LATEST FROM OUR BLOG

Take your daily dose of (only) relevant news, useful tips and tricks and valuable how to's on using the latest web technologies shaping the digital landscape. We're here to do all the necessary information sifting for you, so you don't have to, to provide you with content that will help you anticipate the emerging trends about to influence the web.

See You at DrupalCon 2017 Baltimore!
Still wondering how the weather will be next week in Maryland! It's “crucial” information for us, you know, since these days we're packing our bags for next week's DrupalCon 2017 Baltimore!   About DrupalCon 2017 Baltimore Needless to add that the Drupalcon North America is THE “peak” of all the other Drupal-themed meetings, events and camps taking place all over the globe, year-round. This year it's Baltimore's turn to host the event (and to welcome the no less than 3000 Drupalists and Drupal enthusiasts who'll be attending it), from April 24-28. And for living up to the scale of this event, it's the Convention Center, on One West Pratt Street, that it puts at the Drupal community's disposal!   OPTASY at DrupalCon 2017 Baltimore We have exciting news! This year OPTASY'S both one of the attendees and one of the sponsors who'll “power” this mega gathering! And we have to admit that we're, still, so proud of this opportunity (with the risk of slightly “breaking” the laws of modesty)! Therefore, do feel free to stop by our booth #140 and get to know the OPTASY team! We're ready to answer to all your questions, whether they'll be closely related to our work or to the “must-see” attractions in Toronto.   A Multifaceted Event With A Jam-Packed Program No matter how hard we've tried, we just couldn't put together a hierarchy! A calendar, yes, but not a hierarchy. We'd love to attend all the sessions at DrupalCon Baltimore, ALL the sprints, all the summits all the social events, all the special events (not exactly realistic, we know that)! In other words, we're looking forward:   to Dries Buytaert's keynote, on the 25th of April to attending community discussions to participating to the sprints (oh yes!) and be part of all those knowledge sharing, creative thinking challenging and innovative ideas spreading types of Drupal-y gatherings to attending trainings (so that we can get the bags that we're packing these days loaded with great tips, strategies, trends to watch in 2017, Drupal best practices, know-how, demos, etc. from the Drupal legends themselves) to attending some cool social events (definitely!) to attending community sessions (getting ourselves informed about Acquia's latest products, about its planned roadmap for 2017 and exchanging ideas with members of the community is, after all, one of the reasons why we attend DrupalCons) to attending session tracks on UX, PHP, project management, DevOps and the list of tempting topics can go on and on. A quick recap See you next week in Baltimore, at booth #140 and at all the other “can't miss” events listed in the event's jam-packed program! Now, let us continue with our bags packing and weather forecasting... ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Apr 21'2017
Introducing Google Open Source: A Dedicated Website for All of the Company’s Open Source Projects
Google's been not just “a” member of the open source community, but one of its leading members. It's been advocating for the usage of open source as a sure path to innovation for a while now. This is no breaking news for anyone! Therefore, hearing that the California-based giant has taken a big leap forward in terms of “openness”, in terms of “exposing “behind-the-scene” details of its relationship with open source software, hasn't surprised us, the OPTASY team, all that much!  “Not so surprised” and yet: we can't deny that we're still excited about Google's announcement! It practically opens a large window for us, the “outsiders”, to “peep into” the company's code and other “in-house” code created for developing their open source projects. The website's not just a repository of key information on Google's projects and processes, but it gives away details on how precisely they're being used inside the company.  The revealed code will co-exist both on Google's own self-hosted git service, as well as on GitHub. And, in this equation Opensource.google.com will play the role of a central directory for them. And “feasting” on the information showcased there is not just for “fun” or for mere curiosity, but you should take it as an opportunity: it actually offers an insight into the best practices when it comes to developing open sources projects! And this is just the beginning for, Will Norris, Open Source Programs Office at Google declared: “it also contains something unexpected: a look under the hood at how we “do” open source”. Google's planning to showcase there information about project life cycle and they commit to keep adding new and new details on how they approach open source “in-house”. So, no need to put on your “binoculars” and try “spying” on what's happening “behind the closed curtains”, at Google. No need to strive to get your insights on their open source projects! The future looks bright for you! For it seems that the company's willing to put its inside information “on a silver plate” for you. Meaning: under one single handy URL!   About Google's Own Open Source Philosophy … revolves around one essential principle: everyone can benefit from open source! In Google's own “philosophy” open source sets the perfect context for teams to collaborate, to share information and to work together for creating new technologies. The company sees open source as a sure path to innovation, as we've already stated! “Collaboration” is, therefore, the main word behind Google's idea of open source. And “collaboration” goes hand in hand with the idea of “community”, with the idea of “the community of developers participating” in developing open source projects together. In addition to this, Google has revealed its other key principles supporting its open source philosophy: the “more is better” one. What does it mean? It means that the company's committed to showcasing as many open source projects as possible on their newly launched website. And this because they agree that they do not know, from the very start, which ones of them will have a larger audience. Therefore, they're decided to keep posting code, this leading to a repository of thousands of open source projects that developers can “scan through” and select the information they need.   