Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Answering the Call for Code

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Today is the first day submissions can be made for Call for Code, an open source initiative to minimize the devastating human impact of natural disasters.

Starting today and ending on August 31st, developers and/or developer teams can submit technology solutions to help organizations like the United Nations Human Rights Office and the international services of the American Red Cross in their efforts to better prepare against fires, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes, and benefit Call for Code’s charitable partners — the United Nations Human Rights Office and the American Red Cross.

Developers will have access to IBM technologies such as weather data from The Weather Company, cloud, AI, and blockchain technologies, as well as training and other resources to help jump start projects.

Since announcing the initiative on May 24th, Call for Code has received support from across the global community. Events have taken place in over 50 cities around the world, the Linux Foundation is rallying developers to participate, and Linux Torvalds, the creator of Linux, will help evaluate submissions.

The winner will be announced at a benefit concert in mid-October, with proceeds going to the United Nations.

You can learn more about Call for Code here.

Written by turbotodd

June 18, 2018 at 10:10 am

The Supercomputing Summit

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Okay, let me be up front: I’m just back from a week’s vacation and my brain is mush.

But the neurons are slowly starting to refire.

NOT as fast, I might add, as IBM’s new supercomputer, Summit, which was built in partnership with the Oak Ridge National Lab and is now the world’s smartest and most powerful AI machine.

WIRED recently wrote up the new machine, and here are some noteworthy bits:

America hasn’t possessed the world’s most powerful supercomputer since June 2013, when a Chinese machine first claimed the title. Summit is expected to end that run when the official ranking of supercomputers, from an organization called Top500, is updated later this month

Summit, built by IBM, occupies floor space equivalent to two tennis courts, and slurps 4,000 gallons of water a minute around a circulatory system to cool its 37,000 processors. 

Oak Ridge says its new baby can deliver a peak performance of 200 quadrillion calculations per second (that’s 200 followed by 15 zeros) using a standard measure used to rate supercomputers, or 200 petaflops. That’s about a million times faster than a typical laptop, and nearly twice the peak performance of China’s top-ranking Sunway TaihuLight.

Summit has nearly 28,000 graphics processors made by Nvidia, alongside more than 9,000 conventional processors from IBM.

Summit will be used to help analyze a wide array of deep learning challenges ranging from astronomy to chemistry to biology and beyond.

Written by turbotodd

June 11, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Mary Meeker’s Latest Internet Trends Report

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Mary Meeker’s latest Internet Trends report was released yesterday, and like so many others, I’m rough and tumbling through her slides as fast as my little can keep up.  

TechCrunch provided a quick snapshot summary that I found very helpful before embarking upon my deeper dive:

Internet adoption: As of 2018, half the world population, or about 3.6 billion people, will be on the internet. That’s thanks in large part to cheaper Android phones and Wifi becoming more available, though individual services will have a tougher time adding new users as the web hits saturation.
Mobile usage: While smartphone shipments are flat and internet user growth is slowing, U.S. adults are spending more time online thanks to mobile, clocking 5.9 hours per day in 2017 versus 5.6 hours in 2016.
Mobile ads: People are shifting their time to mobile faster than ad dollars are following, creating a $7 billion mobile ad opportunity, though platforms are increasingly responsible for providing safe content to host those ads.
Crypto: Interest in cryptocurrency is exploding as Coinbase’s user count has nearly quadrupled since January 2017
Voice: Voice technology is at an inflection point due to speech recognition hitting 95% accuracy and the sales explosion for Amazon Echo which went from over 10 million to over 30 million sold in total by the end of 2017.
Daily usage – Revenue gains for services like Facebook are tightly coupled with daily user growth, showing how profitable it is to become a regular habit.
Tech investment: We’re at an all-time high for public and private investment in technology, while the top six public R&D + capex spenders are all technology companies.
Ecommerce vs Brick & Mortar: Ecommerce growth quickens as now 13% of all retail purchases happen online and parcel shipments are rising swiftly, signaling big opportunities for new shopping apps.
Amazon: More people start product searches on Amazon than search engines now, but Jeff Bezos still relies on other surfaces like Facebook and YouTube to inspire people to want things.
Subscription services: They’re seeing massive adoption, with Netflix up 25%, The New York Times up 43%, and Spotify up 48% year-over-year in 2017. A free tier accelerates conversion rates.
Education: Employees seek retraining and education from YouTube and online courses to keep up with new job requirements and pay off skyrocketing student loan debt.
Freelancing: Employees crave scheduling and work-from-home flexibility, and internet discovery of freelance work led it to grow 3X faster than total workforce growth. The on-demand workforce grew 23% in 2017 driven by Uber, Airbnb, Etsy, Upwork, and Doordash.
Transportation: People are buying fewer cars, keeping them longer, and shifting transportation spend to rideshare, which saw rides double in 2017.
Enterprise: Consumerization of the enterprise through better interfaces is spurring growth for companies like Dropbox and Slack.
China: Alibaba is expanding beyond China with strong gross merchandise volume, though Amazon still rules in revenue.
Privacy: China has a big opportunity as users there are much more willing to trade their personal data for product benefits than U.S. users, and China is claiming more spots on the top 20 internet company list while making big investments in AI.
Immigration: It is critical to a strong economy, as 56% of top U.S. companies were founded by a first- or second-generation immigrant.

