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Peggy Graves

Peggy Graves

Facebook wants a direct line into your brain.

As Recode reports, the company’s secretive R&D lab — known as Building 8 — is creating a “‘brain-computer speech-to-text interface,’ technology that’s supposed to translate your thoughts directly from your brain to a computer screen without any need for speech or fingertips.” It’s also interested in developing a “brain mouse,” where people could use their attention to move a cursor across the screen.

The intent behind these initiatives is to a) help people with disabilities use the internet, and b) pioneer new ways for consumers to interact with technologies.

After reading the reports, I had many questions. Mainly: Is this bogus? So I called up Rebecca Saxe, a neuroscientist at MIT. Her first reaction: “The things Facebook is saying are crazy, but the technological idea is not crazy.”

Let’s break it down.

What’s impossible about Facebook’s idea

Facebook says the technology to turn thoughts to text will only pick up on the words you want to type, by detecting “activity in a very specific region of the brain where thoughts are translated into speech,” as Recode explains.

That makes it sound like Facebook wants to listen in on your inner monologue and transcribe it for you. That’s not plausible.

First off, the technology would be limited by the type of brain scanners that are available. Saxe, along with two other neuroscientists I contacted, said if Facebook were going to market a consumer-friendly brain scanner today, it would go with an EEG (a cap with electrodes that picks on broad levels of brain activity).

Here’s the problem: EEG is a blunt instrument. It reads the overall levels of electrical activity in your brain. Doctors use it to see if you’re asleep or not. It’s not sensitive enough to pick up on the individual neurons that fire when you think, “Hey, guys! Some personal news!”

Saxe says you can get a bit more resolution if you implant electrodes directly into a person’s brain — “which is such infection risk, I can’t imagine they’re going to do it,” she says. (Neither can I.)

Saxe explains that there are a few patients who have electrodes implanted directly into the speech regions of the brain. And even with that access, no software can pick up on specific words people are thinking about. The technology has progressed to the point where it can recognize when a person is done reading a sentence on a computer screen. “And that’s not for a sentence you thought yourself, but for a sentence we showed you,” she says.

Facebook’s Regina Dugan, who announced all of this exciting news, said the technology would optimally use “optical imaging” of the brain — but didn’t elaborate on what that means. Saxe thinks she’s referring to something called “functional near-infrared spectroscopy” (NIRS), which is like an EEG in that it isn’t invasive. But it doesn’t pick up on electrical activity. Instead, it uses lights and infrared sensors to pick up on changes in blood flow in the brain. This is similar to how fMRIs work, but it yields a fuzzier picture.

There’s been some interesting work where neuroscientists have been able to reconstruct movie scenes or memories just from looking at fMRI data. But all that yields is rough images, and only after the participants have spent hours hooked up to the machine. “A possible technological innovation would be to make a NIRS system that has spatial resolution comparable to fMRI,” Saxe says. “Many groups have thought about this, but the technology hasn’t been developed.”

Perhaps Facebook could pour billions into the program and figure it out. It’s just not feasible yet.

So what is possible?

So current technology can’t pick individual words out of your brain. But it can pick up on where you’re directing your attention. And scientists can use that signal to build mice and keyboards you use only by thinking about them.

Here’s how this works, as Saxe explains it: Imagine a keyboard where each letter is illuminated by a light that flickers at its own individual beat.

So you look at this disco keyboard while connected to an EEG. “If you focus on a letter,” she says, “that tempo frequency is going to be more reflective in your visual cortex than any other.” And the EEG can pick up on that.

So if you look at the flashing A, the computer attached to the EEG will know you’re looking at A and can type it for you. Which means you could type with your visual attention alone.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“If we had to devote all that mental attention to selecting one letter at a time, we would clearly be slower and less efficient than typing with our hands,” Saxe says. “It would take so much concentration that you would get exhausted,” at least initially, without training. Using predictive text software (like the one on a smartphone messaging app) could bump up the processing speed, but probably not to the 100 words per minute Facebook claiming is possible.

This potential brain-computer interface could be very helpful for those with paralysis or disabilities that make typing hard or impossible. Facebook’s Dugan said that “even something as simple as a ‘yes/no’ brain click or a ‘brain mouse’ would be transformative.” And that would be huge for people with near-complete paralysis.

