Blogging platforms are getting interesting
It seems like a new blogging platform is released everything month, but what sets one apart from another? Here is a look at a few of the most popular new releases and what makes one different from another. The overall theme of these new platforms: back to basics. They have stripped away all the overly intrusive features that keep you from doing what you need to do quickly and efficiently: write. Here are six of the most popular, new blogging platforms:
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SETT is a blogging platform centered on community, enabling new users to fin the right audience immediately and long-time bloggers can interact with higher quality commenters and contributors. SETT’s design is a bit fancier, a bit less basic, and a bit like WordPress. It has a top bar where you can track comments and private messages from other community members. From the first day you sign up with SETT, they begin referring readers to your site. It also has a word-matching system that will compare one post to another, so that if a particular reader likes one of your posts, it can recommend similar ones to them to keep them interested. Their site states, “blogs average 98% more comments after switching to SETT.” If your biggest obstacle in blogging is gaining an audience, or you just want to connect with other bloggers, SETT might be a good fit. There are four pricing levels for SETT, from free to $99/month. To see the features of each price level, click here.
However, if you are looking for a simpler way to blog, getting back to basics, if you will, the next five selections are perfect. Postagon boasts you can “blog simpler” with essential features, no fluff, and no worries. Postagon appears clean on all devices and offers fast and reliable posting with no app required. You can join in forty seconds and it is free. For $4.99 a month you receive no promoted content and the ability to run multiple blogs, but in all other aspects, the free version will get you all of the features Postagon has to offer. There is a visual and markdown editor, Google Analytics, RSS feeds, social sharing, and Retina display support. You can also add your own cover photos to personalize, or brand, your blogging environment. You can share your posts via email, Facebook. Tumblr, Twitter, Google, and Kindle. Postagon is very similar to Roon, in both layout and function.
Roon’s difference is in its interface. You have a blank canvas that fades away when you start to write. There are a few options for styling at the bottom, but for the most part, it is pretty simplistic. You will need to download the app, however, if you plan to use it on your mobile devices. Roon allows your blog to be content focused; while you can link to some social media sites, it is still your writing that takes center stage. For example, you can share a post, but you cannot comment directly. You can only comment via Twitter. It also uses Google Analytics, likes, a few more simple features. It is free, but there will be paid upgrades soon. Currently, there is no plan to show advertisements on your blog, which is incredibly nice, as you well know, if you blog. Settings however, are a bit limited. But this goes along with the getting back to basics theme. You can add a short bio, one link, and your Twitter username (for commenting) and that is pretty much it. Sign up is simple: enter your name, email, along with a chosen username and password and you are ready to start blogging.
Postach.io is “the easiest blog ever.” You can publish any thoughts you have already captured with Evernote. No need to know CMS, simply select a notebook, add a domain name, and then tag notes as published to share your content. If you are not currently using Evernote, you can sign up for an account through Postach.io. The best part is, you stay in control of your data. Since your content stays in your Evernote account, no migration to a haven is necessary. Themes were inspired by Tumblr and are as easy as creating a single HTML page with inline CSS, however, this does mean you will need to know a little something about CSS or you will not be able to customize your Postach.io account. They offer you a little bit of help doing this here. They also offer Google Analytics, disqus commenting, and share buttons. And it is free as well. But, if you do not want to use/learn CSS, you may be better off trying another platform, although, once you try it, it is not too hard to learn.
And perhaps the simplest of all: Ghost. Ghost is built by John O’Nolan, who worked for two years as the deputy head of WordPress’ interface team, but wanting to bring blogging back to basics, Ghost was created. You may remember Marti Trewe at AG Beat, bringing you the story about Ghost in May. Ghost is simply a blogging platform with a beautiful dashboard that shows you everything about your blog, in one place. It has a split screen writing function where Markdown is on the left and active preview is on the right. You can also drag and drop images to your post and they will appear exactly where you dropped it in your final post. Adding tags is simple and easy, just click at the bottom and add what you need. It is optimized for all mobile devices. as well. Ghost is based on three principles: Ghost is built for users; Ghost is completely free, no restrictions on content, plugins, or conferencing ability); and Ghost is being made for love and not profit. The last principle is especially important because it impacted how the software was designed. O’Nolan states, “do we want to make millions and sell to Facebook, or do we want to make something that’s genuinely good and serves its users, not investors and shareholders.” They opted with the latter, as Ghost will be set up as a not-for-profit organization. This platform gives writers the tools they need to push blogging and journalism into the next level with a level of simplicity that allows you to simply write, with nothing in between you and your words. Ghost has yet to launch, their site says it will be launched at the end of the Summer, but if it is anything like what they have planned, it could prove to be quite the contender in the blogging platform arena.
