TL;DR: A lifetime premium subscription to the 12min Micro Book Library is on sale for £43.59 as of Dec. 31, saving you 85% on list price.
What if instead of doom scrolling before bed, you were diving into topics and stories that enriched your mind? By doing so, not only would you have conversation starters for awkward moments, but you may find yourself advancing in your career or picking up new fulfilling hobbies.
Alas, time is finite, and we can’t always squeeze in a few moments to flip pages. But don’t let that stop you12min is an app for busy book lovers, giving you access to hundreds of micro books in text and audio form. The best part? They can all be consumed in 12 minutes or less (duh). Read more…
Samsung Electronics vice chairman Jay Y. Lee faces a nine-year prison term in the bribery case that contributed to the downfall of former president Park Guen-hye. Prosecutors argued that the length of the sentence is warranted because of Samsung’s power as the largest chaebol, or family-owned conglomerate, in South Korea.
“Samsung is a group with such overwhelming power that it is said Korean companies are divided into Samsung and non-Samsung,” they said during a final hearing on Wednesday, reports the Korea Herald. The final ruling is scheduled for January 18.
The bribery case is separate from another trial Lee is involved in, over alleged accounting fraud and stock-price manipulation. Hearings in that case began in October.
The bribery case dates back to 2017, when Lee was convicted of bribing Park and her close associate Choi Soon-sil and sentenced to five years in prison. Prosecutors allege the bribes were meant to secure government backing for Lee’s attempt to inherit control of Samsung from his father Lee Kun-hee, then its chairman. The illegal payments were a major part of the corruption scandal that led to Park’s impeachment, arrest and 25-year prison sentence.
Lee was freed in 2018 after the sentence was reduced and suspended on appeal, and returned to work as Samsung’s de facto head, a position he took after his father had a heart attack in 2014.
In August 2019, however, the Supreme Court overturned the appeals court, ruling that it was too lenient, and ordered that the case be retried in Seoul High Court.
The elder Lee, who was reportedly South Korea’s wealthiest citizen, died in October. He was worth an estimated $20.7 billion and under the country’s tax system, and his heirs could be liable for estate taxes of about $10 billion, reported Fortune.
TechCrunch has contacted Samsung for comment.
A new industrial revolution is coming, and no, it won’t look the way it did 100 years ago. Industry 4.0 is on the way, and at breakneck speed.
Industry 4.0 is set to completely remake the way that products and inventory are created. Big Data programs, advanced machine learning, and reliance on IoT (the internet of things) will push manufacturers and distribution warehouses into the next area of development for the business world. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will dramatically decrease the amount of time spent between development, production, and shipments while introducing efficient, low cost, and high-quality products to the global market.
As the newest stage of the industrial revolution, the effects of Industry 4.0 are anticipated to take the world by storm. In less than 5 years, the market for Big Data and IoT is expected to grow to a whopping $25 billion. But the industry did not become what it is today without foundational building blocks from the past.
The first industrial revolution (also known as Industry 1.0) took place between 1760 and 1830. This time period was known as the Mechanization era as communities began to experience rapid growth from automated machines and tools, steam and internal combustion engines, and the refinement of iron and steel metals.
Industry 2.0, called the Mass Production era by some, was a time period between 1870 and 1914. Occurring just before the first World War, this season of development focused on efficiency and productivity more than ever before. The assembly line was developed and carefully refined. Railroads and telegraph lines enhanced shipping and communication. The age of steel and iron began to give way to stainless steel and early plastics.
Our most recent stage of development in Industry 3.0 took place between 1950 and 2002. This era is called the Digitalization age for many reasons, but specifically because of unique integrations between IT and manufacturing processes. Computers, nuclear power, and other advances made it easier than ever to develop and ship inventory.
Today, Industry 4.0 is taking a step further by integrating data into the Interconnectivity Era. The goal of this rapidly developing technology is to fully automate warehouses and assembly lines by feeding machine learning programs an enormous amount of Big Data. This will cause a boom in both production and shipment, and will increase communications with Smart technology.
There are three basic requirements to ensure successful integration with Industry 4.0: Smart communication, Smart devices, and high-quality Big Data. Not having the right information on hand will cripple the development process, and prevent businesses from utilizing their full potential.
Leveraging the benefits of Industry 4.0 must always begin with good data management, both inside and outside of a company. Business leaders should prepare their data to adapt to the many changes of the Interconnectivity area with solid strategy.
Begin the data preparation process by using the following steps.
Prepare an effective data structure
Evaluate your current structure, and look for ways to optimize while moving ahead. Investigate types of data structures such as:
- Linked Lists
- Hash Tables
Focus on reliable and credible data flow
Spend the extra time and money to complete an extensive data audit. What data is going where, and to whom? Optimize the flow and reception of information as necessary.
Upgrade your products and your processes with the future in mind
Purchasing Smart products for implementation in manufacturing processes can gently ease the requirements of Industry 4.0 into budding companies.
Connect all departments in the company with some form of data
Ensuring that data between departments is clear, open, and error-free will support a healthier environment for Industry 4.0 transitions.
Require that Industry 4.0 data be provided from all suppliers
A single missing link between internal data fidelity and external company partners greatly devalues the many benefits of Industry 4.0.
The Interconnectivity Revolution may still be in a nascent state, but the future is rapidly approaching. Start preparing your Big Data to take advantage of Industry 4.0 and all its benefits.
RentPath, owner of property listing sites including Rent.com and Apartment Guide, said today it has cancelled its agreement to be acquired by CoStar Group after the Federal Trade Commission sued to block the sale.
CoStar, a commercial real estate data and analytics provider that also operates listing sites like Apartments.com and ApartmentFinder.com, agreed in February to buy RentPath for $588 million. The all-cash deal came after RentPath said it would file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. RentPath had already hired financial advisors to restructure more than $650 million in debt, reported the Wall Street Journal.
But earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission authorized an antitrust lawsuit in federal court to block the acquisition. Daniel Francis, deputy director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said in a statement that “the acquisition will eliminate price and quality competition that benefits both renters and property managers,” because CoStar and RentPath’s rivalry kept advertising rates on their platform, which include some of the most popular listing sites, low.
In its announcement today, RentPath said its chapter 11 plan remains backed by lenders, including alternative asset management firms with “strong track records of successfully investing in businesses under similar circumstances.”
The FTC’s lawsuit and RentPath’s decision to back out of the acquisition agreement comes as more countries around the world are cracking down on tech consolidation. While the United States has trailed behind other governments in terms of antitrust actions, that is gradually changing, with Amazon, Google and Facebook coming under more legislative scrutiny, and the recent lawsuit filed by 46 states against Facebook alleging that it bought competitors “illegally” to increase its market power.
The fate of the RentPath/CoStar deal may foreshadow more antitrust scrutiny for proptech companies in the United States, too. CoStar built out its business over the past decade through acquisitions and has other deals currently in the works, including listings site HomeSnap, which passed FTC review last month, and a reported bid for property analytics company CoreLogic. CoStar and RentPath competitor Zillow is also known for building its business through a series of acquisitions, including Trulia for $3.5 billion in 2014.
TL;DR: A lifetime subscription to the Currency HeatwaveX Financial Tool is on sale for £36.81 as of Dec. 30, saving you 95% on list price.
If you’re a currency trader (or want to be), then you know reaction time is everything. You need to be ready to act on a moment’s notice. That means you need to keep a close eye on constantly changing exchange rates in order to be successful. And Currency HeatwaveX — a financial analytics tool and data services platform — was designed to help.
As currencies rise or fall in value in relation to each other, Currency HeatwaveX gives you up-to-the-second analytics on 15 different metrics, so you can make informed trading decisions on the spot. Read more…
The recent world pandemic is a threat to your fitness too. People worldwide are worried that staying leisurely at home will add to the excess calories in the body. We know that the gyms are closed, hence, you cannot depend on the gym equipment for an efficient workout. But have you ever given a thought to home training? If not, then do think of the facilities provided by home training.
Firstly, you don’t have to pay any membership fees in your own home. Secondly, you can exercise freely away from people’s eyes, and thirdly, you don’t have to depend on the gym time table for a workout session. You just need to spend a moderate amount of money to buy the best equipment to set your own home gym.
If you are worried about space consumption by the home training equipment, then the good news is that many gym equipment companies manufacture small, space-friendly equipment. Read on to know more about such equipment.
If you have less space, dumbbells are going to be of great help to you for maintaining your arms, abs, and back. They are the best home strength training equipment that can be kept anywhere and do not demand much maintenance. Dumbbells come in different sizes. We suggest you to invest in the size that you are most comfortable with.
Do not pick one that’s too heavy if you are just a beginner. Start with the lighter ones and then target for the heavier ones. Weight training at home with dumbbells will help you maintain your body shape perfectly.
We also recommend you buy brands that manufacture dumbbells made of cast iron and are coated with neoprene. The neoprene coating makes the dumbbell durable and non-slippery. The non-slippery texture will help you exercise effectively, even when sweating profusely.
A Yoga Mat
The benefits of yoga are widely known. Therefore, yoga is an essential part of home training. But to ensure an effective yoga session, you will have to invest in a good yoga mat that will help you exercise with comfort.
A yoga mat is highly suggested for home training because performing yoga on the floor can hurt your back. If you are planning to use a towel or a carpet instead, then know that the postures you can perform are limited. Hence, it is always advisable to buy a yoga mat.
