Tutorials

How to build a robot that “sees” with $100 and TensorFlow

Adventures in deep learning, cheap hardware, and object recognition.

Object recognition is one of the most exciting areas in machine learning right now. Computers have been able to recognize objects like faces or cats reliably for quite a while, but recognizing arbitrary objects within a larger image has been the Holy Grail of artificial intelligence. Maybe the real surprise is that human brains recognize objects so well. We effortlessly convert photons bouncing off objects at slightly different frequencies into a spectacularly rich set of information about the world around us. Machine learning still struggles with these simple tasks, but in the past few years, it’s gotten much better.

Deep learning and a large public training data set called ImageNet has made an impressive amount of progress toward object recognition. TensorFlow is a well-known framework that makes it very easy to implement deep learning algorithms on a variety of architectures. TensorFlow is especially good at taking advantage of GPUs, which in turn are also very good at running deep learning algorithms.

Building my robot

I wanted to build a robot that could recognize objects. Years of experience building computer programs and doing test-driven development have turned me into a menace working on physical projects. In the real world, testing your buggy device can burn down your house, or at least fry your motor and force you to wait a couple of days for replacement parts to arrive.

 

Architecture of the object-recognizing robotFigure 1. Architecture of the object-recognizing robot. Image courtesy of Lukas Biewald. 

The new third generation Raspberry Pi is perfect for this kind of project. It costs $36 on Amazon.com and has WiFi, a quad core CPU, and a gigabyte of RAM. A $6 microSD card can load Raspberian, which is basically Debian. See Figure 1 for an overview of how all the components worked together, and see Figure 2 for a photo of the Pi.

 

Raspberry Pi
Figure 2. Raspberry Pi running in my garage. Image courtesy of Lukas Biewald.

 

I love the cheap robot chassis that Sain Smart makes for around $11. The chassis turns by spinning the wheels at different speeds, which works surprisingly well (see Figure 3).

 

Robot chassis
Figure 3. Robot chassis. Image courtesy of Lukas Biewald.

 

 

The one place I spent more money when cheaper options were available is the Adafruit motor hat (see Figure 4). The DC motors run at a higher current than the Raspberry Pi can provide, so a separate controller is necessary, and the Adafruit motor hat is super convenient. Using the motor hat required a tiny bit of soldering, but the hardware is extremely forgiving, and Adafruit provides a nice library and tutorial to control the motors over i2C. Initially, I used cheaper motor controllers, but I accidentally fried my Pi, so I decided to order a better quality replacement.

 

Raspberry Pi with motor hat and camera
Figure 4. Raspberry Pi with motor hat and camera. Image courtesy of Lukas Biewald.

 

A $15 camera attaches right into the Raspberry Pi and provides a real-time video feed I can use to recognize objects. There are tons of awesome cameras available. I like the infrared cameras that offer night vision.

The Raspberry Pi needs about 2 amps of current, but 3 amps is safer with the speaker we’re going to plug into it. iPhone battery chargers work awesomely for this task. Small chargers don’t actually output enough amps and can cause problems, but the Lumsing power bank works great and costs $18.

A couple of HC-SR04 sonar sensors help the robot avoid crashing into things—you can buy five for $11.

I added the cheapest USB speakers I could find, and used a bunch of zip ties, hot glue, and foam board to keep everything together. As an added bonus, I cut up some of the packaging materials the electronics came with and drew on them to give the robots some personality. I should note here that I actually built two robots (see Figure 5) because I was experimenting with different chassis, cameras, sonar placement, software, and so forth, and ended up buying enough parts for two versions.

 

My 4WD robot and her 2WD older brother
Figure 5. My 4WD robot (right) and his 2WD older sister. Image courtesy of Lukas Biewald.

 

Once the robot is assembled, it’s time to make it smart. There are a million tutorials for getting started with a Raspberry Pi online. If you’ve used Linux, everything should be very familiar.

For streaming the camera, the RPi Cam Web interface works great. It’s super configurable and by default puts the latest image from the camera in a RAM disk at /dev/shm/mjpeg/cam.jpg.

If you want to stream the camera data to a webpage (very useful for debugging), you can install Nginx, an extremely fast open source webserver/proxy. I configured Nginx to pass requests for the camera image directly to the file location and everything else to my webserver.

 

http {
   server {
      location / {
            proxy_pass http://unix:/home/pi/drive.sock;
         }
            location /cam.jpg {
                root /dev/shm/mjpeg;
         }
   }
}

 

 

I then built a simple Python webserver to spin the wheels of the robot based on keyboard commands that made for a nifty remote control car.

As a side note, it’s fun to play with the sonar and the driving system to build a car that can maneuver around obstacles.

 

Programming my robot

Finally, it’s time to install TensorFlow. There are a couple of ways to do the installation, but TensorFlow actually comes with a makefile that lets you build it right on the system. The steps take a few hours and have quite a few dependencies, but they worked great for me.

TensorFlow comes with a prebuilt model called “inception” that performs object recognition. You can follow the tutorial to get it running.

