Category Archives: Internet

Artificial Intelligence in Brick and Mortar Retail

Retail Law Advisor Goulston & Storrs PC

Headlines about brick and mortar retail tend to be dominated by how these establishments are in decline while online retail is burgeoning. Fortunately for brick and mortar retailers, their demise is not preordained since tools from the online retail universe may also help them succeed. One such tool is artificial intelligence (AI), which is expected to grow rapidly in the next few years.

Online retail is able to target customers easily because of the large data collection that occurs with every transaction. However, brick and mortar retail establishments may employ various AI tools to collect data to tailor in-store shopping experiences and target consumers. For example, video and/or audio surveillance can be used to track shopper activity in stores, and stores can then predict customer preferences and behaviors by analyzing and conglomerating in-store surveillance. Such surveillance methods can use facial and/or voice recognition software to analyze facial and voice expressions to understand how customers react to particular products or experiences.

Robots are another AI tool that may help brick and mortar retail compete more effectively with online retail. Robots may enhance the physical shopping experience in many ways. Humanoid robots can be deployed into retail establishments to greet customers, answer questions, and guide them through the store. Lowe’s has piloted a robot program at its Bay Area stores, where robots help customers search for products and guide them in the stores. Also, robots are being used and expanded to check and resupply inventory, deliver products, and assist with checkout and payment.

Finally, the collection of sales data can help retailers personalize a customer experience and ultimately help increase sales – whether in-store or online. Data can be collected online and then used in stores, or data collected from a customer’s previous visit can be used to enhance his or her next visit to a bricks and mortar store. “Machine learning” can discover patterns in a customer’s behavior and then make suggestions or produce incentives, such as instantly printing coupons for products that are likely to be desirable to an individual customer. The same data collection can be used to better tailor inventory, customize shopping experiences, adjust pricing, and refine product selection. While all of these techniques are equally useful online retail tools, their utility in the bricks and mortar environment may help these physical establishments remain competitive with their online counterparts

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So What Is Going On With TWITTER?

Last night I finished planned work early and decided to do something I had never done before! Go on TWITTER. So I typed “www.twtter.com”. I guess I am already logged in because of always posting blogs and WebSites. They must “track” my interests as I got a lot of train pictures.

Then I got a “tweet” from @Write inTrump
“Jeff Bezos may be the richest man in the World but how many nuclear submarines does he have?”

Then I got a picture of Amazon Headquarters

Finally, a cute little poster

Then I got tired and gave up.

US Prepares to Ban LapTops On Flights From European Union

If everybody else has to depend on paper and pencil……Then I will be on top of everything!!!

The U.S. is expected to broaden its ban on in-flight laptops and tablets to include planes from the European Union, a move that would create logistical chaos on the world’s busiest corridor of air travel.

Alarmed at the proposal, which airline officials say is merely a matter of timing, European governments held urgent talks on Friday with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The ban would affect trans-Atlantic routes that carry as many as 65 million people a year on over 400 daily flights, many of them business travelers who rely on their electronics to work during the flight.

The ban would dwarf in size the current one, which was put in place in March and affects about 50 flights per day from 10 cities, mostly in the Middle East.

Chief among the concerns are whether any new threat prompted the proposal and the relative safety of keeping in the cargo area a large number of electronics with lithium batteries, which have been known to catch fire. American officials were invited to Brussels next week to discuss the proposed ban, the EU said.

European Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said the EU had no new information about a specific security concern.

U.S. officials have said the decision in March to bar laptops and tablets from the cabins of some international flights wasn’t based on any specific threat but on longstanding concerns about extremists targeting jetliners.

Experts say a bomb in the cabin would be easier to make and require less explosive force than one in the cargo hold. Baggage in cargo usually goes through a more sophisticated screening process than carry-on bags.

Jeffrey Price, an aviation-security expert at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said the original ban focused on certain countries because their equipment to screen carry-on bags is not as effective as machines in the U.S.

A French official who was briefed about Friday’s meeting said the Americans announced they wanted to extend the ban, and the Europeans planned to formulate a response in coming days. The official said the primary questions revolved around when and how — and not whether — the ban would be imposed.

The official spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan.

Jenny Burke, a Homeland Security spokeswoman, said no final decision has been made on expanding the restriction.

But Homeland Security officials met Thursday with high-ranking executives of the three leading U.S. airlines — American, Delta and United — and the industry’s leading U.S. trade group, Airlines for America, to discuss expanding the laptop policy to flights arriving from Europe.

