We Might Finally Know How Rogue One Is Handling Its Opening Crawl



Since the film was announced, the question of whether or not Rogue One would stick with the tradition of the mainline Star Wars films and have its own ‘opening crawl’—has been asked a bunch of times. Disney has seemingly been back and forth on this, but we might actually have an answer now.

Making Star Wars reports that a recent fan event for the film in Mexico revealed the first 20 minutes of the film to attendees. And if you don’t want to know how Rogue One handles the crawl, well… fire up those loud Imperial klaxons and turn away now.

According to the site, the answer is pretty simple: Rogue One keeps the “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” opening that has preceded every other Star Wars film, which fades into a space scene as the movie carries on as normal, with no opening crawl. The Rogue One title card allegedly shows up a little later on in the film’s opening sequence. It’s not a huge surprise. Despite the back and forth, Disney has recently leaned towards saying they don’t expect Rogue One, or presumably any of the future Star Wars spinoff films, to feature an opening crawl, keeping that tradition specifically for the mainline movies.

But considering Rogue One’s got special history with the opening crawl—after all, its story was inspired by the lines features in A New Hope’s—fans might have expected differently just for this movie. At this year’s Star Wars Celebration, the Rogue One panel opened with the classic ANH crawl before distorting and flickering when it reached the lines about rebel spies secreting away the plans to the Death Star, accompanied by the deafening radio chatter of distraught Rebel troopers as it flickered out to reveal the Rogue One title card.

I always thought that would’ve been a cool way to open the movie, but I guess this is just the simplest and cleanest way to do so.

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Thoughtful Gifts For The Adventurous Lady


On the search for thoughtful gifts that the adventurous woman in your life will love? Here are 22 quality gifts to boost her days and your memories together in the outdoors. By Morgan Tilton. More GJ gift guides here.

Baja Series Ayer ($1,148)

Perfect for two, the Baja is its lightest Tepui rooftop camping tent to date. The A-frame Ayer has no-see-um mosquito netting, head room with large side windows for soaking up the views, and an interchangeable canopy. Mesh for hot and humid weather (and star gazing); lightweight nylon rip-stop for the spring; and an aluminized canopy for use in wilder weather. Oh yeah, and that 2.5-inch high-density foam mattress is great. More Info / Buy Now

Beach Kayak ($1,175)

Oru Kayak’s newest foldable kayak, the Beach, is the brand’s lightest. With Oru’s most spacious cockpit (28 inches wide), the boat is awesome for toting the pup, extra gear, and brews from the campsite to the trail across the lake. The Beach is ready for casual cruising, requires three minutes to assemble, fits in a car trunk, and weighs only 26 pounds. More Info / Buy Now

SPOT Rescue Beacon ($150, Sale Price $75)

You love her, and want her to come home safe every time. Buy her (and yourself) a little peace of mind with an emergency satellite beacon. With the SPOT Gen3, she can check in remotely, message friends for assistance, or send an SOS emergency message to first responders from pretty much anywhere on Earth. More Info / Buy Now

Foldable Sea To Summit Cook Kit ($100)

Sea To Summit’s fold-flat, silicone cook pots and cups are awesome. We’ve used and love the X-Pot, and a complete kit will set her up for both backpacking and car camping. The X-Set has two X-Mugs and two X-Bowls that nest perfectly inside the X-Pot. The whole system takes up little space and weighs 1 lb. 5.5 oz. More Info / Buy Now

Solution Harness ($69.95)

Black Diamond’s Solution is mega comfortable to help maximize wall time, pitch after pitch. Three separate strands of the low-profile webbing distribute weight and reduce pressure. More Info / Buy Now

Atom SL Hoody ($229-$250)

This Arc’teryx zip-up is so stretchy she’ll hardly know she’s wearing it. The hoody is a match for hiking, biking, climbing, trail running, backcountry skiing, or any active, aerobic outdoors pursuit. Aside from extreme versatility, it’s super light, butter-soft, packable, quick drying, and quickly dumps heat out side panels. More Info / Buy Now

Chromapop Sunglasses ($170)

Two years ago, Smith introduced lenses that help you “see faster,” and while the claim is hard to verify, the Chromapop lens has been widely loved. The Women’s Colette Chromapop Polarized Sunglasses are a new model that looks good and should work for outdoors activities or just cruising around town. More Info / Buy Now