Running tensorflow/contrib/pi_examples/label_image/gen/bin/label_image on an image from the camera will output the top five guesses. The model works surprisingly well on a wide range of inputs, but it’s clearly missing an accurate “prior,” or a sense of what things it’s likely to see, and there are quite a lot of objects missing from the training data. For example, it consistently recognizes my laptop, even at funny angles, but if I point it at my basket of loose wires it consistently decides that it’s looking at a toaster. If the camera is blocked and it gets a dark or blurry image it usually decides that it’s looking at nematodes—clearly an artifact of the data it was trained on.

 

 

Robot plugged in
Figure 6. Robot plugged into my keyboard and monitor. Image courtesy of Lukas Biewald.

 

Finally, I connected the output to the Flite open source software package that does text to speech, so the robot can tell everyone what it’s seeing (see Figure 6).

 

Testing my robot

Here are my two homemade robots running deep learning to do object recognition.

 

 

Final thoughts

From 2003 to 2005, I worked in the Stanford Robotics lab, where the robots cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and couldn’t perform object recognition nearly as well as my robots. I’m excited to put this software on my drone and never have to look for my keys again.

I’d also like to acknowledge all the people that helped with this fun project. My neighbors, Chris Van Dyke and Shruti Gandhi, helped give the robot a friendly personality. My friend, Ed McCullough, dramatically improved the hardware design and taught me the value of hot glue and foam board. Pete Warden, who works at Google, helped get TensorFlow compiling properly on the Raspberry Pi and provided amazing customer support.

 

September 26, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , ,
Internet of Things IoT Tutorial from Beginners

 

Are you wondering how the Internet of Things is being used in commercial and industrial organizations today? Go beyond connected devices, and use the power of intelligent processing to make sense of aggregated data in the cloud—from hundreds, thousands, or even millions of devices. See how predictive analytics based on trends, information, and intelligent processing of data can make a meaningful business impact.

In this in-depth course, learn to use your existing developer skills to solve business problems in new and exciting ways, using free versions of Visual Studio and Windows, along with a Raspberry Pi 2 or 3. Explore Windows 10 IoT Core, see how to develop for Windows and non-Windows IoT devices, and find out how to use Azure IoT Hub and Stream Analytics to establish two-way communication between IoT devices and the cloud. Plus, integrate Arduino device capabilities with Windows 10 device capabilities in a single code project. Check it out!

1 | Introduction to IoT
Find out what IoT is and how it is being used in industry today (consumer products and industrial systems). Hear about current opportunities for commercial businesses and makers.

2 | Windows 10 and Universal Windows Platform Apps
Learn about the benefits that Windows 10 UWP provides to developers. See a demo using Visual Studio Community 2015 (free download) to create Windows 10 UWP apps.

3 | Introduction to Windows 10 IoT Core
Explore the capabilities provided by Windows 10 IoT Core, and see a demo on creating and deploying a C#/XAML app to a Raspberry Pi. The app toggles on and off a connected LED.

4 | Introduction to Azure Services for IoT
Explore the Azure services that are available to help you with your IoT implementations, including Azure IoT Hub, Stream Analytics, Azure IoT Suite, and machine learning services.

5 | Azure IoT Hub and Device Communications
See a demo using the Azure IoT SDK for Node.js to create an IoT device app that sends data to Azure IoT Hub for real-time analysis. It also receives a command used to control a connected LED.

6 | Running Arduino Wiring Code on Windows 10 IoT Core
Learn to use the “Arduino Wiring Application for Windows IoT Core” Visual Studio project template to compile Arduino sketch code and to deploy the app to a Raspberry Pi device.

7 | Creating Node.js Apps for Windows 10 IoT Core
See a demo using Visual Studio to create a Node.js Web Server project for a Raspberry Pi 2 device running Windows 10 IoT Core. The deployed app toggles an LED on and off.

8 | Windows Remote Arduino and Virtual Shields
Hear about Windows Remote Arduino and Windows Virtual Shields for Arduino, and see how to control Arduino UNO hardware from a Windows 10 device using a Wi-Fi connection.

9 | IoT Resources and Open Source Code Projects
Get links to additional IoT resources, including open source code projects for Windows and non-Windows IoT devices that connect to Azure and Azure IoT Hub.

September 22, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
You can control your computer from anywhere in the world with your phone – here’s how

If you use the Chrome web browser, you can control your computer with your smartphone or tablet with Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop app from anywhere in the world.

Not only that, you can control your mouse by swiping on the screen, and it’s incredibly easy to use.

Watch here how I’m putting my work computer to sleep from this Galaxy S7 Active:

 

 

In fact, I’m writing this sentence right here on my iPhone using the Chrome Remote Desktop app. Check it out!

 

It works over WiFi, as well as LTE, and I was surprised by how responsive it was. There wasn’t that much lag between the input on my iPhone and mouse movements/typing on my computer.

Unfortunately, it can’t wake your computer when it’s in sleep mode, and the Remote Desktop function can be temperamental at times and suddenly decide that it doesn’t want to work anymore. Still, it’s pretty cool and amazing that it’s as responsive as it is.

Why would you want to do this? The real question is: Why wouldn’t you want to? There have been numerous times when I wish I could access my computer at home while I’m at work to download something so it’s ready when I get home.

It’s incredibly easy to set this up, see how:

First, use Chrome to search for "Chrome Remote Desktop app" in Google.