But the mass-market appeal is unclear. And keep in mind all of this requires a device placed on your skull to work (though Saxe informs me “fashionable EEG caps — that’s totally a thing”).

So is Facebook going inside your skull? It’s plausible. But it might not be all that useful in practice.

Source: vox.com

Many problems with the iPhone can be resolved by restarting it, but some more complex problems require putting the iPhone into recovery mode. This shouldn't be your first troubleshooting step, but sometimes it's the only one that works.


NOTE: This article mostly refers to the iPhone but it applies to all iOS devices.


When to Use Recovery Mode


You should use iPhone recovery mode when you:

  • Install an iOS update and your device gets stuck in a continuous restart loop. This happens when something goes wrong with the update or when your battery is extremely low during that installation
  • Update the OS or restore the device from backup, the process fails, and iTunes no longer sees the device when you connect it
  • Upgrade from a beta version of the iOS and there's a bug 
  • See the Apple logo or Connect to iTunes icon onscreen for a few minutes with no change.


Restoring your iPhone using recovery mode deletes all data on the device. Ideally you've got a recent backup of your data in iCloud or in iTunes. If not, you may end up losing the data between your last backup and now.





How to Put an iPhone In Recovery Mode


To put an iPhone into recovery mode: 

  1. Turn your iPhone off by holding down the sleep/wake button (on the right side on iPhone 6 and up, on the top corner on all other iPhones). Hold until the slider appears at the top and then swipe the slider. If your phone doesn't respond, hold the sleep/wake button and the Home button together until the screen goes dark (on an iPhone 7 series, hold volume down instead of Home)
  2. Connect your iPhone to your computer. If you don't have a computer, you'll need to go to the Apple Store or borrow one
  3. Perform a hard reset on the phone. Do this by holding down the sleep/wake button and the Home button at the same time (again, on iPhone 7 use volume down). Continue holding for at least 10 seconds. If the Apple logo appears on the screen, keep holding
  4. Let go of the buttons when the Connect to iTunes screen appears (it's the image of the cable and iTunes icon shown at the top of this article). The phone is now in recovery mode
  5. A window pops up in iTunes offering to let you Update or Restore the phone. Click Update. This tries to resolve the problem without erasing your data
  6. If Update fails, put your iPhone into recovery mode again and this time click Restore.


How to Restore iPhone


If you need to restore your iPhone, you can choose to restore it to its factory state or from a recent backup of your data. For instructions on how to do this, check out these tutorials on:





How to Get Out of iPhone Recovery Mode


If restoring the iPhone succeeds, your phone will exit recovery mode when it restarts.


You can also exit recovery mode before restoring your phone (if your device was working properly before. If not, recovery mode is still your best option). To do that:

  1. Unplug the device from the USB cable
  2. Hold down the sleep/wake button until the iPhone turns off, then let it go
  3. Hold it down again until the Apple logo reappears
  4. Let go of the button and the device will start up.


If Recovery Mode Doesn't Work


If putting your iPhone into recovery mode doesn't solve your problem, the problem may be more serious than you can fix on your own.

In that case, you should make an appointment at the Genius Bar of your nearest Apple Store to get help.



Author:  Sam Costello

Source:  https://www.lifewire.com/get-into-and-out-of-recovery-mode-2000261

Friday, 02 December 2016 14:18

The trouble with truth

Do search engines and other content distribution platforms have a responsibility to present information that is true? Columnist Janet Driscoll Miller discusses the issues surrounding this question.

Since the election, there’s been a lot of discussion about fake news and its ability to sway masses into potentially false perceptions. Clearly, creating false perceptions in mass media is a dangerous thing, and it can sway public opinion and policy greatly.

But what about search engines and other content distributors? Even before the US election, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that search engine algorithms, “when they are not transparent, can lead to a distortion of our perception, they can shrink our expanse of information.” What responsibility, then, does a search engine have to produce truthful information?

Is Pluto a planet?

