An Alternative Voice UI To Voice Assistants

For most people, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of voice user interfaces are voice assistants, such as Siri, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. In fact, assistants are the only context where most people have ever used voice to interact with a computer system. While voice assistants have brought voice user interfaces…

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A Beginner’s Guide to NFTs (Non-fungible Tokens)

A Beginner’s Guide to NFTs (Non-fungible Tokens) – SitePointSkip to main contentFree JavaScript Book!Write powerful, clean and maintainable JavaScript.RRP $11.95 Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have far more scope than what they’re currently popular for — that is, unreasonably expensive pieces of digital art. Their true power lies far away from the realm of Christie’s and Cryptopunks — so far, indeed, that it’s astonishing this is all the mainstream knows about what we can call NFT 1.0.
Before we talk about the different NFT versions, let’s first understand what they are.
Defining Non-fungible Tokens
The concept of fungibility can only be applied to a group of items. A group of items is fungible when every member of this group is identical to the other, such that no member possesses any individuality. This means that every member of that group can always be traded for another member without any friction.
Some fungible tokens include fiat money, bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Polkadot (DOT). BTC is regarded as a fungible token because every BTC is created equal. Further, no BTC is different from another BTC (with certain exceptions we won’t get into). The same goes for all the fungible tokens in the cryptosphere. With paper money, things are slightly different because we have various notes. Thus, all $20 bills are perfectly fungible with each other, but if they were to be swapped for, say, a $1 bill, we’d need more $1 bills to match up to $20. Thus, you could say that paper money is semi-fungible. But once you convert paper to digital dollars, you see that all dollars are the same.
Note: fungibility is a spectrum; it’s subjective. A dollar to a shop owner is the same as another dollar, but might not be to the FBI, who are looking for specific dollar bills with specific serial numbers.
Now, if fungibility is the quality of a thing to be interchangeable with other members of its group, then non-fungibility is its ability to have an identity, to be unique. That is all there is to it. Thus, a non-fungible token is a token that is unique unto itself, so long as only one copy was minted (created) when it was added to the blockchain. So when you hear of NFT collections today, it usually means that they’re a group of art pieces composed of unique individuals.

Unique Kanaria birds
If this is all there is to NFTs, then what’s the big deal and why are some of them ridiculously expensive?
The Price of an NFT
Some paintings are worth millions of dollars, while others are worth less than a penny. Why? A combination of factors, but the most important one is this: we are human beings — social creatures — who are controlled by subjective perception.
Some NFTs are ridiculously expensive because of the story behind them, either experienced, fabricated, or sold. Sometimes a thing is valuable because of who made it, when it was made, what people think about it, or the circumstances surrounding its early life. To define all the reasons is beyond the scope of this article.
It’s enough to know that they’re expensive because people are willing to pay that much for them based on their subjective perception, even though that perception is heavily influenced by the world around them, particularly the media. Some people buy because of prestige, others because of speculation.
Whatever the reason for the outrageous prices, it’s not relevant to the revolutionary potential of NFTs, so we can abandon this discussion and instead focus on learning more about how NFTs work and why they’re a game-changer.
How NFTs Work
There are two main attributes that make NFTs a game-changer:
provable uniqueness
provable ownership
These two attributes are possible thanks to blockchain technology. Another name for blockchain is distributed ledger technology, meaning that a blockchain is simply a spreadsheet that’s maintained by a global network of computers. In this network, no computer is an authority. New transactions are only recorded when a majority of the nodes on the network reach a consensus. To see how this relates to NFTs, imagine a spreadsheet with information like this:
Attribute
Value
Color
#00ff00
ID
00001
Skills
Sword, Bow, Nunchucks
Name
Green Samurai
Attribute
Value
Color
#ff0000
ID
00002
Skills
Fists
Name
Red Samurai
Attribute
Value
Color
#0000ff
ID
00003
Skills
Small Guns
Name
Blue Samurai
Here are three little tables, each describing a samurai with a different name, color, and ability. Each samurai has his own unique ID. There can only be one #00001 samurai, only one #00002 samurai, and so on.

Image source
Now imagine if you could own a samurai. Let’s add a new field into each table.
Attribute
Value
Color
#00ff00
ID
00001
Owner
0x0
Skills
Sword, Bow, Nunchucks
Name
Green Samurai
Attribute
Value
Color
#ff0000
ID
00002
Owner
0x0
Skills
Fists
Name
Red Samurai
Attribute
Value
Color
#0000ff
ID
00003
Owner
0x0
Skills
Small Guns
Name
Blue Samurai
0x0 is a “null address”, which means each of these samurai is owned by no one. If we change the owner to an address, like for example 0x4da2e85d64bece663ccab06e89b970b6b077f22f, then whoever has control over that address will be the owner of that samurai:
Attribute
Value
Color
#00ff00
ID
00001
Owner
0x4da2e85d64bece663ccab06e89b970b6b077f22f
Skills
Sword, Bow, Nunchucks
Name
Green Samurai
The user 0x4da2e85d64bece663ccab06e89b970b6b077f22f now owns samurai 00001. Because this is written on the blockchain, all the nodes will make sure that:
only one samurai with ID 00001 ever exists
only one person can own a specific samurai
The owner can also transfer a samurai:
SamuraiContract.methods.transfer(“0x2489efb207809c237c85c202d0fa78c8b236709c”, 00001)

