Turbotodd

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

Archive for August 2017

IBM Watson To Generate Match Highlights At The U.S. Open

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IBM has announced it is launching IBM Watson Media, a new suite of AI-powered solutions on the IBM Cloud that analyze images, video, language, sentiment and tone, at the US Open.

By combining IBM Watson with IBM’s video capabilities, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) will be able to rapidly share highlight videos of more matches while engaging and informing fans more than ever before.

The US Open will use one of the first solutions available through IBM Watson Media called Cognitive Highlights. Developed at IBM Research with IBM iX, Cognitive Highlights can identify the match’s most important moments by analyzing the statistical tennis data, sounds from the crowd and the reactions of a player using both action and facial expression recognition.

The system then ranks the shots from seven US Open courts and auto-curates the highlights, which simplifies the video production process and ultimately positions the USTA team to scale and accelerate the creation of cognitive highlight packages.

The finished highlight videos will be available in four ways:

  • Each day, the USTA will post a Highlight of the Day, as ranked by Watson, on its Facebook page.
  • Fans that “favorite” players on the US Open apps will receive real-time push notification alerts about those players’ highlights. Fans on iOS 10 can play the highlights within the lock screen.
  • On the player bio page, video highlights will be available across all of the USTA’s digital platforms.
  • Onsite in the player’s lounge and in the fan-facing IBM Watson Experience on the plaza near Court 9.

“The US Open is packed with so much action across so many courts that even the fastest video team is challenged to keep pace with what’s happening,” said Noah Syken, IBM VP of Sports & Entertainment Partnerships. “To meet that challenge, Watson is now watching the matches alongside the USTA to help bring fans closer to the best moments across the courts shortly after they happen. We’re seeing this technology come to life through tennis, but the entire IBM Watson Media portfolio has the potential to impact many industries.”

Written by turbotodd

August 31, 2017 at 8:54 am

Posted in 2017, cognitve computing, ibm watson, us open

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Harvey Tech

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Harvey clearly doesn’t know when it’s time to leave.

His remnants blew back inland to Port Arthur, Beaumont, and Western Louisana overnight, with one National Weather Service report indicating Harvey has now dumped 52 incnes of rain at at least one location east of Houston.

Keep on moving, Harvey, we hardly knew ye.

Amidst all this weather churn, of course, many businesses in the affected areas have struggled to, literally and figuratively, keep the lights — and their IT systems — on.

The Wall Street Journal’s “CIO Journal” this morning featured a story that led with this headline: “Houston Companies Rally to Keep Technology Operations Going.”

A few snippets:

Companies and organizations in the Houston area are scrambling to ride out Tropical Storm Harvey by maintaining around-the-clock oversight of information technology systems — in some cases outfitting technology hubs with sleeping cots — while shifting key business applications to the cloud and closely monitoring the status of the power grid and online providers.
– via WSJ

The largest IT challenge has been disruptions to inbound and outbound calls on landline phones, Mr. Eardley said. The hospital has worked with carriers to fix the problems.
– via WSJ

Food distributor Sysco, based in Houston, moved some core applications to cloud providers ahead of the storm, “diminishing our reliance on ground infrastructure,” a spokeswoman told CIO Journal.
– via WSJ

One local data center, Equinix, has been online without a single outage since the storm and flooding began, the WSJ reports, and is currently operating on utility power but able to switch over to generators as needed.

Another vector: Social media has played an instrumental role in Harvey, using Facebook, Twitter, and other tools for everything from raising a virtual SOS for needed rescue to helping families and friends find and check in on one another throughout the storm.

Fast Company reports that Snap’s Harvey “Our Stories” feature had as many as 300,000 posts submitted to it, and its Map section has helped present up-to-date info on areas in need of emergency assistance.

Local and federal agencies are also using this kind of information to build faster and more efficient disaster responses, with FEMA employing people who now “listen” to social media to better understand specific locational need and then use that information to better apply resources.

When people make the inevitable comparisons between Katrina and Harvey, it’s easy to forget that, at the time of Katrina, Facebook was largely used by college students, and Twitter hadn’t even yet been born.

Twelve years is an enternity in tech time….just as five endless days has been an eternity for those caught in the midst of Harvey’s wrath.

Written by turbotodd

August 30, 2017 at 8:59 am

Posted in 2017, harvey, tech, weather

Helping Folks From Harvey

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Happy Monday.

Hurricane Harvey proved to be as formidable a Mother Nature foe as we anticipated, and then some.

After storming the beaches of Rockport and Port Aransas, Harvey’s rain bands settled in and around Southeast Texas, hammering municipalities up and down the coast. Houston was particularly hard hit, with flooding around the city stranding people on rooftops — of cars and homes — and bringing out a kind of citizen navy over the weekend, with 911 calls overwhelming the city’s official responders.

Social media has also played a role in keeping people in the loop, and offering up needed lifelines in urgent situations.

CNN reported hundreds of stranded Texas residents sought help by posting on Facebook and Twitter, often Tweeting their addresses directly to emergency officials. They also organized rescue missions through Facebook groups, posting harrowing pictures to show how high the water had risen.

So how you can you help? Slate has published a listing of a variety of Texas local charitable organizations, and you can always donate directly to the American Red Cross.

Oh, and a friendly reminder…Harvey’s not done with Texas. The storm is hovering over Southeast Texas and is expected to drop another 20-30 inches of rain before this is all over.

Written by turbotodd

August 28, 2017 at 9:04 am

Posted in 2017

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The Harvey Wallbanger

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Well, here we are in Central Texas, not eagerly awaiting the arrival of Harvey (Wallbanger) the hurricane. It’s been a while since our last big named storm (Hurricane Ike, 2008), and oh how quickly we can forget what happened and how bad it hit places (like Galveston) along the Texas Gulf Coast.

The latest reports have Harvey having strengthened to a Category 2 storm overnight, and could make landfall as a Category 3 or higher, with winds of at least 11 miles per hour.

After it makes landfall, Harvey is expected to loom over Texas and dump more than 35 inches of rain in some areas, so low-lying areas are not the place you want to hang out for Harvey.

Here in Austin, we expect to get several inches, but nobody knows until Harvey makes his arrival, but it’s definitely the coastal cities that need be most concerned.

I’ve dug up a few social and digital resources for those who still have power in the storm area, or also for those just interested in keeping track of Harvey’s wallbanging:

Hashtag: #harvey, #hurricaneharvey

NY Times on Twitter: @NYTNational, @mannyNYT, @alanblinder, @ckrausss

Weather: @weatherchannel or www.weatherchannel.com, @NWS (National Weather Service), @NWSSPC (Storm Prediction Center), @accuweather

Satellites: @NOAASatellites

Hurricane Specialists: @53d_HHA (US Air Force Hurricane Hunters), @NOAA_HurrHunter) NOAA Hurricane Hunters

If you’re in any of those areas, wherever you decide to flee to higher ground or ride out the storm, please, be safe and be smart.

Written by turbotodd

August 25, 2017 at 9:23 am

Posted in texas, weather

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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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