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  • April 2018 Tech News & Trends to Watch

    Friday, April 6, 2018 by
    april tech news 2018

    April Tech News & Trends

    As usual, the past few weeks have seen a lot of big tech news hit the press, some of which suggests some real changes to come in the tech and business worlds. For busy business people who have a hard time staying on top of new tech stories on their own, we have our monthly roundup of tech news to be aware of this month. register domain name

    1. Facebook Faces Scandal

    Facebook has faced scandals and criticism before, but the recent news that Facebook data on 50 million user profiles had been harvested and exploited by the marketing firm Cambridge Analytica may be the biggest scandal yet. The firm used the company’s data to create targeted political advertising campaigns that may have helped sway the last U.S. presidential election and the UK’s Brexit vote.  And internal documents suggest that Facebook was aware of the breadth of the data breach and did little at the time it was discovered. This scandal combines people’s worries about fake news with their cyber security fears. The outrage has inspired #deletefacebook to trend on Twitter (although with minimal follow through) and Zuckerberg is set to testify in front of Congress about the scandal. This probably isn’t the end of Facebook, but it’s definitely got a lot of users thinking twice about how they interact with the platform.  

    2. Snap Has an Even Worse Month

    Last month we reported that Snap was having a rocky month between a new design that customers hated and a negative tweet from Kylie Jenner. Well soon after that things went from bad to worse when the platform approved an offensive ad that made a callous joke about Chris Brown’s famous domestic abuse offense against Rihanna. Rihanna was not having it. Even after Snap pulled the ad and attempted an apology, she publicly took them to task on Instagram, saying: “I’d love to call it ignorance, but I know you ain’t that dumb! You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV victims and made a joke of it!!!! This isn’t about my personal feelings, cause I don’t have much of them...but all the women, children, and men that have been victims of DV in the past and especially the ones who haven’t made it out yet....you let us down! Shame on you. Throw the whole app-oligy away.” The company’s stock value plummeted in response, losing more than $800 million. Hopefully other brands will learn from Snap to avoid making light of domestic violence or crossing Rihanna.  

    3. Hackers Disrupt Atlanta’s City Government

    The city of Atlanta had to halt a number of city services and operations last month due to a ransomware attack made by hackers. The hackers demanded a ransom of $51,000 in bitcoin to remove the threat to the city’s digital systems. Atlanta has managed to regain some of its systems, but the attack is a reminder of how much power someone with hacking skills can have over the functions of government.  

    4. Zscaler, Dropbox, Spotify, and DocuSign Go Public

    It’s a big month for tech IPOs.
    • To start, Zscaler, the cloud security company had a strong start when it went public last month, making $192 million and watching stocks go up 75% on the first day of trading.
    • Dropbox followed suit with a similarly strong offering, going up 49% in its first two days on the market.
    • Just a couple of days ago , Spotify launched their IPO, which put their initial valuation at $29.5 billion.
    • And sorry, you won’t get time to catch your breath, because DocuSign has also just filed for IPO with the goal of going public later this month.
    There’s just something about the stock market in the spring, it seems.  

    5. Self-Driving Vehicles Forced to Slow Down

    Usually the talk around self-driving cars is excited and often brings a feeling of rushing – the companies behind them, the people working on them, and the consumers that want them all seem to be in a hurry for the tech to be ready and available. But last month, a woman was hit and killed by a self-driving Uber, forcing the company to take a step back and slow things down for a bit. The company pulled all its self-driving vehicles from public roads for the time being while they investigate the cause of the crash.  

    6. Cryptocurrency Controversies

    The city of Plattsburgh, NY made news last month by banning cryptomining. The practice, a way of gaining bitcoin, uses up a considerable amount of electricity and was taxing the city’s electric system. Because the city was using more than it was able to produce and had to buy electricity from outside sources, residents were stuck with much higher electric bills than usual. In response, the city government went ahead and banned the practice altogether. On top of that, Twitter joins a number of other social media networks in banning all ads for cryptocurrency. The move is a way to try to reduce fraud on the site, especially as “crypto twitter” is known for being generally shady. Even with these minor setbacks, bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies remain a notable part of our modern economy.  

