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7 Email Marketing Tips For Marketers

Marketers should always use email marketing to stay connected with their target audience. Regardless of the different strategies open to marketers today, you’ll find email marketing to be integral to your marketing campaign. This is still the leading channel for getting the best ROI.

But email marketing is not a silver bullet. If your email marketing efforts aren’t effective this is because you aren’t doing the right things. You can’t just do anything and expect it to work. You have to think about your strategy and use customer behaviors to turn it around.

This is how to do it.

Stop Treating Your Customers Like Nameless Faces

What a lot of marketers fail to grasp is that customers don’t want to be seen as a nameless face. They want to be acknowledged as unique human beings. This is relatively easy to do because all you have to do is indulge in some personalization.

Rather than sending out the same emails to everyone, use the feedback you’re getting to segment your email list. That way you can make sure customers feel like you’re reading their minds.

Change The Sales Funnel Based On The Customer’s Journey

The customer journey is becoming more important within the field of marketing. Mapping out the customer journey is about charting the various touch points you’ll come up against. The way customers behave will tell you what content they are looking for.

Combine this with demographical information to customize the sales funnel based on the type of customer you have.

Optimize And Retest

You should always be optimizing and retesting your various email campaigns. A/B testing campaigns are easily run from your mailing list provider. You can harvest detailed stats and begin to refine your future campaigns.

Effective testing will help you to make sure your strategies remain as potent as they were before. It will stop you from allowing the email marketing world to leave you behind.

Give Your Customers Space

It’s true that your customers do want to hear from you. The fact you have a regular email marketing campaign is one of the magic elements boosting your ROI. But there’s such a thing as overkill. Once you come off a great campaign it’s tempting to run the same campaign again in an attempt to get the same results. The chances are you’re going to get diminishing returns.

Customers don’t want to be bombarded by promotional emails every day. Give them a break and don’t make them feel like you’re harassing them.

Define a schedule, based on the feedback you’re getting from customers, and stick to that schedule. If you promise your customers they’ll only receive a weekly email don’t send them more than one email per week. Your welcome email can also come with a form to help customers decide how often they want to be contacted.

Don’t Rely On Automation

Email automation is an essential ingredient of every great email campaign. But this doesn’t mean you should rely on it. You should be using it to eliminate the tedious processes that come with crafting an email marketing campaign. It shouldn’t be replacing you in general.

Solve The ‘Opt Out’ Problem With A Break

Did you know that 54% of the average person’s inbox is taken up by promotional emails?

It’s no surprise to see people opting out of mailing lists faster than ever before. They’re becoming more discerning because they’re tired of so many low-quality mailing lists. Marketers that have this same problem can alleviate it through implementing a break.

Opting down is a better option than giving people the chance to stay or go. For example, you can add a form that allows people to reduce how often they receive your emails. You can still retain your customers without bothering them. It’s the best compromise.

Get Ready For Mobile

What companies are learning, often the hard way, is some people access the Internet exclusively through mobile devices. All your emails should be optimized for mobile. No matter the device someone reads your email on it should automatically adjust itself to fit their screen.

Luckily, optimizing for mobile is easier than ever before. The majority of emailing list providers automatically provide you with optimized mailing campaigns.

Conclusion

Your customers do want to stay in contact with you. Marketers have to be able to do it in a way that provides them with something of value, though. Through following adopting these big corporate practices you can increase your subscribe rates and keep people subscribed for the long haul.

Original publication: click here




10 Reasons To Use Email Marketing (As Told By Small Businesses)

Deciding where to invest marketing dollars isn’t a decision small businesses take lightly.

You know you need to attract new customers and keep existing clients coming back, but you can’t afford to invest time or resources into something that isn’t going to deliver the expected results.

Email marketing is a cost-effective solution that gives businesses the power to reach customers in a place most people visit every day — their inbox.

There’s plenty of data to back up the benefits of email marketing. For example:

  • 91 percent of US adults like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with (MarketingSherpa, 2015)
  • Email is almost 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined in helping a business acquire new customers. (McKinsey, 2014)

But if you really want to find out how email can work for your business, why not ask other small business owners and see how it worked for them?

Here are 15 great examples from real small businesses that have discovered the power of being a marketer, with email marketing.

1. Build credibility

People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Email gives you the ability to build credibility with your audience by sharing helpful and informative content.

“For years, in large part to the newsletter I think, I’ve never had trouble attracting new clients and the right kinds of clients. People will read my newsletter and be able to tell if I’m the right person for the project before they even call me.”

Tom Ahern, founder of Ahern Donor Communications

2. Boost sales

When you have an audience of people who are interested in receiving updates from your business, you’ll be able to think differently about how you boost sales throughout the year. This has been especially valuable for a business like Colorado-based Allegria Spa, which communicates with local residents and visitors from around the country.

“It has definitely been the easiest way to reach people. If we have a slower day and know that we want to reach local people, we can create a quick email and will get at least a few calls right away. The response is immediate.”

Christine Copertino, spa director for Allegria Spa

3. Strengthen relationships

If you want to build strong customer relationships, it’s important to have an effective tool to communicate with the people who matter most to your business. Email gives you the ability to stay top-of-mind and keep people engaged with your business during your busy season and the slower times of the year.

“Being able to get our message out there is important to us. It gives the members a feeling of being included. They know what’s going on with the gym and know that they aren’t just a number on a list.”

Nicole Sanders, founder of Ladimax Sports and Fitness

4. Learn what works

Email marketing gives you the metrics you need to see how your emails are performing. These insights help you market smarter, and also give you the advantage of better understanding the needs and interests of your customer base.

“Email has definitely helped us with web traffic and attendance at our events. I like that after I send an email out, I can go back and see how many people clicked through on which links. That way I can tell people are interacting with our content and click through to our website.”

Ally Whittaker, public relations manager for The Local Good

5. Reach people on any device

With nearly two-thirds of all emails being opened on a mobile device, email marketing is one of the best tools that can help a business take advantage of the growing popularity of mobile technology.

“We are definitely focused on mobile devices now. I want to know that if someone gets our email, no matter where they are, they can look at it. In fact, when I sent our last flyer I got three phone calls! That’s big! And I am almost positive that all of those people reading the flyer were on their phones, not in an office.”

Carol Singer, owner of Arlington Promotional Products

6. Look professional

Email templates aren’t just easy to use; they’re also designed to make sure you look professional when you reach your audience member’s inbox. You can insert your own content and customize each template with your logo and colors to make sure it matches your brand.

“We get really good feedback from the newsletters and the new templates have been working great for us, we’re getting a lot of opens.” 

Todd Starnes, president, Bicycle Adventures

7. Get immediate results

When running a small business, every sale, order, or appointment can have a significant impact. With email, you’re able to get the results you’re looking for right away and easily track how your different campaigns are performing.

“It’s rewarding because we always get an immediate response through orders. Whenever we need to trigger sales, we’ll think of a great special to put out there.”

Karen Kowal, founder, Mother Earth Pillows

8. Generate leads

Not everyone who joins your email list will be ready to make a purchase or sign up for a service. Email gives you the opportunity to capture new visitor’s attention and nurture the relationship with helpful and informative content.

“It’s been great for generating leads. People that are thinking about using our service will usually sign up for the newsletter. I’ll see them pop up for a couple of weeks in my reader-base, and then they’ll call and make an appointment. It’s not long until we pull them in as a customer.”

Meghan Blair-Valero, owner, Fogged in Bookkeeping, Inc.

9. Promote services

Service businesses face the difficult challenge of keeping clients interested in their business, even when they aren’t looking for services at different times of the year. Email gives you the opportunity to keep your client’s attention without overwhelming them with unwanted information.

“Our email marketing started off as an experiment. But our open rates are usually higher than 50 percent and we get service calls every time we send a newsletter out, so I think it’s working.”

Matthew Taylor, co-owner, Green Solutions Lawn Care & Pest Control

10. Attract new clients

In addition to connecting with the people on your email list, you can also share your newsletters and announcements on your own social networks to bring new people to your business.

“People get to see my work, which is great, and these are often people who I never get to meet with one-on-one. The timing of each newsletter is going to be right for somebody, and having the opportunity to show people what I’m doing has just been a great way to grow my business and my reach.”

Jill Singer, owner Jill Singer Graphics

Ryan Pinkham is a member of the Constant Contact team who is interested in helping small businesses and non-profits recognize their full-potential through marketing and social media. Ryan has worked in small businesses his entire life and is excited to work with them.

As you can tell, we love to hear the stories of businesses that have used email marketing to grow their business. If you’re already using email marketing and have seen great results, we’d love to hear your story in the comments below!

original publication: click Here




Three Common Marketing Communication Mistakes — And How To Fix Them

Over the past year, we’ve all been inundated with messages. Stores were at limited capacity or completely closed, employees shifted to remote work and virtual school took over, so our inboxes and social media became our primary avenues for communication.

No longer are we catching up at the water cooler, but instead via email or messaging apps, and it’s noisy in there. Businesses grasping to keep revenue flowing found their marketing efforts buried deep under the urgent messages of “don’t forget your 8 a.m. meeting” and “your child’s virtual class meet is starting now”— oops, is he still in his pajamas?

According to industry benchmark data from HubSpot, companies on average sent 49% more marketing emails and 79% more sales emails since the onset of Covid-19. And yet, the reply rate for sales emails has steadily stayed 30% below the benchmark since April 2020. I think it’s safe to say that we’re doing more in marketing and sales but producing less. You’ve probably personally felt the increase in communications in your own inbox.

While we could (but shouldn’t) have gotten away with these mistakes pre-Covid-19, now it’s really not going to work. 

