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The future for Intel is small

Wednesday, 20 April, 2016 0 Comments

Headline: Intel to Cut 12,000 Jobs, Puts Focus on Cloud. Why this? Why now? Because of two self-inflicted mistakes:

  • (i) ignoring the decline of the PC
  • (ii) ignoring the rise of the smartphone

“The old way of doing things reaches perfection just as it’s time to be replaced,” says Benedict Evans when telling people that mobile is going to eat the world. And it’s true. As one technological ecosystem becomes obsolete, it is replaced by a new model that expands to fulfill the needs of an even larger market. So, Intel out.

Is has been predicted that 70 per cent of the sub-Saharan population will be on 3G network connections by 2019, and that 80 per cent of the world’s adult population will have a smartphone by the end of this decade. In other words, the market for the IT industry is, for the first time in history, everyone on this planet. Intel thought that the “complete” internet was available on a PC while smartphones offered a “miniature” version of the web. That view has been upended and smartphones now offer a more mobile, flexible, full-featured internet experience. Mobile has eaten Intel’s lunch.


The Story of Zero

Tuesday, 19 April, 2016 0 Comments

Now, this is a good example of collaboration. The Royal Institution, founded in 1799 and devoted to scientific education and research, the illustrator Andrew Khosravani, and Dr Hannah Fry, lecturer in the Mathematics of Cities at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London, pool their resources to present the history of zero. There’s nothing like a little animation to make the cornerstone of calculus lively.


The burger bot

Monday, 18 April, 2016 0 Comments

Example 1: “Given nature of my work, I’m involved on Burger King® brand digital matters,” writes Steve Greenwood, who shows that one can dispense with the “the”.

Example 2: “Over last few months, my team and I have embarked on an exciting new journey: taking a traditionally offline company and turning it digital.”

Grammar aside, that company is Restaurant Brands International, which owns the Burger King brand. Burger King is big, Facebook is big and Steve Greenwood sees a global synergy in the making: “And one of most dominant existing user behaviors on mobile is with messaging and in particular Facebook Messenger,” he notes. His goal: to build “automated capabilities like bots” on the Messenger platform. Here’s his vision:

“You can use Messenger to book a flight, request an Uber, and later this year, we will begin releasing our bot on Messenger, which will at some point provide a whole new way to order a Whopper and all your other favorite Burger King food — all without leaving Messenger.”

The bots are coming, and they are hungry.


Mother’s cake

Sunday, 17 April, 2016 0 Comments

“His father is out cutting wood, so he goes to his mother.
‘Mother, I must away and see the world, or I shall go mad.’
Says his mother, ‘If you must go, go you must, and God go with you! I will bake you a cake. Will you have a little cake with my blessing, or a big cake with my cursing?’
Says Jack, ‘Make me a big cake, mother. It will last longer.’
His mother makes him a big cake, and he sets out. And she is standing on the roof of the house, calling curses after him as far as she can see him.”

The Red King and the Witch: Gypsy Folk and Fairy Tales by Ruth Manning-Sanders

Mother's cake


On The Birthday Of Synge

Saturday, 16 April, 2016 0 Comments

The playwright and poet John Millington Synge was born on this day in 1871. A key figure in the Irish Literary Revival and one of the co-founders of the Abbey Theatre, he is best known for his play The Playboy of the Western World, which caused riots in Dublin during its opening run at the Abbey. Although he came from a privileged Anglo-Irish background, Synge’s writings are mainly concerned with the Catholic culture of rural Ireland and with the earthy spiritualism of its world view. Synge developed Hodgkin’s disease, which was then untreatable, and he died shortly before his 38th birthday.

On A Birthday

Friend of Ronsard, Nashe, and Beaumont,
Lark of Ulster, Meath, and Thomond,
Heard from Smyrna and Sahara
To the surf of Connemara,
Lark of April, June, and May,
Sing loudly this my Lady-day.

John Millington Synge (16 April 1871 — 24 March 1909)

The Playboy of the Western World


Playground: The next Big Thing, again

Friday, 15 April, 2016 0 Comments

The history of computing over the past four decades shows that a new platform emerges roughly every 12 years or so:

So, what’s next? Artificial intelligence as a service. Andy Rubin has created Playground, which aims to create a manufacturing and development platform for AI-equipped devices. Playground will build a common infrastructure for these, just as Windows did for PCs and Android did for smartphones. It’s all about the device, not the network:

“At this point, that big, big idea may sound familiar. For the past several years, technol­ogists have heralded the dawn of the Internet of Things — networked thermostats, lightbulbs, refrigerators, and other gizmos that talk to one another. Companies like Google, Apple, and Samsung have all built proprietary ecosystems to enable that communication and are racing to convince manufacturers to build products for them. But Rubin says they have it backward; ecosystems arise to support popular products, not the other way around. Play­ground’s first step is to provide startups with the tech­nology to build new devices; the network will emerge later.”