Invest in a yoga mat that has a non-slippery surface on both tides. This will help you avoid falling while doing hard yoga postures. We also suggest you invest in a yoga mat with moisture-control technology that will ensure the mat’s easy maintenance. Certain yoga postures will also help you in strength training at home without equipment.
A Jumping Rope
A jumping rope is one of the best cardio equipment. It is also proven that around 10 minutes of workout using a jumping rope is equivalent to 30 minutes of jogging. Therefore, it is a must for your home training equipment collection.
A jumping rope is a great burnout equipment to use to strengthen the intensity of other exercises. You can use it for a two-minute burnout while performing squats, push-ups, bicycle kicks, and so on. For a more intense result, we suggest you use a weighted jumping rope. A weighted jumping rope is an amazing equipment for weight training for women at home. Also, invest in a rope whose size is adjustable as per your convenience.
If you have always wondered how to do strength training at home, then kettlebells answer that. Unlike dumbbells, kettlebells do not have the weight proportionately divided throughout. We do not recommend kettlebells for strength training for beginners at home because they require more skill and strength. Beginners can stick to dumbbells.
Kettlebells help you strengthen your core, back, arms, and also legs. Therefore, it helps you to keep your entire body healthy. Kettlebell as a home training equipment provides a lot of freedom as it comes in different weights. Therefore, you must own kettlebells for effective weight training at home.
Resistance bands might look negligible in front of dumbbells or kettlebells, but trust us, they are one of the best equipment for strength training at home. These bands add resistance to workouts like donkey kicks, jumping squats, hip bridges, and so on.
Resistance bands stimulate the workouts by pushing the muscles to work harder. You must invest in these bands for powerful resistance training at home. They come in three different resistance levels: light, medium, and heavy. Most of the bands are made of plastic, but the problem with plastic bands is that they affect the workout by rolling up the thighs.
Therefore, we recommend you invest in wider cotton bands since they remain fixed throughout the home training session.
Medicine balls are highly recommended for strength training for weight loss at home. With these, you can do a lot of abdominal workouts to lose belly fat. Thus, medicine balls are perfect home training equipment for a full body workout.
Moreover, you can perform different high-intensity interval workouts using the equipment. It also does not require much space in your home and is easy to maintain. Therefore, squeeze out the benefits of a medicine ball at its best during home training.
Treadmill, undoubtedly, is the best training equipment for high-intensity interval training workouts at home. You can perform robust cardio by running indoors on a treadmill, which will help you to keep your heart healthy and build your core.
We suggest you invest in a treadmill with back wheels so that you can move it easily whenever and wherever required. Also, it will be better if you can find a brand that offers a foldable treadmill. A foldable treadmill is easy to store and is more convenient.
Ankle and Wrist Weights
Every part of your body deserves equal attention in a workout session. Therefore, you must also invest in ankle and wrist weights. This helps you to gain the benefits of home health aide training. When you have strong wrists and ankles, you can perform a lot of other exercises smoothly.
They help gain a free range of motion and create a more challenging home training session. You can wear these weights while doing any leg and arm exercises. When you use them, you increase the load against gravity, which helps you increase your body strength.
A Stationary Bike
Cycling is known to be an effective workout for years. We know that the pandemic might have curbed your movements outside the house. So to continue enjoying the benefits of cycling, it will be beneficial to install a stationary bike in your home training area. A stationary bike helps to strengthen your arms and legs. It also helps your body build resistance at different levels.
We suggest you invest in a bike that has an LCD showing the time spent and the number of calories burnt in every cycling session. Make sure that you add cycling to your fitness regime to keep your whole body fit and strong.
Massage rollers help you plan a post-workout routine that can make your body overcome soreness due to the overworking of muscles. You can use a massage roller in almost every part like your legs, quads, and stomach. Massage rollers are also decent equipment for a waist training exercise at home.
A roller helps your body to relieve the stress after a workout. You can also use it to alleviate stress and make your day less tiring. It does so by increasing the ease of blood flow in the body. When your body gets more blood supply, it relieves you and helps increase your energy levels. Therefore, you must buy a roller for its post-workout benefits during home training.
We hope that you have learned about the right equipment you need to build a perfect home training set-up for yourself. Always remember that you have one body, and that body is your most important asset for the entirety of your life. Therefore, it is very important to spend time and a little part of your income to care for yourself.
Working out also helps in building a stronger immune system, and we all know how important it is to have strong immunity, especially these days. When are you planning to build a home training environment for yourself and which equipment will you install? Do keep us updated!
The post Exercise Equipment Review: Best Stuff for Effective Home Training appeared first on Dumb Little Man.
TL;DR: The Complete Google Master Class Bundle is on sale for £29.44 as of Dec. 29, saving you 97% on list price.
If you’ve been meaning to brush up on your Google skills for your business, website, or career, you’re in luck: This Google course bundle will get you up to speed.
With 35 hours of content on Google Workspace, Google Ads, Analytics, and more, you’ll learn to use Google to grow your business in just 10 courses.
The courses walk you through Google Data Studio, Google Ads, Google Docs, and other applications that you can use to save time and stay hyper-organised. Plus, you’ll learn how to measure, monitor and analyse web traffic, so you can finally make those data-driven decisions everyone keeps talking about. Read more…
DXY, a 20-year-old online healthcare community for Chinese consumers and healthcare organizations like Pfizer, announced this week that it has raised $500 million in its Series E round led by private equity firm Trustbridge Partners.
Existing backer Tencent and Hillhouse Capital’s early-stage focused GL Ventures also participated in the round, which lifted the firm’s total funding to over $680 million to date. DXY’s earlier investors include Xiaomi founder Lei Jun’s Shunwei Capital, Legend Capital and DCM.
The company started out as a knowledge-sharing platform for doctors and has over time added a consumer-facing aspect by bringing wellness advice and medical consultation services to the public, that is, steps that patients can take at home before having to go to the hospital.
As the pandemic took hold, hospitals and people around the world rushed to shift their activities online, spurring demand for healthcare apps. DXY responded swiftly and was among the first in China to introduce a real-time COVID-19 tracker at the beginning of the outbreak.
Today, healthcare organizations can also use DXY as an advertising channel, a learning platform as well as a recruiting site, ways for the company to generate revenue.
Since its inception, the site has attracted some 130 million consumers, more than 9,000 medical institutions, and 50,000 doctors who have provided online consultation. The platform has a current user base of 20 million and counts Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca among its major clients.
DXY plans to spend its new proceeds on buttressing the two pillars of its business — support for healthcare professionals and services for consumers. It will do so by strengthening cooperation with hospitals, consumer goods enterprises and pharmaceutical companies, including jointly funding R&D in products or new consumer applications.
On the consumer front, the company faces some strong opponents in China including the likes of SoftBank-backed Ping An Good Doctor, Alibaba Health, JD Health, and WeDoctor, which is also backed by Tencent.
The article is updated on December 29, 2020 with more details on the investment.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
These are tough times, aren’t they? The pandemic has shaken the world, no one is spared. It has revolutionized the way the globe was operating, prior. All of us, in our personal and professional lives, are living a life never experienced before. But do we have a choice? No, we do not. For us to keep safe and alive, we will have to live the ‘new normal’.
That is where keeping our spirits high comes into picture. Since the new normal is hampering our lives, it does take its toll on our mental and physical health. Let us not let the pandemic lower our spirits. We have a precious life to enjoy and we shall do so! There is a lot of capability within us that we, sometimes, do not even know. It is just a matter of reinventing our inner self to fight against the outer worldly crisis.
How is the Pandemic Affecting Our Lives?
The pandemic is having different kinds of knock-on effects on our lives. The implication that it is showcasing range from being physical to emotional to financial to social. There is a lot of turmoil going around in different ways, some of which are mentioned below:
On a Personal Level
- Feeling isolated as not being able to socialize and move around freely
- Lower business returns and more of financial hassles
- Economic setback with unavailability of all desired items
- Poor cash flow on a personal level
- Illness and loss of dear ones
On a Professional Level
- Work from Home (WFH) regime is a different way of working
- Unable to meet team members/seniors regularly and have more interaction
- Less availability of guidance and more of self-work and independent functioning
- A cultural shift in the mindset
- Unavailability of seamless internet connectivity
And there could be more…
However big the number of issues is, it is up to us not to let ourselves down and keep our spirits strong, happy, and positive. Though everyone has their own way of dealing with these concerns, here are some tips that can help a great deal in elevating your spirits.
Key Tips to Lead a Happy and Satisfied Personal Life, Amidst the Pandemic
- Feel blessed that you have such a nice life. There are ups and downs in everyone’s lives and everyone must deal with that. But the very fact that God has given you a life to cherish demands our gratitude.
- Look at people who are more troubled than you, who have lost their near and dear ones, are dealing with severe financial crisis, unable to feed their family, far away from their families. Such cases must make you feel that you are in a much happy space as compared to them. This should make you thankful in return.
- Do these regularly – exercise, pray, meditate, eat good food, sleep well, spend quality time with family, perform your hobbies regularly, even if virtually. These regular activities shall keep boosting your inner self and keep you positive and strong.
- Leverage the virtual world by regularly keeping in touch with family and friends all over the world. Everyone is in the same state of mind; hence, discussing and spending time shall surely help.
- Keep telling yourself – ‘This too shall pass, ‘happy days are here again’, ‘every dark cloud comes with a silver lining’, and ‘think positive, be positive’, among others. The world out there is filled with such encouraging quotes. Though these may sound theoretical, embedding them in your mind shall work. Read good books, since no wonder why, they are our best friends.
