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When French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck set out to categorize the animal kingdom in 1801, he divided it into two groups: vertebrates, those with spines, and invertebrates, those without. The terms have stuck around for more than 200 years, but around 1900, scientists realized that they’d been categorizing wildlife wrong. Plenty of animals without spines—like starfish, invertebrates that extrude their own stomachs to eat—are more closely related to us than to their shellfish prey. Certainly, some animals have spines, and others don’t. But the spineless world is defined by much more than what it lacks. 

The real line that separates humans from insects, slugs, and shellfish? The answer lies partly in the anus. According to more recent thinking, the development of butts has become a key question for taxonomists cataloguing the diversity and evolution of the animal kingdom.

All animals begin life as a rapidly dividing bundle of cells. Early in that process, the embryo is just a tiny sphere of cells. But to develop a gut, the round blob needs to somehow turn itself into a donut. To do so, a dimple forms on the sphere, and eventually pushes its way to the opposite wall. In humans and starfish, that dimple becomes the anus, working its way back to a second opening—what becomes the mouth. In shellfish or crabs, these openings develop in reverse; the original dimple usually becomes the mouth.

That distinction separates most animals into two categories: deuterostomes, or “mouth second,” and protostomes, or “mouth first.” While all vertebrates are butt-first, not all invertebrates fit into either bucket. Even the textbook Invertebrates: A Synthesis distances itself from the word “invertebrate,” writing on the first page, “The distinction [between vertebrate and invertebrate] is hardly natural or even very sharp.” So-called invertebrates aren’t categorized by their lack of spine, so much as their approach to the anus. 

[Related: Watch beetles shoot hot chemicals from their butts to escape toad bellies]

Or so it used to be. “It is true that deuterostomes were classically said to be defined by the development of the anus,” says Imran Rahman, a paleontologist at London’s Natural History Museum, “but we now know that some protostomes also develop in the same way.”

More recently, researchers realized that certain mouth-first animals, like some species of brachiopods, a type of shellfish, developed butt-first. Others develop both at the same time, where the spherical embryo hollows out and rolls over on itself like a burrito. In 2024, a team demonstrated that the shape of the gut is actually an artifact of a more subtle process: The embryo transforms from a sphere into a stretched out, shrimp-like shape.

That would mean that our common ancestor may have evolved the shrimp-like physique first, and then figured out how to build its guts. The findings, the researchers argued, suggest that anuses (or in some cases, mouths) have evolved over and over again.

That could explain the case of the comb jellyfish, which branched off long before the ancestors of starfish and humans had evolved a waste disposal system. Most jellies have what are called “blind guts”—an entrance with no exit. Most gulp down food, digest it, then spit up the remains.

It’s possible that the anus is much older than scientists realize, and comb jellies are evidence of a common ancestor with a through-gut. But it’s also plausible that the butt is just so valuable that jellyfish have come up with it on their own.

And indeed, the oldest purported ancestor of humans, starfish, and all so-called “mouth second” animals is, intestinally speaking, a lot like a jellyfish. The creature was a seafloor-dwelling animal, called Saccorhytus coronarious, or “crowned wrinkly bag.” It was about the size of a pinhead, and had a huge, gaping mouth on top of a round body. It had no anus, but was covered in pores that its discoverers believe to be a precursor to gill slits. “However, not everyone is convinced by this interpretation,” says Rahman.

The name deuterostomes has stuck around, though. More recent genomic work has demonstrated that we still evolved alongside animals that basically share our intestinal toolkit, letting us know that the animal kingdom is defined as much by butts as by spines.

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What Is An External Hard Drive?

Last Updated on July 22, 2023

There are many parts to a computer and sometimes trying to work out and explain what each of those parts are can get a bit confusing. One of the most important parts of a computer is a hard drive. And as well as internal drives, there are also external hard drives. But what are both of these things?

In this article, we’ll be explaining what an external hard drive is and hopefully, you’ll go away with the information you need to be able to explain it to other people!

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What Is A Hard Drive?

So to start off, let’s get into what a standard hard drive is.

A hard drive is a part of a computer that sorts the operating system (or OS for short), data files (such as documents), any applications found on the computer, pictures, and music. Basically, anything file that exists on the computer.

