Masslooking: New, Effective and Intrusive

Due to the service, insta-stories views have increased many times

Reading time 4 minutes

In May 2019, active Instagram users noticed significant changes in the statistics of their pages. The number of views instagram-stories became much greater. In addition, public pages of famous bloggers and celebrities began to “follow” them. This is a new way to PR accounts – masslooking.

Bots are not welcome

At first, users of the platform did not understand why they had such an increased activity. Some users thought they aroused the interest of public pages.

В среднем на 200 ожидаемых просмотров приходится 600-700 посещений
An average of 200 expected views account for 600-700 visits

Profiles of famous people caused even more questions. The bloggers Sasha Kat, Ruslan Sokolovsky and Lissa Aveme became unexpected spectators.T-Killah was the most prominent one, he looked through the stories of almost all Instagram users. Obviously, none of these people were subscribed to the browsed accounts. Bots appeared in the list of views of stories that usually have more than a hundred views.

Masslooking – a new way of promotion

In 2018, on the reddit.com forum, a user wondered why his Instagram stories are viewed by random accounts if he does not use tags. Answer: this is due to the fact that the story was highlighted in the “interesting”, these are algorithms of recommendations. However, this phenomenon is called “masslooking” – it was a question of this instrument back in 2017. Probably, SMM-specialists mastered the algorithm only now and are ready to provide services.

Using the algorithm, profiles of public people and brands can view up to 80 thousand insta-stories per day. The average price for a single story view is 0.01 kopecks. The function is carried out through third-party services to work with Instagram.

The account promotion tool works in the same way as “massfollowing” (mass subscription) and “masscommenting” (mass mailing of comments). The main goal of the algorithm is to attract a new audience. Developers are counting on user interest in accounts with a large number of subscribers. After the transition to the profile is expected subscription user. Many users also publish new stories with marks of the stars who visited their account.

Specialists in SMM are well aware of the new promotion tool. SMM managers consider such an algorithm effective. The fact is that the vast majority of users follow the views, often expecting to see interesting profiles. Companies are praised by masslooking and consider the scheme a unique PR strategy.

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Масслукинг фуфло? Ой ли? ⠀ Все чаще я стала встречать в инстаграм посты о том, что масслукинг это фигня. Что вот ещё месяц назад на обычном профиле среднестатистической девочки было 50-100 просмотров сторис, а сейчас их 500-700 и никто не будет смотреть «кто меня посмотрел» и переходить. ⠀ Ребят, специально – нет. НО… у всех нас (почти у всех) есть люди которые нам не безразличны. В том или ином варианте. И нам интересно а вот он/она посмотрел мои сторис? И мы лезем среди этих дебрей в 500-1000 просмотров выискивать ТОГО человечка. ⠀ И здесь нам в глаза бросается описание аккаунта или интересная аватарка и мы переходим. ⠀ Да!!! Все ещё переходим! Работает масслукинг!!! У меня у клиентки с подключением масслукинга запросов в день стало на 30 шт больше. Часть закрывается на продажи. Часть остаётся запросами. ⠀ Важно грамотно базу подобрать. И фильтровать ее с умом!!!! Ну не слушайте вы тупо тех, кто говорит «максимум 100 подписок, максимум 500 подписчиков» иначе вас не заметят. ⠀ Если ваши клиенты – девочки модели, актрисы начинающие или просто девочки которые накрутили зачем то себе подписчиков? Тысяч так 20-200. Подписчиков то накрутили, но просмотров сторис у них от этого не прибавилось! Как скажите мне вы их найдёте, как они вас заметят если вы их не прорабатываете массфоллом или масслукингом? ⠀ В идеале, конечно, надо выходить в топ по хештегам. Тогда вас люди сами найдут. И здесь важно чтоб аккаунт был максимально информативен. ⠀ У нас с масслукинга приходят люди у которых подписок 3000-4000 то есть масфолловеры. А подписчиков и 11000 и 300000 может быть. ⠀ Если у вас крутой продукт и красивый Инстаграм вас заметят! Особенно если человеку нужна ваша услуга. ⠀ У меня всё. Со мной можно не согласиться, но я вижу конверсию от масслукинга.