AG Beat told you how to back up your data when Posterous was acquired by Twitter after being touted as a simple blogging platform. One of its signature features was that it let you post to your blog from any email account or mobile device, so prolific bloggers could add new content all the time, quickly and easily. And this is what current blogging platforms are seeking to recapture in one way or another. Basic, quick, easy publication of your content. If you really miss Posterous, Posthaven, made by Posterous co-founder, Garry Tan, is available for $5/month. But, Tan has promised this site will never shut down, although I believe Twitter made the same promise when they acquired Posterous.
Since WordPress has made a move towards web sites and content management, it is refreshing to see there are new platforms emerging to offer some competition and avenues to get back to the basics of just blogging without a plethora of bells and whistles.
The paradox of CAPTCHAs: Too smart for humans vs AI?
(TECH NEWS) AI is catching up to our cybersecurity technology and often tricking humans too — so what’s next for CAPTCHAs and the internet?
We’ve all encountered it before: The occasional robot test that feels impossible to beat. If you’ve felt like these tests, also known as CAPTCHAs, have gotten harder in the last couple of years, you aren’t wrong—and the reason is as ironic as it is baffling.
Simply put, AI are just as good as—and often better than—humans at completing CAPTCHAs in their classic format. As machine learning and AI become more advanced, the fundamental human attributes that make consistent CAPTCHA formats possible become less impactful, raising the question of how to determine the difference between AI and humans in the future.
The biggest barrier to universal CAPTCHA doctrine is purely cultural. Humans may share experiences across the board, but such experiences are typically basic enough to fall victim to the same machine learning which has rendered lower-level CAPTCHAs moot. Adding a cultural component to CAPTCHAs could prevent AI from bypassing them, but it also might prevent some humans from understanding the objective.
Therein lies the root of the CAPTCHA paradox. Humans are far more diverse than any one test can possibly account for, and what they do have in common is also shared by—you guessed it—AI. To create a truly AI-proof test would be to alienate a notable portion of human users by virtue of lived experience. The irony is palpable, but one can only imagine the sheer frustration developers are going through in attempting to address this problem.
But all isn’t lost. While litmus tests such as determining the number of traffic cones in a plaza or checking off squares with bicycles (but not unicycles, you fool) may be beatable by machines, some experts posit that “human entropy” is almost impossible to mimic—and, thus, a viable solution to the CAPTCHA paradox.
“A real human being doesn’t have very good control over their own motor functions, and so they can’t move the mouse the same way more than once over multiple interactions,” says Shuman Ghosemajumder, a former click fraud expert from Google. While AI could attempt to feign this same level of “entropy”, the odds of a successful attempt appear low.
Move over, Clubhouse: Slack adds their own audio chat rooms
(TECH NEWS) Slack planning to co-opt Clubhouse’s synchronous audio rooms has lead to mixed response. Did it really need to be done?
Slack is adding a synchronous audio chat room feature similar to what Clubhouse already has. While not everyone is happy about it, the addition is true to Slack’s ongoing form—if a little redundant.
Slack’s audio rooms would work similarly to Clubhouse’s current feature of the same persuasion. The rooms themselves would be ongoing for as long as they were open, and users would be able to drop in and out of calls at their leisure, even joining the conversation when permitted by the host or settings. In theory, it’s a cool way to round out Slack’s platform and make for yet another way for people to engage during the work day.
