7th Continent First Impressions

Only 3 days to go on the 7th Continent Kickstarter rerun and I finally managed to actually play the game to confirm if it is really as good as evertybody says. Good news: It is! Furthermore it turns out to be one of those rare board games that are ideally played with your significant other, which is exactly what I have been looking for. A “game” of 7th continent can last 15 hours+, but there is a very fast “save” mechanic which allows you to play in a series of short sessions. That would be difficult to pull off with friends you don’t see every day, but works great for me and my wife.

“Saving” the 7th Continent is actually a strategic move by itself, because you don’t save the map you already explored. This represents time passing in the world while you sleep. If you were to backtrack after restoring the game, the basic geography remains the same, but you might get different events happening while exploring. In our first game we saved when we successfully left area I and reached area II, which involved removing the map of area I anyway, so the save didn’t change anything for us. Of course at home you could just decide to leave the game set up on the table instead of saving, if you have a dedicated game table.

*Spoiler alert*

Just like a YouTube gameplay video it is hardly possible to talk more about the game without revealing some of its contents, so don’t read on if you want to avoid spoilers!

We played the first “curse” of the 7th Continent, curses being basically scenarios that give your exploration a starting point and a win condition. The one recommended to start with is called Voracious Goddess. But don’t expect any major storyline connected to that. The 7th Continent is a survival/exploration game, the stories that happen are about what you decide to do and how that worked out, not some scripted storyline to follow.

The core mechanic of the game is that the tile you are on and the cards you already found give you various actions you can attempt. Each attempt consists of drawing a number of cards and counting the number of successes on these cards. Each action tells you how many cards to draw, and how many successes you need, but various rules and cards can modify those two numbers. If you succeed something positive happens, if you fail something negative happens. Often you are allowed to draw more cards if you want, which makes success easy. But the deck of cards also represents your life, so if you draw cards with reckless abandon you will run out of cards. And then you need to use the cards from the discard pile instead, and if you draw a curse you are dead and the game ends.

What you are supposed to do to survive is to find places where you can hunt and find food when you are getting low on cards. Food puts cards back from the discard pile into the action deck, which allows you to keep playing. It is all nicely balanced and doable. Some people do complain they die too often, but there are several solutions to that: Either you handle the loop of goin exploring and taking care of survival by hunting better. Or you change the rules, which is something that doesn’t come natural to board game enthusiasts. But really, the game already does have an official easy mode which starts you with card 777, which allows you to basically ignore your first death. It isn’t such a stretch to expand that to unlimited uses of that item and literally “cheat death”. Instead of “survive or die” the game then becomes one of minimizing the number of times you use the cheat item.

On the other hand I can also see the interest of starting over. The Voracious Goddess curse we are playing starts you off on a small island. As it gives you a rough map, we went more or less straight towards the way off the island. But it turned out that this way we missed an essential item and couldn’t use the submarine to get off the island. Instead we decided to use the costly alternative option of swimming, which ended us freezing on some beach. So our success on the starting island, area I, determined where exactly and under what initial conditions we get to tackle area II. If we restart and play area I again, we’d use a different strategy. Furthermore on the first exploration you end up doing things in which the success isn’t all that great, or not essential for progress. So the next time around you just skip the non-essential parts and thus get to the next area faster and with less of your cards used.

I really like the 7th Continent, and I am looking forward to playing this with my wife for a long time. If ever we find the survival part too harsh, we’ll just change the rules to a more casual version. The fun of this game really isn’t just about winning or losing.

YouTube secures necessary deals for a paid music streaming service

  • YouTube recently signed deals with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Group.
  • Warner Music Group agreed to a deal back in May.
  • The deals with the three big labels pave the way for a new music streaming service.

The rumors of YouTube’s new music streaming service appear to be coming true. Earlier this month we told you about rumblings that the streaming platform would roll out a new subscription streaming service. Now, Bloomberg is reporting that YouTube has secured the necessary deals to make it happen.

According to the report, YouTube has just agreed to deals with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Group. Warner Music Group, the last of the big three music labels, agreed to a deal with YouTube earlier this year.

Universal confirmed that the agreement with YouTube will give artists more flexibility and better pay. In addition to the better royalty rates for rights holders, some songs and videos will only be available through this new paid service, according to a Bloomberg source. That source also indicated that earlier this year, Universal was able to take control of ad-supported channels. It also asked YouTube to improve the technology that scans for user-uploaded videos for copyrighted content.

