The Google+ Ghost Town talk is finally beginning to come to a screeching halt thanks to a new report by Global Web Index. The numbers gathered now show that Google+ has surpassed Twitter in active users and is second only toFacebook.
From now on, whenever somebody even hints at Google+ being a failure all you can do is tilt your head slightly and look at them funny.
This quick graphic I created only shows the numbers for Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, although Technically YouTube was considered #3 and Twitter came in at #4 by the numbers. Although it is good to note that Twitter is actually the fastest growing of them all, with 40% growthin the last quarter.
As advertisers, businesses and brands continue to see a decline in the effectiveness of their Facebook efforts, Google+ continues to gain ground with it’s innovativefeatures. Users are just becoming numb to the same old stuff on Facebook. It’s no surprise– when things aren’t evolving, they are inevitably going to lose their effectiveness.
If anyone has yet to see the value in Google+ as aplatform to build an audience for their business or brand,they seriously need to re-think some things. There are plenty of businesses and brands using the platform to their advantage with great results! It’s still relatively new though and for that reason the opportunity to capitalize will never be better.
In the social media game, the early adopters see the greatest return. Don’t wait until the masses have already bought in and the market is saturated– go in now and be an innovator.
And if you’re a blogger– you have all the more reason to jump on Google+ immediately! The SEO benefits, though still a bit ambiguous, are no joke. Not to mention the ability to network through Communities of other bloggers who are actively sharing helpful tips and even forming blogging armies to help one another succeed
In order to properly discuss or write about some of the more complicated aspects of this disease, I feel I need to try and post as simple an explanation of it as possible. It’s not as simple as I would like because it’s such a complicated set of problems, but I’ve tried to include the basic facts everyone interested should know.
The question many parents want an answer to most, “what are our chances”, is very hard to answer. I know I spent a lot of time trying.
That answer is there is no easy answer. It depends strongly on how early diagnosis and treatment took place and what underlying conditions are present.In short: your doctor should be the one to even try to answer that because it really is dependent on the unique situation of each child.
I’m still digesting Google’s 3.5 hour Google I/O 2013 keynote, but I can’t shake the notion that Google is now the world’s most powerful and important company.
I’m not saying that it has the world-beating products in every category. No, it’s more about the vast number of technologies and, mostly, data Google has at its fingertips and how, perhaps for the first time ever, it’s leveraging it all for an increasingly unified set of products and services.
There was no sky-diving moment , but I contend the 180-minute-plus presentation was no less momentous. Each time Google showed us a new product or service, it was leveraging all Google already knows about us and our world.
Take, for instance, Google+ . The redesigned social platform looks a lot likePinterest (and maybe a little like Facebook ). A three-column look gets a lot more information in front of users, but it’s what’s behind that information that interests me.
Google demonstrated how Google+ can show you more about whatever is on your Google+ page, even if there is no description. So behind a photo of the Eiffel Tower (literally behind it, because these new cards flip over), is more relevant, Knowledge Graph-guided information about the landmark.
Google’s “Related Hashtags” in Google+ analyze the contents of any post and add the hashtags Google thinks you need (yes, I said “thinks”).
Since Google knows this could freak some people out, it’s included the ability to opt out for one post or all of them. I’m not a nervous nelly about privacy, so I’d likely leave it on, preferring to get more information as opposed to less.
This hyper intelligence is also in evidence in Google’s new, powerful photo tools — also in residence in Google+.
Autoenhance is, by no means, a new concept. I’ve been using similar tools since the first day I loaded Photoshop on a PC. The ability to smartly reduce noise and even tell the difference between skin and, say, hair or jewelry is appreciated, but not game changing.
It’s the oddly named “Auto Awesome” that may raise a few eyebrows. Google SVP and Google+ lead Vic Gundotra described it as having the ability to create new images from one that did not even exist. If you upload 100 images of a recent vacation, Google’s new algorithms probably pay more attention to all of them than some of your closest friends.
It sees (yes, I said “sees”) things like similar photos shot in a burst to find all the smiling faces so it can create one composite where everyone is smiling. The same technology is capable of making collages, animations and panoramas. At one point during the keynote, Gundotra said the technology had spent the past two weeks “gifting” Google+ members with auto-generated animations (essentially Google’s own form of GIFs). I imagine not everyone was thrilled with this bit of news: “Oh look, Marge, Google went through all our photos and made us some movin’ pictures!” “They did what?!”
