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Amazon Prime Next Day Delivery Now Delivers To Your Car!

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber than you are already aware of the “free” next day or two-day delivery that comes along with your membership.  Many Amazon shoppers find themselves utilizing the benefits of an Amazon Prime membership as it is more cost effective than paying for delivery fees when ordering.  Shoppers can cut costs by not only getting free shipping, but also in many states and on certain products, they can get same day delivery. Amazon is constantly working to change the canvas and become better in their delivery area.

Due to a high rise in thefts, Amazon launched in “in-home” delivery service where the delivery drivers have access to the customer’s home and can drop off packages directly into the home.  The in-home service gives the customer the security of knowing that their products can not be stolen from the doorstops by any on-looker. This new service has come with its share of scrutiny and with praise. Many customers are skeptical about giving a stranger free access into their home.  Some critics have stated that this feature gives criminals more reason to do home break-ins.  Even though there are mixed reviews about this feature that Amazon offers, its still an effort to gain more security with the delivery of their products.

Amazon has always been known to put on their thinking cap when it comes on to innovation and new ways to reinvent their delivery. Now Amazon has launched “In-Car” delivery which also includes “same-day” delivery.  Yes, if you are thinking “Is this the same as the in-home delivery?”, then yes, you are thinking correctly.  With most people not being that comfortable with giving Amazon free access into their home, the idea of having packages delivered into the car is a much more appealing thought.  This technology Amazon will utilize is called “Amazon Key In-Car”.  For the technology to work, your Amazon account must be able to link to your car service account. Many car companies allow for this linkage such as OnStar and Volvo On Call.

After the accounts are linked together, the customer will have the ability to choose “In-car” delivery.  They will also be able to choose “In-car” same-day shipping.  To setup the delivery process, the customer’s car has o be in a public parking lot and have a backup location such as a home or an office. The app allows for up to a 4hr delivery window, gives information when the package is on its way, and when the package has been delivered.  For security the app gives time stamps of when the car was unlocked and locked to ensure that the car and the package is left securely.

With Amazon being the dominator in the field of “in-home” and “in-car” delivery, the prices for the services has now gone up. Over the years, Amazon has managed to maintain is $99 per year membership fee for Amazon Prime, but in 2018, Amazon Prime subscribers can see a bump in membership fee from $99 to $119. Security and convenience have their cost and Amazon must be able to continue to grow with their efforts to supersede their own standards every year. This comes at a cost.

Amazon continues to change the canvas of products and the delivery of these products. It Gurus Of Atlanta continues to innovate, create, and educate our clients on Technology and the ever changing canvas that it affects, which is our daily lives. We encourage all of our subscribers and clients to stay tuned as we bring to the world more information on technology.

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Amazon and Microsoft Combine Powers to form – GLUON! AI Deeper Learning on Neural Networks!

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

In the highly competitive world that we live in today, its clear to understand that there is a strict competitive market building amongst the great tech companies such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Baidu, and other startup companies. All these companies have developed, deployed, and integrated their cloud based solutions with Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence provides the steroids that the Cloud industry needs in order to accelerate its existence, growth, and empowerment. AI has developed key components to help itself with its constant learning processes. These processes can be better understood through “machine learning”. Machine learning allows information to be rapidly digested, conceptualized, and intelligently categorized by artificial intelligence. Cloud products such as Azure from Microsoft, AWS from Amazon, TensorFlow from Google, and more integrate machine learning into their systems to enhance the user experience and make mundane tasks to now be automated with little or no human effort involved.

With this evolution and the stiff competition there can be no collaboration in sight especially from rival companies which have no need to partner up, but to simply dominate their place in the industry. Surprisingly Microsoft and Amazon have done such a collaboration. This collaborated effort is not only to show that larger companies can work together, but also the data collected from this program allows both companies to be more successful in their domination of the cloud space.  Microsoft and Amazon have come together to form Gluon. Gluon in the dictionary is defined as a “subatomic particle of a class that is through to bind quarks together”. However, this is not the same Gluon which are referring to. Gluon is the fist distinctive collaborative efforts of these technology giants in the race for Artificial Intelligence and gathering information. Gluon is considered the store-house for machine learning and the ability to “voluntarily” utilize machine learning in the development of products and services by Amazon and Microsoft. This storehouse of technological learning and a knowledge base that is bubbling over with information is the type of data warehouse that AI thrives on.