Getting at truth can be tough because not everything is black and white, especially in certain subjects. Take, for example, good old Pluto. Many of us grew up learning that Pluto is a planet. Then, in 2006, astronomers ruled that it was no longer a planet.

But in the last few years, Pluto’s planetary designation seems to have been in dispute. As I was helping my daughter with her solar system project for school, I questioned if we should add Pluto as a planet or if it should be left off. What is Pluto’s planetary status now?

solar system

Unfortunately, the answer still wasn’t clear. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) determined that Pluto is not a planet because it only meets two of their three criteria for planetary status:

  1. Orbit around the sun (true).
  2. Be spherical (true).
  3. Be the biggest thing in its orbit (not true).

In fall 2014, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics held a panel discussion on Pluto’s planetary status with several leading experts: Dr. Owen Gingerich, chair the IAU planet definition committee; Dr. Gareth Williams, associate director of the Minor Planet Center; and Dr. Dimitar Sasselov, director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative. Interestingly, even Gingerich, who is the chair of the IAU planet definition committee, argued that “a planet is a culturally defined word that changes over time,” and that Pluto is a planet. Two of the three members of the panel, including Gingerich, concluded that Pluto is indeed a planet.

Confused yet? Sometimes there are multiple reputable organizations who debate two potential truths. And that’s OK. Science is about always learning and discovering, and new discoveries may mean that we have to rethink what we once considered fact.

A problem bigger than the smallest planet

While my Pluto example is a fairly harmless and hopefully less controversial example, there are clearly topics in science and beyond that can create dangerous thinking and action based on little or no proven fact.

The issue, especially in science and research, delves much deeper, though. Even if a research study is performed and demonstrates a result, how dependable is that result? Was the methodology and sample size proper? All too often, we see sensational clickbait headlines for studies, as John Oliver shared earlier this year:

Hey, who doesn’t want to drink wine instead of going to the gym?

But the methodology around some of these research reports can be truly suspect. Sweeping generalizations, especially around the health of humans and the environment, can be incredibly dangerous.

In the video segment, Oliver shares a story published by Time magazine, which I would normally consider a reputable source. The article is about a study which, Time claims, suggests that “smelling farts can prevent cancer.” Now, while this particular study actually did not actually make that claim, if you search for “smelling farts can prevent cancer” on Google, here are the results:


Google has even elevated the false information to a Google Answer at the top of the page. In fact, the first result disputing this false claim doesn’t even appear above the scroll line.

The media and clickbait

As Oliver points out in the video, the problem is larger than just users sharing and buying into this information. Rather, there’s a deeper issue at play here, and it centers around what’s popular. Most of us are familiar with clickbait — outrageous headlines created to entice us to click on an article. In an effort to compete to get the most clicks (and thus ad revenue), media outlets have resorted to trying to share the most outrageous news first.

The problem for Google is that much of their algorithm relies on the authority of a site and inbound links to that website. So if a typically authoritative site, such as CNN, posts stories that are not fact-checked, and then we share those links, those two actions are helping to boost the SEO for the incorrect information.

But isn’t it much more fun to think that drinking wine will spare me from having to go to the gym? That’s essentially why we share it.

Why fact checking is hard, manual work

If media outlets and websites aren’t fact checking, how can Google do this? There are certainly a number of sites dedicated to fact checking and rumor validation, such as Snopes and PolitiFact, but they also rely on human editors to pore over articles and fact-check claims.

Last year, Google engineers outlined in a research paper how they might incorporate a truthfulness measurement into the ranking algorithm. But can that really be done? Can a simple algorithm separate truth from fiction?

There are many fact-checking organizations, and there’s even an international network of fact-checkers. But ironically, while there are some mutually agreed-upon best practices, there are no set standards for fact-checking — it can vary by organization. Further, to Oliver’s points in the video, fact-checking different topics requires different standards. A scientific study, for instance, may need to be judged on several standards: methodology, duplication of study and so on, whereas political articles likely require on-the-record quotes to verify.

Treating the cause

Google and Facebook both have started taking steps to eradicate fake news. Google announced it would no longer allow sites with fake news to publish ads on those pages, essentially seeking to cut off potential revenue streams for fake news producers that rely on false clickbait to generate income. That’s certainly one cause of false news generation, but is it the only one?