Opensource.google.com: What's Its Purpose? One of the clarifications that the Google's officials have made was that their new site isn't designed with a one and only purpose in mind: to showcase the company's open source projects. It's supposed to be a “tool” that developers can use to discover how these projects are used internally. Both overviews of these projects and explanations on how they're being used are provided there. Also, another mention they've is that developers shouldn't take their showcased code and explanations on how this is being utilized inside the company as “absolute” how-to guides.They're just “starting points” or “inspiration” on how the company approaches open source. They're aimed at empowering you to venture yourself on the open source-provided path to innovation. An incentive to collaborate for creating new technologies.   But What Type of Information Will Go Public More Precisely? You're more than entitled to ask yourself right now: “But what type of topics will the information on Google's new site be covering?” And, also: “How will the content get structured on Opensource.google.com?” In this respect, let us detail a bit. Here's what Google's public collection will include:   information on how to submit patches to other open source projects   Google's policies regarding third-party open source projects    key information about Google's release processes for its new open source projects    Up to now Google's new site sums up 2000 projects. When it comes to content structuring and facilitating the user's/developer's access to certain information, a search feature has been added (besides the drop-down menu displaying the categories available on the website). This turns out to be a more than useful tool in case you already know what you need a certain project for, but you don't have your mind set on a specific bit of software.     In Conclusion: Judging by how other Google open source projects, such as TensorFlow and Kubernetes have evolved (turning into “constellation” type of projects, each with its own set of ecosystems gravitating around it), the documents piled up and made public on this website are a major opportunity from a developer's standpoint. No doubt about that! It also delivers inspiration for other companies to embrace open source and to showcase their own “behind the closed door” code.  How about you? How do you perceive the new Google site's release and how do you position yourself, as a company, when it comes to open source? Do you see any opportunity in revealing your internal code to “outsiders”?   ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Apr 03'2017
OPTASY Is Featured on CLUTCH: Top Web Development Companies
We just couldn't keep it to ourselves! Especially since we're fully aware that you, our long-time or new partners, are “responsible” for this recognition. Being ranked there, among all the top web development companies in Canada's so competitive digital landscape, is an overwhelming honour for our team. But also an incentive for constant self-improvement and a huge responsibility! No doubt about that!        Allow us to express our gratitude for your acknowledgment of our work!   Of the expertise and the creativity that we've invested in delivering relevant, adaptive and overall business success-driving digital experiences. Not the “one size fits all“ type, but the one reflecting our customers' visions and geared toward helping them meet their business goals!   We simply love what we're doing!   And we love getting better and better at what we're doing! That's it! No secret “ingredient” in this “formula for success”.   It's our passion for our work that has allowed us to broaden our offer of services from (exclusively) building Drupal websites to developing custom modules, theming, offering maintenance and support and delivering adapted Drupal e-commerce solutions, as well.    And yet, we did add a not so secret ingredient to this formula for success: “always putting clients first”!   And this prioritization includes both the input that our clients give us during their web projects development, as well as their own visions and goals. For we're never putting together “just” visually-appealing, functional Drupal websites: we develop Drupal websites that respond to our customers' particular needs and which help them achieve their own business goals.   What we're actually trying to say to you is: "Thank you, we take a bow before such a recognition of our work! It's been and will continue to be an honor working with you"!   Another “culprit” of our pure enthusiasm (we won't be getting over this news soon... if ever) is the research company who's put this top itself: CLUTCH!   Worldwide famous for the innovative methodology it uses for conducting its researches, an efficient “blending” of:   interviewing both past and present clients of the “target” company evaluating the quality of work evaluating its industry experience   ... it's become one of THE top go-to resources providing decision-making information to all companies interested in contracting software services providers.   At the end of this news-type of post, allow us to make a “pledge”:    “Not to rest on our oars, to turn this honor into a responsibility (and thus not to get “intoxicated” by “fame”) and to approach our work with even more professionalism and determination in helping our customers meet their goals!”   ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Feb 22'2017
Curious What Google Has in Store for You for 2017?