This cohesive collaboration between developers and machine learning have no blossomed what is dubbed “deep learning”. Deep learning essentially is a combination of three distinct components such as data for training, neural network model, and an algorithm which trains the neural network.  The neural network essentially translates the data and feeds AI this information allowing AI to grow on a more diversified scale.  This new algorithm that is now being utilized by neural networks self-adjusts its output based on errors in the network output. This is a memory and compute process that machine learning and AI adapts through predictive outputs. An example of deep learning is Caffe2, TensorFlow, Appache MXNet, and Cognitive Toolkit offers options to speed up the neural network which often takes days to compute the data being derived.  These products now reduce the learning time and accelerates the parallelization in distributing computation processes.

Even though these products built within Gluon are effective and pose to change the way AI is developing by giving it more knowledge, the key is having developers to utilize these products to diversify and intensify the data stream.  AWS has been experimenting with its developers by using MXNet to train the neural networks. Microsoft has become a heavy contributor the open source MXNet by opening it to an ever-increasing rise in developers. The collaboration and data being created and distributed by these two powerhouses with Gluon can be overwhelming for a beginner when first interacting with this program, but even for more advanced developers, the data intensive algorithms seem take a life of its own demanding more ways to conform and adjust with massive error reduction.  The four key innovations which is introduced by Gluon are as follows:

Friendly API – using clear and concise code, it allows developers to learn and understand the data.

 

Dynamic networks – allows for ease of access and the rapid fluctuation of the data structure. Fluency in the data structure is critical for development as it allows hybrid scenarios and reduces stagnancy of the data flow as with previous machine learning software.

 

Algorithms that devein the network – Seamless combination of the model and algorithm allows the network to adjust definitions during training. This is critical as it allows developers to use programming loops, and conditionals.  Algorithms are now easier to change, create, and debug.

High Performance Operators for training – Gives the ability to create dynamic graphs and concise APi without sacrificing speed. Previous versions seemed to have consumed valuable run time that this feature runs through effortlessly and drastically picks up speed.

The question now becomes, how does developers access Gluon? Well its provided through Apache MXNet and the future releases will have support for Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit.  The AWS team has already published a front-end interface with low-level API to include other specifications and frameworks. Once accessing Gluon you can utilize an AWS Deep learning AMI to find a plethora of examples and workbooks utilized and documented by fellow developers.

 

Could this be a taste of what is to come from these super giant tech companies in terms of collaboration in order to leap ahead or is this just an opportunity for the public to advance an already thriving technology called Artificial Intelligence? These tech giants are clearly leveraging all aspects of “free data” and utilizing the voluntary efforts of developers world-wide to feed this neural network. As a partner for Microsoft, we anticipate that Microsoft as being the leader in products on the market will utilize Gluon in order to create more intensive, responsive, and advanced products built with AI as the backbone to reduce many processes and essentially speed up productivity. It Gurus Of Atlanta is your Microsoft partner of choice which brings you the cutting edge in design, technology, and its advancements.

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Artificial Embryos – Gateway To Human Cloning!

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

As the world gears and braces for the inevitable impacts of Artificial Intelligence, Robots, and full automation, many are left with questions. Some people are worried about jobs as they diminish, and automation increases, there are concerns over where the job market will be headed. It’s amazing to grasp that just a few years ago, the computer, the internet, and the whole concept of technology took a foothold in society. Right now, because of the uprising, many jobs have literally disappeared and other once never thought of jobs now exist. The truth is that life and society change every day. The key that all of us need to understand is that for us to not get left behind, then we must learn, adapt, and change. We are either the ones changing the world, or the world will change us. Many fear that the combination of machine learning and artificial intelligence will spawn a new race of robots which will have their own version of right or wrong. However, the one discovery which has managed to go below the radars is very significant, even more so than AI, is the creation of “Artificial Embryos”.

