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Sad but true | Computerworld

Suburban high school wants to set up a tip line that students can text to if they are depressed or stressed out, or if they are concerned about another student who might be. So this pilot fish is asked to find an app that will connect the students with professionals who can help them, while keeping the students’ identities completely anonymous.

She narrows the choice to several apps and runs them by the assistant principal for his OK.

His problem with the options: None gives him the phone number of the person initiating the contact. Fish tells him that providing that information isn’t consistent with saying that submissions are anonymous. But he insists: He wants to follow up with each student.

Fish notes that word will quickly spread that the tip line isn’t really anonymous, rendering it pretty useless.

Now the choice seems to be between useless tip line and no tip line at all. No tip line wins the day.

Sharky wants your tips — your true tales of IT life, that is. Send them to me at [email protected]. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Popular design news of the week: January 20, 2020 – January 26, 2020

Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers. 

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

Note that this is only a very small selection of the links that were posted, so don’t miss out and subscribe to our newsletter and follow the site daily for all the news.


Nototo – A Virtual Memory Palace of your Notes


Startup Colors – Killer Color Combos for your Internet Startup


The New Landing Page is to Have no Landing Page at all


Futuristic Patterns in Graphic Design


65 Best Creative Instagram Accounts for Design Inspiration


Improve your Sign-Up Form with Off-White Text Fields


PHP in 2020


OpenStudio – All-In-One Business Management Software


The Burnout List


My Favorite UX Research Mistake


My Personal Website – From Zero to Hero in 5 Years


The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Sleeping Positions on a Plane


UX Design Process: A Simple (but Complete) Guide


Google Releases 3 New Experimental Apps to Help Cut Down your Phone Usage


7 Requirements of a Holistic Design System


Isotope · Filter and Sort Magical Layouts


Movie Poster — Figma Plugin


10 Practical Principles for Designing Better Experiences


An ‘Ultimate Guide’ to ‘Tab Hoarding’


Why Design Systems Fail and How to Make Them Work in 2020


How to Design Emails that People will Actually Read


How to Build a Design System in Abstract


LinkedIn for Freelancers and Small Business Owners


Radiohead Launches Digital ‘public Library’ of the Band’s Archive


How to Kill a Startup Idea with Google Keyword Planner and AdWords: A Case Study


Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News.

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Google and Microsoft have gone too far

Google is an advertising company. And advertising revenue is always under siege — from competitors, regulators and market forces.

Today, around 70 percent of Google’s revenue comes from advertising, according to a “featured snippet” on Google Search.

Meanwhile, shareholders expect solid growth. But how do you achieve that with a fickle and fragile business like online advertising. One approach is to resort to dirty tricks.

Google redesigned the look of desktop Search so that ads look like organic results. The typography and placement is the same. And the new look places favicons next to legitimate search results, and a small “ad” icon next to advertising that looks like another favicon. The design is a clear example of “dark pattern” design created to change the user’s behavior in a way that benefits Google at your expense.

This aggressive and unethical change no doubt aims to keep Google on top in online advertising market share, where the company currently enjoys 36.2 percent share.

Google wants to keep you on Google

Google’s latest moves appear to be based on a growing reluctance to send users to other sites, where other companies can make money on those users.

In a move against Pinterest, Facebook and Reddit, Google resurrected the “Collections” idea from its dead social network, Google+, and placed it into Search. (Collections was a Pinterest-like feature of the social network that enabled users to “pin” items of interest on their social profiles. The move is part of Google’s social strategy of “baking” Google+ features into other properties, which I detailed last month in this space.)

Unlike the Collections on Google+, the new Collections feature of Google Search on the mobile app now uses AI pixie dust to help you choose items to “pin” based on your search history. Collections replaces the “recent searches” tab. And, of course, you can share your collections and invite them to participate.

And in a clear move against Amazon, Google also recently promoted Google Shopping results to the main search results page. Even some product reviews will now be visible from the search results page.

Now about half of all searches are served on Google properties, inside knowledge panels, YouTube and so on. Google clearly intends to grow that percentage.

Not all of Google’s recent moves have been objectionable. Google has an outstanding search engine that came out of beta and also went mobile this week. It’s called Dataset Search, and it’s designed for researchers but anyone can benefit from it. Dataset Search, which launched in September 2018, gives access to 25 million datasets owned by thousands of data repositories from libraries, publishers and others. It’s also great for journalism or doing research for enterprise technology purchases.

Still, revenue growth, apparently, will now be driven by Google tricking users into clicking on ads and providing alternatives to external destinations on the Google Search results page.

Maybe Bing is better?

Microsoft parties like it’s 1999

And by “parties” I mean “engages in browser hijacking.”

Microsoft plans to force a change in the default browser from Google Search to its own Bing search engine for PCs running Office 365 ProPlus during that product’s twice-yearly upgrade. The browser-hijacking policy, which is effected with a Chrome extension, goes into effect next month and begins with version 2002 and in the nations of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, the U.K. and the U.S.

