Turbotodd

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

IBM Partners To Study Body Bacteria and Autoimmune Diseases

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The general public’s help is being enlisted in what’s thought to be the biggest study of the human microbiome—the bacteria that live in and on the human body – and is believed to affect health.

The Microbiome Immunity Project is a new, IBM-facilitated (NYSE: IBM) citizen science project by scientists from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital, University of California San Diego, and the Simons Foundation’s Flatiron Institute.

It will use the surplus processing power on volunteers’ computers to conduct millions of virtual experiments on behalf of the researchers. These experiments aim to map the three million bacterial genes found in the human microbiome and predict the structure of their associated proteins. The project will begin with the analysis of the microbiome in the digestive system.

This study aims to help scientists better understand the microbiome’s interaction with human biochemistry and determine how that interaction may contribute to autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis—illnesses that affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide, and that are being diagnosed with increasing frequency. With better understanding, scientists might be able to more easily prevent and treat these diseases.

Because studying the entire human microbiome would be almost impossible with traditional methods, massive supercomputing processing power is being crowdsourced via IBM’s World Community Grid.

Anyone in the world can help by simply volunteering to provide compute power. Here’s how it works: People download a secure software program that automatically detects when a computer can offer spare processing power, then taps it to run virtual experiments on behalf of researchers.

The resulting data from millions of these experiments will be analyzed by the project’s research team. The researchers will make that data publicly available to other scientists, accelerating the advancement of scientific knowledge –and ultimately improved treatments –of autoimmune diseases.

Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can join World Community Grid and sign up to support the Microbiome Immunity Project.

Since its founding in 2004, World Community Grid has supported 29 research projects in areas such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, Zika, clean water, renewable energy and other humanitarian challenges.

To date, World Community Grid, hosted by IBM Cloud, has connected researchers to $500 million U.S. dollars’ worth of free supercomputing power. More than 730,000 individuals and 430 institutions from 80 countries have donated more than one million years of computing time from more than three million computers and Android devices.

Volunteer participation has helped researchers to identify potential treatments for childhood cancer, more efficient solar cells, and more efficient water filtration.

To learn more about World Community Grid and volunteer to contribute your unused computing power, please visit https://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/


Todd "Turbo" Watson
Twitter:@turbotodd
Blog: www.turbotodd.com
Email: toddhttp://about.me/toddwatson

Written by turbotodd

August 23, 2017 at 9:34 am

Posted in 2017, ibm cloud, world community grid

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I Need A New Toaster!

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I need to order a new toaster.

My old one recently died a premature death.

Where do I find a new toaster?

The last one had been a wonderful wedding gift (which made me all the more reluctant to buy a new one…I’d be getting rid of a precious wedding gift…well, as precious as a toaster can get).

I could cook toast in the oven, but it’s not the same as a toaster, I don’t think. You have to keep a close eye on it, and I have to remove all those pots and pans from the oven first before I can toast anything. It’s just a hassle.

So, I’m now in the market for a toaster. How is that gonna go down?

Well, if it’s anything like the new French Presse coffee maker I ordered due to a crack in the old one (not a wedding gift), it’s gonna a little something like this: I’m going to go to Amazon, do a quick search, and buy the cheapest toaster I can find.

That’s how it’s gonna go.

But just overnight, Walmart and Google announced a new partnership that could change the toaster ordering game….at least for those who use the Google Assistant.

As reported by TechCrunch, the new partnership will enable voice shopping through Google Assistant, and will tap into Walmart’s “Easy Reorder” feature through an integration with Google’s shopping service, Google Express.

Sam Walton would be proud: You can now talk directly to Walmart and order your stuff. Even a toaster.

Furthermore, the story continues, Google Express is ditching its own membership fees (take that, Jeff B!), and is promising free delivery across its retailers in one to three days, assuming the customer orders are above each store’s minimum.

So, this is basically Google and Walmart ganging up to beat up on their friend, Amazon, and working to steal some share from Amazon Echo in the process.

“Okay, Google, but what if I’m already an Amazon Echo man?”

“Google? Google, are you there?!”

Written by turbotodd

August 23, 2017 at 8:47 am

IBM Introduces Blockchain Platform, New Academic and Developer Initiatives to Advance Blockchain Skills

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A group of leading companies across the global food supply chain today announced a major blockchain collaboration with IBM intended to further strengthen consumer confidence in the global food system. The consortium includes Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever and Walmart, who will work with IBM to identify new areas where the global supply chain can benefit from blockchain.

