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When Siri first launched in the iPhone 4S we were pretty blown away. It sounded so natural and actually understood almost everything you said.

Since the, well, Alexa and the nameless Google Assistant have overtaken Siri from a practical usefulness perspective. However, thanks to iOS 12, Siri now has a very powerful set of functions that allow custom integration with third-party apps.

Table of Contents

It’s called Siri Shortcuts and with it you can create what’s effectively a macro, where a custom voice command will trigger a series of actions.

Getting the App

Shortcuts may not be installed on your iOS device, at least it was missing from our iPad Pro. That’s a minor niggle easily solved by a trip to the App Store. This is the app you’re looking for.

Once installed open the app so we can get started on creating a shortcut.

Browsing the Gallery

When you open the app you’ll notice that there are two main sections. The Library and the Gallery.

The Library is where you will find active shortcuts you have either created or downloaded from the gallery. The gallery, as you have noticed, is a collection of shortcuts created for you already.

It’s always a good idea to check the gallery first for a shortcut that does what you need. Even a shortcut that’s just close is a good thing, because it’s easier to tweak it than make one from scratch.

For the purposes of this article we are going to find a shortcut in the gallery, move it to our library and then see how it was built in order to learn how to make our own shortcut.

Grabbing a Shortcut from the Gallery

After opening the App, tap on “Gallery”. You’ll see this selection of shortcuts.

We’re going to use a shortcut called Read body of article out loud for demonstration purposes. So type that into the search bar.

Tap on the shortcut and then tap “Get Shortcut”

Now go to the library and tap on the three dots at the top-right of the shortcut.

Here you can see the structure of a shortcut. To make one you drag functions from the left into the section on the right. Here we can modify the shortcut to our needs, but we are going to leave it as is.

When you create a shortcut from scratch, the only difference is that the right hand section will be blank, leaving it up to you which building blocks you want to use.

Although the shortcut is now in your Library, it won’t work with Siri yet. To add it to Siri, you need to tap the slider icon at the top right of the screen.

Then you’ll see this screen.

Just tap “Add to Siri” and you’re taken here.

As you can see, Siri provides a suggested phrase to trigger this shortcut, but you can say anything you like. All that’s left is to tap the red record button and record your phrase. If you are happy with it, confirm it and you are all set!

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Four Ways To Make Beef More Sustainable

When it comes to beef’s impact on the environment, there’s a lot of room for improvement. Right now, 35 percent of methane emissions in the United States come from livestock, and the largest contributor is grazing animals like cows. The good news is, scientists have identified a number of ways to cut greenhouse gases coming from bovines.

Here are a few of the most promising ones.

Seaweed and other supplements

There are a number of promising food supplements that could cut cows’ methane emissions by 30 to 40 percent, says Ermias Kebreab, a professor of animal science at the University of California, Davis. The cow’s digestive tract is home to a diverse microbial ecosystem, which ferments the animal’s fiber-rich diet to produce energy. Some of those microbes produce hydrogen, and other bacteria use that gas to produce methane. Fortunately, it’s possible to selectively stop their activity without harming cow growth or milk production by using supplements that suppress the enzymes responsible for methane formation.

One Kebreab is particularly excited about is seaweed. In an experiment, dairy cows that ate feed with Asparagopsis, a type of red algae, belched far less methane than those that didn’t get the seaweed supplement—by up to 67 percent. “We are very excited about that,” says Kebreab. “I haven’t seen [any methane reduction] higher than that.”

There are a number of other additives scientists are studying, including one called 3-nitrooxypropanol, or 3NOP. Studies have reported a wide range in what adding this stuff to feed can do, but it most often cuts about a quarter of methane emissions. These additives won’t hit the market for a few years, but when they do they could help make our milk and burgers better for the planet.

Taking better care of business

At feedlots, waste is often flushed away and settles in ponds called manure lagoons. In these soggy, anaerobic conditions, methane-producing bacteria are active, making manure the next major source of livestock methane after bovine digestion itself. In one review, the gas from manure was between 12 to 41 percent of total agricultural methane among countries surveyed. In the U.S., it is the source of 28 percent of livestock methane, according to the EPA.

