No Wonder Why Microsoft Has Started Trashing Google’s Chromebooks

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A few weeks ago, Microsoft released a commercial trashing Google’s Chromebook laptops. It’s one of those man-on-the-street schticks where a Microsoft guy goes up to strangers and asks them loaded questions about which device they’d prefer — a Chromebook or Windows 8 laptop. Every use case is skewed to favor the Windows device, of course. (Want to use Office? You can’t do that on a Chromebook!)

Microsoft even built a whole site dedicated to Chromebook-bashing.

The whole thing was a real noodle-scratcher.

Why was a personal computing giant like Microsoft going after Google’s Chromebooks? It felt like Microsoft was punching down at a niche player, not going after the serious competitors (like Apple) that matter. 

Then things started to get a bit more clear.

While we don’t have precise numbers, we do have two new data points that show significant consumer interest in Chromebooks:

If you’re unfamiliar, Chromebooks run Google’s desktop operating system called Chrome OS. Chrome OS is based on the Chrome Web browser many of you probably use already. With a Chromebook, you do just about everything in the Chrome browser and through Google’s online services. Gmail.com is your email app. Google Drive, Google’s online storage service, is your virtual hard drive for files and documents. You store your photos in Google+. And so on.

I’ll admit it. I was highly skeptical that Google’s Chromebooks could ever be successful when they first launched. (I’m not saying they’re successful now, either. I’m just saying they appear to be gaining momentum.) Early Chromebooks were pretty much useless unless you were connected to the Internet, but things have improved since then as Google added more desktop-like features to the operating system. Earlier this year, I was able to use Google’s top-of-the-line Chromebook, the Pixel, for two weeks straight and never had a problem. I even did my taxes on it. 

So, why are people suddenly buying a bunch of Chromebooks?

I can’t speak for every Chromebook owner, but I can give you anecdotal evidence based on my own experience with Chromebooks and knowledge of how most people use computers these days.

First of all, they’re cheap.

You can get a Chromebook, like this one from Acer, for as little as $199. That’s $800 cheaper than the cheapest MacBook. But if you look at the way people use computers these days, there aren’t many differences in what the two machines can do.

Unless you work from home, chances are pretty good you use your laptop for emailing, basic Web browsing and Facebook sharing, and watching some YouTube or Netflix videos. Chromebooks can handle all that just as well as any Windows 8 laptop or MacBook, so why spend hundreds more if you don’t have to?

Meanwhile, if you’re like most people, you’re probably relying more on your smartphone or tablet for basic computing than you’re old laptop. That’s part of the reason why PC sales have collapsed over the last few years. People would rather upgrade their phone and tablet every other year while their laptops gather dust. And if you do want a traditional PC, you likely don’t want to spend a hundreds extra on something like a Windows 8 laptop that doesn’t offer much more than a Chromebook. A cheap Chromebook even makes a tempting alternative to an iPad Air, which starts at $499.

As many have pointed out already, it seems like Chromebooks have the potential to fill the hole left by netbooks when they died off some time around 2010. Netbooks, which were small, cheap computers running Windows, had a brief surge in popularity in the mid 2000s, but quickly died off in favor of light and thin laptops like Apple’s pricier MacBook Air. Netbooks were cheap, usually $300 or so, but they also had tiny screens and keyboards, which didn’t necessarily make them strong alternatives to regular laptops.

So it’s easy to see why there’s been a rise in Chromebooks this year. They’re in the same price range as netbooks, but more versatile. Plus they’re constantly updated, whereas many netbooks ran the outdated Windows XP operating system. 

As Dave Winer wrote over the weekend, Microsoft missed an opportunity to capitalize on netbooks when it had a chance. Now its manufacturing partners like Acer and Samsung are turning to its rival Google and its Chrome operating system.

No wonder why Microsoft has gone on the defensive.

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11 Reasons You Should Quit Facebook In 2014

“Facebook is so annoying.” How many times have you heard that sentiment this past year? We bet a lot, because more and more people seem to be getting tired of the social media platform, especially young people.

We’ve noticed a nationwide annoyance with Facebook over 2013. The company even admitted in October that younger teens were using the network less frequently on a daily basis. Here are 13 reasons that might convince you to let your Facebook account go in 2014.

1. Nobody actually wants to just read about what you’re doing anymore.

Think about it: What sounds more appealing (and believable)? Reading a status that says, “I’m currently hanging out with Will Smith!” or a picture of that person actually posing with Smith? A photo is definitely more engaging. Here’s the most-liked Instagram picture of 2013: Justin Bieber’s snap with Smith.