Tru.Comfort ($119.95)

The shape and fill of this Kelty sleeping bag is specifically designed for women. There’s also a built-in blanket so she can sleep with one or two layers of warmth, and unzip just the bottom of the bag to let her feet cool off on warm nights. More Info / Buy Now

Kvikne Tee ($39.00)

Yes, the shape of this action t-shirt isn’t a box. Attractively tailored, this shirt has a longer torso length, and the high-performance Byokan fabric is light, soft, breathable and wicks sweat. Get it for your gal while supplies last: Bergans of Norway recently announced a close of international sales, and plans to sell product through the end of January. More Info / Buy Now

Tank-7 ($129-$179)

Native eyewear recently launched snow sports goggles in addition to its sunglasses selection, and we approve. The Tank-7 is a smaller frame in the lineup (nicely sized for a woman’s face) and the SnowTune React Rose lens is clutch for variant light conditions. It has a wide range of 10- to 35-percent VLT (visible light transmission) meaning it’s excellent for flat light conditions and partially cloudy days. More Info / Buy Now

Outdoors Electric Blanket ($225)

Pack up this cozy blanket for picnics in the desert, surf trips on the coast, and parking lot grill-outs at the mountain base. Rumpl, Ravean, and Power Practical collaborated to debut this durable, battery-powered, heated blanket. It warms up in seconds, is water resistant, extremely lightweight, and the battery pack can charge your phone or be used as a flashlight. More Info / Buy Now

Access Pullover NXT ($199)

Have you ever seen water drops roll down and off of a pullover sweater? Here it is, Voormi’s Access midlayer has merino wool that’s “surface hardened.” That means wind- and water-repellent. Yet it remains super breathable for all-things backcountry and high country, and is made in the USA of Rocky Mountain merino. More Info / Buy Now

Ohm ($129.95)

Problem: Lead climber falls, and belayer catapults off the ground. Solution: Add the Edelrid Ohm assisted-braking device to the first bolt and now the lead climber can weigh twice as much as the belayer. Best for when she’s instructing students, climbing at the gym (read: vertical and with limited natural friction), and partnering-up to belay with a big weight gap. Buy on Backcountry.com December 1st, or buy in retail January 1st. More Info

Layla ($139.95)

This PFD makes a woman wonder how she ever wore a guy-tailored vest in the first place. Designed by Astral, the shape conforms to fit a female’s curves, due to the soft-and-stretchy “princess seams and boob cups.” The Layla also uses organic Kapok: a sustainable, buoyant plant fiber that comes from the seedpod of the kapok tree. More Info / Buy Now

Chair Zero ($119.95)

Helinox released its most slim, ultralight camp chair yet. Just 1 pound, it packs down to the size of a water bottle and sits a bit higher off the ground than the Ground Chair. More Info / Buy Now

Athletic Leggings ($75.00)

Here lies your all-around athletic legging. Wear this stylish North Face pair at the gym, on runs, in hot yoga class, and beneath your snow pants. That wide waistband looks good but also holds a stash pocket for a credit card or keys. More Info / Buy Now


Shape Sports Bra ($55)

The Shape feels, and looks, too good to be true. Ergonomically designed, this Falke sports bra is made for medium-impact sports including running and skiing. It is supportive enough for a C-size. It has seamless hems that prevent chafing or rub zones (even at ultra distances). The bra is double-layered, so it absorbs moisture well, and provides enough coverage to hop in a lake or river while on the trail. More Info / Buy Now

GripTight GorillaPod Stand PRO ($41.97)

Selfies and couple shots just got way easier, even in middle-of-nowhere solitude. Fold this small tripod stand’s arms around a branch or rock and voila! The Joby GripTight is compatible with any smartphone, with or without a case. More Info / Buy Now

Art 4 All Hat ($29.95)

Sun protection meets art gallery? We think so. Jackson Hole-based artist Abby Paffrath is a trained batik painter. She uses wax resist dye techniques to create images and patterns on fabric. The results include gorgeous trucker hats with designs inspired by the rivers and mountains of the West. More Info / Buy Now

Mission Duffel ($130-$195)