Let’s take a “not this” but “do that instead” approach to these three mistakes.

Mistake No. 1: You’re trying to win everybody and anybody.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? And, in desperation, you might be using a universal approach to win everybody and anybody over who will listen — or at least open the message. You’re not sure who your ideal client is or what they want, but instead, you’re taking the chameleon approach to marketing. Spoiler alert: even if you can get them to open it, they are not really listening if the contents don’t apply to them. 

Instead: find out who your ideal client is and get more targeted. 

To help navigate this, think of who your product or service best fits. Who finds the most success with your product? Who was and is easy to work with, and why? It’s also an excellent time to think about who would not be a good fit and why not.

Mistake No. 2: You’re spamming your community with generic messaging.

Take a peek inside your inbox or LinkedIn messages, and you probably don’t have to go back very far to find “unprecedented times” coupled with a sales offer or “I see we have this person in common.” It’s a copy-and-paste approach to building community and connection quickly, but instead of achieving this, it often turns people off to whatever value you might be able to provide. Also, I think it’s safe to drop the word “unprecedented.” Let’s just accept that these are the times.

Instead: choose personalization and build relationships by offering something of value. 

Often, we praise quantity instead of quality. Let’s reverse that. Instead of focusing on the number of mass communications you send out, choose to send fewer higher-quality messages through a more personalized, customized approach. Do your research. If you are going to ask your community or potential new client to give you their time, then provide something of value within their inbox through personalized messaging or share an offer that feels unique and helpful in their current situation.

Mistake No. 3: You talk more about yourself than you do about them.

Most people find it easy to talk about themselves and their accomplishments; just pause and listen to the room at the next dinner party. And, while it’s necessary to build trust and authority with your messaging, it’s also essential to make sure your prospect or client feels seen and heard. 

Instead: share how your product or service can make their lives better and back it up with your expertise.

Let’s face it: Many of us are a part of the “skimming” generation. You may even be skimming this article. It’s okay; no hard feelings. So long proposals, conversations and websites that focus primarily on you and what you’ve accomplished will not win them over because at the end of the conversation or site visit, they will know a lot about you, but you will not have demonstrated that you know much about them. Get to know your ideal clients. What goals are they hoping to achieve? What hurdles are standing in their way? And, what steps do they need to take to overcome these challenges and win the day? Then, back it up with what qualifies you to help them achieve success.

It’s easy to fall into the typical generic, blanket messaging approach or the habit of trying to be all things to all people. But the brands that correct these three mistakes can stand out as more genuine, more conversational and more successful brands: brands that are easier to say “yes” to.

Original publication: Click Here




7 Ways To Boost The Security Of Your WordPress Website

If you have an eCommerce business, a blog, or even a website, chances are it runs on WordPress CMS. With up to 30.5% of websites using WordPress, it is no surprise then that WordPress sites have a higher rate of hack attempts than any other platform. 

So, it would help if you ensure the security of your WordPress website is at its most optimum. You can protect WordPress site from hackers by following the seven key steps below:

1) Disable WordPress Theme & Plugin Editor

Firstly, in making WordPress secure, you need to disable its theme and plugin editor. WordPress platform has a useful feature ensuring that users have higher flexibility to customize themes and plugins right from the dashboard.

But, this feature has a downside, because the smallest mistake can cause a site crash and other problems for you. A crash hacker can take advantage of to plant malicious codes in your topic to access the site through the backdoor. They can then gain control over your website if it has enough privileges to use the topic editor and plugin.

To protect your website, disable WordPress theme and plugin editor by adding the code: define(‘DISALLO W_FILE_EDIT’, true ) to your WP-config.php file. This will eliminate hacker’s ability to change your website topics and plugins without FTP access. 

2) Limit the Amount of Login Attempts

When you are thinking of how to secure a WordPress site, you should take note of the disadvantages of unlimited login attempts. We know this is a major benefit if you are someone who forgets passwords quickly, but it is a security threat to your website. 

Having an unlimited login attempt on your website will give a hacker more chances to hack into your website using a brute force attack. 

Limit the number of login attempts on your website by using WordPress security plugins like WP Limit Login Attempts

3) Use Two-Factor Authentication on Your Website

Also, using two-factor authentication on your WordPress website can significantly improve your site security. 

With Two-factor authentication, asides using a password to log into your website, you need to provide additional verification. The extra verification step is usually providing a uniquely generated code you alone can receive.

Every WordPress user must have two-factor authentication enabled on their site to protect them from brute force attacks. 

To set up, simply:

  • Login to your WordPress website backend
  • Click on security: link. 
  • From there, you will see an option for two-factor authentication.
  • Then, add a cell phone number or email address for the authentication process. This will be how the unique code will be sent to you every time. 

4) Make Sure Your Database is Secure & Separate

In making WordPress secure, your database plays a key factor. Simply because a website’s database stores all site information, history, etc. of the site. So, hackers are prone to go for a website’s database. They can do this via methods like automated codes for SQL injections.

So, if you are a WordPress site owner running multiple websites from a single database, it means that should hackers get access to your database, all your websites are at risk. 

So, isolate your database. Here is some advice for ensuring you are running a secure database:

  • Use separate databases for any website, blog, eCommerce site, etc. you own. 
  • Have dedicated employees called database personnel who have access to your database. Meaning, only database personnel should be granted access to the database. 
  • Reduce the number of database privileges database personnel has. For example, you can revoke all privileges asides data read and write. 
  • You can also rename your database to throw hackers off. 

5) Hide WordPress Website Login details

Another way to boost the security of your WordPress Website is to hide login details. By merely leaving your WordPress defaults the way they are, you can be opening your websites to substantial security threats. 

If you don’t hide your site’s admin name, all a hacker will have to do is add ?author=1 after your URL, and it will pop up. Then, they can easily use brute force once to hack into your website. 

So, make sure you aren’t leaving all that information out in the open to prevent hackers from being the target. 

6) Have a Regular Backup Routine

Backing up is extremely important for any WordPress owner because 100% security is never guaranteed. So, make sure you are regularly following proper backup procedures. Also, create copies that you can restore, so you never have to worry about losing your information.

This way, if anything happens to your server, you know you can always rely on your backup. 

Several WordPress hosting services offer backup services or automatically back up your data daily. If you want to backup your WordPress website manually, then back up your entire WordPress directory.

7) Ensure you use SSL Encryption

Not all hackers will be able to use brute force on your website. Especially if your website is secure. In such a case, they will try another method. They may try to steal your information or try to break your connection. Using a secure socket layer encryption will protect your WordPress site from hackers. 

You can get a secure socket layer certificate from your site :

  • Through your hosting company: Most hosting companies provide SSL certificates for you. 
  • From a third party supplier: This can be an alternate method. 

We advise all websites have SSL not just for the security, but also to appear high on Google ranking. 

Conclusion

As a serious website owner, you shouldn’t ignore any of these security tips mentioned above. We advise that you take all these security measures soonest because hackers hit fast, and the effect of a hack is enormous. Just like a writing amateur can use sites such as Online Writers Rating and Best Writers Online to get writing service reviews, if security is something you can’t stay on top of, using various WordPress plugins can help make your website secure.




12 tips for brainstorming more creative solutions

Nothing is more taunting than a blank sheet when your brainstorming session is going nowhere. Factors like stress and lack of sleep can put a damper on our creative flow, and the longer you stare at blankness in front of you, the more overwhelmed you become at the prospect of thinking of nothing.

Brainstorming sessions don’t always come up when you’re feeling your most inspired, which is why we all need tools for making them more productive. Here are 12 tips for kickstarting your creativity and discovering more innovative solutions to problems.

1. Come up with bad ideas first.

People are apprehensive to share ideas in groups, especially when management or leadership is present. It can be intimidating, and everyone feels pressured to have the best idea. To loosen everyone up and set the tone that all ideas are welcome, start the session off with an exercise where you throw out as many bad ideas as you can. Not only will this set a more relaxed tone, but it will help get everyone’s creative juices flowing.

2. Get visual.

Whether you use post-it notes and a whiteboard or an online diagramming tool, lay out your ideas in a visual way to gain clarity on the bigger picture. Having a panoramic view of an issue can help you organize your thoughts, see new insights into your problem, and make connections you otherwise wouldn’t. Mind maps, mood boards, and flow charts are all great ways to begin mapping your ideas visually.

3. Solve the opposite problem.

Sometimes when we can’t find a solution to something, we need to look at it from the opposite angle: try to cause the problem. Try an exercise where you come up with all the ways you can do the opposite of what you want. Looking for a way to create more sales leads via your blog? Come up with a list of every way you could hinder that process. When we understand our roadblocks more fully, we can create better strategies for preventing those things from happening.

4. Copy someone else.

As Picasso famously said, “good artists copy; great artists steal.” He would never have painted some of his most famous works without ‘inspiration’ from African sculpturists. Chances are the problem you’re trying to solve has been dealt with by many before you. You should research how others met the same challenges. Rather than repeating others mistakes, learn from them, and discover your own new ones.

5. Act it out.

Sometimes imagining a problem isn’t enough; we need to see it. Trying to solve a customer service issue? Have two team members act out a scenario together to see where issues arise. Problems you wouldn’t have thought of using only imagination are much more likely to come about as you’re trying to work through them in reality.

6. Set boundaries.

One of the most common barriers to good ideas is thinking too broadly. Setting specific boundaries is much more effective when it comes to prompting creativity and innovation.

Try a word association game called a “word storm.” Start with a broad term related to your topic of interest and have people take turns coming up with associated words. As you discover new related word and phrases, come up with associations for those, too. Eventually, you’ll have different combinations of related terms that provide for you a much more specific creative idea.