The issue is much deeper than just ad revenue. One of the scientists in Oliver’s video shares how scientists are incentivized to publish research. The competition in journalism and in science to get “eye-catching” results is real. So the root cause can often be more than just ad revenue — it may be just to get noticed. Or further, it may be to promote an agenda, which falls under the umbrella of propaganda.

The other side of the situation: bias and backlash

So what should Google do? The challenge the search engines (and Facebook) are confronted with is looking biased or being accused of promoting and favoring one side over another. Per Merkel’s comments, this stifles debate as well. And as Google has seen numerous times, and Facebook recently saw this summer with the accusation that its news feed was liberal-leaning, showing more or less of one side of a story may earn the platform a reputation of being biased.

Further, as we’ve established, truth is not always black and white. Merriam-Webster defines truth as “a statement or idea that is true or accepted as true.” So what if I accept something as true that you do not? Truth is not universal in all cases. For example, an atheist believes that God does not exist. This is truth for the atheist.

As one writer commented in an article on Slate.com, “No one — not even Google — wants Google to step in and settle hash that scientists themselves can’t.” Is it really Google’s responsibility to promote only content it deems through an algorithm to be true?

It certainly puts Google in a tough bind. If they quell sites that they believe are not truthful, they may be accused of censorship. If they don’t, they have the power to potentially sway the beliefs of many people who will believe that what they see in Google is true.

Another answer: education

We’ll never stop clickbait. And we’ll never stop fake news. There’s always a way to work the system. Isn’t that what SEOs do? We figure out how to respond to the algorithm and what it wants to rank our sites higher in results. While Google can take steps to try to combat fake news, it will never stop it fully. But should Google stop it completely? That’s a slippery slope.

In conjunction with these efforts, we really have to hold journalism to a higher standard. It starts there. If it sounds too good to be true, you can bet it is. It starts with questioning what we read instead of simply sharing it because it sounds good.

Time for my daily workout: a glass of wine.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016 13:25

Google Home Services Ads roll out on mobile

The ads, which are also being tested on desktop, feature service area maps.

Google’s home services ads are finally showing on mobile. The ads for local service providers such as locksmiths, plumbers, handymen and, more recently, HVAC services and electricians, had been briefly spotted last month on mobile, but they now appear to be prevalent across the California markets where the program is active.

The mobile ad format features a swipeable carousel of listings that feature a map of the service area where the advertiser operates. Here are examples on iOS (left) and Android.



Because the businesses typically cover the entire metro area, the maps are identical in most of the ads. An exception, shown in the screen shot on the right below, is somewhat confusing. The same area is covered by both advertisers, but it is just slightly different; however, it’s not clear what the differences are without having to click through on both.

Google appears to be testing the service area format on desktop as well. Below is a comparison of two formats seen today. The first is the format that has been running for some time, which includes thumbnail head shots of the service providers. The result for “San Diego plumber” shows the service area format. The map reflects the service area covered when you hover over each ad.


Standard format featuring pictures of the service providers



Service area format being tested

The other update is the inclusion of a “Google guaranteed” tag in each the ads. Spotted by The SEM Post, the verification tells consumers, “This pro is backed by the Google guarantee, which means they’re licensed, insured and pre-screened. Any job you book with them is guaranteed to be done right or your money back.” To participate in the Home Services Ads program, advertisers must go through a background check and verification process.

Author:  Ginny Marvin

Source:  http://searchengineland.com/

There’s something that sounds conventionally wise about saying that you don’t need to be the best runner, you just need to be faster than the slowest. That you can make good money in a business without worrying about being the world’s best. But that’s the wrong way to think.

The right way to think about every single thing that you create is that you are trying to shoot for the number one spot, and you have to make that the core standard of whatever you build. It doesn’t have to reach that standard on the first fucking go but it does have to shoot for it.

If you’re aiming for second place — that’s the level of quality you will get. That — and nothing better. If you’re aiming for second place you’ll build second rate. That’s what I like to talk about building with…

…The DuckDuckGo Mindset

I want to talk about a search engine called DuckDuckGo. They’re what you might call an “Indie” search engine, because that shit is not necessarily out to beat Google. In the same way that Black Flag weren’tout to beat Michael Jackson.

