You might have noticed a new end-of-year trend on Instagram the past few days. If so, you can thank 2017bestnine.com, a website that lets you automatically collect and collage your most-liked photos of 2017.
Best Nine has been around for a while, so many of you may be familiar with the tool already. But for those of you who are new to that Best Nine game, here’s how it works.
First of all, your Instagram profile must be public for this to work, so if you have it set to private, quickly switch it to public to allow Best Nine to get in there and do its magic. Once your profile is public, head to 2017 Best Nine and input your Instagram ID.
After a few seconds (or minutes, depending on traffic to the site), the Best Nine service will offer you options for your final collaged photo that includes your best nine photos from 2017.
The ‘original version’ includes a caption that says “Thank you for your likes!” with the hashtag #2017bestnine at the top. You can also choose the photo only version or check out your best nine from 2016.
The final version looks something like this:
And with that, 2017 is nearly over. Happy New Year, everyone!
Featured Image: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto/Getty Images
Imagine attending a business meeting with an Amazon Echo (or any voice-driven device) sitting on the conference table. A question arises about the month’s sales numbers in the Southeast region. Instead of opening a laptop, opening a program like Excel and finding the numbers, you simply ask the device and get the answer instantly.
That kind of scenario is increasingly becoming a reality, although it is still far from common place in business just yet.
With the increasing popularity of devices like the Amazon Echo, people are beginning to get used to the idea of interacting with computers using their voices. Anytime a phenomenon like this enters the consumer realm, it is only a matter of time before we see it in business.
Chuck Ganapathi, CEO at Tact, an AI-driven sales tool that uses voice, type and touch, says with our devices changing, voice makes a lot of sense. “There is no mouse on your phone. You don’t want to use a keyboard on your phone. With a smart watch, there is no keyboard. With Alexa, there is no screen. You have to think of more natural ways to interact with the device.”
As Werner Vogels, Amazon’s chief technology officer, pointed out during his AWS re:Invent keynote at the end of last month, up until now we have been limited by the technology as to how we interact with computers. We type some keywords into Google using a keyboard because this is the only way the technology we had allowed us to enter information.
“Interfaces to digital systems of the future will no longer be machine driven. They will be human centric. We can build human natural interfaces to digital systems and with that a whole environment will become active,” he said.
Amazon will of course be happy to help in this regard, introducing Alexa for Business as a cloud service at re:Invent, but other cloud companies are also exposing voice services for developers, making it ever easier to build voice into an interface.
While Amazon took aim at business directly for the first time with this move, some companies had been experimenting with Echo integration much earlier. Sisense, a BI and analytics tool company, introduced Echo integration as early as July 2016.
Roxy, a startup that got $2.2 million in seed money in November, decided to build its own voice-driven software and hardware, taking aim, for starters, at the hospitality industry. They have broader ambition beyond that, but one early lesson they have learned is that not all companies want to give their data to Amazon, Google, Apple or Microsoft. They want to maintain control of their own customer interactions and a solution like Roxy gives them that.
In yet another example, Synqq introduced a notes app at the beginning of the year that uses voice and natural language processing to add notes and calendar entries to their app without having to type.
As we move to 2018, we should start seeing even more examples of this type of integration both with the help of big cloud companies, and companies trying to build something independent of those vendors. The keyboard won’t be rendered to the dustbin just yet, but in scenarios where it makes sense, voice could begin to replace the need to type and provide a more natural way of interacting with computers and software.
Iran has moved to restrict social media networks that have been used to organise four days of anti-establishment protests.
The "temporary" restrictions on the apps Telegram and Instagram were imposed to "maintain tranquillity", state news agency Irib reports.
The protests have been the biggest show of dissent since huge rallies in 2009.
President Hassan Rouhani has said Iranians have the right to protest, but not cause disorder.
The protests began in the north-east as an outcry against economic hardship and rising prices, but turned political in many places, with slogans chanted against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Mr Rouhani and Iran's interventionist foreign policy in the region.