    7. MyFitnessPal App Hacked

    The data breach of the month (at least so far) is MyFitnessPal. The app, owned by Under Armour, was hacked, compromising 150 million profiles. They’ve alerted their members and are requiring everyone that uses the app to change their password. It seems like every month brings at least one new data breach. It’s a good reminder to keep your passwords secure and change them periodically for better protection.  

    8. U.S. Considers Requiring Social Media Info for All Visa Applicants

    The U.S. state department has announced a desire to begin requiring all visa applicants to the country to provide details of their social media accounts. If the department moves forward with this plan, nearly 15 million people will be required to provide this information as part of their application – a requirement many feel is a serious invasion of their privacy. While the administration claims this requirement is a way to combat terrorism, many are skeptical that it would make a meaningful difference while also concerned that it oversteps reasonable boundaries of privacy. Before a final decision is made, the public has a couple of months to provide comments on the proposal.  

    9. Collision Conference

    Meeting from April 30-May 3 in New Orleans, the Collision Conference brings together over 25,000 attendees to network, view tech exhibits, and discuss and learn about topics ranging from AI to cryptocurrency to brand activism. For anyone looking for a good opportunity to learn more and meet like minds, it’s the best tech conference this month to consider.  

    Happy April!

    Like most months, April is a busy one for the tech world. Check back next month to see what tech trends to look forward to in May.
  • What You Need To Know About Gutenberg

    Thursday, March 22, 2018 by
    What You Need to Know About Gutenberg WordPress

    What You Need to Know About Gutenberg

    If you’re in tune with the latest WordPress developments, then chances are you’ve heard of Gutenberg. This editor is set to replace the current backend editor. It’s currently going through beta testing and exists in plugin form, for those who want to get used to the editor before it becomes a stock WordPress feature. Below we explore what the Gutenberg update is all about, what the update hopes to accomplish and address the most common concerns and questions regarding Gutenberg. best WordPress hosting

    What is Gutenberg?

    Essentially, Gutenberg is a new WordPress text editor. The name comes from the inventor of the printing press, Johannes Gutenberg. This invention revolutionized the written word, and WordPress is hoping to do the same to the WordPress editor. The goal of this addition is to make adding rich content to your WordPress site a simple and intuitive process. Instead of the classic post editor, you’ll be creating content with blocks. Instead of creating text-based content along with shortcodes and custom HTML to customize the look and feel, these blocks will be arranged on an individual basis There’s a lot that Gutenberg is going to introduce to WordPress, but the main elements are highlighted below:  

    1. It Currently Exists in Plugin Form

    Today, Gutenberg exists in plugin form. It currently has a couple thousand installs and a pretty low star rating. However, these ratings need to take into account the version being reviewed won’t be the final version of Gutenberg. This update will come into effect with the launch of WordPress 5.0. gutenberg plugin

    2. It Makes Adding Content Blocks and Embeds Easy

    One of the core elements of this update are including content blocks and making embeds easy. The goal of these content blocks is to simplify the site customization process. You’ll have access to common content blocks like paragraphs, headers, and images, along with text formatting blocks, layout blocks, and widgets. In terms of embeds, you’ll be able to quickly and easily add media from various sites to your existing site, like Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud, Reddit, and a lot more.  

    3. It Includes Drag-and-Drop Functionality

    Existing website builders make creating your website a very intuitive process. To build and customize your site with these you don’t have to utilize shortcodes, widgets, custom HTML, or plugins. With the Gutenberg update, all you have to learn about and utilize are content blocks. You’ll be able to add content elements by dragging and dropping and will be similar to the Medium post editor. These blocks will allow you to accomplish all the same tasks without having to master and integrate things like plugins, shortcodes, and widgets.  

    Why The Switch to Gutenberg?

    The shift to Gutenberg marks a change in the future of WordPress releases. From now on WordPress releases will focus on adding more features that make writing and publishing much simpler. The goal will be eventually to minimize the use of third-party plugins and instead incorporate those features into the WordPress core itself. Currently, the WordPress community is divided about Gutenberg. You can see this in action by browsing through the reviews of the plugin. However, it’s important to remember that the current plugin form of Gutenberg isn’t the final form. The user experience and feature set will definitely evolve over time. Most of the criticism aimed at Gutenberg is directed towards this unfinished version.  