This Mystery Ranch duffel is bound to be her next go-to travel companion. A horseshoe-shaped zipper creates easy-access and the pack can be carried three ways: using tuck-away backpack straps, a removable shoulder strap, or the classic hand-held strap. Sizes range from 40- to 90-liters and the bags feature water resistant, durable fabric (see: 1000D nylon with TPU coating). More Info / Buy Now

Mountain Flannel ($98)

Topo Designs launched its women’s line this year, including a go-anywhere Western-style cotton flannel. The trim is classic. It’s soft with a malleable fit, even with the buttons closed. She can dress it up or down. And the USA-made shirt is great for playing outside or jet-setting. More Info / Buy Now

YETI Hopper Flip 12 ($279.99)

Portable, super tough, compact (read: easy storage). This grade-A cooler is puncture-resistant and perfect for a day of fly fishing, boating, and keeping the beers cold at the trailhead for that post-summit cheers. More Info / Buy Now

More Guides At GearJunkie Holiday Channel

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Check out all our holiday gift guides here.

The post Thoughtful Gifts For The Adventurous Lady appeared first on GearJunkie.

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What Neural Networks, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning Actually Do


When an app claims to be powered by “artificial intelligence” it feels like you’re in the future. What does that really mean, though? We’re taking a look at what buzzwords like AI, machine learning, and neural networks really mean and whether they actually help improve your apps.

Just recently, Google and Microsoft both added neural network learning to their translation apps. Google said it’s using machine learning to suggest playlists. Todoist says it’s using AI to suggest when you should finish a task. Any.do claims its AI-powered bot can do some tasks for you. All that’s just from last week. Some of it is marketing fluff to make new features sound impressive, but sometimes the changes are legitimately useful. “Artificial intelligence,” “machine learning,” and “neural networks” all describe ways for computers to do more advanced tasks and learn from their environment. While you may hear them used interchangeably by app developers, they can be very different in practice.

Neural Networks Analyze Complex Data By Simulating the Human Brain

Artificial neural networks (ANNs or simply “neural networks” for short) refer to a specific type of learning model that emulates the way synapses work in your brain. Traditional computing uses a series of logic statements to perform a task. Neural networks, on the other hand, use a network of nodes (which act like neurons) and edges (which act like synapses) to process data. Inputs are then run through the system and a series of outputs are generated.

That output is then compared to known data. For example, say you want to train a computer to recognize a picture of a dog. You’d run millions of pictures of a dog through the network to see what images it decided looked like dogs. A human would then confirm which images are actually dogs. The system then favors the pathways through the neural network that led to the correct answer. Over time and millions of iterations, the network will eventually improve the accuracy of its results.

To see how this works in action, you can try out Google’s Quick, Draw! experiment here. In this case, Google is training a network to recognize doodles. It compares the doodle you draw to examples drawn by other people. The network is told what the doodles are and then trained to recognize future doodles based on what the past ones look like. Even if your drawing skills suck (like mine do), the network is pretty good at recognizing basic shapes like submarines, house plants, and ducks.

Neural networks aren’t the right solution for everything, but they excel at dealing with complex data. Google and Microsoft using neural networks to power their translation apps is legitimately exciting because translating languages is hard. We’ve all seen broken translations, but neural network learning could let the system learn from correct translations to get better over time. We’ve seen a similar thing happen with voice transcription. After introducing neural network learning to Google Voice, transcription errors were reduced by 49%. You may not notice it right away and it won’t be perfect, but this type of learning genuinely makes complex data analysis better which can lead to more natural features in your apps.

Machine Learning Teaches Computers to Improve With Practice

Machine learning is a broad term that encompasses anything where you teach a machine to improve at a task on its own. More specifically, it refers to any system where a machine’s performance at completing a task gets better solely through more experience performing that task. Neural networks are an example of machine learning, but they are not the only way a machine can learn.

For example, one alternative method of machine learning is called reinforcement learning. In this method, a computer performs a task and then it’s graded on the result. The video above from Android Authority uses a chess game as an example. A computer plays a complete game of chess and then it either wins or loses. If it wins, then it assigns a winning value to the series of moves it used during that game. After playing millions of games, the system can determine which moves are most likely to win based on the results of those games.