7. Take a break and do something else.

Studies show that when we step away from a problem and do something else, our brains continue to think about the problem subconsciously. Ever wonder why so many of your best ideas come to you in the shower? Doodle, go for a walk or clean something. Find an immersive activity that gives your brain a break from directly thinking about the problem for awhile.

8. Try a SWOT analysis.

SWOT charts aren’t just for vetting good ideas; they can also be used for turning bad ideas into better ones. A common mistake people make is assuming that good ideas always come in some sort of ‘eureka’ moments. In fact, most great ideas are made up of a lot of little ideas that evolved over time.

Set up your SWOT chart (listing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), and see how you can pivot your subject to better achieve your stated goals.

9. Change perspectives.

Sometimes the one person who can’t solve your problem is you. It’s difficult for most people to imagine what it would be like to not know what they know, and consequently, we end up making a lot of false assumptions about our audience. Approach things from an outsiders perspective. How would a five-year-old approach this issue? What would someone from a different industry think of it?

10. Change your environment.

Sometimes just moving your brainstorming meeting from a conference room to the roof deck or outdoor seating area can stir ideas people otherwise wouldn’t associate inside. Studies have shown that being in nature is particularly useful for creativity.

11. Challenge assumptions.

If your problem seemingly has no solution, you might not really understand the question. List out all the assumptions your project is based on. If you’re assuming that people won’t pay more for your service, challenge that idea by asking why. If you find an assumption that isn’t supported by data or is flat out wrong, it’s time to rework your premise.

12. Brainstorm alone, then come together, then alone again.

Studies suggest individual brainstorming is more productive than group brainstorming. In fact, some people generate 2x more ideas when working alone than in groups. While group brainstorming is still an invaluable business tool, it doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of solo brainstorming at the same time. Have your team members brainstorm before your group session. Share ideas and create new ones during your meeting, and then brainstorm again after.

Most teams fail to do a final individual brainstorming session, but this is usually when the best ideas finally come to fruition. Think about it; if individual brainstorming is more productive than group brainstorming, then individual brainstorming after you’ve been inspired by a whole team of ideas is going to push your creative productivity to the next level.




Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review: A smartphone attached to a camera

The evolution of a typical smartphone maker goes like this: The company starts by offering good phones at low prices. Then very good phones with a few missing features at decent prices. Then phones with every feature imaginable, but prices on par with expensive flagship phones.

Xiaomi has reached that last stage.

Originally known for smartphones that cost next to nothing despite having the latest processor and a lot (but not all) of the features of a Samsung flagship, Xiaomi has now launched the Mi 11 Ultra, a smartphone that’s almost ridiculously overpowered — with a price to match.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
$1,299
The Good

Tons of features • Fast • Versatile camera system

The Bad

Pricy • Heavy

The Bottom Line

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is Xiaomi’s most powerful phone ever, but with that power comes an extremely high price tag.

⚡ Mashable Score3.75
😎 Cool Factor4.5
📘Learning Curve4.0
💪Performance4.0
💵Bang for the Buck2.5

All the features, and then some

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra has a massive 6.81-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate; Qualcomm’s most powerful processor, the Snapdragon 888; 8 or 12GB of RAM and 256 or 512GB of storage; and a 5,000mAh battery. For comparison, those are basically the specs of Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra, which has the same display size and processor, and a battery of equal capacity. The Xiaomi also has a very powerful camera system, both on the front and back.

It even has a secondary display on the back — nicked from Xiaomi’s Mi Band wearable — which can display essential info such as time, date, and notifications. It can even be used to preview selfies taken with the rear camera.

The phone is top-heavy; you might have to readjust your standard holding position.

The phone is top-heavy; you might have to readjust your standard holding position.

IMAGE: STAN SCHROEDER/MASHABLE

Once upon a time, Xiaomi used to cut costs on the little things, such as water resistance or wireless charging. Not this time: The Mi 11 Ultra has IP68 dust/water resistance and it supports fast charging, both wireless and wired, as well as reverse charging.

It also has stereo speakers, tuned by Harman/Kardon, and supports hi-res 24-bit/192kHz audio, which should make a difference if you connect the phone to high-quality headphones or speakers. In fact, the only features this phone doesn’t have are memory card support and a 3.5mm jack, but you won’t find those on top Apple or Samsung smartphones either.

Phone performance is incredibly speedy and smooth in everyday use, but it’s the same with most flagships these days. In fact, the experience was nearly identical to the Mi 11, which I reviewed two months ago. That isn’t surprising given the display, processor, most other specs, and the software were exactly the same. Check out my review of that phone for more details.

Two big differences: While the camera bump on the regular Mi 11 is big, on the Mi 11 Ultra, it’s absolutely massive. Place that phone on a flat surface, even with a case, and it won’t lie flat. The Mi 11 Ultra is also a lot heavier than the Mi 11 (234g vs. 196g), and it’s noticeable. This device is almost like a phone stuck onto a camera, and it’s noticeable when you hold it. It’s top heavy, too, so you might have to hold it a little differently than you would most other smartphones.

Also, the Mi 11 Ultra has a slightly bigger battery than the Mi 11 (5,000mAh vs. 4,600mAh). I haven’t noticed a difference, but again, if you turn on all the fancy tech that this phone packs, such as the 120Hz refresh rate and super-high resolution, the battery will drain a lot faster.

The rear display is a nice addition as it tells you the time and date, even when the phone is face down. It's not that useful for selfies, though.

The rear display is a nice addition as it tells you the time and date, even when the phone is face down. It’s not that useful for selfies, though.

IMAGE: STAN SCHROEDER/MASHABLE

Oh, and there’s also that cute little display on the back; more on that later.

The most imposing camera system on a phone, ever

The main difference between the Xiaomi MI 11 Ultra and the regular Mi 11 is in the rear camera system. The Ultra has a triple camera system with a 50-megapixel wide angle main camera, with a massive, 1/1.12” sensor, f/1.95 aperture, optical image stabilization, and laser focus. There’s also a 48-megapixel ultra-wide camera with an f/2.2 aperture, which doubles as a macro camera, and a 48-megapixel telephoto camera with f/4.1 aperture and 5x optical zoom. All three cameras support 8K video recording and Xiaomi’s Night mode.

In practice, that means you’ll get very nice, sharp and detailed daylight photos on both the main and wide camera.

Daylight photos are sharp and detailed.

Daylight photos are sharp and detailed.

IMAGE: STAN SCHROEDER/MASHABLE

The wide camera is pretty great, but make sure you tick the setting that corrects distortion in ultra-wide shots, otherwise the edges of your photo will be way too curvy.

In this wide shot, Xiaomi's software fixed the curviness on the edges,; the downside of that is that the edges are now blurry.

In this wide shot, Xiaomi’s software fixed the curviness on the edges,; the downside of that is that the edges are now blurry.

IMAGE: STAN SCHROEDER/MASHABLE

The zoom camera goes to 120x which is nuts, and frankly, it’s just a gimmick, because everything will be too jittery at magnifications anywhere close to that. I’ve had the fortune to be able to test the Huawei Mate X2 and the Mi 11 Ultra side-by-side, and the Mate X2 handles extreme zoom better. The Huawei phone manages to stabilize the image even at very high magnification, and the resulting photos have a ton of details you won’t be able to see with the naked eye. The Mi 11 Ultra isn’t bad in this regard, but it pales in comparison. I wouldn’t recommend zooming in past 20x or so.

Taking this photo was a pain due to poor stabilization. Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra allows for 120x zoom, but you probably won't use anything over 20x.

Taking this photo was a pain due to poor stabilization. Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra allows for 120x zoom, but you probably won’t use anything over 20x.

IMAGE: STAN SCHROEDER/MASHABLE

Although the Mi 11 Ultra has a completely new camera system, compared to the Mi 11, it exhibits some of the same problems. Namely, low-light photography. The Mi 11 would often produce photos that are unnaturally green. The Mi 11 Ultra didn’t do that, but the low-light photos I took were uneven. Sometimes, the photos turned out great. But often, the photo would be too bright, turning night into day (with tons of noise and glare).

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra can take a good low-light photo, but it doesn't always do it. This one is pretty good.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra can take a good low-light photo, but it doesn’t always do it. This one is pretty good.

IMAGE: STAN SCHROEDER/MASHABLE

Dedicated night mode exists, but it was even worse, often producing oddly blurry results. As is somewhat typical of Xiaomi’s smartphones, I was able to get good photos, but not always on the first try.

Selfies, both front and back

Make no mistake, the rear display is a gimmick. I bet most users will never use it for selfies, because using the standard selfie camera, with the massive primary display as the viewfinder, is just so much easier. It’s nice to have basic information such as time and date even when you lay the phone on its face, but other than that, the secondary display isn’t a game-changing feature you must have.

Turn off the beautifying features if you want true-to-life selfies.

Turn off the beautifying features if you want true-to-life selfies.

IMAGE: STAN SCHROEDER/MASHABLE

As for the selfie camera, it’s the same as on the Mi 11, meaning the selfies are generally good, if a little soft. You’ll want to disable all of the beautifying options if you want to get true-to-life results. Oh, and forget about night-time selfies; the Mi 11 Ultra’s front camera fared poorly here, even in Night mode.

Conclusion

The most powerful Xiaomi phone ever may not be the best Xiaomi phone ever.

The most powerful Xiaomi phone ever may not be the best Xiaomi phone ever.