- Help others in need – be it by giving money, food, clothes, advice, or whichever way you can. Serving others will bring about a great sense of satisfaction, which will help you overcome your own set of worries/concerns/anxiety.
- Keep in touch with what is going around in the world, but do not get too engrossed into it. Going deeper into what is happening around the world, especially in the pandemic may let you further down. Instead, watch happy and cheerful digital stuff that can lift you up.
Points to Ponder for a Successful and Stress-free Professional Life, in the Pandemic Times
- Ensure a systematic internet connectivity plan in place so that you are continuously connected with your seniors and teammates.
- Attend your virtual office as if you are present in person – dress well, get upright and smart, be confident, show your eagerness to work virtually.
- Set up an area at home that will serve as your workplace daily. This makes you feel you are at your official location, giving a professional touch.
- Ensure a healthy work-life balance. Keep focused hours for work and, at the same time, give time to yourself and your family.
- Keep exercising, walking, and taking breaks in between. Sitting continuously in front of the digital media can cause harm.
- Remain updated with what is happening on the professional front, in the organization. Keep in touch with your colleagues, even if it is not work specific. This way, you shall feel more connected and a part of the entire community that is living your life, work-wise.
- Do not hesitate to contact the relevant person whenever you feel you are stuck. Working virtually does not mean you are disconnected. Keep a rapport with all. Wish your colleagues on their special days, congratulate them on their achievements, and just chit chat with your favourite people. These activities help you not to get grinded in the daily routines.
- Take part in video conferencing calls and be heard. Show your opinion and clear all your doubts. Be interactive – this helps you feel as if you are a part of the office activities and there is a similar world that is working just like you.
Praying for a Pandemic-Free World
As we keep ourselves up and running, the one thing that can help us all is to pray together to the Almighty to give us a pandemic-free globe soon. There is so much pain and worry that we have been witnessing; it is time God looks at us and bestows blessings in the world. Stay blessed, stay positive and be happy with what we have – life is too precious to be wasted!
The post How To Boost Your Personal and Professional Spirits During the Pandemic Crisis? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.
What a whirlwind holiday for Jack Ma and his fintech empire. The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, summoned Ant Group for regulatory talks on December 26th, announcing a sweeping plan for the fintech firm to “rectify” its regulatory violations.
The meeting came less than two months after China’s financial authorities abruptly halted what could have been a record-setting initial public offering of Ant over the firm’s regulatory compliance issues. The company, which started out as a payments processor for Alibaba’s online marketplaces and spun out in 2011, lacked a sound governance structure, defied regulatory requirements, illegally engaged in arbitrage, excluded competitors using its market advantage and hurt consumer rights, said the central bank.
Concurrently, Jack Ma’s e-commerce giant Alibaba is under investigation by China’s top market regulator over alleged monopolistic behavior.
The banking authority laid out a five-point compliance agenda for Ant, which is controlled by Alibaba’s billionaire founder Jack Ma. The fintech company should return to its roots in payments and bring more transparency to transactions; obtain the necessary licenses for its credit businesses and protect user data privacy; establish a financial holding company and ensure it holds sufficient capital; revamp its credit, insurance, wealth management and other financial businesses according to the law; and step up compliance for its securities business.
Following the closed-door meeting, Ant said it has established an internal “rectification workforce” to work on all the regulatory requirements.
The shakeup could take months to carry out and likely dent Ant’s valuation, which surpassed $300 billion around the time it was scheduled to go public. For instance, the government recently announced plans to raise the bar for third-party technology platforms like Ant to provide loans to consumers, a segment that made up about 35% of Ant’s annual revenue. The proposed change, which is part of Beijing’s effort to control the country’s debt risks, also sets a new requirement for online microlenders to provide at least 30% of the loan they fund jointly with banks, which could put pressure on Ant’s cash flow.
Some remain optimistic about Ant’s future. “[Ant] creates a lot of value. If you take the long view, the temporary suspension of its IPO has a limited impact on its business,” Bill Deng, founder of cross-border payments operator XTransfer and a former executive at Ant, said to TechCrunch.
“From the regulator’s standpoint, [Ant’s] lending size is getting so big that it has extended beyond the old regulatory perimeters. To some extent, it has also encroached on the core interests of traditional financial players,” he added.
The clampdown on Ant has no doubt sent a warning to the rest of the industry. In a surprising move, JD.com’s fintech unit, a challenger to Ant, appointed its former chief compliance officer to steer the fintech firm as the new chief executive officer.
Tencent also has a sprawling fintech business, but it may not receive the same level of scrutiny because the social and gaming giant is “not nearly as aggressive” as Ant in its fintech push, said a partner of Tencent’s overseas fintech business who asked not to be named.
TL;DR: The Premium Microsoft Office and Data Apps Certification Bundle is on sale for £29.44 as of Dec. 28, saving you 97% on list price.
We’re betting “Microsoft Office” is listed as a skill on your CV. But if you still don’t have a clue how to format a Word document or use formulas in Excel, you better shape up.
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TL;DR: The Complete Cryptocurrency Professional Trading Bundle is on sale for £22.08 as of Dec. 27, saving you 97% on list price.
If you’re going to get into cryptocurrency, you should learn the ropes first.
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Aside from filling you in on the fundamentals, you’ll be taught how to make good trading decisions, how to strategise, and how to weather risk effectively. The choices are ultimately up to you, of course, but this course bundle will give you a good baseline of knowledge. Read more…
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As the majority of the world migrates from physical offices to virtual ones, companies depend on IT professionals to help employees communicate, collaborate, and automate routine tasks. They provide teams with the functionality and security needed to actually do their jobs — plain and simple. So it comes as no surprise that in the next 10 years, an estimated will be added to the workforce.
If you’re looking to join these computer superheroes in keeping the workforce afloat, you’ll need to have some certifications and skills under your belt. This IT career training from experts David Bombal and Total Seminars can help. Read more…
“Are you okay?”
I don’t have a good answer to the question. Knowing full well that I’m talking back to an algorithm — even one asking the same question of everyone with a different band mad-libbed in — doesn’t soften the blow. Am I? Are we? Is anyone, really?
In this case, it’s referring to Waxahatchee. I mean, yeah, I totally listened to a lot of Waxahatchee this year. Waxahatchee is good. Saint Cloud was one of my favorite albums of the year. Katie Crutchfield’s music doesn’t exist in the Elliott Smith, Leonard Cohen bin for me. It’s not time to send up the signal flares when you see the band all over my Spotify social feed.
The Spotify roasting AI that’s been making the rounds this week is a fun exercise in music snobbery. It also may be brushing against some larger truth here. Something I think we all considered at least in passing this year when Spotify offered its annual “Wrapped” year in review.
What’s the soundtrack to the worst year, ever? What do we listen to while the world burns? In 2009, a former CNN intern stumbled across a video tape in the archives labeled with the title, “Turner Doomsday Video.” The minute-long video features a band playing, “Nearer My God To Thee,” believed to be the final song played by the band on the Titanic. It carried the explicit instructions, “HFR [Hold for Release] till end of the world confirmed.”
Barring any sort of last-minute surprise, it seems likely we’ll make it through 2020 shy of a full-on apocalypse (in spite of, perhaps, the best efforts of some). But for me, Spotify’s year in review was a testament to hell year, just as my Apple Watch exercise bars saw a zeroing out in late-March and April, as the pandemic bore down on my home of Queens, New York and I dealt with some personal health issues.
What was pitched as a celebratory aggregation of my listening habits over the previous 12 months exited the machine as a testament to the long stretches of time where engaging with music felt like an impossibility. Ambient music and post-rock got me listening again when lyrics seemed like too much to process. And I’m sure I’m not alone in having listened to some comfort tracks with an alarming frequency.
Looking back is a useful reminder of the role music played in what undoubtedly qualifies as the worst year to date for many. It would be an overstatement to suggest that music saved my life in 2020, but it certainly cushioned the blow of one too many emotional gut punches.
“Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear,” the late-neurologist, Oliver Sacks wrote. “But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity.”
Louis Armstrong put it even more succinctly: “music is life itself.”
It’s a cruel irony that, in a year when music has meant so much to so many, most musicians have struggled to make ends meet. The musical field certainly isn’t unique in that respect this year, but their struggles have been pronounced in an era when streaming revenues offer fractions of cents what musicians make in record sales, and touring has become the most important revenue stream for all but the biggest names. For the past 10 months, that all but dried up.
“The pandemic utterly decimated the live-music industry,” Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy noted in a recent interview. “There’s been almost an entire year now of absolutely zero revenue.”
In May, a survey from the Musician’s Union noted that 19% of musicians said they might end up giving up their careers due to the impact of COVID-19. Seven months later, one wonders whether that figure might have been optimistic.
Tweedy adds, “There will be places to play. But the landscape won’t ever look the same. I imagine that a lot of the more intimate music venues will be gone, just like a lot of small businesses and restaurants.”
Bandcamp has been a beacon for many. The service’s “Bandcamp Fridays,” which waive its revenue cut, have raised $40 million to date. The site has promised to continue offering the feature at least through May of next year.
This year’s struggles have served to highlight concerns over streaming royalties. Spotify has understandably been the focal point for this conversation, all while the company has spent hundreds of millions to bolster its podcast programming. CEO Daniel Ek didn’t do himself any favors in July when he noted, “Some artists that used to do well in the past may not do well in this future landscape, where you can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough.”