They are not going to beat Google for traffic or for advertising or for anything else. And in fact, they don’t aim to beat google.The search engine that doesn’t track you. A superior search experience with smarter answers, less clutter and real…

Check ’em out, they’re worth a look in. If you go through their stats, you can see they run a lot of searches. Here’s the traffic for the first few days of September, October and November.

That traffic says one thing to me. It says repeat users. DuckDuckGo may not be trying to beat Google for popularity or anything else. But they are still shooting for number one in their pursuit of excellence and quality — they’ve gotta be, in order to have that kind of dedicated month on month use in Google, Bing and (somehow, still) Yahoo’s world.

And if you look at some of what DuckDuckGo do — supporting privacy, adding features and looking after their users — you get the sense that they don’t build their product thinking that they’re aiming for 2nd, 3rd or 4th place. They build it with a 1st place mentality.

The DuckDuckGo mindset is building for number one without that necessarily being the goal of your business. And it’s a vitally important mindset. It guides their standards in product development.

It’s All About Having Standards

You don’t set standards by stating what’s “good enough” for you. Sure it may be “good enough” for your company to carve out a niche against Microsoft instead of beating Office 365 into the ground, but that’s not having a standard. That’s lowering the bar.

Your standards should be high. High enough that you could conceivably be better than Microsoft in the sheer quality of what you do and the level to which you approach it.

What will you expect from your online chat? That customer service operators will show up and close tickets? Or that they’ll try to beat the best customer service in the world?

Be Like The San Francisco 49ers

I want you to meet someone incredible. This is Bill Walsh, the head coach and GM for the SF 49ers who took over in one of their lowest points and took them to a Superbowl win against the odds and against the expectations of everyone who said he didn’t stand a chance.

Bill Walsh said he didn’t go into the 49ers telling people that they were going to win and they had to win and his plan would make them win. He told them to stop thinking about winning, and start thinking about meeting higher standards throughout the entire organisation. From the folks who checked parking tickets to the quarterback, everyone had to meet better and higher standards of what it meant to do their fucking job.

His theory was that you don’t win with low standards. Therefore, higher standards on their own, if met, could make a team into winners far more than going about worrying over whether or not they’d make it to the Superbowl.

Here’s a quote from him that I love:

The culture precedes positive results. It doesn’t get tacked on as an afterthought on your way to the victory stand. Champions behave like champions before they’re champions: they have a winning standard of performance before they are winners. — Bill Walsh

You don’t go into a startup worrying about what you can get away with and how to meet the lowest bar. You go into it worrying about how you can meet the highest standard of performance that you set for yourself. That’s what breeds success more than writing a cunning plan to defeat salesforce on a big whiteboard in your meeting room.

Source:  inc42.com

Have you ever wondered how long you stared or tapped away at the screen on your phone? How about the amount of time spent on the Internet? According to calculated data and social scientist research, this could prove to have many negative effects on your health. For the past eight years, we have experienced the rise of the smartphones. No longer do we have to sit down and glance at a screen from our home or desk; now we always carry one with us. Also, the overall style of the Internet has evolved over the past 40 years from lines of code to written words, and finally, to highly stylized Internet with various graphics, emojis, and videos. Technology, as it stands today, serves the people and has a number of benefits but can also disconnect you from reality and damage your human-like qualities such as senses and emotions.

Intrusions Upon the Real World

Technology overload seems to be affecting not just a single demographic but anyone who has multiple devices. While having these devices has caused people to become high-level multi-taskers, it has left many without any time to themselves. At one point, work was something you go to, but now smartphones have made work much more; you carry it around wherever you go. While technology overload isn’t a medically recognized disorder, it can easily be seen thanks to research into the habits of people and organizations that have used or over relied on technology.

In an article titled “Does the Internet Increase Anxiety?” freelance writer Ned Smith, who is also a former senior writer at international consulting firm Sweeney Vesty and vice president of communications for iQuest Analytics, stated, “The promise of the digital age has been that constant connectedness will increase productivity and effectiveness, but the opposite has turned out to be true. The constant onslaught of information from smartphones, computers, and other digital devices has actually decreased productivity, creativity, and the quality of personal relationships. Information overload and the multitasking required by today’s digital demands make people feel like there is too much to do and that life is spinning out of control.”

