every situation possible. Growing, declining, and anywhere in between, so we get to see a lot of different businesses. Typically e-commerce entrepreneurs approach us wondering what their business is worth and what it may sell for. Based off that experience and data, we believe the following eight  factors make a  million dollar e-commerce business: 1. Profit The number one driving factor of a million dollar e-commerce business is profit. The accepted valuation approach for e-commerce businesses is a multiple of […]

The post What Makes A Million Dollar E-Commerce Business? appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Apple Makes Its Move In The Smart Home With HomeKit

After weeks of anticipation, Apple finally offered details on its smart home offering: HomeKit, a strategy designed to “bring some rationality to this space,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president for software engineering said at company’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

HomeKit is designed to unify the various, piecemeal experience in the connected home, with a variety of providers, systems and connectivity options under “a common network protocol,” Federighi said.

Specifics were scarce. Federighi said HomeKit will somehow allow iOS users to control their homes with their iPhones—and only their iPhones—to manage “locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, switches.” The mobile device will offer secure pairing, and can control separate gadgets or set automations for groups of devices.

And it will be controlled via voice, thanks to integration with Apple’s Siri personal assistant. So you can change modes by saying “time for bed,” and your house will respond by bringing down the lights and locking the front door.

Federighi’s presentation focused mostly on features, not specifics, but we look forward to unpacking this protocol in the days ahead.

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