In his first public comments since the demonstrations broke out, the Iranian president, speaking at a cabinet meeting, said that citizens were "completely free to make criticism and even protests".
But he added that the government would not tolerate any action that created "social disorder", the Iranian Students News Agency reported.
After violence flared in many places on Saturday, it is unclear how many demonstrations are occurring on Sunday. Small crowds have gathered in Tehran and police have used water cannon to disperse protesters at a major intersection - as captured in a video obtained by BBC Persian.
In a tightly controlled media environment, much of the information about the demonstrations has emerged via social media, and platforms like Telegram and Instagram have been used extensively by protesters.
Telegram in particular is very popular in Iran, with more than 50% of the country's 80m population said to be active on the app.
The company's CEO Pavel Durov tweeted that Iranian authorities took action after his company refused to shut down "peacefully protesting channels".
He said a new "peaceful channel" - access to which is now being restricted - was set up for hundreds of thousands of their subscribers.
Iranian Communications Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi had earlier accused channels like Amadnews of promoting "armed uprising and social unrest", including the use of petrol bombs.
Where will the protests lead?
Analysis by Kasra Naji, BBC Persian
There is widespread and seething discontent in Iran where repression is pervasive and economic hardship is getting worse - one BBC Persian investigation has found that on average Iranians have become 15% poorer in the past 10 years.
Protests have remained confined to relatively small pockets of mostly young male demonstrators who are demanding the overthrow of the clerical regime.
They have spread to small towns throughout the country and have the potential to grow in size.
But there is no obvious leadership. Opposition figures have long been silenced or sent into exile.
Even in exile, there is no one opposition figure that commands a large following. Some protesters have been calling for the return of the monarchy and the former shah's son, Reza Pahlavi, who lives in exile in the United States, has issued a statement supporting the demonstrations. But there are signs that he is as much in the dark about where these protests are going as anyone else.
BBC Persian, which broadcasts on TV, on radio and online from London, is banned in Iran - where staff and their families routinely face harassment and questioning from the authorities.
Has there been violence?
There were outbreaks of clashes in several cities on Saturday and two protesters died of gunshot wounds in the western city of Dorud.
The authorities said security forces did not open fire on demonstrators, and blamed the deaths instead on Sunni Muslim extremists and foreign powers.
Correspondents say the reference to foreign intelligence agencies was intended to mean Saudi Arabia.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards have warned anti-government protesters they will face the nation's "iron fist" if political unrest continues. Scores of people are reported to have been arrested in recent days, including 200 in Tehran on Saturday night.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is a powerful force with ties to the country's supreme leader, and is dedicated to preserving the country's Islamic system.
Brig-Gen Esmail Kowsari told the Isna news agency: "If people came into the streets over high prices, they should not have chanted those slogans and burned public property and cars."
Iran's interior minister has also warned the public that protesters will be held accountable.
What has been the response, at home and abroad?
The Iranian authorities are blaming anti-revolutionaries and agents of foreign powers for the outbreak of protests.
But politicians have also weighed in. Reformists tend to stress people's right to freedom of expression, while conservatives highlight economic problems and accuse some of attempting to hijack the protests and divert attention from economic problems to political demands.
It’s been pretty easy to point at Twitter and, with each quarterly moment when it discloses its financial guts, let out a long exasperated sigh.
Twitter since going public at a now in retrospect astounding valuation has for much of its public life been quite the disappointment to Wall Street. But then something interesting happened in the back half of 2017: it went on a rather spectacular run, and though ending on a bit of a slump, it looks like it could finish the year up more than 25 percent — which, by Twitter terms, is pretty good.
Twitter has also seemingly begun taking more action when it comes to enforcing new rules around harassment and abuse, a problem that has been hounding the company for years and is even more visible this year. Earlier this month it said it would begin enforcing new rules around how it handles hateful conduct and abusive behavior. Twitter’s strategy here has been often opaque, and while it’ll take a while to reach some kind of middle ground, it’s actually doing stuff.
