In-person events: In flux and in trouble

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An Introduction to Go Scheduler

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Head to Space for a Fun Battle Adventure in Wrist Nebula on Apple Watch

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Five steps every developer team should consider in battling cloud service outages

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5 Reasons Why You Should Pre-Register for Era of Conquest

Before we explain exactly why you need to sign up and get involved, here’s a little background on what’s shaping up to be the biggest mobile strategy game of 2022.

Already available in China, Era of Conquest is a 4x RTS that lets you choose from ten different real-world empires, cultures, and ethnicities. They include Arab, Roman, British, French, and so on. There are historical heroes to collect as well, all of them boasting their own unique skills in battle.

Once you’ve made your choice, you need to steer your people to glory on a vast world map spanning 120 square kilometers.

Era of Conquest is a game for everyone, all at the same time. Not only is it cross-platform, but its servers are global, and the game supports 19 languages and counting. That means you’re not confined to taking on other players on your platform and in your region.

Instead, you’ll be able to battle for dominance against pretty much everybody else on earth. Or you can play nice, joining alliances in order to pool your resources and consolidate your power.

Either way, you’re in for an epic strategy gaming experience that will test your mettle and tax your military mind.

What it won’t do, however, is tax your wallet. Era of Conquest’s developers have ensured that the game remains fair by preventing wealthier players from paying their way to victory.

Between battles your troop numbers replenish automatically through a process of conscription. There’s nothing you can do to speed this up, though you can open conscription boxes to swell your numbers. And you earn conscription boxes by competing in PvP matches.

Hear that? You earn them. You don’t buy them, and nor can you expedite the conscription process by spending resources or in-game currency. Era of Conquest is a huge, bloody, and totally level playing field.

It’s also gorgeous, with slick 3D graphics and support for up to 6,000 troops in a single battle, thanks to some technological wizardry.

So here are 5 reasons exactly why you should pre-register right now:

1. It’s already a hit. Era of Conquest has been out in China for a while, and it’s gone down a storm over there. Not only has it hit the top of the App Store download chart, but Apple’s editors have featured it on the front page several times. They don’t just do that for any old game.

2. You’ll get the drop on your rivals. Chances are, everybody is going to be playing Era of Conquest in a couple of months, and the Early Bird is a golf-plated opportunity to get in on the ground floor, building up your skills and learning the gameplay in advance of the wars to come.

3. You’ll be able to start making friends. Era of Conquest isn’t all about going toe to toe with your fellow players. It’s also about teaming up and forging powerful alliances, built on trust and mutual cooperation. Joining the Early Bird will let you start laying down those roots before most of the competition.

4. You get to keep what you buy. Era of Conquest’s Early Bird isn’t purely about skilling up. It’s also about laying the foundations of a powerful civilization by investing early. Early bird data will be saved on the server too, so nothing will be lost when the game launches – you’ll receive a refund for anything you purchase during the event.

5. You’ll get to keep your data too. Any levels you’ve gained and territory you’ve captured during the Early Bird will remain yours after Era of Conquest launches. While most other players are still fumbling around in the wilderness, you’ll be master of your domain.

The Era of Conquest Early Bird is set to go live on July 14 at 8 a.m EST. Head to the Google Play Store to sign up now.

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DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, Qwant Pen Open Letter On Fair Choice

In an open letter released on July 5, 2022, the three search engine chief executives outlined 10 principles to enable internet users to change their default search engine effectively.

The release, entitled “10 Principles for Fair Choice Screens and Effective Switching Mechanisms,” comes on the same day the European Parliament adopts the Digital Services Act (DSA).

This groundbreaking political agreement aims to protect consumers by establishing a new standard to hold dominant online platforms, or gatekeepers, liable for illegal and harmful content. Companies designated as gatekeepers include Google, Meta, and Twitter.

Fair Choice Seeks to Break Away from Gatekeeper Defaults

The letter, signed by Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, Christian Kroll, CEO of Ecosia, and Corinne Lejbowicz, president of Qwant, calls for a set of 10 “common-sense” principles that will improve online user experience.

The executives state in the letter:

“Choice screens and effective switching mechanisms are crucial tools that empower users and enable competition in the search engine and browser markets. Without strict adherence to both clear rules and principles for fair choice screens and effective switching mechanisms, gatekeeping firms could choose to circumvent their legal obligations.”

The principles outlined suggest that users should have a choice screen for search engines, web browsers, and virtual assistants upon initial platform use. They also call for these screens to be offered periodically, at any time when “users are in the mindset to change core services, and major software updates can reset or affect gatekeeper-controlled search and browser default settings.”

It also stressed switching services should be applied across access points, be prominently displayed as top-level settings, and be free of charge.