When TIME interviewed teenagers about their social media use in March, 16-year-old Hamp Briley explained that kids these days don’t have time for Facebook: “Twitter’s all statuses, Instagram’s all pictures. People like to do more specific things like that instead of being on just Facebook.”

2. Facebook makes it impossible for you to stay “private.”

For many valid reasons (think stalker exes or potential employers), some people don’t like having their name come up when it’s typed into the Facebook search bar. However, most users this year found problems with changes to privacy settings. For one, Facebook removed the option to keep your name hidden when people search you. They also forced people to control their privacy settings on a cumbersome item-by-item basis. Today, the only way to make sure certain people can’t access your profile is to block them. Or alter your name so it doesn’t appear when people search your real one. Or, of course, quit Facebook entirely.

3. Your parents (and even grandparents) are now watching your every move.

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This year seemed to be the year everyone’s mom, dad, grandmother and great aunt got hooked on Facebook. And that meant every time you posted a status about something innocuous, these Facebook novices started breathing down your neck the minute you hit “post.” We get enough scolding from our parents “IRL” — no need to let it trickle onto a social media site where our friends can laugh at our familial bickering.

4. Or they’re posting photos of you that you would never want anyone to see

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What’s worse than getting no “likes” on an Instagram photo you posted? Checking your Facebook and realizing that a horribly embarrassing photo of you that your mom posted is getting over 50 “likes,” along with some pretty serious mockery in the comments section.

5. Facebook is even keeping track of what you don’t say.

You may have been happy you didn’t post that one over-share about your extended trip to the bathroom the other day, but Facebook may have a record of exactly what you typed and what time you were about to publish it. This month, Facebook released a study revealing that they were undergoing a new type of data collection in which they were tracking when people typed content out and then removed it without publishing. Their mission is to understand why users “self-censor” themselves in updates. According to Facebook data scientist Sauvik Das, a “self-censored update” is “an entry into either [a status update or comment box] of more than five characters that was typed out but not submitted for at least the next 10 minutes.”

6. Facebook makes you feel less positive about your life.

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Even though the purpose of Facebook is effectively to reveal details about everything and anything you do, access to this knowledge could take a toll on your mental well-being. A recent study done by the Department of Behavioral Science at the University of Utah discovered that heavy Facebook users aren’t the happiest people out there. The researchers found that just using Facebook makes you view your life more negatively. Of 400 students questioned, “those who have used Facebook longer agreed more that others were happier, and agreed less that life is fair, and those spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier and had better lives.”

7. The “friend suggestions” tell you to befriend people you don’t even know.

Facebook’s “friend suggestions” algorithm needs some work, because these days we’re discovering that your potential “friends” are people we only know through someone else, or someone we haven’t even met at all. If you want people to stop using a platform that is supposed to connect them and bring them together with the people they care about, you should definitely adopt Facebook’s strategy of trying to get you to care about the lives of complete strangers.

8. You realize you only know and care about only 20 people out of your 1,000 friends.

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It starts to get kind of weird when you check the birthdays for the day and don’t remember who any of the five people are. How do you know them? Are they some random person you met at a bar in college one night, and in a drunken stupor decided to “add on Facebook”? Probably. Do you need to know that this person is moving to California this week? More importantly, do you care? Nope. It could be time to overhaul your friends list. Or maybe it’s time to realize that your Facebook account is being used pretty much entirely to keep tabs on these kinds of strangers.

9. Your friends keep announcing their engagements.

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There’s nothing more obnoxious than being a busy twentysomething and starting to see all of your friends post statuses about getting engaged. While you are happy for them and wish them the best in their prospects for a lasting marriage, the bombardment of status updates is starting to make you feel like something is wrong with your love life. Why aren’t you getting married? What is wrong with you? Why the hell do you need to be thinking about marriage right now?! Once that anxiety subsides, you realize you have to endure continued updates on their wedding preparation. You could unsubscribe to this friend, but you know more are coming.

10. The excessive ads are about to ruin the whole experience.

If the regular sponsored ads hadn’t already destroyed Facebook for you — seriously, why the hell do you think you’re obsessed with guitars and horses — the upcoming launch of video ads will definitely do the trick. Facebook started testing these annoying ads out in December. They’ll soon be coming to a newsfeed near you, automatically playing a video as you scroll through. However, the sound will only play if you click or tap on it. The good news? There is a way to block these ads from automatically playing. You just have to use a Flash blocker.

