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Monthly Archives: October 2018

New Jobs Added to the PPC Hero Job Board

October 28, 2018 No Comments

Over 20 new jobs have been added to PPC Hero’s Job Board since launching it next week. Get a brief look at the jobs posted.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Twitter suspends accounts linked to mail bomb suspect

October 27, 2018 No Comments

At least two Twitter accounts linked to the man suspected of sending explosive devices to more than a dozen prominent Democrats were suspended on Friday afternoon.

Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, was apprehended by federal law enforcement officers in Florida on Friday morning. “Though we’re still analyzing the devices in our laboratory, these are not hoax devices,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said during a press briefing.

Facebook moved fairly quickly to suspend Sayoc’s account on the platform, though two Twitter accounts that appeared to belong to Sayoc remained online and accessible until around 2:30 p.m. Pacific. Both accounts featured numerous tweets, many of which contained far-right political conspiracy theories, graphic images and specific threats.

TechCrunch was able to review the accounts extensively before they were removed. Both known accounts, @hardrockintlet and @hardrock2016, contained many tweets that appeared to threaten violence against perceived political enemies, including Keith Ellison and Joe Biden, an intended recipient of an explosive device.

In one case, those threats had been previously reported to Twitter. Democratic commentator Rochelle Ritchie tweeted that she reported a tweet from @hardrock2016 following her appearance on Fox News. According to a screenshot, Twitter received the report and on October 11 responded that it found “no violation of the Twitter rules against abusive behavior.”

The tweet stated “We will see u 4 sure. Hug your loved ones real close every time you leave home” accompanied by a photo of Ritchie, a screenshot of a news story about a body found in the Everglades and the tarot card representing death.

Update: Twitter issued an apology for not dealing with Ritchie’s initial report.

Between the two accounts linked to Sayoc, many of the threats were depicted with graphic images in sequence. In one tweet on September 18 to former Vice President Joe Biden, the account tweeted images of an air boat, a symbol depicting an hourglass with a scythe and graphic images of a decapitated goat.

Threatening messages that emerge out of a sequence of images would likely be more difficult for machine learning moderation tools to parse, though any human content moderator would have no trouble extracting their meaning. In most cases the threatening images were paired with a verbal threat. At least one archive of a Twitter account linked to Sayoc remains online.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Twitter stated only that “This is an ongoing law enforcement investigation. We do not have a comment.” The company indicated that the accounts were suspended for violating Twitter’s rules, though did not specify which.


Social – TechCrunch


Twitter suspends accounts linked to mail bomb suspect

October 27, 2018 No Comments

At least two Twitter accounts linked to the man suspected of sending explosive devices to more than a dozen prominent Democrats were suspended on Friday afternoon.

Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, was apprehended by federal law enforcement officers in Florida on Friday morning. “Though we’re still analyzing the devices in our laboratory, these are not hoax devices,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said during a press briefing.

Facebook moved fairly quickly to suspend Sayoc’s account on the platform, though two Twitter accounts that appeared to belong to Sayoc remained online and accessible until around 2:30 p.m. Pacific. Both accounts featured numerous tweets, many of which contained far-right political conspiracy theories, graphic images and specific threats.

TechCrunch was able to review the accounts extensively before they were removed. Both known accounts, @hardrockintlet and @hardrock2016, contained many tweets that appeared to threaten violence against perceived political enemies, including Keith Ellison and Joe Biden, an intended recipient of an explosive device.

In one case, those threats had been previously reported to Twitter. Democratic commentator Rochelle Ritchie tweeted that she reported a tweet from @hardrock2016 following her appearance on Fox News. According to a screenshot, Twitter received the report and on October 11 responded that it found “no violation of the Twitter rules against abusive behavior.”

The tweet stated “We will see u 4 sure. Hug your loved ones real close every time you leave home” accompanied by a photo of Ritchie, a screenshot of a news story about a body found in the Everglades and the tarot card representing death.

Update: Twitter issued an apology for not dealing with Ritchie’s initial report.

Between the two accounts linked to Sayoc, many of the threats were depicted with graphic images in sequence. In one tweet on September 18 to former Vice President Joe Biden, the account tweeted images of an air boat, a symbol depicting an hourglass with a scythe and graphic images of a decapitated goat.