Every year, one-in-ten people fall ill – and 400,000 die – due to contaminated food. Many of the critical issues impacting food safety such as cross-contamination, the spread of food-borne illness, unnecessary waste and the economic burden of recalls are magnified by lack of access to information and traceability.

It can take weeks to identify the precise point of contamination, causing further illness, lost revenue and wasted product. For example, it took more than two months to identify the farm source of contamination in a recent incidence of salmonella in papayas.

Blockchain is ideally suited to help address these challenges because it establishes a trusted environment for all transactions. In the case of the global food supply chain, all participants — growers, suppliers, processors, distributors, retailers, regulators and consumers — can gain permissioned access to known and trusted information regarding the origin and state of food for their transactions.

This can enable food providers and other members of the ecosystem to use a blockchain network to trace contaminated product to its source in a short amount of time to ensure safe removal from store shelves and stem the spread of illnesses.

Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever, Walmart and others are now coming together with IBM to further champion blockchain as an enabling technology for the food sector.

New IBM Blockchain Platform

Beyond food supply chain applications, blockchains are now being used to transform processes and streamline transactions for everything from flowers, real estate and trade finance, to education, insurance and medical services.

To accelerate this adoption, IBM is introducing the first fully integrated, enterprise-grade production blockchain platform, as well as consulting services, that will allow more organizations to quickly activate their own business networks and access the vital capabilities needed to successfully develop, operate, govern and secure these networks. The IBM Blockchain Platform is available via the IBM Cloud.

The platform builds off of the successful blockchain work IBM has delivered to more than 400 organizations, incorporating insights gained as IBM has built blockchain networks across industries including financial services, supply chain and logistics, retail, government and health care.

Extensively tested and piloted, the platform addresses a wide range of enterprise pain points, including both business and technical requirements around security, performance, collaboration and privacy that no other blockchain platform delivers today. It includes innovation developed through open source collaboration in the Hyperledger community, including the newest Hyperledger Fabric v1.0 framework and Hyperledger Composer blockchain tool, both hosted by the Linux Foundation.

The integrated platform allows multiple parties to jointly develop, govern, operate and secure blockchain networks to help enterprises accelerate blockchain adoption.

For developers, easy and flexible network tools designed to bring blockchain networks up to speed in minutes. The platform also includes the first commercial introduction of Hyperledger Composer a framework that helps developers focus on the business use case and more easily and quickly map it to the application code.

Developers can create standard business language in JavaScript and the APIs help keep development work at the business level, rather than being highly technical, making it possible for most any programmer to be a blockchain developer. Additionally, a variety of IBM Developer Journeys for blockchain are available featuring free open source code, documentation, APIs, architecture diagrams and one-click deployment Git repositories to fast-track building.

In addition to food safety, IBM is advancing other blockchain supply chain initiatives using the IBM Blockchain Platform for an automated billing and invoicing system. Initial work to use blockchain for invoicing is underway starting with Lenovo. This will provide an audit-ready solution with full traceability of billing and operational data, and help speed on-boarding time for new vendors and new contract requirements.

To complement the new platform, IBM Global Business Services offers Blockchain Services, which brings deep industry expertise from its 1,600 blockchain consultants who have helped clients deploy and integrate active networks. These consultants can apply design thinking to help enterprises conceptualize and implement blockchain enabled business models to realize optimal value.

For example, during recent blockchain projects with major shipping and retail organizations, IBM consultants have been able to improve food safety traceability by 99.9 percent and decrease trade document workflow by 97percent, potentially unlocking millions of dollars in cost savings and market capital.

Expanding the Blockchain Ecosystem Across Academia and the Start Up Community

To help meet the increasing demand for a skilled technical workforce trained in blockchain, IBM is making available a wide range of resources including software, training and professional partnerships free of charge to more than 1,000 universities in the IBM Academic Initiative. Offerings include six months of access to the IBM Cloud for use of the IBM Blockchain cloud sandbox to help students hone development skills.

IBM is also working with select universities including Baruch College/CUNY, Fordham University, University of Arkansas, University at Buffalo and University of British Columbia to fund research grants, develop customized curricula and host workshops and hackathons. For technologists who want more in-depth guidance, IBM has refreshed its blockchain training and educational materials on developerWorks for Hyperledger Fabric 1.0.