And doing stuff, it seems, is currently enough for Twitter to figure out how to get a nice up-and-to-the-right-ish chart like this one:
While these stocks — especially volatile ones — will swing often, sometimes the general idea is to try to gauge the future potential of the company. For Twitter, that means it’s going to have to figure out a way to re-ignite growth and get users coming back and using the platform. It has some very deep core issues, and sometimes seems to flip-flop on its own actions and have troubles communicating. But if Twitter is somehow able to right this ship, it may have an opportunity to get that growth engine moving again.
Most executives will probably give the boilerplate “we are committed to delivering long-term value for shareholders” argument for stock swings in the near term, but those swings are really significant for the company. It’s the closest thing to a near-term public barometer for the company’s success, which means it does a lot for employee morale. And it also can be significant for attracting talent, as the company may need to offer more generous compensation packages to rip people away from companies that are high-growth or well-established.
Twitter, going forward, it appears, needs to keep doing stuff. It’s made a lot of moves in the video space in addition to building business tools — like a video-centric ad format. And it certainly has done that to some extent, trying to extend its pitch as a real-time communications platform to video. It needs to continue cracking down on harassment and abuse if it’s going to attract new, more casual users. It needs to keep making tweaks to its products even under the risk of alienating some of its users to make it more user-friendly. In short, there’s a lot of stuff to be done.
What’s arguably the richest part of this whole story, however, is that Twitter now has roughly the same market cap as Snap following its back-of-the-year run. Hovering at around $18 billion, it’s the tale of two runs here: Twitter found some way to turn its story around, and Snap is still having some pretty dramatic issues telling its story to Wall Street. Both have the specter of user growth over them, but somehow Twitter has been able to at least throw a rock in the opposite direction to get the attention of investors temporarily.
Will Twitter get its wish of finally escaping the MAU? Probably not. But for now, it looks like Dorsey and the rest of them have figured out at least some small way to sell the promise of Twitter to Wall Street and get them on board for the time being.
Featured Image: Yana Paskova/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Happy New Year! It’s been a transformational year in tech. The golden era of startups ended. Sorry about that. The tech industry finally rolled over a big rock it had ignored and/or leaned on for years, and exposed the squirming morass of sexual harassment beneath. We witnessed major AI breakthroughs, a cryptocurrency megaboom, really truly self-driving cars, and 18 SpaceX launches.
But the Jons are not about those kind of accomplishments. The Jons, an annual award named (in an awe-inspiring fit of humility) after myself, celebrate tech’s more dubious achievers — and hoo boy oh boy were there a lot of those this year. So let’s get to it! With very little further ado, I give you: the third annual Jon Awards for Dubious Technical Achievement!
THE WHOLE WORLD OWES THIS GUY AN APOLOGY BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN HE ISN’T A LUNATIC AWARD FOR REVEALING THE TRUTH WHICH IS ACTUALLY OUT THERE, WELL KINDA, BUT STILL I MEAN HOLY SHIT
To Tom DeLonge of Blink-182, whose apparently delusional disquisitions about a secret Deep State government organization dedicated to tracking UFOs and harboring mysterious and possibly otherworldly alloys in warehouses, etc. etc. etc., turned out to be, incredibly, at least half true, per the New York Times’srevelation that such a program did exist until 2012. But wait, there’s more! That program’s principals are now employed by — that’s right — DeLonge himself. WTF. Does this mean UFOs are real? Probably not. Was this program pure pork? Very possibly. Is this nonetheless the most excellent story of 2017? You betcha.
THE IF YOU DISRESPECT THE SACRAMENT OF LINEAR REGRESSION ONE MORE TIME I WILL GET OLD TESTAMENT ON YOU AWARD FOR TRULY GODLIKE SELF-REGARD
To Anthony Levandowski, former “Alphabet self-driving car impresario” turned “Otto CEO” turned “Uber self-driving car impresario” turned “man in the dock staring down a whole heap of legal trouble which in turn unearthed even more jaw-droppingly bad Uber behavior,” but believe it or not that’s what this award is even about:
Two years ago, ‘Levandowski founded a religious organization, Way of the Future, to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence.” And people say tech is secular! I for one look forward to a novel legal defense arguing that the secular authorities should recuse themselves entirely from his case because of their long problematic history of misunderstanding and suppressing God’s prophets.
