Walmart Tests New Mobile Checkout Technology

Walmart announced on Thursday (April 19) that it is testing Check Out With Me, a new service that will speed up checkout for Walmart Lawn & Garden Centers around the country.

In a press release, the retailer said there are more than 350 stores with Lawn & Garden Centers that will benefit from the faster checkout service. Associates will be armed with cellular devices and Bluetooth printers, so they can scan the items with the mobile device, swipe the credit cards and print out receipts on the spot. Customers won’t have to go inside the physical store to pay for their outdoor lawn-related items, which will save customers a lot of time. The customer can also choose to have receipts delivered electronically.

“As we continue to test this new process, we’ll be listening to our customers and working on ways to bring their expectations to life. Check Out With Me is the latest example of our commitment to deliver a more convenient shopping experience that saves our customers time,” Walmart said.

The move comes as Walmart is pulling out all the stops to take on Amazon in both the physical and online retail space. Earlier this week, it announced an overhaul of its eCommerce site, which will begin its rollout in May. In addition to a new look and feel, it will feature photography that shows off real-life moments, with “beauty and design” incorporated throughout the website.

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Article Credit: PYMNTS

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Conspiracy Ryan Holiday Summary

Conspiracy Ryan Holiday Summary

Conspiracy Ryan Holiday Summary

Conspiracy Ryan Holiday Summary –  If you followed the news in 2016, you probably read about ex-wrestler Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against the notorious gossip website Gawker. You might know that Hogan won and that Gawker declared bankruptcy, but what’s the story behind the story? How did one of America’s most respected and feared publications sleepwalk into its own financial ruin?

In this article, we’ll take a look at how billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel shocked the world with his behind-the-scenes plot to destroy Gawker Media. We’ll examine the origins of Thiel’s hatred of Gawker, and learn how his covert actions ultimately shut down the controversial media outlet. We’ll also hear arguments for and against Thiel’s involvement in Hogan’s case, and explore how Gawker found itself on the stand in the first place.

In this article, you’ll learn

  • why Peter Thiel hated Gawker so much;
  • what a celebrity sex tape had to do with this conspiracy; and
  • how a few determined people plotted to destroy a powerful company.

“The beginnings of all things are small,” the Roman politician Cicero once said. So it was with the conspiracy at the heart of this story. That small beginning was a blog post published by a gossip website in 2007, which outed a tech investor named Peter Thiel as gay. Just 400 words long, this post is the genesis of a conspiracy that cost millions of dollars and lasted over nine years.

To understand why this post was so significant, we must first learn a little more about both its subject, Peter Thiel, and its publisher, Gawker Media.

Let’s take a look at Peter Thiel first.

In 2007, Thiel was already a wildly successful entrepreneur. Having made his fortune as a founder of the online payments system PayPal, Thiel had also gained recognition as Facebook’s first major investor. Despite coming out to his friends, family and colleagues, Thiel was still discreet about his sexuality in 2007, preferring to keep it a somewhat open secret in Silicon Valley. Indeed, when it came to any aspect of his personal life, Thiel was intensely private.

Now let’s examine the website that published the blog post. This website was called Valleywag. Though it was billed as a tech-news site, Valleywag took its editorial direction from its parent company, the notorious gossip website, Gawker.

Both the Gawker and Valleywag websites were owned by an Englishman named Nick Denton.

Denton’s background may have been in the tech industry, but his true interests were secrets and gossip. Specifically, exposing other people’s secrets via his websites, in the name of entertainment and transparency.

Whose secrets? Particularly those of the rich, powerful or famous. Using an army of young, hungry writers with a gift for witty yet contemptuous writing, Denton encouraged his bloggers to expose and ridicule public people and institutions they felt were hypocritical or hiding something. And audiences loved it. By 2005, Gawker and Denton’s other websites were making $120,000 in monthly advertising revenues. By 2012, Gawker’s revenues were close to $40 million.

However, for all Nick Denton’s media savvy, he gossiped about the wrong person on that day in 2007.