    Common Gutenberg Questions

    Since Gutenberg is still in the testing phase there are naturally going to be a lot of questions and concerns. We address some of the most common questions below.   When will it roll out? Gutenberg will roll out with the WordPress 5.0 update, however, it’s difficult to pin down an exact release date for the update will occur. However, the updated is slated for sometime this year.   Can I still use the classic editor? The Gutenberg editor will become the default editor. However, there are already some plugins that’ll overwrite the Gutenberg changes like, Classic Editor. Gutenberg will have an option called Classic Editor, which will mimic the look of the current post and page editor.   How will it be integrated into WordPress? There’s been a lot of talk and feedback regarding the integration of Gutenberg. Some have suggested that it be incorporated into Jetpack. However, all signs point towards Gutenberg replacing the standard TinyMCE editor completely for a seamless page and post building experience.   What about existing plugins? Gutenberg will change how certain WordPress plugins are developed and integrate with the post editor. Most plugins will have to be updated; however those that do will be at a huge advantage, and it could make development easier due to the flexibility of the block system.  

    In Closing

    Eventually, the Gutenberg editor will replace the classic WordPress text editor. If you’re looking to get ahead of the curve and understand how to use Gutenberg before it becomes standard, then you can install the plugin and get a feel for how it works. Time will tell the impacts and success of the Gutenberg project. It has the potential to revolutionize how content is created and edited within WordPress, but it’ll definitely change how things are done in the backend. One thing is for certain; Gutenberg will shape the future of WordPress for years to come.
  • Top Tech Trends to Watch in March 2018

    Monday, March 5, 2018 by
    March 2018 Tech News

    2018 March Tech News You Need To Know

    Each new month inevitably brings all new tech news and trends. For busy business owners that can’t stay on top of it all alone, we’ve once again created a monthly roundup of tech stories to have on your radar this month. best WordPress hosting

    Tech Platforms Ban Nazis

    Now and then, we see tech companies taking a political stand. This month, two notable instances of it involve companies kicking Nazis off their platform. YouTube banned two channels run by a neo-nazi group after media scrutiny and outrage over the hate speech expressed on the channels. And chat platform Discord shut down several neo-nazi servers as well. While taking a stand against nazis isn’t the boldest of moves, in YouTube’s case it still took outside media and users drawing attention to the channel for them to take that step.  

    New Releases from Mobile World Congress

    Tech companies used the Mobile World Congress last month to announce new device models and feature updates. The new devices demonstrated a real trend toward increasing screen size without adding to the phone size by reducing the bezels (the part of the phone around the screen) and a growing tendency to drop headphone jacks from phone designs, suggesting tech companies think Bluetooth headphones are dominant enough in the market to replace any need for plug-in headphones.  

    Parkland Survivors Use Social Media to Seek Change

    One of the biggest stories of February was the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Sadly, mass shootings and even school shootings are common enough that this one could have been another case where it gets mentioned on the news for a day or two before the country moves on to other stories. But because the survivors of this one are social media savvy teens, they’ve turned their experience into a movement to demand gun control.  They’ve successfully commanded the attention of the media and politicians (and are way better with a social media burn than any of the politicians that try to go toe to toe with them), showing in the process how social media skills can be used to really make a difference.

    Dropbox Files for IPO

    The cloud storage and file syncing company that’s used by millions filed for IPO with plans to go public in the coming month with hopes of raising $500 million. With more than 11 million paying customers, the company has been gaining in popularity over the past few years, although still on the whole losing money in that time. Nonetheless, a strong brand and recent growth should work in the company’s favor once it hits the market.  

    Spotify IPO Launches

    The other big tech IPO making news this month is the popular streaming music service Spotify. The company filed on the last day of February and experts predict the company is worth $23 billion. In spite of having over 70 million customers though, the company struggles to be profitable due to the high cost of royalty fees for the music they provide.  

