Facebook Live Video Streaming Now Available on Desktop

Facebook Live was first only available to mobile devices (and Pages), but it has now expanded its services for all users to be able to stream directly from desktops. This ability brings more options for live broadcasters to directly go live through a webcam, and also shows Facebook’s seriousness towards live streaming and its push for video on its platform.

Moving forward, you will now see a live video button on Facebook’s desktop site as well. Earlier, the feature was made available to Pages, but now everyone with a Facebook account can go live through a webcam. Facebook has also added the ability to attach sophisticated hardware to ensure high quality broadcasting if users so prefer.

Facebook Live Video Streaming Now Available on Desktop

Furthermore, gamers and gaming companies can also use Facebook for attracting a streaming audience on their Profiles and Page as well. “If you’re a gamer, this new feature makes it easier than ever to stream your PC gameplay to friends and followers and engage with them while you play. If you’re giving your friends or followers a tutorial or how-to guide, you can incorporate on-screen graphics, titles, and overlays. Or if you’re an artist, you can go live and switch seamlessly between cameras as you narrate the process,” the company notes.

The Live Video option is available alongside Check in, Activities, and others on the top of the NewsFeed/ Timeline. Starting a live video is as easy as posting a Status, and it shows up the same way it did when you posted through your phone.

Recently, it was reported that Facebook, after the success of its Live video feature, is looking to broadcast original TV-like programmes from various genres and may pay hefty amount for it. Facebook was interested in original content from a slew of different genres, from sports to science, and the social networking giant was willing to pay for the content and could offer in the low- to mid-six-figure range per episode for scripted content. Facebook may go for weekly series and shows that last around 30 minutes.

Xiaomi’s Mi TV 4A Series Launched With AI-Based Speech Recognition

Xiaomi at the beginning of 2017 showcased its new Mi TV 4 series at the CES 2017 trade show. The company is now upgrading the TV 4 series, and introducing its all-new Mi TV 4A series in China.

The all-new Mi TV 4A will be marketed as a smart TV with AI-based speech recognition. The new MI TV 4A series include four screen-sizes – 43, 49, 55, and 65-inches, and they will be available in AI with speech recognition and non-AI variants. The basic Mi TV 4A 43-inch (1080p) model will be priced at CNY 2,099 (roughly Rs. 20,000) while the 49-inch (1080p) model will be priced at CNY 2,599 (roughly Rs. 24,750). The Mi TV 4A 55-inch and 65-inch 4K models have been priced at CNY 3,199 (roughly Rs. 30,500) and CNY 5,699 (roughly Rs. 54,000).

Xiaomi's Mi TV 4A Series Launched With AI-Based Speech Recognition

The 49, 55, and 65-inch models will be also available in with AI Speech Recognition as well as come with new Mi Bluetooth Remote Control. The Mi TV 4A 49-inch (1080P) 32GB AI model has been priced at CNY 2,899 (roughly Rs. 27,500); Mi TV 4A 55-inch (4K) 32GB AI variant will be available at CNY 3,599 (roughly Rs. 34,000), and Mi TV 4A 65-inch (4K) 32 GB AI variant will be available at CNY 6,199 (roughly Rs. 59,000).

The third-generation Mi Bluetooth Remote Control has been priced at CNY 99 (roughly Rs. 1,000), and will come with Bluetooth, Speech Recognition, Mi Touch, and Infrared features.

At launch, Xiaomi talked how Mi Touch has replaced the traditional navigation button on the remote control, and lets you use gestures to control your TV. The Chinese company claimed that the feature will come in handy while searching or browsing on a long webpage.

Much like the Mi TV 4 series, the new Mi TV 4A series also features AI (artificial intelligence) based recommendations UI called PatchWall. Notably, the PatchWall is a UI layer on top of the Android OS and it is based on deep learning AI technology.

The Mi TV 4A series is powered by a quad-core Amlogic T962 64-bit processor coupled with 2GB of RAM and comes with 32GB ROM. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4/5 GHz dual band Wi-Fi), Bluetooth 4.2, Dolby, and DTS Audio. The Mi TV 4A also sports a blue light-reducing mode to reduce eye strain problem. The processor on the Mi TV 4A series also supports HDR 10 and HLG.

In terms of screen resolution, the Mi TV 4A 1080p models offer screen resolution of 1080×1920 pixels, and will sport Samsung/ LG/ AUO/ CSOT panel while the 4K models will boast of a screen resolution of 3840×2160 pixels with Samsung/ LG/ CSOT panel.

