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More Chromebooks are coming from companies like HP, Acer, and Toshiba, but they might not be the ultra-cheap, browser-based laptops we’ve gotten used to seeing over the last year.

That’s because the next wave of Chromebooks will run Intel’s fourth-generation Core processors, codenamed Haswell. These processors are far more powerful than the low-end Intel Atom and Celeron processors that most Chromebooks have used so far.

It’s a sign that Chromebooks are trying to grow up, and to move from secondary PCs to your primary computer—but it’s also a risky move. By using Haswell instead of Intel’s low-powered Bay Trail chips, the new Chromebooks may be targeting a use case that doesn’t yet exist.

The story so far

Chromebooks, whose Chrome OS operating system is essentially Google’s Chrome browser and very little else, have been around for a couple years now, and the earliest machines hovered around a $500 price point. Not surprisingly, the earliest Chromebooks were not very popular.

Chromebooks didn’t start to gain traction until last year, when sub-$300 machines from Acer and Samsung hit the market. Sure, these Chromebooks weren’t as full-featured as Windows PCs, but they were fast and efficient at getting onto the Web, and the prices were hard to beat.

The funny thing is that Chromebooks don’t need a lot of power. I personally use Samsung’s Series 5 550, a $450 Chromebook with a Celeron processor and 4 GB of RAM, and performance has never been an issue. Some cheaper Chromebooks—those with just 2 GB of RAM—struggle with keeping lots of browser tabs open, but that’s a memory problem, not a processor one. If all you’re doing is checking e-mail, typing in Google Docs, browsing Facebook, and using a few Chrome Apps, your power needs are minimal, and a cheap Chromebook ends up being a good fit.

Enter Haswell, not Bay Trail

Intel’s Bay Trail chips seem like a natural next step for Chromebooks. They allow for thin, light, fanless designs with long battery life, they can accommodate up to 4 GB of RAM, and they’re much more powerful than Intel’s previous-generation Clover Trail processors.

“With the state of notebook OEMs right now, they don’t have a lot to lose trying to move up market a little bit,” Baker said. “It makes sense to test the water and see what’ll happen.”

The new HP Chromebook 14 runs Haswell and will cost $300, but a Bay Trail processor would let the company spend more on build quality while maintaining the same price.

Still, it’s unclear what kind of use cases these Haswell-based machines will open up. Baker mentioned better gaming and video playback as possibilities, but Bay Trail is no slouch in these areas, especially for the kind of games you get from a Web browser. More powerful applications may someday arrive as Chrome Apps, but we’ve yet to see anything that really demands a huge boost in power.

In theory, a PC maker could create a premium Chromebook by using high-quality build materials and a high-res display, but could still use Bay Trail to bring the cost down. All Bay Trail processors support 2560-by-1600 resolutions, for example.

That may still happen eventually. Intel has not ruled out Bay Trail-based Chromebooks, and when asked about the possibility at a reporters’ roundtable this week, Intel’s Navin Shenoy said to “Watch this space.”

It’s just a question of when, than if. As last year’s $200 to $300 Chromebooks start to get stale on store shelves, hopefully the answer is “soon.”

PCWorld senior editor Mark Hachmann contributed to this report.

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Why Steve Jobs’ Cup Of Coffee Would Go For Much More Than Tim Cook’S

Why Steve Jobs’ Cup of Coffee Would Go for Much More Than Tim Cook’s

If you’re thirsty, you can grab a cup of Joe with Apple CEO Tim Cook and talk to him about, well, just about anything.Right now, Cook is auctioning off the amount of time it takes to sip a cup of coffee to one lucky (and rich) fan. As of this writing, the bid stands at $190,000, even though its estimated value is $50,000. And since there are nearly three weeks left to bid, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if that figure runs much, much higher.

But as I look at the bids rising and people lining up for the opportunity to talk to Cook, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if Steve Jobs were alive and offering the same deal for charity. And if I’m right, there’s a good chance that the cup of coffee Steve Jobs would be talking over would cost a bit more than Cook’s.

[aquote]Tim Cook isn’t the most dynamic person in the world.[/aquote]

Let’s face it – Tim Cook isn’t the most dynamic person in the world. He’s undoubtedly one of the most successful people in the technology industry and if anything, he knows how to run a truly massive company. But Cook is not Steve Jobs. More importantly, Cook hasn’t elevated himself to the level of Superman within the technology industry.