Editor’s Pick

YouTube is currently one of the most popular platforms on the internet to stream music. Users can currently stream music for free, and the only revenue that rights holders see are from ad-based payouts and what channels see from YouTube Red subscriptions. This is in contrast to subscription-based services like Google Play Music, Spotify, and Apple Music that generate more revenue for music labels. The lack of revenue and approach toward protecting copyrighted material lead to friction between the streaming giant and music labels. But, this deal appears to sort out all of their issues.

Details on the new streaming service are nil right now. We expect that it will launch sometime in 2018, but we don’t have details yet on what it will cost or what it will include. If YouTube expects to turn users into paying customers, it’ll have to provide an incentive for them to pay up. Hopefully, that isn’t by restricting content that is currently free to stream.

What do you think YouTube’s new music streaming service will look like? What features would you want and how much would you be willing to pay?

Rupert Murdoch Seems to Have Forgotten That He Fired Bill O’Reilly

The only sexual-harassment problem they’ve had at Fox News was Roger Ailes, he said.

In light of the news that the Walt Disney Company had reached a deal to acquire most of 21st Century Fox, executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch spoke to Sky News TV about the move and other business matters at the empire.

But when the topic of sexual harassment allegations came up and whether they affected the network, Murdoch called the accusations “nonsense.”

“It’s all nonsense,” he said. “There was a problem with our chief executive, over the year, isolated incidents.” Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes stepped down in 2016 after over 20 women accused him of sexual harassment, and News Corp paid $45 million in settlements related to those allegations. Upon his departure, Ailes was awarded a $40 million exit package.

Murdoch told Sky News TV, “As soon as we investigated he was out of the place in hours — well three or four days. And there has been nothing else since then.”

Since then, since Ailes left News Corp, there has actually been quite a bit else.

The network’s biggest star, Bill O’Reilly was fired in April following numerous sexual harassment allegations and after the New York Times discovered that Fox had paid at least $13 million in settlements over complaints made against him. The network also terminated host Eric Bolling in September, after Huff Post reported that Bolling had sent unsolicited pictures of his genitalia to at least three female colleagues. Host Chris Payne was also suspended this summer after allegations of sexual harassment. He was later reinstated.

Murdoch claims the accusations were “largely political because we are conservative. The liberals are going down the drain. NBC is in deep trouble.”

The media industry, like Hollywood, the food industry and politics, has come under scrutiny for a culture of predation by men in power and systematic sexual misconduct. From NBC’s Matt Lauer, to CBS’s Charlie Rose, to PBS’s Tavis Smily, allegations of sexual harassment or assault have not been confined to conservatives. But to ignore how pervasive allegations specifically at Fox News have been is a very selective understanding of this current moment.

“There are really bad cases and people should be moved aside,” Murdoch said. “There are other things — which probably amount to a bit of flirting.” According to Sky News, the 86-year-old said that he did not believe sexual misconduct allegations had “affected investor sentiment towards his businesses.”

 

 

Related Stories

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  • 12 Most Insane Rules From the Biggest Neo-Nazi Website on the Internet
  • Rupert Murdoch’s Appalling Corporate Legacy: An International Empire of Sexual Harassment and Law Breaking

O’Reilly Accuser: Time Bomb of Info on Sex Harasser Executives in ‘Highest Positions’ at Fox News Is Counting Down

Fox News has paid out tens of millions of dollars in settlements related to O’Reilly alone.

“Tick tock, tick tock,” wrote conservative commentator and Bill O’Reilly sexual harassment accuser Juliet Huddy on Saturday. “Executives who not only covered up for sexual harassers/predators (statements by 21st Century Fox co-chairman Rupert Murdoch, who said on Friday that the sexual harassment and abuse scandal at his network is merely “nonsense,” and that it’s a “political” attack on the network “because we’re conservative.”

LawAndCrime.com said that in a post that she deleted from Facebook, but then posted on Twitter, Huddy wrote, “Rupert Murdoch is not just a media mogul. He’s a perpetrator, complicit in wrecking careers of hardworking, talented people while protecting their tormentors.”

She continued, “The more we shame disgraceful executives like Murdoch, the faster we send the message that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.”

In a statement to Law and Crime, Huddy said, “It’s ironic that O’Reilly, Murdoch and others have suggested that I, along with the other accusers, are part of some left wing conspiracy. [One], I’m fiscally conservative and socially liberal so let’s just get that out of the way. [And two], based on everything I have seen and has been reported, the participants in this, The Grand Conspiracy, are the executives at Fox.”

She said that Murdoch himself is not accused of harassing women, but that he was instrumental in covering up and burying stories about O’Reilly, former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and others.

Huddy is one of multiple women to whom Fox News has paid out tens of millions of dollars in settlements related to O’Reilly alone. A parade of other women have come forward with accusations of harassment, sexualized bullying and a “locker room” culture at the network.

