Kolkata: The ongoing Lok Sabha elections has delayed the launch of Nepal’s private airlines Buddha Air’s proposed flight between Kolkata and Kathmandu by over a month. The airline will now begin its operation from May 27 instead of its earlier plan to start from April 16, Buddha Air’s Marketing Director Rupesh Joshi said. “We will operate three weekly flights between Kathmandu and Kolkata on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from May 27,” he said. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja “Both the India government and all agencies involved with aviation business suggested to begin the service post election. So we decided to defer it,” he said. Buddha Air would be the second Nepali Airline to connect Kolkata with Kathmandu after the Royal Nepal Airlines’ withdrawal from Kolkata two decades back, Joshi said. The Royal Nepal Airlines now operates flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore to Kathmandu, he said. Joshi said grounding of Jet Airways will affect tourism in Nepal and a large number of booking for hotels and tour operators have been cancelled. He said Jet was the key airline to bring foreign tourists to the Himalayan country. Now, return fare from Indian destinations from Nepal had soared four times the normal rate owing to grounding of the Jet Airways.
Kolkata: The by-election in two Assembly constituencies of Murshidabad passed peacefully on Monday. The by-election was held after the seats fell vacant as MLAs from Nowda and Kandi, Abu Taher Khan and Apurba Sarkar, resigned and contested in the Lok Sabha election from Murshidabad and Berhampur respectively. There were no incidents of violence. The voters stood in long queues and exercised their franchise. Congress leaders alleged that Trinamool had influenced the voters and brought them to the polling stations from home. By-election in the Assembly seats of Bhatpara, Islampur, Habibpur (ST) and Darjeeling was held on Sunday. The result of the by-election will be announced on May 23, along with the results of the Lok Sabha polls.
Rabat – Morocco has increased the level of alert of its security forces following the terrorist attacks that shook Paris on Friday night.A few minutes after the attacks, Moroccan anti-terrorist services were mobilized and ready to face potential terrorist threats, according to Moroccan website Le360.Morocco safer than France and Spain A ranking published earlier this month by the British Foreign Office ranked Morocco among the safest countries in the world.The same classification described Morocco as having a lower risk of terrorist attacks than France and Spain.The terror threat map, which put Morocco at the same level as the United States, placed Morocco at threat level 3 “average” group category, and recommended the North African country more than France where the risk level is 4, ad where he risk is “high.”At least 140 people were killed in the worst violence in France since World War II.The French capital was the target of unprecedented carnage when a group of unidentified terrorists carried between four and six coordinated attacks throughout the French capital.The attackers targeted a number of restaurants, bars, and other public venues in Paris. An explosion was heard near the Stade de France, where French President Francois Hollande was attending a friendly football match between France and Germany.Three terrorists held hundreds of people inside the Bataclan theater, where they killed around 100 people.French media quoted hostages saved by the police as saying that the terrorists killed the victims trapped inside the Bataclan one by one.Following the attacks, the French President declared the state of emergency and closed the borders.At the time of writing, no organization has claimed responsibility for the unprecedented terrorist attacks.French authorities have not disclosed any information on the identity of the perpetrators, though many observers point out that the so-called Islamic state in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is likely behind the carnage.
Talk about bucking the trend.A Hamilton based company is pulling it’s manufacturing out of China and instead will be making a new, highly sought after product in Stoney Creek.Superior Radiant Products produces high efficiency infrared heating systems. It has just opened a 43,000 square foot facility to help meet an increased demand for outdoor heaters.“The new products are patio heaters, you’ve probably seen them. They keep you warm in these cold evening we’ve had especially this summer. We produce a high end version of that product. We were originally manufacturing it in China but we’ve now brought that product back to North America and we’re going to manufacture it right here in Stoney Creek,” says SRP President Kevin Merritt.The new factory is located in the old Levi’s plant. Along with increase in demand for the product, the company has increased its staff by almost 15%.