Hard drives can hold a great deal of information and your computer isn’t going to function without one. Most hard drives are quite cheap as well, so if you need to replace one, you don’t have to spend too much money replacing them.

There are drawbacks to a hard drive though. The biggest drawback is if they suddenly stop working and you haven’t backed up any of the data from your computer, you’ll potentially lose that data forever.

If the hard drive can be fixed, or data recovered, some of it may be saved. But it is always better to backup just in case.

Another drawback hard drives have is that they can be quite slow, especially when you’re opening very large files or applications, and particularly compared to SSDs (solid state drives).

What Is An External Hard Drive?

An external hard drive is pretty much exactly the same as a normal hard drive, but it isn’t connected inside a computer.

External hard drives usually come as a separate unit, can be quite small, and can hold a large quantity of data. They are usually attached to the computer via USB and can be disconnected and reconnected whenever the user sees fit.

External hard drives are great for extra storage or for keeping any important files on. If your internal computer hard drive ever fails or corrupts, anything that is stored on your external hard drive will be safe.

Because of that, if you have a lot of files that you consider to be important, it’s in your best interest to invest in an external hard drive. They are the best backup devices for a computer and you can save you a lot of time and hassle if anything ever happens to your computer.

But just like an internal hard drive, external hard drives do have their drawbacks.

Both normal hard drives and external hard drives can get hot and overheat, and this can sometimes cause issues to both your computer and your hard drives. Plus, because hard drives function mechanically, they are more prone to fault than SSDs.

Additionally, because external hard drives aren’t part of your computer, and can be detached and moved, you can lose them if you aren’t careful. It’s always best to keep your external hard drive in a safe, secure place when it’s not in use.

Conclusion

External hard drives are a good investment should you need a backup solution to be kept separate from your computer.

But remember, you need to look after an external hard drive and keep it safe and secure too.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Stop Covid

AI to identify, track and prevent future outbreaks

The better we are at identifying and following the movements of the virus, the better we will be at fighting it. By analyzing news sources, content published on social networks or publications made by different governments. We will first learn to detect new outbreaks of the disease and, therefore, before we can act.

AI to aid in the diagnosis of the disease

Another key to stopping the virus is being able to carry out early tests, so that the first symptoms can be directly related to those of the disease. Companies like Infervision are working in this field with the Chinese giant Alibaba.

Thanks to the use of Big Data, the patient’s history. They can determine with a success rate higher than 90% if that person has already been infected or could likely have it. So the treatment procedures can be started even before obtaining the results from medical laboratories.

Using drones to deliver medicine

It is something that has already been successfully demonstrated in China. Where an aerial drone corridor was able to establish between the Xinchang Disease Control Center and its People’s Hospital. Drones have also shown their effectiveness in urban surveillance tasks, urging people to “go home,”

Developing new medications

One of the companies that is leading the cause is Google. Its Artificial Intelligence unit, Google Deep Mind, works to determine the complete structure of the proteins. That may involve in the structure of the virus so that effective treatments can be found.

A similar case is found at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, belonging to the United States Department of Energy. There, a group of researchers is using Summit, the world’s most powerful supercomputer, to aid in the fight against COVID-19. This supercomputer, developed by IBM for this department, is being used to identify and study drug compounds that can help find a cure.

AI to identify affected individuals

It may be the most controversial use of this technology. And it may only be implemented in countries where citizen surveillance is routine, but it seems to work. Companies like SenseTime have adapted their facial recognition systems to identify on the street or in closed spaces (a shopping center, for example). If a person shows external signs of being suffering from COVID-19, by crossing this facial recognition as the person’s background and all available information about the area in which they live. With this, a reasonable probability estimate can be made.

AI for vaccine development

Of all, the best news we could give right now is that Artificial Intelligence is helping to find an effective vaccine against COVID-19. Currently, some of the most powerful computers in the world are in this effort.

They are making use of AI techniques that allow them to process much more information in less time, based on probability models. In China, companies like Tencent, DiDi, and Huawei have made almost all of their resources available for this cause. And, likely, we will soon see how these efforts multiply in other parts of the world.

How Google Can Help You Win The Moment

Understanding Google’s latest research on micro-moments and the implications for your marketing

It’s no secret that mobile has dramatically impacted how we do business and how consumers interact with brands online – the latest mobile adoption data indicates that mobile is still on course to overtake fixed internet access and that mobile ad spending accounts for 49% of digital ad spending.

