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Eli Fennell
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The Key to Social Media is Being Social
The Key to Social Media is Being Social

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Updated: The Three Branding Opportunities in the Local Knowledge Panel

Google is always testing new ways of organizing and presenting Search results, including Local Knowledge Panel results. Business owners must be aware of these changes, and of the benefits of claiming and optimizing their Google My Business listings.

In the following article, I discuss the three opportunities for business branding in the Local Knowledge Panel, including:

Your Business Logo
Your Map & Search Photos
Your Business Description

I've also updated the article to reflect the removal of Recent Posts on Google+ from Local Knowledge Panel results.  Actively Posting to your Google+ Page might still be valuable in other ways, but is no longer of benefit for Local Knowledge Panel results.

#LocalSEO   #LocalSearch   #Branding  

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The 'Energy Revolutions' That Powered Evolution

Understanding how life evolved as it did on Earth is a fundamental quest of the evolutionary sciences, with applications both for the life history of our world as well as the quest to find life elsewhere in the cosmos.

It has long been considered helpful to describe life history on this planet as a series of unfolding stages. Not only does such an approach make it easier to understand, but also fits with the fossil evidence showing life occurring in a series of 'explosions' of new categories and forms of life (i.e. evolution is an ongoing process, but speciation and the emergence of new categories of lifeforms occurred far more rapidly during certain periods).

A new article published in Nature Ecology and Evolution suggests a new and foundational way to categorize the stages of life on Earth as a series of energy epochs, as living things accessed new and better forms of energy.

Broadly, the suggested schema identifies five overlapping epochs: geochemical energy, sunlight, oxygen, flesh, and fire. Each of these was, at one time, not yet exploited or not exploited at all by living things, but as each became more and more available to life, new categories of living things exploded in response to these 'energy revolutions', expanding to fill every new niche made available, and increasing in complexity with the increasing richness and efficiency of the energy sources available.

While it may not yet be possible to predict the next epoch in the energy sources of life, or even if there will be one, knowing the role energy availability played in the evolution of life over our planetary history may be useful for identifying cosmic 'candidate habits' which might host life. The search for 'Earth-like' planets, in fact, may be overly narrow, and the important question may not be whether a planet looks like Earth, but whether it possesses the energetic 'ingredients' first for simple lifeforms, and then the more complex life made possible in part by the existence of those earlier forms.

After all, when life first evolved on Earth, the planet was utterly inhospitable for any of the complex forms inhabiting our modern world, and it was those earlier and simpler lifeforms themselves that helped 'terraform' us, for example by releasing large amounts of oxygen into the atmosphere, or simply by existing to function as food sources for each other (whether consumed, as a predator eats its prey, decomposed as by microbes, or broken down into soil and absorbed as by plant roots).

It was not idyllic conditions that gave rise to life on this planet, in effect, but rather life that made our world idyllic, its biochemical machinery powered at each stage by more and more complex and efficient energy forms, each 'setting the stage' for the next categories of life to follow.

#BlindMeWithScience #Evolution

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Is Windows 10 S A Chrome OS 'Killer' Or Win RT 2.0?

The following article by +Steven Vaughan-Nichols​​ sums up a lot of my thoughts about Windows 10 S, the new version of Windows meant to compete with Chrome OS.

As a consumer play, it risks confusing consumers as bad as, or worse than, Widows RT, the short lived version of Windows 10 for ARM processors. (In fact, it is likely Windows 10 S will literally take RT's former place as the Windows version for ARM, though it also supports traditional x32/x64 processors.) Customer confusion about the inability to run many legacy Windows apps on Windows RT helped doom it from the start, and with Microsoft's new Surface Laptop being a high end flagship and sporting Windows 10 S risks making this even more confusing.

So, you may argue, if we ignore the confusing consumer play aspect of Windows 10 S, it is largely meant to take on Chromebooks in education. Microsoft is promising cheap education-focused Windows 10 S devices from their OEM Partners, free updates for many of their education clients and student customers, and an improved educational software platform.

Even so, apart from the latter, Windows 10 S offers nothing but Windows 10 limited to Windows Store app offerings. The Windows Store, however, is still way behind in the app race, with some of Microsoft's own legacy apps not yet available, as well as many others.

And it is limited to using Microsoft's half-baked Edge Browser, which is still playing catch-up to Chrome and frankly every other highly developed browser, including Internet Explorer, and has proven less secure than Chrome. And while Chrome OS may not be a huge success with consumers yet, the Chrome browser is, and that also matters.

While this is therefore Microsoft's strongest answer to-date to Chrome OS for education, it may not be enough, and the confusing message about its target audience, from low end school users to premium consumer users doesn't help.

#Windows10S

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App Teardown Shows Google Photos Going More Personalized & Social

An +Android Police app teardown of Google Photos v2.14's code has revealed that Google's best received app of recent years is about to get even better, with personalized experiences and new facial recognition-based 'social' sharing options apparently coming in future updates.

While teardowns don't always predict the state of future app updates perfectly or completely, Android Police teardowns of Google Photos have been remarkably accurate in the past at predicting coming features.

The code in question suggests that, in a future version (or possibly rolled out over multiple future versions), Google Photos will ask you to confirm your identity by selecting a photo (or photos) of yourself from your collection, so the app knows who you are when you appear in photos. If you choose to allow this (which will be optional, i.e. opt-in, for the privacy minded), you will be rewarded with new personalized and social features.