A 56-year-old man and 51-year-old woman from Norfolk were charged with trafficking this week after fentanyl and methamphetamine were seized in a drug raid in Simcoe.The search warrant was executed Thursday at a home on Queen Street South. Cash was also seized during the investigation.“Our community street crimes unit has been very effective with proactive illicit drug investigations,” Insp. Joe Varga, head of the Norfolk OPP, said Friday in a news release“We will continue to target individuals who endanger lives in our community. This is yet another example that highlights the need for police and the community to work in partnership to resolve crime.”The man and woman are each charged with possession of methamphetamine for the purposes of trafficking. The man is also charged with possession of fentanyl for the purposes of trafficking.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by News Staff Posted Jul 17, 2012 7:29 am MDT BEIJING, China – China’s premier says the country’s employment situation “will become more complex and severe” and has promised new efforts to generate jobs.A state news agency reported that Premier Wen Jiabao promised Tuesday to push forward industrialization and emphasize agricultural modernization and rural job creation. It gave no details of possible initiatives.“The current and future employment situation in China will become more complex and severe. Promoting full employment is an arduous task,” the Xinhua News Agency paraphrased Wen as saying. “We must make greater efforts.”China’s second-quarter economic growth slowed to a three-year low of 7.6 per cent, raising the threat of job losses and possible unrest. Analysts expect the economy to improve in the second half but say the speed and strength of a possible recovery is uncertain. China’s Wen warns employment ‘complex and severe,’ promises efforts to generate new jobs
In a telephone call with the President, Mr. Ban expressed his grave concern and emphasised that there must be no resort to violence. He also welcomed President Yanukovich’s assurances that consultations would be initiated to defuse the situation, according to a readout of the conversation from Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.The wave of demonstrations was sparked by a Government decision on 21 November to not sign an agreement on broader integration with the European Union. Following the protests that followed, Mr. Ban appealed to all parties to act with restraint, avoid any further violence and to uphold the democratic principles of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.In today’s call, the top UN official also congratulated Mr. Yanukovich on a successful chairmanship during this year of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairmanship and of the ministerial meeting held on 5 and 6 December in Kyiv.The meeting, attended by representatives of the 57 participating states, focused on addressing protracted conflicts, energy and the environment, and efforts to address transnational issues, such as religious freedoms and Roma, according to the OSCE website.
Fans take in a game at Bill Davis Stadium on April 16.Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsJust about anyone who has ever attended a baseball game has witnessed the following scene: A fan in attendance, usually along the first- or third-baseline, isn’t paying attention to the play on the field. Within milliseconds of the crack of the bat, a fan is struck by the ball and takes the brunt of the force of the live ball, only slowed down by air resistance.MLB made waves this winter by recommending that protective netting should be installed beyond the dugouts at all 30 MLB ballparks. Several minor league baseball teams have put in additional protective netting as well, including the local Columbus Clippers.Ohio State Executive Associate Athletic Director Martin Jarmond confirmed that in 2017, protective netting will be expanded at Bill Davis Stadium, extending to the ends of the dugouts on the baselines to protect the most vulnerable fans.“We are always looking for ways to provide a better and safer experience for our guests,” said Associate Athletic Director Mike Penner. “The netting is one way to do that.” Penner told The Lantern that the department has budgeted $50,000 for the project.Some fans watching the OSU baseball team take on the University of Alabama-Birmingham on May 3 had a general consensus about the eventual extension of netting: For the safety of the fans, it’s a change that needs to happen.R.C. Perez, a third-year in sport industry, said he recalls a moment earlier this season when a group of kids sitting on the first-base side above the dugout was moved to another side of the stadium where a batted ball, broken bat or anything else thrown from the field couldn’t injure the young fans or anyone else in attendance.“It’s a great idea (for extra netting) because of the risk to kids and other fans,” Perez said.Dave and Diane Mosbarger — grandparents of OSU senior pitcher Daulton Mosbarger — sit by themselves along the third-baseline even with the dugout. Diane Mosbarger said that at least one of them has to be paying attention when a left-handed batter is at the plate.“So many people don’t pay attention too much,” she said. “Ushers are constantly paying attention to foul balls.”The couple has attended over 30 major league ballparks apiece, and although Dave Mosbarger has a different take than his wife, saying that more netting does take away from the experience a little bit, they both said they are sure they will attend many more games in the future despite the increased area of barrier between them and the field.John Grubb has been an usher at Bill Davis Stadium for five years, and he said in his five years working on the concourse level, he has seen too many close calls.“You always have several instances,” Grubb said. “One time, a thrown bat just missed some people in box seats … It’s just a matter of time.”OSU coach Greg Beals said that most fans now choose to view the game through the limited netting behind the home plate area, so the expanded netting will allow fans to sit comfortably anywhere they choose to sit in the ballpark.“I see the purpose in it, to protect the fans,” the coach said. “The fans are so critical in the major league game, and obviously to us as well, so it makes sense from that standpoint.”Beals said hanging the net with suspension cables is important to the process because it eliminated poles that can obstruct the view of fans.“I think once fans get used to the net, you don’t really notice it a lot,” he said.The installation process is expected to take four months.