ProPlus comes with Office 365 Enterprise E3, Office 365 Enterprise E5 and other versions of Office designed for large organizations.

It’s not a bug; it’s a feature, according to Microsoft. The purpose of the policy is to enable Microsoft Search, which searches Bing and the users’ PC at the same time. (One would think that the desktop-search integration would exist to incentivize voluntary adoption of Bing.)

The company said they’d switch the default search engine in Firefox later.

The extension won’t be installed if Bing is the current default, so the easiest way to avoid the change is to switch to Bing before the update, then switch it back after.

Both Google’s ad confusion policy and Microsoft’s browser-hijacking policy are unethical.

These bold changes are part of a larger shift apparent in the culture in general, including politics: People are overwhelmed with information and therefore aren’t really paying attention. Distraction is the opportunity.

Google can claim that it marked ads as ads, while knowing that most users won’t see the difference. Microsoft can claim that it gave explicit instructions for restoring Google Search as the default for users forcibly switched, while knowing that people generally accept default choices without taking the time to figure out how to reverse them.

I see Google’s and Microsoft’s latest moves as part of a wider “Ignorance Industrial Complex,” where the public’s distracted and overloaded minds are resources to be exploited for profit.

Maybe it’s time to switch to more ethical browsers? 

Google without Google

startpage privacy browser Startpage

Startpage doesn’t record your IP address, browser brand, operating system or search queries.

Startpage is one of the most interesting privacy search engines out there because it’s the only third-party search engine with access to the full Google search index.

Startpage isn’t new. It started out as Ixquick in 1998 and became the Dutch company Startpage B.V. in 2000 through acquisition and is currently a subsidiary of Privacy One Group. Interestingly, the service grew more privacy-focused gradually, especially in 2005.

Next to every search result is a link that says “Anonymous View.” Choosing that link opens the URL via proxy, which extends your privacy from the search engine to the sites you click on.

The search engine doesn’t record users’ IP addresses, browser brands, operating systems or search queries.

Bing without MIcrosoft

Verizon this week introduced a new privacy-centered search engine called OneSearch, which uses Bing’s search index but which promises no cookies, retargeting, personal profiling, sharing of user data with advertisers and no retention of search history. Verizon monetizes OneSearch with contextual advertising based exclusively on the current search terms.

OneSearch uses Microsoft’s Bing index.

Sounds good. But critics point out Verizon’s history of customer privacy violations, including user-tracking supercookies, selling users’ personal information and cooperation with NSA surveillance — not to mention lobbying Congress for the legal right to sell user data and violate net neutrality. Verizon: Can you hear me now?

Here are 10 great privacy-oriented search alternatives:

  1. DuckDuckGo
  2. Search Encrypt
  3. Swisscows
  4. Gibiru
  5. Yippy
  6. Bitclave
  7. Oscobo
  8. Discrete Search
  9. Qwant
  10. Startpage

(The EU recently forced Google to add DuckDuckGo as one of the default search engines available to European users of Android.)

Something is wrong with search

The bottom line is that something fundamental has changed in the world of search engines. It’s time for us and our organizations to re-think how and where we search.

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Get the January 2020 Patch Tuesday patches installed

This month has seen a whole lotta hand waving and sky-is-falling-caliber rhetoric, but the reality is much more prosaic. If you aren’t running a major network (and thus aren’t susceptible to the imminent problems with Remote Desktop Gateway, the Citrix network bugs or the whopping 334 patches in Oracle), there’s been little reason to install this month’s updates. 

Still, work on cracking the CurveBall CVE-2020-0601 security hole continues at a furious pace. Some security companies are using CurveBall to sell more product, but the free Microsoft Defender catches at least some afflicted programs; Firefox, Chrome and Edge won’t fall for it; and pre-Win10 versions of Windows (Seven Semper Fi!) have never been exposed.

With several working proof-of-concept routines readily available — but no attacks, and indeed no sign that a general attack is imminent — patching for CurveBall falls in the “abundance of caution” bucket. Since we’ve seen few weird problems with the January patches, now seems like a good time to get patched up.

As usual, Patch Lady Susan Bradley has a detailed analysis in her Patch Watch column with a full patch-by-patch reckoning in her Master Patch List (paywall; donation requested).

Here’s how to get your system updated the (relatively) safe way.

Make a full backup

Make a full system image backup before you install the latest patches.

There’s a non-zero chance that the patches — even the latest, greatest patches of patches of patches — will hose your machine. Best to have a backup that you can reinstall even if your machine refuses to boot. This, in addition to the usual need for System Restore points.

There are plenty of full-image backup products, including at least two good free ones: Macrium Reflect Free and EaseUS Todo Backup

Patch Win7, Win8.1 or associated servers

This is the last month we’ll see free Win7 patches — or so we’ve been promised. (I find it hard to believe that Microsoft won’t patch the Win7 Internet Explorer JScript security hole CVE-2020-0674, but Microsoft, eh?)