THE IF WE COULD PUT DRM ON AIR WE WOULD AND DON’T THINK WE AREN’T THINKING ABOUT IT AWARD FOR COMMODIFYING THE UNCOMMODIFIABLE
It was bad enough when Juicero applied DRM to juice before flaming out spectacularly. Worse yet when DRM was responsible for the virtual genocide of Second Life’s puffins and rabbits. But Reefill really took the cake, or, as Marie Antoinette might put it, ate the brioche: they want people to pay for the right to unlock tap water stations. I sure look forward to our air filters that must be fed quarters/satoshis every few hours so that we don’t have to breathe the raw polluted mutagenic biohazard air of our brave new DRMed dystopian future.
THE WE’RE VERY EXCITED THAT OUR TERRIBLE ARTICLE HAS STARTED SUCH AN INTENSE CONVERSATION THOUGH ADMITTEDLY ON CLOSER INSPECTION IT DOES SEEM TO CONSIST OF EVERY EXPERT IN THE ENTIRE WORLD TELLING US WE DONE FUCKED UP AWARD FOR OVERSTANDING YOUR JOURNALISTIC GROUND
To The Guardian — for decades, one of my favorite, most-trusted, most-read news organizations, for whom I’ve written myself — for their colossal WhatsApp screwup, which, inexplicably and indefensibly, took them five months to accept and semi-sorta-kinda-retract, despite an ongoing chorus of fury and horror from basically every security expert alive throughout that period. For shame.
THE THROW THEM UNDER THE BUS AWARD FOR THE BUCK STOPPING, UH, OVER THERE SOMEWHERE
To Equifax’s former CEO, Richard Smith, who blamed the massive security breach that exposed 143 million Social Security numbers etc. on one engineer not doing their job, rather than on, oh, say, the person responsible for a corporate structure so pathological that the security of the company’s data — and data management is this multibillion-dollar company’s one job — wound up being delegated to a single person with no oversight or backup.
THE IF YOU LIKED IT YOU SHOULD HAVE PUT A BLOCKCHAIN ON IT AWARD FOR BEST CORPORATE REBRAND
THE DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK AWARD FOR MOST TONE-DEAF ATTEMPT TO TURN DISGRACE INTO A BUSINESS MODEL
To former VC Justin Caldbeck, who retired in disgrace after an array of accusations of sexual harassment, and then, not five months later, tried to reinvent himself as a motivational speaker warning students about the dangers of “bro culture” while also sending more-or-less form emails to people “who have expressed public interest and a passion for this space,” asking for advice regarding “the website that I am making which is intended to be a [information about sexual harassment] resource.”
THE IT SEEMS PRETTY WIFTY AT FIRST BUT ON CONSIDERATION MAYBE WE SHOULD HAVE THESE AROUND EVERY CORNER AWARD FOR MOST INNOVATIVE CONFERENCE FEATURE
To the MAPS Psychedelic Science conference I covered earlier this year, and specifically its Healing Oasis zone for those for whom, uhhhh, the stresses of, uhhhh, the subject matter might have become a little too much. But you know what, the Ethereal blockchain conference a few months later had a yoga and chill-out zone too. Is this a trend? Will future tech conferences include sessions that consist largely of chanting in Haskell and new asanas named “The Drone,” “The Blockchain,” and “The Internet Of Things”? We can but hope.