Xiaomi’s Wang Chuan, Dirrector for Internet TV related products such as Mi TV and Mi Box, at the launch claimed that the company’s deep learning AI system will understand user preferences and intelligently classify content. Chuan added that Xiaomi started working on AI speech recognition three years back, and it lets users control and interact with the TV. Xiaomi revealed that it uses Sogou ASR speech recognition technology which is claimed to have an accuracy of up to 97 percent.

Unfortunately, the Chinese company hasn’t revealed plans to launch the new Mi TV 4A series outside China.

Zenefits founder Parker Conrad takes another crack at HR onboarding

Parker Conrad’s last venture at Zenefits didn’t end so well, what with his departure as CEO and the company having to re-orient itself. But he’s once again starting a company that will figure out how to build an employee system of record and management, starting off with smoothing out the process of onboarding employees and focusing on other major life events for those employees.

Conrad’s new company is called Rippling, which is launching today. The goal is to turn the process of bringing on an employee and assigning them hardware and the services they’ll need to operate — like Gmail or Salesforce — right away. Rippling integrates with a bunch of major services on the back-end and automatically assigns those accounts to new employees, and also helps managers set up payroll in several states.

By doing that, Rippling becomes a store of information for all the details about that employee. Rippling assigns the computer, so it’s able to remotely manage and observe the health and status of that computer. It assigns which groups are available in Salesforce, so it can manage the security of those accounts and who gets to use them. And it can quickly turn off those services, looking to also smooth out the process of off-boarding an employee who’s on the way out.

“I’m not sure as I’d describe it as a wedge into something else,” Conrad said. “The reason I believe it’s critical is because if you are the system a company uses for onboarding new employees and setting them up in different systems, it makes you into the system of record for employee data by definition. That’s because of the fact you’re literally ingesting all the different attributes that make up that employee record.”

Rippling is designed to not only help managers deal with those life events — like a raise or sending an offer letter — but also quickly integrate new services. The hope is that instead of having to add new services that employees will use fully manually, there will be processes in place that make it easier to essentially on-board those new services into its suite through a series of categorizations. Automating all of this, at the end of the day, is the goal in order to scale up everything.

“It’s really if you scale things up manually, one of the things, the mistakes we made or I made, is, if you scale things up manually you can come back and automate them later,” Conrad said. “The difficulty of automating a manual process, I’m convinced it grows not just with the employees doing that manual process but as the square of that difficulty. It’s very hard to write down the spec to automate it completely. You have to start automating things when it’s done at a small scale or you’re screwed.”

All of this is processed down to the point that the offer letter is algorithmically generated, ending up with a Mad Libs-style letter with different fields that sync up to the boxes a manager ticked as they went through the process. Managers select the role, the department, what the compensation is, how many shares and so on. These processes are then detailed in the checklist, with Rippling handling sending employees and getting them to sign their documents.

Conrad seems to want to keep focusing on the problem because he’s continually run into issues around it — especially at Zenefits when the company was growing at a break-neck pace. Early in Zenefits’ life, Conrad was running to the Apple Store or ordering computers off Amazon and basically handing them out to employees. In the first day, one new employee (of around the first 10) who had been given a laptop had already been locked out of their computer. The password hint, “Mark McGuire,” wasn’t helpful either. And because there were no systems in place to manage that laptop, the employee ended up coming in every day with an iPad and a keyboard after that.

“Eventually I was like, dude you’re on your own,” Conrad said of dealing as a manager with a fast-growing and small team. “If we were using Rippling you just go into hardware here and I can click right here on their computer and reset their user account right here. We’d have a bunch of people starting Monday and I’d run to the Apple Store to buy a bunch of laptops the night before.”

All of this still needs to be viewed under the lens of what happened at Zenefits, though Conrad laid out a few things he’s trying to do differently this time around. For one, the company has already hired a CFO and is looking for a general counsel early as it looks to scale up — such as expanding to new states through payroll and other more legally hairy situations. That was a major failure of Zenefits, as it was slammed for compliance issues with Conrad resigning after that.

Still, around 90 percent of Rippling’s investors also invested in Zenefits — which happened around two weeks ago. The team already has around 12 engineers, he said, and it seems this time around Conrad is looking for a more calculated approach after the mayhem of Zenefits, which very quickly hit a $4.5 billion valuation and was on track to be one of the fastest-growing SaaS businesses ever.

“We’re just investing a lot more in infrastructure up front, both on the engineering side and on others,” Conrad said. “It’s understanding the sort of complexities of growing a business and what’s around the corner as you grow and the challenges that emerge. I have a much bigger appreciation for getting infrastructure in place, the scaffolding on the tech side but also the company itself, in place early. We’ve been ahead of what’s around the corner, so that things are set up correctly.”