The issue for Tim Cook is that he’s viewed by some as simply riding the wave that Steve Jobs created. And with reports that Jobs himself left a roadmap of products for Apple before he died, there are some who believe that Cook is only doing what he was told to do a couple of years ago. In other words, he doesn’t get much respect, even though he truly deserves it.

Steve Jobs, meanwhile, had God-like status among technology enthusiasts. When he walked on stage, it didn’t take long for the standing ovation to commence and tech lovers around the world to start to drool. And when he started speaking, Jobs had the unique ability to captivate an audience and make them truly believe that whatever it was that he pulled out of his pocket was special.

[aquote]Steve Jobs, meanwhile, had God-like status among technology enthusiasts.[/aquote]

More importantly, Jobs was highly respected among businesspeople – the most likely group to win the Tim Cook bid. Jobs was able to turn around a dying company and turn it into the world’s largest. Tim Cook hasn’t achieved that just yet. And among executives, he’s not at the same level as his predecessor.

So, I ask you: how much would a cup of coffee with Steve Jobs actually cost? If I were a betting man, I’d say that it would hit $500,000 or more. Sure, it’s high, but we’re talking about the one man in the history of the technology industry that was able to turn the head of nearly everyone around the world. And some people would have given much more than a bundle of cash to sit next to him at a table.

Of course, this is not to say that Tim Cook is not worth having a discussion with or doing a good thing by offering his time. But let’s face it: Tim Cook isn’t Steve Jobs. And despite his best efforts, he never will be.

How Microsoft Makes Employees’ Workday More Productive

Writing is a unique creation of humans. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can’t be creative as much as human beings are in writing. What AI can and already is aiding us to spell out words correctly and having zero grammatical errors through the myriad ways it is infused around the suite of Microsoft 365 products. These help the employees to craft stories.

In one of his Microsoft blogs, a science and technology journalist, John Roach, wrote, “Being more sophisticated in these products, AI is helping us more than spot a misspelled word. It includes new intelligent features in Microsoft Word that help us design our documents for maximum readability.”

Besides Microsoft Word, other features in Microsoft Search and Microsoft Edge are easing everybody to make their workday more productive. Microsoft introduced these intelligent features last year during the annual conference for developers at Microsoft Build in Seattle. 

Using AI, Microsoft 365 helps employees deal with some of the harsh realities of modern work. These include an increase in time demands, massive amounts of data, and growing security threats. A senior product marketing manager for Microsoft 365, Malavika Rewari, states, “Microsoft AI is all about amplifying human ingenuity with intelligent technologies.”

Source of Gathering Knowledge

One of the modern realities of work is that it requires knowledge. The most significant difference is that employees nowadays rely on the Internet to learn. Microsoft search brought access to the web and work into a single search experience last year, making general availability. It leverages Bing and Microsoft Graph‘s capabilities, one of the largest data collections about how people have ever created. Microsoft Graph also enables workers to find, command, navigate, and look for items available across their organization’s data network. It also includes data from the public domains and makes them available to employees within an organization like directories and policy manuals. Each employee’s graph is distinctive as it contains such data that is available only to their specific teams, such as data from their email, documents, and calendar.

Bill Baer, a senior product marketing manager of the Microsoft search team, says, “We can deliver cohesive search experience that works across any endpoint in Microsoft 365. Whether you are searching on Bing or the Windows 10 search bar, you’ll get a set of contextually relevant results.”

The new intelligence of Microsoft Search includes a machine reading comprehension feature, capable of extracting a paragraph from documents explicitly related to one’s question. For instance, if an employee asks, “Can I bring my pet to work?” Microsoft Search will extract the relevant paragraph from the human resources (HR) manual and serve it as a search result.

Elaborating the features of Microsoft Search, Baer adds, “It understands the question you are asking, and then it can find the answer within millions of words of texts and give it to you in context.” 

Another intelligent feature allows employees within a company to conduct searches for people with incomplete information. For instance, consider being told, “Speak with Rick on the third floor, not knowing who Rick is.” A search on Rick on “Rick, floor 3” applies intelligence from Microsoft Graph such as your immediate team and location to get back most likely Rick, including his office number and picture. 