While the quality of relationships, time and productivity on a personal level is important, companies are losing out financially as well. Within the same article, Smith stated, “Basex, a research firm that specializes in technical issues in the workplace, reckons that information overload is responsible for economic losses of $900 billion a year at work.”

How to Set Boundaries

One of the first steps to limit your technology usage is to set boundaries. You may wonder how to accomplish these steps. Many social scientists, researchers, and advocates of limiting technology have opinions and real data on what methods to take to help alleviate these symptoms.

1. Do things in a sequential order

Dr. Joanne Cantor, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison stated within the same article that you should limit your multi-tasking and focus more on single tasking. “Do one thing at a time,” she said. “You’ll find you actually save time.” Focusing on single-tasking instead and committing to longer goals can help you be more productive.

2. Be the master of your own interruptions

Learning how not to respond is easier said than done especially when it has become instantaneous. Besides single tasking, checking your phone every hour can devolve into every minute. The idea is to not be on available 24/7 for every single thing. While some calls, emails and texts will be more urgent than others, you should set aside blocks of time every so often to check emails and text messages.

3. Take the time to recharge

 Technology also makes work better but at the same time longer than before and can even cause you to work outside of the office. “Research shows that information overload interferes with your ability to think outside the box,” Cantor said. Work is good, but leisure is needed to get the most out of work. Channel energy into other hobbies such as fitness, cooking, drawing or playing musical instruments. These activities focus more on single sequential tasks instead of juggling multiple things at a time.

Since the groundbreaking creation of the Internet, there has been a constant innovation that we have benefited from. Making our lives easier, faster and safer than ever before, something like technology is a double-edged sword. Normal usage of the multiple devices around us can push people further into addiction-like qualities, causing an overload of information around us. Smartphones and computers can work tirelessly while humans cannot; that is why it is important that researchers tell you to recharge yourself by stepping away from the deluge of information once in a while.

Source: nevalleynews.org

Google’s official blog, now known as “The Keyword”, combines articles across nineteen separate company blogs in one place. No longer will you have to go to the Google AdWords blog for AdWords news, then jump to the Google Maps blog for Maps news, and so on.If you’re looking for official Google news it can now be in The Keyword, which is located at: blog.google.com.

Google’s goal with this change is to make it easier for people to find the most current Google news in one place:

“The Keyword is all the stuff we had across 19 blogs, in one place — so you don’t have to hop from one blog to another to find the latest update. If you’re looking for something from Google from now on, chances are it’s here.”

As Google’s products and services change over time, so will The Keyword, with information about new technologies being added to the blog as they are released.

Alternatively, if you would rather zero in on one topic you still have that option. Go to Menu > Topics and you’ll see a full list of topics contained on the blog. It’s also possible to isolate news about specific products by going toMenu > Products.

If there’s any difficulty finding what you’re looking for, you can use the search bar and filter results by either product, topics, or dates.

In addition to this major change, the new Google blog has also overhauled its design with bigger images, videos, and slideshows. On the homepage, you’ll also find a section which displays the latest tweets from Google.A hat tip goes to Alex Chitu for noticing Google abandoned Blogger and uses a new blogging platform for The Keyword.

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com

Google has been spotted testing trending search results on mobile in the Chrome app. For some, visiting the Google homepage and tapping on the search bar will deliver a list of current trending searches.

Those who have seen this test in action report Google displays up to 5 suggestions for trending searches. You may have read news similar to this before, with the difference being that the test was observed using the Google app.

The latest test has Google displaying trending searches in the Chrome app for mobile. I have not been able to replicate this test, but you can see what it looks like in action thanks to a screenshot from Alex Chitu.

Instant Answers in Google Search Bar

Instant answers in Google search are not a new thing. Searching in Google and getting the answer before clicking through to other search results is a fairly common occurrence.