Because Google and Google+ know so much about you, it can look at that same monster collection of photos and boil it down to just the best or “Highlights.” You really don’t have to do a thing. The technology will identify family members and make sure they’re part of the reel. If people are happy in the pic, they’ll probably make the collection, too.
And it’s like this with everything Google is doing these days; using what it knows about the world, you and content to make something new, whether it’s a better photo collection, a smoother search experience or a music selection that you want to hear.
Yes, as everyone anticipated, Google’s new $9.99 per month streaming music service All Access was among the myriad announcements. Again, what interested me most was not the fact that Google made the streaming deals with major music labels or that you can now access millions of songs from your phone, tablet and PC, but that Google instantly delivered custom “radio stations” based on your interests.
It’s what Google can do: For whatever service it wants to launch, it can leverage a Pacific Ocean-sized well of highly organized data and bundle up something useful (or creepy, depending on your perspective).
Obviously, this is not just about data, because mountains of data are meaningless if you can’t drill deep into it and see very single critical relationship on the fly. Google’s groundbreaking work in building out itsKnowledge Graph is clearly at play in almost everything Google is doing here today.
Voice search, which already exists on Android phones is making the leap to the desktop (via Google Chrome). Its ability to understand natural language questions is, from where I sit, more impressive than Apple’s Siri.
The Google I/O demonstration was flawless, but the real power is, once again, Google’s data backend and what it knows about you. In one search example, the demonstrator asked Voice Search a question that only identified location with “here” (as in “near here”). She also identified one of the search components with “it.” Google Voice search instantly brought up the perfect answer.
Apple can certainly do all these things with Siri, but not necessarily to the same depth as Google. Google simply knows more about you, and if you’ve signed in to Google and Google+, multiply that knowledge by a factor of 10.
In the next iteration of Google Maps on the desktop , Google cast aside much of the interface to overlay all the key information on the map. A lot of it comes from people you know, where you’re near, and search preferences. Plus, Google is using all of our information to make its own services much, much richer. So when Google Maps takes you inside St. Peter’s Basilica, the beautiful 3D images that comprise the room view are from Google users (who uploaded the photos to Google’s service).
I used to think that Google was going in a dozen different directions at once, with no unifying strategy or destination. Even Google’s own recognize that a method was not always clear in the madness. “Frankly, even Google’s own services have been fragmented and confused at times,” said Google Android Lead Sundar Pichai during the keynote.
Now, however, Google’s worldview is finally coming into focus. The tenuous threads that connect these dozens of different applications and services are strengthening and gradually being pulled closer together. Underneath it all is Google’s vast web of information and smarts, which is all about us.
What Google is about to do with all of it is either a thrilling or very scary prospect.
What did you think of the keynote? Do you finally understand Google’s grand plan? Let me know in the comments.
Owners of the popular Johannesburg shopping centre – Rosebank Mall – have kicked off a multi-million Rand redevelopment and expansion project that will transform the retail selection on offer to local shoppers.
This exciting project was officially launched in October 2012, and is due to be completed in September 2014. The R960 investment will up the mall’s store count to 160 and near double its gross lettable area (GLA) to 62 000 square metres. The redevelopment will be completed in a number of phases with the aim of minimal disruptions to the mall’s day-to-day operations. As a result, it will continue to trade throughout the construction period. New additions will begin to transition into the mall from Q2 of this year. Work will include the introduction of new shop fronts, floor tiles, ceilings and lighting, as well as elevators and escalators.
Careful attention has been paid to selecting the perfect mix of tenants for the bustling Rosebank node, with a special focus on securing high-quality local retailers to complement the mall’s enviable international store offering. These include a new Woolworths Platinum store, two-storey Edgars, Jet, Mr Price Sports and Dis-Chem. New boutiques in the form of Ben Sherman, Kurt Geiger, Pringle and Earthchild will make an appearance, with existing tenants such as Queenspark, Truworths, Stuttafords, Foschini and Mr Price all being the target of upgrades and expansions of their own. Two of the mall’s unique offerings, the African Craft Market and the Sunday Rooftop Market, will also continue to trade during the redevelopment and will be incorporated into the new centre. This will no doubt boost the popularity of what have already become crowd-pullers.
