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Google suspends all paid Chrome browser extensions

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Google has been forced to shut down all paid extensions after experiencing a sudden increase in fraudulent transactions on the official Chrome web store.

As a precautionary measure, the company has now suspended publishing or updating of all the commercial extensions. 

The suspension includes all extensions which need an upfront payment, monthly recurring payments or offer in-app purchases.

Surge

Google’s engineers reported that these fraudulent transactions started earlier this month at a mass scale. The ban, a temporary fix to stop further fraudulent charges from happening, has impacted all the app developers including the premium ones like Dashlane, Comeet, etc.

According to Simeon Vincent, Developer Advocate for Chrome Extensions at Google, “This is a temporary measure meant to stem this influx as we look for long-term solutions to address the broader pattern of abuse.” Though there is no update on when the suspension will be removed.

While Google has only announced the suspension late last week, app developers suggest that the search engine giant was been silently blocking updates for all the paid extensions. After the suspension, if a developer tries to push an update to an existing paid extension or publish a new paid extension, they are getting an error message that reads “Spam and Placement in the Store.”

The news comes shortly after Mozilla removed around shady 200 Firefox add-ons which were found to be involved in malicious activities or were stealing user data in a similar clean-up drive.

Source:
https://www.techradar.com/in/news/google-suspends-all-paid-chrome-browser-extensions

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Shola Akinlade: Paystack’s maturity relied on a community of hard and smart workers

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At Paystack, triggers and nudges for product creativity and stunning user interfaces derive from team members’ expectations for how they want the world to look and feel.

The call, if you will, to work at the company is an opportunity to do something about your complaints. To take the matter of changing the world into your hands, not with Molotov cocktails but code bases and Adobe’s magic buttons.

Paystack, the Lagos-based payments startup that helps merchants accept payments from their customers, is now part of an American company following the celebrated (though still under-discussed and under-analysed) sale to Stripe, the global payments giant-in-waiting.

The fusion of both companies, though separated miles apart in distance, is testimony to how similar desires are around the world.

But it is chiefly good reckoning for Shola Akinlade, the mid-thirties somewhat shy developer who co-founded Paystack with Babcock University schoolmate Ezra Olubi and turned it into an envy of the world.

As of this writing, Paystack is live in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa. With the acquisition, they could be popping up in more places.

On Building from the Ground Up, a TechCabal live video interview series in partnership with the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, we got an honest lowdown from Akinlade on what it took to begin the journey that has made Paystack a $200million company.

Typically self-effacing, Akinlade ascribes the early days’ momentum to encouragement from figures within the Nigerian community – the ecosystem. Osita Nwoye’s name pops in the conversation, with reference to a famous email sent to Michael Seibel – CEO of YCombinator – urging the famed accelerator to consider the innovation Akinlade was working on.

Other interesting characters at the scene of Paystack’s nativity in the second half of 2015 include angel investor Olumide Soyombo, Oluyomi Ojo (CEO of Printivo), Odun Longe of the Longe Practice and Honey Ogundeyi, who used to run the fashion website Fashpa.com en route her current role as the Nigeria country director for the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub.

Paystack took off early because businesses like PiggyvestSupermart.ng and now defunct ride-hailing service Jekalo needed payments integrations to build their own proofs of concept.

It’s not like Paystack had it all figured out at the time. Akinlade remembers telling the Jekalo people that “we can help you collect your money but not be able to settle,” but his service was commissioned and invoiced anyhow.

That kind of confidence from the community spoke to a perception that Akinlade knew what he was up to.

Before Paystack, he had built an open source version of Dropbox and operated it for about 5 years. He’d built software for a few Nigerian banks.

In the conversation with Big Cabal Media’s CEO Tomiwa Aladekomo, Akinlade says building Paystack was partly a result of discovering he could charge a card from his computer. A decade ago, that was sort of a big deal in Nigeria’s emerging financial technology and ecommerce sector, but the process was anything but seamless for the mass consumer or small time business owner.

The challenge, then, was to design a payments product that anyone could consume.

To achieve this, Akinlade would have to go on a recruitment spree. He would convince new developers hungry for a challenge to come on board. He would persuade ex-bank employees and experienced product engineers at older fintechs who were probably comfortable at their jobs. One key hire was Khadijah Abu who came in from Interswitch in 2017 and has been integral to shaping product.

Akinlade would need the expertise of design geeks like Opemipo Aikomo, and the storytelling prowess of Emmanuel Quartey.

Akinlade says it was inevitable that Quartey would be a key cog for the company’s public image following a spectacular presentation during a one-week familiarisation period.