Adoption Could Cut into Google’s Market Share

Should these principles be adopted, it could lead to the signatory companies and other search engines claiming a more significant piece of the search engine market. Google currently accounts for more than 90% of all internet searches worldwide.

This could have rippling effects through the search engine optimization and digital marketing industries, as optimization tactics would have to be adjusted for these other algorithms.

However, one of the conditions of the DSA is to enforce increased transparency measures on online platforms, including revealing how algorithms work for recommendations. The goal is to create a more level playing field between gatekeepers and smaller companies.

Additionally, as the three signatories, along with other smaller search engines, do not collect personal data about users, digital marketers would be required to find other means of targeting display ads, PPC, and other campaigns that rely on Google data.

Source: DuckDuckGo

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What is Computer Vision?

To Learn More on Computer Vision and AI visit

What is Computer Vision? was originally published in Chatbots Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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6 Best WordPress Review Plugins For 2022

If you want to increase traffic to your WordPress site, boost your SEO, or bring in more sales from your WooCommerce products, you will benefit from installing a WordPress review plugin on your website.

By having reviews for your services or products and increasing social proof, you’re more likely to draw new customers to your business and retain existing ones.

Reviews are one of the most powerful sources of marketing and the best part is, they’re also free!

Collecting reviews from your customers and clients is also a great source of feedback.

This will allow you to make changes and improvements to your products and customer experience as well as form a relationship with your customers.

Not only does this increase the chance that they will become a repeat customer but they will also be more willing to recommend you and your services or products to others.

Choosing A WordPress Review Plugin

As with choosing any plugin, you want to make sure the review plugin you install on your WordPress site is going to be reliable and safe.

Before installing a review plugin, first, make sure that it has good reviews and ratings.

When browsing plugins, you will see a star rating and in brackets will be the number of reviews.

The higher the star rating and the number of reviews, the better.

You also want to check how many active installations the plugin has.

Again, the higher the number of active installations, the better, as this means that more people are using the plugin on their website.

And lastly, make sure the plugin has been tested with the latest version of WordPress.

install and reviewsScreenshot from WordPress, June 2022
ratingsScreenshot from WordPress, June 2022

Here are my top six WordPress plugin recommendations. These will provide an attractive and easy-to-use review process for your website.

All of the listed review plugins have been tested with WordPress 6.0 and have excellent ratings among over 20,000 users.

1. WP Review Pro

WP Review Pro pluginScreenshot from, June 2022

If you are looking for a truly comprehensive review plugin, you cannot go wrong with WP Review Pro.

WP Review Free includes all of the basic features, but it is well worth the $67 to upgrade to the pro version for unlimited sites to unlock the full feature set.

With WP Review Pro, you get unlimited color selections, and a variety of rating options, such as stars, percentages, thumbs up/down, points, or a circle rating.

The plugin supports 19 rich snippets and works seamlessly with Facebook, Google, and Yelp reviews in order to extend your reach.

Highly customizable pre-defined designs make it easy to match your branding or other popular review platforms.

2. Site Reviews

Site Reviews pluginScreenshot from WordPress, June 2022

Site Reviews is a simple review plugin that allows users to leave a review through a customized form.

Reviews use a 1 to 5-star system and are filterable.

You can also pin favorable reviews to the top so that they are the first reviews that customers see.

Site Reviews can also be used with WooCommerce via a free add-on to replace the WooCommerce Reviews with Site Reviews for the products in your WooCommerce store.

The plugin can be used as a shortcode, custom Gutenberg block, or widget and it supports native Elementor widgets to accommodate various theme and builder types and is free.

3. Plugin For Google Reviews

Plugin for Google Reviews pluginScreenshot from WordPress, June 2022

Plugin for Google Reviews specifically displays ratings and reviews from Google, using a public Google API.

The free version will limit you to displaying five Google reviews while the Business version, which runs $85/year for a single site, uses an API for your Google Business account, allowing unlimited Google Reviews.

The upgrade will also give you unlimited Yelp and Facebook reviews and will sync your accounts for automatic updates.

You can also mix and match reviews and customers can leave a review through your website for the other platforms.

Want to put your best reviews at the top?

Use the filter feature to display reviews in the order you want.

Five themes are available and reviews can be displayed using a widget, shortcode, or Universal HTML/JavaScript.

4. Customer Reviews For WooCommerce

Customer Reviews for WooCommerce pluginScreenshot from WordPress, June 2022

The Customer Reviews for WooCommerce plugin allows customers who have shopped in your store to leave written reviews and photos to increase your social proof and bring in more customers.

You can have an email automatically sent when a customer makes a purchase asking them to leave a review. You can even send coupons to those that do leave a review.