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Experienced Instagram users immediately understood the algorithm, but were not happy with it. They were divided into two camps: some condemned the scheme of advancement for its uselessness, others for obsession. The algorithm is effective for stars – many users noticed the artist T-Killah, but they laughed at the profiles of unpopular bloggers. Obsessive advertising of these accounts littered browsing lists with hundreds of bots.

Protection from unwanted viewers

It is impossible to completely get rid of unnecessary accounts – the stories will be viewed by new spam bots. However, there are two ways to avoid twisted views:

  1. Close the profile by changing the privacy settings (many users did this);
  2. Publish stories only for “best friends”, in the list of which you can add all your subscribers.

Wonders of Modern Photo Editors

Now you can change sex, get a tattoo and turn into an anime in one click

Reading time 7 minutes

Once again Snapchat literally blew up social networks with its new filter, which allows you to «change» sex. The girls looked at themselves as a guy, and the guys looked at themselves as a girl. Some users have even created Tinder pages for their alter ego to prank friends.

Илон Маск в «женской» версии от Snapchat
Elon Musk and his «female» version from Snapchat

It is not the first time when Snapchat developers demonstrate to the public interesting things. Take even insta-stories, the format that has been created by Snapchat team. Also masks and photos in dialogs, which disappear after 24 hours. All of that Instagram borrowed from the creators of Snapchat. Although, in a way it was not invented by them either. Some time ago, Snapchat redeemed the Looksery app, which was developed in Ukraine. The team of the same app actually made most of those «masks».

Today Snapchat really sets the bar, but it is not the only app that allows you to experiment with your appearance. There are plenty of them, and they all perform different functions – from changing the sex and age to transformation into the anime.

Meitu — transformation into the anime

Chinese app Meitu was launched way back in 2008, but it became popular only in January 2017. The mask of this photo editor increases eyes, blushes cheeks and changes facial proportions. That is how you become an anime character. The main advantage is that the app processes images in real time, so you can try on the effects before taking a photo or  a video.

Basic editor filters are free – but there are also special filters that require a paid subscription. For free you can try on Bunny ears and pretend to be sick: a face blushes, cheeks grow and virtual snot starts pouring.

Meitu - приложение для любителей японской культуры
Meitu — the app for fans of Japanese culture

FaceApp — aging, fake smile and sex change

The developers of FaceApp one of the first resorted to the use of neural networks in creating photo editors. The app is widely known for the opportunity to try on a believable smile, change the sex and look at yourself in old age. In 2017, the social network was full of collages of four photos, which appeared even on television.

Today FaceApp yields to new masks from Snapchat. New filters process images in real time and make men look like women, and women look like men way more realistic. However, FaceApp can still surprise those who just discovered it, because it alters the appearance quite plausibly. We must not forget that  the developers of Snapchat obviously got inspired by this app. Because several years ago, the developers of FaceApp introduced such filters as «sex change» and «aging».

FaceApp - нейросеть, от которой стареешь
FaceApp — neural network that makes you grow old

InkHunter — the virtual try-on of tattoos

InkHunter does not change the appearance, this application’s function is practical. It is recommended to use it before going to the tattoo parlor. With InkHunter you can try on a tattoo: the desired image will be applied to the specified area of the skin. In order to do this, you only need to draw a special sign on your hand or foot — three stripes in the form of a smiley. So the neural network recognizes it.

The app uses augmented reality technology, so the quality of the displayed tattoo is not high enough. The «tattoo» cannot be properly scaled, expanded or zoomed in to really see how the image would look on the skin. Probably the fact is that after the success of the app in 2016, it is no longer being developed.

Фото с меткой для приложения и снимки с примерами татуировок (динозаврик настоящий)
Photos with a label for the app and pictures with examples of tattoos (a dinosaur is real)

FaceTune — the simplified version of Photoshop

And finally, the most important hit in the insta-photography industry — FaceTune. It was developed by the Israeli team Lightricks. This platform has replaced Photoshop for many users. In the photo editor, you can do face tuning, whiten teeth or remove bags under the eyes. In addition, it looks quite natural.

Even the free version of FaceTune amazes with its list of features. For instance, you can «narrow» the shape of the face and highlight the cheekbones, or paint it  in any color. The app does not apply filters or «masks», but it provides tools: you need to apply the desired effects with a brush and try not to overdo it.

