Twitter Acquires Chroma Labs, the Team Behind Stories Editing App ‘Chroma Stories’ | Social Media Today

We could soon have a whole new range of visual tools for Twitter

The company has this week announced its acquisition of Chroma Labs, the team behind the Chroma Stories app, which provides a range of stylistic frames and filter options for your Stories content.

As per Chroma Labs:

“When we founded Chroma Labs in 2018, we set out to build a company to inspire creativity and help people tell their visual stories. During the past year, we’ve enabled creators and businesses around the world to create millions of stories with the Chroma Stories app. We’re proud of this work, and look forward to continuing our mission at a larger scale – with one of the most important services in the world.”

To be clear, Chroma Stories is not a platform in itself, but a supplementary app which enables users to create better-looking Stories that they can then post to Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. 

The company was founded by former Instagram product lead John Barnett, who, among other projects, invented Instagram’s popular ‘Boomerang’ video looping tool. That inside knowledge has enabled Chroma to build highly effective visual additions and features, which are perfectly aligned with rising Stories use.

So what will Twitter be looking to do with the app?

As noted by Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour:

Thrilled to welcome the amazing @Chroma_Labs team including @picturejohn, @alexli, @joshuacharris to @Twitter.

They’ll join our product, design, and eng teams working to give people more creative ways to express themselves on Twitter ????????

— Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvz)

What ‘more creative ways to express themselves’ means, exactly, is anyone’s guess, but it could mean that Twitter is looking at its own variation of Stories, or that it will be adding more visual options to enhance your tweet presentation in the near future.

With respect to Twitter Stories, that could definitely be a possibility. Twitter is now one of the only platforms without a Stories option, and with its renewed focus on context, and maximizing user engagement, you would think that a Twitter Stories tool, if done right, could hold significant appeal.

Twitter’s already the home for real-time updates, and a Stories feed could add to this – while it could also provide what Twitter’s ‘Moments’ tool was never quite able to, albeit in a different way.

Moments was Twitter’s mobile-focused, vertically presented, quick catch-up tool, which Twitter originally pitched as “the best of what’s happening on Twitter in an instant”.

These days, Twitter’s bigger push is on increasing personal relevance – so what if, instead of “the best of what’s happening” across all of Twitter, you got a Stories feed instead, which would essentially be a feed of what’s happening among the people and profiles that you’ve chosen to follow.

Twitter could even look to add the tab into the bottom function bar, replacing where Moments once was. Given the popularity of Stories on other platforms, that could work.

It’s not definitively where Twitter is headed, but it makes sense that Twitter would at least look at its options on this front.

Outside of this, Twitter could be looking to simply improve on its current – somewhat limited – visual options. 

As an example, last September, Twitter provided users with the capacity to rearrange their attached tweet images via a simple drag and drop process.

It’s all about the details. Now you can rearrange your photos while writing a Tweet. pic.twitter.com/mllwmPb6dx

— Twitter (@Twitter)

You couldn’t do this before. So, on Snapchat, for comparison, you can take a photo of your face, cut out a section of it, re-paste it a million times over into the frame and create a unique collage, which you can then add filters to, morph into something different via AR tools, and upload in different formats, all within the app. In Twitter, you can now re-arrange images.

Yeah, it probably does need an upgrade on this front.

Either way, with the Chroma crew joining Twitter’s Conversations division, you can expect some significant visual enhancements for your tweets, which could be a major change for the app.

It’ll take some time, but it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with. 

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4 reasons you must embrace push notifications to increase revenue – Best in Australia

Photo: Cristian Dina, Pexels.

You think of expanding your business, suddenly one idea sparks in your mind and that is none other than the mobile app technology and you want to adapt it since you want your business to excel and you don’t want a single stone to remain unturned for the sake of your success. 

But after getting a mobile app you realize that it is turning out to be a hard task for you to retain users.

When the question of app’s success comes the very segment which describes the success of a mobile app is the number of active users on your mobile app, and something which takes this journey one step ahead is the app retention on your mobile app. 

Push notifications can be a tool for the user retention, but only if you decided to proceed with certain tactics, which are mentioned herewith in this blog. Let’s read ahead and experience the difference

App retention is one of the greatest concerns every app has to deal with and needs to find out the best ways out of it in order to make your app survive the app chaos elegantly. 

Indeed there are certain aspects which must be integrated into the app during the app development process, so the app can fit in the requirements of the business and falls as an absolute fit for the users’ expectations as well.

But with so many features, functionalities, it gets more confusing for the app owners to pick the right strategy for the mobile app, which can help the mobile app from getting doomed, so to avoid the cloud of confusion, we have brought this post today, which clearly speaks that how a simple feature in your app, can help your mobile app to survive the game of the app retention…this feature is none other than the Push Notification.

Motivates users to buy products

When a customer plans to buy something from your app, but adds them in the cart and forgets to buy the product, in such scenario when you send a push notification reminder to your targeted audience so they can complete their purchase.

So with a help of simple push notification, you trigger your audience and help them to stay hooked to your services only.

Offers personalized notification

Your users have a different choices, and the different demand from the users, often lead the users to visit the competitor’s mobile app, since they feel the existing app doesn’t have anything new to serve them, so with a push notification you can easily eradicate this possibility by continuously updating your users, about any new feature or the new update which would suit their taste.

With this, you would help your users to stay engaged with your mobile app only and you can experience a much-engaging user experience.

Works on users’ psychology

When you wake up in the morning, and find a notification on your mobile app, telling you the weather forecast, you would definitely feel touched and would start to notice the app. 