IMAGE: STAN SCHROEDER/MASHABLE

Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Ultra is a big, bold, powerful phone, but at $1,299 for the 8GB variant, it’s also extremely expensive. For comparison, Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra starts at $1,199, while Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max starts at $1,099.

The Mi 11 Ultra’s camera system is great, but not the best you can get, so whether you’ll want to get one or not will boil down to your affection for the brand and the phone’s design. In other words, if you really, really love Xiaomi and don’t care about the price, go for the Ultra. If not, one of the other Xiaomi Mi 11 phones will do.

 

fuente: https://mashable.com/review/xiaomi-mi-11-ultra-review/




What to expect from Google I/O 2021

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived at just the right time to make Google cancel its annual I/O developer conference. Now with a full year of prep (and high expectations), Google I/O is back in a virtual-only format that’s sure to bring plenty of exciting announcements.

The part that will be of interest to regular folks like you and I is the keynote, which kicks off I/O on Tuesday, May 18 at 1 p.m. ET. It will be streamed live on Google’s YouTube channel, so watching it should be easy.

We don’t know exactly what I/O will bring this year in terms of news, but as always, a steady stream of rumors and leaks has given us a decent idea of what to expect.

Android 12

It’s usually a safe bet that we’ll get some news regarding the next iteration of the Android mobile operating system at I/O every year, and 2021 is no different. Android 12 is in a developer preview state right now, so we may get news about a larger public beta at I/O. That means regular people would be able to get their hands on an unfinished build of Android 12 before its wider release sometime later this year.

Google is sure to give us a full breakdown of new features at the show, but for now, we have a few ideas of where Android 12 is going.

An Android developer going by the handle kdrag0n unlocked a neat new feature in the developer build that matches system-level UI elements to the color of your phone’s background image. As you can see, making your background purple will add a purple hue to the notifications menu, for example.

Beyond that, we know Android 12 has a new “Nearby Share” feature for getting your friends on your home WiFi network. If you toggle the option on in settings, the phone will seek out another device nearby and that device should get a notification inviting them to log into the WiFi network without the hassle of a password. Android has allowed WiFI sharing via QR codes for a couple of years, but this is an even quicker and easier option than that.

For privacy-focused users, Android 12 adds one massive upgrade: The ability to shut off access to your phone’s camera and microphone for all apps, per 9to5Google. That should probably be available on every device with a camera and/or microphone, so it’s good that Android 12 is including it.

There are sure to be other fun changes in the OS update that shows up at Google I/O, so stay tuned.

Pixel Buds A

The new Pixel Buds A come in olive green color, which you can't get for the current Pixel Buds (pictured).

The new Pixel Buds A come in olive green color, which you can’t get for the current Pixel Buds (pictured).

IMAGE: GOOGLE

One thing that we’re pretty certain is going to show up at I/O is a new variant of the Pixel Buds called Pixel Buds A. That’s because Google accidentally leaked the new Buds in a marketing email in April. Whoops!

As for what the new Pixel Buds will actually be, that’s less certain. Google usually puts that letter “A” at the end of product names to denote that they’re slightly trimmed down, budget-friendly alternatives, like last year’s Pixel 4a smartphone. Naturally, the Pixel Buds A would then be less expensive versions of last year’s largely excellent Pixel Buds.

That said, it’s impossible to know what Google plans on stripping out of the Pixel Buds to make them cheaper until the announcement at I/O.

Pixel phones

Pixel 5a, basically the same as the Pixel 4a

Pixel 5a, basically the same as the Pixel 4a

IMAGE: ONLEAKS / VOICE

2020 was an unusual year for Pixel phones, almost certainly because of COVID. Google broke its typical spring release schedule for its Pixel A-series budget line in favor of launching its entire 2020 lineup — the Pixel 5, Pixel 4a, and 4a 5G — together last fall. This year, we know that new A-series and flagship Pixel phones are coming, but whether or not they show up at I/O is a different story.

The Pixel 5a has already leaked via renders, but Google made it pretty clear back in February that we wouldn’t see it until the same late summer or early fall timeframe it relied on for the 4a’s debut. The phone also looks almost exactly the same as the 4a, with a 6.2-inch OLED display, a fingerprint sensor on the back, and a hole-punch selfie camera on the front. There also appears to be a 3.5mm headphone jack, so Google is still fighting the good fight in that regard.

As for the Pixel 6, Front Page Tech commissioned some renders based on leaked hands-on images they saw that show a pretty drastic redesign of the flagship phone. There appear to be two flagship phones on the way: the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. The former has two cameras on the back and the latter has three, with both phones housing the rear cameras in what looks like a slight bump. The display looks like it has an incredibly thin (bordering on nonexistent) bezel with a hole-punch camera in the top center, and a fingerprint sensor built into the display.

As for their relevance to I/O, don’t be sad if the Pixel phones are absent from the event. If the 5a isn’t launching until months from now, it would make sense for the 6 to come out around the same time.

Whitechapel

Is Google going to take after Apple and make its own custom in-house chip like M1?

Is Google going to take after Apple and make its own custom in-house chip like M1?

IMAGE: APPLE

In news that is probably more interesting to developers than consumers (while still being of vital importance to both), Google is apparently developing its own in-house chips for upcoming Pixel phones and Chromebooks codenamed “Whitechapel.” 9to5Google reported back in April that Whitechapel, also known internally as “GS101,” would be the engine that runs the next flagship Pixel phones that launch this fall.

Google is almost certainly not going to say anything about the Pixel 6 (if that’s what it ends up being called), but I/O would definitely be the place to reveal the existence of Whitechapel. Apple made a big deal out of its in-house M1 chip last year, which powers recent devices like the MacBook Pro released earlier this year. Don’t be surprised if Google goes down the same road of developing chips for its own devices, which could potentially bring about boosts in power and other exciting changes down the road.

Google Assistant and smart home

Google Assistant is always growing.

Google Assistant is always growing.

IMAGE: ANDREJ SOKOLOW / PICTURE ALLIANCE VIA GETTY IMAGES

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of specific rumors or leaks about the future of Google Assistant, but it wouldn’t be Google I/O without some feature updates. Google usually carves out at least a little bit of time at I/O to talk about it, and it would be shocking if that didn’t happen again this year. In fact, this blog post from Google confirms Assistant will show up at I/O in some capacity. There will be an Assistant-centric keynote on May 19 at 12:45 p.m. ET, but that doesn’t mean it won’t show up in the main keynote, too.

Google Assistant is key to the company’s Nest range of smart home products, and the same blog post confirms that we’ll hear more about the future of those smart home devices at a keynote on May 19 at 7:15 p.m. ET. Google says it will “dive into product vision, new product announcements, and showcase great Assistant experiences built by our developer community” during the smart home keynote.

Fitbit, WearOS, and Pixel Watch

How will Fitbit fit into Google's ecosystem going forward?

How will Fitbit fit into Google’s ecosystem going forward?

IMAGE: FITBIT

Along similarly speculative lines, we don’t know if Google is going to talk about the future of Fitbit and WearOS at I/O. That said, Google acquired Fitbit in 2019 and hasn’t completely folded the wearable fitness tracker company into its broader ecosystem just yet. It’s a little awkward, as Fitbit’s devices run on Fitbit OS, while Google has its own wearable operating system called WearOS.

Google apparently sent out a customer satisfaction survey about WearOS this week, per Android Central. It might just be coincidental timing, but considering I/O is mere days away, it’s hard not to wonder if there won’t be some kind of update at the show. Perhaps we could hear about the next version of WearOS as it pertains to the rumored Pixel Watch, which was the subject of some leaked renders earlier this year.

Again, all of that is pure speculation, but based on circumstantial evidence, one has to wonder if we won’t see more of Google’s wearable plans at I/O.

Chromecast and Stadia

Will last year's Chromecast finally get Stadia support?

Will last year’s Chromecast finally get Stadia support?

IMAGE: MASHABLE PHOTO COMPOSITE

This is perhaps the least likely of everything we’ve discussed so far, but there’s one big loose end regarding Google Chromecast and Stadia that could be resolved at I/O. You see, Google released an excellent new Chromecast late last year, but it was missing one crucial thing: Support for Stadia, the company’s overhyped and under-delivering game streaming service.

It’s easy to look at the current state of Stadia and come to the conclusion that Google is sweeping it under the rug. After all, its original game development studios shut down earlier this year before we ever saw a single game from them. Google still maintains that Stadia support is coming to the latest Chromecast, though, with a tweet from the official Stadia account saying as much this week. It seems to be a matter of when and not if, though with Stadia, nothing is ever certain.

As with any tech conference, it’s possible that we could see all of these things at Google I/O, but also… none of them. The truth will probably lie somewhere in the middle, with some unexpected curveballs thrown in along the way. After a long year with no I/O, it’ll be good just to see anything at all.

Fuente: https://mashable.com/article/what-to-expect-google-io-2021/




Visual Studio Code vs. Visual Studio: How to choose

Deciding between Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio may depend as much on your work style as on the language support and features you need. Here’s how to decide.

For decades, when I got to work in the morning, I would start Microsoft Visual Studio (or one of its predecessors, such as Visual C++ or Visual InterDev), then brew tea and possibly attend a morning meeting while it went through its laborious startup. I would keep the IDE open all day as I went through develop/test/debug cycles to avoid another startup delay. When I worked on a C++ project with ~2 million lines of code, I also jump-started each day’s work by automatically running a batch script that did a code checkout and full rebuild of the product in the wee hours.

These days, I don’t feel the need to open my code projects first thing every morning, or to keep them open all day. Visual Studio Code usually starts up quickly enough that I can be productive in a few minutes, even for large projects. I said usually, not always: Visual Studio Code itself needs a monthly update, and the many extensions I have installed often need their own updates. Still, even updating a dozen extensions in Visual Studio Code takes much less time than Visual Studio takes to rebuild the symbol tables of a large C++ project.