THE YOU DO HAVE A HISTORY OF BEING A LITTLE UNCLEAR ON BASIC ECONOMIC CONCEPTS AWARD FOR SILLIEST MAJOR CRYPTOCURRENCY PROPOSAL
Note that weasel world major in there, but, I mean, c’mon, otherwise we’d be here all day: the government of Venezuela wants to issue a Proof-of-Work cryptocurrency backed by 5 billion barrels of oil. This is apparently not a joke. It is, however, very silly. I’ll let “Marmot Man” Preston J. Byrne explain exactly why:
This is absurd. Where an issuer can be identified (say, a sovereign) and the thing being bought and sold comes with legal rights (say, dividends from oil production), you obviate the need for mining. If you’re a country, the kind of system you want to run is a permissioned system where you control the validators, not an open system that can be hijacked by a bunch of anonymous electricity thieves in China.”
THE MATH IS BAD AND MUST BE BANNED MMMKAY AWARD FOR FAILING TO UNDERSTAND THE LIMITS OF DEMOCRATIC POWER
To all the clueless morons who keep hoping to ban end-to-end encryption, most notably the current UK government. Repeat after me: encryption is math. What’s more, many implementations of that math are open-source. You cannot ban math. If you force some companies to remove math from their software, people who want to use math will just use different software which does have math. All you will do is strip the benefits of math from the people for whom math is an ancillary rather than primary benefit. Everyone will lose. Please stop being idiots.
(UK government readers: please replace “math” with “maths” in the above paragraph to aid comprehension. I would assume this goes without saying but, well, this does not appear to be the case if you are part of the UK government.)
THE HOKEY INTELLIGENCE AND TECHNICAL COMPETENCE ARE NO MATCH FOR IGNORANT BIGOTRY, KID AWARD FOR CONFUSING WANTING SOMETHING WITH BEING ABLE TO DO IT
To the alt-right’s “parallel Internet,” which has become a land of: “ghost towns, with few active users and no obvious supervision. As technology products, many are second- or third-rate, with long load times, broken links and frequent error messages.” I’m shocked, shocked, that furious bigotry is inversely correlated with intelligence and technical competence.
THE PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN, THE FINE PRINT IN THE CONTRACT, OR THE CURIOUS BEHAVIOR OF THE WEREWOLF IN THE NIGHT-TIME AWARD FOR MYSTERIOUS FINANCIAL SHENANIGANS
To the … one or more entities … some of whom seem to be related in some way to the Bitfinex exchange, and the Tether cryptocurrency, who have apparently been engaged in a whole galaxy of shady, sketchy, manipulative, and/or market-warping cryptofinancial behavior over the last year or so, as doggedly and faithfully documented by yet another anonymous entity known as Bitfinexed, via the latter’s Medium posts and Twitter feed. Got a bunch of free time and an interest in financial skulduggery? Then I encourage you to dive down that rabbit hole and marvel at what you find.
THE FEET, LEGS, TORSO, ARMS, AND HEAD OF CLAY AWARD FOR THE FARTHEST FALL FROM GRACE TO FARCE
THE CALLING ME A CONSPIRACY THEORIST MEANS YOU’RE PART OF THE CONSPIRACY AWARD FOR MOST SELF-AGGRANDIZINGLY DELUSIONAL WORLDVIEW
Jointly awarded to Eric Garland, Seth Abramson, and Louise Mensch, whose breathless, incoherent, interminable, and consistently wrong Twitter tweetstorms, which basically try to remix reality with badly written Hollywood legal/political thrillers, exemplify a whole new kind of train-wreck political performance art informed by spectacular lack of self-awareness.
Mensch is perhaps the most unhinged of the three, but Garland is first among equals, because a) he apparently believes there is a million-dollar conspiracy to label him a conspiracy theorist and b) in the months and months and countless, endless tweets since he first rose to prominence with his “Guys, it’s time for some game theory” tweet, he has still, so far as I can tell, never actually discussed any game theory. As such his award shall come with a bonus shaggy-dog bobblehead.