This same strategy is integrated by the Facebook as well, wherein on opening the app or the web page in the morning, you are notified by a beautiful message, which states, Hi XXX, today weather will remain clear in Australia, you can enjoy the sunshine!!!, these small notifications which stay on top of your mobile app, keep reminding the users to about your app.

Now the question comes, that how to make the push notification a successful strategy???

Unfortunately push notification can be a deal-breaker or the maker for your app if you skip following the rules. The rules are quite simple and state:

Keep the content simple

When you decide to proceed further with the push notification then you must remember that your users don’t have much time to understand and act on your notification, so the very first strategy suggests, that more your content would be simple, more it would be preferred by the users. So keep the notification content simple yet engaging with some magic words, like ‘ Grab the deal’ or ‘ (name) you should not miss this deal’, by integrating the words like this, you would allow your users to use your app.

Push platform

The selection of the right platform to send the push platform is also mandatory for the successful push notification strategy. There are many push platforms in the market, such as PushWoosh and Parse to name a few, but you need to pick the most appropriate option as per your business needs.

Notifications must have the frequency

You need to understand a very common and most significant fact, that every user has a personal life as well, and you cannot disturb it with your push messages, so you need to understand that your push notification must not turn out to be an irritating factor for your mobile app, so by keeping this in mind you must set a frequency of your push messages.

Switch on/off option

When it comes to push notification, the more you allow your users to use it as per their convenience they would prefer to use it further. To make this happen, you must let the On/Off option in your mobile app, which would allow the users to set the notification-receiving as per their convenience.

Indeed push-notifications can help your mobile app to retain the users, but only if it is planned and managed with the right strategies to yield the best result out of it and can help you to make your app development a cherishing experience for your business goals.

Also, one another fact which equally matters in the success of a mobile app, and cannot be given a miss at any given cost, is the selection of the right mobile app development company for your app.

I know there are many app development companies in the app development market, and which keep on confusing you further, but you need to be sure of picking a right app development partner, which has the impressive technical experience and the technical exposure to handle your app requirements effortlessly.

If you are finding it hard to find such company for your app concept, then you must get in touch with experienced app builder such as Techugo, which has every bit of these requirements coupled with the renowned clientele list, and help your app to grow immensely.

Jason is a senior Android developer in Australia. He holds great expertise in latest and advanced Android technologies, and ensures to integrate his skills into the mobile app development process.

What do you think about it?

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Facebook stops plans to put ads on WhatsApp

cell phone

In 2019, it was announced at the Facebook Marketing Summit that advertisements would be appearing in WhatsApp Status. Recently, Facebook disclosed it has quit plans to start posting ads on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp will bring Stories Ads in its status product in 2020. #FMS19 pic.twitter.com/OI3TWMmfKj

— Olivier Ponteville (@Olivier_Ptv) May 21, 2019

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the team that was set up to work on integrating ads to the app were dissolved and as a result, their work was “deleted from WhatsApp’s code”. Though the app up to this time is ad-free, Facebook still plans to harmonise ads into WhatsApp’s Status feature.

The report further said that Facebooks’s plan to monetise WhatsApp is part of what made WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum exit the company in 2018 and closely followed months after by his fellow co-founder Brian Acton.

Also, the drawback in putting ads on WhatsApp has led Facebook to alternatively focus on WhatsApp features that will “allow businesses to communicate with customers and organize those contacts.”

Acquired for $22 billion (₦7,974,956,000) in 2014 by Facebook, WhatsApp is one of the most used social media platforms in the world and in Nigeria especially, according to a report. And with new features been added to the Facebook-owned apps, it may seem that the company is unrelenting in making its platform indispensable.

It can be recalled that in 2019, Facebook introduced ‘catalogs’ to its WhatsApp Business app and also Facebook Pay to the market. Although, these features are yet to be available in the African market.

Presuming that ads on WhatsApp would be ultimately launched, the WhatsApp status feature which was copied from Snapchat stories might be carrying ads in between the status just like Instagram stories.

On a brighter note, ads in between WhatsApp stories would be of an advantage to small business owners who already use their WhatsApp status as a tool to market their services. Additionally, these businesses could also create ads to target their prospective customers on the app.

It would also be another huge source of revenue for Facebook as WhatsApp is yet to be monetised while Facebook and Instagram are already generating revenue for the company via customer replies through its new WhatsApp Business API, Facebook Marketplace, ads placement on Instagram and so on.

Attend Techpoint SME Clinic 2020 and stand a chance to win ₦100,000 (CFA 160,000) for your business. Register now for FREE.

Techpoint is hosting an awards ceremony to reward the most outstanding players in the Nigerian startup ecosystem (2015 – 2020). You can nominate your favourite startups now.

Want more stories like this? Subscribe to the Techpoint Africa Newsletter.

Woman in Tech | I write about social media and internet culture | Photography enthusiast.

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Facebook to Unveil New Privacy Updates, it’s First Since Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Popular social media platform, Facebook has announced plans to unveil a new update to its Privacy Checkup Tool. The updates which would be revealed at the CES 2020, would be Facebook’s first significant update since the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook Updates Privacy Checkup Tool, it's First Since Cambridge Analytica
Facebook set to reveal an update to privacy tool at CES 2020

Facebook’s Privacy Checkup tool was created in 2014 to allows users control access to personal information like email address and phone number.

However, in early 2018, Facebook faced a major privacy scandal when Cambridge Analytica illicitly harvested personal data from up to 87 million users without their consent.