Threatening messages that emerge out of a sequence of images would likely be more difficult for machine learning moderation tools to parse, though any human content moderator would have no trouble extracting their meaning. In most cases the threatening images were paired with a verbal threat. At least one archive of a Twitter account linked to Sayoc remains online.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Twitter stated only that “This is an ongoing law enforcement investigation. We do not have a comment.” The company indicated that the accounts were suspended for violating Twitter’s rules, though did not specify which.


Social – TechCrunch


Expedia acquires Pillow and ApartmentJet to conquer the short-term rental market

October 27, 2018 No Comments

To keep up with the rising demand for short-term rentals in U.S. cities and compete with the home-sharing giant Airbnb, travel booking site Expedia has picked up a pair of venture-backed hospitality startups, Pillow and ApartmentJet.

Employees of both companies will join Expedia . The company declined to disclose the financial terms of the deals.

“Acquiring Pillow and ApartmentJet will help unlock urban growth opportunities that, over time, will contribute to HomeAway’s ability to add an even broader selection of accommodations to its marketplace and marketplaces across Expedia Group brands, ensuring travelers always find the perfect place to stay,” the company explained in a statement.

Expedia paid $ 3.9 billion for HomeAway and its portfolio of travel brands in 2015. The deal was its first major move in the alternative accommodations space, as well as the beginning of a series of efforts to outdo VC darling Airbnb. Its latest targets provide software tools for property managers to easily manage short-term rentals on Airbnb competitors like HomeAway and VRBO.

Located in San Francisco, Pillow helps residents list their apartments as short-term rentals without violating their leases. It’s raised a total of $ 16.5 million in VC backing since 2013, including a $ 13.5 million round last year led by Mayfield, with participation from Sterling.VC, Peak Capital Partners, Expansion VC, Chris Anderson, Gary Vaynerchuk, Dennis Phelps and Veritas Investments.

ApartmentJet helps property owners earn money off vacancies. Founded in 2016, the Chicago-headquartered startup had raised a reported $ 1.2 million in capital from Network Ventures and BlueTree.

Bellevue-based Expedia Group owns several travel brands, including HomeAway, VRBO, Travelocity, trivago, Orbitz and Hotels.com. The company is both an active investor in and acquirer of startups.

Expedia’s shares rose 9.4 percent Thursday after its third-quarter earnings beat analyst expectations. The company posted $ 3.28 billion in revenue, a notable increase from last year’s $ 2.97 billion.


Startups – TechCrunch


Expedia acquires Pillow and ApartmentJet to conquer the short-term rental market

October 27, 2018 No Comments

To keep up with the rising demand for short-term rentals in U.S. cities and compete with the home-sharing giant Airbnb, travel booking site Expedia has picked up a pair of venture-backed hospitality startups, Pillow and ApartmentJet.

Employees of both companies will join Expedia . The company declined to disclose the financial terms of the deals.

“Acquiring Pillow and ApartmentJet will help unlock urban growth opportunities that, over time, will contribute to HomeAway’s ability to add an even broader selection of accommodations to its marketplace and marketplaces across Expedia Group brands, ensuring travelers always find the perfect place to stay,” the company explained in a statement.

Expedia paid $ 3.9 billion for HomeAway and its portfolio of travel brands in 2015. The deal was its first major move in the alternative accommodations space, as well as the beginning of a series of efforts to outdo VC darling Airbnb. Its latest targets provide software tools for property managers to easily manage short-term rentals on Airbnb competitors like HomeAway and VRBO.

Located in San Francisco, Pillow helps residents list their apartments as short-term rentals without violating their leases. It’s raised a total of $ 16.5 million in VC backing since 2013, including a $ 13.5 million round last year led by Mayfield, with participation from Sterling.VC, Peak Capital Partners, Expansion VC, Chris Anderson, Gary Vaynerchuk, Dennis Phelps and Veritas Investments.

ApartmentJet helps property owners earn money off vacancies. Founded in 2016, the Chicago-headquartered startup had raised a reported $ 1.2 million in capital from Network Ventures and BlueTree.