Two airline officials who were briefed on the discussions said Homeland Security gave no timetable for an announcement, but they were resigned to its inevitability. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly.

The U.S. airlines still hope to have a say in how the policy is put into effect at airports to minimize inconvenience to passengers. The initial ban on passengers bringing large electronics devices into the cabin hit hardest at Middle Eastern airlines.

Emirates, the Middle East’s largest airline, this week cited the ban on electronics as one of the reasons for an 80 percent drop in profits last year. It said the ban had a direct impact on demand for air travel into the U.S. and it faced rising costs from introducing complimentary laptop loans to some passengers.

Alain Bauer, president of the CNAPS, a French regulator of private-sector security agents, including those checking baggage and passengers in France’s airports, predicted “chaotic” scenes initially if the ban was instituted.

“Imagine the number of people who carry their laptops and tablets onto planes — not just adults, but also children,” he told the AP.

He said it would slow passage through security checks as people try to negotiate a way of keeping their laptops.

“It’s not like losing your water bottle or your scissors. It will take more time to negotiate,” he said.

“You need a lot of time to inform them and a lot of time for it to enter people’s heads until it becomes a habit,” he said. “After a week of quite big difficulties, 95 percent of people will understand the practicalities.”

The head of the International Air Transport Association said recently that the electronics ban is not an acceptable or effective long-term solution to security threats, and said the commercial impact is severe.

An industry-backed group, the Airline Passenger Experience Association, said the U.S. government should consider alternatives. That could include routinely testing laptops for chemical residues associated with bombs, requiring owners to turn on their devices, and letting frequent travelers keep their electronics with them.

The group’s CEO, Joe Leader, noted that airlines have reduced service by more than 1 million long-haul seats in the 10 Middle Eastern and North African cities affected by the March policy. If it spreads to Europe, “it’s simply a matter of time” before laptops are banned in the cabins of domestic U.S. flights, he said.

At the Delta area of the Cincinnati airport, a sign warned passengers that beginning Saturday on flights returning to the U.S. any electronic devices other than a cellphone would have to be placed in checked baggage. The airline flies between Cincinnati and Paris.

A Delta spokesman said the sign was posted in error by an employee at the airport. Asked if Delta had anticipated that the in-cabin ban on larger electronics would go into effect this week, the spokesman declined to comment.

The Worst Thing That Could Happen to Facebook Is Already Happening

Users are sharing less–way less. Maybe they’ve figured out Facebook doesn’t care what they have to say.

Have you by any chance noticed yourself feeling less friendly toward Facebook lately? Perhaps you still open the app a few times a day to check your notifications and scroll through a few posts, comment on a viral video, “like” a story from The New York Times. But when it comes to the personal stuff–your vacation photos, your job announcements, your gripes about the wait at the DMV–you’re just not sharing it like you used to.

If so, you’re not alone. Far from it. In the past few months, Facebook has quietly shifted into crisis mode. According to The Information, “original broadcast sharing”–i.e., posts consisting of users’ own words and images–fell 21 percent from 2014 to 2015, contributing to a 5.5 percent decrease in total sharing. In response, the company created a task force in London whose mission is to devise a strategy to stem the ebb and get people sharing again. Among the measures taken so far: a change in the News Feed algorithm that privileges original status updates over professional content like news links and viral videos, and Wednesday’s mishap-marred rollout of a new live-video-streaming feature.

It’s a stunning reversal of fortune for Facebook, whose strategic emphasis for the past few years has been on getting media companies and celebrities to put more of their premium content on Facebook. The better (read: more professional) the quality of what’s in your News Feed, the more advertisers would pay to be next to it, went the thinking.

That strategy now looks like a backfire. The more Facebook feels like a big stage, the less inviting it becomes to the sorts of people who aren’t comfortable performing in public–which is to say, most of us. You’ve probably noticed how the “friends” who show up in your News Feed most often aren’t the ones whose lives you’re most interested in but simply the ones who have a lot to say. According to confidential data obtained by The Information, more than 60 percent of users share no personal content in a given week, while the remaining 39 percent share an average of five posts.

I used to be one of these annoying Facebook exhibitionists. Then, six months ago, my account got hacked and I spent several painful days recovering it. Since then, my relationship with Facebook has changed in a way that I think may shed some light on the troubling trend facing the company.

At first, my pullback from posting was reactive. I was angry that it had been so easy for my hacker to eradicate the hundreds’ of hours worth of supposedly valuable content I had entrusted to Facebook. I was reluctant to get burned again.

