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280 Slides presentation app to finally shut down services next month

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Adios, 280 Slides

Usually, when any startup hints at discontinuing a service, tech bloggers are all over it, even when a company is acquired and everyone anticipates the transition, but 280 Slides has announced the discontinuance of their app – no one has made a peep. When it launched several years ago, it was described as a tool that “enables anyone with a web browser to quickly and easily create beautiful presentations. 280 Slides takes advantage of the web by making it trivial to find and include great media in your presentation. We also built in advanced features like importing and exporting PowerPoint documents, so your data is always portable.”

It has been the presentation darling of web users for years 280 North, the company that developed 280 Slides was acquired in 2010 by Motorola for $20 million after $250,000 in seed money from Y-Combinator and various angel investors. They were acquired for their creation of “Cappuccino,” a highly praised programming language and set of frames used to create rich web applications similarly to creating desktop apps for MacOSX.

280 North created a programming language and set of frameworks collectively known as Cappuccino that can be used to create rich web applications in the same way you’d create desktop applications for MacOS X. A Motorola spokesperson told TechCrunch.com last year, “The transaction provides Motorola with specialized web-app engineering talent and technology that will help facilitate the continued expansion of Motorola’s application ecosystem. We believe 280 North will be instrumental in helping us continue to foster the Android ecosystem with innovative web-based technologies and applications.”

The well respected ArsTechnica blog wrote three years ago, “280 Slides is a very impressive presentation app that looks and works very similar to Apple’s critically-acclaimed Keynote. Anyone familiar with Keynote or the ubiquitous PowerPoint can easily create a well-designed presentation with nothing but a web browser. Though Slides lacks some of the features of other web-based presentation apps, it tends to favor simplicity and elegance and is still highly serviceable for most needs. The app also runs smoothly and seamlessly. On Mac OS X, it’s easy to forget that it’s running in a browser and not directly on the desktop.”

But no more. They’re finally shutting it down.

Visitors to 280Slides.com are greeted with the following note:

“Thank you for participating in our 280 Slides beta program, and your evaluation of our 280 Slides software application. On December 21, 2011 we will be discontinuing this 280 Slides beta program. Please save your presentations created in 280 Slides using the “Download” button to enable you to access your content after 280 Slides is discontinued on December 21, 2011.

We thank you again for your participation in this beta program.”

It is unclear how Motorola will use the technology or incorporate it into their offering, but it is likely that Cappuccino is the primary target of all parties involved, not this one-off app. As of next month, 280 Slides groupies will have to find an alternative.

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Instagram makes IGTV videos more accessible with automatic closed captions

(SOCIAL MEDIA) This new feature for Instagram opens avenues for viewers who don’t or can’t use audio on IGTV videos, creating more accessibility for all.

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Instagram live being recorded will now feature auto captions.

In an effort to expand accessibility efforts, IGTV videos on Instagram will now include an auto captions option. While its parent company, Facebook, has included auto captions on uploaded videos since 2017, this new-for-Instagram feature is expected to widen audience viewership and increase potential viewing by those who prefer watching sans-audio.

In a statement by Facebook, the company states: “While there is no shortage of information, not everyone can access it. It needs to be available to the hundreds of millions of people in the world who are deaf or hard of hearing. According to the World Health Organization, over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – have disabling hearing loss, and that is projected to increase to over 900 million by 2050.”

Current events have made the need for auto captions even more critical for inclusion. “The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in both the supply and demand of public health information. Several local and state governments, that were accustomed to holding live press conferences but didn’t have the resources, staff or technology to record, stream, and caption their live events, turned to Facebook Live. Several governments also discovered that video captioning was not just a nice-to-have, but imperative, especially in the absence of available sign language interpreters,” states the company.

Currently, Facebook provides auto captions for videos in 16 languages and has announced that Instagram’s IGTV will have access to the same features. The caption accuracy is determined by the video’s audio quality, although AI technology is constantly improving in both precision and speed.