What is Visual Studio Code?

Visual Studio Code is a lightweight but powerful source code editor that runs on your desktop and is available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. It comes with built-in support for JavaScript, TypeScript, and Node.js and has a rich ecosystem of extensions for other languages (such as C++, C#, Java, Python, PHP, and Go) and runtimes (such as .Net and Unity).

Aside from the whole idea of being lightweight and starting quickly, VS Code has IntelliSense code completion for variables, methods, and imported modules; graphical debugging; linting, multi-cursor editing, parameter hints, and other powerful editing features; snazzy code navigation and refactoring; and built-in source code control including Git support. Much of this was adapted from Visual Studio technology.

VS Code proper is built using the Electron shellNode.jsTypeScript, and the Language Server protocol, and is updated on a monthly basis. The extensions are updated as often as needed. The richness of support varies across the different programming languages and their extensions, ranging from simple syntax highlighting and bracket matching to debugging and refactoring. You can add basic support for your favorite language through TextMate colorizers if no language server is available.

The code in the Visual Studio Code repository is open source under the MIT License. The VS Code product itself ships under a standard Microsoft product license, as it has a small percentage of Microsoft-specific customizations. It’s free despite the commercial license.

What is Visual Studio?

Visual Studio (current version Visual Studio 2019) is Microsoft’s premier IDE for Windows and MacOS. With Visual Studio, you can develop, analyze, debug, test, collaborate, and deploy your software.

On Windows, Visual Studio 2019 currently has 17 workloads, which are consistent tool and component installation bundles for different development targets. Workloads are an important improvement to the Visual Studio installation process, because a full download and installation of Visual Studio 2019 can easily take hours and fill a disk, especially an SSD.

Visual Studio 2019 for Mac has a less complicated installer than the Windows version, mostly because it doesn’t support as many targets. It allows you to develop for web, mobile, and desktop with .Net, with Unity, Azure, and Docker support included by default. The .Net Core, Android, iOS, and MacOS targets are optional; the latter three use Xamarin.

Visual Studio 2019 comes in three SKUs: Community (free, not supported for enterprise use), Professional ($1,199 first year/$799 renewal), and Enterprise ($5,999 first year/$2,569 renewal). The Enterprise Edition has features for architects, advanced debugging, and testing that the other two SKUs lack.

Visual Studio or Visual Studio Code?

You would think that deciding between Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code for any given software development task would be as simple as deciding between an IDE and an editor. It’s not, mostly because VS Code can be configured to be quite close to an IDE for many programming languages. However, along this configurability come a number of trade-offs.

For example, if your development style is test-driven, Visual Studio will work right out of the box. On the other hand, there are some 15 test-driven development extensions for VS Code supporting Node.js, Go, .Net, and PHP. Similarly, Visual Studio does a good job working with databases, especially Microsoft SQL Server and its relatives, but VS Code has lots of database extensions. Visual Studio has great refactoring support, but Visual Studio Code implements the basic refactoring operations for half a dozen languages.

There are a few clear-cut cases. For instance, if you are a software architect and you have access to Visual Studio Enterprise, you’ll want to use that. If you need to collaborate with team members on development or debugging, then Visual Studio is the better choice. If you need to do serious code analysis or performance profiling, or debug from a snapshot, then Visual Studio Enterprise will help you.

VS Code tends to be popular in the data science community. Nevertheless, Visual Studio 2019 has a data science workload that offers many features.

Visual Studio doesn’t run on Linux; VS Code does. On the other hand, Visual Studio for Windows has a Linux/C++ workload and Azure support.

For daily bread-and-butter develop/test/debug cycles in the languages supported in both Visual Studio and VS Code, which you choose really does boil down to personal preference. If you tend to work on a development project for hours at a time, then Visual Studio might be a better fit. If you tend to dip into development for brief periods and rotate between other tasks, then Visual Studio Code might make you happier.




China’s transition to electric vehicles

By 2030, 40 percent of vehicles sold in China will be electric; MIT research finds that despite benefits, the cost to consumers and to society will be substantial.

In recent decades, China’s rapid economic growth has enabled more and more consumers to buy their own cars. The result has been improved mobility and the largest automotive market in the world — but also serious urban air pollution, high greenhouse gas emissions, and growing dependence on oil imports.

To counteract those troubling trends, the Chinese government has imposed policies to encourage the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs). Since buying an EV costs more than buying a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, in 2009 the government began to provide generous subsidies for EV purchases. But the price differential and the number of buyers were both large, so paying for the subsidies became extremely costly for the government.

As a result, China’s policymakers planned to phase out the subsidies at the end of 2020 and instead impose a mandate on car manufacturers. Simply stated, the mandate requires that a certain percent of all vehicles sold by a manufacturer each year must be battery-powered. To avoid financial penalties, every year manufacturers must earn a stipulated number of points, which are awarded for each EV produced based on a complex formula that takes into account range, energy efficiency, performance, and more. The requirements get tougher over time, with a goal of having EVs make up 40 percent of all car sales by 2030.

This move will have a huge impact on the worldwide manufacture of EVs, according to William H. Green, the Hoyt C. Hottel Professor in Chemical Engineering. “This is one of the strongest mandates for electric cars worldwide, and it’s being imposed on the largest car market in the world,” he says. “There will be a gigantic increase in the manufacture of EVs and in the production of batteries for them, driving down the cost of both globally.”

But what will be the impact of the mandate within China? The transition to EVs will bring many environmental and other benefits. But how much will it cost the nation? In 2016, MIT chemical engineering colleagues Green and then-graduate student I-Yun Lisa Hsieh PhD ’20 decided to find out. Their goal was to examine the mixed impacts of the mandate on all affected factors: battery prices, manufacturing costs, vehicle prices and sales, and the cost to the consumer of owning and operating a car. Based on their results, they could estimate the total societal cost of complying with the mandate in the coming decade. (Note that the Chinese government recently extended subsidy support for EVs for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and that this analysis was performed before that change was announced.)

Looking at battery prices

“The main reason why EVs are costly is that their batteries are expensive,” says Green. In recent years, battery prices have dropped rapidly, largely due to the “learning effect”: As production volumes increase, manufacturers find ways to improve efficiency, and costs go down. It’s generally assumed that battery prices will continue to decrease as EVs take over more of the car market.

Using a new modeling approach, Green and Hsieh determined that learning effects will lower costs appreciably for battery production, but not much for the mining and synthesis of critical battery materials. They concluded that the price of the most widely used EV battery technology — the lithium-ion nickel-manganese-cobalt battery — will indeed drop as more are manufactured. But the decline will slow as the price gets closer to the cost of the raw materials in it.

Using the resulting estimates of battery price, the researchers calculated the extra cost of manufacturing an EV over time and — assuming a standard markup for profit — determined the likely selling price for those cars. In previous work, they had used a variety of data sources and analytical techniques to determine “affordability” for the Chinese population — in other words, the fraction of their income available to spend on buying a car. Based on those findings, they examined the expected impact on car sales in China between 2018 and 2030.

As a baseline for comparison, the researchers first assumed a “counterfactual” (not true-to-life) scenario — car sales without significant adoption of EVs, so without the new mandate. Under that assumption, annual projected car sales climb to more than 34 million by 2030.

When the subsidy on EV purchases is eliminated and the mandate is enacted in 2020, total car sales shrink. But thereafter, the growing economy and rising incomes increase consumer purchasing power and drive up the demand for private car ownership. Annual sales are on average 20 percent lower than in the counterfactual scenario, but they’re projected to reach about 30 million by 2030.

The researchers also projected the breakdown in sales between ICE vehicles and battery EVs at three points in time. According to that analysis, in 2020, EVs make up just 7 percent of the total (1.6 million vehicles). By 2025, that share is up to 21 percent (5.4 million). And by 2030, it’s up to 37 percent (11.2 million) — close to the government’s 40 percent target. Altogether, 66 million EVs are sold between 2020 and 2030.

Those results also track the split between two types of plug-in EVs: pure battery EVs and hybrid EVs (which are powered by both batteries and gasoline). About twice as many pure battery EVs are sold than hybrid EVs, even though the former are more expensive due to the higher cost of their batteries. “The mandate includes a special preference for cars with a longer range, which means cars with large batteries,” says Green. “So carmakers have a big incentive to manufacture the pure battery EVs and be awarded extra points under the mandate formula.”

For the consumer, the added cost of owning an EV includes any difference in vehicle expenses over the whole lifetime of the car. To calculate that difference, the researchers quantified the “total cost of ownership,” or TCO, including the purchase cost, fuel cost, and operating and maintenance costs (including insurance) of their two plug-in EVs and an ICE vehicle out to 2030.

Their results show that before 2020, owning either type of plug-in EV is less costly than owning an ICE vehicle due to the subsidy paid on EV purchases. After the subsidy is removed and the mandate imposed in 2020, owning a hybrid EV is comparable to owning an ICE vehicle. Owning a pure battery EV is more expensive due to its high-cost batteries. Dropping battery prices reduces total ownership cost for both types of EVs, but the pure battery EV remains more expensive out to 2030.

Cost to society

The next step for the researchers was to calculate the total cost to China of forcing the adoption of EVs. The basic approach is straightforward: They take the extra TCO for each EV sold in each year, discount that cost to its present value, and multiply the resulting figure by the number of cars sold in that year. (They exclude taxes embedded in the purchase prices of the vehicle, of electricity and gasoline, and so on, as the society will have to pay other taxes to replace that lost revenue.)