According to insiders last weekend, after nine years of sharing a joint royal household and a lifetime together, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex are considering formally dividing their courts and going it alone with their young families. In any great double act, there comes a time when it just makes sense to take the foot off the two-pronged pedal and pursue the solo projects you’ve always dreamt of. It happened to Pete and Dud. It happened to Simon & Garfunkel. And soon, if reports are to be believed, it will happen to the beloved band formerly known as ‘Wills and Harry’. Sort of. Monarchists needn’t panic. Rather than the result of a sudden feud or irreconcilable creative differences,…
Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram The Mutual Party – a new political party hoping to redefine Australian politics – will be launched in Melbourne today. With ambitions “to fix a broken political system that has churned out disillusionment and cynicism for a generation”, the fledgling party has also endorsed its first candidate – Stella Kariofyllidis, the former mayor of the City of Moreland in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. Ms Kariofyllidis will stand for the seat of Brunswick in the 2014 Victorian state election on a ticket that promises “a public agenda based on innovation and reform in government”. Born in Veria, northern Greece, Ms Kariofyllidis came to Australia as a 14-year-old. With a background in banking and teaching Greek, she served as a councillor between 1996 and 2012 and was Moreland City’s mayor twice. Married with two grown up sons, Ms Kariofyllidis was formerly an ALP member but is now committed to returning to the political fray independently. “I was expelled from the ALP twice for challenging the jobs for the boys,” she told Neos Kosmos. “They think because I am a little Greek woman that I will be pushed around, but I stood up to them, and they expelled me. Last year, I decided I would not renew my ALP membership.” Ms Kariofyllidis, who lost her council seat in October 2012, says her decision to run for state government was influenced by her local community. “Both Labor and Liberal have lost their way. We need a new voice for the ordinary person, so that is why I have come on board the Mutual Party.” Co-founder of the Mutual Party Maria Rigoni describes her party’s position as being in the centre of the electoral mainstream and had been conceived to move away from political partisanship. “Australians are fed up with mindless adversarialism in politics,” she said. “Mutuality points to working together, moving beyond adversarial argument. It implies give-and-take and social consensus.”
Bronze Tiger1/11Probably the most interesting member of the original Squad who didn’t make the movie, the Bronze Tiger is a fascinating inner-city parallel of Batman. At the age of ten, he killed a burglar with a kitchen knife and unleashed a murderous rage that would haunt him for his entire life. The Tiger traveled the world, becoming one of the DC Universe’s most gifted martial artists. In the Squad, he’s there of his own free will, knowing that Waller’s missions will give him the opportunity to use his training in ways that will help the U.S. government.<><> Whether you liked it or not, you can’t deny that Suicide Squad made a pile of cash for Warner Brothers. The slightly lighter tone was a relief from the grimdark that’s been the trademark of the DC Cinematic Universe, and although the plot was a disaster and the special effects lousy, some great performances from Will Smith and Margot Robbie stood out.So, because any movie that makes a fair amount of money gets a sequel, we can safely predict Suicide Squad II: 2 Suicide 2 Squad will hit theaters sometime in 2018. While Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and Captain Boomerang will obviously make their way back, the whole point of the Squad is that members are pretty much disposable.We read every single Suicide Squad comic DC ever published to come up with our list of 11 picks for the next batch. This list only includes characters who served with Task Force X in the comics, because we care about the source material. Not that we want to see any of these men and women end up with a bullet in their brains, mind you. But that’s just life in the Suicide Squad.
In her opening statement to the jury, Deputy Prosecutor Kristine Foerster said, “I have no heart. When I’m lied to I’m like the devil.”She said this is the line the defendant, Zachary William Akers, used before he demanded nude photos and sexually explicit videos from an underage girl whom he was communicating with online.Akers, 21, of Camas is accused of befriending two girls, ages 14 and 15, online and then threatening to expose private messages and compromising images he had received unless they agreed to send lewd photos and videos to him, or to meet him to have sex.His trial began Monday in Clark County Superior Court. He is charged with viewing, possessing and dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, sexual exploitation of a minor, communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, court records show.Akers has four other pending cases related to a months-long child pornography and online child exploitation investigation. The ages of the victims range from 14 to 16 years old, according to court documents.
The tenure of the Indian selection committee comes to an end post India’s West Indies tour and now former Indian captain and opening batsman Virender Sehwag has advocated that Anil Kumble be given the job of chief selector.Sehwag believes that Kumble has the ability to boost the confidence of players and hence, this will work wonders for young players who make it to the Indian team.”I think Anil Kumble could be the right candidate for the chairman of selectors post. He is someone who has interacted with Sachin (Tendulkar), Sourav (Ganguly) and Rahul (Dravid) as a player and with youngsters as a coach,” Sehwag told reporters at an event in New Delhi.’BCCI needs to raise the bar as far as remuneration is concerned’ File image of Virender SehwagIANSThe current selection panel which is led by MSK Prasad has faced a lot of criticism in the recent past for not being too experienced themselves. The combined experience of the panel is 13 years. This is where Sehwag believes that Anil Kumble, who has shared the dressing room with Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and Sourav Ganguly, can be a great pick.”When I made a comeback (Australia series 2007-08), captain Kumble came to my room and said you will not be dropped for the next two series. That’s the kind of confidence a player needs,” Sehwag further added.Currently, the chief selector gets paid Rs 1 crore annually and this is what Sehwag believes to be the biggest impediment for Kumble to consider this role.”BCCI needs to raise the bar as far as pay is concerned. Then a lot of players will be interested,” said Sehwag. Anil KumbleReutersSpeaking about his individual preference, the former opener said that he does not like to be bounded by restrictions. He is also deterred by the fact that he writes columns, appears on TV shows and other events currently. All that will stop if he does become the chief selector.”I write columns, appear on TV and being selector will mean a lot of restrictions. I don’t know whether I would like so many restrictions,” Sehwag said.Back in 2017, the former opener had applied for the role of head coach but had lost out to Ravi Shastri. However, he did not apply for the same this year and when asked about the reason, he said that no one asked him to go ahead and hence, he did not even consider the proposal.”In 2017, the BCCI secretary and (late) Dr. MV Sridhar (GM Cricket Operations) asked me to apply so I applied. This time no one asked me, so I didn’t apply,” Sehwag added.