 

Related Stories

  • Is This a ‘Sex Panic’ or a National Moment of Reckoning? Can’t It Be Both?
  • Why Some of Us Hesitated to Say #MeToo
  • How One American Journalist Took Down Militiamen Who Raped 50 Young Girls

Working with Adobe After Effects


About :

Adobe After Effects is a software program that allows its users to create animation and other special effects for graphic-related projects. Graphic designers use it to provide their projects with layer-based animation. After Effects is part of the Adobe family of software and is compatible with other Adobe software.

Index

1. Creating a New Composition and Importing Files

2. Building a Composition with Layers

3. Adding Animations, Effects, and Preset

4. Previewing and Rendering Your Composition 



1. Creating a New Composition and Importing Files



I. Make and set up a new composition. 

Projects in Adobe After Effects are called compositions, or comps. At the Welcome screen, locate and click on the “New Composition” button in the right column. If you already have the program open, you may either click on the “Composition” tab and select “New Composition” or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+N. Every time you create a new composition, a “Composition Settings” window will appear on your screen.

  1. Locate “Preset” and click on the drop-down menu. The menu is divided up into four sections, respectively: web settings, standard definition broadcast settings (NTSC and PAL), HD settings (the most commonly used), and film settings. Select the top HD preset: “HDV/HDTV 720 29.97.” This selection with automatically set the width, height, and frame rate.
  2. In the second row, locate “Start Timecode” and “Duration.” Leave the “Start Timecode” at 0. “Duration” refers to the total length of the project, from start to end. Set the “Duration” to the required length for your composition.
II. Save your composition. 

Before you begin to work on the composition, you should always name and save the project. Click on the “File” tab at the top of the screen. When you select “Save,” a “Save As” window will appear. 
At the top of the window, type in the name of your composition. Select a location to save this file to and click the “Save” button at the bottom of the screen. The saved composition will appear in the “Project” tab to the left of the screen.
While you may save this file in any location, it is recommended that you save your composition near your “Footage” file. This file is located within the “Exercise Files” folder.

III. Import files into Adobe After Effects. 

In order to create a composition, you need material to manipulate and animate. 
Select File>Import>File or double click on the “Project” tab. Select all of the files you wish to import and hit “Open.” The imported files will appear in the “Project” tab.
 Alternative methods include:

  • Double click anywhere on the “Project” tab.
  • Strike “Command + I.”
  • Drag images directly into the “Project” tab.



2. Building a Composition with Layers


I. Add files to your composition. 

A composition is a composite graphic, or a composite of layers. Each individual layer of your composition is made up of a file. All of the layers combined form a composite graphic. There are several ways to add a file to your composition.

You may drag and drop files from the “Project” tab into the “Timeline” tab (located at the bottom right of the window), the “Composition” window (located to the right of the “Project” tab), or the “Layer” tab (located directly below the “Project” tab.)

II. Organize and edit the layers. 



Once the files appear in the “Layer” tab, you may begin to manipulate the files. From this tab, you may alter the order of the files and edit the appearance of a file.
To adjust the hierarchy of the layers, drag a file up or down the list. The order of the files will alter the appearance of the composition (see the “Composition” window.) Files at the top of the layer list will appear over files at the bottom of the layer list.

To alter the appearance of a file, click on the sideways triangle next to the layer’s number. This will open up a “Transform” menu. From this menu, you may alter the following properties: anchor point, position, scale, rotation, and/or opacity.

III. Generate a timeline for your composite graphic. 



The “Timeline” function allows you to animate the graphic—it controls when each layer is or is not visible. The “Timeline” is located to the right of the “Layer” list. Each layer has it own life bar within the timeline, which you can trim, extend, or group with other layers as desired.

IV. Trim your layers.



Select a layer from the list. Move your cursor over the line dividing the list and the timeline so that a double arrow appears. Click and drag the double arrow across the timeline to produce a translucent grey box (this indicates that a clip is trimmed.) Stop once you reach the moment you would like the layer to appear.


The red line with the Blue tab indicates your current time known as play head. You can use this line to help you automatically trim layers. Select the layer you wish to trim. Drag the red line to your desired starting or ending point for the layer. Strike  ”
Command + [ ” to automatically trim a layer to the right of the red line, strike ” Command ] “.


V.Transform your 2D layers. 



When you work within the “Composition” window, you may manually position, or transform, the layers. Select a layer from the list. Move your cursor over the “Composition” window and zoom, or scroll, out. A set of handles will appear around the composition. This indicates the the layer may be transformed, or positioned.
  1. To shrink or expand the layer, click on the handle, press ⇧ Shift, and drag your cursor towards the inside or outside of the window.
  2. To rotate an element, press Ctrl+W. This will activate the rotation tool.
  3. To move a layer on a 2-D plane, click on the element you want to move and drag it to its new position.