In case you took a breather and did a recheck of what was said in the last paragraph, you are correct in what you read. An embryo is what cells combine to form and what houses the beginnings of life. We all as mammals start out as embryos after fertilization takes place. The embryo develops the cells which in turn have their own DNA sequence that multiply and divide, then manifest into different parts of the body which determine sex, hair color, arm length, bone structure, and all the characteristics of an offspring.  All of this comes from an embryo.  There are constant studies and new developments as scientists do research on this mysterious, yet crucial part of life.  Yue Shao, whom has a background in Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering made an astounding discovery during this research and experimentation that has profound possibilities in the world of biology.

Yue Shao has been experimenting with stem cells and scaffolds of soft gel to determine replication of neural tissue. By pure accident and experimentation, Dr. Shao stumbled upon more than was bargained for.  The cells in the gel began to change and rapidly arrange at rate that was astounding. They began to form a lopsided circle.  In comparison, the embryo that Dr. Shao created was very much aligned with the same type of embryo which was in the uterine wall and starting to form the amniotic sac. The human embryo and the embryo that Dr. Shao was working on was identical.  The possibilities of this developing into a human required the Dr. to reach out to other groups to determine what to do with the embryo.

After more research and development, the team determined that the embryo would not fully develop into a human being because it did not have the cells required to form major organs such as a brain, heart, or placenta.  However, even though the “embryoids” lacked the required cells, because of their indistinguishable likeness to that of human embryos, the team has been destroying the embryos in formaldehyde and detergent. The ethical repercussions of the embryo going full term and what would come out of that development is too much of a risk to bring to light currently.  This does not stop Pandora’s box which has already been opened to push other researchers to now want to create a full human embryo. One particular group in Cambridge, U.K., has since developed a very convincing 6 day old mouse embryo and are now pushing the limits to create a human embryo.

Many may ask and wonder if the goal is to replicate human beings or to develop another race. For now researchers are limiting the research to focus on combining different stem cells to create bits of lung, intestine, and brain cells to make tissue.  By the discovery of Dr. Shao, the race is now in place and the torch has been lit for the group to first develop an actual human embryo.  A research group in Rockefeller University out of New York has joined the race and they are dubbing the new technology to be called “synthetic embryology”. 

 

This breakthrough is biologist have been searching for as previous attempts at creating an embryo resulted in embryos only growing up to a week before diminishing.  The new discovery was growing at such a rapid rate that superseded previous attempts that the team with Dr. Shao had to terminate the process because they had no concept of what the embryo would have developed into.   Up until now much of the events that take place during the development of a human from the embryo stage is still a mystery.  Human cloning and creating replicas of a person are all on the table with this epic discovery. Now the possibilities of unlocking the process beyond the failed attempts are currently on the table due to Dr. Shao.

To take this to another level, the possibilities of creating real skin, human organs and human traits would take an android to another level of advancements towards being more like human beings. With the advancements of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and now stem research, the possibilities are now endless. Where we will go with these advancements as we open doors, we will have to see the direction that we allow the technology to lead us.  Infusing technology and biology is a conception which has been brought to light many years ago from the introduction of the computer.  With the influx of data being readily available and the communication expansions that have connected us all allows for these developments to surge and expand. The more questions that we ask is the more technology responds with answers and advancements. IT GURUS OF ATLANTA prides ourselves as leaders in the technology space and will keep providing updates in this arena.

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Microsoft Azure Technology on Government owned Servers!

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Microsoft and the government has long since been in a battle of the territory as the Microsoft cloud space becomes more viable and the more inexpensive solution for mobility.  The Microsoft cloud space has taken off like a rocket in terms of businesses taking advantage of the cloud offerings such as Office 365, Azure, InTune, RMS, Dynamics 365, and more. All these products by Microsoft is giving businesses which were once steadfast and locked into a certain territory due to equipment and its maintenance, now the ability to have a global presence with access to their secured data. This is what Microsoft data centers are, which is essentially the cloud. It eliminates the need for conventional equipment while cutting costs and increasing the availability of the data.