FaceTune - любимое приложение всех insta-блогеров
FaceTune is the favorite app of all insta bloggers

The app simplified the work on improving the appearance so much that the media started discussions. On the one hand, FaceTune is suitable for those who cannot use Photoshop, on the other — it makes it too easy to hide flaws, which makes natural beauty a rarity.

Competitors reconciled on the “cloud”

Sony and Microsoft join forces in cloud gaming

Reading time 4 minutes

Sony and Microsoft have always been fierce rivals in the video game market. In the conversations of gamers you can often hear such a phrase as the “war of consoles”. Each next generation of game consoles has a winner. But recently, companies have begun to cooperate in the field of cloud gaming and artificial intelligence. This news came as a surprise to the whole community.

Kenichiro Yoshida, President and CEO of Sony Corporation (left), along with Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

The companies intend to jointly develop cloud solutions based on Microsoft Azure and look for possible options for using the database platform for Sony streaming and gaming services as part of the memorandum of understanding signed by the parties. In addition, the parties intend to work together on the development of semiconductors and AI, used to create “smart” photomatix and other products.

Thus, Sony became a Microsoft client, acquiring the power of their Azure cloud system for their gaming services. Most likely, Sony wants to improve the quality of the PlayStation Now, which allows you to run PS4 games through the cloud on other devices.

Despite all the excitement around the launch of PlayStation Now, it’s not so convenient to use

Up to this point, Sony did not show much interest in streaming services – users did not expect such a change of course from the Japanese company. It seems that Sony has pushed the xCloud initiative from Microsoft and the announcement of Google Stadia from Google to the decision to develop cloud gaming. Nevertheless, they decided to turn to Microsoft for help, instead of developing a platform from scratch. Most likely, these actions are connected with the desire of Sony not to lose focus on the development and quality of games. On the contrary, Microsoft in the past few years has focused on creating services and package offers, rather than on building up a library of exclusive games.

It seems that this unexpected agreement, contrary to all contradictions, satisfies the interests of both parties. It is possible that we will soon be able to see more from this collaboration, and how xCloud and Sony services will compete with Stadia from Google.

The most expensive mistakes of space engineers

How one bug in the program and confusion of meters and feet can cost millions of dollars

Reading time 6 minutes

Developers of space projects sometimes make expensive mistakes. Let’s recall the five largest engineering errors of the space era.

Rocket «Mariner 1»
Ракета «Маринер-1»
Rocket «Mariner 1». Ph: NASA

Mariner 1 is the first apparatus of the NASA’s «Mariner» project (automatic interplanetary probes designed to investigate Mars, Venus and Mercury), the launch of which was scheduled on July 22, 1962. The apparatus was supposed to fly to Venus, however, after 293 seconds it deviated from the course, and was destroyed over the Atlantic ocean. According to the official version, the programmer made a mistake while translating the handwritten formula into a computer code: he mistook the index symbol for a regular dash. As a result, the on-Board computer software perceived normal speed jumps as critical, which led to a failure. The accident could not have happened, but the device’s antenna lost contact with the guidance system on the Ground, and the program automatically moved to plan «B». The engineering error cost $18.5 million, which the New York Times called «the most expensive dash in history».

 

Space station «Skylab»
Станция «Скайлэб»
Skylab space station. Ph: NASA

Skylab is the United States orbital station launched in 1873 (the first and only one). It was designed for Earth observation, astrophysical, technological, and biomedical researchs. Before the destruction, it held three space expedition, however, due to increased solar activity, it went off the orbit in 1979. The lowering of the Skylab accelerated, and since the station did not have its own engine, it was not possible to raise it to another orbit. According to the forecasts of the mission control Center, the station was to enter the Earth’s atmosphere on July 11, 1979 and sink for 1300 kilometers in South Cape Town. But the inaccuracy in the calculations by 4% led to the fall of some wreckage of the station in Western Australia. The damage from premature destruction was estimated at $10 million.