VI. Create 3D layers. 




To create a 3D layer, return to the “Layer” tab. The column directly under this icon controls the 3D settings for each layer. To activate this feature, check the layer’s blank space in this column. Return to the “Composition” window—if you activated the 3D property, a Y, X, and Z handle will appear on the layer’s anchor.

VII. Transform your 3D layers. 




To move a 3D layer, press CTRL+W to activate the rotation tool. Hover your cursor over the X or the Y axis. Click on the axis and drag your cursor to the left and right or up and down. The Z axis should always remain at “0.”

VIII. Apply the parent function to your layers. 



The parent function allows you to tie your layers together. One layer, the parent, will drive the actions of another layer, the child. The child layer, can still move independently of the parent.

  • Select the child layer (the layer that you want to apply the keyframes to)—this layer will become the child.
  • Locate the “Parent” category in the layer tab.
  • In the “Parent” column for this layer, locate the curly-q shaped icon in the child’s row. Click on the icon and draw a black line from the icon to the “Layer Name” section of parent. Through this process, the child will become tied to the parent.


3. Adding Animations, Effects, and Presets

I. Set up keyframes. 


Keyframes mark exact points in time when changes are to occur to a layer’s properties. This function, which is represented by a little stopwatch, allows you to animate your composite graphics.

  1. Move your red “Current Time Indicator” line to the moment at which you would like to activate a keyframe.
  2. Select a layer from the “List” tab.
  3. Expand the layer’s “Transform” or “Contents” tab.
  4. Click on the stopwatch icon next to the property you wish to alter. This will record a keyframe at the current time indicator. A yellow dot or a greater than/less than symbols will appear on the timeline to mark the keyframe.
  5. To see your keyframes on the timeline, lasso the layers you wish to view and press “U.”
  6. To move a keyframe, select a keyframe symbol on the timeline by lassoing it and then drag it to its new location. You may also copy and paste keyframes.

II. Animate keyframes. 



Keyframes allow you to animate your project. You may alter any of the properties listed under the “Transform” or “Contents” tab. There are two basic forms of animation: with ease or linear. If a layer in animated with ease, the layer will ease into and out of the motion. If a layer is linearly animated, the layer will start and stop moving abruptly and it will also move at the same rate the entire time. Altering a layer’s position is an example of linear animation.

  1. Click on the stopwatch next to “Position.”
  2. Move the red line to the point at which you would like the layer to be off the screen.
  3. Click on the layer’s anchor point.
  4. Hold down “Shift” as you drag the layer completely off of the screen. The motion path will appear as a purple dotted line and each related keyframe will appear as a purple square. To preview your animation, scrub the red line over the timeline.

III. Include effects and presets. 


Click on “Window” and “Effects and Presets.” You will see a list of various animations and effects that are available for application to your project. Simply drag and drop the effect or animation selection onto the layer to which you’d like to apply it. You should see the change immediately.

  • Effects include 3D, color correction, and various camera views.
  • Transition options include wipe, fade and checkerboard.
  • You may remove selections by dragging them off your projects.


4. Previewing and Rendering Your Composition


I. Preview your project. 

Select “Windows.” From here, click on “Time Controls.” A preview pane will pop up where you can select “Play” to see a rough draft of your project. If you wish to see a more finished version, click on “Ram Render Play.” If your project is especially long or requires a large amount of memory, adjust the resolution before you preview it. After clicking to play it, the video will run continually until you click on the screen to stop it.

II. Export your composition to Render Queue. 



If you need to produce and deliver a high-quality composition, export your project to the Render Queue. The Render Queue is built into Adobe After Effects.
Click on “File” at the top of the window. Select “Export” followed by “Add to Render Queue.” Instead of “File,” you may click on “Composition” and select “Add to Render Queue.”
In your Render Queue, locate “Output Module” and click on the linked text to the left of this section. A dialogue box will appear on your screen. From this screen, you can change the video and audio output settings. Click “Ok” when finished.

In your Render Queue, locate “Output To” and click on the linked text next to the left of this section. Another dialogue box will appear on your screen. The screen you prompt you to select a location to save your rendered composition. Click “Ok” when done.
Click on “Render” to export the composition.