11. It makes getting over a breakup really hard.

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Back in the days before social media, people broke up and never called the person again. It was relatively simple to move on (providing you weren’t forced to physically see the person on a day-to-day basis). But today, being able to have constant access to your ex’s timeline can easily cause serious obsessive tendencies and behavior. Samuel Axon at Mashable accurately summed up how Facebook makes breakups harder, because the platform makes your change in relationship status public and it allows you to see all the action your ex is getting.

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Dog Who Would Rather Watch TV Than Play Is Probably A Metaphor For Something

Come on, dog, there’s a whole big world out there. Instead of watching TV, play with a friend, chase a ball, make a New Year’s resolution… regular dog stuff. Leave the mindlessly watching whatever’s on the tube to us, the experts.

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Charming Tribute Remembers Etch-A-Sketch Inventor

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Though French inventor André Cassagnes had a long and successful career as one of France’s best-known kite designers, his greatest invention was the beloved Etch-A-Sketch

The toy maker passed away in January, and to honor his memory, Christoph Niemann of the New York Times created a short tribute using the iconic toy to illusrtate Cassagnes’ life story.

The creative clip is part of the New York Times Magazine’s annual “The Lives They Lived” series, which honors cultural icons who passed away this year

Niemann’s video offers a charming look back on the life of an inventor whose product continues to entertain children and adults — and probably will for years to come. Read more…

More about Youtube, Viral Video, Toys, Etch A Sketch, and Watercooler

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This Irate Cookbook Author Represents A Swelling Threat To Facebook’s $6 Billion Ad Business (FB)

stephane stiavettiStephanie Stiavetti is a freelance food writer.

She is the author of a cookbook called “Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese,” published by Little, Brown, and Company.

She is at the vanguard of a swelling movement against Facebook.

Stiavetti knows that as an author and writer, she is a one-woman brand — and that she needs to market her brand as best she can on the Internet. 

So she’s got active profiles everywhere: Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google Plus.

One place online where Stiavetti has decided to be less active about promoting herself is Facebook.

That’s pretty surprising, for two reasons: 

  • Facebook is by far the world’s biggest social network, with almost a billion people using it every single day.
  • Stiavetti is popular on Facebook. She has 8,000 fans.
So why is she leaving? 
Because, she says, only about .01% of those 8,000 fans see the status updates, recipes, and photos she puts on Facebook.

She writes:

I have 8,000 followers. Over the past few months my engagement has slowed to less than a trickle – a tiny fraction of what it was at the beginning of the year. Now, when I post to my Facebook page for The Culinary Life, only 100 people see those posts (on average). That is about .01% of my followers. Facebook then tries to charge me $20 so that you can see my content. Given that I don’t make any money from the stories and photos I post – please note there are not any ads on my site – paying hundreds of dollars a month to access you, the fans who willingly liked my page, is just not possible.

To make matter worse, Facebook has been charging page owners to run ads, which is in essence buying followers. That’s not a problem in and of itself, but when they charge to grow a page’s following and then remove access to those very same followers after they’ve accepted money for them, well, I find that incredibly unethical…

I’m very sad that Facebook has decided to exclude the blogging community from accessing our loyal friends and fans, you who we love so dearly and are the reason we put so much work into creating recipes, photographing dishes, and publishing post after post. Really, you are the reason we work so hard. It’s terrible that Facebook has decided to hide our work from your eyes after you’ve already expressed interest in seeing it. We are not large brands selling products; the vast majority of food bloggers are moms, dads, husbands, wives, hobbyists, students, writers — everyday folks who just want to invite you into our kitchens.

Stiavetti isn’t alone in her outrage at Facebook.

At the beginning of December, Facebook changed the algorithm it uses to select which “stories” appear in users News Feeds — that center column of photos, updates, videos and ads you see when you go to Facebook.com or open a Facebook app.

Facebook said it was changing the algorithm so that it would highlight higher quality news stories and show fewer silly photos.

But the immediate effect of the change was to drastically reduce the reach of the kinds of Facebook brand pages maintained by people like Stiavetti, e-commerce companies, and national brands.

Spokespeople for several companies told us that the “reach” of their Facebook posts declined by as much 80% after the changes.

Like Stiavetti, the people running those pages assumed Facebook actually changed its algorithm not to have the News Feed show higher quality  news stories, but to force Facebook page operators to buy ads from Facebook if they wanted reach.

In an email to Business Insider, a Facebook spokesperson said that was not the motivation behind the News Feed change. He said the most likely reason “organic” posts from Facebook pages weren’t getting seen was that, during the holiday season, retailers are buying lots of ads for the News Feed, and those are crowding out the non-paid content.