Businesses have gone from whole, full fledged data centers into single standalone data backup solutions with their primary corporate data being housed on Microsoft servers.  Microsoft has since boasted the a 99% availability for the data and its assets. To bundle up that high-availability, Microsoft has managed to make its products diverse enough to be used on any computer and innovative enough to where it can be shared, removed, administered, and manipulated with 100% sustainability. By proving this methodology and this products viability, Microsoft has taken a foot hold of the business community worldwide as the entire world is skipping to the beat of the Microsoft Cloud space.

 

 

The one entity, and typically is the last component to jump on a popular trend, is the government. Unless the government has a hand in the technology to house their own version of the product or have a secured version of the product that they manage, then they are a bit skeptical to join the band wagon with the rest of the world. For the questions about security and the ability to control or administer the data as per government standards and regulation is the reason Microsoft came up with Azure Government. This Azure space or data center space is specifically and strategically designed for the government to give them the foothold on their data that they require. Various government entities have been making moves towards Azure Government, but it has been a very slow and monotonous process due to the heavy testing and redesigning of certain aspects in order to accommodate the various government department requirements.

Microsoft announced this week to make even more concessions for the government and this is by far one of the greatest. Microsoft announced on Monday that they would allow the government to run Azure Cloud technology on their own servers. This gives the government full control over the cloud space, while being able to utilize Azure full scale with no possibility of the data being housed along with the private sector. Due to hacking possibilities and the security required at government facilities, this gives the government the ease of knowing that they can now utilize the technology without compromising the new currency, which is data!

The utilization of Microsoft Azure in the government space on their servers allows that silo capability that some of these agencies require, such as the military and embassies abroad. These sectors and segments of government will always require their own servers to manage the data being housed. This movement has been confirmed by Microsoft’s head of Global Infrastructure, which is Tom Keane.  Tom’s idea is to utilize the Azure Stack in that scenario and make it more attractive to these siloed agencies to expand the reach of Microsoft Cloud technology in the government space.

Due to this move that the cloud space is making, the cloud movement is set to move up a whopping $74.7 billion, which is a 36% increase from 2017.  These are the numbers pushed by Canalys due to their research and discovery.  Currently out of that increase, Microsoft is set to house at least 14% of that increase in global cloud presence. As the world braces for more innovation from Microsoft and its partners such as IT GURUS OF ATLANTA, Azure Government is set to rapidly grow in the government sector globally. IT GURUS OF ATLANTA will continue to present updates to the Microsoft Cloud space as we are a trusted Microsoft partner of choice.

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Real Life Hero Rescue Robot – Walk-MAN

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

The future is here and the time is now. The future has been unfolding with each scientific discovery and every technological breakthrough. Between phones that seem to have no limitation, to flying cars, this year seems to be geared to changing the way we live including the way how interact. Humanoid robots such as Sophia are changing the landscape for what Artificial Intelligence robots are capable of. Sophia obtained her citizenship in Saudi Arabia and is now a part of the United Nations speaking on behalf of society standing up for human rights in different countries. For this reason, it is no surprise that the humanoid world is at the front of everyone’s mind to try and figure out what we will create next. Well IT GURUS OF ATLANTA has what’s next, and its call the WALK-MAN.

Yes, WALK-MAN is the popular name of the music player that rocked the world in the 80’s and 90’s that everyone could carry their music with them and not have to worry about a large boom box or radio. But that is not the WALK-MAN we are talking about. This WALK-MAN was invented by The Italian Institute of Technology or commonly called IIT. IIT has released several videos that highlights WALK-MAN’s capabilities during an emergency or a disaster. These critical features add value and time to when rescuers cant enter a building or when there is too much risk involved for a rescuer to get injured.  In one of the videos, it shows WALK-MAN navigating an industrial plant after an earthquake. The room that WALK-MAN navigates through serves as an example if the room had fire and a gas leak.