In October, Justice at Spotify rep (and Galaxie 500 member) Damon Kurkowski told me “[R]esponse from certain corners of the industry has been as cold as we expected: ‘You’re just musicians and don’t understand business,’ is the basic gist of it. To which I would say: The problem we are calling attention to is precisely that musicians have been left out of the conversation! We always come last in payment and in consultation — even though our work is what the streaming business is built on.”
The struggle to survive on music is nothing new, of course. Jazz genius Thelonious Monk famously had a benefactor in Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter. But just because we’ve failed musicians in the past doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t do better.
Am I okay? I’m still not sure, but listening to music seems to help.
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Chinese authorities investigate an e-commerce giant, Google may be tightening its grip on research and VCs weigh in on the year’s biggest surprises. This is your (briefer than usual) Daily Crunch for December 24, 2020.
The big story: Alibaba faces antitrust probe
China’s State Administration for Market Regulation said that it’s investigating the e-commerce giant over a policy that forces merchants to sell exclusively with Alibaba and skip rival platforms JD.com and Pinduoduo.
“Alibaba will actively cooperate with the regulators on the investigation,” the company said in a statement. “Company business operations remain normal.”
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have already called off the initial public offering of Alibaba affiliate Ant Group, and the company has now received another “meeting notice” from regulators.
Holiday grab bag
Google reportedly tightens grip on research into ‘sensitive topics’ — Reuters, citing researchers at the company and internal documents, reports that Google has implemented new controls in the last year, including an extra round of inspection for papers on certain topics.
Five VCs discuss what surprised them the most in 2020 — The latest episode of Equity reflects on a year that no one could have predicted.
Gift Guide: Last-minute subscriptions to keep the gifts going all year — They’re easy to order at the very last minute, easy to give from afar and they’ll spread the gifting fun out over weeks and months.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
The built environment will be one of tech’s next big platforms — An in-depth look at Sidewalk Labs’ abandoned Toronto waterfront project.
US seed-stage investing flourished during pandemic — According to a TechCrunch analysis of PitchBook data and a survey of venture capitalists, a few trends became clear.
Use Git data to optimize your developers’ annual reviews — Three metrics can help you understand true performance quality.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.
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China’s top market watchdog has begun a probe into Alibaba over alleged anti-competition practices at the e-commerce firm, the latest of Beijing’s efforts to curb the country’s ever-expanding internet titans.
The State Administration for Market Regulation said Thursday in a brief statement that it is investigating Alibaba over its “choosing one from two” policy, in which merchants are forced to sell exclusively on Alibaba and skip rivaling platforms JD.com and Pinduoduo.
“Today, Alibaba Group has received notification from the State Administration for Market Regulation that an investigation has been initiated into the Company pursuant to the Anti-Monopoly Law. Alibaba will actively cooperate with the regulators on the investigation,” Alibaba said in a statement.
“Company business operations remain normal.”
On the same day, state-backed Xinhua reported that Ant Group, Alibaba’s affiliate, has been summoned by a group of finance authorities to discuss its “compliance” work. Ant, which works as an intermediary for financial services and customers, has pledged to take measures to curb debt risks after Chinese authorities abruptly called off its colossal initial public offering last month.
“Today, Ant Group received a meeting notice from regulators. We will seriously study and strictly comply with all regulatory requirements and commit full efforts to fulfill all related work,” the firm said in a statement.
Data science is advancing rapidly. One major advantage that it has over other fields of computer science is that it is a very interdisciplinary field. This means that it involves concepts from a large number of other fields of computer science and even beyond.
They include statistics, computer science, mathematics, domain knowledge, and information science. This means that if there is a breakthrough or any kind of advancement in one of those fields, it means that data science itself can use that discovery or advancement to advance itself.
This is why data science, while still a relatively young field, has so many branches and areas of study such as artificial intelligence, deep learning, business intelligence, data examination, data mining, predictive analytics, etc.
Another reason why data science is advancing rapidly is because of its widespread adoption by the industry. As the world becomes more and more revolutionized by technology, the number of innovations in the way businesses and organizations function significantly increase. They have realized that their most significant resource is the reams of data that they generate on a daily basis.
Now that they have recognized this fact, they are seeking to make use of this enormous resource and turn it into an asset for themselves. In order to do this, they need data scientists who will be able to handle their large data sets of structured and unstructured data. They will also convert all their physical data into electronic data and manipulate the unstructured data into a form that’s more suitable for data analysis and data warehousing.
There are many who have the opinion that data science is just a fad which will fade away with time. But nothing could be further from the truth. Data science is picking up steam at a fast pace and percolating down into many more industries as the awareness about the importance of data spreads.
With buzzwords such as ‘Big Data’ and ‘Machine Learning’ flying around in the discussions of anything technological, data science has already become a household word in the corporate world. Therefore, it is here to stay.
Why to Get a Data Science Certification?
One will be able to demonstrate a degree of interest and a self-driven learning mindset
With a data science certification, an individual will be able to demonstrate to the hiring managers that they are very serious about their career and job profile as a data scientist. The digital age is very fast moving and is progressing at a very fast rate. As a result, the value of the skills that an IT professional may have decreases at an alarming rate.
It is almost like a validity pack expiring. So a data scientist has to keep their knowledge and skills updated constantly. They should pursue a source of knowledge, which will give them the most up-to-date information about the field of data science. A data science certification course is an ideal source of such knowledge.
Provides a certain amount of credibility to the candidate
Today’s job market is full of many unscrupulous elements who try to trick the hiring managers in a variety of ways. They try to supply false and incorrect information about themselves on their resumes and during job interviews. They claim to have a list of qualifications which they don’t and list skills on their resumes which they have no experience with.
Sometimes they even produce fake references and letters of recommendations in hopes of getting past the screening process. So hiring managers are in a fix about how to select candidates who are actually qualified. When they see data science certification training listed on a candidate’s resume, they immediately feel great relief because it is a mark of credibility that authenticates an applicant.
Opens the gate to the highest paid data science roles in a company
As more and more businesses and organizations wake up to the fact that data is one of their most important resources, the demand for data scientists substantially rises as a result. Another thing to consider is that the demand for skilled and experienced data scientists far outstrips the supply for them.
This is the reason that the role of a data scientist is currently one of the highest paid job roles in the IT sector of professionals. So getting a data science certification course is a very good way to become qualified as a fully fledged data scientist. With this, you can gain access to data science job roles offering the most generous compensations.
One will find lucrative opportunities across various industries and domains
Data science is a field of computer science and information technology which has applications in a number of different industries and domains. It has multifarious functions in retail, medicine, banking and finance, construction, transportation, communications, media and entertainment, education, manufacturing and natural resources, government, energy and utilities, and the outsourcing industry.
Cloud and distributed computing, in particular, is a domain which sees a large and intensive application of data science tools and techniques. Any industry which sees a lot of interactions with customers or is very customer-facing will definitely find a lot of uses for the technologies that data science provides.
Thus, a professional who undergoes data science training and obtains a data science certification will find it easier to getting hired in any business or organization that belongs to these industries and domains.
You will be able to take advantage of individual attention from the instructors
Any Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) or college usually contains thousands of students who are enrolled in it. Due to such large numbers of students, the instructors in the MOOC or college are not able to divide their time and attention among all of the students individually. They are forced to teach in a ‘single point to the masses’ approach. Therefore, the students do not get the personal attention and care that they can get in a data science certification course.
In a data science certification course, the instructors are easily able to provide each learner individual attention and care. They are able to hold special doubt clearing sessions and provide email, chat, and video support. They also grade each learner’s assignments individually and give them valuable critical advice on what their strengths are and where they made mistakes. This serves to make the learner’s learning experience that much more comprehensive and focused.
You will receive feedback on your GitHub projects
In an MOOC or a college, the instructors assign practical projects for the students. But a critical part of any project’s lifecycle is the feedback stage where it is evaluated by seniors and those who are experienced to point out the flaws and suggest improvements. This crucial element is missing from MOOCs and colleges but is present in data science certification courses.
In the certification course, end term capstone projects are assigned to the learners to work on. After completion and even during the process, instructors provide many helpful tips, pointers, suggestions, and advice on how to develop the project more proficiently. They even participate on the learner’s GitHub project page actively and help them learn how to accept feedback and collaborate on a project with others in a real-world environment.
Lalamove will extend its network to cover more small Chinese cities after raising $515 million in Series E funding, the on-demand logistics company announced on its site. The round was led by Sequoia Capital China, with participation from Hillhouse Capital and Shunwei Capital. All three are returning investors.
According to Crunchbase data, this brings Lalamove’s total raised so far to about $976.5 million. The company’s last funding announcement was in February 2019, when it hit unicorn status with a Series D of $300 million.
Bloomberg reported last week that Lalamove was seeking at least $500 million in new funding at $8 billion valuation, or four times what it raised at least year.
Founded in 2013 for on-demand deliveries within the same city, Lalamove has since grown its business to include freight services, enterprise logistics, moving and vehicle rental. In addition to 352 cities in mainland China, Lalamove also operates in Hong Kong (where it launched), Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand. The company entered the United States for the first time in October, and currently claims about 480,000 monthly active drivers and 7.2 million monthly active users.
Part of its Series D had been earmarked to expand into India, but Lalamove was among 43 apps that were banned by the government, citing cybersecurity concerns.
In its announcement, Lalamove CEO Shing Chow said its Series E will be used to enter more fourth- and fifth-tier Chinese cities, adding “we believe the mobile internet’s transformation of China’s logistics industry is far from over.”