Using that methodology, they calculated the incremental cost to society of each EV sold in each year as well as the extra cost per kilometer driven, assuming that the vehicle has a lifetime of 12 years and is driven 12,500 kilometers each year. The results show that the incremental cost of owning and driving an EV decreases from 2021 to 2030. The cost declines more for pure battery EVs than for hybrid EVs, but the former remain more costly.

By combining the per-car cost to society with the number of cars sold, the researchers calculated the total extra cost incurred. In their results, the total number of EVs sold in a year more than offsets any decrease in per-vehicle cost, so the incremental cost to society grows. And that cost is sizeable. On average, the transition to EVs forced by the mandate will cost 100 billion yuan per year from 2021 to 2030, which is about 2 percent of the nationwide expenditure in the transport sector every year.

During the 10 years from 2021-30, the annual societal cost of the transition to almost 40 percent EVs is equivalent to about 0.1 percent of China’s growing gross domestic product. “So the cost to society of forcing the sale of EVs in place of ICE vehicles is significant,” says Hsieh. “People will have far less money in their pockets to spend on other purchases.”

Other considerations

Green and Hsieh stress that the high societal cost of the forced EV adoption must be considered in light of the potential benefits to be gained. For example, switching from ICE vehicles to EVs will lower air pollution and associated health costs; reduce carbon dioxide emissions to help mitigate climate change; and reduce reliance on imported petroleum, enhancing the country’s national energy security and balance of payments.

Hsieh is now working to quantify those benefits so that the team can perform a proper cost-benefit analysis of China’s transition to EVs. Her initial results suggest that the monetized benefits are — like the costs — substantial. “The benefits appear to be the same order of magnitude as the costs,” she says. “It’s so close that we need to be careful to get the numbers right.”

The researchers cite two other factors that may impact the cost side of the equation. In early 2018, six Chinese megacities with high air pollution began restricting the number of license plates issued for ICE vehicles and charging high fees for them. With their lower-cost, more-abundant “green car plates,” EVs became cost-competitive, and sales soared. To protect Chinese carmakers, the national government recently announced that it plans to end those restrictions. The outcome and its impacts on EV sales remain uncertain. (Again, due to the pandemic, policies restricting car ownership have mostly been relaxed for now.)

The second caveat concerns how carmakers price their vehicles. The results reported here assume that prices are calculated as they are today: the cost of manufacturing the vehicle plus a certain percentage markup for profit. With the new mandate in place, automakers will need to change their pricing strategy so as to persuade enough buyers to purchase EVs to reach the required fraction. “We don’t know what they’re going to do, but one possibility is that they’ll lower the price of their battery cars and raise the price of their gasoline cars,” says Green. “That way, they can still make their profits while operating within the law.” As an example, he cites how U.S. carmakers responded to Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards by adjusting the relative prices of their low- and high-efficiency vehicles.

While such a change in Chinese automakers’ pricing strategy would lower the price of EVs, it would also push up average car prices overall, because the total car sales mix is dominated by ICE vehicles. “Some people in China who would otherwise be able to afford a cheap gasoline car now won’t be able to afford it,” says Hsieh. “They’ll be priced out of the market.”

Green emphasizes the impact of the mandate on all carmakers worldwide. “I can’t overstate how hugely important this is,” he says. “As soon as the mandate came out, carmakers realized that electric vehicles had become a major market rather than a niche market on the side.” And he believes that even without subsidies, the added expense of buying an EV won’t be prohibitive for many car buyers — especially in light of the benefits they offer.

However, he does have a final concern. As more and more EVs are manufactured, global supplies of critical battery materials will become increasingly limited. At the same time, however, the supply of spent batteries will increase, creating an opportunity to recycle critical materials for use in new batteries and simultaneously prevent environmental threats from their disposal. The researchers recommend that policymakers “help to integrate the entire industry chain among automakers, battery producers, used-car dealers, and scrap companies in battery recycling systems to achieve a more sustainable society.”

This research was supported through the MIT Energy Initiative’s Mobility of the Future study.

This article appears in the Autumn 2020 issue of Energy Futures, the magazine of the MIT Energy Initiative.




INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED LEARNING AND RESEARCH AND VIRGINIA TECH LAUNCH THE CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT AGRICULTURE INNOVATION CENTER IN DANVILLE

The MIT team’s project was one of seven pitched at the Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize competition.

The winners of this year’s Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize got a good indication their pitch was striking a chord when a judge offered to have his company partner with the team for an early demonstration. The offer signified demand for their solution — to say nothing of their chances of winning the pitch competition.

The annual competition’s MIT-based grand-prize winner, Human Dynamics, is seeking to improve sanitation in food production plants with a robotic drone — a “drobot” — that flies through facilities spraying soap and disinfectant.

The company says the product addresses major labor shortages for food production facilities, which often must carry out daily sanitation processes.

“They have to sanitize every night, and it’s extremely labor intensive and expensive,” says co-founder Tom Okamoto, a master’s student in MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program.

In the winning pitch, Okamoto said the average large food manufacturer spends $13 million on sanitation annually. When you combine the time sanitation processes takes away from production and delays due to human error, Human Dynamics estimates it’s tackling an $80 billion problem.

The company’s prototype uses a quadcopter drone that carries a tank, nozzle, and spray hose. Underneath the hood, the drone uses visual detection technology to validate that each area is clean, LIDAR to map out its path, and algorithms for route optimization.

The product is designed to automate repetitive tasks while complementing other cleaning efforts currently done by humans. Workers will still be required for certain aspects of cleaning and tasks like preparing and inspecting facilities during sanitation.

The company has already developed several proofs of concept and is planning to run a pilot project with a local food producer and distributor this summer.

The Human Dynamics team also includes MIT researcher Takahiro Nozaki, MIT master’s student Julia Chen, and Harvard Business School students Mike Mancinelli and Kaz Yoshimaru.

The company estimates that the addressable market for sanitation in food production facilities in the country is $3 billion.

The second-place prize went to Resourceful, which aims to help connect buyers and sellers of food waste byproducts through an online platform. The company says there’s a growing market for upcycled products made by companies selling things like edible chips made from juice pulp, building materials made from potato skins, and eyeglasses made from orange peels. But establishing a byproduct supply chain can be difficult.

“Being paid for byproducts should be low-hanging fruit for food manufacturers, but the system is broken,” says co-founder and CEO Kyra Atekwana, an MBA candidate at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “There are tens of millions of pounds of food waste produced in the U.S. every year, and there’s a variety of tech solutions … enabling this food waste and surplus to be captured by consumers. But there’s virtually nothing in the middle to unlock access to the 10.6 million tons of byproduct waste produced every year.”

Buyers and sellers can offer and browse food waste byproducts on the company’s subscription-based platform. The businesses can also connect and establish contracts through the platform. Resourceful charges a small fee for each transaction.

The company is currently launching pilots in the Chicago region before making a public launch later this year. It has also partnered with the Upcycled Food Association, a nonprofit focused on reducing food waste.

The winners were chosen from a group of seven finalist teams. Other finalists included:

  • Chicken Haus, a vertically integrated, fast-casual restaurant concept dedicated to serving locally sourced, bone-in fried chicken;
  • Joise Food Technologies, which is 3-D printing the next-generation of meat alternatives and other foods using 3-D biofabrication technology and sustainable food ink formulation;
  • Marble, which is developing a small-footprint robot to remove fat from the surface of meat cuts to achieve optimal yield;
  • Nice Rice, which is developing a rice alternative made from pea starch, which can be upcycled; and
  • Roofscapes, which deploys accessible wooden platforms to “vegetalize” roofs in dense urban areas to combat food insecurity and climate change.

This was the sixth year of the event, which was hosted by the MIT Food and Agriculture Club. The event was sponsored by Rabobank and MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS).




Robotic solution for disinfecting food production plants wins agribusiness prize

The winners of this year’s Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize got a good indication their pitch was striking a chord when a judge offered to have his company partner with the team for an early demonstration. The offer signified demand for their solution — to say nothing of their chances of winning the pitch competition.

The annual competition’s MIT-based grand-prize winner, Human Dynamics, is seeking to improve sanitation in food production plants with a robotic drone — a “drobot” — that flies through facilities spraying soap and disinfectant.

The company says the product addresses major labor shortages for food production facilities, which often must carry out daily sanitation processes.

“They have to sanitize every night, and it’s extremely labor intensive and expensive,” says co-founder Tom Okamoto, a master’s student in MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program.

In the winning pitch, Okamoto said the average large food manufacturer spends $13 million on sanitation annually. When you combine the time sanitation processes takes away from production and delays due to human error, Human Dynamics estimates it’s tackling an $80 billion problem.

The company’s prototype uses a quadcopter drone that carries a tank, nozzle, and spray hose. Underneath the hood, the drone uses visual detection technology to validate that each area is clean, LIDAR to map out its path, and algorithms for route optimization.

The product is designed to automate repetitive tasks while complementing other cleaning efforts currently done by humans. Workers will still be required for certain aspects of cleaning and tasks like preparing and inspecting facilities during sanitation.

The company has already developed several proofs of concept and is planning to run a pilot project with a local food producer and distributor this summer.

The Human Dynamics team also includes MIT researcher Takahiro Nozaki, MIT master’s student Julia Chen, and Harvard Business School students Mike Mancinelli and Kaz Yoshimaru.

The company estimates that the addressable market for sanitation in food production facilities in the country is $3 billion.