But there was something else, too. In the first hours after the hack, when it seemed possible my account was gone for good, I was flooded with an unexpected sense of relief and lightness. “Oh well,” I thought, “maybe I just won’t use Facebook anymore.” The thought felt good, and the feeling stayed with me even as I got my account back and tentatively resumed posting.

Changing my password had logged me out on all my devices. As an experiment, I logged back in on my phone but left my laptops logged out. Over the next couple weeks, I was shocked by the number of times my fingers, with no conscious input from my brain, attempted to navigate me to Facebook.com during some lull in my attention span. It was a stark demonstration of how scrolling through my News Feed had ceased to be an activity and become a reflex, a default, a background state. It was something I did not because it provided pleasure or information but simply because the behavior had been so reinforced that it was permanently grooved into my neural architecture. After enough times finding myself staring at the log-in screen and asking, “What am I doing here?” the impulse began, blessedly, to fade.

It helped immensely that, while my posts and photos got restored after the hack, the underlying data governing my News Feed preferences apparently did not. All the thousands or millions of clicks I had made that Facebook used as inputs to figure out which posts to show me–it was as if they had never happened. When I opened my News Feed, all I saw was posts from a handful of Pages I had liked at some point and updates from friends I’d added since the hack. In other words, my News Feed is noisy, irrelevant garbage–the same thing it always was, but much more noticeably now. I could spend a few hours re-optimizing it for my interests, or I could take those hours plus the 40 or so minutes per day I had been frittering away scrolling my feed and thinking of clever things to say and do something more productive.

Easy call.

Time. That’s what all this boils down to. Ultimately, Facebook doesn’t care what kind of content gets shared or who’s sharing it, as long as it’s able to capture an ever-larger share of its users’ attention minutes. The problem is, with each experiment aimed at promoting different types of content–New York Times articles one month, Ice Bucket Challenge videos the month after that, livestreamed videos now–it becomes ever clearer to the content makers how little Facebook cares about what any of them do. Just as ordinary users once got the unpleasant sense that Facebook was becoming a venue for professionally produced corporate content, and businesses felt their hard-won Page followings had been stolen from them, now journalists and news organizations are finding their reach curbed as Facebook tries to restore a sense of intimacy and personalization. If filling your feed up with the Hypnotoad from Futurama turned out to be the best way to monopolize your eyeballs and associated personal data, that’s what Facebook would become tomorrow.

Fortunately for Facebook, it’s so ubiquitous and so addictive, none of this has really put a dent in the business yet. Facebook’s user base continues to grow, including among Millennials, who spend nearly an hour a day Facebooking, according to ComScore.

An hour doing what, exactly, though? Sooner or later, each Facebook user has occasion to ask this question, as I did. The massive decline in personal sharing is a sign that large numbers of people have started to figure out that the value they get out of Facebook is a lot less than the value they put in. For a service that’s increasingly just an arbitrage on the human attention span, that’s a dangerous epiphany. Ask yourself: If your time is so valuable to Facebook, shouldn’t it be at least as valuable to you?

By Jeff Bercovici

San Francisco bureau chief, Inc.

Internet Of Things For Rail

The Internet of Things (IoT) is but one of the phrases bandied about to characterize the advanced connectivity of devices, systems and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. It covers a variety of protocols, domains and applications. In addition to IoT, there’s the Industrial Internet, the Internet of Everything and variations on each as the concept continues its creep into the branding realm. For this month’s series of articles, we’ll stick with IoT.

IoT enables freight and passenger roads to use sensors, software M2M learning, “Big Data” analytics, cloud computing and other technology to gather and analyze information from various sources and data streams — and then use those analyses to drive efficiencies, better manage operations and, possibly, offer new services.

IoT, then, represents a world of opportunity for railroads and the technology providers that serve them. And it’s a world strategists in all railroad departments — from information technology (IT) to transportation to engineering to mechanical to communication and signaling — will need to tap into and be engaged with as the digital evolution continues.

“It’s not ‘Build it and they’ll come’ — it’s ‘What is the outcome you want to drive?’” says Jamie Miller, president and chief executive officer of GE Transportation, which now characterizes itself as a global digital industrial supplier to the rail, mining, marine, stationary power and drilling industries. “From there, you work backward into the data.”

From AEI to IoT

In rail country, the data seeds were sown with automatic equipment identification (AEI) tags, the first of which were installed in North America in 1989. A train crew received a message from a wayside detector, and AEI readers updated a database with passing and directional information. They were passive tags; the power was supplied by the reader.