During the video WALK-MAN is tasked with performing very specific tasks such as opening the door to enter the room, closes an open valve for the gas leak, moving debris, and then finally using a fire extinguisher to put out flames. A lot to do, well not if you are WALK-MAN who went through the exercise with ease and precision. In time WALK-MAN is slated to be one of the most revolutionary robots which will be able to assist humans during their most dire time of need, which is an emergency.

This is not the first time that IIT has tried to unveil WALK-MAN, but their second time. Their first premier of WALK-MAN happened in 2015. Between 2015 and now being 2018, there has been some notable differences that “upgrades” WALK-MAN in terms of he moves, what it conceives as a threat, and its overall capabilities.  The new version of WALK-MAN is much lighter and not as bulky as its original version in 2015.  The body is 1.85 meters (6 foot) tall, weighs 102 kilos (226 pounds), and can carry up to 22 pounds in each arm.  The new sleeker design increases the robot’s ability and performance while cutting down on energy usage. WALK-MAN can operate up to 2hrs using a 1 kWh battery.

Being fully autonomous is not a capability of WALK-MAN yet. Currently controlling WALK-MAN is through human being wearing a suit with sensors to depict movement and actions. This accounts for 80% of the actions taken by WALK-MAN. Autonomy is on the table according to Tsagarakis, who is the project lead over WALK-MAN. He believes that it is essential to cut down on time that would normally be used by a human to decipher what to do. When WALK-MAN does become fully autonomous, then it will surely change the way we do rescues including save countless lives.

 

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Facebook features breaking news in a news section in Watch

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Facebook is going to create a new news section in its video streaming platform Facebook Watch to feature breaking news stories. The move, which Campbell Brown, the company’s year-old head of news partnerships, announced onstage at the Code Media conference in Huntington Beach, is part of a broader evolution of Facebook’s news strategy. Facebook launched the Watch platform in August as a way to compete more directly with other video distribution platforms online.

The company had created a video tab as early as 2016, but only hosted generic videos that were being shared by friends and family. With Watch, Facebook was trying to own and control original content that it distributes itself exclusively on its own channel.

Competitors like YouTube and Snap also have their own original content, but with Watch and the news focus it’s taking a big step forward.

The social media giant has struggled in recent years to manage the quality of news content that’s being shared on the platform and how news is being consumed by the massive Facebook audience. That said, Campbell continued to recite the Facebook line of self-effacement with the company’s involvement in the media landscape.

“People don’t come to Facebook for news, they come to Facebook for friends and family,” Brown said onstage. While that may be true, much of what friends and family are sharing — especially in this news cycle is news. Facebook is focusing on local news publishers rather than big national outlets to change the conversation and focus on utility of the platform. “I don’t think our focus on false news and integrity morphed into time well spent,” says Adam Mosseri, VP of news feed. “For those set of issues, stuff that violates community standards or false news, those things need to be confronted head on. You have to assume that you’re dealing with an adversary who’s sophisticated and their strategy will change over time, so the work never ends.”

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Apple Watch can detect diabetes with an 85% accuracy

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

According to Cardiogram founder Brandon Ballinger’s latest clinical study, the Apple Watch can detect diabetes in those previously diagnosed with the disease with an 85 percent accuracy. The study is part of the larger DeepHeart study with Cardiogram and UCSF. This particular study used data from 14,000 Apple Watch users and was able to detect that 462 of them had diabetes by using the Watch’s heart rate sensor, the same type of sensor other fitness bands using Android Wear also integrate into their systems.

In 2015, the Framingham Heart Study showed that resting heart rate and heart rate variability significantly predicted incident diabetes and hypertension. This led to the impetus to use the Watch’s heart rate sensor to see if it could accurately detect a diabetic patient. Previously, Ballinger and his colleagues were able to use Apple’s Watch to detect an abnormal heart rhythm with up to a 97 percent accuracy, sleep apnea with a 90 percent accuracy and hypertension with an 82 percent accuracy when paired with Cardiogram’s AI-based algorithm. Most of these discoveries have been published in clinical journals or abstracts and Ballinger intends to publish the latest findings shortly after presenting at the AAAI 2018 conference this week.