The second-place prize went to Resourceful, which aims to help connect buyers and sellers of food waste byproducts through an online platform. The company says there’s a growing market for upcycled products made by companies selling things like edible chips made from juice pulp, building materials made from potato skins, and eyeglasses made from orange peels. But establishing a byproduct supply chain can be difficult.

“Being paid for byproducts should be low-hanging fruit for food manufacturers, but the system is broken,” says co-founder and CEO Kyra Atekwana, an MBA candidate at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “There are tens of millions of pounds of food waste produced in the U.S. every year, and there’s a variety of tech solutions … enabling this food waste and surplus to be captured by consumers. But there’s virtually nothing in the middle to unlock access to the 10.6 million tons of byproduct waste produced every year.”

Buyers and sellers can offer and browse food waste byproducts on the company’s subscription-based platform. The businesses can also connect and establish contracts through the platform. Resourceful charges a small fee for each transaction.

The company is currently launching pilots in the Chicago region before making a public launch later this year. It has also partnered with the Upcycled Food Association, a nonprofit focused on reducing food waste.

The winners were chosen from a group of seven finalist teams. Other finalists included:

  • Chicken Haus, a vertically integrated, fast-casual restaurant concept dedicated to serving locally sourced, bone-in fried chicken;
  • Joise Food Technologies, which is 3-D printing the next-generation of meat alternatives and other foods using 3-D biofabrication technology and sustainable food ink formulation;
  • Marble, which is developing a small-footprint robot to remove fat from the surface of meat cuts to achieve optimal yield;
  • Nice Rice, which is developing a rice alternative made from pea starch, which can be upcycled; and
  • Roofscapes, which deploys accessible wooden platforms to “vegetalize” roofs in dense urban areas to combat food insecurity and climate change.

This was the sixth year of the event, which was hosted by the MIT Food and Agriculture Club. The event was sponsored by Rabobank and MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS).




Vivienne Sze on crossing the hardware-software divide for efficient artificial intelligence

Her research focuses on more-efficient deep neural networks to process video, and more-efficient hardware to run applications.

Not so long ago, watching a movie on a smartphone seemed impossible. Vivienne Sze was a graduate student at MIT at the time, in the mid 2000s, and she was drawn to the challenge of compressing video to keep image quality high without draining the phone’s battery. The solution she hit upon called for co-designing energy-efficient circuits with energy-efficient algorithms.

Vivienne Sze; faculty; Electrical Engineering and Computer Science;

Sze would go on to be part of the team that won an Engineering Emmy Award for developing the video compression standards still in use today. Now an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Sze has set her sights on a new milestone: bringing artificial intelligence applications to smartphones and tiny robots.

Her research focuses on designing more-efficient deep neural networks to process video, and more-efficient hardware to run those applications. She recently co-published a book on the topic, and will teach a professional education course on how to design efficient deep learning systems in June.

On April 29, Sze will join Assistant Professor Song Han for an MIT Quest AI Roundtable on the co-design of efficient hardware and software moderated by Aude Oliva, director of MIT Quest Corporate and the MIT director of the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. Here, Sze discusses her recent work.

Q: Why do we need low-power AI now?

A: AI applications are moving to smartphones, tiny robots, and internet-connected appliances and other devices with limited power and processing capabilities. The challenge is that AI has high computing requirements. Analyzing sensor and camera data from a self-driving car can consume about 2,500 watts, but the computing budget of a smartphone is just about a single watt. Closing this gap requires rethinking the entire stack, a trend that will define the next decade of AI.

Q: What’s the big deal about running AI on a smartphone?

A: It means that the data processing no longer has to take place in the “cloud,” on racks of warehouse servers. Untethering compute from the cloud allows us to broaden AI’s reach. It gives people in developing countries with limited communication infrastructure access to AI. It also speeds up response time by reducing the lag caused by communicating with distant servers. This is crucial for interactive applications like autonomous navigation and augmented reality, which need to respond instantaneously to changing conditions. Processing data on the device can also protect medical and other sensitive records. Data can be processed right where they’re collected.

Q: What makes modern AI so inefficient?

A: The cornerstone of modern AI — deep neural networks — can require hundreds of millions to billions of calculations — orders of magnitude greater than compressing video on a smartphone. But it’s not just number crunching that makes deep networks energy-intensive — it’s the cost of shuffling data to and from memory to perform these computations. The farther the data have to travel, and the more data there are, the greater the bottleneck.

Q: How are you redesigning AI hardware for greater energy efficiency?

A: We focus on reducing data movement and the amount of data needed for computation. In some deep networks, the same data are used multiple times for different computations. We design specialized hardware to reuse data locally rather than send them off-chip. Storing reused data on-chip makes the process extremely energy-efficient.  

We also optimize the order in which data are processed to maximize their reuse. That’s the key property of the Eyeriss chip that was developed in collaboration with Joel Emer. In our followup work, Eyeriss v2, we made the chip flexible enough to reuse data across a wider range of deep networks. The Eyeriss chip also uses compression to reduce data movement, a common tactic among AI chips. The low-power Navion chip that was developed in collaboration with Sertac Karaman for mapping and navigation applications in robotics uses two to three orders of magnitude less energy than a CPU, in part by using optimizations that reduce the amount of data processed and stored on-chip. 

Q: What changes have you made on the software side to boost efficiency?

A: The more that software aligns with hardware-related performance metrics like energy efficiency, the better we can do. Pruning, for example, is a popular way to remove weights from a deep network to reduce computation costs. But rather than remove weights based on their magnitude, our work on energy-aware pruning suggests you can remove the more energy-intensive weights to improve overall energy consumption. Another method we’ve developed, NetAdapt, automates the process of adapting and optimizing a deep network for a smartphone or other hardware platforms. Our recent followup work, NetAdaptv2, accelerates the optimization process to further boost efficiency.

Q: What low-power AI applications are you working on?

A: I’m exploring autonomous navigation for low-energy robots with Sertac Karaman. I’m also working with Thomas Heldt to develop a low-cost and potentially more effective way of diagnosing and monitoring people with neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by tracking their eye movements. Eye-movement properties like reaction time could potentially serve as biomarkers for brain function. In the past, eye-movement tracking took place in clinics because of the expensive equipment required. We’ve shown that an ordinary smartphone camera can take measurements from a patient’s home, making data collection easier and less costly. This could help to monitor disease progression and track improvements in clinical drug trials.

Q: Where is low-power AI headed next?

A: Reducing AI’s energy requirements will extend AI to a wider range of embedded devices, extending its reach into tiny robotssmart homes, and medical devices. A key challenge is that efficiency often requires a tradeoff in performance. For wide adoption, it will be important to dig deeper into these different applications to establish the right balance between efficiency and accuracy.




Google’s Sundar Pichai doesn’t want you to be clear-eyed about AI’s dangers

Alphabet  and Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, is the latest tech giant kingpin to make a public call for AI to be regulated while simultaneously encouraging lawmakers towards a dilute enabling framework that does not put any hard limits on what can be done with AI technologies.

In an op-ed published in today’s Financial Times, Pichai makes a headline-grabbing call for artificial intelligence to be regulated. But his pitch injects a suggestive undercurrent that puffs up the risk for humanity of not letting technologists get on with business as usual and apply AI at population-scale — with the Google chief claiming: “AI has the potential to improve billions of lives, and the biggest risk may be failing to do so” — thereby seeking to frame ‘no hard limits’ as actually the safest option for humanity.

Simultaneously the pitch downplays any negatives that might cloud the greater good that Pichai implies AI will unlock — presenting “potential negative consequences” as simply the inevitable and necessary price of technological progress.

It’s all about managing the level of risk, is the leading suggestion, rather than questioning outright whether the use of a hugely risk-laden technology such as facial recognition should actually be viable in a democratic society.

“Internal combustion engines allowed people to travel beyond their own areas but also caused more accidents,” Pichai writes, raiding history for a self-serving example while ignoring the vast climate costs of combustion engines (and the resulting threat now posed to the survival of countless species on Earth).

“The internet made it possible to connect with anyone and get information from anywhere, but also easier for misinformation to spread,” he goes on. “These lessons teach us that we need to be clear-eyed about what could go wrong.”

For “clear-eyed” read: Accepting of the technology-industry’s interpretation of ‘collateral damage’. (Which, in the case of misinformation and Facebook, appears to run to feeding democracy itself into the ad-targeting meat-grinder.)

Meanwhile, not at all mentioned in Pichai’s discussion of AI risks: The concentration of monopoly power that artificial intelligence appears to be very good at supercharging.

Funny that.

Of course it’s hardly surprising a tech giant that, in recent years, rebranded an entire research division to ‘Google AI’ — and has previously been called out by some of its own workforce over a project involving applying AI to military weapons technology — should be lobbying lawmakers to set AI ‘limits’ that are as dilute and abstract as possible.

The only thing that’s better than zero regulation are laws made by useful idiots who’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for industry-expounded false dichotomies — such as those claiming it’s ‘innovation or privacy’.

Pichai’s intervention also comes at a strategic moment, with US lawmakers eyeing AI regulation and the White House seemingly throwing itself into alignment with tech giants’ desires for ‘innovation-friendly’ rules which make their business easier. (To wit: This month White House CTO Michael Kratsios  warned in a Bloomberg op-ed against “preemptive, burdensome or duplicative rules that would needlessly hamper AI innovation and growth”.)

The new European Commission,  meanwhile, has been sounding a firmer line on both AI and big tech.

It has made tech-driven change a key policy priority, with president Ursula von der Leyen making public noises about reining in tech giants. She has also committed to publish “a coordinated European approach on the human and ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence” within her first 100 days in office. (She took up the post on December 1, 2019 so the clock is ticking.)