While neural networks are good for things like pattern recognition in images, other types of machine learning may be more useful for different tasks like determining what kind of music you like. To wit, Google says its music app will find you the music you want when you want it. It does this by selecting playlists for you based on your past behavior. If you ignore its suggestions, that would (presumably) be labeled as a failure. However, if you choose one of the suggestions, the process it used to give that suggestion is labeled as a success, so it reinforces the process that led to that suggestion.

In cases like this, you might not get the full benefit of machine learning if you don’t use the feature a lot. The first time you open Google’s music app, your recommendations will probably be pretty scattershot. The more you use it, the better the suggestions get. In theory, anyway. Machine learning isn’t a silver bullet, so you could still get junk recommendations. However, you’ll definitely get junk recommendations if you only open the music app once every six months. Without regular use to help it learn, machine learning suggestions aren’t much better than regular “smart” suggestions. As a buzzword, “machine learning” is vaguer than neural networks, but it still implies that the software you’re using will use your feedback to improve its performance.

Artificial Intelligence Just Means Anything That’s “Smart”

Just like neural networks are a form of machine learning, machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence. However, the category of what else counts as “artificial intelligence” is so poorly defined that it’s almost meaningless. While it conjures the mental image of futuristic sci-fi, in reality, we’ve already reached milestones that were previously considered the realm of future AI. For example, optical character recognition was once considered too complex for a machine, but now an app on your phone can scan documents and turn them into text. Describing such a now-basic task as AI would make it sound more impressive than it is.

The reason that basic phone tasks can be considered AI is because there are actually two very different categories of artificial intelligence. Weak or narrow AI describes any system that’s designed for a narrow task or set of tasks. For example, Google Assistant and Siri—while powerful—are designed to do a very narrow set of tasks. Namely, take specifics series of voice commands and return answers or launch apps. Research into artificial intelligence powers those features, but it’s still considered “weak.”

In contrast, strong AI—otherwise known as artificial general intelligence or “full aI”—is a system that can perform any task that a human can. It also doesn’t exist. If you were hoping that your to-do list app would be powered by a cute robot voiced by Alan Tudyk, that’s a long way off. Since virtually any AI you’d actually use is considered weak AI, the phrase “artificial intelligence” in an app description really just means “it’s a smart app.” You might get some cool suggestions, but don’t expect it to rival the intelligence of a human.

While the semantics may be muddy, the practical research in AI fields is so useful you’ve probably already incorporated it into your daily life. Every time your phone automatically remembers where you parked, recognizes faces in your photos, get search suggestions, or automatically groups all your vacation pictures together, you’re benefitting either directly or indirectly from AI research. To a certain extent, “artificial intelligence” really just means apps getting smarter, which is what you’d expect anyway. However, machine learning and neural networks are uniquely suited to improving certain kinds of tasks. If an app just says it’s using “AI” it’s less meaningful than any type of machine learning.

It’s also worth pointing out that neural networks and machine learning are not all created equal. Saying that an app uses machine learning to do something better is a bit like saying a camera is better because it’s “digital.” Yes, digital cameras can do some things that film cameras can’t, but that doesn’t mean that every digital photograph is better than every film photograph. It’s all in how you use it. Some companies will be able to develop powerful neural networks that do really complicated things that make your life better. Others will slap a machine learning label on a feature that already offered “smart” suggestions and you’ll ignore it just the same.

From a behind-the-scenes standpoint, machine learning and neural networks are very exciting. However, if you’re reading an app description that uses these phrases, you can just read it as “This feature is slightly smarter, probably” and continue doing what you’ve always done: judging apps by how useful they are to you.

Illustration by Sam Woolley.

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Music Designed for an Oscilloscope Looks and Sounds Cool as Hell



Long before the days of WinAmp visualizers, the oscilloscope was making sound visible in green on black glory. Few have really pushed the potential of this rudimentary little device. But this is what happens when you make music from sounds that already produce recognizable visuals.

YouTuber Techmoan refurbished a really prime specimen from the oscilloscope world—the Tektronix 760A. Then he set it up to play, Jerobeam Fenderson’s Oscilloscope Music, a selection of tracks that are built from sounds that produce distinct images.

Fenderson has a decent F.A.Q. on their website for those who want to tinker with this kind of thing. Basically, you’ll need to be able output left and right channels from an audio interface into an oscilloscope that can operate in X/Y mode, aka lissajous mode. There are various ways to approach it, such as using OsciStudio for Blender (free) which converts 3D objects into sound files. Then, take those sound files and start mixing them into music with your favorite audio program.