On December 19, 2007, Peter Thiel’s hatred of Gawker began. This was the day on which, under the headline, “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people,” the Valleywag website outed him. But why did Thiel care so much about this blog post, and was it really the only reason for his hatred of Gawker?

To appreciate the depth of Thiel’s loathing for this company, we must recall the social context of 2007, as well as examine some of the other stories Gawker published around that time.

Looking back now, it might seem anachronistic that a gay man would want to keep his sexuality a secret. However, in 2007, the world was a very different place. It would still be another five years before Obama endorsed gay marriage and it would take Hillary Clinton another six years to support it. In other words, the world was much less tolerant of gay people and their rights.

When Valleywag outed Thiel, he took it as a personal attack on his right to privacy. And Gawker Media’s assaults on Thiel’s private life didn’t stop there. Later that year, Valleywag published more blogs about Thiel, including one naming and picturing his boyfriend. In fact, Gawker Media’s articles about Thiel in 2007 and 2008 would garner a combined 500,000 views. Suddenly, the quiet and private Thiel was all over the internet, and so was his sex life.

Although Gawker’s treatment of Thiel might seem harsh, this sort of behavior was completely unremarkable for it. In fact, Gawker Media was quickly building a reputation for its willingness to run stolen material and publish anonymous leaks. In 2005, it had published a stolen sex tape of Fred Durst, the Limp Bizkit frontman; Gawker writers prided themselves on saying and publishing things that more traditional media organizations wouldn’t dare. What happened if one of Gawker’s victims tried to fight back? Gawker would mock them even more, secure in the knowledge that it was protected by America’s stringent free-speech laws.

After learning more about Gawker’s shock tactics, Thiel began calling Gawker the MBTO, short for “Manhattan Based Terrorist Organization,” and he quickly became convinced that something needed to be done about these fearsome, seemingly unstoppable publishers.

Between 2008 and 2011, Peter Thiel considered what to do about Gawker Media and its propensity for publicly embarrassing people. But how could he hurt them? Almost nobody had ever fought the American media and won……

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IBM and Salon Media harness blockchain to combat ad fraud

IBM and Salon Media have formed an partnership which will see the pair harness the cryptographic power of blockchain in order to crackdown fraud in the advertising industry.

Leveraging a product created by AdLedger, the ‘campaign reconciliation project’ seeks to iron out weak link intermediaries between advertisers, publishers and consumers in a bid to get a grip on growing problems like bot fraud and domain spoofing.

To achieve this the proof of concept will pay particular attention to campaign reconciliation by recording contractual conditions, publisher payments and contractual terms within one fixed and fully auditable system.

Writing in AdWeek Chad Andrews, global solutions leader of advertising at IBM, said: “With a blockchain backed peer-to-peer network, achieving transparency in the digital advertising supply chain is possible. But, ensuring its success will require the entire industry, including advertisers, ad tech providers, publishers and agencies to coalesce around a shared, auditable version of truth. Such a pact would facilitate a groundbreaking level of transparency across auditing, reconciliation, fraud detection, discrepancy management and payments.”

Any pilot system cannot arrive a moment too soon amid estimates that digital advertisers lost $19bn to fraud in 2018.

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Article Credit: The Drum

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Don’t Buy IBM — It Lacks Sustainable Competitive Advantage

On April 17, IBM announced shrinking margins and flat currency-adjusted revenue—and it failed to boost its forecast for the year. The stock had lost 7.6% before the close on April 18.

Is this a great buying opportunity? No, and that’s because IBM lacks a sustainable competitive advantage. (I have no financial interest in IBM securities).

Before getting into that, let’s take a look at its weak first quarter report. As Bloomberg reported, its revenue of $19.1 billion was $300 million above analyst estimates but flat compared to the year before without currency fluctuations. IBM’s profit margin fell 0.6 percentage points to 43.2%.

IBM disappointed on earnings per share for the quarter and for its 2018 EPS forecast. Its adjusted EPS of $2.45 fell three cents short of analyst expectations. What’s more, Wall Street expected IBM to boost its 2018 EPS forecast but the company kept it at $13.80 a share, according to Bloomberg.