The problem for Facebook is that appearances are reality — and to Facebook page managers, small like Stiavetti or big like several national retailers we spoke to, it appears that Facebook is shaking them down for bigger ad spends. They feel like suckers in a bait-and-switch scheme.

That “reality” has them angry.

Jim Tobin, who runs a social media marketing agency called Ignite, says clients like his are the reason Facebook has annual revenues of $6 billion. 

He says that Facebook used to be a great place for a brand because “you could you could have a presence for free and then pay to boost it.”

Now that content posted to Facebook will only seen by .01% to 2.5% of its fans, that free “presence” is basically gone.

Tobin says his clients may soon leave Facebook and take their $6 billion with them.

We as brands have the ability to take our money elsewhere. It’s not like there’s a lack of social networks for us to take our business.”

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Exclusively For Introverts – 10 Powerful Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

You are an introvert, you know that, already. You dread the day when you stand in front of an audience even if the size is just 5 breathing souls and a dog. As a matter of fact, just the thought of it makes you cringe and want to go hiding. But, chances are, if you want to promote your business to the next level, you’ll have to stand in front of a podium once, or twice.

That’s the very reason why we’re discussing this topic today. You need to eradicate the fear, and focus on how you can deliver your speech in an effective manner. It might not be perfect like some people will expect, but, the important thing is — you can deliver the goods. Yes, you’re shy and nervous, but with some tips, you might even enjoy the talk yourself, and learn some things you can’t get from other experiences.

Below is a post from the site growing your biz which can help you weather the storm that is public speaking. (If that’s the way you look at it).

As a micro business owner, you are the ambassador of your brand, and chances are if you want to be successful, you’re going to have to stand behind a podium or two in your career. But if you are an introvert, and the very thought of speaking to a group of people makes you want to hide, what should you do? In truth, people who are fantastic public speakers are not super human, they simply work hard and know how to emphasize what they already do well. You can do this, too!

Below are 10 public speaking tips for introverts that can dramatically change your experience for the better:

1. Preparation is key.

Spend time putting your speech together so that it flows logically and is made more vibrant with stories, examples, and props, such as images. For inspiration, try watching other great, yet relatable, speakers on video. You may even want to read the transcripts to see how they crafted their speeches. When it’s all done, practice saying your speech out loud until you can give it over fluidly and comfortably.

2. Accentuate the positive.

Get in touch with your strengths and weaknesses as a public speaker. Don’t try to change yourself or be something you’re not. Focus on what you do best- whether you have a great sense of humor, or you’re a good story teller, or you know how clearly break down and explain complex ideas.

3. Invest in your audience.

Think about what your audience wants to hear. What problem do they hope to solve? What hopes do they have? Give them what they want and need. You’re audience needs to have a reason to listen. In your opening remarks strive to relate to them and focus on relaying not just your message, but the reasons why they need and should want to know about it.

4. Get in touch with your on-stage persona. 

No matter how you slice it, public speaking is a performance. Even if acting is not something that comes naturally to you, you should try to get in touch with your on-stage persona. In the process, you may discover a more extroverted part of yourself that you didn’t know was there, and the whole experience can end up feeling liberating and exhilarating instead of anxiety-ridden.

5. Get comfortable with the environment.

Check out the location where you will be speaking before the event happens. It will help you to feel more comfortable and secure when the big day arrives. Another suggestion would be to plant a few supportive friends or family members in the audience who can throw you an encouraging look or two as you are presenting. Just realize that you may get so caught up in the speech that you may not actually see them! Still, it could be a comfort to have them there.

6. Pay attention to your appearance.

Be sure not to overlook a key confidence booster on the day of your speech: your attire. Think about how great you feel when you’re groomed and crisp in your favorite tailored outfit; when you look great, you feel great. On the other hand, if causal dress is allowed, maybe that will make you feel more comfortable and engaging. Audiences will initially judge you based solely on your appearance, so make an effort to dress in a way that conveys the messages you want to.

7. Start with a smile.

Research has shown that the act of smiling- even artificially- can actually make a person feel more happy and at ease. So, put a big smile on your face when you begin speaking. Many people in the audience will probably smile back at you, too. This will make you feel relaxed, confident, and connected.

8. Start off with a story. 

A story is a great way to get your speech going. Not only does it have the potential to peak initial interest, but it can also help set your audience in time, place and mood. Emotions are the touchstones to speech success, so tug on a string of feelings to get your audience invested early on. Also, wrapping up your speech with an afterthought on your opening story is a nice way to bring the experience around full circle while providing a satisfying close for your audience.