Bellevue-based Expedia Group owns several travel brands, including HomeAway, VRBO, Travelocity, trivago, Orbitz and Hotels.com. The company is both an active investor in and acquirer of startups.

Expedia’s shares rose 9.4 percent Thursday after its third-quarter earnings beat analyst expectations. The company posted $ 3.28 billion in revenue, a notable increase from last year’s $ 2.97 billion.


Startups – TechCrunch


Microsoft has no problem taking the $10B JEDI cloud contract if it wins

October 27, 2018 No Comments

The Pentagon’s $ 10 billion JEDI cloud contract bidding process has drawn a lot of attention. Earlier this month, Google withdrew, claiming ethical considerations. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos responded in an interview at Wired25 that he thinks that it’s a mistake for big tech companies to turn their back on the U.S. military. Microsoft president Brad Smith agrees.

In a blog post today, he made clear that Microsoft intends to be a bidder in government/military contracts, even if some Microsoft employees have a problem with it. While acknowledging the ethical considerations of today’s most advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, and the ways they could be abused, he explicitly stated that Microsoft will continue to work with the government and the military.

“First, we believe in the strong defense of the United States and we want the people who defend it to have access to the nation’s best technology, including from Microsoft,” Smith wrote in the blog post.

To that end, the company wants to win that JEDI cloud contract, something it has acknowledged from the start, even while criticizing the winner-take-all nature of the deal. In the blog post, Smith cited the JEDI contract as an example of the company’s desire to work closely with the U.S. government.

“Recently Microsoft bid on an important defense project. It’s the DOD’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud project – or “JEDI” – which will re-engineer the Defense Department’s end-to-end IT infrastructure, from the Pentagon to field-level support of the country’s servicemen and women. The contract has not been awarded but it’s an example of the kind of work we are committed to doing,” he wrote.

He went on, much like Bezos, to wrap his company’s philosophy in patriotic rhetoric, rather than about winning lucrative contracts. “We want the people of this country and especially the people who serve this country to know that we at Microsoft have their backs. They will have access to the best technology that we create,” Smith wrote.

Microsoft president Brad Smith. Photo: Riccardo Savi/Getty Images

Throughout the piece, Smith continued to walk a fine line between patriotic duty to support the U.S. military, while carefully conceding that there will be different opinions in a large and diverse company population (some of whom aren’t U.S. citizens). Ultimately, he believes that it’s critical that tech companies be included in the conversation when the government uses advanced technologies.

“But we can’t expect these new developments to be addressed wisely if the people in the tech sector who know the most about technology withdraw from the conversation,” Smith wrote.

Like Bezos, he made it clear that the company leadership is going to continue to pursue contracts like JEDI, whether it’s out of a sense of duty or economic practicality or a little of both — whether employees agree or not.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Microsoft has no problem taking the $10B JEDI cloud contract if it wins

October 27, 2018 No Comments

The Pentagon’s $ 10 billion JEDI cloud contract bidding process has drawn a lot of attention. Earlier this month, Google withdrew, claiming ethical considerations. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos responded in an interview at Wired25 that he thinks that it’s a mistake for big tech companies to turn their back on the U.S. military. Microsoft president Brad Smith agrees.

In a blog post today, he made clear that Microsoft intends to be a bidder in government/military contracts, even if some Microsoft employees have a problem with it. While acknowledging the ethical considerations of today’s most advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, and the ways they could be abused, he explicitly stated that Microsoft will continue to work with the government and the military.

“First, we believe in the strong defense of the United States and we want the people who defend it to have access to the nation’s best technology, including from Microsoft,” Smith wrote in the blog post.

To that end, the company wants to win that JEDI cloud contract, something it has acknowledged from the start, even while criticizing the winner-take-all nature of the deal. In the blog post, Smith cited the JEDI contract as an example of the company’s desire to work closely with the U.S. government.

“Recently Microsoft bid on an important defense project. It’s the DOD’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud project – or “JEDI” – which will re-engineer the Defense Department’s end-to-end IT infrastructure, from the Pentagon to field-level support of the country’s servicemen and women. The contract has not been awarded but it’s an example of the kind of work we are committed to doing,” he wrote.

