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Value privacy? DuckDuckGo is the answer to breaking up with Google

(TECHNOLOGY) DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn’t listen to home recordings, sell you stuff, or track your every movement. They just provide search results.

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DuckDuckGo search engine

A recent Wired editorial caught our eye, urging folks to consider using DuckDuckGo instead of Google. As someone who does use DuckDuckGo as my default search engine, it made me smile.

In the modern world of telecommunications, the only real currency is trust. When you buy an iPhone or an Android, you’re not really buying a set of features. You’re buying assurance that the cell phone company you’ve chosen isn’t going to screw you over too badly. You have a device in your pocket that tracks you, everywhere you go.

Even when you have location services off, your smartphone knows where you are through a combination of the Wi-Fi networks nearby and your phone’s motion sensor. Here’s an article from nearly a decade ago talking about how this process is 90% accurate. How much better do you reckon it’s gotten since then?

The thing is, Apple and Google both kinda suck at the privacy thing. Here’s an article about Siri recordings being made when Siri isn’t meant to be turned on, and the quality assurance contractors who then have to listen to people having sex. (Apple is ending the contractor program, after a public outcry.) Here’s an article about a big ol’ leak of Google Home recordings, many of which were made without the user activating Google Home. Here’s an article about Amazon leaking 1,700 audio recordings from someone’s Alexa to a complete stranger!

So your phone companies don’t really protect you that well. Apps take advantage of this too. If you still have the FB app, you should probably delete it! Here’s a story about a psychiatrist realizing that Facebook was suggesting that her patients add each other!

So privacy matters, and Google sucks at it. Google is also a HUGE business. It’s an enormous company that wields so much influence on ours lives that there is an entire industry now called “search engine optimization” dedicated to unraveling its whims.

And what whims! One major update a few weeks ago caused a 30-40% drop in traffic for some websites. These updates are pretty opaque, and a whole constellation of websites has arisen to help the search engine optimization workers (or SEOs, for short) untangle what those updates mean, and why their traffic has suddenly gone down.

And at this point, Google only kinda wants to serve you results. Mostly they wanna serve you ads, and highly-optimized shopping results. One of the big problems facing SEO workers right now is that you can bust your ass to get a company to the front page of results, and it may not matter if you don’t crack the top 3. Because people do most of their Internetting on their phones now, and ads take up most of the screen space when someone Googles.

So Google isn’t great at privacy AND their priorities are skewed. But this is an article about DuckDuckGo, right? And we’ve barely covered it! So let’s talk about that a little.

DuckDuckGo doesn’t save your searches. It forgets everything you search. And you know what? That feels incredible. There are drawbacks. When I type the letter L into DuckDuckGo, it doesn’t immediately suggest “Leonard Bernstein shirtless” like Google does. But the ten seconds it takes to type that out is worth the knowledge that my data isn’t being stored by my search engine.

And yes, Google pours a ton of money and attention into their algorithms, and they’ve got a years-long head start on DuckDuckGo. But usually, DuckDuckGo still manages to get me exactly what I want. Sometimes, it’s even better at giving me what I want. Because it’s not serving me ads, or trying to second-guess me. It just…gives me the thing I asked for.

There are still some instances that send me to Google. If I’m looking for a specific image or gif, for instance. Or if I’m looking for a certain news story. And there are certain niche searches where Google’s experience is necessary. But for the vast majority of what I need, DuckDuckGo is there, serving up only what I want and protecting my privacy while it does. And it feels GREAT.

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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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