As for those of you Win7 holdouts worried about sprouting a black wallpaper due to the Win7 January “Stretch” bug, Microsoft now advises:

We are working on a resolution and will provide an update in an upcoming release for organizations who have purchased Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU).

Nice guys. 

Bottom line, for you Win7 folks: Do yourself a favor and change your wallpaper so it isn’t Stretched, before installing the buggy January patch. Follow Lawrence Abrams’s instructions on BleepingComputer.

Microsoft is blocking updates to Windows 7 and 8.1 on recent computers. If you are running Windows 7 or 8.1 on a PC that’s 24 months old or newer, follow the instructions in AKB 2000006 or @MrBrian’s summary of @radosuaf’s method to make sure you can use Windows Update to get updates applied.

For most Windows 7 and 8.1 users, I recommend following AKB 2000004: How to apply the Win7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollups. You should have one Windows patch, dated Jan. 14 (the Patch Tuesday patch). If you see a Monthly Rollup Preview, ignore it.

If you insist on manually installing Security-only patches for Win7 and Server 2008 (I call that the “Group B” approach on AskWoody), get the full list from @PKCano on the AskWoody site. If in doubt, ask questions on the site! It’s easy and free.

Realize that some or all of the expected patches for January may not show up or, if they do show up, may not be checked. DON’T CHECK any unchecked patches. Unless you’re very sure of yourself, DON’T GO LOOKING for additional patches. In particular, if you install the January Monthly Rollup, you won’t need (and probably won’t see) the concomitant patches for December. Don’t mess with Mother Microsoft.

If you see KB 4493132, the “Get Windows 10” nag patch, make sure it’s unchecked.

Watch out for driver updates — you’re far better off getting them from a manufacturer’s website.

After you’ve installed the latest Monthly Rollup, if you’re intent on minimizing Microsoft’s snooping, run through the steps in AKB 2000007: Turning off the worst Win7 and 8.1 snooping. If you want to thoroughly cut out the telemetry, see @abbodi86’s detailed instructions in AKB 2000012: How To Neutralize Telemetry and Sustain Windows 7 and 8.1 Monthly Rollup Model.

If you’re worried about Windows 7 hitting end-of-support, don’t be alarmed. The first missed security patch isn’t until next month. Besides, you have lots of alternatives, and not all of them involve Windows. We watch your options intently in the Seven Semper Fi series on AskWoody.

Patch Win10 and associated servers

If you’re running Win10 version 1803, 1809, Server 1809, Server 2019, or any earlier version of Windows 10, I urge you to upgrade to Win10 version 1903. (You can find your version by typing winver in the Search box in the lower left corner and pressing Enter.) There are detailed instructions in the article Why — and how — I’m moving Win10 production machines to version 1903.

Win10 1903 is far from perfect, but it seems to be relatively stable at this point. The one huge advantage to version 1903: It lets everybody pause updates with a few simple clicks. That feature has my vote for the most important (perhaps the only important) upgrade to Win10 in the past four years.

If you insist on using Win10 version 1809, go through the steps in All’s clear to install Microsoft’s November patches to get 1809 updated. If you’re on Win10 1909, I figure you’ve jumped the gun, but the following instructions will work.

If you’ve been following my usual advice — to click “Pause updates for 7 days” three times — your machine is probably waiting further instructions, displaying an “Updates paused” notice in the Windows Update pane (Start > Settings (the gear icon) > Update & Security > Windows Update). If you see that updates have been paused, click “Resume updates.” Windows will go out and install the January cumulative update, plus any other ancillary patches (for example, for .Net) that you require.

I’m very happy to say that clicking “Resume updates” will not automatically move you to Win10 version 1909. In order to move to the next version — which continues to suffer from bugs, most notably the File Explorer Search bug — you need to click a link that says, “Download and install now.” Don’t click it.

Once you’re updated and rebooted, pause updates for 28 days: Click Start > Settings > Update & Security. Click Windows Update on the left side, then click “Pause updates for 7 days.” Next, click on the newly revealed link, which says “Pause updates for 7 more days,” and click it again, and one last time, for a total of four clicks. That pauses all updates for 28 days, until Feb. 21. With a little luck that’ll be long enough for Microsoft to fix any bugs it introduces in February.

If you see an offer of an Optional update (screenshot), don’t click Download and install now. There’s a reason why Microsoft deems such patches “optional.”

1909 download and install now Woody Leonhard/IDG

February’s Patch Tuesday is on the 11th. That’ll be the first day Win7 users will miss a security update (unless they pay for it). Expect much hand wringing and clucking, but not many fireworks.

Thanks to the dozens of volunteers on AskWoody who contribute mightily, especially @sb, @PKCano, @abbodi86 and many others.