 

First, use Chrome to search for “Chrome Remote Desktop app” in Google.

Tech Insider

Then click “Add to Chrome.”

 Then click "Add to Chrome."

 

Then just click “Add app” in the next popup window to confirm you do, indeed, want to add the app.

 

Then just click "Add app" in the next popup window to confirm you do, indeed, want to add the app.

 

Then, a new Chrome tab will open showing you all your Google apps, including Chrome Remote Desktop. Click it.

Then, a new Chrome tab will open showing you all your Google apps, including Chrome Remote Desktop. Click it.

 

After that, click the bottom “Get Started” button under the “My Computers” box.

After that, click the bottom "Get Started" button under the "My Computers" box.

 

And click the computer you want to control.

And click the computer you want to control.

 

You might have enable remote connections on your computer, in which case you need to press the “Enable remote connections” button and follow the instructions. It was easy on a Mac.

You might have enable remote connections on your computer, in which case you need to press the "Enable remote connections" button and follow the instructions. It was easy on a Mac.

 

Then, you need to set up a pin so that no one else can pick up your phone and control your computer.

Then, you need to set up a pin so that no one else can pick up your phone and control your computer.

 

Now, install the Chrome Remote Desktop app for your Android or iOS device.

Now, install the Chrome Remote Desktop app for your Android or iOS device.

 

Open the app and sign in with the Google account you use to sync with Chrome.

Open the app and sign in with the Google account you use to sync with Chrome.

 

If you haven’t synced with Chrome yet, go to Settings (three horizontal lines) on the top right of Chrome, then simply sign in with your Google account.

Choose the computer you want to control, then type in the pin you created earlier.

Choose the computer you want to control, then type in the pin you created earlier.

 

And just like that, you’re controlling your computer from your mobile device. What you’re seeing here is a screenshot of my iPhone screen while its streaming my computer screen.

And just like that, you're controlling your computer from your mobile device. What you're seeing here is a screenshot of my iPhone screen while its streaming my computer screen.

 

Here’s my iPhone showing my computer screen.

Here's my iPhone showing my computer screen.

Tech Insider

Like you saw above, I can use my computer just like if I was sitting in front of it.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t wake your computer if it’s in sleep mode, which is a real bummer, as you wouldn’t have to leave the computer you want to control on all the time.

 

It’s incredibly responsive. It’s hard to see, but I’m moving the mouse with my thumb on my phone, and I’m opening a new tab, too.

 

Unfortunately, it’s not perfect, but it’s still amazing how well it works when it does!

June 23, 2016 / by / in , , , , ,
How to quickly find and export all subdomains indexed by Google

Performing an SEO audit? Contributor Max Prin demonstrates how to find all of a website’s indexed subdomains using a simple (and free) Chrome plugin.

 

seoguide_262955354-ss-1920x1080

 

An SEO audit is rarely limited to the www (or non-www) version of a website. When looking for potential duplicate content, it’s often important to know how many subdomains exist and, more importantly, how many of them are indexed by Google.

The good old search operators

An easy way to find indexed subdomains is to use search operators.

  1. Start with “site:” and the root domain.

 

sudmains-01

  1. One by one, remove each subdomain (including: “www”) from the results with the “-inurl:” operator.

 

sudmains-02

  1. When there are no more results for Google to return, your query with the search operators should include all subdomains indexed.

However, this technique has its limits. It’s unlikely that the site you’re auditing has as many subdomains as wordpress.com, but you may come across a site with several dozen subdomains. This can potentially cause the following issues:

  • The process can be long, especially if it needs to be done for several domains.
  • You might get Google “captchas” along the way.
  • The size of queries is limited (around 30 keywords). Thus, if your query is too long (too many -inurl operators), you will get a 400 error page from Google.
  • Once you’re done, you still need some editing to create a nice list of subdomains to work with.

The solution: a simple Chrome extension, by Google

This extension, Personal Blocklist (by Google), will make your life easier. It allows you to “block” domains from appearing in your search results.

The key here is that the extension operates at the subdomain level and stores the domains in a list.

  1. Once added to Chrome, start with the same “site:domain.com” search command.
  2. Under each result now appears a “Block subdomain.domain.com” link.

 

  1. Click on each link until your result page is empty.

 

sudmains-05

  1. You’re almost done! Simply click on the extension icon, then “export,” then copy/paste into Excel.

 

Enjoy!

[SearchEngineLand]

June 16, 2016 / by / in , , , , ,
Pre-Launch Email List Building With Directories

press-release

I’ve recently been looking for directories that allow you to connect with prospective customers, build some links, and add exposure to an app pre-launch. I have found some similar lists elsewhere, but typically a lot of the sites in the list are spammy or gone forever.

This is a current list of sites I’ve found for building an email list before you launch. Leave me a comment to add or remove a site and I will keep this list current.

Some of these sites require your app to be launched or in beta, but most could accept it in either state. Quite of few of these sites will accept small to medium sized payments in exchange for an expedited review or posting. A few of these sites are explicitly about advertising.