These features include personalized Search results (e.g. when you Search for images with yourself in them) and 'creations', i.e. automatically generated Albums, Animations, Movies, etc...., both of which sound similar to what the app already does but will presumably be even more personalized somehow.

And you may choose to allow the app to activate an even more interesting feature whereby you can allow other users of the app, if they're in your Contacts, to receive some kind of Notification or other indication (the app code isn't entirely clear on this) when your face appear in their stored photos, presumably encouraging them to share these photos with you. (And likewise, if any of your Contacts approve this, you will receive the same sort of Notification, prompt, or whatever form this takes.)

The latter would be the most significant 'social' feature added to the app to-date, especially if, as seems likely, this takes the form of Notifications prompting the user to share their photos of you with you, not unlike when a social network notifies users when they have been tagged in photos by their friends and followers.

While Google Photos isn't per se a social network, the addition of this feature with Comments, Shared Albums, and Collaboration features added in previous updates brings Google Photos one step closer to being a disruptive force in social media, as I suggested in my blog post Will Google Photos Disrupt Social Media As We Know It? (http://elifennell.com/will-google-photos-disrupt-social-media-as-we-know-it/).

While Google as a company has long struggled to break into social media in a big way, it seems ironic that an app which began as an AI-infused glorified photo gallery may well prove their most significant success in this area to-date, and all without forcing people to join 'yet another social network' (a complaint which persistently haunted the Google+ project).

#GooglePhotos

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Artificial Womb Could Help Save Premature Birth Babies

A team of medical researchers have created an 'artificial womb' and used it to gestate baby sheep for the last four weeks of their gestational period, after which they were switched onto a ventilator. The sheep 'born' from this process appear normal and healthy compared with sheep naturally born from their mothers after the same period of development within the womb.

This is not a full blown womb in the sense that it could be used to gestate an organism from beginning to end of the process, the mother is still necessary for critical early development, but could some day help prematurely born human babies have better health and survival outcomes.

Analogized to the span of human gestational development, the sheep would have been approximately 22-24 weeks old when moved to the artificial wombs. Despite significant advancement in recent years, babies born this early still have worse health and survival outcomes. This artificial womb may level the playing field for them.

It will still require years of testing and analysis before this technology is approved, assuming it works as well in humans as it appears to with sheep, and it will have to be redesigned, as the current designs are less than aesthetically pleasing, but it may not be long before premature birth babies benefit from this technology.

#BlindMeWithScience #Science #ArtificialWomb

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Google To Build Ad Blocking Into Chrome Browser?

Google may be about to do the seemingly unthinkable: join the ad blocker game by building ad blocking tech directly into their popular Chrome web browser.

Of course, there is a caveat: reports suggest it would allow through ads which meet the standards of good online ads specified by the industry group Coalition for Better Ads.

Ads which are disruptive and/or intrusive would be disallowed, and it is quite possible that Google's approach with Chrome would block all ads on sites where any ads violate the CBA guidelines.

This would then be a defensive move, ultimately, to dissuade users from installing 3rd party ad blockers, which might block Google ads or extort payments from them to allow their ads through, as well to dissuade them from switching browsers.

#AdBlock #Chrome

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Horseshoe Crab Blood: The Most Important Medical Tech You've Probably Never Heard About

Horseshoe crab blood is one of the most important chemicals used in modern medicine. A chemical derived from its blood (which is blue instead of red, due to using copper where red blood uses iron), one which plays a role in the creature's unique immune system, is currently the only FDA approved chemical for testing for contamination of medical equipment and tech by Gram negative microbes, making it in many ways nearly as important as antibiotics in the modern arsenal of medicine.

Because of this, demand for the blood has skyrocketed over the years, with now over 600,000 horseshoe crabs per year harvested for this purpose.

This has not been considered a problem in itself, because the crabs aren't killed for their blood. They are captured, one-third of their blood removed, and they are returned to the waters. It has usually been claimed that they readily recover from this, and so it has been assumed this presented no threat to their populations. For this reason, in fact, it has been specifically exempt from regulations applying to non-medical harvesting of the creatures, where such regulations exist.

Unfortunately, new evidence is emerging that this conventional wisdom may be inaccurate. It seems increasingly likely that the procedure may have a variety of negative consequences for their survival, and may be putting pressure on the species, which happens to be one of the oldest on Earth.

If true, this need not necessarily end the practice entirely. Simple changes to how the crabs are handled may be enough to counter many of the apparent negative consequences. It is not clear, unfortunately, if any organization or agency can enforce regulations in this area, or if the companies involved will accept the evidence if it continues to question their rosy assumptions.

#BlindMeWithScience #HorseshoeCrab

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First Rule of Marketing: Don't beat your customers bloody, and then call it 're-accommodation'.

#BluntMarketingTips #MarketingTips #UnitedJourney
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Truth in advertising.

#UnitedJourney
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Google Shuts Down Burger King Attempt To Hijack Google Assistant

Burger King, in an ill considered marketing effort, devised a TV commercial that ended with a blatant attempt to trigger the Google Assistant software for Android and Google Home devices to finish their advertisement by giving a list of whopper ingredients.

Thanks to Trusted Voice, and a lack of ubiquitous hotword activation, most Assistant-enabled devices did not trigger this for users anyways, but it was clear what the intention was, however few users were affected.

For those few users still affected, Google Assistant will no longer comply with the ad's verbal prompt. This puts Google a step ahead of competing products, such as Microsoft's 'Xbox On' ad for Xbox One featuring the actor who played Jesse from Breaking Bad.

#GoogleAssistant
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