III. Export your composition to Adobe Media Encoder. 


The Adobe Media Encoder will produce a compressed version of your composition. The Media Encoder will also export files that are compatible with specific web platforms. While your project is rendering in the Media Encoder, you may continue to work in Adobe After Effects.
Click on “File” at the top of the window. Select “Export” followed by “Add to Adobe Media Encoder Queue.” You may also select “Composition” followed by “Add to Adobe Media Encoder Queue” or drag the file directly into the “Adobe Media Encoder Queue” tab.
Locate the “Preset Browser.” Select the format for your composition. Drag this preset from the browser onto the file in the “Adobe Media Encoder Queue.”
In the queue, locate “Output To” and click on the linked text next to the left of this section. A dialogue box will appear on your screen and prompt you to select a location to save your rendered composition. Click “Ok” when done.
Click on the green play button to begin the export.

Want to learn Branding ? How to SEO, SEM ?

Want to switch your provider? Soon you’ll be able to do it with a single text in the UK

  • UK regulatory body Ofcom is introducing a new way to move mobile providers called “auto-switch”
  • Under the new rules, consumers will be able to switch networks with a single free text message
  • The rules will come into play in July 2019

Switching your network carrier can be an absolute nightmare what with all the different deals, new customer bonuses, and contractual small print to consider –  and that’s before all of the “please stay with us” phone calls you have to grit your teeth through when calling your current carrier.

Thankfully, the process has been getting easier in recent years, with improvements to number porting and simpler ways of unlocking phones. Now, in the UK at least, swapping providers is about to get even easier thanks to a new system set to be implemented by the regulatory body, Ofcom.

Dubbed “auto-switch”, Ofcom’s new rules distill most of the arduous process into a single code that does everything for you. Said code comes directly from your current operator via an online form, a phone call, or even a quick free text message.

Editor’s Pick

Once you have the code, all you need to do then is head over to whichever network you want to switch to, sign up, and provide them with the code. Think of it as a Porting Authorization Code (PAC code), but for your entire account.

Even better, once the code has been processed your old contract will terminate immediately, effectively ending any confusion or additional charges that might arise from the usual 30-day notice periods. The new system also lets you switch early by paying off your current contract when you originally request an auto-switch code.

If any of that has confused you (I was, if only because it sounds far too good to be true), Ofcom has provided a handy cartoon that shows the entire process in four simple steps which you can see below. As a result of the changes, Ofcom says it will be saving UK consumers around £10 million each year due to the ban on notice periods.

The sweeping changes will no doubt delight buyers, but Ofcom is fully aware that the new rules will put a lot of pressure on the current systems operators have in place. To help usher in the new age of easy-switching, Ofcom is setting a deadline of July 1st, 2019 so providers can make the necessary changes.

What do you think of the changes? Let us know in the comments.

Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms

The last time I wrote about idle games was nearly 2 years ago. In that time the games have evolved further. And if you look at my Steam account, Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms is a game I have played for over 300 hours. Or rather, not played. Or to be even more precise, played for a few hours, but have left running on my computer for over 300 hours. It’s complicated!

Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms combines the idle game genre with the RPG genre, and sprinkles a bit of an endless runner into the mix. You start out with one dwarven warrior, Bruenor (who is “famous” in the lore of D&D) on a side-scrolling screen encountering endless hordes of monsters on his way. The dwarf kills monsters, and you can help by dealing damage through clicking on monsters. Every monster drops gold. And that gold can be used to increase your click damage, or to increase the level of Bruenor, or unlock additional heroes and level those up. Once you have fulfilled certain requirements, e.g. kill 25 monsters, you can advance to the next level, where there is the next endless stream of monsters.

Because that is the point of an idle game, there isn’t a whole lot to do. However the game has more strategic depth than one would think, because you need to arrange your heroes in a formation. And with levels each hero acquires special abilities which influence his neighbors in the formation. At one point you will have more heroes available than there are slots in the formation. And selecting the best heroes in the best formation is far from a trivial task. In addition there are some story elements, mostly in the form of friendly banter between the heroes. So for an idle game it is the most interesting and strategic game I know. Yeah, I know, that isn’t saying much. But, anyway, I keep “playing” this.

The math behind the game is interesting in as far as it is exponential, and human brains have problems with exponential. Your stats and gold found quickly go up into million, billions, trillions, quadrillions, etc., until you switch to scientific notation in the settings because you don’t even know the units any more. The one thing that remains linear is gems, with just a handful of them dropping every 5 levels at each boss. With gems you can buy chests, which contain things like helpful potions or gear for your heroes. And, because this is a free-to-play game, of course you can also buy those chests for real money. I probably spent more than I should have, but sometimes when I feel down I use buying special offers in free-to-play games as a sort of retail therapy, and this is my current game of choice for this. I don’t claim that this is rational behavior. 🙂

One of the more interesting choices to do in this game is choosing when to stop a run and to start over. At the end of a run you get divine favor in function of the amount of gold you gathered. And that divine favor increases the amount of gold you will find on the next run. The exponential math is tuned in a way that your divine favor basically determines how far you get in a run, because at some point gold gathering and level gaining becomes very slow, while the monsters keep getting harder and harder, until you can’t beat them any more. So the ideal strategy is doing a run until you hit a progress wall, and then reset to collect divine favor and start the next run. The game is organized in a way that this also over time gives you access to different stories and locations. To make this trickier you can also spend your divine favor for bonuses, but of course if you spend too much the lack of divine favor hurts you more than the bonuses help.