As a result of this mobile shift, Google has conducted some interesting ethnographic research over the last year to explore how consumer behaviour is changing and gain an understanding into the needs of real people. Some of the stand out insights from the research includes:

82% of smartphone users use their phones to influence a purchase decision in a store

62% of smartphone users are more likely to take action right away to solve an unexpected problem or task because they have a smartphone

90% of smartphone users have used their phone to make progress towards a long-term goal or multi-step process while out and about

91% of smartphone users turn to their phone for ideas while doing a given task

Google’s research has led them to the conclusion that consumer decisions don’t happen in a defined, logical order, if they ever did. Instead, they happen at seemingly random times in a consumer’s life – what Google have defined as ‘micro-moments’.

What exactly are ‘Micro-moments’?

Micro-moments are moments when consumers act on a need, e.g. to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something or buy something. They are intent-rich moments where decisions are being made and preferences shaped.

Google recommends marketers consider four key moments and explain the importance of Moments in relation to mobile devices:

“We turn to our phones with intent and expect brands to deliver immediate answers. It’s in these I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, I-want-to-buy moments that decisions are made and preferences are shaped”.

Research presenting the increasing importance of these four ‘Moments’ is summarised in the visual below.

It’s not just Google who are pushing this concept. Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond tells us that ‘Consumer Engagement Is Shifting Toward Micro Moments’ whilst Brian Solis of Altimeter Group has explained ‘Why CMOs Need to Invest in Micro-Moments’.

From the Zero Moment of Truth to Micro-moments – an evolution

The introduction of the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) challenged marketers to consider new, intentional strategies to enable brands to become discoverable and capture attention in the discovery stage before guiding consumers through to purchase.

Micro-moments is follow-up to ZMOT and influenced by the increasingly ubiquitous nature of mobile among consumers. Instead of thinking about one common Zero Moment of Truth in any given situation, Micro-moments encourages marketers to consider many different, real-time, intent-driven micro-moments related to hundreds of different scenarios, all of which give marketers an opportunity to shape consumer decisions.

How do micro-moments influence modern marketing?

In many ways the underlying theme of Google’s Micro-moments research is not new. The idea that the consumer journey no longer follows a predictable, linear model, and the need to create more fluid, bespoke personas for our customer groups, has been covered before:

However, where I think Micro-moments is particularly interesting is in the mind-set shift it encourages us to adopt. Living in a mobile-orientated world has dramatically impacted how consumers think, search and buy online and as a result marketers must respond accordingly in order to succeed.

Micro-moments in action

With Google’s data and research in mind, let’s consider some examples of Google’s Micro-moments in action and how they may influence marketing decision-making:

People evaluate purchase decisions ‘in-the-moment’

Consumers have their smartphone to hand at all times and this has implications for brands who sell products in physical locations. According to Google, 1/3 of online consumers aged 18-34 say information discovered through search caused them to buy a more expensive product in a store if that product is more effective.

This insight provides a clear opportunity with search. Mobile means consumers can instantly search and compare products in the moment, meaning marketers must win these moments by providing timely and relevant information, such as product details, reviews and testimonials.

People solve problems ‘in-the-moment’

If something breaks or goes wrong, or if a consumer suddenly thinks of something they might need in a given moment, they’re likely to pick up their smartphone to take action. Google has found that online consumers purchase in unexpected places – 39% in the kitchen; 28% in the car; 21% in the bathroom.

In moments like this it’s important to be found so search is again a key consideration. However, in order to seal the deal marketers must also ensure that the mobile experience is consistent from start to finish. The user experience and shopping process must make things easy for the consumer, meaning products are first easy to find, followed by a painless checkout process.

People pursue big goals in small moments

We often think that buying a large purchase, such as a new piece of technology, car or even house, as something that requires dedicated research time carried out in one go. However, nowadays research is conducted in ‘stolen moments’ spread across the day, for example waiting in a queue, during a lunchtime break or sitting in an airport or train station.

Google has found that mobile queries for mortgage calculators have grown 66% since last year, illustrating the demand for research tools such as these ‘on the go’. Mobile moments are critical within long consideration journeys, with people chipping away at bits of research in free moments. Marketers must therefore ask:

• Do I offer the right experience for the screen and the context?