Like methane burps, it’s possible to curb this source of emissions. Since wet conditions foster methane, separating out manure solids and drying them can cut back on this greenhouse gas. Feedlot managers can also compost the manure in aerobic piles, or send it to an anaerobic digester, in which the methane from decomposing manure is captured for fuel. In California, the state’s Climate Smart Agriculture program has awarded grants to 17 dairies to change their poo practices. At one dairy, the manager proposed to separate solids, compost them, and spread the compost on the pasture—that way they were nurturing the ranch grasses, too. In total these projects are estimated to cut 367,467 metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions over five years, which is about the same impact as taking 16,000 cars off the road.

Grazing for carbon storage

High numbers of cattle trampling about rangelands, eating wherever they please, can decimate plants as well as compact and erode the soil. This prevents grasslands from storing carbon from the atmosphere in their roots and soil. But grazers and grasslands can also have a harmonious relationship.

In lands that were once continuously grazed, switching to adaptive multi-paddock grazing—a system of many smaller fenced areas that cattle are frequently moved between—can lead to improved plant growth and thus improved carbon storage. In one estimate, making this switch could even lead to negative emissions, where more carbon being stored in the soil than emitted by the cows, for decades.

In many rangelands, the problem isn’t too many cattle, it’s that the cattle aren’t using the land evenly, says Leticia Henderson, a livestock and range science professor at Oregon State University. When rotational grazing isn’t an option (the extra labor and costs for fencing can sometimes be a barrier), using herding and supplement blocks to keep cattle out of sensitive areas like streams is a relatively easy way to reduce their impact, adds Henderson.

Grazing might even be able to mitigate climate change in other ways. Henderson says one project she’s working on is investigating whether cattle can graze down invasive grasses in Oregon rangelands. Species like medusahead and cheatgrass build up a thick layer of thatch, which easily lights up and feeds the raging wildfires that are becoming more frequent and intense in the West. Careful grazing could help combat the grass-fed fires.

The right cow for the job

The arid American Southwest, with scrubby and sparse vegetation, isn’t a natural fit for large cow breeds like Angus cattle.

At the Jornada Experimental Range near Las Cruces, New Mexico, researchers are seeing if the Criollo, a smaller cow originally introduced from Spain that’s since adapted to the Southwest for the past 400 years, could have a lower impact than large breeds in dry regions. These animals can survive mostly on the prickly shrubs and grasses of the desert, while other cattle need more supplementation. This means herds require fewer resources and have a lower impact on the environment.

Together, these changes could cut cows’ contribution to the climate crisis. Better beef is on the rotationally-grazed, seaweed-supplemented horizon.

10 Ideas To Make Your Website More Persuasive

Review your persuasion approaches to increase conversion

Websites that are effective in conversion often share common approaches to persuasion.

I’m often on the look out for simple, practical persuasive ideas so I can include them in workshop or conference talks. This post summarises 10 tried and tested approaches I’ve seen grouped under key areas of persuasion for websites. I hope you find them useful!

Page headlines

1. Ask a question

Are you writing statement-based headlines? If so, try turning some of them into questions. Question-based headlines are more attention grabbing.

Questions entice us to find out more. In a world where text scanning, rather than reading, is the norm, questions force us to sit up and pay attention:

“Do you want to engage your audience?” rather than “Engage your audience”.

2. Create a problem

Once you’ve identified your audience, give them a familiar problem to solve. Problem-based headlines that the audience can relate to focus the brain on action more than solution-based ones. But the problem needs to be one your target audience can identify with: “Are you failing to engage your best customers?” rather than “Do you want to engage your audience?”

Social proof

3. Can you use testimonials en mass?

Are you using testimonials? If not, you probably should. Quotes and statements from satisfied customers can be great for conveying how good a website, product or service is. But these are cynical times. Everyone has at least one satisfied customer they can quote, so persuade your users with a ‘Wall of Satisfaction’; use at least three testimonials together.

While we know our customers aren’t sheep, prepared to blindly follow, we also know that no one has the time to do in-depth research before every decision they make, so naturally we tend to assume that if others are doing something there must be some value in it. The more people you can quote, the more social proof you have, and the more likely you are to persuade your audience to take a desired action.

4. Make them feel proud

My wife often tells the story of how she went to the last ever Stone Roses gig. If you press her on the matter she confesses that it was OK, but probably not the best concert she’s been to. What makes her share this story more than any other is that it was the final time the Stone Roses played, which she learnt after the event. Only once the dust had settled and the ringing in her ears had subsided did she understand that she had seen something special.