The result? In November 2020, Paystack now processes 5 times what Nigeria as a country was doing in payments pre-Paystack.

Clients include MTN, Bolt and Domino’s, part of 60,000 small to medium-scale businesses using the multiple payments and accounting features the startup has developed over the last five years.

Paystack was built from the ground up by visionary Africans, in concert with investors from around the world.

Thanks to a work culture centered on transparency, clear communication and practicing kindness, the startup’s 120 or so staff are discernibly among the happiest people in Nigerian tech.

The Stripe acquisition means they’ll be even happier thanks to the stock options they hold. A key question for the ecosystem since mid-October has been this: how do we scale this happiness? How do we build more Paystacks from the ground up?

Here are Akinlade’s thoughts on that:

This acquisition shows that people can build something valuable and appreciate value. I like the idea of different ways to do this. One problem with a small ecosystem is that everybody will want to follow one path. If we do so, it’ll be bad. We need more people trying different things so that the options will be plenty. And then, people can have different paths ahead of them.

The man has sold a company for $200million, earning a valuation above some Nigerian banks that have been around longer. Might be worth paying attention to.

Source: https://techcabal.com/2020/11/25/shola-akinlade-paystack-building-from-the-ground-up/

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Truck carrying $6.6 million worth of Apple goods hijacked by gang

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What just happened? Thanks to their high prices, Apple products have long been an enticing target for thieves. But instead of one of its stores being robbed, as is usually the case, a gang in the UK hijacked a truck and stole £5 million (around $6.6 million) worth of the company’s goods.

Police said the incident took place in the UK county of Northamptonshire on November 10. The gang tied up the driver and security guard before driving the vehicle a short distance and transferring all 48 pallets of products to their own truck, leaving the hostages behind. The items were later moved into a third vehicle about 10 miles away.

Officers are now appealing for witnesses and anyone “who may have been offered any Apple products for sale in unusual circumstances, or who knows of anyone who is selling such items at low-cost prices.”

A wide range of Apple’s products were hijacked. Among the stolen items were iPhone 11 handsets, Apple Watches, iPads, AirPods, and charging devices.

Back in June, iPhones stolen in lootings of US Apple stores amid protests over George Floyd’s death showed messages that read: “This device has been disabled and is being tracked. Local authorities will be alerted.” It’s unclear whether the recently hijacked goods are tracked or if the products will be usable.

Reports of Apple stores being hit by thieves go back a long way. In 2013, armed robbers stole $1.3 million in merchandise from a location in Paris, France, and there were instances of people walking into stores dressed like employees in 2016 and walking off with iPhones. In 2018, another smash-and-grab on a California store was caught on video. The state later charged 17 people in connection with the spate of robberies.

Source: https://www.techspot.com/news/87652-gang-hijacks-truck-carrying-66-million-worth-apple.html

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Where Is The UX Industry Headed In 2019 & Beyond?

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It’s 2019, and UX design has come a long way. Most businesses have cottoned on to the value of good UX, and today’s consumers expect (and accept) nothing less. We’ve even made some progress in clearing up the eternal confusion between UX and UI!

As the field matures, it’s a great time to contemplate where the industry is headed. In this post, we won’t talk about storytelling, AI or the rise of voice. Instead, we’ll explore three major shifts in the way that UX designers are thinking and working in this constantly evolving industry.

So what’s changing the game in UX this year? Let’s take a look.

Calm Technology, Ethical Design & Digital Wellbeing

One truly significant shift we’ll see over the next few years is in how we design for the user. Traditionally, user-centered design has meant identifying and solving a real user problem — designing the most intuitive, enjoyable products imaginable. Ultimately, brands want to create experiences that the customer just can’t get enough of.

Now, this “can’t get enough” mentality is starting to become a huge problem. Surrounded by irresistible apps and digital services that promise to enhance our lives, we’ve lost the ability to switch off. Smartphone addiction is a very real cause for concern in today’s society, and one that brands and designers must actively address.

We are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of unethical design — from physical inactivity, sleep deprivation and lack of real-world engagement, all the way through to privacy issues, anxiety, and depression.

Up until now, the question has been: “How can we engage our users to the maximum?” In 2019 and beyond, the much more pressing matter for UX designers is: “How can we design user experiences that are healthy?”

How can we design healthy UX?

Google has set out to tackle this very issue with their Digital Wellbeinginitiative, creating “tools and features that help people better understand their tech usage, focus on what matters most, disconnect when needed, and create healthy habits for the whole family.” Users can now schedule breaks on YouTube, set high-priority notifications on Gmail to avoid notification overload, and send their smartphone into Do Not Disturb mode with a single voice command.