We’ve moved to MS-DEFCON 3 on the AskWoody Lounge.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Machine learning and AI in action | TECH(talk)


Artificial intelligence and machine learning are being used even more these days. Listen as InfoWorld’s Serdar Yegulalp and IDG TECHtalk hosts Juliet Beauchamp and Ken Mingis discuss how AI and ML are being used and answer viewers’ questions.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

How to supercharge Slack with ‘action’ apps

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What does it mean to be a human in a world of computing?

If you’re interested in learning about the history of the computer industry or even if you just want to figure out how to lead an enterprise technology company, then you should take a look.

The Computer History Museum

I think millions of computer users will have heard of the Computer History Museum, a world-class institution in Mountain View, California.

It’s a place in which you can learn everything about the history of the technologies which continue to transform the way humans interact with each other and with the world.

Being human in a computer world

“What does it mean to be a human in a world of computing?” asks Dan’l Lewin, President and CEO, Computer History Museum in the latest StoriesHere podcast.

Lewin worked with Steve Jobs at Apple after spending time running Sony’s Silicon Valley distribution; became a NeXT co-founder; joined upper management at Microsoft and more.

Now he’s working to make the museum a more interactive experience, “a programmable institution,” as he puts it.

Steve Jobs was motivated to use the 3.5-inch floppy disk having seen it at Sony, at which point Lewin was part of Apple’s 10-strong workforce.

Later, Jobs asked him to help him launch NeXT. “I spent a day with him and then quit my job the following week,” he said.

“At Apple, I got to work with the engineers who invented everything that we live with today.”

3 Silicon Valley tips for enterprise leaders

 I’ve listened to the podcast to pull out just a handful of ideas that should interest Apple and other technology users and anyone involved in management or enterprise IT.

You can (and should) hear the entire 45-minute transmission here.

Tip #1: Find the story

A senior Silicon Valley executive, Lewin led numerous negotiations as the tech industry grew. (He even managed to beat Steve Jobs in at least one deal).

He tells a story in which he claims one of the reasons Jobs eventually got fired was because he wanted to “blow up” the distribution deals (typically 15%/85% in favour of the distributor) that existed at the time.

Jobs still felt the same at NeXT, where Lewin had to figure out how to make a mutually good deal that gave Jobs the 50% revenue share he wanted without bankrupting Heidi Roizen, who was to be the distributor.

He looked at the royalties and how the revenue actually worked to find that in terms of profit after costs both parties could end up with a 50 percent share. He suggests that in this business deal, as in others, a little negotiation was all it took once the costs were properly analyzed. Sometimes both sides can win.

Tip #2: People matter most

There’s a tendency to see business as dependent on systems, distribution, management hierarchies, connections, but this doesn’t reflect the big picture. And the big picture is the little picture. Even in the tech industry, business is about people, Lewin stressed.

“When I was in college, I had a professor who focused on the topic as relationships between people. I never lost touch with the fact that business is made up of people, it’s about the person in the moment and what you need to do to make that work,” he said.

Another tendency is for organizations to become relatively flat.

Diversity makes businesses thrive, but many managers find it hard to look for people who are different than they are.

Lewin has a unique advantage here.

His father was a Marine with three Purple Hearts. This led Lewin’s father to become a professional wrestler at the beginning of broadcast TV. Lewin would go to work with his dad, which meant he became used to incredible diversity, and was able to engage with people at lots of different levels.

Diversity, and being familiar with it, helps businesses thrive – at least if Lewin’s success is your guide.

Tip #3: Peace is good for business

After NeXT, Lewin ran a series of start-ups (some failed, some didn’t), ending up working at Microsoft, where his challenge was to create peace with others in the industry following the famed anti-trust case against the company.

The sense of how the people in the groups worked with others in Silicon Valley was part of this. The links between Microsoft and the rest of the industry run deep.

“The PowerPoint team was an acquisition right at the beginning of Microsoft and were a bunch of ex-Apple staff,” Lewin says.

Much of the business of making peace with the industry was (once again) on politics, which means people.

Competition can be collegiate, and that focus means Microsoft is now seen as a good company to do business with, explains Lewin. It means the company can seek new business opportunities and continue to hire good people.

Where are we going in computing?

In a sense, Lewin’s future plans for the Computer History Museum may reflect what he sees as the future of the tech industry.

“We’re moving into a digital world where computing is ambient and life as we know it doesn’t exist without computing,” he explains.

Yet the museum has decades of history packed inside it, including extensive oral history recordings from some of the great and the good in the industry.

“The museum presents an interesting opportunity to unleash the historical artifacts of the past to present day technologies,” he explains.

“These cycles tend to take about 50 years. If you go back to the beginning of the microprocessor, or if you look at other cycles like the one from railroads to aerospace … we’re basically entering the next phase, from 1970 to 2020.

Where we are today, tech is everywhere, but people are now and always have been at the center of that.

