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Emoji ladened tweets are not accessible to the blind; let’s fix this.

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Emoji have created a funny inventive way to communicate in modern times, but they may be unintentionally excluding blind people.

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If you can't read this you are now in the same situation as the blind trying to read an emoji tweet

Blind blogger Holly Scott-Gardner went viral in mid November when she tweeted out a video of her screen reader struggling to make sense of an emoji-laden meme tweet. The meme form features an all-caps message in the center of a sea of emoji hands. The hands encompass the full spectrum of skin tones and surround the message on all sides, as though a crowd of people are all gesturing towards it for emphasis.

It takes Scott-Gardner’s screen reader a full two minutes to read the tweet, which consists solely of the words “STOP CENSORING SEX-POSITIVE CONTENT.” The majority of the video consists of her screen reader rattling off emoji, row by row from left to right, at blazing speed. Not only is the description of the tweet useless, it’s also a little terrifying to imagine how long it would take the reader to describe the tweet in a normal speaking speed.

Scott-Gardner gamely fielded questions from people, including “how is there not some kind of alt-text option for tweets?” Her answer is that there is one. (You can turn it on here and start writing alt-text for your own tweets.) However, it only works for images, not for memes made out of emoji.

Of course, she can turn off the emoji, but as linguists Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch point out, emoji are gestural, not symbolic. They hold a key part in modern written language. Since it’s impossible to read body language and facial expressions across the digital divide, emoji have come to take their place. They’re crucial to understanding context and tone.

Scott-Gardner followed up with a second video showing what ASCII art sounds like on a screen reader, and it was similarly incomprehensible. (She did her audience the favor of slowing the screen reader down a bit for the follow-up.)

It goes without saying that Internet access is a necessity to meaningfully participate in modern society, and questions of accessibility are more important than ever if the Internet truly is going to be the democratizing force it was heralded as when it first came along.

Domino’s Pizza recently made headlines when they argued in court that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn’t apply to digital spaces. Guillermo Robles, a blind California resident, sued the company for violating the ADA when neither their app nor their website were accessible to his screen reader.

Rather than spend the $38,000 they estimated were necessary to make the changes, they decided to appeal the decision all the way to the Supreme Court. (The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, letting Domino’s loss in a lower court stand.

You may know that website accessibility principles like alt text help your SEO. You hopefully know that having an accessible online presence is important from a “basic human decency” perspective. But in addition to those things, it’s also a huge liability issue that companies would do well to make sure they’re addressing. If you need a place to start, the UK Government has a handy primer on the basics of accessible web design.

And if you’re interested in hearing more from Holly Scott-Gardner, she keeps her writings and her Working Blind podcast at her website.

Staff Writer, Garrett Steele is your friend. He writes lyrics, critique, and copy for ads, schools, health organizations, and more. He’s also a composer for film and video games, when he’s lucky. (One of his songs is an Xbox achievement!)

Real Estate Technology

Copper makes CRM integration even easier with G-Suite partnership

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Newer CRM touts ability to work from within G-Suite 100% of the time. Now, there’s no need to leave your inbox to view your CRM tool.

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CRM solution from Copper

Finding a working CRM (Customer Relationship Management Software) for Gmail is no small feat. Sure, there are options, but do any of them really integrate 100% with G-Suite? Not really, and that’s why Copper, G-Suite’s newest partner in crime, is taking a stab at being G-Suite’s dedicated CRM.

Now, we’ve spoken about CRMs before, like Top Producer CRM, which, in 2013, bragged about its integration with Google Drive. But from what we know, Copper is totally different in that it’s less expensive, has far better reviews, and offers 24/7 support.

Furthermore, what also makes Copper different is that it was created with efficiency in mind. They wanted to remove the negatives of average CRMs, like data entry, administrative hassles, and a generally clunky interface. Their focus is in a positive user-experience, which totally makes sense because hey, if a CRM isn’t easy to use, what sales person in their right mind would want to use it?

I’ve written about some of my experiences with startups before. More often than not, they tend to jump the gun and start with something vastly too complex, like Salesforce. Don’t get me wrong; Salesforce is an amazing tool, but the majority of startups really don’t need something so complicated.

With Copper, your CRM is connected directly to Gmail. As a matter of fact, Google recommends them officially, according to a report by Small Biz Trends. Because of this, Copper touts the ability to do almost everything within Gmail directly, including the ability to update statuses and add sales pipeline “next steps”. It also syncs all your contacts, tasks, and events to your Google Calendar. Plus, with the integration, you’ll get notified when a customer opens your emails.

The CRM also connects directly with Google Drive, offering the ability to use products like Google Sheets with ease.

Kira Lenke is the Vice President of Marketing for Copper. According to Small Biz Trends, she says “At Copper, our focus is on collaboration and ease-of-use. We’re not trying to impose another desktop that users have to work from and learn how to use. Instead, we’re meeting people in a tool they’re already familiar with — G Suite. Placing Copper alongside the collaboration tools people already know and love allows for it to work seamlessly in the background, requiring almost no onboarding. Copper doesn’t demand any heavy administration and will even send reminders to you when it’s time to follow up with a prospect or customer. This gives small business owners time back to focus on what they do best — running their business and delivering exceptional customer experiences.”

And just in case you’re looking for a CRM that cares about the future of their product, and not just the profit it can obtain from customers, you’re in luck. As of this week, the company has hired a brand new Vice President of Product, Wyndham Hudson. According to their press release, “In this role, he will lead the product and design teams, as well as set the product strategy and direction for the company.”