Lalamove’s (known in Chinese as Huolala) Series E announcement said the company experienced a 93% drop in shipment volume at the beginning of the year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but has experienced a strong rebound, with order volume up 82% year-over-year even before Double 11.
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Google is the undisputed master of the web markets and being indexed in a more favorable position than a competitor is essential to have a return in popularity (and therefore, also economic) and to make your website productive. Social media has become essential to increase this presence and strengthen search engine rankings.
Those who decide to be present on the web cannot exempt themselves from creating pages in the most popular social networks. Still, there is a distortion in the perception of these tools (which we consider harmful and dangerous) that makes most believe that the social network can replace the website: nothing could be more wrong!
The social network, due to its enormous diffusion, is an exceptional advertising vehicle. However, (just like traditional flyers) it must lead the user to deepen the subject dealt with in a more appropriate location. In the case of flyers it can be a shop; in the case of social networks it must necessarily be a website.
Too often I hear that: “I don’t need the site because I already have a Facebook page …”.
To answer the question: Social media is essential for the success of an advertising campaign, but for a company they should be satellites of a website and a means to bring users to their call to action page.
Many times we see local businesses with poorly managed or neglected social accounts.
For a social page to be effective, it should be in constant motion: thematic posts (or not), proper designing, calls to action, engagement with your audience, offers, discounts, and product showcases. It’s better if done several times a day.
Even if what is published is not strictly related to the topic covered in the page, if it creates an audience it is lawful (always within the boundaries of “netiquette”).
When you have a fairly large audience, then you can try to be more specific and, perhaps, less frequent. It is understood that the great value (and at the same time the great defect) of social networks is that there is a continuous interaction between those who publish a post and its audience. So, those who follow a page expect to have immediate answers to their questions.
Instagram For Example, What Do You Think?
Indispensable? To be well placed on Google, which is the ultimate goal of every action on the web (those looking for a service or product start from the search engine, not from the social network), you should have them all, which is impossible to manage!
What is indispensable is undoubtedly Facebook, present in over 80% of Italian smartphones.
Then, Instagram is very popular, always at the level of interaction between users; however, I use it very little, and therefore, I don’t mind making comments.
I see Twitter as a bit overrated, in fact in Italy it is not particularly popular.
An underrated social media, on the other hand, is Youtube: this platform allows you to create a video channel with which you can “talk” with people, or show in detail something that would otherwise only be said. On the practical side, it is not that people immediately perceive the weight of this “social”, but having a Youtube channel exponentially amplifies the effect of any advertising practice and strengthens the presence and positioning in Google.
Are Hashtags Recommended? What Are They Good For?
The hashtags are a very effective way to group-specific topics. Their use is undoubtedly recommended to classify the topics covered in an advertising page. They are also increasingly widespread in social networks as a means of making the subject matter more direct. Personally I believe that, like all things, even this method will be too much inflated that it will lose its effectiveness.
I’ll give a practical example regarding this last statement: a couple of years ago, some of the highest exponents of the marketing world (Roberto Re and Marco Montemagno, to name a couple of Italians) started producing short monothematic videos which got published on Youtube and then circulated them through Instagram and Facebook.
It turned out to be an “overbearing” way to gain “likes” and exponentially increase followers. After a couple of years, this practice has been adopted by practically everyone who has something to say and the effectiveness of the method has since gone into free fall.
These people now have boundless popularity, but those who start only now wouldn’t be so lucky.
In reality, the only real recipe for the success of a company is the ability to renew itself and innovate. Those who do not possess this talent are destined to end up (or return) in the shadows.
The post Why has Social Media Marketing Become Popular to Grow Your Business appeared first on Dumb Little Man.
In their rush to offer alternatives to advanced western chipsets, Chinese semiconductor companies are racking up large fundings from investors. Horizon Robotics, a five-year-old unicorn specializing in AI chips for robots and autonomous vehicles, announced Tuesday that it has secured $150 million in funding.
The proceeds are the first close of an over $700 million Series C round that Horizon is seeking to raise. The partial funding is jointly led by prominent investors 5Y Capital (formerly Morningside Venture Capital), Hillhouse Capital, and Capital Today. Chinese brokerage Guotai Junan’s international arm and South Korean conglomerate KTB.
The round arrived less than two years after Horizon completed its $600 million Series B round, which valued the firm at $3 billion post-money and also saw the participation of prominent Korean financiers including SK China, the China subsidiary of conglomerate SK Group, and SK Hynix, SK’s semiconductor unit.
The startup, founded by a Baidu veteran, raised its Series A round of over $100 million led by Intel Capital in late 2017.
With the fresh capital, Horizon plans to hasten the development and commercialization of its automotive chips and autonomous driving solutions. It also aims to build an “open ecosystem” for industry partners.
For the past couple of years, China has been striving to wean dependence on western chip giants in sectors ranging from smartphones to vehicles. Local startups like Horizon Robotics and Black Sesame Technologies, as well as telecoms titan Huawei, are pouring resources into autonomous driving processors, hoping to match or overtake the technologies from Nvidia and Intel’s Mobileye.
75% of China’s ADAS (advanced driver-assistance system)-equipped cars and Level 3 (autonomous driving under certain circumstances) vehicles will be supported by Chinese suppliers by 2030, up from 20% in 2019, investment bank CITIC Securities projects.
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These classic stuffed mushrooms are loaded with shallots, garlic, walnuts, breadcrumbs, and chopped mushroom stems. Sprinkle with Parmesan, pop them in the oven, and you’ve got a great appetizer for the holidays.
In the digital age, a business’ website is a treasured asset. But before customers can shop at a business online, they need to find it first. SEOs devote their career to making that happen, and here’s what they can tell you: while there are a large number of factors to consider when it comes to modern search engines, links continue to reign supreme.
SEMRush lists different link signals as 4 of the top 8 ranking factors in search results. Meanwhile, a study by Backlinko found that the average #1 Google Search has 3.8x more backlinks and 3.2x more referring domains than #2-#10. According to MOZ, links are credited for 28% of Google’s ranking factors when conducting local organic search. That’s greater than any other individual factor.
Many Sites Have no Links at All
Despite the importance of link signals to the visibility of a website, not every business is taking advantage of them. 94% of all web content lacks a single external backlink. These pages are like islands; isolated from the rest of the web. Your business needs to take action to be sure it isn’t part of that archipelago. Customers rarely want to traverse virtual oceans to find what they need. If you find that this is the case with your own website, don’t worry: you still have time to build inroads to the main continent.
Quality Over Quantity
As you build your external connections, proceed with caution. Increasing your number of link signals is important, but you should never leave quality off to the wayside. Not every link signal is a good one. Google penalizes websites who use doorway pages meant to funnel users to a different page than they clicked, thin affiliates that use content from another site without adding value, so-called “unnatural links” like text advertisements that are not tagged as sponsored, or other dishonest tricks that seek to increase their site’s ranking without also increasing its quality or relevance to a user.
Google does not want to allow spam to have a positive influence on rankings, and working with spam can bring down a good site’s reputation. Connecting your page to many poor-quality links places it in a “bad neighborhood” of the virtual world. If you set up shop in a rough part of town, don’t be surprised when potential customers are scared to walk in.
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait – And Do it Right
Instead of resorting to deception, it’s better to increase your link signals’ quality and number simultaneously. These ways don’t all have to include putting more links on your site; some of them relate to the content of your website as well. For example, domain age works in a website’s favor; it shows that the website has stood the test of time. Content that answers questions is valuable; posts discussing the “what” or “why” of things get 26% more links than videos and how-tos. Long-form content tends to receive more shares than short articles do.
As for improvement methods tied more directly to links, there are a few different ones. The more likely a link is to be clicked by a user, the more value it has, so locate the best links in the body of your content instead of the footer. Consider what words people would use to search for your website: high-ranking sites require 4x the number of referring domains for popular keywords as they do for less common ones. Follow links always rank above Nofollow links because the former vouches for the linked site’s authority.
These are just a few places to get started. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to maintain a high-quality website and provide external backlinks to websites of equal or better quality. So long as your page and the external backlinks it attracts have good Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E-A-T), you will be able to climb in Google’s search rankings.
In the words of Ann Smarty, Brand/Community Manager at InternetMarketingNinjas.com and MyBlogU.com, “Links help Google to associate your page (and your brand) with other concepts and entities in the niche…. So when building links, pick sites and context you want to be associated with.”
The post How to Use Link Signals to Improve Search Engine Rankings appeared first on Dumb Little Man.
An Indian court rejected Future Group’s plea that sought to prevent its partner Amazon from interfering in — and blocking — the Indian retail giant’s $3.4 billion asset sale deal to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, delivering a glimmer of hope to the American e-commerce firm that has invested more than $6.5 billion in the world’s second largest internet market.
Future Group was seeking an ad-interim injunction to restrain its partner Amazon from writing to regulators and other authorities to raise concerns over — and halt — the deal between the two Indian giants. The Delhi High Court ruled on Monday that Amazon cannot be barred from writing to regulators and authorities on account of “potentially irreparable damage.” The regulators will decide whether the deal should be approved in accordance with the law, the court said.
The court, however, also observed that the lawsuit filed by Future Retail, a unit of Future Group, was maintainable and its attempt to seek approval of the transaction with Reliance Industries was also valid.
The ruling is the latest episode in the high-stake battle between estranged partners Amazon and Future Group. Amazon bought 49% in one of Future’s unlisted firms last year in a deal that was valued at over $100 million. As part of that deal, Future could not have sold assets to rivals, Amazon said in court filings.