The reason for my 300+ hours is something that I am not really happy about: Idle offline gives far less rewards than idle online. For example while the game is running online, you can set the levels to auto-advance. The latest patch even added “familiars”, which are legal click-bots, but also only work when the game is running. Thus one is pushed towards leaving the computer on for example at night. The whole thing smacks a bit of mining bitcoins, only that the rewards of the game are less valuable than bitcoins. Offline you still gather gold and divine favor at the level you currently are, but with diminishing returns. If you are on holiday and offline for a week you don’t come back with a huge amount of divine favor collected, you’d have gathered more online in a day or two. Still it is nice to get at least some rewards while offline.

Overall I like the game for the D&D Forgotten Realms theme, and the relatively large number of non-trivial decisions you need to make to advance. But it remains an idle game, and I am well aware that this won’t be everybody’s cup of tea.

Robert Mueller Has the Trump Team Panicked, No Matter What the President Says

The special prosecutor has reportedly obtained thousands of campaign emails.

Donald Trump responded to questions on Sunday saying he had no intention to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But while Trump was making this statement, both his team inside and outside the White House and Republicans in Congress continued to beat the drums for Mueller’s dismissal.

The president’s comments came a day after a lawyer representing Trump’s transition team accused Mueller of wrongfully obtaining thousands of emails sent and received by Trump officials before the start of his administration — a legal and public relations maneuver seen as possibly laying the groundwork to oust the special counsel.

The revelation that Mueller has obtained a large number of emails issued during the transition period had clearly sent Trump’s team scrambling. It’s not just that Mueller had this material now, but that he seems to have obtained it weeks ago, meaning that recent questioning of everyone from Jared Kushner to Hope Hicks may have been responding to questions for which Mueller already had the answers in hand. Considering that half the people Mueller has already indicted were convicted for lying, that has to have everyone in the White House carefully reviewing their time with the special counsel.

The Republican play on Mueller’s acquisition of the emails is that it is “illegal”—a charge made without bothering to state just what law might have been broken. On Sunday, Trump joined in the vague grumbling.

Trump criticized Mueller for gaining access to those emails, telling reporters the situation was “not looking good.”

But the letter from Trump’s lawyer and additional charges of partisanship by Mueller’s team, was enough to generate a rare statement from Mueller’s spokesman, Peter Carr.

“When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.”

Mueller’s gathering up the transition emails is giving Donald Trump a sad.

“It’s quite sad to see that,” Trump said. “My people were very upset about it.”

The potential for additional indictments over lying under oath gives Mueller even more leverage in his efforts to collect testimony directly concerning Trump … but Trump is maintaining an attitude of reduced concern.

Trump has spent much of his first year in office so enraged by the federal investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election that lawmakers who work with him tried to avoid the issue entirely and his friends worried that Trump might rashly fire the special counsel. But in recent weeks, Trump has privately seemed less frustrated about the investigation, according to multiple sources who have spoken with the President.

Trump has been telling people that he expects to soon be cleared “in writing,” and keeps insisting that Mueller’s investigation will soon be over.

“The President’s mantra is ‘All this Russia stuff, it’s all going to wrap up soon.’ He repeats it as fact,” said one source who speaks to Trump. “Part of me is like — ‘Are you serious? You believe this?'”

But there’s no indication that the special counsel is running out of either witnesses or information. Just eight months in, Mueller’s investigation is a less than a quarter of the length of the average special counsel or special prosecutor investigation, and less than a tenth of investigations like Iran/Contra or Whitewater. It could easily proceed through the length of Trump’s time in office—whether or not that time is shortened.

For the investigation to end anytime soon, as Trump indicates, it will likely be because Trump and the Republicans step in to halt the process before it can complete. But while others are working to tear down Mueller’s reputation and attack the integrity of the investigation, Trump himself seems to be spending time in fantasyland.

Three sources familiar with the President’s recent conversations about the investigation said Trump has become convinced that he will receive a letter of exoneration, which would be unusual. One source worried Trump would have a “meltdown” if that doesn’t happen.

Maybe he expects that letter to come with the signature of Jefferson Sessions. Or new special counsel Sean Hannity. And maybe they’ll also give him a gold star.