Also, in July last year, Facebook was fined a record $5 billion for using phone numbers intended for two-factor authentication in its advertising. It also accidentally stored passwords in plaintext, thus exposing users to hackers and scammers.

The Facebook privacy updates will be introduced based on issues that users were most concerned about. They will provide more privacy control over personal data to avoid the recurrence of another major scandal.

Facebook Updates Privacy Checkup Tool, it's First Since Cambridge Analytica
The Update to the privacy tool allows users to choose who to see what they share

The privacy update increases the categories of the Privacy Checkup tool from three to eight. It would also come under four different topics: Who can see what you share; How to keep your account secure; How people can find you on Facebook; and Your data settings.

The new tools will give users one central tab where they can change settings to choose who can view their profile. They could also control who can send them friend requests as well as enable two-factor authentication and permissions settings for third-party apps.

For users who log into other apps and websites with their Facebook accounts, there would be a Data Settings section. This section provides a convenient location where users can revoke access permissions to those apps and websites.

However, the Facebook Privacy Checkup updates appear to mainly address privacy concerns on the social platform itself, not away from it. As such there are strong concerns that data brokers, miners and advertisers can still target entire groups of people using the social network.

The post Facebook to Unveil New Privacy Updates, it’s First Since Cambridge Analytica Scandal appeared first on Technext.

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Facebook keeps policy protecting political ads | ABS-CBN News

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Facebook logos are seen on a screen in this picture illustration taken Dec. 2, 2019. Johanna Geron, Reuters/file

SAN FRANCISCO — Defying pressure from Congress, Facebook said on Thursday that it would continue to allow political campaigns to use the site to target advertisements to particular slices of the electorate and that it would not police the truthfulness of the messages sent out.

The stance put Facebook, the most important digital platform for political ads, at odds with some of the other large tech companies, which have begun to put new limits on political ads.

Facebook’s decision, telegraphed in recent months by executives, is likely to harden criticism of the company heading into this year’s presidential election.

Political advertising cuts to the heart of Facebook’s outsize role in society, and the company has found itself squeezed between liberal critics, who want it to do a better job of policing its various social media platforms, and conservatives, who say their views are being unfairly muzzled.

The issue has raised important questions regarding how heavy a hand technology companies like Facebook — which also owns Instagram and the messaging app WhatsApp — and Google should exert when deciding what types of political content they will and will not permit.

By maintaining a status quo, Facebook executives are essentially saying they are doing the best they can without government guidance and see little benefit to the company or the public in changing.

In a blog post, a company official echoed Facebook’s earlier calls for lawmakers to set firm rules.

“In the absence of regulation, Facebook and other companies are left to design their own policies,” Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management overseeing the advertising integrity division, said in the post. “We have based ours on the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinized and debated in public.”

Other social media companies have decided otherwise, and some had hoped Facebook would quietly follow their lead. In late October, Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, banned all political advertising from his network, citing the challenges that novel digital systems present to civic discourse. Google quickly followed suit with limits on political ads across some of its properties, though narrower in scope.

Reaction to Facebook’s policy broke down largely along party lines.

The Trump campaign, which has been highly critical of any attempts by technology companies to regulate political advertising and has already spent more than $27 million on the platform, largely supported Facebook’s decision not to interfere in targeting ads or to set fact-checking standards.

“Our ads are always accurate so it’s good that Facebook won’t limit political messages because it encourages more Americans to be involved in the process,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign. “This is much better than the approaches from Twitter and Google, which will lead to voter suppression.”

Democratic presidential candidates and outside groups decried the decision.

“Facebook is paying for its own glowing fake news coverage, so it’s not surprising they’re standing their ground on letting political figures lie to you,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said on Twitter.

Warren, who has been among the most critical of Facebook and regularly calls for major tech companies to be broken up, reiterated her stance that the social media company should face tougher policies.

The Biden campaign was similarly critical. The campaign has confronted Facebook over an ad run by President Donald Trump’s campaign that attacked Joe Biden’s record on Ukraine.

“Donald Trump’s campaign can (and will) still lie in political ads,” Bill Russo, the deputy communications director for Biden, said in a statement. “Facebook can (and will) still profit off it. Today’s announcement is more window dressing around their decision to allow paid misinformation.”

But many Democratic groups willing to criticize Facebook had to walk a fine line; they have pushed for more regulation when it comes to fact-checking political ads, but they have been adamantly opposed to any changes to the ad-targeting features.

On Thursday, some Democratic outside groups welcomed Facebook’s decision not to limit micro-targeting, but still thought the policy fell short.

“These changes read to us mostly as a cover for not making the change that is most vital: ensuring politicians are not allowed to use Facebook as a tool to lie to and manipulate voters,” said Madeline Kriger, who oversees digital ad buying at Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC.

Other groups, however, said Facebook had been more thoughtful about political ads than its industry peers.

“Facebook opted against limiting ad targeting, because doing so would have unnecessarily restricted a valuable tool that campaigns of all sizes rely on for fundraising, registering voters, building crowds and organizing volunteers,” said Tara McGowan, chief executive of Acronym, a non-profit group that works on voter organization and progressive causes.

Facebook has played down the business opportunity in political ads, saying the vast majority of its revenue came from commercial, not political, ads. But lawmakers have noted that Facebook ads could be a focal point of Trump’s campaign as well as those of top Democrats.

Facebook’s hands-off ad policy has already allowed for misleading advertisements. In October, a Facebook ad from the Trump campaign made false accusations about Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. The ad quickly went viral and was viewed by millions. After the Biden campaign asked Facebook to take down the ad, the company refused.

“Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is,” Facebook’s head of global elections policy, Katie Harbath, wrote in the letter to the Biden campaign.

In an attempt to provoke Facebook, Warren’s presidential campaign ran an ad falsely claiming that the company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, was backing the reelection of Trump. Facebook did not take the ad down.

Criticism seemed to stiffen Zuckerberg’s resolve. Company officials said he and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s president, had ultimately made the decision to stand firm.

In a strongly worded speech at Georgetown University in October, Zuckerberg said he believed in the power of unfettered speech, including in paid advertising, and did not want to be in the position to police what politicians could and could not say to constituents. Facebook’s users, he said, should be allowed to make those decisions for themselves.

“People having the power to express themselves at scale is a new kind of force in the world — a Fifth Estate alongside the other power structures of society,” he said.

Facebook officials have repeatedly said significant changes to its rules for political or issue ads could harm the ability of smaller, less well-funded organizations to raise money and organize across the network.

Instead of overhauling its policies, Facebook has made small tweaks. Leathern said Facebook would add greater transparency features to its library of political advertising in the coming months, a resource for journalists and outside researchers to scrutinize the types of ads run by the campaigns.

Facebook also will add a feature that allows users to see fewer campaign and political issue ads in their news feeds, something the company has said many users have requested.

There was considerable debate inside Facebook about whether it should change. Late last year, hundreds of employees supported an internal memo that called on Zuckerberg to limit the abilities of Facebook’s political advertising products.

On Dec. 30, Andrew Bosworth, the head of Facebook’s virtual and augmented reality division, wrote on his internal Facebook page that, as a liberal, he found himself wanting to use the social network’s powerful platform against Trump.

But Bosworth said that even though keeping the current policies in place “very well may lead to” Trump’s reelection, it was the right decision. Dozens of Facebook employees pushed back on Bosworth’s conclusions, arguing in the comments section below his post that politicians should be held to the same standard that applies to other Facebook users.

For now, Facebook appears willing to risk disinformation in support of unfettered speech.

“Ultimately, we don’t think decisions about political ads should be made by private companies,” Leathern said. “Frankly, we believe the sooner Facebook and other companies are subject to democratically accountable rules on this, the better.”

2020 The New York Times Company

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Breakout prospects for 2020 | MLB.com

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Every organization takes pride in its ability to identify and develop talent. We’re the same way at MLB Pipeline, especially when it comes to predicting future breakout prospects.

Looking at last year’s list of breakout candidates, we see many examples of players who realized their potential en route to becoming some of the sport’s premier prospects. White Sox outfielder Luis Robert shot up from No. 44 to No. 3 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list thanks to a 32-homer, 36-steal campaign across three levels, while Blue Jays right-hander Nate Pearson, another three-level climber in ‘19, ascended from No. 90 to No. 10.

With the start of the 2020 season around the corner, MLB Pipeline once again is picking one breakout candidate from each organization. And while some of the names on this year’s list might be more recognizable than others, they all have the potential to jump on the scene during the upcoming season and establish themselves as can’t-miss prospects.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (No. 6) — The Mets’ second-round pick from the 2018 Draft pitched better than his numbers suggest he did at Class A Columbia, and he made six impressive starts for Class A Advanced Dunedin after joining the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman Trade Deadline deal to finish his first full season with a 126/24 K/BB and .238 BAA in 106 2/3 innings. The 19-year-old righty is a high-ceiling pitching prospect, armed with a plus fastball-curveball combo, an advanced changeup and a mature overall feel for his craft that could help him move quickly through the Minors.

Orioles: DL Hall, LHP (No. 3, MLB No. 60) — Baltimore’s 2017 first-rounder boasts some of the best pure stuff in the Minors among left-handed pitching prospects, with a plus fastball-breaking ball pairing and a promising changeup. Hall’s overall control, however, leaves much to be desired after the 21-year-old southpaw issued 6.0 BB/9 over 80 2/3 innings last season at Class A Advanced Frederick. The good news is that Hall has never had any issues missing bats (11.1 K/9 across his first 185 1/3 pro frames) and continues to be tough to barrel (.201 BAA), so it’s easy to envision him taking a step forward in 2020 with improved strike-throwing ability.

Rays: Shane Baz, RHP (No. 7, MLB No. 94) — Acquired from the Pirates as the PTBNL in the lopsided Chris Archer deal, Baz spent all of 2019 at Class A Bowling Green in the Midwest League, pitching to a 2.99 ERA with 87 strikeouts and 37 walks in 81 1/3 innings (17 starts). He was especially good down the stretch, too, posting a 2.22 ERA over his final six regular-season starts for the Hot Rods before turning in an eye-opening performance in the Arizona Fall League. With a fastball that can touch triple digits, a devastating slider and a raw but promising changeup, the 20-year-old right-hander could develop into a front-of-the-rotation force if he can improve his control and command.

Red Sox: Gilberto Jimenez, OF (No. 7) — A $10,000 steal from the Dominican Republic in 2017, Jimenez skipped a level last season and led the short-season New York-Penn League in batting (.359) in his U.S. debut. The best center-field defender and one of the fastest runners in Boston’s system, he’ll make the jump to full-season ball in 2020.