Things changed this year after the coronavirus pandemic starved the Indian firm of cash, Future Group chief executive and founder Kishore Biyani said at a recent virtual conference. In August, Future Group said that it had reached an agreement with Ambani’s Reliance Industries, which runs India’s largest retail chain, to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics, and warehousing businesses for $3.4 billion.
Months later, Amazon protested the deal by reaching an arbitrator in Singapore and asked the court to block the deal between the Indian retail giants. Amazon secured emergency relief from the arbitration court in Singapore in late October that temporarily halted Future Group from going ahead with the sale.
Until Monday, it remained unclear whether that ruling would hold any water in front of Indian courts. So much so that hours after the Singapore arbitration court announced its verdict, Future Group and Reliance said in a statement that will be going ahead with the deal “without any delay.”
Amazon had also reached out to the Competition Commission of India, the Indian watchdog, to block the deal. Competition Commission of India, however, approved the deal between the Indian firms. In earlier hearings, lawyers for Future Group likened Amazon’s effort to block Future Group’s deal to the East India Company, the British trading house whose arrival in India kicked off nearly 200 years of colonial rule.
At stake is India’s retail market that is estimated to balloon to $1.3 trillion by 2025, up from $700 billion last year, according to consultancy firm BCG and local trade group Retailers’ Association India. Online shopping accounts for about 3% of all retail in India.
Future Group and Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It feels like a million years since John Krasinski last graced YouTube with an episode of Some Good News, the adorably janky posi-vibes-only fake news show he created in the first wave of the pandemic. (It was May, by the wayMay.) And we thought we’d seen the last of Krasinski behind the SGN home-office desk when he wrapped it up after eight installments earlier this year (and controversially sold the show to CBS).
But given that the pandemic is raging well into its tenth and most deadly month, with the nation’s elected representatives having spent all year deliberating whether or not to help its desperate citizens out with a non-insulting amount of cash relief (spoiler: they picked “not”), Krasinski threw some tinsel up in his study again for a surprise holiday special. Read more…
This easy fruitcake is perfect for the holidays. It’s light, tender, and full of dried fruits and nuts. Sprinkle the loaf with brandy, or leave it out! Either way, this fruit cake is a welcome addition to the holiday table.
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Welcome back to Mixtape, the TechCrunch podcast that looks at the human element that powers technology.
For this episode we spoke with Meredith Whittaker, co-founder of the AI Now Institute and Minderoo Research Professor at NYU; Mara Mills, associate professor of Media, Culture and Communication at NYU and co-director of the NYU Center for Disability Studies; and Sara Hendren, professor at Olin College of Engineering and author of the recently published What Can a Body Do: How We Meet the Built World.
It was a wide-ranging discussion about artificial intelligence and disability. Hendren kicked us off by exploring the distinction between the medical and social models of disability:
So in a medical model of disability, as articulated in disability studies, the idea is just that disability is a kind of condition or an impairment or something that’s going on with your body that takes it out of the normative average state of the body says something in your sensory makeup or mobility or whatever is impaired, and therefore, the disability kind of lives on the body itself. But in a social model of disability, it’s just an invitation to widen the aperture a little bit and include, not just the body itself and what it what it does or doesn’t do biologically. But also the interaction between that body and the normative shapes of the world.
When it comes to technology, Mills says, some companies work squarely in the realm of the medical model with the goal being a total cure rather than just accommodation, while other companies or technologies – and even inventors – will work more in the social model with the goal of transforming the world and create an accommodation. But despite this, she says, they still tend to have “fundamentally normative or mainstream ideas of function and participation rather than disability forward ideas.”
“The question with AI, and also just with old mechanical things like Brailers I would say, would be are we aiming to perceive the world in different ways, in blind ways, in minoritarian ways? Or is the goal of the technology, even if it’s about making a social, infrastructural change still about something standard or normative or seemingly typical? And that’s — there are very few technologies, probably for financial reasons, that are really going for the disability forward design.”
As Whittaker notes, AI by its nature is fundamentally normative.
“It draws conclusions from large sets of data, and that’s the world it sees, right? And it looks at what’s most average in this data and what’s an outlier. So it’s something that is consistently replicating these norms, right? If it’s trained on the data, and then it gets an impression from the world that doesn’t match the data it’s already seen, that impression is going to be an outlier. It won’t recognize that it won’t know how to treat that. Right. And there are a lot of complexities here. But I think, I think that’s something we have to keep in mind as sort of a nucleus of this technology, when we talk about its potential applications in and out of these sorts of capitalist incentives, like what is it capable of doing? What does it do? What does it act like? And can we think about it, you know, ever possibly in company encompassing the multifarious, you know, huge amounts of ways that disability manifests or doesn’t manifest.”
We talked about this and much much more on the latest episode of Mixtape, so you click play above and dig right in. And then subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.
This easy breakfast casserole is adaptable to whatever ingredients you have on hand—cheese, veggies, meats—and can be assembled the night before and baked in the morning. Or eaten for dinner—your choice!
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, as expected after an independent panel commissioned by the administration recommended its approval earlier this week. This is the second vaccine now authorized for use in the U.S. under EUA, after the Pfizer -BioNTech vaccine was approved last week.
Moderna’s vaccine could begin being administered to Americans by “Monday or Tuesday” next week, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci speaking to NBC’s Today show in a new interview. That’s in keeping with the timelines between the Pfizer EUA and the first patients actually receiving the vaccine last week.
Like Pfizer’s vaccine, Moderna’s is an mRNA therapy. That means that it contains no actual virus — just genetic instructions that tell a person’s body to create a specific protein. That protein is more or less identical to the one that SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, uses to attach to a host’s cells and replicate. Moderna’s vaccine causes a person to create just the protein, which on its own is harmless, and then their natural defenses via their immune system react to that and develop a method for fighting it off. That defense system is “remembered” by the body, while the vaccine itself naturally dissolves after a brief time, leaving a person with immunity but nothing else.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has yet to be approved for use in the U.S., uses a weakened and modified common cold virus that doesn’t spread in humans to create the spike protein in recipients, resulting in the body generating its own immune response. That’s a much more tried-and-tested method for creating a vaccine, but both Moderna and Pfizer’s mRNA therapies have shown to be very effective in preliminary data from their large Phase 3 clinical trials.
I worked with a man recently whose wife had insisted they attend couples counseling. In her mind there were a number of issues to be worked through and they weren’t communicating about them. No surprise, he didn’t feel the same way and thought everything was basically fine. At one point during the first session he became exasperated with his wife and asked, “Ugh, can’t you leave me alone and let me just be a guy?”
Many men feel this way, especially when it comes to interacting within their relationships and the idea of counseling in particular. It doesn’t seem like a “guy thing” to be worried about communication, emotions, or the need for counseling. I am accustomed to working with men who truly need counseling but are resistant. And I know how to work with them in ways they can relate to and make them comfortable getting help.
But this guy’s question, “Can’t I just be a guy?”, resonated with me in a different way.
How “Guys” Typically Work
When I asked him what he meant by “just being a guy”, he didn’t have a great answer. Basically, he said he didn’t like to talk, didn’t want to talk, and just wanted to ignore the problems he and his wife were facing. While this is a common “guy” sentiment, it really isn’t part of what defines being a guy.
Let’s first acknowledge that what it means to “be a man” or to “be a woman” is complicated. Uncountable words have been written, hours spent, and studies performed about how to define each sex.
That being said, there is no denying that men and women are different. This is not a better or worse thing, it’s just true. There are some fundamental differences rooted in biology and how each sex has learned to think, feel, and act. This doesn’t mean there aren’t varying degrees to these differences, just that they exist.
These differences mean that certain ways of thinking and communicating are also different. Women typically have a higher degree of emotional intelligence (EQ) than men and, therefore, tend to not only know themselves, but also to understand and read others better than men.
This ability to recognize their own emotions and emotions in others makes them more empathetic and more prone to communicating their feelings. This higher EQ, however, doesn’t often seem to get applied to the men in their lives and the way in which those men prefer to communicate and process their emotions.
Generally speaking, men are less aware of the nuances of their own emotions and of the emotions of others. Because they are less aware there is less for them to talk about. Men are also less inclined to look for the unspoken indicators of feelings.
Most men need things said directly and logically in order for them to respond. In other words, they aren’t mind readers. Sadly, many women fail to understand this and assume a man is being callus and insensitive when he’s just, well, being a “guy” and hasn’t realized that there’s anything wrong.
Guys also tend to take a “see a problem = fix a problem” approach to things, rather than a “see a problem, discuss a problem, untangle and analyze why the problem started, and then change the behavior that caused the problem” approach. And that’s if they recognize a problem at all.
Men and women often have different perceptions of what constitutes a problem. For instance, for some men having an affair is a problem, but recognizing other attractive women isn’t. While for most women both of these things are likely to be considered problems.
Because of how men have learned to think and act, they also can tend to be singularly focused as well. So, when there is a task that needs to be done or work is busy, that is where a man’s focus goes. Because women more naturally multi-task, they often don’t recognize that this myopic focus is a common “guy” thing and instead interpret it as evidence of problems in the relationship.
This can leave men feeling confused and frustrated, as though the women in their lives are seeing problems that don’t exist, which, as it turns out, they very well may be.
Healthy Guy Vs. Unhealthy Guy
Rather than asking what it means to be a guy, the better question to consider is what it means to be a healthy guy vs. an unhealthy guy.