 

 

 

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Learn ABC of “A/B testing”

What is A/B Testing?

A/B Testing is one of the best way to compare two or more versions of an application or a web page.It enables you to determine which one of them performs better and can generate better conversion rates. You compare two web pages or applications by showing the two variants (let’s call them A and B) to similar visitors at the same time. The one that gives a better conversion rate, wins!

All websites on the web have a goal – a reason for them to exist

  • eCommerce websites want visitors buying products
  • SaaS web apps(Software as a service) want visitors signing up for a trial and converting to paid visitors
  • News and media websites want readers to click on ads or sign up for paid subscriptions

Every business website wants visitors converting from just visitors to something else. The rate at which a website is able to do this is its “conversion rate”. Measuring the performance of a variation (A or B) means measuring the rate at which it converts visitors to goal achievers.

Example

Let us assume that there is a web page and all the traffic is directed to this page. Now as a part of A/B Testing, you have made some minor changes like headlines, numbering, etc. on the same page and half of its traffic is directed to the modified version of this web page. Now you have version A and version B of the same web page and you can monitor the visitor’s actions using statistics and analysis to determine the version that yields a higher conversion rate.

A conversion rate is defined as the instance, when any visitor on your website performs a desired action. A/B Testing enables you to determine the best online marketing strategy for your business. Take a look at the following illustration. It shows that version A yields a conversion rate of 15% and version B yields a conversion rate of 22%.

Why Should You do A/B Test?

A/B testing allows you to make more out of your existing traffic. While the cost of acquiring paid traffic can be huge, the cost of increasing your conversions is minimal. To compare, a Small Business Plan  whose cost is equivalent to 5 to 10 Google Adwords clicks. The Return On Investment of A/B testing can be massive, as even small changes on a landing page or website can result in significant increases in leads generated, sales and revenue.

Traffic vs Conversion rate

What Can You Test?

Almost anything on your website that affects visitor behavior can be A/B tested.
webpage

  1. Headlines
  2. Sub headlines
  3. Paragraph Text
  4. Testimonials
  5. Call to Action text
  6. Call to Action Button
  7. Links
  8. Images
  9. Content near the fold
  10. Social proof
  11. Media mentions
  12. Awards and badges
Advanced tests can include pricing structures, sales promotions, free trial lengths, navigation and UX experiences, free or paid delivery, and more.

A/B Testing Process

The correct way to run an A/B testing experiment is to follow a scientific process. It includes the following steps:

Study your Website Data: Use a website analytics tool such as Google Analytics, and find the problem areas in your conversion funnel. For example, you can identify the pages with the highest bounce rate. Let’s say, your homepage has an unusually high bounce rate.

Observe User Behavior: Utilize visitor behavior analysis tools such as Heatmaps, Visitor Recordings, Form Analysis and On-page Surveys, and find what is stopping the visitors from converting. For example, “The CTA button is not prominent on the home page.”

Construct a Hypothesis: Per the insights from visitor behavior analysis tools, build a hypothesis aimed at increasing conversions. For example, “Increasing the size of the CTA button will make it more prominent and will increase conversions.”

Test your Hypothesis: Create a variation per your hypothesis, and A/B test it against the original page. For example, “A/B test your original home page against a version that has a larger CTA button.” Calculate the test duration with respect to the number of your monthly visitors, current conversion rate, and the expected change in the conversion rate.

Analyze Test Data and Draw Conclusions: Analyze the A/B test results, and see which variation delivered the highest conversions. If there is a clear winner among the variations, go ahead with its implementation. If the test remains inconclusive, go back to step number three and rework your hypothesis.

Report results to all concerned: Let others in Marketing, IT, and UI/UX know of the test results and the insights generated.

A/B Testing – Tools

There are various tools that can be used to generate hypothesis and to run the variations, these include:

  • Visual Website optimizer (VWO)
  • Google Content Experiments
  • Optimizely

All these tools are capable to run A/B Tests and to find the winner, but to perform post analysis these tools should be integrated with Google Analytics.

A/B Testing – Google Analytics

Google Analytics has two options for analyzing the data −

  • Universal Analytics
  • Classic Google Analytics

New Universal Analytics feature allow you to use 20 concurrent A/B Tests sending data to Google Analytics, however the Classic version allows only up to five.

Integrating Optimizely with Google Universal Analytics

To integrate Optimizely in to Universal Google Analytics, first select the ON button on its side panel. Then you must have an available Custom to populate with Optimizely experiment data. Then the tracking code must be placed at the bottom of the  head section of your pages. Google Analytics integration will not function properly unless the Optimizely snippet is above this Analytics snippet.