    Google Assistant Adding Functionality

    While smart assistants are popular, there are still some real limitations on how well they work and what they can do. Google is hard at work trying to add to the uses people can turn to their Google Assistant for though. Just this last month, they announced adding a routines feature, which lets people create custom commands that tie multiple types of requests together. So you could say “OK Google, morning routine” and have the music and lighting of your choice come on together, for instance. They have also added location-based reminders, so you can tell your smart assistant to remind you to get gas on your way to work and have your phone give you an alert once it senses you’ve left the house. And they’re teaching the assistant new languages, expecting it to support over 30 languages by the end of the year.  

    SXSW Interactive

    With March upon us, that means loads of people in the tech world are about to head to Austin for SXSW Interactive. From March 9 through 13, experts from around the world will give presentations on topics ranging from how AI will transform fashion to the emotional life of autonomous cars. For anyone wanting to hear about both quirky and serious ideas on the forefront of tech and culture, the conference is a must.  

    Google Launches New AR Functionality

    google lensIn addition to the work they’re doing with their smart assistant, Google is also working to provide AR features to a range of compatible phones. Google Lens will make it possible for people to point their phone at something and learn about it – whether landmarks, plants, or art. In addition, their ARCore augmented reality platform lets people see an overlay of AR stickers on the world in front of them through their phone. AR has been getting a lot of traction in the tech world lately and these moves by Google take us one step further in a direction we can expect to see them and other tech companies continue down.  

    Snap Has a Rocky Month

    Snapchat is one of the biggest social media platforms out there, but they hit some snags in the past few weeks. For one, they released a new design and instead of hearing great feedback on the hard work they presumably put into those changes, they got a petition signed by over a million people asking them to change it back. Yikes. To make matters worse, a negative Tweet from Kylie Jenner basically saying the platform is over may have contributed to a $1.3 billion drop in the company’s value on the stock market. That’s a lot of bad PR in a short amount of time. The company clearly has its work out for them if they want to win back some of the popularity they just lost.   March is looking to be a big month in tech and we can only imagine what to expect from April. Check back next month for a new update on tech news and trends to be aware of.
  • 10 Tech Stories To Keep An Eye On This February

    Sunday, February 4, 2018 by
    february 2018 tech news stories

    The Top Tech News of February 2018

    A new month means a new batch of tech news. For professionals who know that changes in the tech world influence your business, but have trouble staying on top of it all on your own, we bring you our monthly roundup of tech news to keep an eye on this month. best dedicated server hosting

    1. Tech Giants Tackle Online Security

    With news of Metdown and Spectre bugs that cause serious vulnerabilities in computer systems, we’re once again all reminded how difficult it is to protect our sensitive data online. A number of businesses are scrambling to create patches that will protect their users from the bugs, and tech businesses are continuing in their ongoing efforts to increase online security proactively, as well as in response to each new bug and hack. Google has launched Chronicle, a company devoted to finding hackers fast using machine learning, and Apple has created a Privacy icon to help customers tell the difference between legitimate requests for their login information and phishing attempts.  

    2. AR a Top Trend at CES

    Every year, CES gives tech companies a chance to show off what they’re working on and shows the rest of us what trends to expect in the year to come. vuzix bladeThis year, a lot of the main tech trends and product categories you expect to see were still well covered – autonomous cars, smart home tech, AI – but one of the significant trends on display was the growing efforts to create products in the AR space. There’s the Vuzix Blade (pictured right), which is like a better-looking take on Google Glass. There’s the MonoHD from DigiLens, which uses AR tech to improve motorcycle safety. And Realmax shared their prototype of AR goggles. It looks like things are heating up in the AR world and this is a trend people can expect to see more of in the coming year.  

    3. Facebook Makes New Updates to Feed

    Facebook recently announced plans to make some changes to how stories and updates show up in people’s feeds. Recent changes include prioritizing posts from friends and family over those from brands or media companies, giving greater priority to publishers that are considered trustworthy by a wide range of users, and giving extra weight to local news stories. The goal is to improve users’ experience on the platform, but not everyone’s happy about the change. Brands are concerned about losing reach on the platform (and not for the first time) and investors are leery as well – the company’s stock value dropped soon after the changes were announced. Whether everyday users see the updates as an improvement is still up in the air, but will likely have the biggest influence on whether or not Facebook continues on this route.