9. Let others do the talking.

Keep the communicative theme going and consider asking questions directly to your audience. Not only will asking questions to the crowd get you some active participants, but it will help ease any nerves you have by sharing the spotlight. If time allows for it, consider preparing a role-play scenario that, through audience participation, could exemplify one of your points in real time.

10. Schedule some down time.

Public speaking can be a serious energy drain especially if you are an introvert. So one of the most important public speaking tips for introverts is to make sure you’ve got some alone time scheduled both before and after an event that will allow you to recharge and process the experience.

Have some public speaking tips for introverts of your own? Share it with us in the comments below.

10 Powerful Public Speaking Tips for Introverts | Kelly Gregorio, Kelly writes about topics that affect small businesses and entrepreneurs while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a provider of merchant cash advances. First published by Growing Your Biz with Head Honcho Susan Brown.

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12 Unexpected Benefits of Beer That Give You Good Reasons To Drink It

A cold lager is refreshing on a summer afternoon, while a hearty porter or stout will warm you up faster than cuddling by a fire on winter’s coldest nights. But beer, a crowd pleaser for all tastes and all seasons, also brings unexpected benefits.

While there are many health benefits of beer, who among us hasn’t rounded down when doctors or nutritionists ask how much we imbibe? The health-conscious avoid the malty beverage due to the high calorie content. Calorie counts range from approximately 100 calories in light beers, while an Olde English High Gravity malt-style beer weighs in at 220 calories per serving. A couple of those a day will quickly lead to a beer belly, but don’t take a vow of sobriety just yet! Here are 10 nutritious reasons to raise a glass or bottle to your good health:

1. Portion control

Beer is conveniently packaged in a portion-control bottle. It’s easy to limit it to one—or at least keep track of how many you’ve had.

2. It’s rich in B vitamins

Beer is full of B vitamins from the yeast. Unfiltered beer is especially high in B3, B6 and folic acid (B9). B3 aids in cell repair and B6 eases PMS. Folic acid aids in colon cancer prevention.

3. It’s high in fiber

Beer contains fiber, which acts as a natural laxative. It also slows the rate at which food leaves your stomach, which means it suppresses appetite. So indulge in a beer, and know you’re preventing overeating.

4. Stress reduction

A beer a day keeps stress and heart attacks away. Moderate alcohol consumption can reduce stress and anxiety, known contributors of heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol reduces risk of dying of a heart attack and possibly reduces risk of strokes. “Moderate” is defined as up to 12 ounces per day for women and 24 ounces per day for men. Drink to that.

5. Beer drinkers are at lower risk of type-2 diabetes

Multiple studies have shown that beer drinkers had an approximately 30 percent lower risk of type-2 diabetes than test subjects who abstained.

6. Beer drinkers have a lower risk of developing gallstones

Beer drinking is associated with a reduced risk for gallstones, according to the Mayo Clinic. Gallstones are made up of cholesterol, bile and other things that cause pain in the stomach. No one wants to deal with that.

7. It has anti-microbial properties

Hops, the bitter flowers used in brewing, are known to be antimicrobial, which could fight disease.

8. It’s good for your muscles

Muscles benefit from a substance in hops that keeps muscle from deteriorating.

9. It’s high in silicon

Two brewskis a day could help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2007 study at the University of Alcala in Spain. The research suggests a high intake of silicon limits aluminum absorption in the brain, which in turn could aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s.

10. Moderate beer consumption is good for bone density

Beer could keep bones strong. Researchers at Tufts University found a positive link between beer or wine consumption and hip-bone density. Heavy drinking, however, led to bone loss, according to the same study, so be conservative.

11. It can reduce the risk of heart disease

Red wine is often touted as the healthiest alcohol choice, but a Kaiser Permanente study says not so fast. Incidences of heart disease for beer drinkers were lower than for wine or whiskey drinkers.

12. It’s a social lubricant

A brew also has social benefits. A beer can loosen you up a bit for a first date, a family gathering or a networking event. Alcohol can boost courage and chattiness, according to a University of Washington study. However, some people continue to drink because of the perceived expectation that if one is good, a lot is even better. We all know more beer doesn’t make us more charming and attractive. Everyone knows how that story ends.

So, take that teetotalers! Ales and lagers are actually good for you (in moderation). Cheers!

Here ‘s a list of some of the amazing benefits of ginger that you may not aware of. 11 Benefits of Ginger That You Didn’t Know About

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