What is new about this recently spotted test is Google delivering instant answers right in the search bar itself. On top of that, Google is delivering answers for suggested searches, which this Redditor says is scarily accurate.The Reddit user searched for “who owns”, to which Google suggested, “who owns twitch”. That’s apparently the exact thing the user was looking for. To their surprise, underneath the suggestion was an answer in big bolded letter reading: Amazon.com, Inc.

For what it’s worth, from the Redditor’s screenshot it looks like he or she was using the Chrome browser on either an Apple laptop or desktop computer.

Again, I have not been able to replicate this test, but will be keeping a close watch on it for any further developments.

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com


We may first see them on the runway, but the trends that truly stick with us all live in one place: our Google search bar. It's where we ask our deepest, darkest fashion questions — "Are cropped flares really a thing?," "Does anyone actually like baby bags?" — and hope to find answers.

Last year, the search engine finally recognized the power that lies in its records, introducing a fashion report that documents which trends are in and out, according to search volume. In 2015, we saw the popularity of one-shoulder and peplum dresses fall, making way for tulle skirts and jogger pants. (This was the year of athleisure, after all.) For 2016, Google's calling out items we've already seen pop up in our closets — and those we could already sense falling to the back shelves. 

This time around, the company expanded the scope of its research to include the U.S. and the U.K., looking into the top searched-for apparel categories between May 2014 and May 2016. In a somewhat surprising turn, some early-aughts trends appear to be on the way out, even though the '90s are very much in the zeitgeist right now (the two are close cousins, after all, and had been trending together). Google observed a steady decline in interest in drop-crotch pants, see-through clothes, acid-wash jeans, and babydoll dresses. It predicts asymmetrical skirts and waist trainers will experience a similar drop (despite constant Kardashian endorsement) over the next few years — something to maybe keep in mind during your next closet purge.

The search engine grouped its findings into three main stories: military-inspired (think bomber jackets and biker pants), free-spirited (in line with the easy-going nature of off-the-shoulder tops), and ready-to-go (think one-pieces and rompers). Then, there are the specifics: Google identified a set of trends it calls "rising stars," which have seen a spike in interest over the past few months but might not have staying power. These include off-the-shoulder topsbodysuits, and bralettes. The lace-up top was also highlighted in this category for the U.S. market; for the U.K., it was the co-ord. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the "falling stars" — pieces that have enjoyed their moment and are now losing steam when it comes to Google searches. (Suede skirts, we're looking at you.)

Google does point to certain categories it considers "safe bets" — both because they've seen more user interest and because they have seasonal potential to come back. In 2016, biker pants (skinny-fit trousers with ribbed and moto elements) and ripped jeans are looking to be a pretty solid choice, if you trust American and British Google users. The search engine also predicts bomber jackets, coatigans (a coat/cardigan hybrid), and shirt dresses will become even more ubiquitous as the year rolls on. (It's no surprise, then, that these trends are already featured prominently in Zara's fall '16 offering.) 

The report, which you can read in full here, details the rise of each trend and corresponding item down to the color, fabric, and pattern that's proven to be most popular. Here's to going about your fall shopping in the most informed way, ever.

Source : http://www.refinery29.com/2016/08/121264/fall-clothing-trends-bomber-jackets-2016


Artiklz is debuting its conversation search engine to the public today, and it’s definitely worth taking a look. What the service does is aggregate comments from the more popular blogging and commenting platforms as well as a number of services including Digg, Reddit, FriendFeed, Delicious, etc. and make them available through a single search engine.

This is very similar to what companies like Crunchies finalist BackType and also uberVU are all about, and I definitely see the need for this type of service: regardless of one’s interests or line of work, dedicated comment search engines make it easy for users to find out what the content and tone of conversations across social media really are. I like the fact that you no longer need to visit every web service that has comments separately in order to find out what’s being said, but that you can go to a single place, do a simple search and find out.

Artiklz also helps center discussion about your blog posts in one location, enabling you to get notifications by e-mail, SMS, IM or a web interface, whenever a new comment is made about your writings on any given service. You can also add a badge to your blog that gives your readers the option to be notified when you post a new article, or when somebody leaves a comment on a given post, and you can even track a specific individual’s comments.


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