Yankees: Clarke Schmidt, RHP (No. 5) — Schmidt had Tommy John surgery as a South Carolina junior a month before New York made him a first-round pick in the 2017 Draft. Though he has been brought back slowly, taking that summer off and totaling 114 innings in 2018-19, he already has reached Double-A and shows the makings of four plus pitches.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

Indians: Aaron Bracho, 2B (No. 13) — Bracho’s advanced bat earned him a $1.5 million bonus out of Venezuela in 2017, but he didn’t make his pro debut until last season because he fractured his right arm in May 2018. A switch-hitter who possesses deceptive power and precocious command of the strike zone, he hit .296/.416/.593 in the Rookie-level Arizona League last summer.

Royals: Kyle Isbel, OF (No. 8) — The Royals were excited after Isbel’s exceptional pro debut after they took him in the third round of the 2018 Draft, but his 2019 season was interrupted by injuries and he played in just 59 games. He made up for lost time in the Arizona Fall League and should use his impressive .315/.429/.438 (leading the league in OBP) showing to catapult him to the upper levels of the system

Tigers: Parker Meadows, OF (No. 12) — The Tigers knew that Meadows — Rays outfielder Austin Meadows’ younger brother — would need time to develop when they selected the athletic prep outfielder in the second round of the 2017 Draft, and his .221/.296/.312 showing over 126 games at Class A West Michigan in his first full season only confirmed that assessment. However, the 6-foot-5, 205-pounder’s five-tool profile offers reason to be optimistic about his future, as all the raw qualities are in place for the 20-year-old to develop into an impact player.

Twins: Wander Javier, SS (No. 7) — While it’s true the Twins didn’t protect Javier on their 40-man roster this offseason, that was a relatively low-risk move given the shortstop hasn’t played above A ball. A torn labrum cost him the 2018 season and he struggled once he got to full-season ball for the first time in late May of 2019 (.177/.278/.323). But he still has tremendous tools, the ones the Twins saw when they gave him $4 million to sign in July 2015.

White Sox: Matthew Thompson, RHP (No. 13) — Before Chicago selected Thompson 45th overall last June, it had spent just two picks that early on high school pitchers in the previous 17 Drafts (Gio Gonzalez in 2004, Spencer Adams in 2013). Though he was inconsistent as a senior last spring, the White Sox love his athleticism and quick arm, which could result in a mid-90s fastball and plus curveball once he’s fully developed.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

A’s: Marcus Smith, OF (No. 30) — The Kansas City high schooler was a bit of a surprise third-round pick, one who wasn’t on our Draft Top 200 list in 2019, but he sure made the A’s look smart during his relatively brief pro debut in the Arizona League (.361/.466/.443 in 29 games). That advanced approach should serve him well and let him use his 70-grade speed to his advantage in his first full season of pro ball.

Angels: Jeremiah Jackson, SS/2B (No. 4) — He’s yet to reach full-season ball, but he set the stage for the jump by leading the Pioneer League in home runs and RBIs in 2019. He’ll need to cut down on his strikeouts (33 percent rate), but he’ll also only be 20 for all of 2020, so there’s time for him to refine his approach and become a truly impactful middle infielder.

Astros: Jeremy Pena, SS/2B (No. 8) — The son of offensive-minded second baseman Geronimo Pena, Jeremy was one of the best defensive shortstops available in the college class of 2018, when Houston popped him in the third round out of Maine. His glove was as good as advertised in his first full pro season, when he exceeded expectations by batting .303/.385/.440 with 35 extra-base hits and 20 steals between two Class A levels.

Mariners: George Kirby, RHP (No. 6) — Kirby made a name for himself as a control artist at Elon University and parlayed that into being a first-round pick last June. He showed just how good that command was by not walking a single batter in 23 innings during his pro debut. Seen as a safe pick who could ride his pitchability quickly up a ladder, his first full season could show that he’s more than that, with the potential to join others from his class on our Top 100 in 2020.

Rangers: Cole Winn, RHP (No. 4) — One of the most polished high school pitchers in the 2018 Draft, Winn went 15th overall but struggled more than expected while being kept on a tight leash in his first full pro season in 2019. But he finished the year with a 2.81 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings over his final 12 starts, showing signs of a quality four-pitch mix once he dials in his command.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Bryce Ball, 1B — Ball spent two years in junior college before transferring to Dallas Baptist for his junior year. The Braves nabbed him in the 24th round of last June’s Draft after he hit .325/.443/.614 with 18 homers and then he hit 17 more combined in the Appalachian and South Atlantic Leagues during his pro debut. He might have the most power in the system and has already shown the ability to get to it.

Marlins: Braxton Garrett, LHP (No. 7) — The seventh overall pick in 2016, the Alabama high school product required Tommy John surgery after just four pro starts, costing him all of 2018. Garrett looked like his old self last season, pairing a low-90s fastball with a plus curveball in high Class A, and could move quickly in 2020 as he puts elbow reconstruction further behind him.

Mets: Francisco Alvarez, C (No. 5) — Alvarez’s $2.7 million bonus in July 2018 was one of the top totals handed out during the 2018-19 international period, and it wasn’t long thereafter that he began to receive rave reviews from those inside the organization. The Mets challenged Alvarez last summer in his pro debut, assigning him straight to the Rookie Gulf Coast League before a quick promotion to the Appalachian League, and the then-17-year-old backstop responded by slashing .312/.407/.510 with seven homers in 42 games between the two stops. The Venezuela native is already perhaps the best pure hitter in New York’s system, with defensive chops behind the plate that could make him an impactful two-way catcher.