Whoever calls this function in the blockchain will tell the “samurai” smart contract (the blockchain program running the samurai logic): “Transfer my 00001 samurai to the address 0x2489efb207809c237c85c202d0fa78c8b236709c”. If the one initiating the transfer is not the owner of 00001, the transaction will simply fail, secured by the blockchain.
This is literally what happens behind the scenes when NFTs are built and deployed. There’s a bunch of mini-tables in a big spreadsheet, and only the owners of specific cells can change the values of those specific cells, while the blockchain makes sure everyone behaves and can’t do anything that doesn’t work with that particular spreadsheet!
But NFTs offer so much more than provable ownership and provable uniqueness.
Art Legos: NFT Designs of Arbitrary Complexity
NFT 1.0 was digital art on the blockchain that could be admired and traded. That’s all there was to it. This was the era when CryptoPunks, CryptoKitties, etc. rose to prominence.
Then came NFT 2.0, and digital art on the blockchain acquired traits and utility. This meant that it could do more than be admired. The traits of the NFTs were linked to their benefits. However, not all utility NFTs have traits. Some NFTs have just one trait, which is their utility (as such, it seems redundant to say they have a trait). For example, there’s a type of NFTs that give you the ability to take out an uncollateralized loan from use in whitelisted DeFi applications. Others give you access to certain discounts on certain protocols. For example, an NFT could be made to give the holder a 100% discount on gas fees on Ethereum by having the app refund the user.
While NFT 2.0 is still being implemented by some of the front runners in the cryptosphere, NFT 3.0 is already upon us. In this new iteration, digital art on the blockchain now has executive functions like ownership and authority. This makes NFTs, which were static, suddenly come alive, making them interactive — such that they can emit actions, send items, equip them, change state, and more. This means that an NFT can own other NFTs. But not just that: an NFT can own other NFTs and also modify the appearance of the parent NFT based on the presence and type of a child NFT. This may seem unrealistic to you, so let’s ground it with a gaming use case.
Applying the own and equip feature to gaming has far-reaching effects, because it enables gamers to own all their in-game items as NFTs. For example, you have an in-game character who has an inventory of items — such as weapons, potions, maps, and so on. Assuming that each item in this inventory is an NFT, including our character, then we can use NFT 3.0 capability to equip this character with a sword NFT. In this way, the NFTs interact with each other and the experience for the player (who now owns the items in this digital world) is more immersive than it has ever been. Particularly because they are now free to trade with other players or sell the in-game items on the open market.
A front runner in the NFT 3.0 phase is RMRK, a Kusama-native NFT project that recently launched a new open-source web platform for running unique ICOs using dynamic NFTs called Kanaria. It’s currently running a first-of-its-kind ICO (initial collectible offering) event using dynamic NFTs which start out their lives as eggs.
With a new feature that’s been developed, users can send emotes (emoticons) to eggs. Now here’s the fascinating part: the appearance of the birds that hatch can be influenced by the emotes sent to them. Thus, if an egg got over 500+ 🗡, this could cause it to hatch with a sword in tow — which will come in the form of a child NFT (an NFT owned by the bird) that is also tradable on the open market.
Taking this a step further, RMRK is currently developing the 2.0 version of the standard, which will allow the following: NFTs to be governed democratically by multiple users; NFTs to have multiple resources at once (mint an NFT book and it can have its audio and PDF version at once, as well as a high-res cover); NFTs that can react to emoticons (a painting of a moon can get a moonbase drawn on it if 50 🚀 emoji are sent to it); and more.
Conclusion
Given the plethora of possible use cases, it’s unthinkable that NFTs will fade back into oblivion.
What’s most likely is that many use cases will be tried and some will fail, but a few of them will stick, and these will have a major impact on our everyday lives. Already, there are talks of creating public goods NFTs, and NFTs that help a user, artist, or organization donate a portion of their revenue to social causes. Isn’t that amazing?
Never in the history of humankind have we been able to own, share, and trust with such ease. The future of NFTs through an evolution of art legos is boundless. Soon, a system of arbitrary complexity built on top of programmable NFT functionality will become available to any blockchain, and what you’ll be able to do with these primitives will be limited only by your imagination.
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Best Testimonials Plugins for WordPress

Do you want customers to leave testimonials on your website? If you offer services through your website, it’s a good idea to include a system where customers can leave their testimonials.  Customer testimonials convince potential customers who may be on the fence to take the next step and use your products or services.  Testimonial plugins…

Best WordPress Widgets for 2021

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Moving Backgrounds: When, Why, and How to Use Them

