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Tag: smartphone

From Kathmandu to Paris, the selfie

Thursday, 9 November, 2017 0 Comments

Sometimes, a headline is more baffling than illuminating. Example: “Oppo to launch selfie expert F5 in Nepal”. Oppo? And who is the “selfie expert” known cryptically as “F5”?

It helps if one knows that OPPO Electronics Corp. is a Chinese electronics firm based in Guangdong that’s intent on grabbing a share of the Asian smartphone market, and its new F5 model is being marketed as the device that “takes camera phones to the next generation.” Then there’s this: “It defies the paradox of marrying Artificial Intelligence technology with organic beauty to create the most natural and stunning of selfies.” How does it do that? Time to revisit our headline about Oppo, the F5 and Nepal. It’s from the Kathmandu Post and, quoting from the press release, the writer notes that “the AI will utilise information from a massive global photo database to beautify a selfie shot taken by the Oppo F5.” Is that “massive global photo database” Getty? Or is it a Chinese venture using surveillance photos for commercial purposes? There’s a story there.

Meanwhile, London-based creative Daniel McKee notes that more than six million people visit the Mona Lisa at the Louvre each year and “Many share their visit on social media.” Using images found on Instagram, he created this:


Machine learning on smartphones

Tuesday, 7 February, 2017 0 Comments

The language used by the acolytes of the high priests of the Information Age is richly encoded. Example: “TensorFlow is now available in a Docker image that’s compatible with Python 3, and for all Python users, TensorFlow can now be installed by pip, Python’s native package manager.”

That’s from an InfoWorld story by Serdar Yegulalp in which he says machine learning will one day run on a smartphone, without cloud support. At the heart of this development is TensorFlow the open-source, deep-learning framework developed by Google. Here’s how the engineers, using human language, decode it:


Samsung up in smoke; HTC and Huawei burned

Tuesday, 11 October, 2016 0 Comments

In business schools all over the world, the Samsung Galaxy Note7 case study is guaranteed to be popular. Case studies about the fall of video-rental companies or the rise of low-cost airlines are interesting in their own way, but because so many business students have a smartphone made in Asia, this one is, like, personal.

Fire Today’s press release headline is worthy of study: “Samsung Will Ask All Global Partners to Stop Sales and Exchanges of Galaxy Note7 While Further Investigation Takes Place.” One can almost sense the trust people have in Samsung’s products going up in smoke as that was being typed, and the jokes have started: “Galaxy Note 7 — the smartphone that doubles as a lighter.”

It’s the cover-up that gets you, they say, and it seems all the initial work Samsung did to undo the Note 7 damage has been undone by its ongoing denial that the phone was still dangerous. With its aggressive, can-do culture, this world leader in electronics could not imagine making a disastrous safety mistake… Twice!

Samsung’s nightmare does not automatically mean good news for HTC, however. Google has picked the Taiwanese electronics company to assemble its new Pixel smartphone, but by becoming for Google what Foxconn is to Apple, HTC has lost status. “HTC, You Loser” wrote Bloomberg technology columnist Tim Culpan: “After spending years building its design and engineering chops, HTC has been demoted to water boy. Supplying Google with smartphones isn’t a victory — it’s an embarrassing end to HTC’s decade-long campaign to break out of that contract-manufacturing business and stand on its own two feet.”

The catastrophe at Samsung and the degrading of HTC should work in favour of Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecommunications giant, but David Ruddock of Android Police pours cold water on that one:

“Google began talks with Huawei to produce its 2016 smartphone portfolio. Google, though, set a hard rule for the partnership: Huawei would be relegated to a manufacturing role, producing phones with Google branding. The Huawei logo and name would be featured nowhere on the devices’ exteriors or in their marketing… According to our source, word spread inside Huawei quickly that global CEO Richard Yu himself ended negotiations with Google right then and there.”

Meanwhile, Apple has brought forward its earnings report for the fourth fiscal quarter (third calendar quarter) of 2016. “Due to a scheduling conflict, Apple’s conference call to discuss fourth fiscal quarter results has been moved to Tuesday, October 25,” the company announced yesterday. It’s not clear what the conflict is, but there’s no smoke without fire. Also yesterday, Apple’s share price bounced 1.75 percent, hitting an intraday high of $116.75, the highest level since 10 December 2015.


comma.ai

Monday, 4 April, 2016 0 Comments

Given its name, one might think that a business titled “comma.ai” is working on a venture that combines punctuation and artificial intelligence. And the story gets more curious when one learns that it’s hiring “Competitors:”

Competitors: People who have done well at math competitions(USAMO, PUTNAM), competition programming(ACM, USACO, codejam, topcoder), science fairs(ISEF, STS), or capture the flag(DEFCON, secuinside, GITS). Those competitions don’t just select for ability, they also select for quickness. We are in a very competitive space.

comma The company slogan is “ghostriding for the masses”, which might be an obscure reference to punctuation, but it’s a nod to transport, in fact, because the brains behind this is George Hotz, a brilliant hacker, who has built his own self-driving car. He’s now forming a team of machine learning experts specializing in hardware, software and data, and Andreessen Horowitz announced today that it is leading a $3.1 million investment in Comma.ai.