Snapchat launches Bitmoji widget chat shortcuts for your home screen

Snapchat is doubling down on private messaging as Instagram and Facebook Messenger clone and steal usage from its Stories feature.

Now you can instantly start chatting with your best friends on Snapchat. Instead of digging a chat thread out of Snapchat, users can select their favorite friends, create Bitmoji widgets for them with their personalized avatars and click them from their iOS Today screen or Android home screen to launch straight into a chat with that friend. A Snap spokesperson confirmed the feature launch to TechCrunch.

Snapchat first started testing this last week in Android beta but today it rolls out to everyone thanks to an iOS and Android app update. Snap acquired Bitmoji in March 2016 for $64.2 million to allow you to make avatars that look like you and send them as stickers in Snapchat.

To add Bitmoji widgets on iOS, swipe right from your home screen to the Today screen where you see your existing widgets. Scroll down to “Edit,” add Snapchat and your “Snapchat Best Friends” (based on your interaction) who have created personalized Bitmoji avatars for themselves will automatically appear as widgets on the home screen. Tapping the widgets launches a chat with them. On Android, you tap and hold on an empty part of your home page, select “Widgets,” choose Snapchat and choose up to four friends to make into home screen widgets.

While Facebook might be throwing all its might behind cloning Snapchat Stories, it hasn’t so aggressively copied the disappearing messages that Snapchat started with. By redoubling its efforts in chat, Snap could entrench itself as the most casual, low-pressure way to talk with friends since all messages delete themselves by default.

How To Make Your Business Increasingly Successful This Year

Business owners who want to optimize their success in 2017 should know that they can. One secret to success with the company growth process is implementing proven business-building strategies that are known to yield results. Here are three that can prove beneficial for your organization:

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  1. Utilize Consulting Services.

Utilizing consulting services is a wonderful way to keep your organization on the road to great growth. This approach to company optimization is effective because it ensures that you have a community of industry experts carefully critiquing your current business practices to ensure that your company can optimize its daily operations, enhance conversion rates, improve retention, etc. Organizations such as KEYGroup Consulting are pleased to provide clients with numerous services to engender these types of outcomes, including a corporate leadership development program.

  1. Update And Optimize Your Website.

Another great strategy you can deploy to optimize business success in 2017 is updating and optimizing your website. This approach is effective because it will empower you to maintain the type of visually appealing, functional product pages that will expedite and optimize the online shopper’s experience. The best way to engender this outcome is by hiring a team of web optimization professionals. These individuals will be able to offer you a wide range of customized, brand-building services. An example would be responsive web design techniques. This service ensures that your company’s product pages can be easily accessed by individuals who use electronic devices.

When you start your search for the ideal web optimization company, make sure that the professionals can offer several other digital advertising services. Examples would include content marketing, social media optimization, and search engine optimization.

  1. Obtain Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software.

One final strategy you may find beneficial as you begin moving your organization forward is the use of customer relationship management (CRM) software. This software enables your sales team to keep detailed records of client activity. CRM software can also be used to expedite and optimize the lead generation process. Be sure to do research on the CRM retailer before you purchase anything!

Start The Business Growth Process Immediately!

There are hundreds of company optimization techniques you can use to build your business in 2017. Three of them include utilizing consulting services, updating and optimizing your website, and obtaining CRM software. Start using these techniques to begin seeing the great growth you want!

Remarkable Weight-Loss Effects of the Clen

Clenbuterol is used as a medicine for breathing disorder as well as a decongestant. Clenbuterol due to its properties which aid weight loss is used as a thermogenic and is widely popular amongst the fitness professionals, models, celebrities or anyone who wants a petite muscular. It is very commonly used by anabolic steroid users as a tool to burn fat. Stimulation of the metabolism is an essential factor which accelerates the weight loss and this is where Clenbuterol works very effectively by increasing the body’s internal temperature.

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Once the BMR i.e., the Basic Metabolism Rate increases, it makes the body use the stored fat to meet its energy requirements which in turn burns the calories and helps in shredding body fat leaving a totally ripped body structure. This drug has additional qualities too which includes boosting energy levels, suppressing the appetite and increase in blood oxygenation. One of the unique feature it has is its neither a steroid nor a hormone but very effective and used as a supplement amongst bodybuilders. While using this drug, you have to keep in mind regarding como tomar clembuterol en pastillas.