The plugin also integrates with a service to verify the authenticity of reviews.

Customer Reviews for WooCommerce uses ratings and voting review types, as well as customer-submitted photos. Reviews can also be filtered.

There is a free Basic version but for more customization and professional features, you will want to consider the Professional version for $49.99/year.

5. Starfish Reviews

Starfish Reviews pluginScreenshot from Starfish Reviews, June 2022

The Starfish Reviews plugin uses a funnel system to sort positive and negative reviews.

The plugin is set up in the WordPress dashboard and can link to Google, Yelp, Facebook, and a number of other third-party review platforms.

In the first step of the review, a positive or negative review choice is shown.

If the positive review is chosen, you give the customer single or multiple options of where they can leave their review.

If a negative review is chosen, the feedback will be sent back to you and they can be prompted for more information.

Depending on the restrictions of the review platform(s) you are using, you can choose not to allow them to post a negative review or allow it.

A very limited version of the plugin is available for free on and Starfish Reviews also has multiple paid tiers starting at $37 per month.

6. Taqyeem

Taqyeem pluginScreenshot from, June 2022

The Taqyeem WordPress Review Plugin creates beautiful custom reviews that can be added to pages, posts, and custom post types.

You have unlimited color and review criteria customizations with a choice of over 500 Google Fonts to match a variety of branding.

Rating styles are points, percentages, and stars and multiple options are available for the rating image. Reviews can be displayed by Best, Recent, and Random.

The Taqyeem plugin uses Google Rich Snippets for optimal viewing through search engines.

The plugin has a one-time purchase price of $29 through CodeCanyon, which includes six months of support. Additional support can be purchased.

Choosing The Best WordPress Review Plugin In 2022

With over 1,000 WordPress review plugins available to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin.

When choosing any plugin for your WordPress site, be mindful of the star rating, reviews, active installations, and compatibility with the latest version of WordPress.

There are plenty of free review plugins for WordPress that are reputable and reliable, but paid review plugins may offer the additional features that you require.

Displaying reviews from customers and clients on your website is great for marketing and establishing trust with your audience so it’s worth taking the time to choose a review plugin that is going to work seamlessly on your WordPress website.

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Encrypt and Decrypt Eloquent Model Fields in Laravel Apps

Laravel Ciphersweet is a package by Spatie to integrate searchable field-level encryption in Laravel applications. The package’s readme explains the problem Ciphersweet can help solve as follows:

In your project, you might store sensitive personal data in your database. Should an unauthorised person get access to your DB, all sensitive can be read which is obviously not good.

To solve this problem, you can encrypt the personal data. This way, unauthorized persons cannot read it, but your application can still decrypt it when you need to display or work with the data.

This package is a wrapper for Ciphersweet to integrate its features into Laravel models easily. Here’s an example of a model from the readme’s setup instructions that illustrates what a model looks like using Ciphersweet:

1use SpatieLaravelCipherSweetContractsCipherSweetEncrypted;

2use SpatieLaravelCipherSweetConcernsUsesCipherSweet;

3use ParagonIECipherSweetEncryptedRow;

4use IlluminateDatabaseEloquentModel;


6class User extends Model implements CipherSweetEncrypted


8 use UsesCipherSweet;


10 public static function configureCipherSweet(EncryptedRow $encryptedRow): void

11 {

12 $encryptedRow

13 ->addField('email')

14 ->addBlindIndex('email', new BlindIndex('email_index'));

15 }


This allows you the encrypt a user’s email to keep it safe from unauthorized people reading the data, but give you the ability to decrypt the data to display it or work with it.

Once you have configured this package and set up a model, you can search encrypted data in the database using blind indexes:

1$user = User::whereBlind('email', 'email_index', '');

This package also aids in generating encrypting keys and encrypting model attributes to speed up integration with Ciphersweet.

I want to point out that you should not use this package blindly without understanding the ins and outs of the use case you are trying to solve. You can learn more about CipherSweet on this page, which has many linked resources.

CipherSweet also has PHP-specific documentation to help get you up to speed with the underlying PHP package.

I would also recommend reading Rias’ post, Encrypting Laravel Eloquent models with CipherSweet.

To get started with this package, check it out on GitHub at spatie/laravel-ciphersweet.

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7 Essential Insights For SEO Client Reports

If you’re managing SEO for clients, then you know how important it is to deliver accurate and insightful reports. You’ve done the work, now you have to show it.

Your clients rely on you to give them the relevant information they need to make informed decisions about their marketing efforts going forward. The SEO report is their (and your) roadmap.

Getting it right every time is a matter of creating a system you can consistently mimic for each client.

So, what goes into making perfect SEO reports? These are the seven essential elements.