Prothom Alo illustrationA minor girl has reportedly been raped at Amarkhana village in Panchagarh on Sunday, reports UNB.Abu Akkas, officer-in-charge of sadar police station, said the victim’s mother filed the case with the police station on Monday night accusing neighbour Raju Islam, 21, son of Robi of the village.According to the case statement, Raju went to the girl’s house when her mother was working in nearby plantation on 26 April. With her absence, Raju entered into the house and gagged the girl and raped her inside the room.Following the girl screaming, locals rushed in and rescued the girl but Raju managed to flee the scene.Failing to get justice from local arbitration, victim’s mother filed the case and police started drive to arrest the accused, the OC added.
Thousands of people suffer due to long tailback on Dhaka-Tangail-Bangabandhu Bridge highway (east) on Sunday. Photo: Prothom AloBy setting fire, ‘agitated’ home-bound people staged demonstrations at different places on Dhaka-Tangail highway as thousands of them were suffering amid scorching heat due to a long tailback on Sunday.The holidaymakers set fire on the highway in Salla, Kalihati’s Pauli, Tangail’s Rasulpur and Gharinda areas.The passengers said they took to the streets as the vehicles were stuck at the same place for up to four hours.The tailback was severe until 3:00pm today.Superintendent of police in Tangail Sanjit Kumar Roy said the congestion was mainly created on Nalka Bridge in Sirajganj and Hatikumrul and Kadda intersections and a long tailback resulted.The traffic congestion in the western side of Bangabandhu Bridge was so severe that its toll plaza authorities (east) had to shut down its operations for more than once until noon today.People protest at the authorities by setting fire on the Dhaka-Tangail highway’s Rabna area on Sunday for their apparent failure to manage traffic. Photo: Prothom AloThe authorities shut down the toll plaza for five times, said Bangabandhu Bridge police station (east) officer-in-charge Mosharraf Hossain.This shutting down of realising toll also created around a 60-km long gridlock up to Mirzapur at the eastern side of the bridge.Besides, it took time to clear the road if any vehicle got out of order on the bridge, creating congestion, Mosharraf Hossain added.People expressed their frustration at the authorities for their apparent failure to take effective measures to mitigate the tailback created during every Eid holidays.One Shariful Haq from Bogura said people suffer during the Eid holidays every year but it is a shame the authorities do not take action to mitigate it.Another Jahangir Alam from Rajshahi said this tailback kills the joys of returning home.
Lorig Charkoudian is on a mission. Photo by Anna LeeBaltimore – The Friday after Thanksgiving, when many were sleeping off turkey hangovers, heading out to shop or trying to avoid the day’s bitter, windy chill – Lorig Charkoudian was getting ready to run.Charkoudian is the executive director for a group called Community Mediation Maryland. They specialize in mediation and conflict resolution services. Their services are available for any Marylander who needs them. However, on Thursday, the focus was re-entry mediation – a process aimed at helping Maryland prisoners start life over successfully after they have served their time.This run – a 67 mile trip from Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore to the Maryland Institute of Corrections in Hagerstown – is to help fund their re-entry mediation services.“I’m grateful for lots of reasons, but I’ve learned more personally about what it looks like to love and to love through really hard times by sitting in mediation,” Charkoudian said, shortly before she began. She said she’s seen people overcome remarkable pain and setbacks to start their lives over again.“You are carrying them on your back today!” said Errika Bridgeford, the group’s director of training. “And in your feet!”Charkoudian was cheered on by a group of about a dozen people – some of whom have taken advantage of the group’s services – who had come to run with her or to see her off.According to the group, people who have served time in prison face a difficult transition once they are allowed to go home. Time with family and an opportunity to reevaluate the past can help keep former prisoners out of trouble and on the right path. But, sometimes those loved ones may not have the funds to make the trip. The run was to help raise money for their travel expenses.The group says that re-entry mediation has been shown to decrease recidivism rates by 10 percent.“People oftentimes say they come in there unsure what’s going to happen or what they are going to say to their loved ones and family members, said Brandon Booth, who works with the group. “But by the end of the mediation they’ve cried, they’ve laughed they gone through all this range of emotion…They are able to have that really difficult conversation that you can’t have in a letter, you can’t have over the phone. We just give them that space to have that really tough, difficult conversation.”The Monday after the run, Charkoudian said they had raised about $3,500 so far, and that fundraising efforts will continue for the next week. The group has mostly been relying on word-of-mouth to collect funds. Many of the group’s volunteer counselors, she said, have been working to raise money themselves. “Many of them feel personally connected.”Charkoudian said the trip took about 14 hours to complete, with 10 hours and 47 miles coming on the first day of the run alone. She stopped once an hour for food and water.“As soon as I would stop, I’d start shivering,” she said. “It was good motivation to keep moving.”