Do you make your customers feel they are taking part in something special by choosing your products or services? A simple way is giving your customers information that confirms they made the right choice.

If your current customers are potentially your best sales force, why not give them the tools to spread the word? Was your event the best attended, the first or the last? Do other well-respected companies, individuals, academic institutions or governments use your product? Select facts that confirm your customer’s wise decision in choosing you and help to ensure that others will get to hear about that choice, too.

Persuasion windows

5. Exploit a thank you?

The website Marketing Sherpa  studied their thank you and confirmation pages. It turned out that 39% of those who had done something, bought something or signed up for a newsletter on the site accepted an offer on the last page of the previous transaction. Where else on your website can you get a 39% conversion rate? Find out more about the Marketing Sherpa study.

6. Thank you alerts and emails

What works for web pages work equally well for thank yous sent via email – don’t waste them.

7. Alarm Clocking?

Most websites don’t have truly compelling reasons for visitors to return regularly. So can you create a reason, and make the user sense that they will regret missing out? Alarm Clocking is when you build something into your site that is so enticing that users will even set their alarm clock to avoid missing out. Check out this Alarm Clocking video to find out more.

Credibility and trust

8. Don’t be shy to use your authority

If you’re an expert or have status, make sure you tell your visitors. This might mean highlighting your organisation’s or individual employees’ qualifications or reputations. Or it could even simply mean stressing how many satisfied customers you’ve had to date.

This might seem like a banal point, but few websites properly communicate their expertise to their visitors. The authority of expertise is one of Cialdini‘s six most important motivating elements of persuasion.

9. The right pictures say more than a 1000 words

Credibility is central to the ability to persuade, and first impressions have a lasting impact when it comes to credibility. As recent studies have indicated, web pages have roughly half a second to convey relevance and authority.

An author photograph on a web page can make a serious difference to how credible the content is perceived to be. A good formal photo can double trustworthiness, but beware because casual photos can actually have a negative effect on credibility. (See the full results of this credibility test [28kb, PDF])

10. Loss is more powerful than gain

Bonus tip: What not to do?

11. Avoid trade-offs

But don’t blow it – a common way of closing these Persuasion Windows is to offer what’s called a trade-off. A trade-off is when we ask the potential customer to choose between two versions of the same product, for example between two cars – one with an MP3 player and one without. The potential customer is faced with a dilemma: are the extra features worth the money?

Here, a trade-off can be made – pay less money, get less features. Researchers have concluded that being forced to confront trade-offs in making decisions makes people unhappy and indecisive. As a result of this indecision our Persuasion Window closes.

At a Persuasion Window: choice = good, trade-offs = bad.

How To Change App Icons On Ios 14 With Shortcuts

While iOS 14 brings some much-needed customizability to iOS, iPhones are still missing some key features when it comes to customization. Namely, the ability to use custom icon packs. Custom icon packs help you drastically change the look of your device which can be a huge plus point for some users. Thankfully there is a quick workaround that will help you change app icons on iOS without even jailbreaking your device. So let’s get started.

How to change app icons on iOS 14?

Instead of directly changing icon packs that require root-level file system access, we will use Apple’s Shortcuts app that helps you create shortcuts for particular apps that can then be customized in your way. The only downside to this workaround is the fact that the new icon will open Shortcuts first and then the app that you linked to it. This might be a dealbreaker for some users but it is currently the only way to customize icons on an iOS device.

Related: Best Aesthetic Wallpaper Pictures for iOS 14

Things you will need

An iOS 14 device

Procedure

Download the Shortcuts app on your iOS device and launch the app.

Now tap on the ‘+’ in the top right corner of your screen.

Tap on ‘Add action’.

Now search for ‘Open app’ in the search bar.

Scroll down and tap on ‘Open App’ under the Actions section.

The action will now be added to your new shortcut. Tap on ‘Choose’ as shown below.

You will now get a list of all the apps installed on your device. Find the app you wish to change the icon for and tap on it to select it. For this example, we will be using Filmic Pro.

Once the app has been added to the shortcut action, tap on the ‘3-dot’ menu icon in the top right corner.

Now add a name for your shortcut. This name will only be used to identify the action in the Shortcuts app so you can customize the name to your liking.