For five years, IBM suffered quarterly revenue declines—a trend it reversed in the fourth quarter of 2017. Sadly, that reversal appears to have been due mostly to cyclical factors—mainframe customers replacing old machines.

Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reported that IBM is at the end of this cycle, noting:

Several analysts expect the mainframe cycle to tail off by the end of the year, creating a challenge for IBM to maintain its momentum, especially since hardware sales tend to also have a beneficial effect on revenue in other divisions. Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein Research, estimates that hardware drives sales of related support services, software, storage and financing that historically have made up roughly 40% of IBM’s operating profit.

IBM CEO Ginny Rometty has been touting so-called strategic imperatives—including social, mobile, analytics and cloud—as the key to its future growth. But strategic imperatives accounted for a declining share of revenues in the first quarter, 47%, compared to 49% in the fourth quarter of 2017.

As CNBC reported, that decline was a “disappointment to Cantor Fitzgerald analysts who expected that balance to be unchanged in the first quarter.” What’s more, strategic imperative growth slowed from 17% in the fourth quarter to 15% in the first.

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Article Credit: Forbes

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How changes to SAP could impact you

Steve Sutton, Technical Manager at the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council, explains the likely impact of the government’s planned update to the Standard Assessment Procedure.

The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) ratings are an integral part of the heating industry as they provide the UK with a methodology for assessing the energy and environmental performance of homes.

The government uses SAP as a mechanism to meet the UK’s climate change obligations.SAP also sets requirements for newbuild properties to demonstrate compliance with Building Regulations.

In 2016, the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) was delighted by the announcement that industry was being given the chance to have a say on SAP when the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced a public consultation on proposals to amend SAP as part of its energy efficiency in buildings programme.

However, many of the changes proposed in this consultation, we believe, would adversely impact the calculation of regulated energy associated with heating systems, among other aspects of building performance, thereby making compliance with Target Dwelling Emission Ratings (TDER) more difficult.

SAP may seem far removed from the day to day job of an installer, but it is important to be aware of these potential changes surrounding the industry. Changes to SAP will shape the technologies and products installed in newbuild properties of the future, therefore affect the products you will be installing or maintaining in the years to come.

Over 12 months have passed since the consultation closed, and we expect the revision of SAP (SAP10) to be published during 2018, although the government response document advises that “it may be used for government modelling purposes before publication”.

There are also lots of other elements in play that we’re likely to see before real change happens. We do not believe that the proposals should, or could, be adopted independent to a review of Building Regulations. As previously mentioned, developers will need to fully understand the associated impact, and cost, in order to agree or disagree with proposals.

So, while industry waits for news on what changes are coming, HHIC is hopeful of a joined-up approach to changes to SAP and Building Regulations. This approach would enable the supply chain the greatest opportunity to establish how they will be impacted, and plan accordingly.

The implementation of changes to SAP and Building Regulations also need to be phased in appropriately. Changes impacting compliance once plans are approved, e.g. those which impact the Target Dwelling Emission Rate, could result in non-compliance once inspection against design is carried out, potentially causing huge disruption to the construction industry.

It is certainly the case that the original proposals would incur additional build cost in terms of TDER compliance, but also additional time for SAP assessors to carry out the more detailed modelling required, together with impacts on scheme operators and software providers; thereby representing a cost to business.

In order to derive more productivity from the newbuild sector, in line with overarching government aims, the regulatory framework needs to be clear, transparent, consistent, and stable. Introducing fundamental changes to SAP must be undertaken in line with a review of Approved Document L, be fully evidenced, and an associated regulatory impact assessment produced.

In other SAP news, the HHIC is currently working with members, alongside the Building Research Establishment, to enable hybrid products to be listed in SAP.

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Article Credit: HVP

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Hacking Growth Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown Summary

Here’s a common scenario that any number of entrepreneurs face today: you’re the CEO of a small business, and though you’re making a nice profit, you need to find a way to take it to the next level.