Proper dosage intake

It is important to follow a prescribed dosage along with a proper diet to help Clenbuterol do its work and show maximum results. For people who take this drug regularly for medical problems, the dosage is usually 20mcg to 40 mcg per day. Those who are using it for weight loss purpose, the dosage should be continuously measured and adjusted as the body becomes accustomed to this drug very quickly. The amount of dosage varies in male and female as the females tend to be more sensitive to this compound.

To make sure Clenbuterol continues to give the desired result, you have a couple of options which you can follow after being accustomed to the starter dosage. It is beneficial to use this compound continuously but with a very careful titration. For initial two weeks you are recommended to take your starter dose, then for the next two weeks increase the dosage by 20mcg per day and finally increase it by another 20mcg for the following two to four weeks or the end period of your diet, whichever is earlier. This regime helps in boosting the metabolism around the clock providing the suitable atmosphere for Clenbuterol to show weight loss results. The regime can also be used in rotation.

Following appropriate Clenbuterol cycle

It is recommended to have a proper idea of comotomarclenbuterol enpastillas to make the optimal use of the Clen. There are a few options available in Clenbuterol cycle among which the two-week cycle, the four-day cycle and the sixteen week cycle are the most common. The two-week cycle is the most preferred cycle by the professional bodybuilders. The body tends to adjust to this dosage, so it is necessary to increase the dosage and the type of Clen cycle followed will largely determine how this incremental change will take place. It is advised that those who are significantly overweight should avoid using high dosage initially.

Millennial lender Upstart just raised $32.5 million to license its tech to other companies

Upstart, a nearly five-year-old online lending company that prides itself on quickly identifying people who are less likely to default on money leant them, has raised $32.5 million in fresh funding that brings its total funding to date to around $85 million. Partly, the company plans to use the capital to further fuel its current growth trajectory. In fact, according to CEO (and former president of Google Enterprise) Dave Girouard, Upstart expects to turn profitable this year.

But the company also sees a huge opportunity in licensing its technology to banks, credit unions and even retailers that are eager to make low-risk — and profitable — loans to their own customers.

Rakuten is certainly buying into its vision. The Japan-based internet services giant just co-led Upstart’s newest round with an undisclosed U.S.-based asset manager. Earlier backers Third Point Ventures, Khosla Ventures and First Round Capital also joined the financing.

We talked yesterday to Girouard to learn more about Upstart’s new software-as-a service offering, online lending’s perception problem and how the Trump administration is likely to impact his 100-person company. Our chat has been edited for length and clarity.

TC: Congrats on the funding. Is Upstart turning into a SaaS company?

DG: No, we still have and continue to grow our direct lending business. It’s how we learn and grow.  This [SaaS arm] will grow alongside it.

TC: What’s its “value proposition” to potential customers?

DG: It’s very similar in nature to any SaaS business; it’s the whole idea of people saying, “We’re not going to try to build something ourselves.” We’re strongly on the tech and data science end of the spectrum. We don’t come from financial services, as do a lot of other [lending] companies. We apply very modern data science to the question of who gets a loan and at what price; that’s the heart of what we’re known for.

TC: You’re targeting existing lenders, as well as hoping to help retailers and others get into the lending business. Is that right? And what you will be charging them?

DG: Yes, and we’ll charge a monthly fee, then a smaller fee per loan that captures the cost of originating a particular loan.

TC: You started your direct lending business by targeting millennials. Is that still your target market?

DG: It’s still our sweet spot, young adults. Our average borrower is 28. The most common use of [our loans] is to pay credit card debt, though it’s really a personal loan that you can use for anything.

TC: How do you market to this demographic?

DG: Our approach is predominantly digital. Our borrower is typically online, so [we advertise on] Facebook and Google; we have high marks on the [personal finance platform] Credit Karma. We still do some offline direct mail; our industry is dominated by it. But we don’t do nearly as much as others.

TC: What are your default rates? Do you share those publicly?

DG: We have very low default rates — a couple percent or thereabouts. Our model ensures that we’re not giving you more of a loan than you can afford. Our machine-learning-based system can approve more people, too, because it’s learning more while also reducing default rates.

 What’s really interesting about this effect of applying machine learning and modern data science is that you are lowering rates for people. The more you can avoid lending to people who will default, the lower the interest rates that everybody else pays.

TC: Your site says you charge between 4.96 percent and 29.99 percent APR.

DG: Our borrowers pay us 12 percent on average for a fixed-term loan, compared with the 22 percent they are paying on average for their credit cards. And there’s no penalty if they pay off their loan early.

TC:  How much money is moving through your platform every year?

DG: We originated about $650 million in loans in our first two-and-a-half years. We aim to originate about $1 billion this year. So it’s growing nicely.