Nationals: Jackson Rutledge, RHP (No. 3) Taken with the No. 17 overall pick in last year’s Draft, Rutledge, a 6-foot-8 right-hander, has some of the best pure stuff among college pitchers from his class with an explosive mid-90s fastball and a wipeout slider that front his four-pitch mix. Harnessing his stuff to throw more strikes and developing a better changeup will be developmental keys for the 20-year-old in his first full season, though he’s exactly the type of power pitcher the Nats have successfully developed in the past.

Phillies: Francisco Morales, RHP (No. 6) — One of the top pitchers in the 2016-17 international signing class, Morales has tremendous raw stuff. In many ways, it played well during his full-season debut in 2019, as he struck out just over 12 batters per nine innings and held hitters to a .226 batting average. He needs to refine his command to reach his very lofty ceiling, but here’s betting he takes a big step forward in 2020.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Brewers: Tristen Lutz, OF (No. 2) — Tabbed as the Brewers’ top breakout candidate a year ago, Lutz advanced to Class A Advanced Carolina in 2019 and produced a nearly identical line (.754 OPS, 13 HR, 137/46 K/BB) compared to his first full season (.742 OPS, 13 HR, 139/46 K/BB). The elevated strikeout rates fuel questions about the 21-year-old’s hit tool, but there’s a lot to like in his blend of right-handed power potential and patience at the plate. Lutz has the makings of becoming an everyday corner outfielder if it all clicks for him, and a strong showing at Double-A in 2020 would mark a significant turning point in his development.

Cardinals: Ivan Herrera, C (No. 6) — Signed out of Panama for $200,000 in July 2016, Herrera was pushed up to full-season ball at age 18 in 2019 and responded to the challenge by slashing .284/.374/.405 with nine home runs in 87 games across two levels, including Class A Advanced Palm Beach. Herrera continued to impress on both sides of the ball after the season as one of the Arizona Fall League’s youngest players and will enter 2020 with a big up arrow next to his name.

Cubs: Brennen Davis, OF (No. 3) — Though scouts considered Davis one of the better prep athletes in the 2018 Draft, a hamstring injury slowed him as a senior and helped Chicago grab him in the second round. More advanced than expected, he batted .305/.381/.525 and flashed 30-30 upside in low Class A last season — albeit while limited to 50 games by multiple finger injuries.

Pirates: Jared Oliva, OF (No. 11) — A seventh-round pick out of Arizona in 2017, Oliva has had a solid, if unspectacular, first two full seasons of pro ball with a career .274/.348/.403 line, to go along with an impressive 84 steals. He opened a lot of eyes by leading the AFL with 11 steals (in 12 attempts) and hitting .312/.413/.473, setting the stage for a big 2020.

Reds: Tyler Stephenson, C (No. 7) — The 2015 first-round pick got hit by the injury bug quite a bit during the first stages of his career, but he’s going to look back at 2019 as the year it all started to click. After a solid regular season in Double-A, the backstop had a very strong AFL campaign (.347/.372/.410 in 49 at-bats) to earn a spot on the 40-man roster. A big follow-up campaign should vault him onto the top catching prospects list and have him ready for Cincinnati.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

D-backs: Kristian Robinson, OF (No. 2, MLB No. 71) — Signed out of the Bahamas for $2.5 million in July 2017, Robinson offered a glimpse of his potential in 2019 as he slashed .282/.386/.514 with 14 homers and 17 steals while ascending from Class A Short-Season Hillsboro to Class A Kane County in his age-18 season. The 6-foot-3 outfielder’s massive right-handed power highlights an all-around exceptional set of tools, and, overall, it gives him one of the higher ceilings in the Minors among teenage prospects.

Dodgers: Diego Cartaya, C (No. 11) — MLB Pipeline’s top-rated international amateur in the 2018 class, Cartaya signed for $2.5 million out of Venezuela. Often compared to Salvador Perez, he has the tools to make a difference offensively and defensively and hit .281/.343/.432 between two Rookie-ball stops in his 2019 pro debut.

Giants: Alexander Canario, OF (No. 7) — Signed for $60,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, Canario possesses the quickest bat in San Francisco’s system and batted .318/.377/.623 with 16 homers in 59 games between the Rookie and short-season levels last year. He fits the right-field profile well and could have even more value if he’s able to stick in center.

Padres: Reggie Lawson, RHP (No. 21) — The Padres’ second-round pick in the 2016 Draft, Lawson spent much of the ’19 season on the injured list with a balky right elbow, but he returned late in the season to make six starts for Double-A Amarillo, then dominated while making three impressive outings in the Arizona Fall League (0.82 ERA, 14 K, 11 IP), where he operated with a mid-90s fastball, a sharp, 12-to-6 curveball and a promising changeup. With his blend of size and stuff, Lawson could break out in earnest with a healthy 2020 campaign.

Rockies: Helcris Olivarez, LHP (No. 25) — Olivarez made his United States debut in 2019 and missed a lot of bats in the Pioneer League (11.76 K/9 in 46 2/3 IP), largely with a very lively fastball. He’ll need to improve his command (4.63 BB/9) and tighten up his secondary stuff, but the ingredients are all there for him to take a big step forward, perhaps with a move to full-season ball.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

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Scammers target Kiwis: Annabel Langbein the latest focus for Facebook fakers | Stuff.co.nz

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Chef Annabel Langbein is the latest target of an online scam, which has used the names and faces of at least half a dozen famous Kiwis.

Foreign scam artists have been exploiting Facebook’s lax policy on adverts for some time, in a bid to rip off New Zealanders.

Langbein said scammers had made fake news articles, which said she was quitting her job because of a new skincare company. 