While such tools and features are a step in the right direction, they still place the responsibility in the user’s hands. To truly encourage healthy interactions with technology, we need design that is inherently responsible. Simple tweaks, such as Instagram’s “You’re all up to date” message that warns against excessive feed scrolling, can have a huge impact on the user experience. The user shouldn’t need to actively update their settings or activate certain features; in an ideal world, the design will automatically lend itself to healthy, limited consumption.

So, as brands and technology giants face increasing pressure to put the user’s wellbeing first, UX designers will need to redefine the meaning of user-centered design. Calm technology, ethical design, and digital wellbeing will be major industry buzzwords over the next few years as “good UX” becomes synonymous with “healthy UX”.

The Design Sprint Era & Rethinking User Research

Back in 2016, Jake Knapp started something of a revolution when he published Sprint — a bestseller that has now become an industry staple. A “five-day process for solving problems and testing new ideas”, the Design Sprint method has been steadily rising in popularity. These days, everyone’s talking about agile product development and lean UX.

With the focus on building a working, testable prototype as quickly as possible, this raises the question of where and how user research fits into the picture. Jonathan Courtney of Design Sprint agency AJ&Smart goes as far as to say that user research is overrated, claiming that Design Sprints have revealed an “expensive waste of time” in the modern design process.

Does this mean that UX research as we know it is dead?

Not quite. While the Design Sprint methodology is gaining traction, the industry isn’t quite ready to do away with UX research altogether. Rather, what we’ll see over the next few years is a new approach to UX research emerging — an approach that fits in much more neatly with short sprint cycles.

Cue another soon-to-be industry buzzword: Lean UX research. As the name suggests, lean UX research takes the underlying principles of lean product development and applies them to the traditional, more lengthy research process. Just like lean UX, lean user research focuses on quick decision-making.

So what might lean UX research look like in action?

As a concept very much in its infancy, there are no hard-and-fast rules or established guidelines for conducting lean UX research. However, we are gradually seeing more and more literature on this very topic. Early adopters of lean user research recommend pre-scheduling ongoing user testing sessions well in advance — and on an ongoing basis; sharing meaningful data with relevant stakeholders as soon as you’ve got it (doing away with lengthy reports), and allowing developers to sit in on usability tests.

Over the coming years, designers will face the challenge of trimming down their research processes while still procuring those all-important insights. UX research in the traditional sense will still hold a critical place in the design process; the trick will lie in knowing when to conduct extensive user research, and when to go lean for optimal results.

The Product Designer vs. UX Designer Debate

The industry has long been debating the validity of UX designer as a job title, and recent years have seen a shift towards more specialist job titles — such as UX researcher, UX writer, and information architect.

Now there’s another job title entering the fray: that of the product designer. In a trend which the experts at UX Collective call “the death and rebirth of UX”, the evolution of UX designers into product designers reflects an integral shift in responsibilities. Indeed, it’s no secret that, as the field matures, UX professionals are expected to understand, and be actively involved in, the overall product strategy and wider business goals. Does this mean, then, that every UX designer is also a product designer?

Are UX designers and product designers interchangeable?

This is where we start wading into murky waters. The reality is, the term “product designer” is as open to interpretation as the term “UX designer”, and tends to vary from company to company. In 2019 and beyond, designers and businesses alike will seek to define the product designer role and understand exactly how it differs from that of the UX designer.

A quick Google search will bring up several attempts at outlining the differences between product designers and UX designers. Read any of these articles and you’ll soon see that it’s not so clear-cut.

John Carter, a self-proclaimed product designer, sums it up nicely when he says: “There is not one MAJOR outstanding difference between the two! There are a few [small] things that make these two disciplines different. The skills are very similar, but it’s the questions that each person asks along the way that make the distinction.”

Both product designers and UX designers rely heavily on Design Thinking. Both are concerned with creating a user-friendly product, but the product designer takes a more brand-oriented view. While the UX designer might consider how the product feels in the hands of the user, the product designer will be looking at how the product fits into the wider business strategy.

When one stops being a UX designer and crosses over into product design is largely a matter of context. Some companies will look for UX designers with business know-how. Others — such as Google and Facebook — will hire product designers and UX designers entirely separately.

Through 2019 and beyond, the landscape of UX job titles will continue to be complex, controversial, and often contradictory. Those bearing the classic UX designer title will ultimately face a fork in the road: To specialize (UX researcher, information architect, interaction designer…) or to strategize (product designer, product manager…)?

Source: https://www.designerhire.com/ux-designer-job-description

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