Moving Backgrounds: When, Why, and How to Use Them – SitePointSkip to main contentFree JavaScript Book!Write powerful, clean and maintainable JavaScript.RRP $11.95 In this article, we’ll take a close look at the whats and whys of moving backgrounds. We’ll consider the impact they have on conversions, examine when they should and shouldn’t be used, and then offer practical tips for doing them the right way.
Moving Images are Powerful
There’s no denying people love video content. TikTok is shooting up the app charts, and short clips are surpassing pictures for shares on Facebook. Things that move are eye-catching, engaging, and more memorable.
The appeal of video isn’t limited to social media. Moving elements on your landing pages give users a way to instantly connect with your brand. Here are some more web design statistics worth knowing:
Various studies show videos can increase landing page conversions by around 80%.
A shopper who watches a video is nearly two times more likely to convert than a shopper who doesn’t.
Two thirds of people would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain.
Video can do good things for your site. But that doesn’t mean you should turn your home page into a mini cinema. As with all things web design, it’s all about finding that sweet spot between what feels playful and exciting and what works.
When to Use Moving Backgrounds
Moving backgrounds can be incredibly effective, but they’re not always appropriate. They slow your site down, they can be distracting, and they’re creatively bold — three things that aren’t suitable in certain situations.
For example, if you’re offering something complex, a video is more likely to distract that aid comprehension. If you’re offering something serious — like financial advice, government information, or anything to do with healthcare — a video just feels … wrong. Similarly, if you’re a practical site — like a grocery store or tool hire site — then speed is probably more important that giving off a certain vibe.
On the other hand, if your business is all about exuding a certain mood, then moving backgrounds can be perfect.
We use one at Chromatix because we’re a creative design agency, and playfulness and beauty are hugely attractive to our customers.

Luxury lifestyle brands often use moving backgrounds to good effect, because people buy into an experience rather than a product. The same goes for conferences and events, spas, retreats, vacation rentals, and so on.
Here are three reasons to use moving backgrounds:
to set a tone
to exude a lifestyle
to elicit an emotional reaction
Here are three reasons not to use a moving background:
because everyone else is doing it
because conversion statistics tell me it’ll get good results
because it looks pretty
How to Successfully Incorporate Moving Backgrounds into Your Home Page
Whether you’re building your site from the ground up, using WordPress, or working with a drag-and-drop website builder, here are some tips to help you get it right.
1. Don’t let your site slow down
Sending a visitor to a slow site is bad news for your site numbers: 39% of people will leave a website if images take too long to load. It’s one of the top SEO ranking factors. The conversion rates of pages that load slowly drop by an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time (within the first five seconds).
There’s no getting around it: videos and moving elements will slow things down. Here are three steps you can take to mitigate sluggish site speeds:

Optimize your images. (Check out SitePoint’s Jump Start Web Performance for some in-depth tips.)

Compress your files and manage your own caching. (This can be a complicated job, but tools like Nitropack can help.)

Loop your video. When it comes to looping your video, bear in mind that bigger videos will slow down your site — and as we’ve mentioned previously, having a slow-loading site sends conversion rates plummeting. One way to keep speed up is to have a shorter video that loops. Try to aim for 5–10 seconds in length, then loop it seamlessly and continually to give the impression it’s longer than it is. Remember: you’re just trying to create a mood, not play a full film or advert.

2. Keep your call to action clear
The attraction of moving images is that they’re eye-grabbing — and when it comes to setting the mood and boosting dwell time, that’s a good thing. But watch out: if your CTA is fighting for attention or overlooked because your moving background is too distracting, then you’ll hit problems.
CTAs convert better with a little negative space around them. 232% better, to be precise. When there’s too much visual noise going on, it’s hard to pick out the important bits — so avoid putting your call to action over your video.
3. Make sure text is readable
Ever watched a movie with white subtitles, only for a snow scene to come up and swallow up the text? OK, so that’s quite a niche example, but you get the idea: choose the color of your text carefully when it’s going over video, because the image moves and the text needs to be readable over every single frame. Pick colors that contrast so the message isn’t lost like white subtitles over snow.
If your moving background is detailed and contains all the colors and shades, then simply opting for a contrasting color might not be enough. In this case, try a light, dark, or colored overlay to decrease the contrast and allow your text to pop.
4. Choose a background that enhances your message
Moving backgrounds have a tendency to steal the limelight. It’s why we like them! But if they’re pulling focus from your core message or goal, then you’ll soon hit choppy waters.
When picking your video, don’t just go for what looks pretty. Put some real thought into choosing something that’s relevant to your overall message or brand — and most of all, something that will appeal to your target market. Your moving background needs to enhance your home page’s message, not detract from it.
5. Be careful with audio
There are few things more annoying than clicking onto a website, only to have it blast out some music or sound effect unannounced. Especially when you’re somewhere quiet like the office. For this reason, having auto-playing audio is a no-no. If you absolutely must have sound, make sure it loads muted so the power is in the user’s hands as to whether they switch it on or not.
Here are some more tips for better website background videos.
Final Thoughts
Moving backgrounds can be a great way to enhance your brand’s message and draw users into your site. They have the power to boost engagement, send your conversion rates sky high, and create an irresistibly immersive experience. But use them with caution. They can slow your site down, so make sure to do your research on how best to keep things things speedy. And if you don’t really need a moving background, stick to static images and text. Doing what works best for you and your users will always be the best option.