Diabetes is a huge and growing problem in the U.S. More than 100 million U.S. adultsare now living with pre-diabetes or diabetes and more than 1 in 4 of them go undiagnosed, according to the CDC. Part of the problem is the pain that goes into checking blood glucose levels. A patient must prick themselves after every meal and correctly take the right amount of insulin to keep themselves in balance.

Early detection could also help in cutting down on diabetes-related diseases before they get out of hand. While there have been other attempts to build special-purpose glucose-sensing hardware, this is the first large-scale study showing that ordinary heart rate sensors—when paired with an artificial intelligence-based algorithm—can identify diabetes with no extra hardware. So what’s next? Ballinger and his colleague on the study Johnson Hsieh mentioned they could be looking at a number of diseases to detect through heart sensors, possibly even gestational diabetes. Hsieh also cautions that those tested were already known to have diabetes or pre-diabetes and that anyone who thinks they might have it should go to their doctor, not just rely on the Watch to tell them what’s going on.

But the results are promising. We’ll just have to wait and see what else the Apple Watch and other fitness monitors with a built-in heart rate sensor are able to tell us about ourselves next.

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Apple is working on a cheap iPhone

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Apple customers who like the iPhone X’s facial recognition and edge-to-edge screen but were turned off by the $999 price tag may have additional options at lower prices this fall. Apple is working on a lower-cost iPhone with some of the iPhone X’s best features for a launch later this year, according to Ming-Chi Kuo. The lower-cost iPhone will have the same facial recognition sensor as the iPhone X, as well as an edge-to-edge 6.1-inch LCD screen and no home button. Kuo predicted in a January 23 note it could cost between $700 and $800 — significantly less than the iPhone X, but higher than the current iPhone 8 models. However, KGI Securities says to expect some tradeoffs with the lower-cost iPhone, like the possible inclusion of a single-lens rear camera to save costs. KGI Securities believes it will have an LCD screen, which is an older technology than the OLED screen found in the iPhone X. And Kuo predicts it will have an aluminum casing, which is less premium than the stainless steel on the iPhone X. But the lower price may end up making the new iPhone the best-selling model, with over half of new lineup shipments, KGI Securities predicts.

The low-cost device isn’t the only new iPhone KGI Securities predicts Apple will launch. Apple could be preparing a new version of the iPhone X with better components in the same 5.8-inch sized-body. And there could be a so-called “Plus” version of the iPhone X launched this fall with a massive 6.5-inch OLED screen. Apple typically launches new iPhones in September. The KGI Securities research, which hasn’t been confirmed by Apple, suggests that the company may try to pull a trick that it last tried in 2013. In 2013, Apple tried to introduce a new-lower cost iPhone, called the iPhone 5C, instead of selling the previous year’s model at a discounted price. It was a sales disaster. Apple CEO Tim Cook even admitted that the device sold more poorly than the company expected. Demand for the colorful iPhone “turned out to be different than we thought,” Cook said in 2014.

It seems that Apple may try the iPhone 5C gambit again. KGI Securities predicts that Apple may discontinue the current iPhone X model, instead of selling it at a lower price after the new iPhones come out. The new lower-cost iPhone could help Apple gain market share in China, according to the research, which was also the goal for the iPhone 5C. “Lowering iPhone X’s price after the … new models launch would be a negative to product brand value given 3D sensing and OLED display are features of the new high-price model,” Kuo wrote in a January 22 note. Nikkei reported over the weekend that Apple was slashing iPhone production earlier this week. KGI Securities earlier this month revised its estimate for total iPhone X shipments over its lifetime to 62 million, down from 80 million, in a January 18 research note and said that shipments were “lower-than-expected.” If Apple were to discontinue the iPhone X this year, the lineup this Christmas could look a little bit like this: iPhone “X2 Plus” — Price unknown / iPhone “X2” — $999 and up / iPhone X — discontinued / LCD iPhone with Face ID — $700 to $800 / iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus — $599 or $699 / iPhone SE — $350