Hubble Space Telescope
Hubble Space Telescope. Ph: NASA

Hubble was launched in 1990, but immediately there was a problem in its work: the telescope transmitted a blurred image. After checking, it turned out that edges of the telescope’s main  mirror were too flat, making the telescope «myopic». NASA scientists have developed a program for image processing and, at first glance, the problem was solved. But few months later, other problems were discovered (gyro failures, problems with solar panels and computer malfunctions), and NASA organized three space expeditions to eliminate those defects. One of them brought «glasses» for the telescope — optical correction system COSTAR. Manufacturing and delivering of «glasses» have cost NASA 49.9 million dollars, while since the beginning of telescope’s construction there were spent 6 billion dollars.

Mars Climate Orbiter
Аппарат «Mars Climate Orbiter»
Mars Climate Orbiter. Ph: NASA

Mars Climate Orbiter is an apparatus studying the Martian climate, which was launched by NASA on December 11, 1998. The main objective of the apparatus is to picture the surface of Mars and to study the dynamics of its atmosphere. Nine months later the unit arrives to the planet, turns on braking and begins to move on highly elliptical orbit. According to the calculations of engineers, the device was supposed to change the orbit to circular and to begin research two months later. However, 5 minutes after the start of braking the apparatus passed Mars and never sent any signals. After analyzing the errors, it turned out that the NASA team calculated the parameters of the decisive stage of the flight in the metric system, and the engineers of Lockheed Martin — in the British system (pound-force). As a result, the device crossed the orbit for 53 kilometers lower than required and disintegrated in the atmosphere of Mars; the loss amounted to $193.1 million.

Satellite «NOAA-19»
Спутник «NOAA-19»
Satellite«NOAA-19». Ph: NASA

The accident is not related to the software, but to ordinary sloppiness. In 2003, September 6, during the construction of the satellite, engineers have tried to move it to a horizontal position, but the device collapsed to the floor. The investigation determined that shortly before failure the technician has pulled from the truck 24 screws and has not documented it, but other staff did not check the presence of screws either. As a result, $135 million were spent to repair the satellite.

 

 

Americans are shocked: Apple has released the card with cashback

Russian users are only grinning, cashback is not new for them

Reading time 4 minutes

Apple has presented its own virtual credit card – Apple Card. When paying by credit card, the company instantly returns 2% of the total purchase amount. It is easy to order a card: just spent a few minutes in the Apple Wallet app. To use the service you need only the iPhone.

At the presentation, the card was given not so much time as the rest of Apple’s new products, but presented in sufficient details. The company showed its physical carrier – a titanium card without a number, a term and a CVV code. All necessary data will be stored on the phone without which it is impossible to use the card.

You can see the history of recent transactions easily in an application that enables you to keep statistics. At the presentation, the user-friendly interface caused delight and loud applause from the audience. The fact that the Apple card has interested users is also confirmed by media statistics. The chief editor of The Verge, Nilay Patel, said that the article about the Apple Card was the most viewed material about apple products. The Russian Internet publication TJ declared exactly the same.

Apple Card application design

In Russia, such a rush around Apple’s card was viewed with irony. The fact is that Russian users have been familiar with cashback and high-quality online applications. These services have been provided by «Sberbank» , «Tinkoff Bank» and «Rocketbank» for many years.

And this is really the case when the States are in no hurry to keep up with progress. In Russia the flowering of IT technologies in the banking sector began in the 2010s. One of the first innovative banks was «Tinkoff» in 2011, and later – «Rocketbank» in 2013. Therefore, the presence of mobile banking and the return of interest on purchases of a Russian user is no longer surprising.

Russia is one of the leaders among countries that use Apple Pay

According to experts, the Apple Card will not immediately become the market leader. However, it is expected that the card will push for changes stagnant US banking sphere.

Turn the screen into black and white mode

How to overcome the dependence on the smartphone without getting rid of it

Reading time 4 minutes

Dependence on smartphones is a disease, and users themselves began to understand it. According to Google statistics, the query “smartphone addiction” and similar became very popular last year.

Analysts attribute this to the desire of people to cope with dependence on smartphones. Recently, as SKY News reported, sales of push-button phones without Internet access have increased in the world. According to the data presented on the website, sales increased by 5%.

However, there is another way to deal with smartphone addiction. American psychologist Martin Sinclair, the author of the bestseller “Care for busy people” proposed to transfer smartphones in monochrome. All application icons and their interface will become black and white. According to him, looking at the screen without colorful pictures and notifications can block emotional attachment – a key element of addiction.