Beta

  1. BetaLi.st
  2. StartupLi.st
  3. http://momb.socio-kybernetics.net/about
  4. http://www.startuptabs.com/

Launched

  1. http://web.appstorm.net/about/submit-an-app-for-review/
  2. http://www.go2web20.net/
  3. http://www.operation6fig.com/submit-a-start-up
  4. http://webapprater.com/submit-your-web-application-for-review.html

Beta or Launched

  1. http://helpareporterout.com
  2. http://startuptunes.com/
  3. http://techcrunch.com/
  4. http://www.crunchbase.com/
  5. http://www.psfk.com/
  6. http://thetechmap.com/
  7. http://allweb2.com/proposer-un-site/ (French)
  8. http://www.thehightechdirectory.com/
  9. http://boxyblogs.com/
  10. http://nibletz.com/category/start-ups/
  11. http://topecommercestartups.com/
  12. http://productivewebapps.com/submit/
  13. http://www.new-startups.com/submit
  14. http://doers.bz/
  15. http://aboutyourstartup.com/
  16. http://startupdirectory.com.au/submit-startup/
  17. http://www.venturebin.com/submit-venture/
  18. http://thestartuppitch.com/post-a-pitch/
  19. http://appuseful.com/app/add
  20. http://www.startupbooster.com/submit-site/
  21. http://readwrite.com/page/contact
  22. http://techli.com/contact/
  23. http://mashable.com/submit/
  24. http://www.cloudsurfing.com/newsite
  25. http://www.techpluto.com/submit-a-startup/
  26. http://startuplift.com/ (leans toward launched)
  27. http://www.appvita.com/
  28. http://alltop.com/submission/
  29. http://www.killerstartups.com/submit-startup/
  30. http://ratemystartup.com/submit-your-startup/
  31. http://www.inviteshare.com/
  32. http://hackerstreet.in/
  33. http://startupmeme.com/how-to-submit-your-startup-at-startup-meme/
  34. https://angel.co/public
  35. http://thestartupfoundry.com/tip-us/
  36. http://www.betakit.com/tips/ (Canada)
  37. http://startups.fm/contact-us
  38. http://web.startupstats.com/
  39. http://www.techhunger.com/submit-startup/
  40. http://netted.net/contact-us/
  41. http://webdevtwopointzero.com/submit-a-site/
  42. http://www.ontheapp.com/about/
  43. http://www.rev2.org/contact/#submitastartup
  44. http://www.launchingnext.com/
  45. http://apps400.com/submit-your-application-for-review
  46. http://www.appappeal.com/contact/advertise

SaaS/Software

  1. http://www.austinstartuplist.com/ (or your local one)
  2. http://www.capterra.com/vendors
  3. http://getapp.com
  4. http://feedmyapp.com
  5. http://saasdir.com
  6. http://saas-showplace.com
  7. http://www.cloudshowplace.com/add-your-company/
  8. http://www.cloudbook.net/directories/product-services/cloud-computing-directory
  9. http://www.moblized.com/

ADVERTISE

  1. http://www.makeuseof.com/advertise/
  2. http://muckrack.com/

Automate Submissions

  1. https://applaunch.us/pricing

 

[Whitetail Software]

March 14, 2016 / by / in , , , , ,
How to Ignite Social Media Marketing in 2016 [Infographic]

The term “social media” has only recently become a hot topic for businesses and bloggers. What began as a means of networking and connecting with friends and family has become an integral part of any marketing or engagement strategy.

Whether you’re starting a blog to finally quit that 9-to-5 job, or you need the one you have to take off, the proper use of social media is going to be on your radar. You may think it’s as simple as posting and moving on, but there’s so much more to it.

Lucky for you, I’m here to help with a massive infographic that has everything you need to ignite social media marketing in 2016. Let’s take a look at what you’re getting in this epic resource.

How-to-Ignite-Social-Media-Marketing-in-2016-INFOGRAPHIC-image

Infographic source: onblastblog.com

The Secrets of Social Media Revealed!

Some infographics will provide information on maybe one or two social media platforms, but not this one. Here you’re getting the complete rundown of five different networks:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

Facebook alone has over 1.19 billion active users each month! The sheer potential to reach your audience is massive, and that’s an understatement. As I was saying earlier though, it’s not enough to simply post and move on. There are factors that affect your success, and they differ per platform.

For example, the best days to post on Facebook are Thursday and Friday. For Twitter, though, it’s entirely different; the best days are Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday! That’s just the tip of the iceberg too, there are also ideal times to post that differ per platform as well.

This infographic will reveal everything you need to unlock the potential of today’s largest social media platforms.

 

How Social Media Benefits You and Your Blog

Great, so you understand the intricacies of social media, but how does this benefit your online blog or business? The three biggest advantages of a proper social media strategy are audience engagement, increased traffic, and Brand Awareness.

Posting on the right platforms at the right time can bring in new readers, spread awareness of your site, and give you opportunities to engage your audience and grow your reputation among them. Many bloggers will make the mistake of only using social media as a means of promoting their content, but it does so much more if you know the secrets behind it all.

 

Conclusion

Take this infographic and run with it. This information will empower you to utilize social media to its fullest potential. Share your thoughts and your success stories in the comments below!

January 26, 2016 / by / in , , , , ,
How to Make an Infographic and Avoid Common Mistakes

In this post we will cover 11 steps on how to make an Infographic and avoid common mistakes. See why Infographics are such a powerful marketing, SEO and traffic magnet if done right.