That’s a quote from “Andy Rubin Unleashed Android on the World. Now Watch Him Do The Same With AI,” which appeared in the March issue of Wired. Earlier this week, John Battelle expanded on Jason Tanz’s article in a NewCo piece titled “Android’s Founder Wants To Give The Internet A Body.” Now that house prices in San Francisco have fallen for the first time in four years, one gets the feeling that the search for the Next Big Thing is taking on a new urgency around the Bay Area.

Playground


We need to dialogue around

Thursday, 14 April, 2016 0 Comments

dialogue around [phrasal verb]: to take part in a conversation to resolve a problem. Example: “Steve, we need to dialogue around your choice of office attire.”

The awful “dialogue around” is up there with “action” as a verb: “You can’t call her now. She’s actioning the deliverables.” The adjective “amped”, meaning to be excited about something, is in the same category: “They’re really amped about the new site.”

Business communications would be a lot easier if people dropped the jargon. On the other hand, if you want to speak “corporate”, the Center for Corporate Studies talks the talk of those who disintermediate, enthuse and incent.


Siri says Jon Snow is…

Wednesday, 13 April, 2016 1 Comment

HBO made millions of people happy recently when it announced that Game of Thrones Season 6 (The Winds of Winter) will premiere on 24 April. The talk now is that the show will need at least seven, if not eight seasons to complete the “journey,” to use our jargon Word of the Day. GOT could run for another five years, in other words.

Because the presence of the charismatic character Jon Snow is uncertain in The Winds of Winter, Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, has been pressed into service and lots of news sites are hawking stories about what happens when you ask Siri if Jon Snow is dead. No spoilers here, however. Our question was oblique.

Siri


The bots of F8

Tuesday, 12 April, 2016 0 Comments

Facebook’s F8 developer conference takes place today and tomorrow in San Francisco, and while Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t revealed what he’ll be revealing during the two-day event, there’s been a lot of buzz around bots. Specifically, chatbots within Facebook Messenger. At last year’s F8, Facebook presented its Messenger service, which gives developers access to a platform with more than 900 million users and the word on the street is that today we’ll see Facebook launch new APIs to bring chatbots into Messenger.

Bots are being touted as the new apps and Facebook’s anticipated move is designed to make up on ground lost to Telegram, Kik, WeChat and Slack. They’re all racing ahead with bot research. Google is rumoured to be working on a messaging-based chat bot and Microsoft, which is still recovering from the Tay meltdown, is incorporating the AI technology via Skype in the shape of video bots. Future slogan: “There’s a bot for that!”


How Rembrandt is this?

Monday, 11 April, 2016 0 Comments

Combine the resources of ING Group, Microsoft, the Rembrandthuis, the Mauritshuis and the Delft University of Technology and you get, well, lots of things, but in this particular case the result is The Next Rembrandt.

“We examined the entire collection of Rembrandt’s work, studying the contents of his paintings pixel by pixel. To get this data, we analyzed a broad range of materials like high resolution 3D scans and digital files, which were upscaled by deep learning algorithms to maximize resolution and quality. This extensive database was then used as the foundation for creating The Next Rembrandt.”

Ron Augustus, Microsoft Services Directeur Nederland

Doubters will, no doubt, say that Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn could paint thousands of variations of his subjects and that the program which “painted” The Next Rembrandt is limited in its creative ability. True, but IBM’s Watson and Google’s AlphaGO were greeted with scepticism, initially. Data is not to be laughed at anymore, and it can be, in the case of The Next Rembrandt, rather beautiful.

The Next Rembrandt


Strong structures, solid foundations

Sunday, 10 April, 2016 0 Comments

“We depend on our surroundings obliquely to embody the moods and ideas we respect and then to remind us of them. We look to our buildings to hold us, like a kind of psychological mould, to a helpful vision of ourselves. We arrange around us material forms which communicate to us what we need — but are at constant risk of forgetting what we need — within.” Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness

The tower