The micro-moment action plan 1. Make a moments map

Identify a set of moments you want to win or can’t afford to lose by examining all key phases of the consumer journey.

2. Understand customer needs in-the-moment

For each moment you want to win, put yourself in the consumer’s shoes. Ask “What would make this easier or faster? What content or features would be most helpful for this moment?”

3. Use context to deliver the right experience

Leverage contextual signals like location and time of day to deliver experiences and messages that feel tailor-made for the moment.

4. Optimise across the journey

People move seamlessly across screens and channels. Ensure your brand delivers seamlessly in return and don’t let competing objectives or department silos stand in the way.

5. Measure every moment that matters

While the return on investment for certain moments may not yet be directly measurable, use credible estimates to ensure nothing’s falling through the cracks.

5 Ways Big Data Analytics Can Help Your Business

More and more businesses are embracing the concept of big data versus treating it like just another buzz-phrase.

Once heralded as “the next big thing,” adoption of big data analytics is at an all-time high with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. With big data and business analytics software projected to reach nearly $200 billion in revenue by 2023, it’s clear that the business world’s decision to bet on data has paid off so far.

So, what’s the catalyst for such rapid adoption in the first place?

After all, not all data is created equal and the need for massive numbers varies from company to company. According to a 2023 big data survey conducted by NewVantage, the top reasons for big data initiatives include decreasing expenses, exploring innovation opportunities and launching new products and services:

Although big data has uncovered new opportunities for businesses to reel in revenue, it’s also created a slew of challenges for marketers.

According to analytics firm SAS, the most common problems presented by big data to marketers are three-fold:

Determining which pieces of data to gather: with so many moving pieces of any business, it’s natural for marketers to find themselves in a situation where they’re drowning in a sea of numbers

Picking between analytics tools and platforms: more data means more tools, which means more picking and choosing on behalf of marketers already saddled with time and budget constraints

Turning data into action: while it’s easier than ever to acquire mounds of data at a moment’s notice, the act of spinning that data into gold is easier said than done

Does that mean that all hope is lost for marketers looking to benefit from big data?

Absolutely not.

After all, data-driven marketing has become the norm of today’s businesses. Rather than trust assumptions or gut feelings, modern marketers are making decisions by the numbers available to them. In fact, spending on data-driven marketing was up over 60% between 2024 and 2024.

1. Better Analytics = Better Design

As noted in the NewVantage survey, some of the greatest value of big data comes in the form of decreased expenses and faster launch of new products and services. This is being played out in the design world, where data is helping machines learn how to create sophisticated branding elements.

Your logo is the anchor of your brand, but getting one created can be a costly and lengthy affair:

Do it yourself, and you risk missing key elements that designers have been trained to understand.

Online platforms like Tailor Brands are eliminating the need for expensive designers and creative teams, getting brands up and running quickly and inexpensively. They’ve discovered how to take a user’s subjective input about their brand, and apply that to the huge amounts of data collected through their user base to provide machine-generate designs in minutes.

The system makes artistic decisions around colors, typefaces and layout based on design best practices and user feedback, essentially providing access to a massive database of design knowledge. Because their system is set up to continuously learn from all user input, they are able to spot design trends and preferences too, continually improving results.

All of this means brands no longer face the expense of working with logo design teams and can get out there and start marketing in record time.

2. Perfectly Timed Content

Speaking of time, marketers today face some major pain points in regard to content. That is, squeezing the most out of each and every piece we publish is much easier said than done.

Fortunately, analytics can play a major role when it comes to timing and content distribution.

Consider how Growbots’ email marketing platform optimizes send times based on engagement and the peak activity of email subscribers based on data from over one million cold campaigns.

The results of their analysis are nothing to scoff at, either. According to Growbots, email delivery optimization has the potential to nearly double the conversion rate of any given campaign.

Collecting data on followers and subscribers ultimately teaches marketers the best window to reach them, time after time.

This same logic can be applied to the world of social media, too. That’s why solutions such as social scheduling tool Sprout Social created its “ViralPost” platform which automatically schedules tweets and posts in conjunction with the online activity of relevant influencers. This sort of scheduling clues us into both the power of data and automation for today’s marketers.