But technology was never principally about hardware. It was about information technology, which is about communication. “Media and art are fundamental,” he says. “They matter from a cultural perspective.”

You can get some sense of how the history of computing will impact the future by visiting the Computer History Museum, which seems (just like Steve Jobs once said) to be deeply coalesced around the crossroads that exists between technology and the liberal arts.

The computer world is a people’s world, after all.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Prepare for entry-level to advanced CompTIA exams with this $89 bundle

Modern companies rely on capable IT professionals to manage their networks. However, the IT landscape is always evolving. If you want to stay up to date with the latest technologies and advance in your IT career, you need to earn certifications. CompTIA is one of the most popular certification vendors because it teaches you versatile, vendor-neutral skills, and you can learn them and prepare for CompTIA’s cert exams with this $89 bundle.

The Complete 2020 CompTIA Certification Training Bundle features 14 courses on CompTIA’s most popular certifications. If you have little to no IT experience, the first certifications you should aim for are A+, Network+, and Security+, which will endorse your knowledge in fundamental IT skills such as configuring operating systems, virtualization, and risk management. You’ll find 6 courses dedicated to these certifications alone. 

Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals of IT and have gained work experience, you can specialize in your career with advanced certifications. For example, if you’re interested in cloud computing and infrastructure, you can pursue the Linux+, Server+, and Cloud+ certifications. Alternatively, cybersecurity professionals should aim for PenTest+, CySA+, and CASP.

Earning an IT certification opens up countless career paths, and CompTIA offers the knowledge you need to pursue them. You can jumpstart your IT career with the Complete 2020 CompTIA Certification Training Bundle, which is on sale for $89, or 97% off.

Prices subject to change

You can’t beat free! Get $70+ worth of premium Mac apps for free today!


The Complete 2020 CompTIA Certification Training Bundle – $89

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Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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10 Best WordPress Plugins for Digital Marketing

Currently somewhere in the region of 34% of websites are built with WordPress, it’s the most utilized CMS (Content Management System) in the world. Part of that popularity stems from its underlying technologies—PHP and MySQL—which allows for dynamic content in posts, but also enables a rich ecosystem of plugins.

One of the trickiest aspects of launching a website is its digital marketing, and so naturally there are a plethora of WordPress plugins that aim to take care of this for you, from a simple helping hand, all the way to full automation. Today we’re going to roundup the 10 best WordPress plugins for digital marketing.


1. Hustle

Hustle is an excellent WordPress plugin for digital marketing. It includes a wide range of features aimed at boosting site visitors and audience. Also, some of its features are designed to make your site as aesthetically appealing as possible. Hustle comes with a set of widgets, slides, pop-ups, and shortcodes among others, This allows users to set up targeted ad campaigns and expand audience reach to generate more leads.

Furthermore, the plugin provides an avenue for swift social media sharing; digital marketers can easily share their sponsored posts (or ad posts) on notable social media platforms to generate leads and facilitate client conversion.


2. ThirstyAffiliates

ThirstyAffiliates is another essential plugin for digital marketing, and it’s a perfect tool for affiliate marketers. It serves as an extension for monitoring clicks on WP platforms. Put aptly, the plugin enables you to keep track of visitors on a WordPress site.

ThirstyAffiliates is mainly known for its link management functions, as well as its redirects and uncloaking features. These typically make your site marketable, attracting affiliate marketers and bloggers alike.


3. WooCommerce MailChimp

Did you know that you can integrate MailChimp with WooCommerce? WooCommerce MailChimp makes this possible. With this integrated plugin, you can easily optimize MailChimp for your online store.

The plugin allows you to set up MailChimp subscriptions for your clients, you can streamline your workflow and send those digital marketing campaigns to your customers without hassles. Also, you are provided with the opportunity to network or connect with interest groups and like minds, via the plugin’s “opt-in” options.


4. Click To Tweet

Click To Tweet is another interesting WordPress plugin for digital marketing. Basically, this plugin creates ad boxes tagged “Click To Tweet” in your WP posts. By clicking any of the boxes, a reader can easily share the blog content with his/her Twitter followers; making your post accessible to a larger audience.

Digital marketers operate mainly on social media; hence, this plugin provides a direct, one-click, avenue to export ad-posts to Twitter. Put aptly, your audience can conveniently share your blog posts on Twitter with ease.

Click-To-Tweet boxes come in various dimensions and sizes, depending on the content, type, and length of your post.


5. Envira Photo Gallery

Envira Photo Gallery is another WP plugin for marketers. It’s primarily designed to create photo galleries in WordPress, which is essential for digital marketing.

In marketing, a picture is generally more effective than a thousand-word article. Hence, as a marketer, this plugin offers you a seamless avenue to present pictures of your goods and/or services to prospective clients.

The plugin hosts a simple, yet powerful gallery builder, using a simple drag and drop function to upload photos to the gallery. Also, you can easily add metadata and links to your images/photos, to optimize search results.