What it means to be a man has been heavily influenced over the years by societal stereotypes. Men are still told in many direct and indirect ways they have to be strong, aggressive, stoic, and the caretakers of women. We all know by now that those characterizations are unfair and largely untrue.
Nonetheless, there are still many men who feel pressured, confused, and stifled by what they think it means to be a guy. This means that there are men who deny certain feelings, bury their sadness, and ignore things within them that need to be expressed. Doing this is very unhealthy and can lead to relationship problems, anger issues, depression, and medical problems, just to name a few.
It is far less important to adhere to social, family, or self-imposed stereotypes than it is to be healthy. In fact, I would argue that part of what it means to “be a guy” includes being unapologetically honest and expressive about how you feel.
Blurring The Guy Lines
Perhaps one of the most important parts of “being a guy” is to recognize that as long you are being honest with yourself and those around you, there is no right or wrong way to do it. Everyone’s definition can be slightly different because we are all different as individuals. This can be tough for men to wrap their minds around and also one of the reasons many men benefit from the guidance that comes from counseling.
So, it’s very possible that the “guy” lines need to blur for you too. And that’s perfectly fine. Understand that if you find yourself asking, “Can’t I just be a guy?”, what you really should be asking is, “Can’t I just be myself?” Of course, you’ll need to know what that means, too.
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Chinese tech giants have drawn international criticism after research showed they have technologies that enable the authorities to profile Muslim Uyghurs.
The cloud computing unit of Alibaba, Alibaba Cloud, developed a facial recognition algorithm that can identify a person’s ethnicity or whether a person is “Uyghur”, according to research from surveillance industry publication IPVM.
China has repeatedly defended its controversial “vocational training programs” imposed upon its Muslim ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs, Kazakhs and others, as part of what the government calls counter-terrorism efforts.
Alibaba said in a statement that it is “dismayed” to learn that Alibaba Cloud tested a technology that included “ethnicity as an algorithm” and that “racial or ethnic discrimination or profiling in any form violates Alibaba’s policies and values.”
“We never intended our technology to be used for and will not permit it to be used for targeting specific ethnic groups, and we have eliminated any ethnic tag in our product offering. This trial technology was not deployed by any customer. We do not and will not permit our technology to be used to target or identify specific ethnic groups,” the company added.
A security breach from last year revealed that a “smart city” surveillance system hosted on Alibaba Cloud could detect people’s ethnicity or label them Uyghur Muslim, TechCrunch reported earlier. At the time, Alibaba said as a public cloud provider, it “does not have the right to access the content in the customer database.”
IPVM also found earlier this month that Huawei and artificial intelligence unicorn Megvii, known for its facial recognition product Face++, jointly developed a technology that could alert the Chinese government when the system detected the face of a member from the Uyghur community.
As China’s tech upstarts seek overseas growth, they increasingly find themselves stuck between the demands of Beijing and international scrutiny over their stance on human rights issues.
Cloud computing is one of Alibaba’s fastest-growing segments and the giant is eyeing to attract more international customers. Last year, Alibaba Cloud was the biggest player in the Asia Pacific region and the third-largest Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider globally, according to research firm Gartner.
Alibaba’s cloud unit grew 60% year-over-year to account for nearly 10% of the firm’s revenues in the three months ended September. As of the quarter, approximately 60% of A-share listed companies, those that are based in mainland China and trade in RMB, are customers of Alibaba Cloud, the company claimed.
Buying gifts this Christmas season isn’t as easy as you might think. With all the choices, you can easily end up spending hours and hours thinking about the perfect gift. And who has such free time?
To save you from the hard work of coming up with the right gifts for your friends, family, and co-workers, we’ve put together this list of great holiday gift ideas that won’t just make them healthy but productive, too. Our gift suggestions are divided into two categories so you can easily navigate through the products.
Stress Balls: Teacher Peach Motivational Stress Balls for Kids and Adults
These stress balls are dual purpose. Not only do they help relieve stress through repetitive squishing, but the motivational quotes are also calming. These are great gifts to give to your colleagues at work, or if you’re a boss who’s looking to motivate and encourage staff.
These are also great gift ideas for kids who are stressing in school or in extra curricular activities.
Portable Massager: Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls
These massage balls are the perfect gift for anyone having a hard time with sore and tight muscles. Because the balls are small, they are extremely portable. Made with 100% solid rubber, they are quite durable, too.
Tea Set: BambooWorx Japanese Tea Set
Make tea preparation a lot easier with this really nice Japanese tea set. It has everything one needs to make the best tasting matcha tea without leaving home or the office.
Meditation Book: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
Meditation is one of the best ways to beat stress and this particular book is one of the most awesome books about it. Providing insights from two great spiritual leaders, it highlights several ways to add more joy, fulfillment, and purpose into life. It’s good medicine for anyone who wants to just be better and improve his life.
Healthy Eating Book: Never Binge Again: Reprogram Yourself To Think Like A Permanently Thin Person
There are many books out there that try to help “reform” your unhealthy eating habits. However, if they’re not working, what you need is an unorthodox approach like this book has. This book has helped many people already and it might just help somebody you know who needs it.
The best news is that it’s free on Kindle. If you need to gift it as a paperback though, it’s still at an affordable price point.
Knee Brace: CAMBIVO 2 Pack Knee Brace
It’s hard to enjoy life with painful knees and joints. If a loved one is having a hard time doing daily activities because of that, getting this knee brace might help.
It has just the right amount of pressure to help manage knee pain. It can also help reduce swelling and inflammation, making it perfect for people with arthritis and sore muscles and joints.
Face & Body Care: New York Biology Dead Sea Mud Mask for Face & Body
This mineral mud mask is formulated with aloe vera, vitamin E, jojoba oil, and calendula oil. These ingredients are great for dry skin because of their potent moisturizing properties.
At the same time, the mask works well for acne-prone skin type, too. It can help clear blackheads and tighten pores. Most people who’ve used it noticed a noticeable difference in their skin.
Yoga Mat: ATIVAFIT Non Slip TPE Yoga Mat
This yoga mat is a bit different than others. For one, it’s made with eco-friendly materials. Plus, it has alignment marks to ensure safe practice.
The mat is thick which means it’s able to provide just the right cushion for the knees and joints. It’s non-slip, too.
Smoothie Cup: Beast 20oz Tumbler Insulated Stainless Steel Coffee Cup
Smoothies offer a convenient way of getting more of the nutrients one needs to stay healthy and fit. This smoothie cup makes drinking one more enjoyable.
With great insulation and temperature retention, there’s no need to worry about losing a drink’s taste or flavor. Plus, it comes with 2 unbreakable steel straws
Fitness Planner: BookFactory Food and Health Journal/Food Diary/Fitness Journal Notebook
It’s hard not to fall in love with this journal. There’s plenty of room for tracking calories, proteins, and fats. There’s even a space for writing goals, allergies, and eating habits.
The only downside is its actual size. Some people find A6 quite small for jotting down notes.
Foam Roller: The Original Body Roller – High-Density Foam Roller Massager
This roller is firm and sturdy which makes it good for people who want to target specific knots. Plus, with its textured design, it’s feels great to use on pressure points, too.
Take note that this roller is smaller than others. If your loved one likes to travel or just doesn’t have enough space in her closet to store really long rollers, this will make a nice gift.
Essential Fragrance Oils: Lagunamoon Essential Oils Top 6 Set
Lagunamoon Premium Essential Oils are therapeutic grade and 100% pure. Apart from aromatherapy and steam inhalation, they can also be used as an added ingredient to homemade skincare products like creams, soaps, and shampoos. They are suitable for massage use, too.
Bathroom Scale: Renpho Smart Digital Bathroom Weight Scale
This particular weight scale is way different from regular bathroom scales. It’s smart and it can take 11 of the body’s essential measurements, such as BMI and body fat percentage. And the best part? It comes with a friendly app which is available for free.
Bath Salts: Epsoak Epsom Salt
Made from pure Magnesium Sulfate, this product works really well in easing stiffness and relieving stress. It can also restore the skin’s natural softness. The secret is in mixing it with warm water and soaking one’s feet into the solution.
Facial Steamer: NanoSteamer PRO Professional
Capable of generating nano-ionic steam, this steamer is 10x more effective in penetrating the skin to unclog pores and remove toxins. That’s in comparison with the original version.
Apart from that, the steamer can now be used for aromatherapy. It’s designed with a chamber that can hold and diffuse oils for different needs.
Lifting Cushion: Ergonomic Innovations Donut Tailbone Pillow
Ergonomic Innovations Donut Tailbone Pillow offers a natural, simple, and effective way of relieving pressure on the back and hip areas. It’s a good choice for people who spend hours sitting at work or traveling.
Heating Pad: Sunbeam Heating Pad for Pain Relief
Do you have friends who often complain about sore muscles or menstrual camps? If yes, then this is the perfect gift. This particular heating pad is made with thick but really soft micro-plush fibers which makes it comfortable to use on a daily basis. It works for both dry and moist heat therapy.
Therapy Lamp: Circadian Optics Lumos 2.0 Light Therapy Lamp
For people who often have a hard time getting to sleep, this therapy lamp can spell good news. It’s designed to mimic natural sunlight, making it effective for people with circadian sleep disorders, winter blues, and fatigue. It’s fully adjustable, allowing its user to set it according to his sensitivity to light.