THE REALLY IT DIDN’T EVEN SEEM LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME TO BE HONEST AWARD FOR THE MOST ILL-CHOSEN TATTOO
Welcome to the future: Your tattoo has a EULA that notes it’s subject to DMCA takedowns, might not work (and functions only if you pay $30 activation+$10 per year), subject to getting hacked, and the app company owns all content you upload pic.twitter.com/UODaIq2hTk
THE THAT’LL SHOW THEM AWARD FOR THE MOST INEFFECTIVE ACT OF TECHNO-POLITICAL DEFIANCE
To the entire parliament of the Republic of Chechnya, who quit Instagram en masse in solidarity with their leader, notoriously brutal thug Ramzan Kadyrov, after he was kicked off the platform. As a consequence of this bold move … no, hang on, turns out there were no consequences whatsoever, unless you count widespread mockery such as this.
THE WORM HAS TURNED AWARD FOR THE MOST INEFFECTIVE ACT OF TECHNO-POLITICAL ADVOCACY
To PotCoin, a cryptocurrency that focuses on marijuana transactions, who sponsored former NBA great Dennis Rodman’s January trip to North Korea in the hope of, and I quote, ‘something that’s pretty positive’ happening. I mean, in fairness, nothing disastrous happened, but it seems to me that peace has not yet returned to the Korean peninsula despite Rodman’s GOAT rebounding skills. Maybe next time?
Congratulations, of a sort, to the winners of the Jons! All recipients shall receive a bobblehead of myself made up as a Blue Man, as per the image on this post, which will doubtless become coveted and increasingly valuable collectibles. (And needless to say sometime next year they will become redeemable for JonCoin.) And, of course, all winners shall be remembered by posterity forevermore.
1Bobbleheads shall only be distributed if and when available and convenient. The eventual existence of said bobbleheads is not guaranteed or indeed even particularly likely. Not valid on days named after Norse or Roman gods.
There are countless fitness and diet apps. But if you’re looking for a new one, 8fit is worth checking out. Whether you want to “lose fat” or “gain muscle mass,” 8fit lets you track specific fitness goals. There are workout videos for yoga and tabata. It’s also adding videos to target your core and arms. You can also log exercises and sync steps with Apple Health. 8fit additionally has a diet section, for monitoring what you eat. Whether you’re vegetarian or looking to avoid carbs, there are plenty of options suitable for various diets. 8fit will help you build a customized meal plan, complete with recipes. The basic app is free and available on both iOS and Android. Users are charged $5 per month for 8fit Pro, with added functionality. The app is currently ranked #10 in the health & fitness category on Apple’s App Store.
Regardless of what your resolutions are, this app will help you get it done. The aptly named “Done,” lets you set your own goals and get reminders. Done charts your progress, so you can see how you performed this week or this month. The data is exportable and can be backed up by Dropbox. The beauty of the app is the simplicity. Another similar one is Habit List. (It actually helped me keep my fitness resolution last year!) I also use iHydrate, but that’s just for water-tracking. Done is free and available on iOS.
Forget self-improvement, what about helping others? ShareTheMeal is an app created by the United Nations World Food Programme to help children in poverty. For just 50 cents, the app will let you feed a child for a day. Or for $15, you can feed the child for a month. Whether its Syrian refugees or kids in Haiti, ShareTheMeal will let you determine which region your food is going to. You can also spread the word about the program, by using the app to share photos of your meals on social media. Over 18 million meals have been shared so far. The app itself is free and available on both iOS and Android.
"Because content is not taken down as quickly as they could do," he claimed, "we're having to de-radicalise people who have been radicalised. That's costing millions."
He said the refusal of messaging services - such as WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook - to give the security services access to message data was "turning the internet into an anarchic violent space".
"Because of encryption and because of radicalisation, the cost of that is heaped on law enforcement agencies," Mr Wallace told the newspaper.
He said "the time for excuses is at an end" and the government should look at "all options" of incentivising firms - "including tax".
"If they continue to be less than co-operative, we should look at things like tax as a way of incentivising them or compensating for their inaction."
He added: "We should stop pretending that because they sit on beanbags in T-shirts they are not ruthless profiteers.
"They will ruthlessly sell our details to loans and soft-porn companies but not give it to our democratically elected government."