As interest in Hyperledger Fabric continues to grow, IBM is also working with other companies such as Boldstart Ventures, to provide support and resources that broaden access. Boldstart Ventures has launched Fabric Foundry, the first accelerator dedicated to this framework, to foster adoption.

Written by turbotodd

August 22, 2017 at 8:41 am

Posted in blockchain, developers, food safety, ibm

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A Solar Eclipse of the Heart

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Did you hear?

There’s a major total solar eclipse going on today.

Not sure how you could have missed it. This is going to be the most overwatched, overphotographed celestial events in the history of mankind.

I’m way far south of the Zone of Totality, so I wasn’t able to experience the total eclipse firsthand. But I was able to catch it on ABC with David Muir and his crew.

At the peak eclipse here in Austin at 1:10 PM CST, you could definitely sense a darkening of the light out (but nothing like what folks in the Total Zone [my shorthand] saw.

If you’re still watching out in the eastern US, check it out on NASA TV.

Uh, and don’t look straight into the sun without some of those fancy solar eclipse glasses. It’s not good for you.

As opposed to any other time you might be tempted to look straight into the sun.

Written by turbotodd

August 21, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Posted in nasa, space

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Taking Cyber Command

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Happy Friday.

Well, as happy as you can get about this week.

I’m still sending warm, fuzzy sangria and tapas thoughts out to all mi amigos in Barcelona. One of the world’s great cities, and if I could transport myself Star Trek style I’d be trekking down Las Ramblas in solidarity with my Spanish friends this very evening.

Instead, I’ll knock back an Estrella later and dream of Gaudi buildings.

In the meantime, the cyber world moves on, and Politico reported some interesting news earlier today out of the Trump Administration.

President Trump announced today that U.S. Cyber Command has now been elevated to a "Unified Combatant Command," putting it on equal footing with other organizations that oversee military ops in the Middle East, Europe, and the Pacific.

In a statement, the president said the following:

"This new Unified Combatant Command will strengthen our cyberspace operations and create more opportunities to improve our Nation’s defense. The elevation of United States Cyber Command demonstrates our increased resolve against cyberspace threats and will help reassure our allies and partners and deter our adversaries."

TechCrunch elaborated in its own coverage that "whatever happens" with this change, it will be "welcomed by many" and that "there is a sense that we are being outplayed by cyber operatives in countries and organizations all over the world, from Russia to IS."

Ya think??!

Written by turbotodd

August 18, 2017 at 3:10 pm

JDRF and IBM Collaborate to Research Risk Factors for Type 1 Diabetes in Children

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IBM and JDRF, the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, today announced a new collaboration to develop and apply machine learning methods to analyze years of global T1D research data and identify factors leading to the onset of T1D in children.

T1D affects approximately 1.25 million Americans, and it currently does not have a cure. This research collaboration is expected to create an entry point for T1D in the field of precision medicine, by combining JDRF’s connections to research teams around the globe and its subject matter expertise in T1D research with the technical capability and computing power of IBM.

“At JDRF, we are absolutely committed to seeing a world without type 1 diabetes, and with this partnership, we’re adding some of the most advanced computing power in the world to our mission,” said Derek Rapp, JDRF President and CEO.

“JDRF supports researchers all over the world, but never before have we been able to analyze their data comprehensively, in a way that can tell us why some children who are at risk get T1D and others do not. IBM’s analysis of the existing data could open the door to understanding the risk factors of T1D in a whole new way, and to one day finding a way to prevent T1D altogether.”

IBM scientists will look across at least three different data sets and apply machine learning algorithms to help find patterns and factors at play, with the goal of identifying ways that could delay or prevent T1D in children. In order to match variables and data formats and compare the differing data sets, the scientists plan to leverage previously collected data from global research projects.

Data analysis will explore the inclusion of genetic, familial, autoantibody and other variables to create a foundational set of features that is common to all data sets. The models that will be produced will quantify the risk for T1D from the combined dataset using this foundational set of features. As a result, JDRF will be in a better position to identify top predictive risk factors for T1D, cluster patients based on top risk factors, and explore a number of data-driven models for predicting onset.

“Nearly 40,000 new cases of type 1 diabetes will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. And each new patient creates new records and new data points that, if leveraged, could provide additional understanding of the disease,” says Jianying Hu, Senior Manager and Program Director, Center for Computational Health at IBM Research. “The deep expertise our team has in artificial intelligence applied to healthcare data makes us uniquely positioned to help JDRF unlock the insights hidden in this massive data set and advance the field of precision medicine towards the prevention and management of diabetes.”