6. WPForms

A typical marketer carries out market surveys at one point or another, which can be time-consuming. However, with the WPForms plugin in WordPress, you’re duly covered.

WPForms facilitates the creation of contact forms, newsletters, and other web forms. With WPForms, you can easily create web forms, in line with your needs and your target audience. So, if you’re a digital marketer looking to create forms for a market survey, user feedback/feedback report or price comparison/analysis, WPForms is an essential plugin for you.


7. Floating Social Media Icon

Just as its name implies, Floating Social Media Icon makes your social media icons float on your WordPress website.

Successful digital marketing is one with a formidable social media presence. Although WordPress is essential for creating marketing sites and curating captivating ad-posts, you still need a link to social media to reach your target audience. Hence, this tool offers a straight-forward avenue for exporting WordPress content to social media platforms. This is achieved by creating social media links, which are then floated in distinctive locations on your site.


8. OptinMonster

Another WordPress plugin that should be considered for digital marketing is OptinMonster. This fantastic WordPress plugin has a reputation for its lead generation features which allows you to capture email and boost sign-ups.

With OptinMonster, you can create and manage signup forms that can be added after content, slide-in forms, lightbox popups, inline, and even in the sidebar. OptinMonster also comes with Exit-Intent technology which allows you to convert visitors who are about to exit your website.


9. NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster

NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster is another useful WordPress plugin that is aimed at promoting posts from your WordPress site to your connected social media accounts.

SNAP (short for Social Networks Auto-Poster) is fully compatible with popular social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Telegram, Pinterest, and more.

Also, your blog posts—which are automatically shared on your social media—are 100% white labeled; you don’t have to worry about NextScripts SNAP from taking the credit.

This plugin is available in either a free or premium version. For the free version, users are limited to only 1 account per connected network e.g. you can only add 1 LinkedIn account, 1 Twitter account, etc., whereas the premium version is unlimited.


10. Sumo

Saving the best for last, Sumo is an easy-to-use comprehensive WordPress plugin ideal for digital marketers. With more than 35,000 business users, Sumo makes sales conversion easier, even for newbies.

Sumo can be utilized as an email marketing tool for growing your email list with timed popups. You can schedule email drips or marketing emails to communicate with your email list subscribers. Also, Sumo seamlessly integrates with WooCommerce – the WordPress ecommerce plugin. Hence, online store owners can reduce cart abandonment and increase order value by winning back customers.

If you are looking for a free suite of marketing tools for your upcoming WordPress design project, Sumo WordPress plugin might be all you need.


Featured image via Unsplash.

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Need-to-know | Computerworld

It’s Cold War days, and on his first day at a defense contractor, this pilot fish is taken to lunch by his new boss. Who has some advice upon leaving the campus: Remove your ID badge. He explained that foreign government agents were suspected of showing up in local restaurants and bars looking for employees of the contractor.

Three decades on, fish still follows the advice, though the Cold War is long over. And he has extended it to another sphere: He never wears conference badges outside the venue. He calls them “Mug-me” tags.

Send Sharky your true tales of IT life — no ID required — at [email protected]. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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10 ways Android and Windows 10 can work well together

If you regularly use a Windows 10 PC and an Android phone or tablet, there are several Android apps you can install that can seamlessly link the flow of information between the two. For instance, you can start a quick note on your phone, then finish it later on your Windows 10 PC, or you can receive the same alert on both devices for an appointment.

The following Windows 10-friendly Android apps are all from Microsoft — and all free. To get the kind of interoperability described above, you need to be signed into each of the apps on your Android device with the same Microsoft online account you use to sign into your Windows 10 computer.

1. Cortana: Sync reminders between your Windows PC and Android device

The Cortana app for Android lets you create reminders that will sync with, and send notifications to, your Windows 10 PC. To set a reminder in the Cortana app for Android, tap the three-dot icon on the upper-right of the app’s main screen, tap Reminders, tap “Remember to…” on the next screen, and enter a name for your reminder to the right of the circle icon.

Then you can tap “Set a time” to set the time when you want to be sent a notification for this reminder. You can also enter a destination (by tapping “Set a place”) that will trigger the notification when you physically arrive at that location with your phone, or add an image to the reminder (“Add a photo”).

android win10 01 cortana reminder IDG

Reminders set in the Cortana Android app (left) will appear on your Windows 10 PC, including in the Start menu (right).

Once set, this reminder will sync with your Windows 10 PC; for example, if you have the Calendar app pinned as a live tile on the Start menu, the reminder will appear on the Calendar app’s tile. And when you click the time/date icon on the notification area of Windows 10, the reminder will appear listed on a side panel below a calendar.

And, yes, this works in reverse: You can set reminders on your Windows 10 PC (either through the Calendar app or Cortana) that will show up on your Android device via the Cortana app.