    4. Google Chrome Takes On Autoplay

    Pretty much everyone that spends time online is familiar with a particularly obnoxious and common experience: opening a link only to be bombarded with noise from an autoplay video on the website. We all hate it, yet websites keep doing it. Well, Chrome is here to help. The browser now provides users the option to permanently mute any site you choose. If you still use auto-play video on your own website (and what are you thinking?  That’s a surefire way to increase bounce rates!), this change makes them that much less effective. Follow Chrome’s lead and give the people what they want by taking those autoplay videos down.  

    5. Twitter Releases Information about Russian Bots

    One of the biggest tech stories of the past year has been the way the Russian government used social media platforms and search engines to influence the U.S. election. Both Twitter and Facebook have been asked by politicians to take a more active role in identifying and weeding out the Russian bots and fake news that gets shared on their platforms. This past month, Twitter contacted over a million users to let them know they’d interacted with Russian propaganda on the platform. And the total number of people exposed to Russian propaganda may well be higher. Knowing about the propaganda after the fact doesn’t change the influence it had at the time, but maybe now that tech companies are more aware of the problem, they’ll be better at recognizing and doing something about propaganda moving forward.  

    6. Amazon Opens Autonomous Grocery Store

    If the main thing you hated about going shopping was having to wait in line to check out, then Amazon’s new Amazon Go store solves that problem for you. amazon go store The first location just opened in Seattle and anyone who shops there need only scan the Amazon Go app on their phone on the way in, select the items they want, and walk out with them. The company uses sensors and cameras to monitor what items people choose and make sure they’re charged accordingly. Whether or not the autonomous grocery store concept will really take off remains to be seen – and whether or not the technology will successfully make sure people are charged the right amount without issues is a big part of how this all plays out. But if it does, this is one more way for Amazon to disrupt a familiar business model and one that might both change how people shop and leave some people left behind out of work.  

    7. Developer Week Is Coming

    From February 3-7, thousands of developers will gather in San Francisco for Developer Week. The conference provides opportunities for networking, showcases speakers from a number of tech giants, and includes a hackathon (with cash prizes). For anyone wanting to learn more about some of the most important technologies in the tech world today, this is an event worth checking out.  

    8. States Pass Their Own Net Neutrality Laws

    The repeal of net neutrality late last year was a very controversial move that left a lot of citizens offended and riled up. Plenty of politicians agreed with the outrage and some of them are taking steps to pass laws upholding net neutrality rules at the state level. Six states have already gotten a net neutrality law on the books and several more have one in the works. For something as popular as net neutrality, it just makes sense for state and local representatives to get involved and work for what their constituents want.  

    9. YouTube Makes Monetizing Video A Lot Harder

    Making money on YouTube has never been easy, but it’s been a possibility within reach for any content creator that could gain a niche following. Now many of them are finding their ability to make any money on the platform at all cut off. YouTube has just changed the rules around who’s able to make money from the site. Anyone that has less than 1,000 subscribers or has been viewed less than 4,000 hours in the last year will no longer qualify for monetization. Many YouTubers are livid, voicing their anger at the decision on various platforms, in some cases while pleading with their fans to press that “subscribe” button or spend some more time watching to help them make the cutoff. For marketers, this is one more reminder not to build too much of your brand on a platform you don’t own – you never know when a change they make will ruin your ability to stay afloat there.  

    10. Mobile World Congress

    The Mobile World Congress, the largest conference in the mobile industry, meets this month in Barcelona from February 26 to March 1. With over 100,000 attendees, it’s the place to be for anyone working in the mobile industry. We can expect to see new mobile products and features launched and hear about important news and trends in the world of mobile as news starts to come out of the conference.   Like every month, February is sure to include tech news none of us could anticipate. Check back next month to see what new stories to follow as we move into March.
  • The Future of Websites: Predictions for 2018

    Tuesday, January 2, 2018 by
    Websites Future Trends

    What Will Websites Look Like In The Future?