Now tap on ‘Add to Home Screen’.

Enter the name for your home screen icon under ‘Home Screen Name and Icon’. We recommend you use the official app name if you are going for the official look.

Now that you have entered the name, tap on the icon beside the text field.

Tap on ‘Choose Photo’.

Now choose the photo that you wish to use as your app icon from your photo library. Tap on it to choose it.

You will now get the option to crop your icon. Select the desired dimensions based on your preference and once you are done, tap on ‘Choose’ in the bottom right corner of your screen.

Finally, tap on ‘Add’ at the top right corner of your screen.

Once the app is added to your home screen, tap on ‘Done’ in the top right corner again.

Now go to your home screen and you should have the new App icon available on your home screen.

Tap the icon to launch the app and the app you chose should now be open.

Video Guide

What to do with the original app icon on the home screen?

You can remove the app icon from your home screen and move it to the app library. This way it will be hidden away and be only visible alongside the shortcut you created only while using the spotlight search. Let’s take a look at the procedure.

Find the original icon on your home screen. Now tap and hold/ force touch on the icon depending on your device.

Now tap on ‘Remove App’.

Select ‘Move to App Library’.

And that’s it, the app should now be moved to your App library and should no longer be visible on your home screen.

Can you avoid opening Shortcuts app every time you tap on Shortcut?

While you CANNOT ignore the Shortcut app upon tapping on a shortcut, you can, however, speed up the process by follow the method below.

How to fasten opening of an app via Shortcuts

You can fasten the opening of apps via Shortcuts by reducing the app animation and transition effects which Apple neatly allows you to do through the ‘Reduce Motion’ option inside iOS. When you enable ‘Reduce Motion’, all motion effects like animation, parallax effect, and screen transitions will be turned off which will result in faster launching of apps on a regular basis and will also speed up app launches via Shortcuts.

This should make app animations and app launches faster but for best results, we also recommend that you enable the ‘Prefer Cross-Fade Transitions’ option after enabling ‘Reduce Motion’.

How to remove an app shortcut from the home screen

If you don’t wish to keep the shortcut that you made, you can remove it from your home screen by long-pressing on the shortcut icon and then selecting the ‘Delete Bookmark’ option that pops up on the screen. This will remove the shortcut from your home screen but the created shortcut will still show up inside the Shortcuts app on your iPhone.

How to delete a shortcut entirely

Now that you know that removing a shortcut from the home screen doesn’t delete it from the Shortcuts app, there’s still a way to delete it entirely.

To do this, you need to open the Shortcuts app and tap on the ‘Select’ option available at the top right corner of the screen. Now, select the shortcut you wish to delete (in this case, the one labeled Backdrops Shortcut) and then tap on ‘Delete’ at the bottom right. You will need to confirm this action by tapping on the ‘Delete Shortcut’ option from the dialog that appears below.

There you go! The shortcut that you created using the Shortcuts app has been deleted from the app and you can’t access it again.

RELATED:

Assistantenhancer Picks Up Where Siri Left Off

If you’re looking for a way to get more out of Siri, then a tweak like AssistantLove will most likely be of interest to you. That tweak, which was just recently updated to support iOS 6, allows you to play Spotify music using Siri, and integrates navigation and GPS features too.

If the ability to search Amazon, find local events, search the App Store, and play Pandora sounds like something you’d like Siri to do for you, then you certainly want to check out AssistantEnhancer. It does all of the aforementioned, and much, much more. Take a look at our video walkthrough inside for a rundown of some of the tweak’s most outstanding features.

AssistantEnhancer adds a dump truck full of new features to Siri…so much so, that I probably won’t be able to cover every single feature in this overview. Chances are that even if you don’t like all of the features included with the package, you’ll find something that makes the tweak worth it to you.

Probably the biggest feature included with AssistantEnhancer is its ability to control music from not just Spotify, but Grooveshark and Pandora as well. On top of the basic Spotify song playing capabilities, there’s also the ability to configure up to two of your favorite playlists to control with your voice. Unfortunately, while I could get the playlist to load, the initial song featured in the playlist wouldn’t start on its own without a bit of coercion from a finger tap.

Pandora integration allows you to create a station for your artist of choice, and Grooveshark access allows you play one of that service’s plethora of songs. Needless to say, there’s a ton of musical content to be accessed using AssistantEnahncer. Fans of any of the three services mentioned will be enthused.