2. OneDrive: Access files on your Windows 10 PC with your Android device

You probably already know that Windows 10 comes with Microsoft’s cloud storage service, OneDrive, which is integrated deeply into the OS — it shows up as a folder in the File Explorer. Dragging documents, images or other types of files to it automatically uploads them to the cloud.

The OneDrive Android app lets you view documents or images stored in your OneDrive folder. (If you tap an image file or PDF in your OneDrive cloud folder, the OneDrive app will load it in its own viewer. If you tap a document, like a plain-text file or Word document, the document will be downloaded to your Android device and the default app that you use to view this document format will load it.)

You can also set the OneDrive app to automatically upload photos and videos that you capture with your Android device’s camera to your OneDrive folder. You can then access these photos and videos on your Windows 10 PC.

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The OneDrive Android app gives you access to documents and images in your OneDrive cloud storage (left). You can also have the app automatically upload photos and videos from your Android device to your OneDrive cloud storage (right).

To enable automatic upload from the camera (or to make sure it already is enabled): In the Android app, tap the Me icon on the lower-right of the main screen, tap Settings, and tap “Camera upload” on the next screen. There are also options for uploading only via Wi-Fi, uploading only while the Android device is plugged in to charge its battery, and including or excluding videos from automatic uploads.

3. Outlook: Sync calendar events between your Windows 10 PC and Android device

Obviously, the Outlook Android app is primarily meant for accessing your email from Microsoft services such as Exchange, Office 365 or Outlook.com. (It can be used with your Gmail or Yahoo Mail account, too.) But the Outlook app also has a calendar tool that syncs with the Calendar app on your Windows 10 PC — through it, you can enter appointments and reminders of things to do on days and times you pick. Both your Android device and your Windows 10 PC will send you alerts as event deadlines approach.

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Events that you create in Outlook on your Android device (left) will appear in the Calendar app on your Windows 10 PC (right).

On the Android app, you get to this calendar tool by tapping the third icon along the bottom of the main screen. (It looks like a page from a daily calendar, showing the current date.) Then you tap on a day you want to mark with an event reminder (by scrolling vertically through a list of dates below a portion of the calendar at the top of the screen).

Next, tap the “+” button on the lower-right of the screen. On the next screen for setting a new event, you pick the time, enter a location for the event, and set how far in advance you’ll receive the alert. You can also add the people from your contacts list you want to receive notifications about the event.

Like setting reminders with the Cortana app, this works in reverse. If you set appointments or events in the Calendar app on your Windows 10 PC, you will get alerts on your Android phone through the Outlook app.

4. OneNote: Sync notes from your Android device to your Windows 10 PC

A Windows app version of OneNote is included with Windows 10. Installing the OneNote Android app on your mobile device can be handy for creating notes while you’re on the go that you can edit more thoroughly later on your Windows 10 PC.

With the Android app, you can make notes or to-do checklists by entering text for them through your Android device’s touchscreen keyboard, handwriting with a digital pen, or voice-typing. You can draw doodles on your notes with your finger or digital pen, and add photos to a note with your Android device’s camera.

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Draw on your notes with a finger or digital pen in the OneNote Android app.

5. Your Phone Companion: Manage your Android phone notifications, pictures, text messages, and make voice calls from Windows 10

You can have the notifications and text messages that your Android phone gets automatically forwarded to your Windows 10 PC, and also have access to your phone’s photos from the PC. First, install the Your Phone Companion app on your Android phone. Launch the app and sign in to it with the same Microsoft user account that you sign in to your Windows 10 PC with.

On your PC, launch the Your Phone app. Clicking the Photos button on the navigation toolbar on the left lets you view the photos and screenshots that are stored on your Android phone. You can save an image to your PC by right-clicking on its thumbnail.

Click Messages or Notifications in the navigation bar to read the incoming text messages or notifications on your phone. You can reply to text messages or type new text messages right in the Your Phone app on your PC; the messages will be forwarded to your Android phone to send out. If a notification is an incoming message from a messaging app on your phone, you can reply to the sender the same way.

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Using the Your Phone app on your Windows 10 PC, you can view notifications and reply to text messages that your Android phone receives.

To choose the apps on your Android phone that you want to send notifications to on your Windows 10 PC, click the Settings icon in the lower-left corner of the Your Phone app. In the main panel, scroll down to Notifications and click “Choose which apps notify you.” A list of all the apps on your Android phone that can send notifications will scroll down. You can click the switch by each app name to stop its notifications from being forwarded to your Windows 10 PC.

Finally, you can make a voice call by clicking the bottom button in the navigation bar, Calls. This feature, currently in beta, requires that your phone and PC be linked together through a Bluetooth connection, so that the Your Phone app can route your voice call to your phone.