For those who want to do it the old-fashioned way, here’s what the math looks like for drawing a butterfly:



Yeah, I don’t know either.

For those who just want to play around with an oscilloscope at home, here’s a downloadable emulator.

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Google’s AI translation tool seems to have invented its own secret internal language


All right, don’t panic, but computers have created their own secret language and are probably talking about us right now. Well, that’s kind of an oversimplification, and the last part is just plain untrue. But there is a fascinating and existentially challenging development that Google’s AI researchers recently happened across.

You may remember that back in September, Google announced that its Neural Machine Translation system had gone live. It uses deep learning to produce better, more natural translations between languages. Cool!

Following on this success, GNMT’s creators were curious about something. If you teach the translation system to translate English to Korean and vice versa, and also English to Japanese and vice versa… could it translate Korean to Japanese, without resorting to English as a bridge between them? They made this helpful gif to illustrate the idea of what they call “zero-shot translation” (it’s the orange one):

image01As it turns out — yes! It produces “reasonable” translations between two languages that it has not explicitly linked in any way. Remember, no English allowed.

But this raised a second question. If the computer is able to make connections between concepts and words that have not been formally linked… does that mean that the computer has formed a concept of shared meaning for those words, meaning at a deeper level than simply that one word or phrase is the equivalent of another?

In other words, has the computer developed its own internal language to represent the concepts it uses to translate between other languages? Based on how various sentences are related to one another in the memory space of the neural network, Google’s language and AI boffins think that it has.

A visualization of the translation system's memory when translating a single sentence in multiple directions.

A visualization of the translation system’s memory when translating a single sentence in multiple directions.

This “interlingua” seems to exist as a deeper level of representation that sees similarities between a sentence or word in all three languages. Beyond that it’s hard to say, since the inner processes of complex neural networks are infamously difficult to describe.

It could be something sophisticated, or it could be something simple. But the fact that it exists at all — an original creation of the system’s own to aid in its understanding of concepts it has not been trained to understand — is, philosophically speaking, pretty powerful stuff.

The paper describing the researchers’ work (primarily on efficient multi-language translation but touching on the mysterious interlingua) can be read at Arxiv. No doubt the question of deeper concepts being created and employed by the system will warrant further investigation. Until then, let’s assume the worst.

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Watch: New Zealand sea bed lifted over 19 feet during earthquake


Earthquakes is universally known to be powerfully destructive, but it’s not everyday you can witness them raise a seabed a bunch of feet into the air. 

A Youtube video from GeoNet features an area in New Zealand known as the Papatea fault. That’s where earthquakes with magnitudes of up to 7.8 literally lifted the sea bed on the coast of the south island.

In the video, researcher Kevin Berryman inspects the area where the quakes lifted the sea bed almost 6 metres (19.6 feet) into the air, essentially creating a massive wall a little out to sea.

According to locals, Berryman said, the sound of the fault shift was "just horrendous" to locals, saying they "described not the earthquake noise but the noise of water running off the top of the platform here."

Aquatic life now pepper the new shore line, after the huge shift saw an immediate disappearance of habitat as the ocean spilled away. Nature is cool. 

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NASA Didn’t Find Life on Mars—But It Did Find Something Very Cool


Close up of a geyser at El Tatio, a Mars-like environment located high in the mountains of northern Chile.

If we ever get proof of past life on Mars, it’ll come in the form of biosignatures, fingerprints that could only have been left by living organisms. We’re a long way from finding that smoking gun evidence, but an analysis of silica minerals discovered by NASA’s Spirit rover pushes us one step closer. Because of their similarity to silica deposits shaped by microbial life on Earth, these intriguing Martian minerals are now being called a “potential biosignature.”

To be clear, this does not mean NASA has discovered life on Mars. It means that we might have found evidence of past life—which is still pretty damn cool.

A study published last week in Nature Communications raises anew the possibility that life once existed on Mars, by drawing a connection between opaline silica deposits found near the “Home Plate” feature in Gusev crater, and opaline silica at El Tatio, a geyser field located high in the Andes mountains of northern Chile. A rubbery-looking substance forming bumpy nodules that lack crystal structure, opaline silica was first discovered on Mars by the Spirit rover in 2007. It’s taken to be evidence of past hydrothermal or volcanic activity.