“It’s all fake. The very worst thing is that my followers and supporters are being conned and losing money and I am powerless to stop it,” she said on Instagram.

Facebook does not fact check the adverts it promotes, which has meant peddlers of fake news, conspiracies and scams have been able to reach users on the platform.

But a spokesman said it had removed and blocked pages that featured fake celebrity endorsements from New Zealanders.

“We do not allow these scams on our services and we take swift action to remove them as soon as we become aware. These scammers are well resourced and use sophisticated cloaking technology to mask content,” he said.

Tech companies such as Facebook and Google collect data about their users, including where they live and what their interests are. Companies, scam artists, governments and lobbyists can then pay the tech giants to target anyone in the world.

For more than a year, a group of scammers have been targeting New Zealand celebrities and forging endorsements for adverts such as skincare and bitcoin.

A Facebook spokesman said these scammers worked across the internet, but the company was investing in automated technology to better detect false news and endorsements. He said the company employed more than 35,000 people to work in its security team, which dealt with these issues.

” The damage and cost to our business far outweighs any ad spend or benefit as this kind of misleading content,” he said.

CHRIS MCKEEN/STUFF
Annabel Langbein is warning her followers that scam artists are faking stories about her.

These scammers often create fake news websites, made to look like legitimate news sites such as the BBC, Stuff and NZ Herald, to publish fake stories about how one of the celebrities is “quitting their job” after discovering the wonders of a get rich quick scheme.

 it was launching a reporting tool in New Zealand to combat these “celebrtiy-bait ads”.

The tool was first rolled out in the UK, after television presenter Martin Lewis launched legal action against Facebook when his name was used in a similar scam. He dropped the lawsuit when Facebook promised to dedicate resource to anti-scam initiatives. 

Facebook’s director of product management, Rob Leathern, told Stuff last month that the company did take legal action to stop scam artists when their posts were reported.

“It’s kind of a cat and mouse game we’re constantly playing,” he said.

Facebook is asking Kiwis to report click bait advertisements on the platform.

The company has faced mounting pressure to stop the spread of fake news, scams and conspiracies.

Actor Sacha Baron Cohen made headlines last month, calling social media companies “a sewer of bigotry and vile conspiracy theories”.

“Zuckerberg said that social media companies should live up to their responsibilities,” he said.

“But he’s totally silent about what should happen when they don’t. By now, it’s pretty clear they cannot be trusted to regulate themselves.”

Facebook, however, has been clear that it would delete scam accounts and block their accounts once it was notified.

 “Often, we’ll go beyond rejecting the ad; we’ll remove the ability of the accounts and people behind them to advertise with us in the future,” Leathern said.

Chef Nadia Lim, journalist John Campbell, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, broadcasters Mike Hosking and Hayley Holt have also been featured in similar scams.

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“Things went way better than I expected,” creator of Quoted Replies reacts to getting a job offer from Twitter

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Yesterday, Techpoint hosted Twitter CEO and co-founder, Jack Dorsey and his team at a town hall meeting with local entrepreneurs.

Alongside Jack, other Twitter executives, including Kayvon Beykpour, Product Lead and co-founder of Periscope; Parag Agrawal, Chief Technology Officer (CTO); and Mike Montano, Engineering Team Lead, all took turns to answer questions regarding Twitter’s plans for Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

At the event, the Twitter executives were introduced to Quoted Replies, the viral Twitter-based bot that helps you find quoted replies of tweets without having to go through the hassle of copying, pasting, and searching.

While telling the story of how he built the Quoted Replies bot, Dara Oladosu revealed that it garnered over 40 million impressions in October alone.

Kayvon Beykpour was so impressed by Dara’s work that he offered him a job on the spot to help build a native “quoted tweet” feature for Twitter.

When @kayvz asked @QuotedReplies to come work at Twitter. #TechpointMeetsJack #JackInNigeria pic.twitter.com/8nhCAly4r6

— Techpoint Africa (@Techpointdotng) November 8, 2019

Earlier on, CTO Parag Agrawal had mentioned Twitter’s plans to decentralise its workforce into six countries across Africa. It appears the spontaneous job offer was a part of said plans.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” an ecstatic Dara said later during a chat with Techpoint. “I attended the event with the hopes of figuring out solutions to important questions other attendees might have. I also wanted to have a feel of what it’s like to be around the CEO of Twitter. Things went way better than expected.”

Interestingly, as soon as Dara got offered the job, Kayvon invited him to join the Twitter executives on stage.

Dara sat with them throughout the rest of the evening and was encouraged to answer a question from the audience.

The fate of Quoted Replies

Granted that the Quoted Replies bot has become a very useful Twitter tool used daily by thousands of people all over the world, it was only a matter of time before Twitter built its own native feature. And no one knows this more than Dara.

“The bot will most likely die off. Slowly I guess, depending on how quickly the native option for Quoted Replies can be available on Twitter. But I believe the Quoted Replies spin-off apps (built by Hamza Fetuga and Abdulhafeez Sagaya) will continue to be used. They can choose to monetise it how they see fit.”

Regardless, Dara is excited about the idea of integrating Quoted Replies as a native feature on Twitter because according to him, while the bot is quite helpful to users, it has some limitations right now.

While he’s not exactly clear on the exact role he’d be playing at Twitter, Dara says he’s looking forward to “contributing towards making sure that Twitter users, and developers who create software using Twitter’s APIs, get easy access to all the useful information that they might need.”

We congratulate Dara and wish him all the best.