When the Internet entered the mainstream in the mid-1990s and the general public was well on its way to untangling the Web, North American railroads weren’t exactly early adopters. But some of their customers were. At Procter & Gamble, brand manager Kevin Ashton put radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags on packages as they moved through the supply chain, and then linked them with the Internet.

“Early on, it was just RFID,” says Keith Dierkx, IBM’s global industry leader-rail and director of the company’s Global Rail Innovation Center.

In 1999, Ashton coined the “IoT” term, using it in the title of a presentation he made at P&G, or so conventional wisdom/IoT lore goes.

From there, Ashton and others — including Dierkx, who in the late 1990s worked for sensor analytics firm Savi Technology Inc. and served with

Ashton as a technology board member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Auto-ID Center — continued to ponder the possibilities connectivity/IoT afforded within the supply chain.

Railroads, in the meantime, continued to install trackside AEI readers, and more and more rail cars featured RFID tags. The AEI sensors could provide information on rail-car location and then interact with an increasing array of monitoring and detection devices to provide an even more detailed view of the conditions of the cars, as Dierkx noted in a 2009 white paper he penned for IBM titled “The Smarter Railroad: An Opportunity for The Railroad Industry.”

GE Transportation now characterizes itself as a global digital industrial supplier. For good reason: The company’s Evolution™ Series Tier 4 locomotive features more than 200 onboard sensors that monitor performance and health and process more than 1 billion instructions per second.
Source: GE

“It’s like those Russian nesting dolls,” says Dierkx, who works with railroads around the globe on a range of IT and business transformation issues, including the use of predictive analytics. “Nested visibility is where this started.”

And as the rail industry became “more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent,” business model innovation became more attainable, Dierkx wrote. “For rail executives to capitalize on such change, they need to accelerate investment in new intelligence,” he noted.

Investing in intelligence

Railroads have been investing in that new intelligence, particularly in recent years. For example, Union Pacific Railroad has been connecting wayside hotbox detectors systemwide, creating a single network to determine trend lines and identify bearings before they fail. UP also is developing a proprietary ultrasonic wheel crack detection system to prevent derailments, which in turn drives safety and efficiency.

Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration granted BNSF Railway Co. permission to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to obtain video after a derailment or to perform bridge inspections in unsafe conditions.

“We’re leveraging video coming back from those UAVs and hope to predict failures before they happen,” BNSF Vice President and Chief Information Officer Jo-ann Olsovsky told attendees of GE’s 2015 Minds + Machines summit, held Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2015, in San Francisco.

But all the major freight roads, really, have been investing in remote and real-time monitoring technology to measure rail-car and locomotive health, track condition and component condition; increasingly, short lines and regionals are, too (see page 18). Ditto for passenger railroads and transit agencies.

“The big challenge is the integration of all this,” as CN VP and CIO Serge Leduc told Progressive Railroading in 2013.

Technology providers are more than happy to help on the integration front. They’re well aware of the transformation railroads are going through — they’re going through it, as well.

Last fall, GE launched a marketing campaign to reinforce its position as a “digital industrial company.” As GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt told Minds + Machines attendees last year: “Our CIOs and IT professionals are the biggest drivers of productivity in our company.”

The aim is to help customers drive productivity, too. Introduced in 2012 and field tested in 2013, GE’s Evolution™ Series Tier 4 road locomotive features more than 200 onboard sensors that monitor performance and health, process more than 1 billion instructions per second and provide about 10 gigabytes of data per year. So far, GE has delivered more than 500 Tier 4-compliant locomotives to North American customers.

“The value capture [from these units] so far has been incredible,” says GE’s Miller, who was named president and CEO last September after serving as GE’s SVP and CIO.

Miller cites the company’s Trip Optimizer software as an example of that value capture. Installed on 7,000 locomotives in North America, the software builds an optimal operating plan based on data collected about a train’s characteristics. In 2015, it saved customers $200 million in fuel costs, says Miller.

Other GE applications, from Movement Planner (crew management) to Yard Planner (hump yard optimization) to OASIS (operational control for intermodal yards), also continue to “unlock value,” says GE Transportation Chief Digital Officer Seth Bodnar. Linking it all is GE’s Predix Cloud™, a platform-as-a-service.

Predix captures and analyzes the volume, velocity and variety of machine data within a secure cloud environment. The platform soon will be commercially available to customers and other industrial businesses for managing data and applications.

Technology providers also are lining up to serve passenger railroads. In 2014, Cisco Systems unveiled Connected Rail, a solution designed to modernize aging rail networks, improve safety, drive down expenses and provide passengers an “improved connected experience.” The technology, which integrates onboard, trackside, wayside, signaling and back-office systems, includes a positive train control component. The Cisco® IoT System comprises a range of products designed to address network connectivity, physical and cybersecurity, data analytics, management and automation, cloud-based application development and Cisco Fog Computing.