But not everyone is stoked about the addition. Pocketnow’s Nadeem Sarwar makes a strong point about the redundancy of adding a Clubhouse feature to the already-packed Slack deck: “…from a regular remote worker’s perspective, I’d rather use services such as Telegram, Discord, or Google Meet that we’ve grown accustomed to using for jumping into a group call with my teammates.”
“…[T]he need for audio chatrooms to get in a chaotic chat with colleagues, with whom you already chat over work and share memes five days a week, doesn’t make much sense,” he adds.
Sarwar also references research about remote meeting fatigue from Stanford and The Washington Post, positing that—since video conferences are already played out at this point—adding another quasi-conference option to Slack doesn’t serve much of a purpose.
He isn’t wrong. There are multitudinous conference options on the market now, many of which are free. One could argue that Slack, having marketed itself as a text-first communication hub, has no business entering the audio chat landscape.
That argument falls on its face when you consider Slack’s model—something both Sawar and the Slack CEO himself mention—involves “stealing” and implementing “good ideas” from others in order to make their own platform as comprehensive as possible. If one is able to use Slack for the majority of tasks that Google, Discord, and Clubhouse offer, that makes the platform a lot more attractive to users who are on the fence.
And, perhaps more importantly, it ensures that current users won’t migrate to a comparable platform in the future—especially if their colleagues are making the same choice.
It’s a smart move for Slack, especially given Clubhouse’s lack of Android support at this time—something Clubhouse has said probably still won’t launch for a couple of months.
The Clubhouse team, for their part, continues to add new features in efforts to maintain the platform’s upward mobility. One such feature is the option for paid subscriptions to content creators, allowing for people to monetize their presence on the platform. At the time of this writing, Clubhouse is valued at around $1 billion.
An industry first: IBM launches quantum developer certification program
(TECH NEWS) Developers with quantum computing skills can now prove they’ve mastered the subject with IBM’s first-ever Quantum Developer Certification.
Last week, IBM announced its first-ever developer certification for programming quantum computers, which is also the quantum industry’s first.
“Our team is extremely proud to be able to offer the first-ever quantum developer certification,” a company blog post read. “We hope its availability will provide a valuable learning path for developers and stakeholders looking to prepare themselves for quantum computing in the future.”
The IBM Quantum Developer Certification focuses on IBM’s software tools, specifically Qiskit, their open-source software development kit for quantum computing. Launched in 2017, Qiskit already has over 600,000 installs. And, it’s being used by developers to develop apps, improve code, and participate in hackathons and summer schools.
While the Quantum Developer Certification is the only quantum certification IBM offers now, it won’t be the last. IBM says it is “the first of several in a series of certifications.” This is part of the company’s quantum development roadmap to build a “diverse, global, cloud-based ecosystem of developers who can bring quantum computing skills to their own communities and industries.”
Offered through the Pearson VUE platform, the Quantum Developer Certification exam is 60 questions long. The exam will test a developer’s competency in the fundamentals of quantum computing concepts. Also, it will examine if a person can use Qiskit SDK from the Python programming language to “create and execute quantum computing programs on IBM quantum computers and simulators.”
This certification is exciting for the quantum community because it will officially demonstrate a person’s mastery of quantum computing. And, for the most part, I think most of us can agree that certifying your skills looks good on resumes, and it shows employers you’re serious about your career. However, getting one can be costly. Currently, IBM doesn’t have any scholarships in place, but they say they are working on rolling one out to those who are interested in getting certified.
Along with the certification, IBM is also supporting educators to prepare the future quantum workforce. They are giving educators access to IBM Quantum tools through their Quantum Educators Program and semester-long quantum computing course, Introduction to Quantum Computing and Quantum Hardware, and its free Qiskit digital textbook.
According to a report, quantum computing is predicted to become a $65 billion industry by 2030, and IBM wants to help companies “get their workforce quantum ready” for when it does.
“With our IBM Quantum Developer Certification, IBM Quantum is offering a path for people with all development backgrounds to earn a certification in programming with Qiskit, allowing them to leverage their quantum coding skills into a potential opportunity in this exciting new workforce,” the company blog post read.
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