While the music playing aspects may sound like enough to warrant the tweak’s asking price, that’s just the beginning of things. AssistantEnancer features the Google Now inspired ability to search for local concerts and events. For instance, you can tell Siri to “Find a concert happening next week,” and you’ll be presented with a list of concerts in your area, right within the Siri interface. Tapping one of the listings will whisk you away to a webpage where you can learn more information, buy tickets, etc.

The same thing goes for searching the App Store. You can search for any app by name, and your results will be displayed directly within Siri’s interface. Tapping on one of those results will open up the App Store with the respective app in view, ready to purchase or download.

I must mention that there is a slight delay when performing queries such as these, and honestly, the delay can be quite annoying. It’s almost as if it’s waiting for the query to complete, and while it does, it makes you sit at a blank screen. Look at the video and judge for yourselves whether or not you think it’s a deal breaker.

Of course, you’ll find many more options embedded within AssistantEnhancer. You can search Urban Dictionary, search Google Images, search Amazon, and many other services, all by harnessing the power of your voice. There’s even a built in option that makes Siri remember where you parked your car, though I’ve yet to get that working as intended.

The bottom line is that AssistantEnhancer does a whole lot of different things. It’s probably not the best in any one area, because the developer has spread himself so thin, but I still think it’s worth checking out. Hopefully with a little more time and care, AssistantEnhancer will completely come into its own. Until then, it’s hard not to recommend it simply because it does so many different things.

How To Make Scones (With Pictures)

2

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Pour the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt into a large bowl and stir with a fork or whisk until everything is well-blended.

For less-sweet scones, use 3 tablespoons of sugar.

For sweeter scones, increase the sugar to 1/3 cup (65 grams).

For savory scones, omit the sugar.

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3

Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour mixture. Cutting the butter will make it more manageable and easier to mix.

4

Mix the butter and flour mix until it resembles a coarse, crumbly meal. You can use a pastry blade or your hands. The crumbles should be roughly the size of peas. Do not over-work the dough, however; this will result in tough, overly-dense scones.[1]

To make chocolate chip scones, add ½ cup (90 grams) of semi-sweet chocolate chips and stir.[2]

5

Pour the cream or half-and-half into the dough a little bit at a time and mix it. Start with a few tablespoons of the liquid, and keep adding and stirring until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl and clump up. You may end up using a little less/more than ½ cup (120 milliliters) of your liquid.

To give your scones a little more flavor, consider adding 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the cream or half-and-half.[3]

7

Prepare your egg wash. Mix one egg with ¼ cup (60 milliliters) of cream, half-and-half, or milk. Beat the mixture with a fork or whisk until the yolk is all broken up and there are no streaks. You will be spreading this on your scones later on.

8

Cut the dough in half and put one of the halves back into the fridge. You are cutting the dough in half so that you don’t end up over-rolling the dough, which could lead to a tough pastry. Putting the dough back into the fridge will prevent it from becoming too soft too soon. Be sure that you cover the dough going back into the fridge with some plastic wrap.

9

Transfer the dough onto a lightly-floured surface and roll it out. Make it somewhere between ¾ to 1 inch (2 to 2.5 centimeters) thick, but not thinner or it will not rise enough. Keep in mind, however, that the thicker your dough is, the longer it will need to bake. You can create a line in the centre of your scones to cut through when they are baked and ready to fill with cream or butter by rolling out to half the thickness you require then folding your scone mix in half. Cut through both layers to form the individual scones.

10

Cut the scones using a knife or cookie cutter. There are several ways you can do this. Here are some ideas:

Make traditional scones by cutting the dough into a 9-inch (23-centimeter) circle, and then slicing it into eight wedges like a pizza or pie.[4]

Make round scones by cutting circles out of the dough using a drinking glass or a circle-shaped cookie cutter.

Using a sharp knife, cut the scones into squares.

11

Transfer the scones onto a baking sheet. To prevent sticking, consider covering your baking sheet with some parchment paper. If you have more baking sheets and enough room in your oven, you can roll and cut the other half of the dough; otherwise, you will have to wait until the first batch is done baking.

12

Brush the scones with the egg wash. Dip a brush into the egg wash, and lightly run the bristles over the tops of the scones. This will give the scones a shiny texture after you bake them.

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