How well did you keep up with Google's frequent updates in 2016? Didn't you feel, at some point, that striving to keep the ever changing “rhythm” that Google imposed was like “striving to keep yourself steady on quicksand”?   Preparation is key, right?   So, if you want to keep a steady balance while “walking on wire” this year (whether as a marketer, as a web developer in Toronto or as an online business owner) you need to anticipate the upcoming shifts in the SEO landscape.   In order to lend you a hand with that we have analyzed Google's most significant changes in 2016, read the forecasts of some the most influencing experts' in the field and we're here today, in front of you, ready to empower you with a list of 6 updates in Google's algorithms that you should expect to impact your business this year.    And here they are! Each one could easily win its own star on Google's “walk of fame”, the one grouping its most impactful updates along the years:   1. Google's Index Goes Mobile-First    In this respect, we couldn't be happier here, at our web development company in Toronto, with Drupal 8's mobile-first features!   Now this Google update is huge! It will most likely shake the entire SEO landscape and will challenge you to reconfigure all your digital marketing initiatives, plans and strategies.   If you have already implemented all the right measures for optimizing your website for mobile, for turning it into a welcoming place for your mobile users to land on, good for you.    Don't rest on your oars! Keep up the good work: 2017 means higher search ranking for you!   If, for various reasons, you've missed the train, and you stubbornly put all your faith (and therefore your brand's whole future) in your desktop website, “take a cold shower” and then get to work!   ASAP!   The wind of change will blow from Google's direction and might just sweep off your online presence if it lacks a strong foundation!   And that foundation, my friend, is made of mobile optimization-oriented measures.   Just think about it: not only that mobile-friendly will become a ranking signal, but it will be the primary source of ranking!   Google will push forward, right into the spotlight, mobile-optimized websites, while the desktop ones will remain behind, “in the dark”.    Moreover, it's not just a whole new way of marketing online that you should adopt, but a whole different mindset, too: you need to think mobile, not just to “act” mobile!   We witness the end of an era when marketers geared all their efforts towards making Google happy.   The modern day marketer should first and foremost make his user happy: by crafting the best mobile user experiences!   Here's how:   crafting unique content adjusted to the mobile's particularity (long gone are the days of keyworda and links-stuffed content and of those when you would transfer content from your desktop site to its mobile version in such a rudimentary manner)   ensuring them an intuitive navigation   guaranteeing them fast-loading web pages   And Google will always favor those who pay attention to and rush in to meet their (mobile) users' expectations.   2. Google Will Start an Intrusive Pop-Up Ads “Hunt”   Or better said “Google has started...”, for the announced change came into effect on the 10th of January.   How will this impact your website?    Well, the proper question would be: are you using interstitials on your mobile pages?    How much screen space do they take up?   You should know that Google has started to rank lower precisely those mobile website which keep annoying users with interstitials covering most of the content they want access.   Here are just a few of interstitial-related signals that will make Google wave its red flag:   a pop-up ad that the user has to close before he's given full access to the main content a pop-up add that covers almost entirely the content the user is reading, the he has to dismiss before (re)gaining access to the main content the usage of a specific layout where the above-the-fold section of the web page is an interstitial, while the main content is moved underneath the fold and thus is hardly accessible to the user   If the above practices sound too familiar to you, you should definitely consider revising your mobile marketing strategies!   Google is sure to strengthen its efforts for tracking down and penalizing those websites that will continue to annoy their users with pesky interstitials contributing to a bad user experience.    Accessibility, in the sense of easing users' access to that valuable content prepared for them on your mobile site, which goes had-in-hand with a good user experience, is what Google favors.   And intrusive ads are definitely not a means for achieving it!   3. Google Assistant Will Outshine the SERP Search   It's true that Google has a lot to catch up for being able to “rival” Siri and Cortana, voice assistants who've had the time to constantly improving their technologies, but we've gathered some really strong signals from this direction.   Can you imagine an SERPless future?    Google's Voice search technology would then efficiently guide users towards the information they're looking up for!   And, given the long-tail keywords, their whole search experience will get significantly improved: Google will bring the risk of irrelevant search results close to zero.   How prepared are you to reconfigure all the ads on your website, your overall online advertising strategy?   4. Google Will Expand Its Use of Rich Cards in Search   In the name of an optimized search experience Google's complimented its snippets with rich cards. It did this last year in May, so no news here.   