Additionally, branded content ads are likely to see an increase in consumer interaction. Recently published data by Facebook shows ads visually designed for watching with the sound off have 48% more relevance to viewers and a 42% higher purchase intent. As auto captions normalize across social media, users can expect ad content to utilize this feature to the fullest.

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New tool organizes your Reddit feed (and makes it actually usable)

(Social Media) Reddit’s UI hasn’t always been super intuitive. ‘Deck for Reddit’ organizes your feed into themed columns, making it way more user-friendly.

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Deck for Reddit on display on laptop on desk.

Love it or hate it, the mass collection of forums on Reddit have some form of content for everyone. The simple UX design places content straight down the middle of the screen and the infinite scrolling feature allows you to view a limitless amount of content from cute puppy images to cringe-worthy videos. However, its simplicity isn’t very practical, and is something that I think should be voted down.

Yes, Reddit has come a long way from its previous text-heavy form, but there is still a lot to improve on. Charles Yang, a frustrated Reddit user, has created a web app that could change all that: Deck for Reddit, a desktop optimized, alternative way to browse your favorite forums.

“I built it to show as much content as possible at a glance, while respecting your screen real-estate,” writes Yang.

Currently, the web app is in open beta. With a very similar experience to Tweetdeck, this Reddit tool seems to hold some promise.

On the far left side of the website, there is a list of icons with all the subreddits you’ve subscribed to. Clicking on an icon will take you directly to that subreddit column. This is very convenient for users with a bunch of subscriptions. Additionally, by making several subreddits visible on the screen all at once, Yang succeeds in his goal of taking advantage of the vast empty white space that Reddit failed to use.

From this display, you can click on a post, and it instantly expands to show all the comments. Hit the back button, and the post collapses. Now, you are back to seeing all the posts related to that subreddit. And at the top of each subreddit, you can easily sort the content by what’s new, popular, and trendy. Engagement has never felt easier.

Along with everything else, this extension also adds another great feature in setting customizations. The theme can be switched from light to dark mode. Fonts, text size, and even the shape of the subreddit icons can all be adjusted. Preferences can be changed to hide viewed submissions and reduce animation motion. And if you’re slacking off at work or want to chill, you can set it to hide NSFW content.

Overall, Deck for Reddit makes the user experience smooth sailing, and it truly makes Reddit the “front page of the internet.”

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Instagram now lets you create and share fundraisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) If you’ve been wanting to start a fundraiser for something you care about, Instagram’s new feature lets you do just that. Go check it out!

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Instagram Fundraiser

Instagram announced last week that it has launched a test for a Personal Fundraiser tool on its platform. The feature will allow users to start their own fundraiser if it complies with guidelines or choose an existing cause to support. The launch began in some US, UK, and Ireland markets and is available on Android and iOS.

In its announcement, the company confirmed that since January, more than $100 million has been raised for COVID-19 across Facebook and Instagram (also owned by Facebook), citing that donations on Instagram have doubled in the US in the past 30 days. The announcement said, “from people raising money to buy medical equipment for Black Lives Matter protesters, rebuilding Black-owned small businesses affected by COVID-19 and funding educational resources related to racial justice, people are eager to mobilize around causes they care about.”

Personal Fundraisers are short-term and meant to serve time-sensitive causes, with the initial duration lasting 30 days with the option to extend for an additional 30 days. Users must be 18 to create a fundraiser and have a designated bank account in which funds can be deposited. Donations will be processed through Facebook Pay, which also powers Instagram’s new shopping features. The platform covers fees for non-profits, but not for Personal Fundraisers. Donors can choose to keep their information hidden from the public, but organizers will be able to see user names and donation amounts.

To start a Personal Fundraiser, users with access to the feature can tap “Edit Profile”, “Add Fundraiser”, followed by “Raise Money”. They can then choose a photo, select the fundraiser category, and write out a story to encourage donations. When approved, users will be able to raise funds.

Instagram says it will expand the number of users who have access to this feature in the months ahead, as well as give users access to share fundraisers both in their Feed and within Stories. Fundraising features already offered by the company include Donation Stickers for Stories and a Live Donations feature for live streams.

This feature is similar to the fundraising feature already available on Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.

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