Over the past two years, chatbots — or technology-fueled virtual assistants — have taken the world by storm.At first, chatbots were merely a computer-based service that could undertake various customer service tasks. And in that regard, they were a welcome leap forward.But, in recent years, chatbots, or “bots” for short, have morphed into exceptionally intelligent computer programs able to assist companies with essential tasks ranging from marketing and human resources functions to sales efforts.However, while these technology assistants have already made their mark in the business world, many people still don’t fully understand their capabilities, limitations and many functionalities. That’s the reason behind this basic guide: to highlight the different types of chatbots, how they work and how you can create your own artificial intelligence (AI)-powered virtual assistant.So, without further ado, let’s learn about … chatbots.Related: How to Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot For Free Without CodingThe basicsWhat are chatbots? Chatbots are computer programs capable of conducting conversations by text and auditory communication. Programs simulate how a human conversation would proceed. Chatbots can include text — the response you received to your customer service inquiry — as well as audio and video.Though chatbots are also robots, there’s no three-dimensional physical presence equivalent to the sci-fi variety or to factory or police robots. Instead, chatbots’ power stems from either set scripts (a technology known as “rules”), or artificial intelligence.Regardless of their power source, bots can perform a wide variety of tasks without human help. Siri and Alexa are well-known examples of virtual bots; but you’ve also likely encountered customer-service chatbots in a pop-up chat window on your favorite ecommerce site. (See those three dots and the appearance of someone typing? That’s probably a bot.)So, whether you’re making a restaurant reservation for this weekend, scheduling next week’s calendar event or sending out personalized promotions to your customers, chatbots can free you from these mundane tasks. They offer practically unlimited opportunities for better and faster customer service, and for the quick, easy accomplishment of tasks.Related: There’s a Lot More to AI Than Just ChatbotsWhere do you obtain a chatbot? A chatbot can be easily created through various means, whether you build the bot yourself using your coding knowledge or hire someone to build it for you. Today, it’s easier than ever to add a bot to your website, and many companies out there are ready to build you an excellent bot for less cost than you might think.The most important factor here is that chatbots can simulate human-like conversations (text or audio) with your customers. Thanks to the technology that powers them, virtual assistants can communicate in natural language and even speak multiple languages, sometimes without the recipient even realizing it. Because of their versatility, chatbots have been integrated into a variety of business models, allowing them to address many business pain points.A brief history of chatbotsChatbots aren’t new. In fact, they first appeared as far back as 1966, at the debut of Joseph Weizenbaum’s ELIZA — a robot able to mimic human conversation by matching user prompts to scripted responses. In 1972, PARRY was created by Stanford’s Kenneth Colby, followed by Jabberwacky in 1988, by Britain’s Rollo Carpenter. Finally, there was ALICE in 1995.ALICE, which stands for Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity, was the first natural language-processing (NLP) chatbot. Richard Wallace’s ALICE bot was so strong that it went on to win the Loebner Prize.Since then, we’ve seen IBM’s Watson, Apple’s Siri, Google Now, Amazon’s Alexa, bots for Facebook Messenger and Tay — all of which have enabled companies to capitalize on the growth of chatbot technology for business purposes. Today, chatbots are available on virtually any social media messaging platform, as well as on websites and in appliances.Related: Top 10 Best Chatbot Platform Tools to Build Chatbots for Your BusinessThe two main forms chatbots takeWhile customer service is the widest use of these intelligent machines, today’s versions come in two forms:Rule-based chatbots. Rule-based or “scripted” chatbots are still out there, but they’re losing popularity because of their AI-powered counterparts. Rule-based bots can answer questions based on a specific script with which they’ve been programmed to communicate. These scripts can be very complex or extremely simple, but the choice is up to the creator.Artificial intelligence-powered chatbots. Chatbots powered by AI, natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning, on the other hand, have the ability to learn as they communicate. This means that every interaction they have makes them progressively more intelligent.Not only are they empowered by conversations with humans, but chatbots that use AI to communicate are integrated with analytical platforms and application programming interfaces (APIs) which talk to the chatbot’s technology; that in turn provides the end user with the answers to his or her questions.Why chatbots are importantYou may be thinking, “What’s the big deal with chatbots?” The answer is that consumers today are using social media messaging applications like Facebook Messenger more than they are social networks. Companies that want to stay ahead of the curve should take note, as those messaging applications are now the preferred communication method instead of phone calls, text messages and emails. In short, you need to focus your marketing efforts on those areas of the digital realm where your audiences are most likely to be — inside messaging apps. Related: 10 Ways AI and Chatbots Reduce Business RisksTheir “virtually” unlimited functionalitiesChatbots have a virtually limitless number of functionalities. You’ve