Copper’s CEO, Dennis Fois, also added that “Wyndham’s experience of bringing products to market and scaling a startup globally will be invaluable as we look to elevate our SMB customers to the next level in 2020 and beyond.”

Copper’s target market is SMBs (small to mid-size businesses), so if you’re looking for a pretty healthy looking toolset that lives within your Gmail account, look no further – Copper may be right for you.

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Real Estate Technology

AI can now transcribe podcasts better than people can #robopocalypse

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) AI can do yet another thing better and faster than people, transcribe podcasts. But hey it helps those are disadvantaged so that step forward for good AI!

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podcast transcribe by AI

As we’ve said before, practically everyone is throwing their hat into the podcasting realm. And, there’s a podcast for virtually anything you can imagine (from cool music podcasts, to one all about The West Wing, to one about conversations with spirits – and, with this, I’ve let you know a lot about myself in a little amount of space).

As such, more tools are being developed to help podcasters with their project. Recently, we’ve seen many tools that help market a podcast. Now, with the use of our good friend AI, podcasters can transcribe their recordings in minutes (around 12 to be exact).

Podcast Transcribe allows a user to upload the recording of their podcast (in MP3, WAV, FLAC, or MP4) and then AI works its magic to transcribe everything (for just $5 per podcast). Their purpose with this tool is to make podcasts more accessible to everyone – including those who are hard of hearing. Additionally, transcriptions can be useful to students as quoted text is helpful with research. Another element this can be useful with is video podcasts and the ability to create more accurate subtitles to include before uploading.

The website boasts the transcriptions of over 2,700 podcasts, over 1,365 hours of audio, and 213 Beatles songs (because, no matter the capability of a tool, The Beatles are always relevant). They then break the process down a bit further and explain the following steps to successfully transcribe a podcast.

First, download the audio file of your podcast. Second, make sure the file is under 100MB because the platform cannot support anything more at the current time. Third, an advanced mode is available if transcribing podcasts in a language other than English. Fourth, enter your email address to receive the transcribed file. Fifth, find something to do for 12 minutes while the tool transcribes the file.

The number of podcasts you can transcribe is infinite, and is priced per podcast rather than a subscription fee like most other tools. The price is certainly the driving force for this tool, as AI is not always one hundred percent accurate, and a human transcription tool like Rev is likely to be more on point.

Are you willing to try AI for your transcription needs?

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Real Estate Technology

AI can now identify who you are based on your unique typing style #yikes

(TECH) New tech means new security measures and abilities, this AI can recognize and identify individuals based on their typing style and speed.

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typing on a laptop

So I’m not the world’s fastest or most accurate typist, but apparently new tech can identify even me, along with anyone else with 99-99.9% accuracy by analyzing their typing style.

TypingDNA has created an AI system for recognizing and identifying people by their typing styles, using what they call typing biometrics. This is simply noting the timing of how quickly or slowly an individual presses the keys on their keyboard.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s actually tech that’s around 20 years old but until more advanced AI technology progressed, it was too inaccurate. Now though, they can tout a huge accuracy score because of the improvement of modern technology.

The creation of this type of software can be, and is, used to add extra layers of security for banks, payment apps, and even for educational institutions. It’s easy to see the draw of additional safety for banks, but the integration of AI into the school systems is actually pretty inventive. It’s mostly being used to verify that what writing assignments students are turning in are actually their own work and is not plagiarized.

This tech isn’t limited to desktops and laptops, it’s also available for mobile use, which relies on the typing as well as other built-in phone security features. The API is open to be used by anyone with the hopes of developers finding new creative uses for the system, so it’s no surprise that TypingDNA wants their tech out there and in the hands of others who can contribute.

Of course, with any cool, new technology, there’s always the possibility for flaws. For instance, security cameras like Xiaomi have recently been reported to stream photos from an owner’s own device to a neighbor’s Google Home. This obviously concerns consumers about security.

Any new software can have the potential to be exploited by those who want your information, and even with security measures in place, if they’re determined, they’re certain to find a back door. And because this tech is also used in financial institutions, it’s possible your money could be at risk. It’s also being used in online security for banking, to prove that the person entering the login and password are truly the owner of the account.

But what if you’re elderly? What if you have a disabling injury or disease that affects the use of your hands? Or, what if you get a new keyboard and it slows you down? Are these types of things going to affect access to your own information and how the institution views you?

Does anyone else remember key loggers, and how users felt their privacy was being breached? Could users feel the same way about this AI? I think so! Cynical minds like mine may agree that this AI is just another way for every part of our lives to be broken down into data points that are analyzed, tracked, and sold to the highest bidder and I, for one, am against it.

Finally, a question that comes to mind in relation to proper identification of individuals is “is there is a speed limit?” My wife, for example, has a typing speed of 200 WPM (words per minute) – sometimes more. At this point, it becomes increasingly difficult to identify anyone based on their keystrokes because of the pace. Can the system actually differentiate between someone who types 200 WPM and someone who types 201 WPM? It seems to me that this technology just may not be ready for the applications it’s touting.

Regardless though, this technology just goes to show that humans are incredibly inventive, creative, and possibly invasive.

I think this is amazing technology but maybe hunt and peck is the best way to type if you’re nervous about your data. Sure, it’s slow… very slow… OK, really slow, but if it’ll protect your data, who cares if it takes 12 hours to write a paragraph?

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