Opaline silica deposits at El Tatio, Chile. Image: Steve Ruff

“This mineral, opaline silica, can form in various ways,” said Steve Ruff, the planetary scientist at Arizona State University who led the recent study. “It can form around a hot spring or geyser, or in fumaroles,” he added, referring to the steaming vents around volcanoes that spew hot, sulfur-rich gases into the air.

Initially, Ruff and his colleagues suspected Spirit’s opaline silica deposits formed billions of years ago, from basaltic rocks that were leached by sulfuric acid pouring out of fumaroles. But as they continued to analyze Spirit’s data, the scientists began to favor another possibility: opaline silicate precipitating out of hot, mineral-rich waters. After Spirit became stuck in a rut in 2009, and died in 2010, there was no way prove one scenario or the other.

Comparison of opaline silica structures found on Mars (left panels) and El Tatio (right panel) at various scales. a-b scale bar represents 10 cm, c-d scalebar represents 5 cm, and e-f scale bar represents 1cm. Image: Ruff and Farmer 2016

A few years back, Ruff got a new lead. Reading a volcanology paper, he came across a reference to El Tatio, a vast Chilean hydrothermal system located 14,000 feet above sea level, where hot spring and geyser channels contain deposits of opaline silica. Excitingly, many of the silica deposits at El Tatio bore striking similarity to those in Gusev crater, and the cold, arid environment seemed pretty Mars-like, too.

To learn more about what’s shaping opaline silica minerals on Earth, Ruff and his colleague Jack Farmer traveled to El Tatio to survey the environment and collect samples for spectral analysis and high-resolution imaging. They learned that silica minerals at El Tatio form in shallow, hydrothermal waters—and that the deposits most closely resembling the Martian ones occur in the presence of microbes.

Specifically, opaline silica deposits featuring the clumpy nodules and tiny, finger-like structures seen on Mars tend to form alongside sticky mats of microorganisms, called biofilms. In some environments, microbes will actively trigger mineral formation, but that doesn’t seem to be the case at El Tatio.

“At this point, we can say it’s a passive process,” Ruff said. “These microbial matts form in shallow water, and they start connecting to what’s there—which is silica nodules. As they’re clinging onto these nodules, they’re becoming coated in silica.”

From the looks of it, the finger-like structures at El Tatio form as colonies of microbes try to escape death, growing their biofilm away from silica minerals, only to eventually become entombed. Which raises an intriguing question: If the opaline silica on Mars formed in a similar environment, is made of the same stuff and takes on the same shape, was it formed in the same way?

We won’t know the answer unless we send another rover to Gusev crater, collect samples, bring those sample back to Earth, and analyze them using fancy electron microscopes. (The next US rover to Mars, in 2020, will collect samples for a return mission, but its landing location has not yet been determined.) Only if scientists can show that the silica structures on Mars and Earth are a microscopic match can they say they’ve found a true biosignature.

Or not. “In my opinion, [these deposits] could very well be due to abiotic reactions and are only a ‘potential biosignature,’” Rocco Mancinelli, an astrobiologist at NASA’s Ames Research Center who was not involved with the study told Gizmodo. “My guess is that this is an abiotic phenomenon.”

For now, the deposits remains a curiosity, perhaps hinting at ancient life, but certainly at a world that was nothing like the Mars we know today.

[Nature Communications]

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SEO basics: What is SEO?


SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the practice of optimizing websites to make them reach a high position in Google’s – or another search engine’s – search results. SEO focuses on rankings in the organic (non-paid) search results. In this post, I’ll answer the question “What is SEO?” and I’ll explain how we perform SEO at Yoast.

Google’s algorithm

In order to make web pages appear in high positions in the search results, SEO tries to shape a website according to Google’s algorithm. Although Google’s algorithm remains secret, over a decade of experience in SEO has resulted in a pretty good idea about the important factors.

Read on: ‘What does Google do?’ »

In our view, the factors in Google’s algorithm can be divided into two categories, which determine the ranking of your website together:

1 On-page SEO factors

On-page SEO factors are all the things you can influence on your own website. All kinds of technical aspects of your website are important for the chances of your website to rank in the search engines. WordPress actually is a rather SEO-friendly platform. Combined with our Yoast SEO plugin, most technical challenges are covered.