6. Microsoft Launcher: Access your Windows 10 Timeline from your Android device

In Windows 10, Timeline is a record listing various things that you’ve done on your PC, such as opening documents and visiting websites. Click the Task View button in the taskbar to view this extensive history, which is organized by date. You can use Timeline to find a document or image you were working on or a web page you visited and access it again. (See “5 hidden Windows 10 features you should be using” for details about how to use Timeline.)

You can access your Windows 10 Timeline from your Android phone by installing the Microsoft Launcher app on it. Sign in to the app with your Microsoft user account and set Microsoft Launcher as your smartphone’s default Home screen. Then from the Home screen, swipe left to the first screen.

On the bottom toolbar, tap the Timeline icon. A list of web pages you’ve recently visited on your Windows 10 devices appears. Tap an item to open that web page in your phone’s web browser. If you have Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) installed on your phone, you can also use Timeline to open recently used documents in those apps. And if you open a document in an Office app on the phone, the document appears in the Timeline of a Windows 10 PC that’s signed into the same user account.

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You can access your web browsing history on your Windows 10 PC from your Android phone by using the Microsoft Launcher app.

7. Office Lens: Sync “scans” taken with your Android device to your Windows 10 PC

This nifty Office Lens app by Microsoft isn’t specifically linked with Windows 10 but integrated with OneDrive. It’s for capturing documents, which can include business cards and receipts, with your Android device’s camera. (Microsoft likes to say you’re scanning such items, presumably because you’re capturing text, but all you do is take a photo normally.) You can also use the app to snap images of drawings, handwriting or text on chalkboards, whiteboards or signs.

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When you snap a picture with Office Lens (left), the app automatically aligns, cleans up and crops the image before saving it to OneDrive (right).

Office Lens automatically aligns, cleans up and crops the captured image, and can convert it into editable text and graphics in OneNote, PowerPoint or Word format, or preserve its formatting as a PDF. The captured document image is automatically uploaded to your OneDrive folder (which you can, of course, then access on your Windows 10 PC).

Note: The OneDrive app for Android also comes with a tool that lets you capture documents, but it lacks the ability to change your phone’s camera resolution to capture in a higher or lower image quality.

8. Microsoft Launcher or OneNote: Access, create, edit and manage your Sticky Notes from your Android device

On Windows 10, you can quickly create notes and to-do lists using the Sticky Notes app. There is no official Sticky Notes app for mobile devices. Instead, you can access your Sticky Notes, and also create, edit or delete them, through the Microsoft Launcher or OneNote app.

To use the Microsoft Launcher, install it and set it as your smartphone’s default Home screen. Swipe left to the first Home screen and tap the Glance icon on the lower left of the screen. In the main screen, scroll down through the information cards until you see your Sticky Notes.

In OneNote, there’s a Sticky Notes icon on the lower right of the main screen. Tap it to view a listing of your notes.

Notes that you create, edit or delete through either Android app are synced to the Sticky Notes app on your Windows 10 PC.

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You can use either the Microsoft Launcher or OneNote app for Android to access and manage your Sticky Notes that you created on your Windows 10 PC.

9. Microsoft Edge: Sync your browsing history between your phone and Windows 10

Once you sign in to it with your Microsoft user account, the Android version of Microsoft’s web browser, Edge, will sync your bookmarks, history and other data from Edge on your Windows 10 PC to it. But why bother using Edge at all — especially if you’re primarily browsing with Chrome on your PC?

First, it can be helpful to keep an alternative browser on your phone as a backup in case you encounter an issue with the Android version of Chrome. If you’re already using Windows 10 in coordination with your Android phone, Edge is a natural backup choice.

Second, when you view a web page on your Android phone with Edge, you can forward that page directly to your Windows 10 PC and resume reading it in Edge on your PC. To do this, in Edge for Android, tap the middle icon that’s toward the bottom of the app. A list of your Windows 10 PCs will appear. Tap the one that you want to forward the web page to. Then, on that PC, the Edge browser will automatically launch and load the web page you forwarded.

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With the Android version of Microsoft’s browser Edge, you can forward a web page directly to your Windows 10 PC and continue viewing it on the Windows 10 version of Edge.

10. Microsoft Solitaire Collection: Play the classic Windows card game on your Windows 10 PC and Android device in sync

The classic Microsoft Solitaire game was rebooted for Windows 10 as a Windows app that includes five card games: Klondike, Spider, FreeCell, TriPeaks and Pyramid. You can connect the app to Microsoft’s online gaming service, Xbox Live, to earn achievements, compete against other players, and share video clips of your gaming sessions.

Microsoft released an Android version of Microsoft Solitaire Collection that has all these features. You can even start a game on this app, stop playing, and resume it later on your Windows 10 PC — your game data and progress are saved and synced to the cloud through Xbox Live.

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You can start a game of solitaire on your Android phone and finish it later on your Windows 10 PC, thanks to Xbox Live syncing.

This story was originally published in April 2017 and updated in January 2020.

Read this next: How to create a complete Microsoft experience on Android

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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