Interestingly, it was on this day in 1994 that Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark founded Netscape. Eight years later, it was acquired by AOL in a deal valued at $4.2 billion. Back then, it was all about the web. Today, the key words are mobile, data and AI. On 21 February, the startups investor Chris Dixon wrote a post on Medium titled “What’s Next in Computing?” Snippet:

“I tend to think we are on the cusp of not one but multiple new eras. The ‘peace dividend of the smartphone war’created a Cambrian explosion of new devices, and developments in software, especially AI, will make those devices smart and useful.”

Comma. Punctuation, is? interesting!


Barthes on Bond

Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 0 Comments

“When we are told that Bond, upon hearing the telephone ring, while upon duty in his Secret Service office, ‘picked up one of the four receivers’, the moneme four constitutes in itself a functional unit, for it refers to a concept which is necessary to the story as a whole (one of a highly technical bureaucracy). In fact, in this case, the narrative unit is not the linguistic unit (the word) but only its connotative value (linguistically, the word four never means ‘four’).” Roland Barthes, An Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative (PDF).

Now that we’ve got our tickets for Spectre, it’s time to read what Roland Barthes had to say about James Bond. The great French literary critic, theorist and philosopher was a 007 fan and he subjected Goldfinger to close scrutiny in his ground-breaking structural analysis of the narrative form published in 1975. Nothing in that essay reflects the enormous technological changes in the past 50 years than Bond’s reaction to “hearing the telephone ring”. How did he react? Why, he “picked up one of the four receivers.” Imagine explaining that to 21st-century teens who spend most of their days and nights on their mobiles. What was a “receiver”? Why were four of them needed for taking a call? Back to Barthes:

“The administrative power that lies behind Bond, suggested by the number of lines on his phone, does not have any bearing on the sequence of actions triggered by the act of answering the phone; it only takes on value on the general level of typology of a character (Bond is on the side of Order).”

If Ronald Barthes were with us today, he’d have lots of fun deconstructing a recent item of Bond news about an object signified as a “smartphone”. Check this out: “Sony offered $5 million for Bond to carry the phone, with an $18 million bid to be the exclusive vendor. Samsung offered the same $5 million deal for Bond, but beefed the total payment to $50 million. Both offers were rejected by Bond actor Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes, after judging the phones to be too lackluster for Bond.”

Towards the end of his life, Barthes said: “All of a sudden it didn’t bother me not being modern.”

Spectre


Getting ready for the next billion

Friday, 17 October, 2014 0 Comments

Between 2015 and 2020, one billion new people are expected to come online for the first time, mainly through mobile-based internet connections. Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg talks with Michal Lev-Ram of Fortune about the next billion, his company’s innovation labs and the future of mobile data in a digital-dependent economy. “By 2019,” says Vestberg, “90 percent of the Earth’s population above six years will have a mobile phone.”

Ericsson, meanwhile, is talking up 5G, which it claims “will make completely new applications possible and bring even greater benefits to society. For example, near-zero latency enables machinery to be remotely operated in hazardous environments as well as driverless cars.”


GigaOM gets responsive

Thursday, 10 January, 2013 0 Comments

January AdAge headline: “AOL to Redesign All Content Sites with Responsive Design.” December Mashable headline: “Why 2013 Is the Year of Responsive Web Design.” What’s going on? Well, responsive design is a new approach that enables web developers to build and maintain a single website to serve to all kinds of devices: smartphones, tablets, laptops […]

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Shipments of Samsung phones from Vietnam surge

Friday, 9 November, 2012 0 Comments

The visitor to Vietnam is confronted by so many contrasts that it’s difficult to make sense of the picture. A buffalo stubbornly pulls a traditional wooden plough through rice fields as a sleek Toyota Lexus whizzes by on dangerously pot-holed roads. Tired workers gulp down rice noodles at ad-hoc sidewalk restaurants while svelte communists shop […]

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The smartphone is the fastest spreading technology in history

Tuesday, 10 July, 2012

“Although devices combining telephony and computing were conceptualized as early as 1973 and were offered for sale beginning in 1994, the term ‘smartphone’ did not appear until 1997, when Ericsson described its GS 88 ‘Penelope’ concept as a “Smart Phone”. Source: Wikipedia

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Rainy Day Siri with Zooey

Tuesday, 24 April, 2012

The artist Zooey Deschanel is named after Zooey Glass, the male protagonist of J. D. Salinger’s 1961 novella Franny and Zooey. Meanwhile, we’re wondering how Siri will respond to the liquid metal.