The structure of your website, your site speed and the content of your site are other important on-page SEO factors. Just browse through the different categories of our SEO blog to find all those important on-page ranking factors.

New to SEO? Learn the Basics of SEO in our Basic SEO course »

Basic SEO training$ 199€ 199 – Buy now » Info

2 Off-page SEO factors

Next to on-page SEO factors, there are off-page SEO factors. These off-page SEO factors are a bit more difficult to influence, though. The most important off-page factor are the links to your site. The more (relevant) sites link to your website, the higher your ranking in Google will be.

Read more: ‘Link building from a holistic SEO perspective’ »

Another off-page factor is the competition or the niche of your specific website. In some niches, it is much harder to rank, than in other niches. The competitiveness of your market therefore also has a large influence on your chances to rank.

Yoast on “What is SEO?”

At Yoast, we believe in what we call holistic SEO. SEO should never be a trick. It should be a sustainable long-term strategy. Using tricks in order to fit Google’s algorithm only works in the short run. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google wants to show their users the best result for a specific keyword. If you want to rank for that keyword, you should simply try to be the best result.

Be the best result!

Being the best result means focusing on technical excellence, great User Experience, flawless website security, and really awesome content. You should focus on all the aspects of website optimization in order to be the best result. That’s what our holistic SEO strategy is all about!

Keep reading: ‘10 tips for an awesome and SEO-friendly blogpost’ »

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Skinnerbox’s free M4L Device is the MIDI curve Ableton forgot


Ableton Loop in its second year was a vastly expanded event, with more people, more interactions, and a greater sense of community. And it was more hands-on. The workshop with Skinnerbox, the duo that makes such robust use of Live, well, live, was overflowing. But now there’s a gift for everybody, not just those lucky enough to pack into the Berlin session.

It’s simple, but that makes it handy to learn from. And it’s quite useful. (I like stuff like that for learning patching for the first time. Sometimes you need a screwdriver, not a CNC machine.)

Curve does what it sounds like – take a MIDI input, map to a curve. It really ought to be a native MIDI device, but until Ableton does (cough), it’s a great Max for Live tutorial.


CURVE by SKINNERBOX is a follow up device to our workshop during ableton loop 2016. simply map a midi controller to “MIDI IN” and use the mapping controls to map the incoming signal to any parameter within live. the “CURVE” parameter allows you to apply a logarithmic / exponential curve to the incoming signal and thus make the most out of your controller and add some “musical” precision. values less then 1. will produce a logarithmic curve whereas values more then 1. will produce an exponential curve.

Grab it on the de facto repository for this stuff, maxforlive.com:


Hear the epic live set Skinnerbox played at Fusion Festival

The post Skinnerbox’s free M4L Device is the MIDI curve Ableton forgot appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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The hydrogen-powered generator that was almost a home-shopping hit


Joy, last year’s film about QVC and Home Shopping Network inventor Joy Mangano, may not have been the best collaboration between superstar Jennifer Lawrence and director David O. Russell. But the fact that Mangano inspired a major movie — as well as her continued success — says something about both invention and entrepreneurship. Between rapidly advancing high-tech gadgetry and the huge focus on the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley, it’s easy to forget that the umbrella of invention is much wider. As Joy shows, it’s about finding a new solution to an existing problem. Easier said than done, of course.

That spirit of invention is what drove the American Dreams invention competition, a partnership between HSN and Good Housekeeping magazine. Hundreds of teams sent in details about their inventions, and about 100 were chosen to pitch to a panel of judges from HSN and Good Housekeeping. Out of that group, nine just-announced finalists will show their products on-air for HSN in December, and one winner will be granted the coveted Good Housekeeping Seal.

While HSN sells plenty of technology-focused products and has partnerships with major companies like Microsoft and Amazon, the contest mostly stayed in HSN’s traditionally popular categories. The finalists included home, kitchen and beauty products, with a smattering of home-improvement and travel accessories mixed in. That’s not to downplay the work being done by these inventors — but my hopes for seeing someone pitching some unknown, possibly experimental new technology appeared to be dashed. That is, until Marc Collins and Leah Lastre, the creators of iHOD, made their presentation.