“When you’re talking about massive amounts of data like we are here, there’s only so much you can house onboard a locomotive,” GE’s Miller says.

All this data …

And we’re talking massive amounts of data. Some of the new-generation track geometry cars with digital video are generating nearly a petabyte of data a year, says Allan Zarembski, research professor and director of the Railroad Engineering and Safety Program in the University of Delaware’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

A petabyte and counting. In December 2015, a presenter at the university’s second annual “Big Data In Railroad Maintenance Planning” conference in Newark, Del., talked in terms of technology generating brontobytes of data. A petabyte is 1,024 terabytes and a brontobyte is “a million times bigger” than that, says Zarembski, the Big Data conference’s co-chair. “What we’re trying to tackle is the proverbial mountain of data — railroads need to convert the data into usable information to guide their capital maintenance planning programs,” he says. “We also try to highlight the new generation of tools and how they’re used.”

Attendees ranged from railroaders in the engineering, IT, operations and transportation departments; railroad contractors; and suppliers. Representatives from five Class Is and Amtrak also spoke, sharing their respective roads’ “needs” from Big Data.

Zarembski and two of his colleagues presented a case study titled “Using Big Data Techniques to Determine the Relationship Between Rail Defects and Track Geometry Defects.” It featured the results of a Federal Railroad Administration-sponsored project that made use of five years of inspection data from 21,000 miles of track on a major freight railroad and used Big Data analysis techniques. More than 335,000 track geometry defect records and 26,000 rail defect records were analyzed.

The analysis showed that the probability of a rail defect occurring at a location where there were one or more preceding geometry defects was “strong and significant.”

“If I’m a maintenance planner, that’s immediate action,” says Zarembski, who founded railway technical consulting and applied technology company ZETA-TECH Associates Inc. in 1984 and has studied rail inspection data for more than three decades. “This is the kind of usable information we’re talking about.”

Even more valuable information can be gleaned via IoT. In theory, strategists could be able to use Big Data analytics and cognitive computing to predict market shifts like the crude-by-rail traffic boom from a few years back and other energy trends, IBM’s Dierkx suggests. For now, rail execs appear to have their data drawers full integrating the tools they already have.

“If nothing else, we want to be proactive rather than reactive, so we can look ahead and identify where our problems are going to be and plan accordingly,” says Zarembski, adding that the University of Delaware’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering plans to host its third annual Big Data conference sometime in December.

“So much of it is what people have talked about for years, but the tools are catching up to us so we can do a much better job of it.”

Email comments or questions to pat.foran@tradepress.com.

Spotify moves to Google cloud with eyes on big data

Spotify surprised industry observers by becoming one of the most high-profile cloud customers for Google, which is trying to shake the image that it can’t compete with Amazon and Microsoft.

Google scored a coup with its latest big-name cloud customer — and for a company that often touts pricing as a key benefit, it was higher-level services that made the difference this time.

Spotify, the popular music streaming service, plans to migrate nearly all of its privately hosted back-end workloads to Google Cloud Platform. The firm grew to where it had to consider building its own data centers but opted against such a move due to the cost and required expertise, instead choosing Google to help expand its big data capabilities.

“Google is also the world champion at pushing little streams of constantly changing data to individual users, so Spotify is picking the perfect infrastructure,” said Carl Brooks, an analyst at 451 Research in New York.

Spotify has tens of thousands of machines across four data centers worldwide. It started working with Google about 18 months ago, and the goal is to have a “huge chunk of infrastructure” migrated to Google Cloud Platform over the next 18 months, said Wouter de Bie, big data architect at Spotify. The company serves a small group of users from the platform already.

“The main [reason] why we chose Google was their tooling for data processing and data scientists,” de Bie said. “Google is pretty much ahead of the curve when it comes to technology dealing with vast amounts of data.”

Read more of this story

14 reasons you really shouldn’t ignore DuckDuckGo

Another startup with a silly name? Sounds like something I’d like to get my teeth into. 

For the uninitiated among you (where have you been?), DuckDuckGo (DDG) is a private search engine that has seen exponential growth since its inception a few years ago.

So why should you care?

Because an increasing chunk of your target audience may well be heading to DDG in the coming years.

Don’t believe me? Rand Fishkin of Moz fame said it will be “the fastest growing search engine of 2016.”

If you’re still not convinced, here are some enlightening stats about DDG that might make you pay attention.