The news is that Google's strengthening its efforts for adding even more industries to its list of verticals included in its rich card results. And this might impact your business, too, more precisely: the way your brand gets listed in searches, before your future visitors' eyes.   Therefore, even if you're not operating in the movie industry, you don't organize online courses or run a restaurant, mind you don't leave this Google trend out of your sight!   These days Google might add your industry, too, to its list and then you'll be challenged to adapt, quickly!   Get yourself prepared by experimenting various pieces of content presenting your brand and “luring” users in, content that would go in the richer previews enabled by Google.   5. Google Will Favor Those Participating in Its AMP Project   Here's another strong signal that Google's moving at high speed towards mobile indexing!    We've already talked abut Google's Accelerated Mobile Page on this blog, but we'd still like to stress this project's importance.   It's Google's way of encouraging website owners/web developers to focus their efforts on perfecting the mobile web experience for their users.   Expect this open source initiative to become even more impactful in 2017!   And here is how you could benefit from getting involved in this “mobile-friendly environment creating” initiative that the AMP project aims at:   you improve your users' overall experiences on your mobile website (and this is definitely a benefit for you too: happy users= higher search ranking in Google) improved loading speed for your web pages, which, again leads to a better exposure in search results   6. Google Will Start Penalizing Unsecured Websites   It looks like it's “raining Google penalties” this month!    In addition to the pesky interstitials-related one, scheduled to come into effect on the 10th of January, Google will start to penalize websites that do not run on HTTPS secure browser connections.   Of course, not any sites, but those requiring all kinds of private details from their users: passwords, credit card details etc.   If your website falls into this category, here are the 2 major measures you should take lest you should start 2017 with a Google penalty:   install a certificate from a trusted vendor on your website  migrate all the traffic on your website from HTTP to HTTPS   Now that you've taken a peek into the future of SEO, that Google's drafting for you right now, it's up to you to incorporate all these impactful updates into your future digital marketing initiatives. ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jan 13'2017
Adobe Spark Video: How to Create Powerful, Engaging Videos... The Easy Way
“Engaging” could easily be called “the word of 2016” in the digital world!   Everything you did, as a website owner, a website developer or a web designer in Toronto has been oriented towards (and will continue to be in 2017, too) getting your audience engaged, right?   Which have been your most efficient “tools” for keeping with your own audience “engaged”?   “Video” and “Visual storytelling!” Bravo! Correct answer!   It's been a while since Adobe allowed you to combine these two powers and to boost all your content marketing plans with the power of video-storytelling.   It brought you Spark Video: the app that helped you engage with your users, inspire them and motivate them through customized animated videos. They used to “tell” your story and therefore to pull your users into the world you created for them and to get your message conveyed to them far more easily.   Such powerful visual aimed at adding meaning and triggering emotions!   Now Adobe strikes again!   It announced on their blog a major update to Spark Video: enabling users to craft beautiful, powerful video clips (that will gradually replace the now “old” animated videos).   Say “Hello!” to a new era of video-storytelling!   Say “Hello!” to a new wave of traffic on your website and not just any type of traffic, but one made of loyal users, “seduced” by and committed to your brand thanks to "the power of video clips”.   Before we go on with the step-by-step guide on how you get to create video-clips in Spark Video, let's sum up, very briefly, what you've been able to create and to share with this app up to now (when it got seriously upgraded):   Animated videos featuring: icons  text narration                                               In a nutshell: you've been able to breathe life into your animated videos by adding all the features specific to immersive, interactive visual storytelling.   Now here's how you can flesh out stunning video-clips that will help you “lure” new users, bond with your users, engage them and keep them engaged to your brand, using Spark Video:   1. Add Your Video Clips Faster Than You Say “Spark”   Adding a new video clip is nothing but a sequence of two quick steps:              1. you first add a slide to your Spark Video projects               2. you browse through the video collection on your device and pick your target one   A way too tempting feature: as compared to “standard” video editors, using Spark Video you get to cut your video into a series of slides varying in duration times.     2. Make a New Point Over The Same Video Clip   How? Nice and easy: you simply click on the “continue” button and select a new slide, then you coat it with your visually-pleasing icon, with your compelling text and with narration and it's now that you can adjust the volume, too.   3. Trim It To Your Liking    Get the most out of Spark Video's one-touch trimming feature for customizing precisely those points where your video clip starts and ends.   4. Breathe Life Into Your Video Clip With Narration    It's now easier than ever to add voices to your video project: just tap on the record button and start telling your story to your audience. Next, with another quick tap you get to align the narration's length to the video's length.   