New Features of Microsoft Edge

Microsoft that announced plans in adopting the Chromium open source project to develop the Microsoft Edge on the desktop, is working to make the Microsoft Edge browser a natural extension of the Microsoft Search experience. That means users logged in to a Microsoft 365 account will see similar results within the Edge browser.

A team of Microsoft Edge is simultaneously experimenting with a feature called Collections that permits users to compile and organize content as and when they browse the Internet in their open browser window. They can intelligently share the complied content via email or after exporting it to Word or Excel.

Group product marketing manager for Microsoft Edge, Divya Kumar, says, “You can easily, at a glance, get the value and make your decision more quickly.” She adds, “The team is experimenting with similar functions for exporting to the Word. It includes the ability to compile a document with information like images and text collected from multiple websites.”

  

Enhancing Word Documents

Improving Neural Sentence Rewriting

Another intelligent feature in Word is rewrite suggestions, which brings the power of in-depth learning to offer recommendations on different ways to rewrite a phrase. The technology brings an improvement to the popular synonyms feature in Microsoft Word that uses machine learning to figure out the context of a sentence and offer alternative relevant word choices.

Zhang Li, a Senior Programme Manager of the Microsoft office team explains the intelligence service of Word and recommends, “You don’t need to search online to find an alternative way to express a phrase.”

Though Microsoft Word Online has already improved its synonym ranking, they are trying to lead the synonym suggestion rate to double. This feature will augment employees’ skills more effective, efficient, and inclusive.

Robotics Is More Than Just Automation

While numerous robots are intended for automating tasks, there are others that are intended to augment human capabilities rather than automate tasks. Robots are good at performing repetitive tasks on factory floors today, however, cutting-edge robotics will go past automation use cases. The next challenge is someplace in the middle of where we need to have robots that can settle on decisions all alone independently, yet additionally, have the option to have people tuned in. Automation is obviously a top reason behind organizations considering the utilization of robotic innovation within their business processes. Nonetheless, it is essential to understand that, while numerous robots are intended for automating tasks, there are others that are designed to increase human abilities as opposed to automate tasks. We will, in general, consider robots either robotic arms or autonomous mobile robots operating autonomously in business settings. Such devices regularly center around improving productivity and effectiveness in business operations. Then again, there are a few components of robotic technology that are centered around improving human security or giving humans increased strength, stamina, or accuracy. By including only a couple of robots one after another, smaller producers are setting up a triumphant establishment for giving the individualized offerings and services customers expect. All the more critically, they are cultivating a working environment culture that improves the ability and aptitude of each employee. One of the most clear utilizations of robotic technology that is intended to expand human abilities as opposed to automate tasks is in the region of surgical robotics. These devices are intended to be physically worked by a surgeon while expanding the abilities of the surgeon. One of the most broadly known instances of robotic technology for surgery is the da Vinci robot by Intuitive Surgical. The innovation permits a surgeon to remotely work the robot utilizing a 3D top quality vision system as well as various automated arms, each cable of being equipped with an alternate surgical tool. Getting robots to the business procedure doesn’t really imply that employees will vanish. Quite the contrary, job titles and duties should be rethought and, in all likelihood, raised. Via automating monotonous and potentially hazardous tasks and giving the data and abilities required to get work done well, employees can be retrained to work alongside robotics and do their jobs better and safer. Robots will work together with people to unravel immediate social problems across domains, for example, industrial safety, healthcare and disaster relief. In industrial safety, for instance, robots can be deployed in distant areas to maintain public infrastructure. According to Vijayakumar, Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, “We face huge difficulties with regards to keeping up our foundation, for example, underground sewerage systems. We will find a good pace where it is genuinely inconceivable for us to take a look at the safety of these things.” In any case, it could set aside some effort to arrive even with the current pace of technological development, on account of the vulnerabilities of this real world, and the pervasiveness of noise and sensors in decision-making. “All things considered, we need to truly find a workable pace where we can exploit the best of the two universes,” he said. “Robots are truly adept at performing exact movement, while people are generally excellent at contextual decision-making.” Robots embedded with sensors permit the provider to screen the output capacity which opens up a completely progressively affordable approach to optimize working capital. As opposed to making a one-time, heavy buy and pursuing a month to month charge for on-call service, companies can use a service-level agreement with the provider that permits usage-based billing without owning the actual robot. Affordable, connected, intelligent, and adaptable robotics are opening the door to an unprecedented opportunity for small and midsize manufacturers. However, despite the fact that accessing and actualizing the innovation may appear to be clear, automating everything is never the appropriate answer. Costs will step by step increment to wild levels, particularly when one piece of the procedure breaks and triggers a glitch down the whole line.