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Google lets you mute annoying ads that follow you on every site

Friday, January 26th, 2018

You know those ads that seem to follow you to every website? You went to one site one time to check out a thing and bam! that site’s ads now pop up on every site you visit. Well, now Google will let you mute them. At first, it may seem an odd move. Google makes money on its ads business, and giving advertisers free rein to stalk you on every site seems really good for companies hoping to remind you of that thing you checked out one time. But the search giant wrote that it wants to give you, the consumer, more transparency and control. It’s also good for business. Barraging you with reminder ads for the thing you are no longer interested in is not useful for you and is a waste for the business hoping to get you to come back.

Google uses the example of someone looking for snow boots, so we’ll go with that. You look up Snow Boots Co. for some research but decide to go with another type of snow boot not on that site, or just decide you’re no longer interested. That site might still be sending you ads, even though you’re not into them anymore. It’s very annoying to keep seeing everywhere the thing you don’t want. But now you can shut it all down by muting that advertiser. You could already mute ads and adjust ad settings these past few years, but now Google is offering a way for you to mute those pesky reminder ads in a new control in Ad Settings. It also will mute the ad across devices. So if you mute it on your smartphone, Google will mute that ad on your laptop.

It also plans to roll out the new controls on more platforms in the future, like YouTube, Search and Gmail. On top of all that, Google is expanding controls for another unwanted ads feature it implemented in 2012 that allows you to mute ads you don’t want to see anymore. “Millions of people use Mute this Ad on a daily basis, and in 2017, we received more than 5 billion pieces of feedback telling us that you mute ads that aren’t relevant,” Jon Krafcik wrote on the Google post explaining the updates. “We incorporated that feedback by removing 1 million ads from our ad network based on your comments.” Of course, these updates only affect ads rolled out within Google, so you may still see reminder ads from other places. It also can’t get rid of the annoying barrage of ads from your Facebook and Instagram feeds.

The good news is all you have to do to shut down those annoying reminder ads now is go to Google’s Ad Settings to see the ads currently targeting you and hit mute.

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Snapchat clone – Snow, raises $50M from SoftBank and Sequoia China

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

It’s been a while since we heard from Snow, the Snapchat clone app in Asia that Facebook once tried to buy, but today the company behind it has scooped up a $50 million investment from SoftBank and Sequoia China. Snow was started by Naver, the Korean firm behind popular messaging app Line, and it had proven popular in Japan, Korea, China and other markets in Asia thanks to a focus on localized filters, stickers and features. Not to mention Snapchat’s famous lack of effort in Asian markets. The Snow app has changed significantly since we last wrote about it, however. It’s no longer a Snap clone.

A major updated that dropped last week removed Snow’s user-to-user communication features and turned it into a dedicated selfie camera app. Without chat, the app doubles down on filters, stickers, augmented reality, and other selfie-related features to make photos and other media that can be exported to social networks or chat groups. Snow users can now, for example, record a video set to music from artists that include Charlie Puth. There’s the usual array of photo filters, alongside a GIF maker and Instagram-like Boomerang feature.

Snow plans to use this new investment to develop its augmented reality and facial recognition technologies. Its App Store listing shows it is working with Chinese unicorn SenseTime on facial recognition. It is also aiming to build partnerships and localize its service in China. Outside of Snow, Snow Corp also owns camera apps Foodie and B612, which it acquired from Line, so they may also be pushed in China as standalone apps, although the tech behind them is also shared with the core Snow app. A Snow representative told TechCrunch that the app now has over 200 million downloads on iOS and Android. The company doesn’t break out specific data for each market, but it said that China is its largest market. In January 2017, we reported that Snow had 40-50 million monthly active users but there’s no further update on the MAU front for now.

SoftBank and Sequoia have bought up 20 percent of the shares of Snow’s China business unit via this deal. Line is among Snow’s other backers, via two investments.

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