1) It averages 10m queries a day

According to its own traffic stats, DDG averages around 10m queries a day.

DuckDuckGo traffic stats

This might not be up there with the likes of Google, but it means DDG is definitely a significant player in the search market.

2) 12m queries in a single day last December

While average search queries are at 10m, DDG managed a 12m-query day back in December.

3) 350m queries last month

DDG achieved an impressive 350m search queries for December 2015.

4) 3.41bn queries last year

For the whole of 2015, DDG achieved 3.41bn search queries.

Again, this might not seem much next to Google, but for a relatively young search engine it’s pretty significant.

5) 73% growth in 2015

Part of the reason these numbers are so significant is the pace at which DDG is growing.

The 3.41bn 2015 number was up from 1.97bn in 2014 – a 73% YoY increase in search queries.

6) 22% increase in traffic from January to December 2015

Over the course of 2015, DDG’s monthly traffic grew by 22%.

In December the site had 108m visits.

DuckDuckGo traffic stats

7) Tech fans love it

DDG users show a strong affinity toward tech news sites, according to a report by SimilarWeb.

Comparatively, Bing users show affinity to typical websites you would expect of average internet browser (Reddit, Amazon, Google, etc).

8) Average bounce rate is 31%

The average bounce rate for DDG users is 31%, according to the same SimilarWeb report.

This is significantly better than Bing users’ average bounce rate of 43%.

duckduckgo bounce rate stats

9) Average time on site is 9.5 minutes

DDG users spend an average of 9.5 minutes on sites they visit through the search engine.

By contrast, Bing users spend an average of just 7.5 minutes on each site.

duckduckgo time on site stats

10) It offers people what Google can’t (and won’t): true privacy

This infographic from Tech.co and Optilocal has a pretty good run-down of the privacy differences between DDG and Google, along with a load of other interesting facts and stats.

Click to see the full version

duckduckgo vs. google infographic

11) It does other things that Google can’t

But privacy is just one feature DDG has over Google.

DDG also offers functions such as the ability to view someone’s social media profile without leaving the search engine, the ability to easily expand shortened links or check whether websites are down, and there’s even a password generator.

These little UX tweaks could be key to DDG attracting an increasing number of users away from Google, not just relying on the privacy issue but actually providing an even better user experience.

12) It’s the default search engine in the new Adblock Browser for mobile

Ad blockers are here to stay. Let’s not kid ourselves about that. And there’s the old saying: ‘if you can’t beat them, join them.’

If DDG is the default search engine for arguably the most popular ad blocking app of them all, brands should take that very seriously.

Failure to optimise for DDG on mobile could lead to brands missing out on an increasingly large mobile ad blocking audience.

13) It has signed the Acceptable Ads Manifesto

This one is less about ad blocking but more about a clear commitment to creating a user experience that benefits people rather than brands.

The Acceptable Ads Manifesto was created by Adblock Plus as a way to encourage brands to stop ruining the online user experience with crappy ads like the ones in the screenshot below.

Annoying display ads

Here are the key points of the manifesto:

acceptable ads menifesto key points

It might be a PR move  – in fact it almost certainly is – but it also suggests DDG is taking UX seriously and this can only have a positive impact on people wanting to use it.

14) It makes money without tracking people

In short: DDG is not going anywhere. It isn’t just a political flash in the pan. It is a profitable business.

In an ask-me-anything session on YCombinator’s Hacker News site last year, founder and CEO Gabriell Weinberg said:

DuckDuckGo is actually profitable. It is a myth you need to track people to make money in Web search.

Most of the money is still made without tracking people by showing you ads based on your keyword, i.e. type in car and get a car ad. These ads are lucrative because people have buying intent.

All that tracking is for the rest of the Internet without this search intent, and that’s why you’re tracked across the Internet with those same ads.

Google’s, Microsoft’s Move To Mobile Changes Future Of Mapping

Google began to quietly shutter Google Earth Enterprise in the U.S. along with some of the most important business features for Google Earth Pro such as data for parcels, demographics, and traffic counts. By the end of January it shutdown Parcel (APN) Search, sending those relying on the data for daily business requirements scrambling to find alternatives.

The decision, which Google would say was brought on by consumer behavior, continues to alter the future of a market segment.

Google isn’t alone. Microsoft killed MapPoint last year. As more consumers leave their desktop for mobile phones, both companies, along with Apple, have been building up their mobile mapping applications, changing the business model, and shuttering data services and tools for desktop.

Now some believe that Google and Microsoft have turned their attention away from business mapping technology and toward mapping services that generate advertising revenue.