Can you already predict your brighter future as Toronto web designer who's been “slaving away” to constantly come up with interactive and engaging web design? A type of design that should “tell” a meaningful story, one that should trigger emotions in the audience?   5. Craft The Desired Mood Through Music   “What possibly could be so engaging about a video clip with no music?” your users might ask themselves.    Therefore, add the background music, too, the one that will help you craft the right mood for your video's watchers.   How? Quick and easy: add either your preferred track saved on your device or pick one of the app's suggestions!   If you really want to go deeper with your video clip's customization through music, get this whole process even more refined: use Spark Video's mini-feature which allows you to highlight and therefore to draw your audience's attention to key moments of sound from your video clip.   Therefore, instead of getting overwhelmed by data forecasting VIDEO-s “dictatorship” in the digital world, you'd better embrace the future of the video: video clips!   Here's how this video-related data looks like now, at the end of 2016:   it's been proven that if you “upgrade” your landing page with a video your conversion rate will increase by 80% by 2019 video will represent up to 80% of global Internet traffic data proves that in just one month over 3 million small businesses shared a video on their Facebook accounts   So, how about taking the new Spark Video for a “test drive”?   Have some fun, try out all its new features and put together some sample videos clips so that you'll learn to master the upgraded Spark Video and to get the most out of its improved features by the time it becomes a huge trend in web design and development in 2017. ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Dec 22'2016
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Let me guess: your whole work as a developer (and even more so if you're a front end developer) depends on and relies on NPM, the "Holly Grail" of JavaScript package managers!   How about Facebook's own (not that) recently released package manager?   Has it even stirred your attention, just to see what new features it comes equipped with and how/if it can improve your whole workflow? Or have you stubbornly overlooked it, sticking to your way too familiar, already tested JavaScript package manager?   But what if it actually helps you handle your Javascript files much faster (thus gaining time, which is gold especially when you're dealing with huge web projects)? What if it is more secured? What if you discover that it's a much more simplified version of the standard "monopolizing" NPM?   If you're willing to continue to handle your Javascript frameworks, libraries or plugins in the same familiar pace, no need to continue digging up more info about what Yarn can do for you.   But if you're not too afraid to test and eventually embrace innovation and if you're constantly looking for breakthroughs that could help you get even more efficient in your work, well, then here's why should start using Facebook's Yarn today:   1. Catching Mode   Imagine this scenario: you're trying to install a package that you already installed once, in the past, and your internet connection goes down!   Here Yarn comes to your rescue: it practically catches the packages that it downloads and this features allows it to it handle previously installed packages without internet connection.   Could you have imagined this when you were using NMP?   2.  Secure and Faster Installs   Security is vital when you're deploying lots of packages during the development process of a big web project!   Stay reassured: Yarn inspects every package's integrity for you, keeping your project protected from any corrupt package that you might need to install.   As for speed (and this is no "small" detail when you need to install lots and lots of JS packages), Yarn becomes a serious competition for NPM: depending on the packages' sizes it can turn an install into a matter of just a few seconds.   3. Registry Compatibility   Need to download a package from the NPM repository? Or maybe from Bower or other custom repo?   Yarn "spoils" you with registry compatibility. So, feel free to install and boost your web project with whatever JavaScript package you need!   4. Deterministic Install Algorithm   Bid farewell to machine specific bugs!    For Yarn uses lock files, which allows it to keep the same node_modules directories structure; it practically installs the same dependencies regardless of the types of development environments (that's right,Yarn allows you to install them across multiple machines) that you're installing your JavaScript packages in or of the order in which you install them.   Just imagine: same structure (node_modules directories) for all the "participants" in a large project; close to zero bugs that would otherwise replicate on multiple machines.   5. Improved Network Performance    On a scale of 1 to 5 how frustrated do you get when your package's installation fails more than 2 or 3 times in a row?   Good news: Yarn will make the whole process stress-free. How? It queues up, mitigates and constantly retries the failed requests, thus reducing the no. of installation failures.   Does This Mean We're Witnessing The End of NPM?   No, we're not, for one major reason: open-source projects don't work that way.    The whole community behind it (bringing together Facebook, Google, Exponent and Tilde engineers) see themselves as NPM contributors instead of "annihilators".    