I have learned several lessons on my short Infographic journey and wanted to share my learning outcomes; hopefully these can help you be prepared and show you how to make an Infographic.

include-data-in-infographic

 

Before we jump in let’s look at;

Why Create an Infographic?

  • For link buildingHow to Make an Infographic Image
  • For recognition
  • To network with fellow bloggers in your niche
  • As an alternate strategy to guest posting
  • To keep the best content you create on your site
  • To get social media shares or followers
  • To increase website traffic
  • To get comments
  • To increase email subscribers
  • An Infographic presents complex information in an easy to read format allowing you to connect with the audience and even captivate them if the design and content are top-notch.

Hope you are convinced about the advantages of creating an Infographic. Note – The topic and content of your Infographic is very important to achieve some of the benefits discussed above. Now let’s look at the steps, how to make an Infographic.

 

1. Researching a Topic

You need a topic that is laser focused or super targeted. Topics like ‘blogging’ and ‘content marketing’ are too broad and you need to narrow your topic down. You can use BuzzSumo to find the most popular content in – your niche or the best industry websites. BuzzSumo shows you content that has done well in social media; so you can pick a proven topic with interest. Make a shortlist and add at least 3 topics to it.

The next stage is to check if someone has already made a killer infographic on your topic. Check in Google, Google Images, Pinterest and Visual.ly. If industry giants like Neil Patel or Brian Dean have done an infographic on the topic you have short listed then move to the next one on your list. If lesser known names have done an infographic and it has NOT done well in terms or social shares and backlinks (use BuzzSumo to check) then you might be able to reuse the infographic with due credit to get a quick bang for buck. The key is to promote the infographic and amplify its  visibility. You can do some paid promotion using the cost you saved by not creating the infographic.

 

2. Come up with a Killer Heading

The heading is very important for marketing. It is also the first thing your readers read. Spend some time and do research on the heading. I don’t look at SEO for my Infographic heading as I want something catchy. My primary objective with creating an Infographic is to get backlinks and brand recognition; yours may be different. Here are two tools you can use to help with a catchy heading: Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator and CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer.

3. Collect Stats

Traditionally Infographics and stats go hand to hand; unless it’s a classic recipe or topic. So now is the time to look for stats to strengthen your case.

A word of caution: If you can’t find any stats then you may have to rethink the topic.

How-to-Make-an-Infographic-and-Avoid-Common-Mistakes-image

My first attempt at an infographic

4. Draft your Infographic Points

Next step is to draft your Infographic in point form or summary form. This is what you will be giving your designers (assuming you will be outsourcing the design work). Don’t send this to the designers just yet. Read the next point first…

 

5. Draft your Post or Article

I like to draft my article before I contact the designers. When you draft the article you start to think more and get a feel for the points and their flow. You may want to make changes to your summary like, the order or wordings. You don’t want to be contacting your designer half way through their work and making changes and that’s why I like this approach.

 

6. Don’t Rush the Designer

After all, infographic creation is a form of creative art and the designers need time. This is only true if you have good designers. If you are trialing someone for the first time then you probably want to follow-up. If it’s a new designer ask to see a draft upfront to avoid disappointment and to make sure you are on the right track.

 

7. Break up your Order if Possible

Infographic designers generally either charge by the hour or charge per point. If you can get a draft say after 2 hours or say after 5 points, then do that. This gives you a chance to review their work and make sure you like their design and direction.

 

8. Don’t Order Multiple Items or Deliverables

image to depict colorsYour priority is to get your Infographic completed with the lowest cost and the least time. If you want to order multiple items like a PDF of the Infographic then wait for the Infographic to be completed first. If you don’t like the Infographic then there is no point in having a PDF of the work you do not like.

 

9. You can’t Please Everyone with the Design

Designs are very subjective and not everyone likes the same thing. What you may like is something another person may not like. As long as the colors and design are neutral and can please 80% of the viewer’s then that’s a good outcome.

 

10. Include References and your Logo

Don’t forget to include your references and logo on the Infographic itself. You want your Infographic to be shared and Your Escape From 9 to 5 logo image brand recognition. Including the references is a good idea as you want to acknowledge the original source material. The references can also help in sharing your Infographic as it is good for their brand.

 

11. Promote your Infographic

Use social media to market your Infographic; Pinterest is a must. You can also use Infographic listing directories like the following (courtesy of Neil Patel):

You should also use these social media sites to submit your Infographic:

Go to Google and search for your Infographic topic or keyword. Then go to the top 20 or 30 sites and send them an email to see if they are interested in publishing your Infographic. If they get back to you and say ‘yes’ and the site has a reasonable Domain Authority (above 30, as a rule of thumb) then offer to write an intro.

Here is a detailed Content Promotion Infographic Checklist that you can use.

Conclusion

Be Prepared to Make Mistakes and Learn. Don’t get disheartened if your first attempt was not successful; mine wasn’t either. At the least you will get some experience; worst case scenario you can write what you learn. For my 1st Infographic I gave the designer nothing more than 2 of my website pages and soon I started giving them a summary document with a brief. Do not be under the illusion that, the more information you provide the better; it’s actually quite the opposite. Give brief information to the point. You will learn and evolve over time. You just have to start somewhere.