Despite the vanishing act brought on by the move to mobile, these traditional desktop business mapping tools that provided the ability to search on assessor parcel numbers (APN) remain popular, especially among industries that require easy-to-use software sitting behind their firewall. The model continues to change, along with the range of options.

Google’s tools were affordable, flexible, powerful, and had tangible business benefits, according to Stewart Berry, director of product management for mapping software at Caliper, which develops geographic information systems (GIS) and transportation software. “These products have gone away,” he says. “All that’s left are APIs, with limited functionality, but at a higher cost.”

Parcel boundaries are viewable using the Google Maps API, which provides the ability to style the lines to make them more prominent. Along with the API came new tools, but these are for developers, not consumers of business analysts, per Berry. “When you kill a desktop product and don’t offer a comparable cloud product, you leave your customers high and dry.”

While Google points to alternatives for parcel data like the Google Maps API, Berry says users cannot search by the parcel ID. The alternatives are for developers and have costs per interaction.

Having the ability to search by parcel number remains a huge issue for some industries such as real estate and construction. “I see the frustration in the removal of the APN layers, so I will offer what my company uses,” writes Eric Maturino, an engineer offering advice in the Google Maps and Earth help form. Maturino works at a photovoltaic construction company running through permits and other services multiple times per week.

“At the price of $400 per county, this can be ridiculous, seeing at times we operate in six different counties a month,” Maturino explains, suggesting a Web-based service called Parcel Quest Navigator.

The $1,800 annual cost may be steep, but it avoids the hassle of repeatedly buying parcel information and navigating the search. It is a drop in the bucket, he writes. Parcels and addresses are searchable if you know the number.

12 Excel Formulas, Features & Keyboard Shortcuts Everyone Should Know

Ever find yourself elbows deep in an Excel worksheet with seemingly no end in sight? You’re manually replicating columns and scribbling down long-form math on a scrap of paper, all while thinking to yourself, “There has to be a better way to do this.”

Truth be told, there probably is … you just don’t know it yet. Excel can be tricky that way. On one hand, it’s an exceptionally powerful tool for reporting and analyzing marketing data. On the other hand, without the proper training, it’s easy to feel like it’s working against you.

To help you use Excel more effectively (and save a ton of time), we’ve compiled a list of essential functions, keyboard shortcuts, and other small tricks you should know.

Download nine of our most popular Excel templates here.

12 Excel Formulas, Keyboard Shortcuts & Tricks That’ll Save You Lots of Time

 

See the full article for pictures of what you need to do/

1) Quickly select rows, columns, or the whole spreadsheet.

Crunched for time? (Who isn’t?)

No problem. You can select your entire spreadsheet in just one click. All you have to do is simply click the tab in the top-left corner of your sheet to highlight everything all at once.

 

2) Automatically fill columns or rows with data.

Tired of manually entering data that follows a pattern across a bunch of cells? Excel’s Auto Fill feature is designed to minimize the work required on your end by making it easy to repeat values you’ve already input.

To do so, click and hold the lower right corner of a cell, and then drag it down or across into adjacent cells. When you release, Excel will fill in the adjacent cells with the data from the cell you first selected.

3) Quickly open, close, or create a workbook.

Need to open, close, or create a workbook on the fly?

The following keyboard shortcuts will enable you to complete any of the above actions in less than a minute’s time.

 

4) Customize the color of your tabs.

Have a ton of different sheets going in one workbook? Make it easier to identify where you need to go by color-coding the tabs. For example, you might label last month’s marketing reports with red, and this month’s with orange.

To do so, simply right click a tab and select “Tab Color.” A popup will appear that allows you to choose a color from an existing theme, or customize one to meet your needs.

5) Format numbers into currency.

Have raw data that you want to turn into currency? Whether it be salary numbers, marketing budget, or ticket sales for an event, the solution is simple.

Just highlight the cells you wish to reformat and select Control + Shift + $.

 

6) Add a comment to a cell.

Want to make a note or add a comment to a specific cell within a worksheet? Simply right-click the cell you want to comment on and then click Insert Comment. Type your comment in the text box and click outside the comment box to save it.

Cells that contain comments display a small, red triangle in the corner. To view the comment, hover over it.

 

7) Insert current date and time into a cell.

Whether you’re logging social media posts or keeping tabs on tasks you’re checking off your to-do list, you may want to add a date and time stamp to your worksheet. To do so, you’ll want to start by selecting the cell into which you want to insert the time, date, or time and date.