probably already encountered bots as an intermediary for purchases or a means for answering a company’s FAQs. But bots can offer so much more to the end-user. Specifically, as the technology that powers them continues to grow, these AI-powered machines can:In addition, chatbots can:Give companies the gift of extra time. The business world has become so fast-paced that keeping up is challenging for even the largest, most established organizations in the world. Chatbots can help: They can perform customer support and marketing, HR, IT and various other functions more quickly, and often more accurately, than humans.Aside from decreasing the time it takes a company to communicate with each online customer, chatbots make a company available to its audience 24/7. As a result, this new technology saves you, the business owner, time and money on human resources.Related: Learning to Work With Robots Is How You Can Save Your JobGive an added level of personalization. In addition to acting as personal agents across the entirety of a company, chatbots have the ability to offer a level of personalization that until recently only a human could offer. Specifically, organizations now have the ability to tailor chatbots to their specific business needs, in order to:What else chatbots can doAnother thing chatbots can do is take on various roles within an organization:Become your virtual assistant. From helping you with shopping to acting as your personal secretary, a chatbot is the perfect virtual assistant. Bots can undertake a variety of tasks by syncing with users’ mobile and computer applications to:Related: 4 Essentials for Building a Well-Mannered Customer-Service ChatbotAct as your marketing or sales executive. Not only can chatbots help you cut down on email exchanges, unnecessary meetings and various online searches, they can actually act as your marketing executive.This means the ability to undertake major marketing tasks like pushing personalized offers to social media users on demand, and taking orders directly from social media platforms and websites. Bots can also help you market your product or service more aggressively, cross-selling and upselling products based on your users’ shopping histories. And they can push customers through the sales funnel.Chatbots can give you …A far greater reach for your marketing communications and customer service. In the customer-service realm, chatbots make your company available to a wider range of customers across the globe than humans alone could reach. And, obviously, they’re available to your audience members all day, every day, whatever their time zone.What’s more, adding a chatbot to your website and social media platforms means customer inquiries can be handled neatly and quickly. They can be answered, by chatbots, in multiple languages.And, should a customer engage your bot when the company is closed, he or she can still get help with account details or issues, rectify most complaints and check an order’s status. (Yes, we’ve heard all the jokes about how chatbots work for cheap and skip coffee breaks.)Related: Chatbots Are the Next Big Platform. Here’s How Entrepreneurs Can Stay on Top of ItAssistance with internal communications. A lesser-known feature of chatbots is their ability to help with internal communications between teams. Instead of having to struggle with back-and-forth emails and unnecessary meetings, teams from HR, IT and other departments can hand tasks over to their friendly chatbot.Gone are the days when employees had to shadow HR personnel for information about their paychecks and holiday leave. Instead, companies can now institute a chatbot — like Slack — to act as an internal communication channel, to enable staffers to find out how many holiday days they have left this year. Employees can use this same service to book days off, find out about their company’s bonuses, obtain information regarding an IT problem and much more.The ability to act as idea-generation tools. Data is leading the digital economy today. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to fully understand our customers’ needs and pain points. However, in addition to gathering this data, we need to be able to transform it into something of value. And chatbots can make that happen.Because AI-powered chatbots can learn — and grow — from every interaction they have and the data they gather, they offer companies cognitive solutions to a huge variety of problems. Empowered by this data, bots can adapt when market trends change, as well as improve a company’s performance, as data continues to flood in.Automation of a company’s processes. Above all, chatbots have the ability to automate a huge variety of your business processes, saving you time and money on various resources. With less focus on mundane and repetitive daily asks, these bots leave more space for innovation, allowing you as leader to stay ahead of your competition every step of the way.Related: 10 Ways to Use Chatbots for Marketing and SalesData analysis capbility. Thanks to the growth of intelligent algorithms and the automation of data collection, chatbots have the ability to perform data analysis, then share the results in the form of comprehensive reports specific to a company’s departments.Such analysis allows a company to determine the profitability of various business paths and improve upon them over time.”Messenger is interactive and engaging; that’s why we consider it an ‘adventure,'” Johnson explained in an interview. By marrying Messenger and chatbots, she said, customer service has taken a giant leap beyond the bad old days of email marketing. The reason, she said, is that “Messenger is interactive, whereas email is passive.”