Last week a leaked draft of the Commission proposals for pan-EU AI regulation suggest it’s leaning towards a relatively light touch approach (albeit, the European version of light touch is considerably more involved and interventionist than anything born in a Trump White House, clearly) — although the paper does float the idea of a temporary ban on the use of facial recognition technology in public places.

The paper notes that such a ban would “safeguard the rights of individuals, in particular against any possible abuse of the technology” — before arguing against such a “far-reaching measure that might hamper the development and uptake of this technology”, in favor of relying on provisions in existing EU law (such as the EU data protection framework, GDPR), in addition to relevant tweaks to current product safety and liability laws.

While it’s not yet clear which way the Commission will jump on regulating AI, even the lightish-touch version its considering would likely be a lot more onerous than Pichai would like.

In the op-ed he calls for what he couches as “sensible regulation” — aka taking a “proportionate approach, balancing potential harms, especially in high-risk areas, with social opportunities”.

For “social opportunities” read: The plentiful ‘business opportunities’ Google  is spying — assuming the hoped for vast additional revenue scale it can get by supercharging expansion of AI-powered services into all sorts of industries and sectors (from health to transportation to everywhere else in between) isn’t derailed by hard legal limits on where AI can actually be applied.

“Regulation can provide broad guidance while allowing for tailored implementation in different sectors,” Pichai urges, setting out a preference for enabling “principles” and post-application “reviews”, to keep the AI spice flowing.

The op-ed only touches very briefly on facial recognition — despite the FT editors choosing to illustrate it with an image of the tech. Here Pichai again seeks to reframe the debate around what is, by nature, an extremely rights-hostile technology — talking only in passing of “nefarious uses” of facial recognition.

Of course this wilfully obfuscates the inherent risks of letting blackbox machines make algorithmic guesses at identity every time a face happens to pass through a public space.

You can’t hope to protect people’s privacy in such a scenario. Many other rights are also at risk, depending on what else the technology is being used for. So, really, any use of facial recognition is laden with individual and societal risk.

But Pichai is seeking to put blinkers on lawmakers. He doesn’t want them to see inherent risks baked into such a potent and powerful technology — pushing them towards only a narrow, ill-intended subset of “nefarious” and “negative” AI uses and “consequences” as being worthy of “real concerns”. 

And so he returns to banging the drum for “a principled and regulated approach to applying AI” [emphasis ours] — putting the emphasis on regulation that, above all, gives the green light for AI to be applied.

What technologists fear most here is rules that tell them when artificial intelligence absolutely cannot apply.

Ethics and principles are, to a degree, mutable concepts — and ones which the tech giants have become very practiced at claiming as their own, for PR purposes, including by attaching self-styled ‘guard-rails’ to their own AI operations. (But of course there’s no actual legal binds there.)

At the same time data-mining giants like Google are very smooth operators when it comes to gaming existing EU rules around data protection, such as by infesting their user-interfaces with confusing dark patterns that push people to click or swipe their rights away.

But a ban on applying certain types of AI would change the rules of the game. Because it would put society in the driving seat.

Laws that contained at least a moratorium on certain “dangerous” applications of AI — such as facial recognition technology, or autonomous weapons like the drone-based system Google was previously working on — have been called for by some far-sighted regulators.

And a ban would be far harder for platform giants to simply bend to their will.

 

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World Bank Supports Sustainable Renewable Energy for Priority Healthcare Facilities Responding to COVID-19 in Haiti

WASHINGTON, DC, September 30, 2020 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today US$6.9 million in additional financing for the Haiti: Renewable Energy for All Project. This financing aims to scale up renewable energy investments to expand and improve access to electricity for health infrastructure, households, businesses, and community services.

“Access to reliable energy is essential to reinforce the ability of Haiti’s healthcare centers to power essential equipment needed to manage the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other priority health services. This timely intervention complements our existing support to the health sector, while strengthening the country’s resilience to future shocks,” *said Anabela Abreu, World Bank Country Director for Haiti. *“Clean and locally-available energy access will also foster inclusive growth in Haiti, facilitating new investments and innovations, which are fundamental for economic recovery from the pandemic.”

The electricity sector poses a major constraint to economic development and emergency response and recovery from shocks in Haiti. The country’s hospitals rely heavily on backup diesel generators, as grid electricity is often available only for a few hours a day. Lack of reliable electricity is constraining the efficiency of laboratories to test for COVID-19, limiting the distribution and safe storage of medicines (and eventually vaccines), and can prohibit the use of life-saving equipment, such as oxygen concentrators.

The US$6.9 million additional financing to the ongoing Haiti: Renewable Energy for All Project will allow the Haitian Government to expand the provision of clean and reliable electricity for at least four priority healthcare facilities involved in the response to the pandemic. This will include the installation of solar photovoltaic and battery energy storage for health infrastructure and water facilities. The project will also complete the rehabilitation of the Drouet mini hydroelectric plant in the Artibonite Department, which will provide clean and reliable electricity to nearby communities and the regional grid.

US$4 million of the additional financing is a grant from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank, and US$2.9 million is granted from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program Trust Fund. The Haiti: Renewable Energy for All Project was launched in March 2018 thanks to a grant of US$19.62 million from the Strategic Climate Fund.




Art – Minoan civilization from about 2600 to 1100 BC. – Civilización Minoica y su Arte

Minoan art is the art produced by the Minoan civilization from about 2600 to 1100 BC.

The largest collection of Minoan art is in the museum at Heraklion, near Knossos, on the northern coast of Crete. Minoan art and other remnants of material culture, especially the sequence of ceramic styles, have been used by archaeologists to define the three phases of Minoan culture (EM, MM, LM).

Since wood and textiles have decomposed, the best-preserved (and most instructive) surviving examples of Minoan art are its pottery, palace architecture (with frescos which include landscapes), stone carvings and intricately-carved seal stones.

Frescoes were the stereotypical type of Art that depicted natural movements. Several frescoes at Knossos and Santorini survive. Arthur Evans hired Swiss artist Emile Gilliéron and his son, Emile, as the chief fresco restorers at Knossos. Spyridon Marinatos unearthed the ancient site at Santorini, which included frescoes which make it the second-most famous Minoan site.

In contrast to Egyptian frescoes, Crete had true frescoes. Probably the most famous fresco is the bull-leaping fresco.They include many depictions of people, with sexes distinguished by color; the men’s skin is reddish-brown, and the women’s white.

Many different styles of potted wares and techniques of production are observable throughout the history of Crete. Early Minoan ceramics were characterized by patterns of spirals, triangles, curved lines, crosses, fish bones, and beak-spouts. However, while many of the artistic motifs are similar in the Early Minoan period, there are many differences that appear in the reproduction of these techniques through out the island which represent a variety of shifts in taste as well as in power structures.

During the Middle Minoan period, naturalistic designs (such as fish, squid, birds and lilies) were common. In the Late Minoan period, flowers and animals were still characteristic but more variety existed.

One of the earliest styles in EM I was the Coarse Dark Burnished class. The dark burnished class most closely mimics the techniques of the Neolithic era. After new techniques allowed for the development of new styles of pottery in the early bronze age, Coarse Dark Burnished class remained in production, and while most wares from the Coarse Dark Burnished class are generally less extravagant than other styles that utilize the technological developments that emerged during EM I, some examples of intricate pieces exist . This may suggest that there was a desire within the communities who produced Coarse Dark Burnished ware to separate themselves from the communities who produced wares with the new techniques.

The Aghious Onouphrios and the Lebena classes were two of the most widespread styles of pottery that used techniques of which there are no antecedent examples . Both techniques utilized a variety of new techniques, for example the selection and handling of materials, the firing process, sapping and ornamentation. Both styles used fine patterns of lines to ornament the vessels. In the case of Aghious Onouphrios, vessel had a white backing and were painted with red lining. Conversely, in the case of the Lebena style white lines were painted above a red background.

Another EM I class was Pirgos ware. The style may have been imported, and perhaps mimics wood. Pirgos wares utilize a combination of old and new techniques. Pirgos wares are a subdivision of the Fine Dark Burnished class that have characteristic burnished patterns. The patterning is likely due to an inability to effectively paint the styles’ dark background.

These three classes of EM I pottery adequately reveal the diversity of techniques that emerged during the period. The Coarse Dark Burnished class continued to use techniques that were already in use, the Aghious Onouphrios and Lebana class used completely new techniques, and the Fine Dark Burnished class used a combination of old and new techniques. However a variety of other EM I wares have been discovered, e.g. the Scored, Red to Brown Monochrome, and the Cycladic classes. Additionally, all of the classes utilized different shapes of pottery.

Metal vessels were produced in Crete from at least as early as EM II (c. 2500) in the Prepalatial period through to LM IA (c. 1450) in the Postpalatial period and perhaps as late as LM IIIB/C (c. 1200), although it is likely that many of the vessels from these later periods were heirlooms from earlier periods. 

The earliest were probably made exclusively from precious metals, but from the Protopalatial period (MM IB – MM IIA) they were also produced in arsenical bronze and, subsequently, tin bronze. The archaeological record suggests that mostly cup-type forms were created in precious metals,  but the corpus of bronze vessels was diverse, including cauldrons, pans, hydrias, bowls, pitchers, basins, cups, ladles and lamps. The Minoan metal vessel tradition influenced that of the Mycenaean culture on mainland Greece, and they are often regarded as the same tradition. Many precious metal vessels found on mainland Greece exhibit Minoan characteristics, and it is thought that these were either imported from Crete or made on the mainland by Minoan metalsmiths working for Mycenaean patrons or by Mycenaean smiths who had trained under Minoan masters.