Then, depending on what you want to insert, do one of the following:

  • Insert current date = Control + ; (semi-colon)
  • Insert current time = Control + Shift + ; (semi-colon)
  • Insert current date and time = Control + ; (semi-colon), SPACE, and then Control + Shift + ; (semi-colon).

 

8) Copy and duplicate formatting.

If you’ve ever spent some time formatting a sheet to your liking, you know that it’s not necessarily the most enjoyable activity. In fact, it’s pretty tedious.

For that reason, it’s likely that you wouldn’t want to have to repeat the process next time … and you don’t have to. Thanks to Excel’s Format Painter, you can easily copy the formatting from one area of a worksheet to another.

To do so, simply select the thing you’d like to replicate, then select the Format Painter option (paintbrush icon) from the dashboard, as show below:

Let’s say you have code that you want to break down into a few

10) Identify duplicate values.

In many instances, duplicate values — like duplicate content when dealing with SEO — can be troublesome if gone uncorrected. However, in other cases, you simply need to be aware of them.

Whatever the situation may be, it’s easy to surface any existing duplicate values within your worksheet in just a few quick steps. To do so, click into the Conditional Formatting option, and select Highlight Cell Rules > Duplicate Values…

different segments. Rather than manually retyping each piece of the code into its respective column, users can leverage a series of string functions to deconstruct the sequence as needed.

LEFT:

  • Purpose: Used to extract the first X numbers or characters in a cell.
  • Syntax: =LEFT(text, number_of_characters)
  • Parameters:
    • Text. The string that you wish to extract from.
    • Number_of_characters. The number of characters that you wish to extract starting from the left-most character.

11) Add up the sum of cells that meet a certain criteria.

Let’s say you want to determine the profit you generated from a list of leads who are associated with specific area codes or calculate the sum of group of employees’ salaries that fall above the a particular amount. Sounds a little time-consuming, doesn’t it?

With the SUMIF function, it doesn’t have to be.

SUMIFS:

  • Purpose: Used to add up cells that meet a certain criteria.
  • Syntax: =SUMIFS(sum_range, criteria_range1, criteria1, [criteria_range2, criteria2], …)
  • Parameters:
    • Sum_range.  The range of cells you’re going to add up.
    • Criteria_range1. The range that is being tested using Criteria1.
    • Criteria1. The criteria that determine which cells in Criteria_range1 will be added together.

To see the function in action, check out this example:

 

12) Clean up irregular spacing.

Ever have one of your colleagues send you a worksheet with some funky spacing going on? Not only do these rogue spaces can make if difficult to search for data, but it also affects the results when you try to add up columns of numbers.

Rather than painstakingly removing and adding spaces as needed, you can clean up any unnecessary spacing using the TRIM function.

TRIM:

  • Purpose: Used to remove extra spaces from data (except for single spaces between words).
  • Syntax: =TRIM(“Text”)
  • Parameters:
    • Text. The text from which you want to remove spaces.

Here’s an example of how we used the TRIM function to remove extra spaces after a name on our list:

 

 

 

Omnichannel Marketing, Visibility and Perfect Order

One of the biggest business changes wrought by the rise of the Internet is omnichannel retailing – the ability for consumers to make purchases at any time in any place, and then have the product directly delivered to any address in the world.
This creates a major challenge for suppliers who don’t yet have fully operational EDI and automated, real-time processing. Consumers don’t just want products on demand – they also want accurate information concerning product availability, when the product will ship, and when it will arrive. Providing this information requires that the supplier’s ERP and EDI systems are integrated, and that real-time updates flow between EDI systems, the retailer’s ERP, and the customer interface.

EDI providers make much of the technical coordination easier by providing infrastructure that seamlessly connects the supplier’s and retailer’s EDI systems. This, in turn, makes it easier for perfect orders (orders that meet 20 criteria first specified by R. Wang at Constellation research) to be accomplished, with suppliers fully participating in omnichannel orders.

Visibility
Perfect orders aren’t necessary, most of the time, to satisfy consumers’ needs. But many of the criteria are crucially important. Just as visible, real-time order tracking is vital for omnichannel sales, the same visibility for all orders can work wonders in getting orders perfect (or close to it).

EDI Made Simple: A New Approach
This paper will present a clear, simple path to successful implementation of a highly productive and profitable EDI initiative in your company. If you’re about to bring EDI into your processes, this brief will help you avoid the potential pitfalls encountered when approaching it without this guidance. If you’ve attempted to implement EDI already, you’ll likely recognize at least some of the problems we describe, and gain from our explanations on how to avoid them.

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