It’s not a secret that app and website developers deliberately use techniques that cause addiction. Bright colors and colorful pictures – one of them. This was told by Tristan Harris, former head of design ethics at Google. He is the founder of the non-profit organisation Time Well Spent, where users are told about manipulation of their attention and how not to fall for the tricks of developers.

Instruction for use

If the smartphone has already become an integral part of the hand, and life without it seems impossible, it’s time to ask yourself: have I become addicted? The positive answer is an excuse to put your phone in monochrome mode. This can be done in a few clicks.

For Android

  1. Go to system settings and select the category «about phone»;
  2. Several times in a row click on the build number, it will open access to advanced editing;
  3. In the system find window «for developers»;
  4. In the section «hardware visualization acceleration» find the item «Simulate anomaly» and choose the monochrome mode.

For iOS

  1. Go to basic settings;
  2. Find the «Quick access» section and select «Filters»;
  3. After that, a triple press on the «Home» button will allow you to quickly change modes from black and white to color.

And the main recommendation: remember that the world around is much brighter than the screen of your smartphone!

Spotify enters Russian music market

Competitors are tense but feel confident

Reading time 4 minutes

Spotify is an online streaming audio service that allows you to listen to music tracks legally and for free. Now the service successfully operates in 70 countries. Daniel Ek, CEO of the service, said that the company is preparing to start work in Russia in the summer of 2019.

The development team believes that there is a strong potential in the streaming service to conquer the market of music services.

A subscription to a service for USA residents costs $ 10. The cost in Russia is currently unknown.
A subscription to a service for USA residents costs $ 10. The cost in Russia is currently unknown.

“We now have more than 159 million active users in 65 countries, 71 million premium subscribers, more than 3,500 employees worldwide and more than 35 million tracks. But we’re just starting… Spotify has a lot more prospects than you thought.”

The service functions as a cloud base and allows the user to select a composition from an extensive media library. Currently, Spotify provides access to over 30 million tracks. Users can search by artist, album, genre. All users have access to many major independent labels. You can also create your own playlists or listen to the radio. You can use the resource with advertising and some restrictions for free. If you pay a subscription, all restrictions are automatically removed.

In Russia, users have long been waiting for Spotify. The service planned to start work here in 2014 and even registered the legal brand LLC Spotify in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities. However, the introduction of the Register was not a guarantee of launch. According to some sources, there were several obstacles to entering the market: the economic crisis, changes at the legislative level, requirements for the storage of users’ personal data, conflicts and disagreements with certain organizations and individuals.

Sberbank CIB analysts have already warned that Spotify will have a significant impact on the Russian music market. But his direct competitors (Yandex.Music and VKontakte (together with BOOM)) noted that they are not afraid of the appearance of a new player on the market and see their competitive advantages over Spotify.

Not only Yandex.Music and VKontakte become competitors. Do not forget about Apple Music and Google Music.
Not only Yandex.Music and VKontakte become competitors. Do not forget about Apple Music and Google Music.

“The growth of the market of legal audio services will be 20–30% per year, Spotify will make a significant contribution to this growth if it starts working in Russia,” said Alexandra Nosach, head of the licensing department for music and video content at Black Star Inc.

A robot-screenwriter has a shot at winning Cannes Lions

The Lexus company produced a advertisement based on a script written by artificial intelligence

Reading time 3 minutes

«Driven by Intuition» is world’s first advertisement based on a script written by artificial intelligence (AI). IBM Watson system developed the text for this ad, and an Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald brought it to life. In order to create the commercial, AI analysed past successful advertisements and based on them generated a new narrative.

Суперкомпьютер фирмы IBM, оснащённый вопросно-ответной системой искусственного интеллекта
The IBM supercomputer equipped with question-and-answer system of artificial intelligence

A minute-long film features the production of the new Lexus ES executive sedan. According to the story, the new model is being destroyed during crash tests, but then the car begin to resist. At the critical moment, Lexus ES recognizes the danger and automatically initiates emergency braking. The creator observes everything through the media.