He went on, much like Bezos, to wrap his company’s philosophy in patriotic rhetoric, rather than about winning lucrative contracts. “We want the people of this country and especially the people who serve this country to know that we at Microsoft have their backs. They will have access to the best technology that we create,” Smith wrote.

Microsoft president Brad Smith. Photo: Riccardo Savi/Getty Images

Throughout the piece, Smith continued to walk a fine line between patriotic duty to support the U.S. military, while carefully conceding that there will be different opinions in a large and diverse company population (some of whom aren’t U.S. citizens). Ultimately, he believes that it’s critical that tech companies be included in the conversation when the government uses advanced technologies.

“But we can’t expect these new developments to be addressed wisely if the people in the tech sector who know the most about technology withdraw from the conversation,” Smith wrote.

Like Bezos, he made it clear that the company leadership is going to continue to pursue contracts like JEDI, whether it’s out of a sense of duty or economic practicality or a little of both — whether employees agree or not.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


10 fun facts (and a typo) from the original Google paper by Larry and Sergey

October 27, 2018 No Comments

Yesterday while I was having a blast reading “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine,” I happened across some fun facts.

We got into some of the more technical goods from the paper yesterday, but figured these would also be an worthwhile — or at least more enjoyable — read. Friday and all.

1. “Wow, you looked at a lot of pages from my web site. How did you like it?” – people encountering a crawler for the first time

They note that they received almost daily emails from people either concerned about copyright issues or asking if they liked the site after looking at it. For many people with web pages, this was one of the first crawlers they had seen.

“It turns out that running a crawler which connects to more than half a million servers, and generates tens of millions of log entries generates a fair amount of email and phone calls. Because of the vast number of people coming on line, there are always those who do not know what a crawler is, because this is the first one they have seen. Almost daily, we receive an email something like, “Wow, you looked at a lot of pages from my web site. How did you like it?” There are also some people who do not know about the robots exclusion protocol, and think their page should be protected from indexing by a statement like, “This page is copyrighted and should not be indexed.”

More innocent times.

2. A billion web documents predicted by 2000

“It is foreseeable that by the year 2000, a comprehensive index of the Web will contain over a billion documents. . . The goal of our system is to address many of the problems, both in quality and scalability, introduced by scaling search engine technology to such extraordinary numbers.”

Now in 2018, there are reportedly 130 trillion documents on the web — an extraordinary number indeed. And sure enough, their search has scaled to meet it.

3. Google took up 55 GB of storage

“The total of all the data used by the search engine requires a comparable amount of storage, about 55 GB.”

Now, Google is 2 billion lines of code. As noted by one of their engineering managers in 2016, the repository contains 86TB of data.

4. “People are still only willing to look at the first few tens of results.”

Please note: “tens.”

They write about the need for more precision in search. Remember the days when people regularly clicked past page 1?

5. Percentage of .com domains: from 1.5 to 60, to now 46.5

They note how “commercialized” the web was already becoming, leaving search engine technology “to be largely a black art and to be advertising oriented.”

“The Web has also become increasingly commercial over time. In 1993, 1.5% of web servers were on .com domains. This number grew to over 60% in 1997.”

According to Statistica, the number of .com domains is down to 46.5% as of May 2018.

“With Google,” they wrote, “we have a strong goal to push more development and understanding into the academic realm.”

6. “There are two types of hits: fancy hits and plain hits”

After going into some technical detail about optimized compact encoding, they reveal that they’ve their complex compact encoding preparations are categorized simply — endearingly — into fancy and plain.

7. Already defending user experience in anticipating search

From the start, it seems Brin and Page fought for users to not need to excessively specify their queries in order to get desired information. They wrote:

“Some argue that on the web, users should specify more accurately what they want and add more words to their query. We disagree vehemently with this position. If a user issues a query like “Bill Clinton” they should get reasonable results since there is a enormous amount of high quality information available on this topic. Given examples like these, we believe that the standard information retrieval work needs to be extended to deal effectively with the web.”

It’s interesting that this was so clearly in their thinking from the beginning. At last week’s Search Summit, Googler Juan Felipe Rincon said, “The future of search is no search, because search implies uncertainty. Instead, it will be about how you populate something before someone knows what they don’t know.”