What you need to do is prioritize growth by establishing a growth team. A growth team is made up of members from different departments within your company, and it harnesses the power of collaboration to focus exclusively on finding ways to grow.

Let’s look at a real-world example. Prior to forming a growth team, the software company BitTorrent had 50 employees working in the traditional departments of engineering, marketing and product development. This brought them good results until 2012, when their growth plateaued.

The problem was that too many customers were using the basic, free version of their product. And despite making improvements to the premium, paid version, few people were making the upgrade.

Things changed, however, when an innovative project-marketing manager (PMM) came aboard, created a growth team and sparked the kind of fresh perspective they needed. By looking at engineering issues from a marketing point of view, it became clear that the lack of upgrades wasn’t due to a quality issue. Most customers were simply unaware of the premium version and what it offered.

Armed with this insight, the marketing and engineering teams joined forces to raise awareness by prominently promoting the premium version to users of the free version. As a result, upgrades skyrocketed, and revenue increased by 92 percent.

But in order for your growth team to succeed, it needs to have a strong leader. It needs someone who can unite the interdisciplinary team and keep them on course for improvement.

This leader will identify the target area, set clear goals and establish a time frame for the accomplishment of these goals. For example, he or she may decide it’s best to focus on developing new marketing channels and set a goal for the team to come up with three potential new ones by the end of the month.

The growth leader is also responsible for keeping the team focused on moving forward and steering them clear of distractions. While attractive new ideas can be distracting, the team leader must recognize when these ideas don’t serve the current goal and need to be put on the back burner.

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GOOGLE’S HEAVY INVESTMENT in artificial intelligence has helped the company’s software write music and beat humans at complex board games. What unlikely feats could be next? The company’s new head of AI says he’d like to see Google move deeper into areas such as healthcare. He also warns that the company will face some tricky ethical questions over appropriate uses for AI as it expands its use of the technology.

The new AI boss at Google is Jeff Dean. The lean 50-year-old computer scientist joined the company in 1999, when it was a startup less than one year old. He earned a reputation as one of the industry’s most talented coders by helping Google become a computational powerhouse with new approaches to databases and large-scale data analysis. Google colleagues once created a joke website of “Jeff Dean facts,” including his purported role in accelerating the speed of light. Another had it that Dean doesn’t really exist—he’s an advanced AI created by Jeff Dean.

Dean helped ignite Silicon Valley’s AI boom when he joined Google’s secretive X lab in 2011 to investigate an approach to machine learning known as deep neural networks. The project produced software that learned to recognize cats on YouTube. Google went on to use deep neural networks to greatly improve the accuracy of its speech recognition service, and has since made the technique the heart of the company’s strategy for just about everything.

The cat-video project morphed into a research group called Google Brain, which Dean has led since 2012. He ascended to head the company’s AI efforts early this month after John Giannandrea left to lead Apple’s AI projects.

Dean’s new job puts him at the helm of perhaps the world’s foremost AI research operation. The group churns out research papers on topics such as creating more realistic synthetic voices and teaching robots to grasp objects.

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Article Credit: Wired

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Analytics: Going back to basics

Explaining analytics to people outside of the industry is a test. There is no assumed knowledge and no hiding behind TLAs (three letter acronyms). Most of the time we fall back on explaining why implementing analytics offers much more than number-crunching in Excel. Whilst Excel absolutely has its place, you are typically presented with a section of raw data all at once, in the form of a spreadsheet, which can be difficult to interpret, put in order of importance, and determine what is and isn’t outdated at a glance. In the world of analytics, where data sets can be vast, there are more efficient and effective ways of determining and sharing insight.

Data visualisation or analytics tools provide a flexible and reliable way to identify the pertinent information and present it to a target audience in a manner they can easily understand. By using visual representations of your data via dashboards, business users can quickly interrogate the data and drill up and down levels to find the relevant insight they require, without having to understand the tools they are using.