Much like the popular Canal Walk Shopping Centre in Cape Town – another mall in the owners’ portfolio – the new Rosebank Mall has been designed in an oval shape. This allows for the most efficient movement of shoppers between stores in the mall by allowing them to access different levels and corridors seamlessly. Five new levels of basement parking will also be constructed to increase the number of shoppers the mall is likely to attract with its larger GLA offering. Rosebank is well known for being a pedestrian-friendly environment where people strive to live, work and play, and Rosebank Mall will contribute to this lifestyle. Entrances to the mall will engage with the pavement, offering links to surrounding office blocks, hotels and public transport such as the nearby taxi rank.
As a result of investments these as this, Rosebank is quickly becoming a power player in the South African commercial property arena. The area is well located in terms of its proximity to major residential areas of Johannesburg, but is also easily accessed from afar via a dedicated Gautrain station. This is proving especially attractive to businessmen who frequently fly via OR Tambo International Airport, or companies whose clients need reliable and convenient access to their offices from the airport or other regions of Gauteng.
If you’re a regular user of Gmail, you’ll know why the bottom right corner of the screen is special. It’s the home of Gchat—a place where you don’t have to worry about email’s more formal etiquette or protocol. It’s a place where it doesn’t matter whether you sign off with “thanks” or “best.” Most of all, it’s a place that’s fun, which is probably the opposite feeling summoned by the rest of your overstuffed inbox. But here’s where things get confusing: Now that little corner of the screen is where you go to write emails, too.
That collision of worlds came last week, when Google made its redesigned compose window the default for all Gmail users. You can’t miss it: Instead of whisking you off to the familiar full-screen affair, clicking the big red “compose” button now summons a small pop-up in that sacred bottom-right quadrant. The new compose window itself is a streamlined thing: there’s a line for your recipient, a line for your subject, a box below for the message, and little else. CC and BCC no longer get their own fields. All text formatting options have been relegated to a tiny button at the bottom.
What it looks like, really, is a slightly oversized version of Gchat. And that’s no accident. Google’s actively trying to make email less fussy and formal—or, in other words, to make it a little more like instant messaging. And as Jason Cornwell, Gmail’s lead designer, explains, one of the ways to do that is simply to “give you permission to write shorter messages.”
That desire to let users embrace brevity stems from something we all feel from time to time—that email is just too much work. Which is a reasonable response, considering how much of it we’re inundated with every day. But it’s a feeling that also has to do with how email’s always been presented to us.
Picture the standard full-screen compose window. The one that gives you a dauntingly huge text box to fill and an array of options for formatting whatever you manage to put in it. What that really looks like, with its button-strewn toolbar, is an empty word processor—and according to Cornwell, what it communicates to users is this: “Write something long.”
“It was a space that was sort of intimidating, I think, to write a message like ‘Hey, wanna get lunch?’” he explains. “We wanted the new compose to facilitate these quicker messages. Or at least make it a space where that felt appropriate.”
Of course, there are occasions that warrant a longer message, and there are times that benefit from formality. You wouldn’t want to start a cover letter with, “Hey, wanna interview me?” But at the same time, a massive, full-screen form that sets aside space for your blind carbon copy recipients just doesn’t feel like the right place to ask your friend if they watchedGame of Thrones last night. And while Cornwell admits that encouragingtoo much brevity is “a delicate line you have to walk,” there are reasons to push Gmail in that direction. It has to keep up with the times.
Five years ago, email only had SMS to compete with; now it’s up against things like iMessage and Facebook chat. In a recent Pew study, only 6% of the teenagers polled said they used email for talking with friends every day, compared to 29% who communicated through social media sites and 63% who sent text messages on a daily basis. So in a broader sense, you can see the redesign simply as a play to stay relevant.
That said, the new compose offers some other, more immediate UX benefits. For one, it makes multitasking easier, leaving you free to search through your inbox for some scrap of information you might need to mention in the email you’re writing.
And it reduces visual clutter in a way that makes sense, given how we actually use email. “We know that a very small percentage of emails involve a formatting action,” says Cornwell, an insight derived from Google’s famously vast trove of user data. “But if you use one formatting action in the email, you’re very likely to use a whole bunch of them.” So while the new view hides the formatting toolbar by default, once opened, it stays visible for the duration of the message.