New Army Exoskeleton Makes Soldiers’ Gunshots More Accurate

Soldiers of the future may all be crack shots. Not only are bullets getting smarter, but the U.S. Army is developing an exoskeleton that automatically and effortlessly steadies a soldier’s firing arm.

“Army soldiers have to be able to hit a target at over 300 yards away,” says Daniel Baechle, a mechanical engineer at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Maryland, and one of MAXFAS’s creators. “That’s more than three football fields put end-to-end. Prior to basic training, many soldiers have never tried to hit a target that far away.”

MAXFAS should help them get up to speed much more quickly. The system relies on a network of cables and sensors to detect movement, then pulls on the shooter’s arm as if he or she were a marionette.

MAXFAS model

Braces equipped with accelerometers and gyroscopes are attached to the shooter’s forearm and upper arm with velcro straps. These sensors then detect the shooter’s minute arm movements and transfer the data to microchips, where computer algorithms distinguish the shooter’s involuntary tremors from his or her voluntary motions.

Once the electronics establish the frequency at which a shooter’s arm is shaking back and forth, the exoskeleton’s motors use six cables to hold the arm still. MAXFAS is made with carbon fiber composite materials that weigh just 10 ounces.

However, it’s still a stationary prototype whose motors are mounted on a large frame above the shooter. Future versions could incorporate lightweight motors in a backpack to make the exoskeleton mobile, Baechle says.

MAXFAS’s creators were inspired by existing arm-exoskeletons such as CAREX, which is designed to train stroke victims to use their arms again, and WOTAS, which aims to help people living with trembling caused by Parkinson’s disease.

In experiments, 15 volunteers mostly inexperienced at shooting wore MAXFAS and shot Airsoft pistols that were similar in weight to the standard Army issue Beretta M9. The researchers found 14 of the 15 shooters shot better while wearing MAXFAS than before it, with accuracy improving by 27 percent across the group on average.

When these shooters were asked to remove MAXFAS and shoot again five minutes later, the investigators found 12 of them shot better than before they tried on the exoskeleton, with accuracy improving by 15 percent across the group on average. In contrast, shooters who never wore the system saw a decrease in shooting performance over the same amount of shots, likely because their arms were tired.

Though just a small study, the results indicate MAXFAS can help improve shooting accuracy even after it’s worn. And even a slight improvement in accuracy could make a huge difference.

“Using the Army standard M16 rifle, moving the muzzle by just one-sixteenth of an inch will result in the shot being off target by more than 17 inches at 300 yards away,” explains Baechele. “So even small tremors can result in huge aiming errors.”

In the near term, Baechle envisions MAXFAS helping train new soldiers in shooting during basic training.

“The far-future concept I envision is that MAXFAS could become an untethered device, perhaps with motors, power supply, and control computer all in a backpack,” he adds. “MAXFAS could then be worn on the battlefield to improve soldier aim. Alternatively, the tremor-damping algorithms could be incorporated into an existing or future exoskeleton.”

There may also be applications for MAXFAS outside the military. For example, it could help assist hunters, or even be modified to help train skills such as golf swings, tennis swings, or billiards shots, Baechle says.

Baechle detailed his research team’s findings earlier this year at the Data on a Mission conference at Columbia University in New York.

Bloggers Are Worth More Than Their Links

Everyone wants to rank across all search engines for their desired terms.

At a certain point in the evolution of Google search, it became apparent that naturally acquiring links (such as those from bloggers) helped with that goal.

That said, algorithms change. So is it still worth it to work with bloggers?

Bloggers Are Worth Far More Than Their Links When It Comes to SEO

As a digital marketer, you are probably tasked with a series of KPIs – from rankings and traffic to conversion rates and revenue.