To write a unique story, the neural network studied a number of advertisements that won Cannes Lions award. An extra information about the company was added to the system in order to make the commercial unfamiliar to viewers and corresponding to the brend. A bunch of emotional intelligence studies was downloaded into the system as well. This helped the neural network to understand what affects potential consumers to the greatest extend.

AI placed all combinations of objects, actions, and locations so that psychologically affects customers. Based on the analyses of external audio, text, and graphic data, the supercomputer determined the most crucial parts of the video making the commercial successful.

AI organized the narrative so that affects our emotions

The project’s creators managed to demonstrate the potential of artificial intelligence. Moreover, AI depicted some of the aspects of human behavior in its story. The accomplished work is an another step towards the use of artificial intelligence in the nearest future.

 

China continues to support coal projects

The risk of environmental consequences does not stop investors from the Middle Kingdom

Reading time 4 minutes

Environmentalists are sounding the alarm: China is funding dozens of coal projects far beyond its borders. Coal is considered the most environmentally hazardous of fossil fuels, including because of the amount of carbon dioxide that it emits during combustion (about one and a half times more than natural gas). According to the latest research of the World Meteorological Organization in 2017, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached its highest level in the last 5 million years. Last month, the UN climate expert group said that the use of coal in production should be stopped by 2050. This solution should bound the global temperature rise to a limit of 1.5 degrees.   

Угольная электростанция в Китае
Coal power station in China

China-supported coal projects are being implemented in South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Balkans. The contracts concluded between the participants of such projects are often not completely transparent, but groups of environmental companies, including the non-governmental organization Bankwatch, try to monitor the situation. Energy Group Coordinator Ioana Chiuta says that efforts to combat the dirty air of Chinese cities have led many energy companies to limit their investments in coal-fired power plants in China and instead have targeted their technology and capital to foreign markets. 

Coal smoke must be cleaned, but this is not always done

Тепловая электростанция Kostolac
Thermal power station Kostolac

In Serbia, one of the country’s main coal-fired power stations is being expanded with a loan from a Chinese bank. Works have been carried out since 2017 under the leadership of a large construction company in China. An hour east of the capital city of Belgrade, in the coal-rich valley of the Danube, construction takes place on a site known as Kostolac B3. The power plant is managed by the national Serbian electric power company EPS, which provides about 70% of the country’s electricity by burning coal, while the rest is electricity produced by hydroelectric power stations. It is expected that Chinese investment in the project will amount to 613 million US dollars. The installation of the new power unit will bring Serbia 350 MW of additional capacity. The project must be implemented in accordance with environmental standards. 

Смог в Пекине
Smog in Beijing

However, the Serbian Center for Environment and Sustainable Development (Cekor) questions the project’s compliance with all environmental standards. After a series of relevant inspections of the project, Cekor found it impossible to ensure that EU standards for environmental pollution are in force.

 

Ilon Musk launches Hyperloop’s first capsule

The super-speed system on magnetic rails starts in Los Angeles on December 10

Reading time 2 minutes

The Boring Company successfully mastered the laying of the first vacuum tunnel for high-speed movement. The founder of the company, Ilon Mask, announced this in his Twitter account. The company has drilled 3.2 km under Los Angeles, the entrepreneur said that the opening of the tunnel will take place on December 10. On the launch day, no one will have to pay the fare, and in the following days the trip will cost $1.

Hyperloop is an ultrafast underground transport system based on pipes and magnetic rails. Autonomous cars with a capacity of 8–16 passengers rush inside the pipe at a speed of about 200 km/h. Initially, the tunnel was conceived solely for the carriage of cars, but now the main goal of the project is to create transport for passengers and cyclists. 

Художественное изображение автономного вагона Loop
Один из эскизных проектов автономного вагона Loop

The tunnel will function like an expressway. Equipped platform will launch vehicles under the ground and deliver to the destination. 

The 16.5 km long vacuum transport system was approved by the authorities of Washington and Baltimore. Boring is also planning to launch a tunnel in Chicago, which will connect the city centre with the airport. At the initial stage, the inventor in his characteristic style admitted that “he has no idea what he is doing.” However, the first project is already at the ready stage. The construction of the Los Angeles-Hawthorne Tunnel, begun in January 2017, has been completed.