Pedometer: Omron HJ-112 Digital Pocket Pedometer
Being physically active has a huge impact to anyone’s health. With this Omron pedometer, you’ll be able to encourage anyone to get up and get moving. It features 6 tracking modes and keeps track of two types of steps, making it accurate and reliable in monitoring one’s progress.
Infrared Sauna: Radiant Saunas Rejuvinator Portable Personal Sauna
Perfect gift for anyone wanting to relax anytime, anywhere! This portable personal sauna gives soothing warmth to help alleviate stress and fatigue. It’s easy to set up and it’s portable, too. The product comes with a foot heater for an extra layer of relief and comfort.
Planner Pens: Ibayam Journal Planner Pens
Writing down goals increases motivation and this planner can help with that. In fact, it’s designed to make tasks a lot more exciting and enjoyable. The pen delivers smooth writing, making it perfect not just for writing but coloring and drawing, too. And the best part? The ink doesn’t bleed a lot even on thin paper.
Pen Holder: Groot Desk Pencil Holder
Guardians of the Galaxy enthusiasts will love this Groot pencil holder. It is designed and painted quite realistically. At the least, it will be a great conversation starter as it sits on your office desk.
Journal: Evernote Moleskin Classic Notebook
Planning goals in life or what to do in a day will be so much easier with this Moleskin notebook. Whether your loved one is into bullet journals or the habit of keeping to-do lists, this notebook will surely be handy.
Self Improvement Book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Having the right mindset is critical when it come to productivity and this book can help that. It’s great for coaches, parents, teachers- everyone!
Planner: My Law Of Attraction Project Planner
Do you have a friend who is a firm believer in the power of the Law of Attraction? If you do, then your friend will surely love this project planner. It’s designed to be a resource and tool to help create abundance, success, and joy – all the good things promised by the Law of Attraction.
The price is very affordable so you can easily buy this for any of your friends or colleagues.
Lap Desk: Honey-Can-Do TBL-03540 Portable Laptop Lap Desk
Honey-Can-Do TBL-03540 Portable Laptop Lap Desk makes a great gift for students, travelers, remote workers, and anyone who spends a lot of time with his laptop. It’s portable, lightweight, and compact which make it great for traveling. Plus, it’s designed with a solid surface material for easier cleaning and maintenance.
Smartphone Projector: Mini Video Projector For Home Theater
Enjoy videos on your phone with your office gang or your whole family with this super convenient mini video projector. Just plug in your phone and you’re good to go. It’s very easy to use.
Kids love seeing their favorite phone apps and shows all blown up while your hubby will find it convenient for viewing fantasy football scores on the wall next to the TV. There’s a lot you can do with this gadget.
Alarm Clock: AmazonBasics Small Digital Alarm Clock
Anyone who wants a productive day should consider starting early and having an alarm clock that’s loud, easy to operate, and dimmable- like this AmazonBasics Small Digital Alarm Clock.
It features a nice, crisp display that’s bright enough to read whether it’s day or night. It also comes with backup batteries just in case of unexpected power outages.Apart from those features, it can also double as a nightlight.
Ground Coffee: Death Wish Ground Coffee
Caffeine provides an instant boost of energy so if you want someone to be productive, this bag of ground coffee shouldn’t be out of your list. Made with premium green coffee beans that are roasted to perfection, your giftee will surely adore you after receiving this.
Dry Erase Calendar: Magnetic Dry Erase Calendar Bundle for Fridge
Being productive means staying on top of things and this dry erase can help with that. This bundle includes 3 magnetic dry erase planners with more than enough space to write on and 6 magnetic markers with tip erasers.
It’s a lot better than other brands since it doesn’t get stained easily. There are no ghosting stains left behind, either, so it always looks spotless.
Water Bottle:: Hydro Flask Water Bottle
This metal water bottle can keep beverages hot or cold for hours, making it a great item to have in the office or at home. It’s also one of the best gifts you can give to people who are always on-the-go.
Its pro-grade stainless steel quality also ensures pure taste with no mixtures of flavors. It’s dishwasher-safe, too.
Smart Speaker: All-New Echo (4th Gen)
Want something extremely nice? The All-New Echo Dot (4th Gen) is a must-have for anyone this season. Ask it to play your favorite songs for working out, have it read the latest news to you, or tell it to set your alarms.
And the best thing about it? It can actually be used to control a smart home. With a new look and a new sound, seriously, is there anything better than this?
Gadget Charging Station: Hercules Tuff Charging Station for Multiple Devices
This particular product can charge up to 6 devices simultaneously- without the clutter. Its fast-charging dock can power up devices 80% faster than other devices.
Solar Charger: BigBlue 3 USB Ports 28W Solar Charger
The BigBlue Solar Charger can charge up to 3 USB devices simultaneously. Its smart charging technology enables it to recognize devices and provide the optimal charging speed that they require.
It’s also compact and lightweight, making it super practical to take anywhere.
Ergonomic Office Chair: Dragonn Ergonomic Kneeling Chair
This ergonomic office chair is the perfect gift for anyone who suffers from bad posture while working. With its tilted seat, it’ll stop slouching or sitting with uneven weight on the buttocks.
Despite how it looks, it’s really comfortable to sit on. Your loved one wouldn’t even notice that he’s sitting on a kneeling chair!
Computer Workstation: FEZIBO Standing Desk with Height Adjustable
Sitting for long hours can have a huge impact on productivity. So, instead of letting your loved one sit on his desk all day, why not get him a standing desk? This particular product offers so much space that it can actually fit in a couple of monitors and laptops.
Plus, it’s really easy to assemble even without complicated tools. It also features an ergonomic design which is super important not just for productivity but safety, too.
Give A Gift to Someone Else!
The Christmas season isn’t always about giving extravagant gifts to your family or friends or treating yourself with the latest devices. If you are thinking of doing something different this year, consider joining the Red Cross Holiday Giving Campaign.
You can donate gifts that will help disaster victims, members of the military or the children all around the world.
The post DumbLittleMan’s Wellness and Productivity Gift Guide appeared first on Dumb Little Man.
There are over 600 million internet users in India, but only a fraction of this population is fluent in English. Most online services and much of the content on the web currently, however, are available exclusively in English.
This language barrier continues to contribute to a digital divide in the world’s second largest internet market that has limited hundreds of millions of users’ rendition of the world wide web to a select few websites and services.
So it comes as no surprise that American tech giants, which are counting on emerging markets such as India to continue their growth. are increasingly attempting to make the web and their services accessible to more people.
Google, which has so far led this effort, on Thursday announced a range of changes it is rolling out across some of its services to make them speak more local languages and unveiled a whole new approach it’s taking to translate languages.
Additionally, Google said it plans to invest in machine learning and AI efforts at Google’s research center in India and make its AI models accessible to everyone across the ecosystem. The company — which counts India as its biggest market by users, and this year committed to invest more than $10 billion in the country over the coming years — also plans to partner with local startups that are serving users in local languages, and “drastically” improve the experience of Google products and services for Indian language users.
Users will now be able to see search results to their queries in Tamil, Telugu, Bangla, and Marathi, in addition to English and Hindi that are currently available. The addition comes four years after Google added the Hindi tab to the search page in India. The company said the volume of search queries in Hindi grew more than 10 times after the introduction of this tab. If someone prefers to see their query in Tamil, for instance, now they will be able to set Tamil tab next to English and quickly toggle between the two.
Getting search results in a local language is helpful, but often people want to make their queries in those languages as well. Google says it has found that typing in non-English language is another challenge users face today. “As a result, many users search in English even if they really would prefer to see results in a local language they understand,” the company said.
To address this challenge, Search will start to show relevant content in supported Indian languages where appropriate even if the local language query is typed in English. The feature, which the company plans to roll out over the next month, supports five Indian languages: Hindi, Bangla, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu.
Google is also making it easier for users to quickly change the preferred language in which they see results in an app without altering the device’s language settings. The feature, which is currently available in Discover and Google Assistant, will now roll out in Maps. Similarly, Google Lens’s Homework feature, which allows users to take a picture of a math or science problem and then delivers its answer, now supports Hindi language.
Google executives also detailed a new language AI model, which they are calling Multilingual Representations for Indian Languages (MuRIL), that delivers more efficiency and accuracy in handling transliteration, spelling variations and mixed languages. MuRIL provides support for transliterated text such as when writing Hindi using Roman script, which was something missing from previous models of its kind, said Partha Talukdar, Research Scientist at Google Research India, at a virtual event Thursday.
The company said it trained the new model with articles on Wikipedia and texts from a dataset called Common Crawl. It also trained it on transliterated text from, among other sources, Wikipedia (fed through Google’s existing neural machine translation models). The result is that MuRIL handles Indian languages better than previous, more general language models and can contend with letters and words that have been transliterated — that is, Google is using the closest corresponding letters of a different alphabet or script.
Additionally, the new model allows Google to “transfer knowledge and training from one language to another,” said Talukdar, who noted that the previous model Google relied on proved unscalable. MuRIL significantly outperforms the earlier model — by 10% on native text and 27% on transliterated text. MuRIL, which was developed by executives in India, is open source.
MuRIL supports 16 Indian languages and English.
One of the many tasks MuRIL is good at, is determining the sentiment of the sentence. For example, “Achha hua account bandh nahi hua” would previously be interpreted as having a negative meaning, but MuRIL correctly identifies this as a positive statement. Or take the ability to classify a person versus a place: ‘Shirdi ke sai baba’ would previously be interpreted as a place, which is wrong, but MuRIL correctly interprets it as a person.
More to follow…