TC: Where is all this money coming from that you’re lending?

DG: We fund some ourselves. We also have a relationship with Goldman Sachs and other big institutions; they help us make a lot of loans. And about 10 percent of our loans come from individuals who can come on to the platform to loan money; it’s a nice way to invest and make a good return.

We’re also just a couple of months from doing a securitization, meaning taking huge pools of loans and selling them off into the credit market out there. If you’re in the credit business and you want to access the trillions of dollars out there to fund your loans [this is the way to do it].

TC: I think people outside of banking hear “securitization” and cringe, dating back to the financial crisis of 2008. Do you think online lending suffers from a perception problem? Has it recovered from what happened last year with Lending Club?

DG: When that Lending Club stuff came down, it definitely set the industry back. It raised questions: are these companies trustworthy? Are they for real? Is tech really a differentiator here or not? We were caught in the flak of Lending Club’s problems.

But our models performed really well and we had no similar issues and our industry has rebounded since. I think [everyone] is on stronger footing now.

TC: Do you think the new U.S. administration will help? Obviously, there’s been a lot of talk about deregulation, which would seem to be good news for you.

DG: I think everyone is in wait-and-see mode, but generally, a pro-business administration has a lot of benefits to us. We don’t need repeal of regulation or anything like that; in many ways, we’re just looking for clarification of the regulatory environment.

As Messenger’s bots lose steam, Facebook pushes menus over chat

Facebook’s Messenger bots may not be having the impact the social network desired. Just yesterday, online retailer Everlane, one of the launch partners for the bot platform, announced it was ditching Messenger for customer notifications and returning to email. Following this, Facebook today announced an upgraded Messenger Platform, which introduces a new way for users to interact with bots: via simple persistent menus, including those without the option to chat with the bot at all.

One of the problems with Facebook’s bots is that it’s often unclear how to get started. The directory of bots in Messenger wasn’t initially available and now only reveals itself when you start a search in the app. And it hasn’t always been obvious how to get a bot talking, once added, or how to navigate back and forth through a bot’s many sections.

The Messenger platform update today tackles this latter problem, by offering an alternative to the more limited – and sometimes confusing – systems that were previously available.

Instead of forcing users to talk with a bot, developers can choose to create a persistent menu that allows for multiple, nested items as a better way of displaying all the bots’ capabilities in a simple interface.

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The new persistent menus are limited to three items at the top-level, and its sub-menus are now limited to five. Before, if users wanted to engage with a menu like this, they often had to engage in conversations with the bot to discover the various sections and items.

Now, Facebook suggests to developers that they “consider stripping such exchanges down and cutting to the chase by putting the most important features in your menu.

For example, a retailer’s bot might offer menu options that let you “go shopping,” “ask questions,” or “send messages.” If you clicked into the shopping section, the menu could update with a list of items to drill down into, like tops, bottoms, shoes and accessories.

Along with webviews – like, the product page for the shirt you want to buy, for example – the new experience feels more like navigating a mobile website within Messenger, instead of using a bot.

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Also new is that developers can now choose to hide the composer screen, and forgo allowing customers to have a conversational experience in the bot entirely.

I guess we can’t call them chatbots anymore?

The question this leads to, of course, is whether or not any of this is necessary. If Facebook’s bots become more like mobile sites, what’s the point of using them in Messenger at all?

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It feels like Facebook is going the wrong direction here. Messenger seems poised to be the company’s breakout platform for voice-based computing and voice-powered virtual assistants, but the company hasn’t put much focus on those emerging technologies.

While it acquired voice and natural language startup Wit.ai in 2015, it hasn’t done much publicly with voice computing, beyond testing having Facebook turn voice clips into text during chat sessions.

Today, you can’t connect the dots between Messenger and its many bots just by speaking. That is, it seems like you should be able to say to Messenger, “what’s the latest from CNN?” or “will it rain today?,” then have the appropriate bot respond. But this is not the case.

Meanwhile, Facebook also toyed around with “M,” a virtual assistant inside Messenger, but this has yet to launch to more than a handful of testers.

None of today’s other Messenger platform updates focus on these technologies, either.

Instead, the larger update to version 1.4 includes things like expanded sharing capabilities that could help bots gain more exposure; tools to better match businesses’ customer lists to Messenger’s user base; a handful of new APIs; improved analytics; and other tweaks and features catering to specific developers’ needs.

Facebook, meanwhile, is quickly becoming one of the largest tech companies without a clear path to the voice computing-powered future, where others like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Samsung are today intensely competing. But with over a billion active Messenger users, Facebook has the luxury of taking the time to figure things out.