Try to create a story with your infographic. Happy Infographic marketing!

 

-Source: http://yourescapefrom9to5.com/how-to-make-an-infographic

January 26, 2016 / by / in , , , , ,
20 Productivity Apps to Keep You On Task (Infographic)

 

Apps mainly do two things: They either distract us or keep us on track. If you’re a busy entrepreneur or someone who works for one, it’s best to stick to the latter kind, at least during working hours, especially if you want to be a productivity powerhouse.

Productivity apps can give you — and, yes, your boss, too — a leg up on putting your most organized, efficient professional foot forward.

Some are built to tame your inbox, while others streamline your to-dos or track your expenses. You can also use efficiency apps to sharpen your focus before a big meeting or to communicate with your coworkers under the radar (for strictly work-related conversations, right?). And then there’s the type that bosses love the most, procrastination-preventing apps that whip you into action.

Related: 10 Tools for Getting More Done Every Day

If you’re looking to crush your A-game at work, check out the productivity apps neatly packed into the infographic by global human resources consulting firm Adecco below. Go get it, worker bees.
Click to Enlarge

Which Tech Billionaires Donate the Most to Charity? (Infographic)

productivity-apps0

 

October 4, 2015 / by / in , , , ,
100+ Free Online Tools for Businesses and Startups

Everyone loves free stuff. And when that free stuff can help you grow your business and increase revenue, even better.

Unfortunately, with so many resources online, it can be difficult to find the right product for your business’ needs. So we’ve created this resource to help you access the free tools you need to extend your budget and thrive.

At Expertise, we use many of these products daily. There are thousands of free tools online, so we’ll update this guide as often as possible. We’ll stop boring you with the long introduction and let you find what you need.

1

Free Design Resources

Image Optimizers

Images can highlight your product, break up long blocks of text, and improve your site’s user experience. However, uploading huge files can slow down your site and drive visitors away at alarming rates. The best way to include high-quality images without crippling your page speed is to compress image files.

  • TinyJPG / TinyPNG: One of the easiest image compression platforms, all you have to do is drag and drop files as needed. However, images must be smaller than 5mb for the software to work.
  • Compressor.io: Supports gif, jpeg, png, and svg files up to 10mb in size, and has an easy drag and drop feature.

Compressor.io

  • Kraken.io: Multiple compression options to ensure you maintain your desired image quality.

Design Tools & Image Editors

  • Hipster Logo Generator: It’s exactly what it sounds like, and can be a valuable resource for creating a brand logo from scratch, especially if you don’t have a professional designer. Check out their blog for some inspiration.
  • Easel.ly: A web app for creating infographics and data visualizations. You can customize one of the thousands of templates, or create your own from scratch.
  • Squarespace Free Logo: Create simple logos for your website or business cards. The graphic features are limited, but can create a clean, professional look. You must be a Squarespace user to download a high-resolution file that isn’t watermarked.
  • Adobe Color CC: Create color schemes with a color wheel, use preset rules, or browse thousands of combinations.
  • Paletton: A tool for creating the perfect color combination. Use the interactive color wheel and get suggestions, or create your own rules.

Color Wheel

  • Brand Colors: Examine color codes of hundreds of major brands for inspiration and comparison.
  • UI Faces: Find and generate avatars for any interface and style. Adjust spacing, borders, size, background color, and more.
  • Window Resizer Chrome Extension: Resize your browser window to see how your website will look on various screen resolutions. Great for testing out responsible and mobile-friendly designs.
  • Canva: Create a design from hundreds of free elements, fonts, photos, and graphics, or upload your own into the drag and drop tool. You can also Access more than 1 million premium images for $1.

  • PiktoChart.com: Choose from more than 400 templates, icons, and graphics to create custom infographics, reports, and marketing deliverables.

Stock Images and Videos

It’s time to get those generic impersonal stock photos off your website. Users aren’t convinced by headset-wearing models or handshakes at a fake business meeting. Many people have seen significant improvements to their sites with the use of images of “real” people. Creative Commons Zero (CC0) images do not require attribution, even for commercial use. You may be able to find more visually appealing images from one of these free stock photo resources. Many of these images are of landscapes and cityscapes, but that can still bring life to your website in ways a cheesy stock image can’t.

  • Unsplash: 10 new, high-quality new images uploaded every 10 days. You get unlimited downloads.
  • Death to the Stock Photo: Get emailed a pack of images once a month for free, or become a premium member for $15 per month for access to a complete library of images.
  • Iso Republic: Exclusive stock photo collection for creatives. Search the entire library or by filtered themes including architecture, nature, people, textures, and urban.
  • Pixels: Search from nearly 3,000 hand-picked royalty-free images from websites across the internet. 10 new images are added daily.
  • Jay Mantri: 7 new photos are uploaded every Thursday.
  • Gratisography: Unlimited downloads of high-quality photographs, with search filters for animals, nature, objects, people, cities, and whimsical images.

 

2

Free Tools for Content Marketing

Content is king. Whether you’re trying to attract new customers, sell an e-commerce product, build authoritative links, send compelling emails or anything else, you need content to get you there. A website with no words isn’t going to be helpful, and neither is a site full of typos and awkward sentences. These content tools can help you plan, perfect, and publish content faster and easier.