How to implement analytics within your organisation

Once a requirement for analytics is identified within an organisation, there needs to be a way to implement it. Good practice is to begin by looking for ways to use hard facts and information to determine future business decisions. This is called having a data driven strategy. Next, you must determine which metrics and analysis techniques are to be used for collecting those facts and information; for example, what is it that you are going to measure and are you going to look at past data or try to predict future events?

Once you have the answer, you must then collect the relevant data. This may be done internally – from ERP systems – or externally, from sources such as social media, or other publicly available data. The final step is to ensure the data is in the correct format, so that the analytics tool is able to analyse it in the most efficient way possible. You can now analyse and report on your findings using the analytical tool you have selected.

The components of an analytics solution are varied and depend on who it is you are talking to. Needless to say, the types of solutions differ considerably. Some are as simple as a desktop analytical tool running over a simple spreadsheet or database. Others are highly bespoke using numerical and non-numerical data to create insight. Data can be drawn from your organisational systems or from third party platforms (subject to the right permissions), then used to create data warehouses or data marts. Unlike databases that are designed around being transactional (input and output), data warehouses and data marts are designed especially for running analytics.

Data from different sources is easier to analyse when it has been converted into the same format, before being loaded into a data warehouse – this would require the use of an ETL (extract, transform and load) tool. Your data may contain duplicates or missing data, in which case you would need some form of data cleansing solution. You may also want to bring data feeds from other internal or external data sources in to your organisation which will require special integration software to help with this. Once you have your data in the format required, you can then set your analytical tool to report on the discoveries it makes. The complexity of a solution depends entirely on the business problem you are aiming to resolve. The analytical tool you use only forms a small part of the whole solution. The majority of market-leading analytics visualisation tools have both cloud and on-premise deployment offerings that will access the data to be analysed no matter where its location, giving the customer the choice.

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Article Credit: CN

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How Data Analytics Is Foraying Into Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatment and diagnosis are no longer lacking in new age technologies such as analytics, artificial intelligence and neural networks, among others. They have been significantly explored in different avenues of cancer care, especially in understanding the disease mechanism. Amongst the various types of cancer, the treatment for pancreatic cancer, which is one of the leading causes of deaths across the globe, is slowly drifting towards analytics.

Numbers suggest that 53,670 people are diagnosed each year with pancreatic cancer and they have a survival rate of only eight percent. Currently there are no effective screening tools available to diagnose pancreatic cancer at early stages and therefore the adoption AI and analytics is timely.

Henry Ford Cancer Institute Is Going AI And Data Analytics Way

After a recent announcement by the Henry Ford Health System that it would spend $20 million to launch the Henry Ford Pancreatic Cancer Center, it has been looked upon as a hope to bring new methods for early detection of pancreatic cancer. They aim to establish partnership between Henry Ford and leading national and international organisations to identify the means to detect pancreatic cancer at an early stage.

The team at Henry Ford believes that though there have been incredible advances in cancer treatment and diagnosis, one of the challenges is that pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed at advanced stages, making it difficult to treat.

With this fresh development, the center aims to focus on expanding the number of identified biomarkers in pancreatic cancer that can be validated in patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, treating these biomarkers to screening test, use artificial intelligence to analyze clinical medical records and radiologic studies to identify previously unidentified patterns, and developing investigator initiated clinical trials to advance pancreatic cancer treatment.

Apart from the focus on AI, it also aims at developing a global consortium to drive research initiatives with a focus on early detection, data analytics, translational research, precision medicine, and clinical trials.

The use of cutting-edge technology is aimed at analysing large volumes of medical records, improving the efficiency of detection, quality of treatment and cost, among others.

Other Developments In Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Microsoft Used Analytics To Find Clues In Search Queries

Microsoft made headlines when they announced that they could find cancer clues in search queries. In a paper published by Microsoft researchers Eric Horvitz and Ryen White, along with former Microsoft intern and Columbia University doctoral candidate John Paparrizo, they detailed on how they used anonymised Bing search logs to identify people whose queries suggested that they had recently been diagnosed with or dealing with pancreatic cancer.

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Article Credit: Analytics

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