New Report: Nigerian startups raised a combined $38.01m in Q3 2019, just 7% higher than Q3 2018. Download the report.

Attend Techpoint Startup School, a 5-day intensive training for budding African tech founders and CEOs. Classes start 2nd of December. Enrol now.

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4 Tips For Running Effective Church Tech (even on a small budget)

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I’m going to date myself here but when I started leading worship and helping with media at my church, a typical Sunday looked like this:

  1. Show up an hour before rehearsal and pick out songs. (“Let’s see… This week we’ll do Jehova Jireh, Ancient of Days, I Give You My Heart and maybe we should introduce that new song, I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever!”)
  2. Run-off a bunch of photocopies of chord sheets with most of the correct chords penciled in.
  3. Insert about 50 slides into the Kodak 4400 Carousel Slide Projector (oops, I guess we’ll have to do without the lyrics for that new song!)
  4. Run through the songs with just enough time to go to the bathroom before the service starts.

I wish I could say I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.

Fast forward a few years. Our new youth pastor says “why
don’t we purchase a computer and projector and get with the times and use
PowerPoint?” Wow, we were high tech now! Then, sometime around 2003, that same
youth pastor says “you’ve got to check out this awesome presentation software.
It’s called EasyWorship. You can even use video behind the lyrics to enhance
the worship time.” Yep. We never looked back.

All
Scott Breault – New Life Church, Escanaba MI

Almost 20 years later, this is what a typical Sunday…err…week
looks like:

Monday: Pick out the worship set and plan the service.

Tuesday: Make some tweaks to the order of service, finalize the worship set and send out the Planning Center requests to the worship and tech team.

Wednesday: (This is where it gets fun) Head to the media booth, open EasyWorship 7 and drag the songs, graphics, videos and any content being displayed into the schedule. Go through the motion packs and drag and drop the motions that seem to fit the tempo and mood of the song.

Thursday: Mow the lawn (or shovel snow), Spend time with family.

Friday: Program lights, make sure the stage is ready for the team, and do a test run-through of lights, lyrics, presentations, and media while playing the worship set through Planning Center.

Saturday: Mow the lawn that I never got to on Thursday. Spend time with family.

SUNDAY: Drink coffee. 8 am run-through. Start the 5-minute countdown. Start the live stream. 9 am service. Drink coffee. 10:30 service. Eat lunch. Nap.

Okay, I know I said 4 tips for running effective church tech (even on a small budget), so here are those tips and a little look behind the scenes.

1. Keep it Intentional

alpha

Don’t do things just because you saw it at a conference or at another church. Do things out of vision and purpose. Ask yourself “what, why and how?” What do I want to accomplish? Why is it important? (Yes, it is important) How can I do this effectively? One of the things I’m very intentional about is our motion backgrounds and stage lighting. Those things can either cause distraction or be a powerful tool for removing distractions and helping people focus. Make sure what you are doing is achieving the latter. Don’t use fast, bright motions on slow, contemplative songs. If you’re using colored lights then make sure the colors match or complement the backgrounds you’re using. Think about how colors affect emotion. Cool. Warm. Energetic. Calming. Be intentional.

2. Keep it practical

app

It’s easy to look at what the “big churches” are doing and get discouraged. Don’t get discouraged. Keep looking at what the “big churches” are doing, be inspired and scale it down to what fits your resources. LED walls and moving heads are all the rage. I get it. They look awesome. We can’t afford those things right now. How can I get a similar look on a small budget? We looked at LED tape, and movement of light and textures across the stage. (We built this set for around $500 and it has been our backdrop for the last 1 ½ years)

Ask

Our monitor setup: We are running desktop, main display, foldback, and alpha. The main display goes into a splitter that sends the signal to the front projector, secondary monitor and video switcher. The video switcher goes out to our streaming device, and TVs throughout the church.

Awesome

Our live stream setup: We use the Blackmagic Studio HD as our video switcher. We have the PC running the main display and alpha and a couple of cameras. This allows us to show videos and media as well as our cameras on our live stream. The alpha allows us to do lyrics over the camera feeds during worship.

Our lighting setup: Luminair app $99 on an iPad, EZ Kling controller $99, DIY LED tape setup $300. (YouTube and Google are your friends.) Inexpensive LED lights that we’ve purchased over the years.

3. Keep it updated

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Seriously. Keep your computer updated. Keep your software updated. Make sure you’re using the recommended specs for what you’re doing. If you can’t afford the video card, ram, and processor required for HD video, then use still backgrounds. You want things to be reliable during the service. It can still look modern and professional. Use clean, sans serif fonts. (not comic sans) No more than 4 lines per slide. No outline. Soft shadow if you need the contrast. Remember, it’s our job to remove distractions not create them. Keep your equipment updated and keep your look updated.

4. Pass it on

Don’t just find people to push buttons. Train your volunteers. Teach them to troubleshoot. Teach them the “what”, “why” and “how”. Communicate your vision and most importantly, build healthy relationships with them.

Some of the things we’re looking to do in the near future are IMAG and syncing our lights and lyrics with our clicks. (All of which EasyWorship 7 has the ability to integrate with.)

I’ll leave you with this: Don’t make things complicated. You
could have all the tools and resources in the world but if you don’t know how
to use them then they do you no good. Learn how to effectively use the tools
and resources you have. Sometimes that forces you to tap into a level of
creativity that will give birth to all sorts of new ideas. Thanks for taking
the time to read this blog. If you have any specific questions about our setup,
feel free to message me on FB or send me an email. scott@newlife906.com

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