In a nutshell: Yarn is the proof of how a piece of code written so that it should address secific work scenarios better than the generally-used and proven “tool” can turn into a competitive new tool that other teams of developers can deploy, as well.   Note: there still are improvements to be made (but we're talking about Facebook here, so expect the team behind it to work hard to continuously perfect it) and making Yarn capable to help you handle private packages (its main limitation at the moment) is on top of the list!   How can get started with Yarn? Well, it's available on GitHub, under a BSD-2-clause license. Go get it, test it and share your thoughts in the comments bellow! We're more than curious what are your impressions about the new Yarn vs the conventional NPM "competition" (for developers' preferences) are. Happy Yarning!   ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Dec 08'2016
Google’s Springboard: Main Reasons Why You’d Want to Use It
  Your very own digital assistant Google offers two new services for its enterprise customers, the most notable being Google Springboard – your very own digital assistant especially designed for enterprise companies which use Google’s services for business purposes. Springboard has been in testing with a small number of customers until now but it’s been finally released so you can enjoy more power at your fingertips. Google Springboard features a single search interface which uses artificial intelligence to gather and sort information from Google’s other products such as Google Docs, Calendar, Gmail, Google Drive and more. Prabhakar Raghavan, VP of Engineering for Google Apps states „the average knowledge worker [currently] spends the equivalent of one full day a week searching for and gathering information.” Apart from its improved search capabilities, Springboard also provides users with “useful and actionable information and recommendations” which they can use to solve tasks and assignments throughout their day. Google Sites gets better as well Google Sites also boasts a new design as well as a few interesting features. Google Sites is Google’s information portal used to house internal company information such as newsletters, reports and so on. Google Sites users can now use the improved drag and drop interface for easier use and editing can be done in real time by different parties. Google Sites also became friendlier towards different kinds of screen – now it can support any screen from a 30 inch monitor to a smart phone or laptop. Conclusions It will be interesting to see the users’ reaction to these new apps. It remains to be seen if Google’s Springboard can fully replace a personal assistant, but I guess we’ll see the answer to that in the future – Google plans to expand and improve Springboard with more useful features.       ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 14'2016
Microsoft Detects Cancer Clues in Search Queries
Microsoft scientists have demonstrated that by analyzing large samples of search engine queries they may in some cases be able to identify internet users who are suffering from pancreatic cancer, even before they have received a diagnosis of the disease. The scientists said they hoped their work could lead to early detection of cancer. “We asked ourselves, ‘If we heard the whispers of people online, would it provide strong evidence or a clue that something’s going on?’” Dr. Horvitz said. The researchers focused on searches conducted on Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, that indicated someone had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. From there, they worked backward, looking for earlier queries that could have shown that the Bing user was experiencing symptoms before the diagnosis. Those early searches, they believe, can be warning flags. While five-year survival rates for pancreatic cancer are extremely low, early detection of the disease can prolong life in a very small percentage of cases. The study suggests that early screening can increase the five-year survival rate of pancreatic patients to 5 to 7 percent, from just 3 percent. The researchers reported that they could identify from 5 to 15 percent of pancreatic cases with false positive rates of as low as one in 100,000. The researchers noted that false positives could lead to raised medical costs or create significant anxiety for people who later found out they were not sick. The data used by the researchers was anonymized, meaning it did not carry identifying markers like a user name, so the individuals conducting the searches could not be contacted. A logical next step would be to figure out what to do with that search information. One possibility would be some sort of health service where users could allow their searches to be collected, allowing scientists to monitor for questions that indicate warning flag symptoms. “The question, ‘What might we do? Might there be a Cortana for health some day?’” said Dr. Horvitz, in a reference to the company’s speech-oriented online personal assistant software service. Although the researchers declined to offer specific details, Dr. White is now the chief technology officer of health intelligence in a recently created Health & Wellness division at Microsoft. They acknowledged that health-related data generated from web search histories was still new territory for the medical profession. “I think the mainstream medical literature has been resistant to these kinds of studies and this kind of data,” Dr. Horvitz said. “We’re hoping that this stimulates quite a bit of interesting conversation.” The new research is based on the ability of the Microsoft team to accurately distinguish between web searches that are casual or based on anxiety and those that