  • HemingwayApp: Grades your content’s readability, and highlights phrases and sentences that are wordy, passive or difficult to read.

HemingwayApp

  • Grammarly: Checks more than 100 grammatical rules to help ensure your content up to snuff. Grammarly Premium also uses plagiarism detection software and checks for an extra 150 grammatical rules. An annual subscription costs $11.66 per month.
  • Editorial Calendar WordPress Plugin: It can be difficult for WordPress users to plan and schedule out content, but this plugin can make this process easier. You can drag and drop to change publishing dates, manage your drafts, edit titles and content, and much more.

  • Title Experiments WordPress Plugin: On average, 80% of people will read your titles, but only 20% read the rest of your post. The better your headline, the more likely people are to read, share, and link to your content. This free plugin lets you A/B test as many titles as you want and measure performance and click-through rate.
  • Portent’s Idea Generator: Out of blog or article ideas? Try this content generator to get the ball rolling. It’s not foolproof, but can be an effective starting point.
  • Buzzsumo: View the most shared content and influencers for any topic or website. This can be a valuable part of any content strategy, outreach, competitor tracking, or SEO campaign.
  • Copyscape: This plagiarism checker also lets you compare content anywhere on the internet.

Free Email Management Tools

  • MailChimp: This email marketing platform, affectionally known as MailKimp to Serial podcast fans, lets members manage than 2,000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails per month for free. MailChimp can be integrated with Facebook or WordPress, and tracks many key performance metrics.
  • SendInBlue: An email and SMS marketing platform that lets users manage contacts, distribute newsletters, and track performance. Send up to 9,000 emails per month for free.
  • SendGrid: Built on the world’s largest email delivery infrastructure, SendGrid is a reliable and easily scalable platform for transactional or marketing emails. All messages sent through SendGrid use TLS encryption. With a free account, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month.
  • Mailtrack: Free and unlimited Gmail service lets you know who reads your emails in real time.
  • Mandrill: Created by MailChimp, Mandrill is a secure and reliable interface for transactional emails. Send up to 12,000 e-commerce or personalized emails per month for no cost.

 

3

Free SEO Tools

Search Engine Optimization should be a focus for anyone operating a website and looking to grow their audience. Previously, we covered the essentials to an optimized small business website and ranking in Google Maps. This list will identify free tools to amplify your SEO strategy and may help you improve rankings, get content ideas, analyze competitors, and build links.

Site Tracking

  • SEMrush: Analyze SEO, paid search, or display advertising performance, compare domains side-by-side, track ranking positions, and complete in-depth keyword research. Free features are limited, but enough to scratch the surface.
  • Ahrefs: A popular tool within the SEO community, but is easy enough for anyone to gain valuable insights into backlink profiles, referring domains, potential link targets, trending content, website performance, and much more. The free version only allows a few queries per day.
  • Majestic: Features an in-depth site explorer, backlink history checker, and the Majestic Trust Flow and Citation Flow charts to visualize whether a website has a spammy link profile.
  • Quantcast: The better you understand your customers, the better you can tailor your service to their needs. Quantcast gives detailed insights into user demographics for your mobile app, website, or platform. With these tools, you may be able to attract new customers and lower your marketing costs.

Keyword Research

  • Ubersuggest: Get thousands of keyword suggestions in seconds. Just enter your query and click to explore all the long-tail options available. While a valuable tool for ideation, Ubersuggest does not offer search volume data.
  • AdWords Keyword Planner: Compare search volume of different keywords and get suggestions for new terms to target. All you need is an AdWords account.
  • Google Trends: Find trending story ideas, and track the popularity of different subjects over time and by geographic location.

Site Optimization and Analytics

  • MozBar: Quickly identify any webpage’s page authority, domain authority, social media shares, on-page metrics, and other general attributes.
  • SEO Site checkup: Analyze meta tags and your HTML coding, compare keywords, find broken links, and much more.
  • Google Analytics: A fantastic tool to understand who is visiting your website and how they are behaving. You can use this data to guide decisions around increasing traffic, building links, converting leads, and much more. All you have to do is embed a unique code into your website, so Google can track users’ behavior. To get the most out of Google Analytics, check out Analytics Academy and the Analytics Youtube page.

  • SEOQuake: Helps Firefox, Chrome, and Opera users obtain information about any website, including keyword density, page rank, Google index, nofollow links, and much more.

Free SEO Resources for Local Businesses

Moz Local

  • Whitespark: Tools and services to manage and optimize your local search presence. Track rankings, edit citations, find link prospects, and access printable instructions to encourage and instruct customers on how to leave Google reviews.

 

4

Free Focus and Productivity Resources

Music

For many people, ambient noise or consistent music without vocals can boost creativity and focus. Depending on your line of work, creating a distraction-free workspace so you can get into your “flow” state can unleash a new level of productivity and creativity. Give one of these tools a try to see for yourself.