8. There was a typo

In the second paragraph of section 3.2, they write “Couple this flexibility to publish anything with the enormous influence of search engines to route traffic and companies which deliberately manipulating search engines for profit become a serious problem.”

Did you catch it? The verb should be, “companies which are deliberately manipulating search engines become” or “companies which deliberately manipulate search engines become.” Of the utmost gravity, we know.

Just goes to show that even if an incomplete verb phrase won’t keep you from doing some pretty cool stuff in the world. And of course, that even the best of us need editors.

9. Search Engine Watch shout out

We tweeted this yesterday, but felt the need to share again for extra emphasis. Our very own Search Engine Watch was cited in the paper, stating that top search engines claimed to index 100 million web documents as of November 1997. Been a fun 21 years.

10: They chose these photos

Happy Friday, everyone.

Search Engine Watch


Google Maps takes on Facebook Pages with new ‘Follow’ feature for tracking businesses

October 25, 2018 No Comments

Google Maps has been steadily rolling out new features to make its app more than just a way to find places and navigate to them. In recent months, it’s added things like group trip planningmusic controls, commuter tools, ETA sharing, personalized recommendations, and more. Now, it’s introducing a new way for users to follow their favorite businesses, as well – like restaurants, bars, or stores, for example – in order to stay on top of their news and updates.

If that sounds a lot like Google Maps’ own version of Facebook Pages, you’re right.

Explains the company, once you tap the new “follow” to track a business, you’ll then be able to see news from those places like their upcoming events, their offers, and other updates right in the “For You” tab on Google Maps.

Events, deals and photo-filled posts designed to encourage foot traffic? That definitely sounds like a Facebook Page competitor aimed at the brick-and-mortar crowd.

Businesses can also use the Google Maps platform to start reaching potential customers before they open to the public, Google notes.

After building a Business Profile using Google My Business which includes their opening date, the business will then be surfaced in users’ searches on mobile web and in the app, up to three months before their opening.

This profile will display the opening date in orange just below the business name, and users can save the business to one of their lists, if they choose. Users can also view all the other usual business information, like address, phone, website and photos.

The new “follow” feature will be accessible to the over 150 million places already on Google Maps, as well as the millions of users who are seeking them out.

The feature has been spotted in the wild for some time before Google’s official announcement this week, and is rolling out over the next few weeks, initially on Android.

The “For You” tab is currently available in limited markets, with more countries coming soon, says Google.


Social – TechCrunch


Google Maps takes on Facebook Pages with new ‘Follow’ feature for tracking businesses

October 25, 2018 No Comments

Google Maps has been steadily rolling out new features to make its app more than just a way to find places and navigate to them. In recent months, it’s added things like group trip planningmusic controls, commuter tools, ETA sharing, personalized recommendations, and more. Now, it’s introducing a new way for users to follow their favorite businesses, as well – like restaurants, bars, or stores, for example – in order to stay on top of their news and updates.

If that sounds a lot like Google Maps’ own version of Facebook Pages, you’re right.

Explains the company, once you tap the new “follow” to track a business, you’ll then be able to see news from those places like their upcoming events, their offers, and other updates right in the “For You” tab on Google Maps.

Events, deals and photo-filled posts designed to encourage foot traffic? That definitely sounds like a Facebook Page competitor aimed at the brick-and-mortar crowd.

Businesses can also use the Google Maps platform to start reaching potential customers before they open to the public, Google notes.

After building a Business Profile using Google My Business which includes their opening date, the business will then be surfaced in users’ searches on mobile web and in the app, up to three months before their opening.

This profile will display the opening date in orange just below the business name, and users can save the business to one of their lists, if they choose. Users can also view all the other usual business information, like address, phone, website and photos.

The new “follow” feature will be accessible to the over 150 million places already on Google Maps, as well as the millions of users who are seeking them out.

The feature has been spotted in the wild for some time before Google’s official announcement this week, and is rolling out over the next few weeks, initially on Android.

The “For You” tab is currently available in limited markets, with more countries coming soon, says Google.


Social – TechCrunch


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