are genuine searches for specific medical symptoms by people who are experiencing them, he noted. Both a computer scientist and a medical doctor by training, Dr. Horvitz said he had been exploring this area in part because of a phone conversation with a close friend who had described symptoms. Based on their conversation, Dr. Horvitz advised him to contact his doctor. He received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and died several months later. The availability of vast sets of behavior data based on individual web queries using the search engines offered by companies like Google and Microsoft has for a number of years been seen as a potential indicator of health-related information. In 2009, Google published a research paper that explored the potential of early detection of flu epidemics based on statistical analysis of web search logs, though the results of that effort ultimately fell short of what had been hoped. More recently, Microsoft researchers have had significant success in finding early evidence of adverse drug reactions from patterns observed in web logs. In 2013, they detected unreported side effects of prescription drugs before they were found by the Food and Drug Administration’s warning system. The researchers are exploring evidence related to a range of devastating diseases. They also said that unlike the drug interaction data, which would be of direct value to the F.D.A. as an early alert, it was possible that symptom alert data might be made available as part of a broader online health service that a company like Microsoft might offer. Source: http://www.nytimes.com ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 10'2016
Introducing Google’s New Layout: A Rich Cards-Based One
Card based design is growing more and more popular and now Google wants to get in on the action as well. Google wants to switch its mobile search results to a new design called „rich cards”. The new design is a direct successor to Google’s already popular rich snippets feature. But the makeover doesn’t stop there – Google’s planning to redesign desktop search results with a completely new layout. Google Search Gets a Makeover Rich snippets are search results composed from a preview of the page’s text as well as small pictures. Google doesn’t intend to replace rich snippets but only complement and build on them in order to improve user experience.   Rich cards will be displayed in a carousel format which is easy to navigate by simply swiping right or left. The carousel can show cards from different sites or the same site.   Webmasters are excited about Google’s makeover since it allows them to stand out in the search results and market their products more effectively. This new design based on rich cards can also improve organic traffic in some cases. Currently, Google is implementing the new layout for just two content categories: movies and recipes. Content Categories Based on Visuals Will Experience The Change First  These two content categories are perfect for this change – the visual nature of these categories will increase organic traffic for websites. Food site owners can create rich previews of their website’s content by featuring appealing images for each dish or recipe. The same applies to movie sites with graphics and posters. The main difference between the original snippets and Google’s upgraded rich card snippets is simply the number of images which webmasters can features. Rich snippets were released 6 years ago and could feature just one image in search results. Nowadays webmasters will be able to feature a series of images with the carousel system.   Before you go mobile to check out Google’s new layout keep in mind that right now only people using the English mobile version of Google can see the rich cards layout. The new layout will also experience multiple changes and improvements as Google is experimenting with new ways of providing richer previews in their search results and it’s only a matter of time before other types of content will benefit from rich card snippets. Google Webmaster Tools Gets Upgraded Google also offers integration with the Google Search Console, also known as Google Webmaster Tools – site owners will be able to see data related to their rich cards. This will help them monitor search performance more closely. If you want to check out how the rich cards work in Search just head on to Google’s Search Gallery and see screenshots of mark-up type samples and cards.   Another interesting change is Google’s Knowledge Graph – this is the system that collects information about people, things and places in order to understand how they are all connected. Knowledge Graph cards will be placed inline, effectively prioritizing them over competing website. This leads to a more cleaner and simplified look for Google’s search results.   The new desktop search design has practical features as well – now users have to scroll down to see more results – Knowledge Graph cards for locations can take up a lot of space. Here is the list of changes for Desktop Search Results: Wider tabs for News, Images and All tabs Sub-links will show up under the main result, in a group with the same cards Stories from the „in the news” list will appear in the same card The „people also search for” list will show up at the bottom of the search results page and not in the sidebar Google’s new experimental layout will surely help site owners get noticed much easier in mobile search results and receive more organic traffic. It’s likely that the carrousels will replace written text more and more and the movement towards rich, image-based snippets as opposed to simple text content is obvious. ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 09'2016