Big data often reminds us of a rather obvious detail of any given marketing strategy: we can’t be everywhere at once. With these tools on deck, however, the task of marketing around the clock actually becomes a reality.

3. Boosting Sales

Given the cost and legwork involved with leveraging big data, there should be a financial incentive for hopping on the bandwagon, right?

Luckily, there is.

Take the world of ecommerce, for example, where a keen attention to analytics could potentially make or break a business. As noted by Dataconomy, big data has huge implications for sales as it applies to…

Optimized pricing: by tracking purchases and trends in real-time, brands can ultimately identify patterns that result in higher profits (something that 30% of businesses fail to do year after year)

Demand: big data analytics can forecast needs for inventory and essentially prevent the need for a business to ever be out of stock

Predicting trends: keeping a close eye on industry data provides opportunities to determine which products are buzzing with consumers and what’s falling flat.

For marketers making digital sales, even the most minor details uncovered via analytics could result in major profits or losses. Again, the information gleaned by big data often represents points that many marketers wouldn’t think twice about until they were aware of where they might be going wrong.

4. Conversion Optimization

Yet the degree to which big data analytics can help accomplish these goals may be less obvious.

Bear in mind that 48% of big data is attributed to customer analytics, meaning that drilling deep to understand customer behavior should be a matter of “when” not “if”.

The rise of big data is a stern reminder for marketers to take a data-driven approach to conversion optimization. With variables such as headline and CTA copy to color scheme and imagery, there’s plenty to consider on any page of your site or store.

The more data you have to assess the behavior of your traffic, the better.

5. Promoting Personalization

 With so much emphasis on metrics in regard to big data, it’s easy to forget the people and relationships behind those same numbers.

The concept of big data creating more personalized experiences may seem like an oxymoron but just take for example how chatbots are being used to boost customer satisfaction.

For example, the more a fashion chatbot for a brand like H&M “talks” to a customer, the more it learns about their preference in terms of products. The bot is then able to come up with personalized product recommendations as a result:

While marketers aren’t expected to rely on robots, they are expected to regularly gather data from customers in pursuit of a more personalized experience.

Even beyond the world of bots, Amazon’s recommendation engine is a prime example of personalized recommendations via data collection. Considering that lack of personalization annoys nearly three-quarters of all consumers, the key is for marketers to deliver relevant recommendations only.

And although personalization is considered a must-do, 39% of marketers note that a “lack of data” is their biggest challenge toward making it happen.

Therefore marketers looking to get closer to their customers should learn more about them sooner rather than later. Through the power of big data analytics, that crucial personal connection is more than possible.

Breaking Down the Benefits of Big Data

How Vpns Can Help You Overcome Internet Security Threats

If you are looking for a secure and private way to browse the internet, then a VPN is the perfect solution. VPNs are becoming increasingly popular for their numerous benefits. They provide an added layer of security to your online activities and help you access content from around the world.

1. You Can Access Geo-Blocked Websites

If you’ve ever tried to access a website only to be told it’s blocked in your region, you know the frustration. This type of content is called geo-blocked content. Fortunately, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can help you get around these types of restrictions.

A VPN allows you to connect to a server in another country, allowing you to bypass regional blocks and access websites that would otherwise be unavailable to you.

This means that if you want to access Omegle in a country where its access is banned, you will have to use a VPN for Omegle to access the website in your area. So, no matter where you are in the world, a VPN can help you access geo-blocked content.

2. You can Browse the Internet Anonymously

Using a VPN is essential for anyone who wants to stay secure and anonymous while browsing the internet. By connecting to a VPN, your data traffic is routed through a secure tunnel that encrypts your information, making it unreadable to any third parties.

3. You can Stay Safe Online

When you connect to a public Wi-Fi network without a VPN, you are vulnerable to hackers who could steal your data or infect your device with malware. However, with a VPN, your data is encrypted and secure.

4. You can Download Files Safely

Downloading files from the internet is never safe. You don’t know when a hacker will be ready to log on to your computer by feeding malicious software through the downloaded files.

With a VPN, you can access websites and download files without worrying about exposing your data to cybercriminals or other third parties. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and the server you’re connected to, protecting your information from being intercepted.

Furthermore, some VPNs offer added security features like an automatic kill switch and a no-log policy to ensure that your information stays private.

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