Still, what most people will notice about the new compose window is simply its size. It’s small. Shockingly small, you might think. And it can feel funny at first, in that holding-your-phone-in-the-wrong-hand kind of way. The first time you email your boss with it is a little bit terrifying. You’ll sense in some vague way that it didn’t come out quite right.
But I imagine it’s one of those things we’ll get used to faster than we think. And if it really does engender a better form of email in the long run—one that lets us feel okay about firing off a one-sentence note where we currently feel like we have to write five—then a few weeks of awkwardly abrupt emails right now will be worth it. In that case, I’d even forgive Gmail for the grievous offense it’s committing here: dragging my work day into the one place I could always go to avoid it.
Both these products are examples of Android-based wearable computing devices.
A fresh new religious war has broken out on the social networks about whether the watch is better than the glasses, or whether smartphones are better than both the glasses and the watch. “Why would I wear an Android smartwatch when I have an Android phone in my pocket that’s much better?”
These arguments demonstrate that most people don’t get this technology at all.
Wearablehcomputing as human augmentation
You can divide the world of products into two types. The first type are products that we use. For example, if we buy a toaster, we use that product to make toast.
The second type of product is something that becomes part of us. We don’t so much use it as we are changed and augmented and improved by it. For example, if you lose a tooth, a dentist can install a lifelike, fully functional artificial tooth in your mouth. When you eat, you don’t so much “use” the artificial tooth. It’s an upgrade to your personal self.
Other products that fall into this category include eyeglasses, pharmaceutical drugs, prosthetic limbs, tattoos, stents, pacemakers and many others.
Wearable computing devices fall squarely into this category. They feel like and function like augmentations to our physical brains, giving us superhuman powers of photographic memory, total recall and the ability to communicate across vast distances. They let us outsource our knowledge to the Internet. Instead of memorizing facts and carrying them around in our brains, we can simply conjure them up from the cloud when we need them.
So for example let’s say you’re wearing Google Glass. You ask Google Now a question, and remote servers crunch the data find the information deliver back an answer to you.
The way I look at this transaction is that you the Google Glass-augmented user, is using the phone, the Internet and the remote servers.
Google Glass is on the user side of the fence, not the computer side.
And the same goes for smartwatch or any sort of computing device built in your shoes or a chip embedded under your skin.
If you wear contact lenses and read a book while wearing them, you’re not using two products. You’re an enhanced human that’s using one product.
So when people say: “Why would I use Google Glass when I have a perfectly good smartphone?,” they’re clearly missing the point.
That’s like saying “Why would I use contact lenses when I have a perfectly good book?” No, the purpose of the lenses is to enhance your ability to use the book. You don’t choose between them.
Speaking of contact lenses, one of the creators of Google Glass, whose name is Babak Parviz, has worked on — and is probably still working on — a contact lens that works a little bit like Google Glass, displaying information directly on the lens.
The next step after contact lenses is the surgical installation of something into the eye itself that feeds you wireless data to that eye without the need to “wear” anything.
Google Glass isn’t comparable to a smartphone. The choice between using or not using Google Glass is a choice between becoming augmented in that way or choosing not to be.
I’m also seeing people say they won’t use a smartwatch because they’d rather use Google Glass, or vise versa. Again, this reveals a mis-understanding about what the wearable computing movement is all about.
Within a few years wearable computing devices will interoperate with each other in powerful ways, multiplying the effect.
For example, your Google smartwatch may notify you of an incoming video, and you might use a voice command through Google Now to play the video on Google Glass.
Google Glass may notify you that the guy your meeting with for lunch is running late, and you might respond with the voice command to buzz your smartwatch when he’s two minutes away.
Fitness devices will lead the way, enabling you to monitor your heart rate, pulse and other vital signs, and have that data crunched and made useful by, say, an app running on your wristwatch and displayed on the Google Glass electronics built into your prescription sunglasses.
The ultimate application for wearable computing is to augment yourself in multiple ways simultaneously and have all these devices form a little mesh network all over your body combining sensors, Internet connectivity and various ways to interface not so that you’re “using” a bunch of little mobile computers, but instead to transform you, personally, into an augmented human with powerful abilities.