1. Traffic: Sources

Is increasing organic traffic to their website your client’s main goal? Start your SEO reports with traffic.

If using Google Analytics, you’ll also want to utilize the Source/Medium section of the traffic report for this part of the report. It will provide you with more information on where your visitors are coming from, helping your client determine where they should spend their time and money.

Ensure that mobile sources are also included in this part of the report since mobile phones made up about 63% of organic search engine visits in 2021.

This part of the report will look something like the image below. To get there quickly, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.

Utilize the Source/Medium section of the traffic report.Screenshot from Google Analytics, July 2022

2. Conversion Rate & Progress On Goals

Massive flows of site traffic are great, but if you don’t know what your visitors want or how they want to be engaged with your content, then even all the traffic in the world won’t help you get very far.

In other words, if you can’t convert your visitors into customers, no amount of traffic will help you.

Conversion rate is probably one of the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) to your clients, so tuck this near the front of your report for easy access.

Once you’ve discovered the conversion rate, you’ll be more equipped to explain what comes next in the report and describe why they’re seeing certain insights and data points.

To demonstrate conversion rate to a customer, select certain goals that you want to track as “conversions.”

In this example, one non-profit client used landings on their “Thanks for the donation!” page to track completed donations.

Google Analytics will count each landing as a donation, helping to complete the goals on the Goal Completion portion.

To get to Goal Completion, go to Conversions > Goals > Overview.

For example:

Goal Completion portion in Google Analytics.Screenshot from Google Analytics, July 2022

3. Top Performing Pages

You probably know where your visitors are coming from, but it’s vital to learn where they’re heading on your site.

If someone arrives at your site organically via Google, that’s awesome; however, if you know they clicked on your most recent blog post, that is way more valuable.

You always want to include top-performing pages so your client knows what’s working and what isn’t. There are usually lessons they can learn from pages that are doing well and apply them to pages that could use help to attract (and keep!) traffic.

One way to pull data from Google Analytics to illustrate this is via the Landing Pages section.

To get there, first, go to Behavior, then Site Content, and Landing Pages. You’ll see which URLs are hot and which ones aren’t quite.

4. Page Speed Insights

Take a quick break from Google Analytics for this part and head over to a tool called PageSpeed Insights from Google. It’s a completely free tool that will show your clients how fast their pages are loading and any performance issues they may be able to fix to improve their results.

Sometimes, it’s something as small as a video with a file size that’s too large. This simple quick fix can get your pages up quickly.

Page speed hasn’t always been a high priority, but as user expectations are becoming more and more demanding with their online experiences, getting your pages to load quickly is paramount to keeping visitors on your site.

Google even tells us that the probability of someone bouncing off a website increases by 32% if load time goes from a one-second load to a three-second load.

PageSpeed Insights show your clients how fast their pages are loading.Screenshot from PageSpeed Insights, July 2022

5. Bounce Rate And Dwell Time

Knowing that visitors have come to your site, clicked on certain pages, and in some cases, converted is incredibly helpful.

But to complete the full picture, your client needs to know how long people are staying on their site and how many of them are clicking away after the first landing page.

Dwell time is the time someone spends on a website page when they come from an organic search. Are they exploring other pages from there, or looking for a quick answer?

A high bounce rate isn’t always a bad thing, though.

If their landing page was one chock full of internal links to other pages on your site and they bounced quickly, it probably means they’ve moved on to exploring these outbound links.

In this section, focus on bounce rate for core site pages with rich content like videos. They should be staying for a while to consume the content.

6. Rankings And Backlinks

Backlinks can be powerful tools for websites struggling to make progress in their SEO rankings.

You can find many tools to track links you have, which is helpful because it can identify potential SEO opportunities.

If you’ve helped your client get backlinks as part of your SEO strategy, this section of the report is where you’ll show their impact.

As for rankings, you should include where the site ranks for keywords that you’ve determined are most valuable to the client.

Just keep in mind that rankings are no longer the end-all and be-all of SEO – we now know that countless factors, such as history, user geographic location, and personalization can all impact rankings.

7. Recommendations And Next Steps

Recommendations may not be the first thing that springs to mind when underneath a mountain of data, but recommendations and next steps are ultimately what the client is looking for at the end of this report.

Your next steps and recommendations will use all of the data you’ve pulled and apply them to the strategy moving forward so there’s an actionable plan to improve the shortcomings and maximize success.

A Final Note

The best way to show your progress through your SEO reports is to compare results from previous report periods.

Choose whichever frequency works for you and your client – quarter over quarter, year over year, etc. – and use it consistently to show growth.

Put all of these aspects together, and you’ll nail the perfect SEO report every time.

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