Is it possible to have bloggers help with all these goals?

The trick is to first stop thinking of websites and blogs as simply places to acquire links. Bloggers are influencers and need to be approached as such.

As a brief primer to influencers, the full version of which you can read in the Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing, there are several components to consider:

The primary goal you are focused on.

The buyer persona you wish to target to meet that goal.

The type of influencer needed that best fits the buyer persona.

What medium best suits that influencer type.

Influencer marketing is a deep subject, which during presentations we attempt to distill down into “having someone else tell your story for you.”

But given where this think piece is published, we can make a few assumptions with regards to online vs. offline intent.

What Is Your Primary Goal?

Hopefully, you didn’t say links.

Even while addressing SEO, this is not really the goal, even if it is what you might spend a good percentage of your time focused on. SEO pros also do not exist simply to supply vanity rankings, at least not for the long term.

As with most online marketing functions, the end goal is usually high margin revenue.

How does one maximize high margin revenue? By focusing on increasing the volume of relevant traffic.

Search engines are just a convenient source of this traffic.

Who Is Your Buyer Persona?

The specific end buyer for your product or service is going to be unique to your specific situation. You can go more in-depth with cultural, social, personal, and psychological factors here but for the sake of brevity, you make some assumptions related to their technical capabilities.

In this abbreviated approach, what you will need to care about most is categorical focus and fit – what type of information is your buyer consuming that is at least tangentially relevant to what you are selling? That is the category of content you need to be consistently associated with.

What Influencer Type Works Best?

In the above guide, much attention is given to the distinctions between aspirational, authoritative, and peer influencers and the various situations you might need to use each type.

When it comes to raw traffic, aspirational influencers provide the most volume, but are not always categorically focused unless you are selling a product with broad mass appeal. Conversely, peer influencers can be acquired with exceptional categorical fit yet yield much less traffic.

Authoritative influencers, for the sake of the use case of digital marketers eyeing search, are a happy compromise.

They are subject matter experts and as such are extreme category fits, provided you are only approaching relevant influencers and can drive more traffic than that of lesser-known industry peers.

What Medium Best Suits the Authoritative Influencer Type?

There are multiple mediums that work well within the confines of a search focus, which can be used before and after the primary traffic drivers are created.

The title of this article does not bury the lede though: for search purposes, the primary medium to work on with authoritative influencers is blogs, of which there are multiple ways to approach.

Let’s discuss why, and what signals blogs are helping to address, then how to implement such a strategy.

Which Search Signals Matter with Influencing Bloggers?

Simplifying for brevity once again, it can be helpful to view modern search algorithms as operating in three general buckets – signals associated with:

Content/architecture.

Links.

User experience.

With the right influencers, all three buckets can be satisfied.

Before any links can ever be built, there should exist at least some meaningful content to point to. One method of this meaningful content is to hire a reasonably well-known authoritative influencer within your industry to write a series of deep and engaging pieces.

Having this content created can satisfy a multitude of content signals, not the least of which is associating the entity of this writer with your domain, leeching off of their extensive expertise.

This is not about accepting a guest post! It is about recruiting an exceptional writer within your niche to create something meaningful in your domain space.

For all the recent talk of E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness), recruiting an expert that can convey authority and associate their accumulated trust with you allows you to cross a hurdle.

You already know that bloggers provide links, but the links you should care about have far less to do with DR, DA, or whatever metric you have been using. Reach out to influencers for the purpose of acquiring links that provide relevant, converting traffic.

When your focus shifts more to acquiring links that pass converting traffic, your mental model shifts closer to what your main goal of a digital marketer should be: high margin revenue, that just so happens to be search engine-proof.

This mental shift means you can worry less about whether the influencer wants to use “nofollow” and more about how closely themed the blog’s audience is with the buyer persona you are targeting.

The bonus point in acquiring relevant, converting traffic is how it also satisfies a variety of user signals.

The traffic coming in is relevant enough to linger and dwell, navigating to the most important sections, and entering some aspect of your conversion funnel.

When traffic is truly relevant, there also exists the possibility of secondary branded searches occurring to seek out deeper content in the future, which increases the probability of attaining a higher percentage of repeat users. In the opinion of many top SEO pros, this is an especially important signal.

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