Putting aside the unfortunate name for a moment, the iHOD Energypod is a product that’s unlike anything I’ve really seen before. At its most basic, the deceptively heavy sphere is a portable power generator — but instead of running on diesel, it uses small hydrogen pods that it can convert into energy on the fly. It’s silent and produces very little in the way of emissions, so it’s safe to use inside.

It includes a few standard 110v power sockets as well as USB connectors to keep your phone going. The obvious use case is in the home as a backup power supply in case of emergency, but iHOD also sees it as a way for people to stay connected wherever they are. Its capabilities are impressive, but they come with a few caveats.

Most notable is safety: You’re probably thinking, "Isn’t hydrogen highly combustible?" Fair point. It’s something judges asked iHOD about when the company showed its creation, and it’s obviously something it’s considered. The fuel pods, little hockey pucks that power the Energypod, contain two inert powders. Once water is added to the mix, hydrogen is created and pumped into the reactor to create electricity.

Collins said the iHOD team had been working on ways to use hydrogen safely for about four years before coming up with the current formula; he also noted there were two key safety points that allow the Energypod to do what it does. "The first one is to keep things, so we run it at a very low temperature," Collins said. "The next one is keeping the pressure low through the method within the pod itself. We run that around 7psi — if you kiss someone, you’ve got about that kind of pressure."

Between the low temperature and pressure, as well as the fact the fuel pods are inert, iHOD believes its method is totally safe. But it’s still powerful — in the demo I saw, the Energypod was powering a small flat-screen TV, a Samsung tablet, a USB fan and a lamp. Collins says it outputs between 105 and 110 watts, and iHOD is working on making more powerful versions as well.

All this power comes at a cost, though — iHOD set pricing for the Energypod at $899, and fuel pods cost $20 each. Collins declined to say exactly how long a pod would last; it certainly will vary depending on what’s plugged in and how hard you’re pushing it. While that price feels high in a vacuum, there’s really nothing to compare the Energypod to, and it’s not so crazy that people wouldn’t consider having it around for emergencies as well as the odd camping trip.

The panel of judges from HSN and Good Housekeeping

IHOD didn’t fit in with the rest of the products pitched at the HSN American Dreams competition. But that didn’t keep the judges from showing a lot of interest in it — in fact, the Energypod was picked to be one of the finalists to pitch its product directly on the air for HSN. It was set to show up competing for the top spot alongside items like the self-explanatory Travel Head Pillow, the surprisingly cool Re-Grip (which adds a strong and sturdy plastic grip to any handle), and the Original Wall Stamp (which lets you add patterns and art to your walls). IHOD’s ambitious and somewhat experimental product was truly an outlier in the field; you can find more details on all the finalists here and judge for yourself how well it fits in.

The Re-Grip in action.

But unfortunately for iHOD, the company wasn’t able to meet the manufacturing timeline dictated by the contest, and it was dropped from the event. For its part, iHOD’s Leah Lustre told me over email that the completion of iHOD preproduction units didn’t fit with the Good Housekeeping magazine deadline, but the current plan is to have the Energypod ready to deliver to customers by the end of Q1 2017.

This delay doesn’t stop the Energypod from being a standout, in large part because the company has plans that go far beyond offering portable power for people in the US. It’s starting here as a retail product, but Collins spoke at length about his desire to help get people on the grid in countries without a developed electrical infrastructure.

"We set the business up originally to try and get sufficient personal power to Africa, to the billions of people that don’t have energy or electricity,’ he said. "That’s a big market, and you can’t put a grid together and start pushing out electricity the same as we have in the US or Europe." In some ways, iHOD’s US launch is a test case for getting out to other markets that will rely on the Energypod as a sole power source rather than a backup generator.

"This is a steppingstone, a way of getting power out to the people that need it in the US for various purposes," Collins said. "But then we want to push the humanitarian side of things and start others connect to the rest of the world." It’s a bold mission, but iHOD will need to get its manufacturing processes sorted out to achieve that goal — and it’ll have to do so without the boost in popularity that HSN and Good Housekeeping’s contest would have provided. But an HSN spokesperson says the retailer will likely work with iHOD down the line. Still, it’s too bad iHOD wasn’t able to get to the finals — a product so far outside HSN’s comfort zone could have inspired some other tech inventors to try and get on cable’s biggest retailer in the future.

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