So to summarize:

Half the world’s population will be on the Internet by the end of the year, but smartphone shipments are slowing.  

Voice interfaces are a small but growing minority, while tech investment is at an all-time high.  

E-commerce is creaming brick and mortar, leaving traditional retailing pockmarks across the American retail landscape. 

Amazon is the king of the e-commerce jungle, and Google may ought to be worried considering that more people start product searches on Amazon now than on search engines. 

People are more willing to pay for subscriptions now, which is a good thing, because the privacy police around the world are questioning whether the trade-off for personal information is worth the cost to consumers (and elections) of “free” services like Facebook. 

Aautomobile manufacturers had better pivot and quick, because people are buying fewer cars, keeping them longer, and increasingly willing to use ridesharing services.

Which is good for all those millions of folks now focused on making their living via the so-called “gig” economy.

In short, less phones, more Amazon, no privacy, and lots and lots of low-paying freelance gigs.

Written by turbotodd

May 31, 2018 at 10:51 am

Posted in 2018

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A Deal’s a Deal

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Happy Monday…err, Tuesday. 

If you’re here in the U.S., here’s hoping you had a nice, long holiday weekend, and that you took a few moments to remember the memory of the service men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice. They really are our nation’s heroes.

Now, even though it’s a Tuesday and not a Monday, there are some tech deals already looming and/or happening this week.

Reuters is reporting that Alibaba’s fintech affiliate Ant Financial has raised $10 billion, valuing the company at $140 billion.

In this round, Reuters reports that a number of global sovereign wealth funds and private equity firms joined the fundraising as main investors, including funding from Carlyle Group LP and VC firm Sequoia Capital.

Ant is controlled by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd founder Jack Ma. As Reuters reports, it was spun off from Alibaba when the group went public, and has diversified over the years into credit services, asset management, and online banking, as well as owning the Alipay payment platform.

In a deal closer to home, private equity firm KKR has said it will acquire BMC Software from an investment group that includes Bain Capital, Golden Gate Capital, and others.

According to a report from ZDNet, BMC has pivoted from mainframe software to being more of an IT service management play and cloud management and application optimization provider.

BMC Software had gone private in 2013 in a deal worth $6.9 billion.

And not to be outdone, the city of London has introduced a contactless payment scheme for buskers that will allow passers-by to use card readers to show their support for the city’s street performers. 

The BBC report indicates that the organization Busk in London is working with iZettle on the scheme and would be made available to buskers in all the capital’s boroughs over the coming months.

Written by turbotodd

May 29, 2018 at 9:29 am

Posted in 2018, payment systems

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Smarter Speakers…and Payments

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Strategy Analytics has released sales figures for voice assistants in the first quarter of 2018, and has reported that Apple sold an estimated 600K HomePod speakers.

If that number is correct, then Apple would have captured just 6 percent of the global smart speaker market, well behind Amazon and Google, according to a report by MacRumors.

During the same time period, Amazon shipped an estimated 4 million Echo smart speakers, giving it a 43.6 percent market share, and Google 26.5 percent with 2.4 million sales.

And year-over-year, Amazon’s sales increased by two million, and Google’s by 2.1 million.

Meanwhile, back at the payment settlement ranch ​PayPal is looking to square its game against Square and Stripe by buying iZettle for $2.2 billion in an all-cash deal.