[The customer] can read the email and maybe click on a link,” Johnson said of the email way of doing customer service.”But you [the business] don’t get to react to what the person is saying.” That’s where those interactive adventures — and chatbots — enter the picture.They’re there to make the customer experience something more akin to talking with a real human being. “The reason Messenger is unique,” Johnson continued, “is that there are programs that deliver these [marketing messages], so I don’t have to go in and actually code the chatbot myself; you need a technologist to code it. There are companies that have developed platforms, like a Mailchimp or a Fusionsoft specifically for Facebook Messenger.”That’s the whole reason this is a crazy-amazing thing right now. I can show you statistic after statistic of my clients’ results. I have over 30 clients, currently, with open rates of 80 to 100 percent.” Contrast that, Johnson said, with an email list you first have to buy — a list which might produce, according to industry sources, at best a 30 percent open rate and a 5 percent click-through rate.Johnson said she also appreciates how Messenger users have to opt in to receive messages. “I can’t just send them to you without your permission,” she pointed out. What’s more, bots can do more than just help create sales. A client of Johnson’s, for instance, a plastic surgeon, uses a bot merely to chat with people making initial inquiries. “We’re not selling anything through the bot,” Johnson explained. “We just want to get the person comfortable enough to share a phone number or email to take this relationship further.” That’s why bots can be viewed as “nurturing” tools as well as selling ones, she said.A typical transaction with Messenger Funnels? Johnson explained that her Folsom, Calif.-based company uses chatbots tied to her clients’ Facebook Business pages. To communicate with the client, she uses Trello and folders shared via Google Drive.Another client of Johnson’s, named Alison J. Prince, illustrates how bots can help. Prince markets what she calls her “0-100K” online webinar (educating entrepreneurs on how to get started in ecommerce); she’s also selling a fullscale online course. Each week, Prince reaches out to prospective customers via a new Facebook Live, offering helpful tips on how to start a business, with titles like “The 15 biggest business mistakes I’ve made so far.”Some viewers will likely want to respond. Prince solicits those responses by offering pdfs — about business mistakes or another topic — in return for their comments. Once a viewer comments, he or she has officially opted in to Messenger. Once the viewer shows continued interest in Prince’s advice … the chatbots take over. Operating via ManyChat and Chatfuel software, the bots schmooze with those customers, hopefully drawing them in to signing up for a webinar, then maintaining the connection by reminding buyers of the webinar date and time (“Hey! Your webinar starts in 10 minutes!” “Hey! Can’t wait to see you!”)”It’s as if we’re communicating with them in Messenger,” Johnson pointed out. But, she rejected the notion that she might be fooling the customer: “We very clearly tell them, ‘This is the Alison bot,'” she said.In the end, Johnson said, chatbots work far better than email — so much so that Alison Prince has seen her subscriber base in Messenger jump from 500 on January 1 (this year, 2018), to 3,400 subscribers just three months later. Most impressively, Johnson said, Prince has a 97 percent “open” rate for her messages and a 30 percent click-through rate to her webinar. Twenty percent of her Messenger subscribers who have watched that webinar have purchased the online course. In contrast, less than 5 percent of email subscribers who have watched the webinar have bought it.Johnson, meanwhile, who’s been a serial entrepreneur since 2003 when she started out with an online maternity store called MommyLove (still in business), says she’s really found her “passion” with chatbots — and with forging those marketing communication “adventures” for clients.”This Messenger business, as you can imagine, is all young males,” added this entrepreneur, who is obviously female, and 65. She laughed. “They’ve given me the nickname ‘Chat Mom,'” she said. “So I had to go get that domain.”A “mind map,” which MessengerFunnels creates for each client.Image credit: Mary Katherine Johnson/MessengerFunnelsRelated: The Next Addition to Your Marketing Department Should Be a ChatbotChatbots’ limitationsWhile chatbots have made their mark as indispensable tools for a litany of reasons, they’re still moderately new to the business world, and come with their own set of limitations — most of which are expected to be overcome in the near future.One of the key reasons these machines are not yet perfect is the technological restraints of AI and machine learning. The technology is still evolving, setting limits on how much these robots can really accomplish. But, the development of chatbot technology is on a continuum, meaning that the need for human supervision of bots has steadily diminished.Another reason bots fail is that some businesses try to make chatbots with too much personality. Take the (infamous) example of “Tay,” described by The Verge in a March 2016 article titled “Twitter taught Microsoft’s AI chatbot to be a racist a–hole in less than a day” (the “a–hole” being my addition). Ninety-six thousand tweets later, Microsoft dove in to delete the worst of Tay’s comments.Yet, despite the ha-ha moment generated by the notion of a software service reduced to Nazi statements, there was a serious question that Tay raised. As The Verge wrote of the bot’s downfall: “It’s a joke, obviously, but there are serious questions to answer, like, how are we going to teach AI using public data without incorporating the worst traits of humanity?”No one so far has had an answer.Related: What Is a Slackbot and How Can You Use It to Make Money?While technological issues remain to be solved, chatbots overall have changed, for the better, the way consumers and businesses interact. They allow companies to be interconnected with their audiences 24 hours a day, seven days a week, opening up new opportunities for the ecommerce world.And that bodes well for entrepreneurs, who, being only human, sometimes need (and deserve) a break. This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. April 27, 2018 15+ min read Enroll Now for Free Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now
