Over this past weekend, I decided to play around with Google’s new app called Auto Draw. It’s a vector based app that responds to your tablet or phone sketch and then creates an icon based on recognition of shapes. For instance, let’s say you need a flower icon for a button on your site or an app you’re developing. Simply draw a flower on your tablet/phone and voila, you got a clean vector icon of a flower that can be easily manipulated and edited with a few clicks on the interface. At least, that’s what the video presented and which was what got me very interested.
The Google Auto Draw app is currently in a beta testing mode where it’s been integrated into the site itself. I found it not as easy to use as the video suggested and tried it on both my iPhone and my iPad. There didn’t seem to be, that I recognized, any ease of use from either device.
My 5-year-old son is a whiz on his iPad so I let him try it out and see if maybe I was a bit too hasty in my critique. He played with it for about 2 minutes and was not in the least bit interested. The shape recognition seems to be lacking in a few areas, but for the most part, it’s very cognitive of what it is you might be trying to draw. The stroke of the lines, curves, and angles are spotless and reminiscent of the Bell System logo from the 80’s. I like that, and it’s a clean and simple rendering that just about anyone can do. In my professional opinion, I think it’s perfect for a less experienced marketing executive looking for fast and inexpensive vector art for a PowerPoint presentation.
I also see Auto Draw being of use to seasoned designers that need instant vector art on the fly. A lot of times I spend valuable minutes looking thru files and folders trying to locate something from a year ago. After testing the Auto Draw app on tablet surfaces, I decided to try it out on my MacMini with a 24” monitor, and it worked so much better. I attest that to the speed if of the processor, video card, and Mighty Mouse. The shape recognition is faster and intuitively accurate, to say the least. It was here where I found the link to download the app itself, and I’ve been using it all week.
It’s a powerful tool in the ever-expanding world of vector based graphics which can be used in print, web building, and multimedia. You can create flow charts to keep your projects organized or for creating visual presentations for clients. However, with the interface being so easy to use, I can’t help but wonder if Google will introduce more apps in the near future putting designers out of work. Honestly, I don’t see that happening but this is definitely a powerful and free vector based app that may sway software developers to follow suit.
Many small business owners set up a website, fill it with content, and then forget about it. Unfortunately, you can’t afford to adopt such a passive approach if you want a successful website that actually generates useful traffic. Luckily, website analytics are an excellent way to drill down into your website for clues on how to make it perform better.
Back in the day, you may have hired a Magento agency to create a fantastic website. It probably still looks amazing now, but you still need to monitor your website traffic. Analytics make this job so much easier. There is a wealth of detailed information available, and you don’t even need to be an SEO expert to access this information.
Anyone can open a Google Analytics account. It won’t take long to get your account up and running, and once it is, you can add a tracking ID to any website you own. This allows you to analyse website traffic, and a whole host of other metrics.
Top Performing Pages
Look at which pages attract the most visitors. Analyse these pages in depth to find out where your visitors are coming from, what keywords they use to find the page, and how long they spend on the page. This information will help you create more of the same. You can also leverage your high-performing pages by adding a strong call-to-action or more prominent ads on these pages.
Google Analytics offers a geographic breakdown of visitors, so you can see where your traffic comes from, right down to the town or city. This is more useful than you might think; especially if you are looking to expand your business into new areas. You might discover that you already have traffic from a specific country, which indicates your products or services are of interest.
What’s Your Bounce Rate?
There will always be visitors who click on a page and then click away almost immediately, but if your bounce rate is higher than expected, it indicates you have a problem. Look at page loading speed. If a page takes more than a few seconds to load, this could be the reason why your bounce rate is high. If so, ask yourself what’s causing the problem. Is it your server, or do you have too many graphics and videos on the page? Whatever the underlying cause is, fix it, as it is hurting your website.
Where is your traffic coming from – paid ads or organic traffic? This information tells you what is working, and also what isn’t. Check whether traffic is coming from mobile or desktop devices. Again, this is very important for future optimisation.
If you pay close attention to how visitors interact with your website, your traffic will grow a lot faster.
Millennials are consistently seen as reluctant investors. Some are a decade into their career, but they’re still relatively risk-averse, which many analysts believe is largely the result of the fact they grew up or came into adulthood in the midst of the Great Recession. Millennials have seen one of the worst financial environments in history, which has understandably made them gun-shy when it comes to investing, particularly in the stock market.
To combat that sense of hesitation, fintech companies have been creating platforms and technology that speak specifically to Millennials, and many of these companies have been quite successful in the process.