Future phases of the collaboration may consist of furthering the analysis of big data toward the goal of better understanding causes of T1D. They may also consist of analyzing more complex datasets, such as microbiome and genomics or transcriptomics data. Finally, but no less importantly, the knowledge gained through these efforts could also help JDRF in its pursuit of a cure for people with T1D.

Written by turbotodd

August 18, 2017 at 10:39 am

Posted in diabetes, healthcare, ibm

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Chase the Total Solar Eclipse

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Millions of consumers depend on The Weather Channel and weather.com for their daily forecasts, breaking weather news, and the latest in health and travel. And, on August 21, they will be able to experience a solar eclipse like never before.

The Weather Channel digital properties and Twitter have teamed up for a live stream of this once-in-a lifetime celestial event, which will allow consumers to chase the total solar eclipse in real time as it moves from coast-to-coast.

“This eclipse is a once-in-a-hundred-year event, and we’re going to party like it’s New Year’s Eve,’” said Neil Katz, head of global content and editor-in-chief, The Weather Company, an IBM Business. “This eclipse is a celestial phenomenon and cultural moment that can’t be missed, and we couldn’t imagine a better partner than Twitter to celebrate this with.”

“Chasing Eclipse 2017” Live Stream

The interactive live coverage for “Chasing Eclipse 2017” kicks off at noon ET on August 21. The Weather Channel digital coverage will immerse viewers in totalities from 10 locations along the eclipse path – from the ground and from space – and join the fun celebrations taking place across the country.

Live locations include: Stanley, ID; Carbondale, IL; St. Joseph’s, MO; Alliance, NE; Hopkinsville, KY; McMinnville, OR; Belton, SC; Nashville, TN; and Casper, WY.

Hosted in-studio by meteorologists Ari Sarsalari and Domenica Davis, “Chasing Eclipse 2017” will feature:

  • High-resolution and aerial drone footage from Weather’s network of storm trackers as the eclipse moves along the path of totality
  • User-generated content from Twitter
  • Live updates from eclipse viewing parties with weather.com field reporters
  • Special hyperlocal eclipse footage from TEGNA partner stations in Portland, OR; Boise, ID; Denver, CO; St. Louis, MO; Knoxville, TN; and Columbia, SC
  • Red Bull Cliff Diving event featuring athletes diving under the shadows of the eclipse. Surface mirrors will reflect stunning images of the divers and the eclipse.
  • Real-time eclipse footage from NASA
  • “Fact Off” game show featuring the hosts from “Part-Time Genius” podcast
  • Interactive social segments
  • Live coverage of an #Eclipse2017 joint wedding
  • IP-based broadcast production technology and support supplied by NewTek

“We are thrilled to partner with The Weather Channel and their award-winning digital editorial team for coverage of this momentous occasion,” Anthony Noto, COO, Twitter. “The ‘Chasing Eclipse 2017’ live stream allows people around the world to watch and join the #Eclipse2017 conversation as it unfolds live on Twitter.”

“Chasing Eclipse 2017” will be available via The Weather Channel app, weather.com, and Twitter. The live stream will be available for free to logged-in and logged-out users on Twitter as well as connected devices globally.

Viewers will be able to access the live stream at http://eclipse2017.twitter.com or via @weatherchannel. To join the conversation and submit content for “Chasing Eclipse 2017,” tweet with #Eclipse2017.

For more information, visit http://features.weather.com/eclipse. The Weather Channel (weather.com) is part of The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

The Weather Company, an IBM Business

The Weather Company helps people take action in the face of weather. As part of IBM’s Watson Content & IoT Platform, it powers new possibilities of decision making, informed by billions of data inputs and enabled by leading cognitive technology.

The company offers personalized insights and the most accurate forecasts globally to millions of consumers and thousands of marketers and businesses through its business solutions division and its own digital products from The Weather Channel and Weather Underground.

The company delivers around 25 billion forecasts daily. Its products include the world’s most downloaded weather app, a network of 250,000 personal weather stations, a top-20 U.S. website, one of the world’s largest IoT data platforms, and industry-leading business solutions. Weather Means Business — the world’s biggest brands in aviation, energy, insurance, media and government rely on The Weather Company for data, technology platforms and services to help improve decision-making and respond to weather’s impact on business. For more, visit theweathercompany.com.

Written by turbotodd

August 16, 2017 at 9:39 am

Posted in ibm, internet of things, space, weather

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