According to a report from TechCrunch, the deal is expected to settle in Q3 2018, and would be PayPal’s biggest-ever transaction.

iZettle currently has operations in 12 markets, including several in northern Europe and Mexico, as well as in the U.K.

Written by turbotodd

May 18, 2018 at 10:23 am

Posted in 2018, amazon, payment systems

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Google’s New News

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Google not own enough of your digital life yet?

If no, try the new Google News on iOS, which the company announced at its I/O devcon last week. 

As reported by The Verge, The new Google News on iOS is similar to the one you’ll find on Android, and centers around using machine learning to train algorithms to comb through complex, fast breaking news stories.

It then breaks them down in easy to understand formats like chronological timelines, local news aggregation, and stories presented in the developing and evolving sequence.

The app is organized into four sections now, the first of which is a “For You” personalized list of the top five stories Google’s software think you’ll want to read alongside a few other algorithmically chosen articles and local news stories.

It also includes other sections focused on core headlines, a favorite section, and the “Newsstand,” which lets you subscribe to news organizations who offer a monthly subscription for web or print access or charge a monthly fee to bypass a web pay wall.

News junkie that I am, I went ahead and downloaded the new version of Google News for iOS (hey, it’s free! Well, other than all that information about myself I’m giving away…), and eerily, the first five headlines “For Me” were pretty much spot on.

While I won’t get into specifics of what the stories were, they involved international affairs, golf, and Japanese whiskey, in that order.

All that news that’s fit to print just  for you, and then some.

Written by turbotodd

May 16, 2018 at 9:42 am

Posted in 2018

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State of Blockchain Q1 2018 Report

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As the CoinDesk Consensus 2018 cryptocurrency and blockchain event kicks off this morning in NYC, CoinDesk released its “Q1 2018 State of Blockchain Report.”

Peter Ryan with Disqus detailed some of the top 6 takeaways that defined Q1 2018:

  1. It’s a bear market for crypto. Following its peak of $20K, bitcoin suffered a 51 percent decline in the first quarter. However, 79 percent of respondents to the CoinDesk Sentiment Survey said they thought this bear market would be short-lived.
  2. Crypto market is maturing. Bitcoin futures markets were introduced in Q417, and there’s been steady growth in this activity through Q118. But the shorts outpaced the longs, 5,000 to 3,000, which has likely led to the slumping price, along with a fall in demand in the spot bitcoin market.
  3. Miners stay long. The amount of processing power devoted to securing the bitcoin network diverged from the market cap, with the hash rate (a measure bitcoin mining) growing 47 percent over the quarter. Miners take the long view.
  4. Taxes are coming into the picture. Cryptocurrencies generated an estimated $70 billion in global tax revenue for 2017. But the tax parameters around crypto remain confusing to survey respondents, both about the legal and tax status of the entire asset class.
  5. ICOs continue to boom. ICO raised $6.3 billion in Q1, and the average raise has almost doubled from $16 million to $31 million.
  6. Fees decline. Transaction fees on the bitcoin network dropped from an average of $40 in Q417 to around $9.49 per transaction in Q118.

As for the broader opportunity for the blockchain, SiliconAngle’s James Kobielus writes that today’s blockchain startups “will need to show that they have staying power and can ride a ‘land-and-expand’ strategy to greater success.” 

And he asserts that to be considered to be mature enough for broad enterprise deployment, a commercial blockchain platform would need to meet several criteria:

  • Blockchain solutions should be general-purpose in their ability to be deployed into a wide range of industries, business functions and other application domains.
  • They should be deployable into private clouds, public clouds and various multicloud deployments of a hybrid, B2B and community-wide nature.
  • They should be able integrate seamless with enterprise investments in other data, transaction, security and other platforms.
  • They should be standardized within a dominant open-source community with wide representation.

He also writes that:

Of the principal blockchain projects, only the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric is likely to become the standardized foundation for truly enterprise-grade open-source blockchains. Contributed by IBM Corp. and Digital Asset, Hyperledger, now in version 1.0, boasts more than 185 collaborating enterprises across finance, banking, the “internet of things,” supply chain, manufacturing and technology.

You can read more in Kobelius’ post here.

Written by turbotodd

May 14, 2018 at 10:36 am

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