January 1, 2010 HAPPY NEW YEAR and Best Wishes for a hopeful new year to family and friends near and far. 2009 was an eventful year with many things to be grateful for. And one of the highlights this past year was the alumni reunion in June 2009. This reporters favorite image was sent to us by alumna Ellen Ryan, photo taken on Paolo Soleri’s birthday.[photo: alumna Ellen Ryan & text: sue] The second favorite image was taken by architect James Horecka during the alumni reunion. This is but a fraction of the extraordinary family and extended family that built Cosanti and Arcosanti, that joined Soleri with vigor and enthusiasm, sweated and laughed and made friends with people that came from all over the planet, discussed and learned and disagreed, and worked harder than most would imagine. Happy New Year and good fortune to you all![photo: 2009 James Horecka, AIA, Architect & text: sue]
PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades is to meet with the medical association (CyMA) next week as private rheumatologists and intensivists, following six other medical specialities, said on Thursday they would too not back the National Health scheme (Gesy).With the starting date for submission for applications by private doctors who would like to register as GPs in Gesy fast approaching, another two medical societies announced they would not back the scheme and called on their members not to join.The board of the intensive care medical society called on its members not to join Gesy citing an insufficient budget for the scheme to run properly, they say. The Rheumatological Society of Cyprus also announced that it could not recommend that its members join Gesy, saying that none of its serious concerns had been answered or satisfied and that the proposed mode of operation was not viable.The HIO announced this week that, as of January 21, it would be accepting applications by private doctors who would like to register as GPs in Gesy. The first phase of Gesy, which is the introduction of outpatient care, is to start in June.The head of CyMA, Petros Agathangelou, said on Thursday that they have accepted an invitation to meet Anastasiades next week, most probably on Monday, to present to him their positions. The medical association that represents private doctors has yet to give the government a definite answer as to whether it would back Gesy.Speaking to Sigma TV, Agathangelou, called on the Health Insurance Organisation to finally present the final contracts to private doctors interested in joining Gesy “so that the medical world can freely decide whether the system ensures quality and safety, but also the dignity of doctors who will be called to carry the weight of the system.”Agathangelou dismissed claims that CyMA was behind the announcements of medical societies that they would not back Gesy as “slander”.“Every interested party, has the right, in a public dialogue, to freely express their opinion,” Agathangelou said.He reiterated that CyMA was focused on seeing the introduction of a quality health scheme which also ensures the dignity of doctors.CyMA, he said, would not agree to any commitments unless everything was agreed, including issues concerning inpatient care.The opt-out announcements by rheumatologists and intensivists follow those of urologists, nuclear medicine physicians, ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors, endocrinologists, paediatricians and gastroenterologists. Cardiologists, despite not being fully on board, said its members would each decide for themselves individually.Despite the increasing announcements by medical societies, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou, gave reassurances on Wednesday that enough private doctors would join Gesy for it to operate successfully.The minister put these developments down to misinformation within the medical world. For that reason, he said, HIO is to launch within the coming days another effort to inform private doctors.Agathangelou however, dismissed the idea that the medical world had been misinformed, arguing that several medical societies had already been briefed by the HIO while others were waiting to be informed.On a related note, state nurses’ union, Pasyno, said on Thursday that they did not find satisfactory the contracts given to them by the Organisation of State Health Services (Okyy). The organisation, as of the beginning of the year has assumed the financial and administrative supervision of state hospitals.Last week, all medical and paramedical professionals working in state hospitals were seconded to Okyy. As part of the transition, all health professionals will be given employment contracts on Okyy terms. If they do not wish to change their present employment status, they can ask to be seconded to Okyy as civil servants.Pasyno said that basic issues were not mentioned in the contracts given to nurses concerning salaries, promotions, and allowances and there is no incentive for nurses to join under the new regime.The nurses’ announcement follows the call by state doctors’ union Pasyki to its 500 or so members – both doctors permanently appointed and those on contracts – not to sign.Ioannou said that even if many health professionals don’t sign the Okyy contracts and choose to keep their civil service status, it did not affect plans concerning the introduction of Gesy and hospital autonomy.You May LikePlarium I Vikings: Free Online GamePlay this for 1 minute and see why everyone is addictedPlarium I Vikings: Free Online GameUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoGundry MD PrebioThrive Probiotic SupplementBad Digestion Slowing You Down? 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