    Is your website ready for 2018? The approach of a new year always brings out the trend forecasts, and 2018 is looking like a year that will deliver some big and long-overdue changes to the way websites function. That's because more and more web traffic is mobile now, which means users have a whole new set of expectations for your site's design and usability. So if you're taking stock of your site and wondering how to update it to win more visitors and customers in the year ahead, check out these suggestions based on 2018 trend forecasts. HostGator Dedicated Server Hosting

    1. Focus on mobile-friendly design

    internet usage desktop vs mobileMobile users already generate more than half the world's web traffic, and that trend is here to stay, thanks to users in countries where mobile tech has leapfrogged over desktop availability and to a whole generation of young people worldwide who have always used their phones as their main web access tool. Developers and search engines are now taking a mobile first approach to site design, because it's practical and good for business. Soon, a mobile first approach will be critical to search rankings, too. Since October, Google has been very slowly rolling out its new mobile-first index, which will eventually rank and display sites based on the mobile-readiness of their “content, links, and schema.” The index was originally slated to debut in 2018, and it will take time to implement it fully. In the meantime, it's a good idea to start focusing on your mobile site in order to stay competitive in search results once Google has the program completely up and running. One way to start now is by using a plugin to add Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) functionality to your WordPress website. AMP creates faster-loading versions of your existing pages to satisfy the demands of mobile users, who won't wait around for slow-loading sites.  

    2. Add better images and videos

    Web users love videos – humanity takes in about a billion hours of video every day on YouTube alone—and images are a must for telling stories and selling products. However, web users also expect web page to load in an instant, which means your videos need a host that can load them fast, and your images need to be lightweight as well as high quality. If you're still using PNG files as your go-to format for still images, it's time to get to know SVGs: scalable vector graphics. SVGs are now the preferred format for web graphics, because they scale without pixellating (no pixels!) and because they are coded into each page so they don't slow down page loads. Coding SVGs manually takes some skill and knowledge, but there are SVG plugins for WordPress than can simplify the process. Among the most popular free options is SVG Support by Benbhodi, which lets you upload your SVG files to your image library or, in advanced mode, embed your SVGs in your code. You can make your own SVGs in Adobe Illustrator, and if that tool isn't in your budget, there are several open-source free alternatives you can use for SVG production and editing.  

    3. Use large and easy-to-scan fonts

    Even the fastest-loading, most mobile-ready site will lose visitors if they can't read what's on your pages. And when you think about visitors trying to read your site on their phones, maybe in the sun, or without the reading glasses they left at home, you'll see why bigger fonts are a better choice for your website going forward. While you're upsizing your headers and key information, check the main text to see how it looks on your phone. If the font is hard to read on that small screen, change it to something else that works better.  

    4. Build a progressive web app

    If you want to create the most mobile-friendly user experience possible without developing your own app, consider a progressive web app (PWA). In very simple terms, PWAs are web sites that behave like apps. PWAs load fast and work on and offline, scroll smoothly, support push notifications, and can be pinned to a home screen. So if you want your visitors to scroll your archives—or your catalog—even when they're offline, a PWA may be the way to go. progressive web apps Google has a trove of information on PWA development, and  Magento is building up its Magento PWA Studio toolkit for its e-commerce users.Not ready to develop your own PAQ? You can install a PWA plugin for your WordPress site.  

    5. Consider a chatbot for always-on customer support

    Customer-support chatbots are perhaps the trendiest use of AI, and publications like Forbes and Business Insider expect them to gain ground among online retailers in 2018. Why? When used right, chatbots can save customers time, keep shoppers on your site, and save you money on live-person phone and chat support. Chatbots use keywords to answer questions, so they're ideal for tackling inquiries that are already in your FAQ, like questions about your shipping and return policies. That can free up you or your customer service reps to handle other issues. Just remember that bots can't take the place of live CSRs (at least, not yet), so your customers will need a quick way to reach a human if the bot can't answer their questions. There are chatbot plugins for WordPress, and there are several Magento extensions that allow shop owners to add a Facebook Messenger chatbot, too.  

    Website Success in 2018

    By updating your website now, you'll be in a better position to get found in search results, keep visitors on your site, win customers, and keep them coming back. That's a pretty good way for your website to ring in the new year.