Configuration Steps

Optimizely uses Universal Google Analytics’ “Custom Dimensions” to tag your visitors with the experiments and variations to which they’ve been added. Configuring Optimizely to begin sending this information to Universal Analytics requires four steps −

Step 1

Add the following JavaScript code to your site wherever the Universal Analytics code exists after the ga(‘create’…) function fires and before the Universal Analytics ga(‘send’,’pageview’) function fires and the tracking call is made (see details in the next section) −

// Optimizely Universal Analytics Integration
window.optimizely = window.optimizely || [];
window.optimizely.push(“activateUniversalAnalytics”);

Step 2

In the Optimizely Editor, go to Options → Integrations then click on the Universal Analytics checkbox to enable the integration.

Step 3

Select the custom dimension you would like Optimizely to use. You have to ensure that the Custom Dimension should not be in use already by any other part of your site, or by another currently-running Optimizely experiment.

Step 4

Select a Custom Tracker if you are using a custom event tracker other than the default. This will change Optimizely’s integration call to use the custom tracker rather than the default.

Creating a Custom Report using Google Analytics

First step is to log into your Universal Analytics account and click the Customization tab at the top. You should see a Custom Reports list.

Next is to set up a Custom Report for each experiment that you have integrated Universal Analytics with.

  • Click on the New Custom Report → Enter the report title and add the metric groups you wish to view in the report.
  • To filter this report for only your Optimizely experiment, choose the Custom Dimension you set up previously as one of the Dimension Drilldowns.
  • Add this dimension in the Filters section and use a Regex match on the experiment ID for the experiment you want to filter.
  • Click on Save.

Want to learn Digital Marketing?

Is Kratom Safe Enough for the Fight Against Opioids?

A new study says “yes,” and finds it relieves anxiety and reduces negative moods, too.

A review of 57 years of international scientific evidence may help change the perception of kratom and restore its potential as a public health tool that deserves more research.

As the nation grapples for solutions to the opioid epidemic—now claiming more than 33,000 American lives each year—the potential of the psychoactive plant kratom to become a useful tool in the battle has been the subject of hot debate.

While some in the medical field and many in the general public attest to kratom’s ability to help curb opioid addiction and relieve pain, governmental agencies continue to warn against its dangers to mental health, citing links to psychosis and addiction. In 2016, the DEA briefly recommended criminalizing kratom possession and distribution, before withdrawing the proposal.

The study not only points to the potential benefits of kratom as a safer substitute for opioids, but also suggests the plant’s potential to reduce negative mood and relieve anxiety. Published online this week in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, it represents the largest systematic review of the scientific literature on kratom use and mental health.

“There is a lot of confusing information about kratom in the media that makes it difficult for clinicians and the public to make informed choices,” says lead author Marc T. Swogger, associate professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center’s psychiatry department. “This study clarifies that there is no good scientific basis for claims that kratom causes psychosis, suicide, or violence, and the available data do not indicate that kratom is a significant public health problem.”

Coauthor Zach Walsh, associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia notes that current approaches to addressing the opioid epidemic are leaving large numbers of high-need individuals without effective treatment.

“We need to explore all options, and our findings suggest it’s time to carefully examine the potential of this ancient plant,” says Walsh.

3 harmful myths about the opioid epidemic

Swogger and Walsh reviewed the combined results of 13 studies conducted between January 1960 and July 2017, using data from 28,745 individuals.

“There is a clear need for more rigorous, well-controlled, prospective studies to support a sophisticated, nuanced understanding of the plant,” says Swogger. “But data across cultures indicated that kratom has a legitimate role to play in mitigating harms associated with opioid dependence. The bulk of the available research supports kratom’s benefits as a milder, less addictive, and less-dangerous substance than opioids, and one that appears far less likely to cause fatal overdose.”

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa; also known as krathom or ketum) is part of the coffee family and has been used medicinally for centuries in Southeast Asia to relieve symptoms of opioid withdrawal, to relieve pain, diarrhea, and cough, and increase stamina and energy. People chew raw leaves of the kratom plant, boil them to serve as tea, smoke, or vaporize them.

How 30 opioid pills for surgery turn into a habit

In recent years, kratom’s use has expanded beyond Asia, and its leaves, powders, gums, capsules, and extracts are widely accessed through retail outlets and the internet in North America and Europe.

“We need more and better research to be able to outline the risks and benefits of kratom in greater detail,” Swogger says. “Only through well-controlled studies can we elucidate kratom’s potential for good and harm, and give the public, policy makers, and health care professionals the information needed to make informed decisions.”

Source: University of Rochester

Original Study DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.10.012

 

 

 

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