One of the biggest fintech trends leading the way not just for Millennials but investors in a range of age brackets is robo-investing. The premise behind robo-investing is one that Millennials tend to embrace because it’s seen as easy, inexpensive, and it gives the ability to create a set-it-and-forget strategy that requires minimal effort.
Robo-investing is also a viable alternative to the old way of doing things, which was to work with a financial advisor. Financial advisors, however, have been lumped in with many others in the financial services industry, such as bankers and lenders, and they’re not necessarily viewed in the most positive light by Millennials. Robo-investing platforms like Betterment give them the opportunity to skip the financial advisor, while still getting similar advantages, such as diversification and tax efficiency.
In the past, most investors would use services such as YAHOO! Finance to do their research and to track stocks, but there has been a new wave of trading software popping up that’s more comprehensive than ever before. Options such as Stocks to Trade, which was introduced by Millennial investment professional Timothy Sykes, is designed not just for the Wall Street elite, but is instead for real people.
These trading software platforms include some of the most varied data points available, and they give users the opportunity to see everything they could need or want to know about all of the big markets in one location.
Budgeting and Spending
When looking for strategies to invest, it’s just important to decide how you’ll allocate your assets. It’s also important to look at your investment capabilities versus your income and spending needs. That’s why budgeting apps and banking services are also an essential component of many Millennials financial and investment strategies.
Just one of the many examples is called Simple, which is essentially branchless banking where everything can be done on a mobile phone.
This helps investors and would-be investors because it has features to create specific, personalized goals, such as putting aside a certain amount of money each week to invest. It also includes a feature called “Safe-to-Spend” which lets users see how much they can spontaneously spend without sabotaging their budget and existing goals.
Finally, another big way fintech is changing the investing landscape not just for Millennials but for everyone? Peer-to-peer lending.
Peer-to-peer lending offers the opportunity for people to bypass the traditional bank environment for personal and business loans, and it gives investors the chance to look outside the stock market for investing opportunities. There is a high level of risk, particularly when it comes to investing in certain borrowers, but Millennials seem to like the concept because the potential returns are much higher than they would be with something like a high-yield savings account, and as long as funds are spread out over many loans, the level risk isn’t incredibly high.
Fintech is changing the way Millennials invest and shifting how they view the concept itself, creating not just new opportunities for investors, but new possibilities in technology as well.
With the large online streaming audience set to get even bigger in 2017, Netflix is doing more than enough to position itself as the most preferred online streaming service for Videos on Demand. They have gone as far as funding the production of A-list TV shows that made headlines all over the world in 2016, like the very popular Narcos. This year doesn’t seem like it’s going to be any different, since they already have a number of TV shows lined up for release. The only catch is that you’d need to change your Netflix region to the US. Once you do that, here’s what you could expect:
- Release Date: February 3rd, 2017
- Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Thomas Crawford, Drew Barrymore
- Plot: This year we will see Drew Barrymore come to daytime TV in this drama filled story about a happy couple living in Santa Clarita, California whose lives come tumbling down after the death of Sheila.
- Release Date: May 5th, 2017
- Plot: Also making a comeback this year is the interconnected group of 8, dubbed the “sensates”, whose main objective would be to use their shared knowledge, language and skills to prevent the violent death of Angelica.
- Release Date: January 20th, 2017
- Cast: Landon Liboiron, Jason Momoa, Zoe Boyle
- Plot: The producers from the Discovery channel came together to order a scripted series about the struggle that existed in the late 18th century over the control and exploit of pelts.
- Release Date: March 17th, 2017
- Cast: Jessica Stroup, Jessica Henwick, Finn Jones
- Plot: Another addition to the Marvel series to watch out for in 2017 is Iron Fist, with the main character as Danny Rand. Rand comes back to his family’s home in New York to reclaim his family company, but the evils he encounters along the way force him to choose between continuing with his family’s legacy, and his duties as Iron Fist.
Release Date: January 24th, 2017
Plot: This new physically demanding, and energy draining competition will put all the other obstacle course challenge shows you’ve watched to shame. The show will adopt an international theme with competitors being scouted from the US, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Brazil. These athletes will compete for national pride as they’re put through the toughest of courses, known in each episode as “The Beast”, with each contestant yearning to be crowned the Ultimate Beastmaster after they battle it out on the final episode.
Expect all that and a lot more this year from Netflix. We’ll update the list once the release dates get announced, but here’s what you could also expect to come out soon:
-F is for Family
-Fuller House (Season 3)
Keep in mind that these release dates are all based on viewers on the American Netflix region. Whether these shows will also be released at the same time in UK, Canada, Australia, or other countries is yet to be seen
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