  • Noizio: A Mac OS X 10.8+ and iOS app to mix up to 10 ambient background noise. I strongly recommend “Campfire,” “October Rain,” and “Thunderstorm,” no matter how much my coworkers make fun of me for it.
  • Noisli: A background and color generator designed to boost productivity or help you relax. Is available in your browser or as a Chrome extension.
  • Deep Focus on Spotify: A calming mix of Atmospheric Rock to keep you in your work zone. To skip ads on your computer or mobile device, subscribe to Spotify Premium for $10.71/ month and a 30-day free trial.
  • Spotify “Focus” Playlists: If you’re not into white noise and the sounds of nature, you can choose one of Spotify’s hundreds of curated playlists to help you focus.

Block Distracting Websites

  • Stayfocusd: Have trouble staying off your favorite websites? This Chrome extension lets you add websites to block or set daily time restrictions on.
  • Self Control/ Cold Turkey: Mac/Windows apps that help you block distracting websites. Cold Turkey has the added feature of letting you set break times, and enjoy your internet surfing guilt-free.

 

5

Free Project Management Tools

Communication, Collaboration, and Workflow Management

  • Trello: Set up customizable color-coded boards for yourself or your team to keep track of tasks. Check out Trello’s Inspiring Boards section if you’re not sure how to best visualize your tasks.
  • Slack: Instantly message your team like never before. You can send direct messages or organize group conversations into different channels according to project type, topic, team, or anything else you want. You can easily share files with the drag and drop feature. Lastly, don’t forget to attach a gif to your messages with Giphy!
  • Google Hangouts: Instant message, video chat, or group video conference with any Gmail user. You can also use Google Hangouts to make phone calls.
  • Skype: A free platform to chat, call, or video conference with clients, coworkers, and more.
  • Mindmup: Create limitless digital mind maps that are easily shared via Google Drive.
  • Google Voice:  Make and receive phone calls from your Google account.

Data Storage

  • Evernote: Bring your work together on a digital platform easily synced on any smartphone, tablet, or computer. Free features include note taking, picture clipping, task list creation, and real-time collaboration.
  • Dropbox: Safe cloud storage up to 2GB, if you can get your friends to sign up with your referral code. 1TB of storage costs as little as $99/year
  • Google Drive: Save and share just about anything. First 15gb are free. Easily synced with multiple users on just about any device. You can also use Google Docs for text files and spreadsheets.
  • Yanado: A task management within Gmail. Free for teams of up to 5 people. Check out their YouTube Channel for tutorials on how to get the most out of their service.

 

6

Free Social Media Tools

No matter the size of your business, social media is a can’t-miss opportunity to connect with customers and manage your online reputation. However, planning and scheduling social media posts on several platforms can be a challenge, so we found a few resources to make that task easier.

  • Click to Tweet: Create, manage, and view the analytics for all your tweets in one place.
  • Hootsuite: Create, schedule, and track performance of all your social media posts. You can manage up to three social media profiles for free. The Pro subscription costs $9.99/month.
  • Spruce: Tweets with images get 150% more retweets. In seconds, Spruce lets you create images optimized for Twitter.

Spruce for Twitter

  • SharedCount: Track any URL’s shares, likes, tweets, +1s, pins, and more.
  • Latergram: Schedule and manage your Instagram posts from your computer or mobile device.
  • Klout: Klout helps users get recognized through social media. It suggests unique content ideas and lets you track the results.
  • SocialRank: Helps you identify, track, and engage your most active Twitter and Instagram followers.
  • HashtagifyMe: Search and compare the popularity of different Twitter hashtags to maximize your tweets’ visibility. Paid accounts give additional insights into top influencers and up to 30 related hashtags.
  • Bitly: Shorter link titles can increase engagement and click-through rate. Bitly lets you create, share, and track shortened links, analyze your audience, and target new audiences based on that data.

 

7

Free Learning Resources

During the daily grind of owning and operating a business, it’s easy to lose sight of the many opportunities to learn and grow. But taking the time to step back and develop new skills can make the difference between a stagnant business and one that launches to the next level.

  • Code Academy: Interactive courses to help you learn how to program in many different languages.
  • University of Reddit: Remove any preconceived notions you have about Reddit, this is very different from the general forums. Follow courses or take in information at your own pace.
  • OpenStudy: Join an online community of learners to make the most of your studying experience.
  • LifeHacker U | Summer 2015: Find courses in computer science, finance and technology, science and medicine, mathematics, social sciences, classics, and humanities, law, and much more.

  • Khan Academy: Take control of your continued education by working at your own pace through one of thousands of free online courses and more than 100,000 interactive exercises.

  • W3 Schools Online Web Tutorials: Access tutorials and references for many different web development languages and topics, including HTML, CSS, PHP, SQL, and JQuery.
  • TED Talks: “Ideas worth spreading, or challenging.” A nearly endless library of video presentations by guest speakers on a variety of subjects.

 

 

8

Free University Courses

If you’re looking for courses created and led by professors at some of the top universities in the world, we’ve got you covered. These Universities have created open course platforms so you can take real classes, without the tuition.

Conclusion

So there you have it! Hopefully, you were able to find the tools for your need. There is a universe of free resources online, and we want to give you access to as many as possible in one place, so check back soon for updates! And if you see anything we missed, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected] so we can share that resource with the community.

 

October 4, 2015 / by / in , , , , , , ,
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