The bottom line, and the thing to understand, is that wearable computing devices like Google Glass and the coming Android smartwatch are not examples of another type of mobile computer — they’re not smaller, wearable smartphones.
The way to look at them is examples of a a brand-new category of products that becomes part of and enhances the human body.
In short, we are evolving into cyborgs. Google Glass and the Android smartwatch are just the next step in that evolution.
If that sounds sinister or too science-fictiony to accept, realize that this process has been going on for a long time. We’ve been enhancing the human body and human ability with man-made upgrades for centuries.
Even wearable computing has been widely distributed in many professions, from the military to medicine and many others.
What Google Glass and the Android smartwatch represent is the first major implementation of wearable computing for everybody.
So like it or not, wearable computing is coming. Ultimately, resistance is futile. You WILL be augmented.
By: Mike Elgan
Drama Queen / Goofy Girl
The warrior girl known to us as Nika who is still epically awesome in the face of a condition no one least of a child should have to go through. Anyway, hats off to you little princess, you knock my socks off.
The awesome 8 year old Unique Vreugde is known to us mere plebeians as ‘Nika’ though she would prefer the prefix “Her Royal Highness” but she gracefully doesn’t expect it.
On Thursday night of 21st of February 2013 the story starts with a harmless nosebleed while Nika and her family were watching a movie at home. Unfortunately the nosebleed wouldn’t stop and after a while her parents Suzanne & Nic Vreugde took her to Sandton Medi Clinic to find out what was the matter.
After the doctors took some blood they noticed she was drastically low in platelets (the blood cell that helps you clot and repair wounds) she was immediately admitted to the Paediatrics ward and placed under the supervision of Dr Richards (Really good Doc and nice guy too) who gave her a full blood test.
On Friday morning the results came, they were not good.
It was discovered that Nika wasn’t producing any of the blood cells that the body makes via the bone marrow. For those that don’t know we make 3 different types:
It’s normal for blood cells to die. The lifespan of red blood cells is about 120 days. White blood cells live less than a day. Platelets live about 6 days. As a result, your bone marrow must constantly make new blood cells.
The blood disorder in which the body’s bone marrow doesn’t make enough new blood cells is called Aplastic Anemia.
After review of her condition over nearly a month and her test results the doctors have recommended that due to them not having sufficient experience with pediatric Aplastic Anemia as they think is needed for treating the severity of Nika’s case they recommend going to the hospital that does have the best knowledge and research in this field in the world. As luck would have it the best hospital in the world for pediatric Aplastic Anemia is SickKids in Toronto, Canada.
Which is very sad for us who will miss the family dearly but at the end of the day, Nika comes first. And so the family has to uproot their lives to the land of maple trees and vanilla coffee.
In light of the implications of this medical advice Nic and Suzanne will consequently be facing enormous relocation and medical costs. We would like to give friends and family and kind strangers who are willing and able, the opportunity to contribute towards these costs.
A Nika fund has been formed through Hope 4 Healing Ministries, please ensure that any donations to this fund are specifically given the reference “Nika Fund”.
100% of the kind donations will go to Nic & Suzanne.
Hope 4 Healing Ministries
Bank Name: Nedbank
Reference: Nika Fund
I’ve made a site showing the whole history of Nika’s journey here:
Thank you so much.
To all our friends and family out there, we just want to let you know of the most recent events relating to Nika and her current situation.
Today Wednesday 13 March the Doctors have advised Nic and Suzanne that they need to seriously consider returning to Canada for medical treatment based on…
Yes I do, I’m based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The rise and fall of a true champion. So fast, subtle and noticed. It’s far from over. [Time magazine]
with Erik Spiekermann and Elliot Jay Stocks
In an interview with Elliot Jay Stocks, legendary typographer and designer Erik Spiekermann explains how he finds it funny that designers today complain about limitations in designing for mobile:
“The way to design is the same [between print and Web]. You give content form, and the medium is always different anyway… I remember designing the little forms for medication, the little things that go inside, and I have the same issue… Essentially, I’ve got to cram a lot of complex content into a given format, however small that may be.”
getting the final polish… Should be launching soon. (at Rosebank)
Hang on tight while we grab the next page