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How to Get to Inbox Zero On Gmail

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Your parents never told you this, but one of the most satisfying moments of adulthood is when check your inbox and it shows zero unread messages. The salt-the-earth way to reach that goal is to manually check and delete each email you receive, but nobody wants to do that. An alternative would be to mark all of the existing messages as "read" so that the judgmental little number goes away and you can start from scratch...kind of. For most mobile and web apps, the process is pretty self-explanatory (Select All, then click "Mark All As Read"), but as the Houston Chronicle explains, Gmail users have to take a few more steps.

When using Gmail on a computer (or in desktop mode on a device):

  • Open the site as usual and navigate to the Inbox if it is not the default.
     
  • In the search field at the top of the page, type the words "label:inbox is:unread" and hit Enter.
     
  • The "More" dropdown menu above your emails should now say "Mark All As Read," but it can only process up to 100 at a time.
     
  • Instead, go to the "Select" box (just below the search field and to the left), and click it to select all of the shown messages.
     
  • Gmail will then show you a message above the emails that reads "Select all conversations that match this search." Click on that.
     
  • Now go back to the "More" dropdown and choose the "Mark All As Read" option. Select "OK," and you're done.

    Unfortunately, things are not that easy when it comes to the Gmail App on Android and iOS devices. Mobile app users have found that the option to select all unread messages to perform bulk actions simply does not exist. The only alternative is to select each message individually first, and then use the "Mark As Unread" button, but with hundreds or thousands of unread emails, that can be a daunting task.

    So mobile users either have to sign onto a computer and follow the method above, or wait and hope that the feature is added in the near future.

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    Google's AI Can Make Its Own AI Now
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    Artificial intelligence is advanced enough to do some pretty complicated things: read lips, mimic sounds, analyze photographs of food, and even design beer. Unfortunately, even people who have plenty of coding knowledge might not know how to create the kind of algorithm that can perform these tasks. Google wants to bring the ability to harness artificial intelligence to more people, though, and according to WIRED, it's doing that by teaching machine-learning software to make more machine-learning software.

    The project is called AutoML, and it's designed to come up with better machine-learning software than humans can. As algorithms become more important in scientific research, healthcare, and other fields outside the direct scope of robotics and math, the number of people who could benefit from using AI has outstripped the number of people who actually know how to set up a useful machine-learning program. Though computers can do a lot, according to Google, human experts are still needed to do things like preprocess the data, set parameters, and analyze the results. These are tasks that even developers may not have experience in.

    The idea behind AutoML is that people who aren't hyper-specialists in the machine-learning field will be able to use AutoML to create their own machine-learning algorithms, without having to do as much legwork. It can also limit the amount of menial labor developers have to do, since the software can do the work of training the resulting neural networks, which often involves a lot of trial and error, as WIRED writes.

    Aside from giving robots the ability to turn around and make new robots—somewhere, a novelist is plotting out a dystopian sci-fi story around that idea—it could make machine learning more accessible for people who don't work at Google, too. Companies and academic researchers are already trying to deploy AI to calculate calories based on food photos, find the best way to teach kids, and identify health risks in medical patients. Making it easier to create sophisticated machine-learning programs could lead to even more uses.

    [h/t WIRED]

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    These LED Crosswalks Adapt to Whoever Is Crossing
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    Courtesy Umbrellium

    Crosswalks are an often-neglected part of urban design; they’re usually just white stripes on dark asphalt. But recently, they’re getting more exciting—and safer—makeovers. In the Netherlands, there is a glow-in-the-dark crosswalk. In western India, there is a 3D crosswalk. And now, in London, there’s an interactive LED crosswalk that changes its configuration based on the situation, as Fast Company reports.

    Created by the London-based design studio Umbrellium, the Starling Crossing (short for the much more tongue-twisting STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing) changes its layout, size, configuration, and other design factors based on who’s waiting to cross and where they’re going.

    “The Starling Crossing is a pedestrian crossing, built on today’s technology, that puts people first, enabling them to cross safely the way they want to cross, rather than one that tells them they can only cross in one place or a fixed way,” the company writes. That means that the system—which relies on cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor both pedestrian and vehicle traffic—adapts based on road conditions and where it thinks a pedestrian is going to go.

    Starling Crossing - overview from Umbrellium on Vimeo.

    If a bike is coming down the street, for example, it will project a place for the cyclist to wait for the light in the crosswalk. If the person is veering left like they’re going to cross diagonally, it will move the light-up crosswalk that way. During rush hour, when there are more pedestrians trying to get across the street, it will widen to accommodate them. It can also detect wet or dark conditions, making the crosswalk path wider to give pedestrians more of a buffer zone. Though the neural network can calculate people’s trajectories and velocity, it can also trigger a pattern of warning lights to alert people that they’re about to walk right into an oncoming bike or other unexpected hazard.

    All this is to say that the system adapts to the reality of the road and traffic patterns, rather than forcing pedestrians to stay within the confines of a crosswalk system that was designed for car traffic.

    The prototype is currently installed on a TV studio set in London, not a real road, and it still has plenty of safety testing to go through before it will appear on a road near you. But hopefully this is the kind of road infrastructure we’ll soon be able to see out in the real world.

    [h/t Fast Company]

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