Turbotodd

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

Archive for October 2017

The iPhone X Files

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Some notable funding rounds…TechCrunch reports that Seattle-based international remittance provider Remitly is raising a Series D round of $115 million led by PayU. The company lets people in the U.S., U.K., and Canada send money electronically to friends and family in developing countries across Africa, South America, and Asia.

And Berlin-based Ada Health, which is an AI-driven app that “works a little like an ‘Alexa for health,'” has raised a $47M round led by Access Industries. Also according to TechCrunch, the the funds will be used to improve the product, hire staff and open a new office in the U.S.

Ada has become one of the world’s fastest-growing medical apps in 2017. In a chat interface, it helps people decipher their ailments, but then also connects them with real doctors.

In the meantime, reviews of the iPhone X are starting roll off the presses…

Mashable: “Holding the iPhone X in my hand triggers a distinct memory of the the moment I first cradled the original iPhone…There is no home button, just a stunning 5.8-inch screen that hugs the edge, reaching for the silver band that’s just millimeters away. All of it is so beautiful, save for that peninsula of darkness at the top.”

BuzzFeed: “The iPhone X might be a huge step forward in terms of hardware, but it runs iOS 11 just the same as other recent iPhones, and you won’t really be missing out on anything except Animoji. Face ID seems like it’s off to a good start, but it’s definitely inconsistent in certain lighting conditions. And until your favorite apps are updated, you won’t be able to make use of that entire beautiful display.”

Engadget: “Once my face was enrolled in Face ID — a process that took less than 20 seconds — unlocking the phone worked damn near perfectly every time. You still have to swipe up to view your home screen after you’ve unlocked the X with your mug, but the whole process is very nearly as fast as using a Touch ID sensor in a recent iPhone.”

Last I checked, my iPhone SE — despite being oh-so-2016 — still works fine and does pretty much everything the X does (except for FaceID), so I’m good. But nice to hear the (mostly) positive X reviews after all that buildup!

Written by turbotodd

October 31, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Posted in 2017, apple, iphone x, Uncategorized

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Better AI

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Happy Monday.

That was some baseball game last night between the Houston Astros and the LA Dodgers at Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston.

The Astros go down 4-0 early, then come back and tie the game, and then the score seesaws back and forth all the way through the bottom of the tenth before Houston’s Bregman hit a walk-off single to drive in the winning run.

No AI-driven computer simulation could likely have foreseen such an insane game with that outcome.

Then again, we might out imagine what would might become of us if it could.

Which is why the Information Technology Industry Council, whose members include IBM, Amazon, Facebook, and Oracle, have listed five areas to improve the development of artificial intelligence.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, suggestions include designing autonomous systems that are consistent with international conventions and preserve human rights; prioritizing user safety; using large, representative data sets while identifying potential bias; and creating accountability frameworks to assuage concerns over liability when AI takes action after making a decision.

You can read the full ITI AI Policy Principles here.

 

Written by turbotodd

October 30, 2017 at 9:47 am

U.S. Economy Sees 3 Percent GDP Growth in Q3 2017

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TGIF.

And thank heavens for another good quarter of U.S. GDP growth.

The U.S. economy grew at a 3 percent annual rate from July to September, propelled by steady spending from American businesses and households, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Consumer spending increased at a 2.4 percent rate in the quarter (with spending likely suppressed by storms Harvey and Irma), while businesses continued to step up investing spending (with non-residential fixed investment growth at 3.9 percent in the quarter).

The increase in real GDP in the third quarter  reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures, private inventory investment, nonresidential fixed investment, exports, and federal government spending.

These increases were partly offset by negative contributions from residential fixed investment in state and local government spending.

You can see the full announcement from the Bureau of Economic Analysis here.

Written by turbotodd

October 27, 2017 at 8:34 am

Posted in 2017, economy, GDP, Uncategorized

IBM Transforms FlashSystem, Drives Down Cost of Data

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IBM today announced sweeping advances in its all-flash storage solutions and software to drive down the costs of data and extend its solutions for hybrid and private cloud environments.

Some of the changes and additions include:

  • New ultra-dense FlashSystem array capable of storing more data in the same footprint, contributes to lower data capacity costs by nearly 60 percent.
  • New Spectrum Virtualize software allows simplified migration and disaster recovery of data to and from the IBM Public Cloud;
  • New software enables IBM and non-IBM storage to be used with popular Docker and Kubernetes containers environments;
  • Cloud-based software beta program integrates storage with artificial intelligence and machine learning through new software to collect inventory and diagnostic information in order to help optimize the performance, capacity and health of clients’ storage infrastructure.

“Companies are seeking guidance in modernizing their data from being a passive cost center to being the central hub for their business. IBM understands that only those that extensively analyze and exploit their data will benefit from it,” said Ed Walsh, GM, IBM Storage and SDI. “To help clients make this transformation, we are introducing new all-flash solutions that will dramatically lower the cost of storage systems while making data availability – whether on-site or in the cloud – a central part of their business strategy.”

In addition to the aforementioned features, updates to IBM Storage systems and software include:

  • New Platform Speeds Private Cloud Deployments – IBM Spectrum Access solutions offer what storage admins users need to deploy a private cloud quickly and efficiently, delivering the economics and simplicity of the cloud with accessibility, virtualization and performance of an on-premises implementation;
  • Consumption-Based Pricing – new utility offering enables a consumption-based buying model for hybrid cloud environments leveraging most of the IBM storage and VersaStack portfolios for users preferring to buy storage as an operating expense;
  • Consolidated User Interface – new interface for FlashSystem 900 consolidates activity and performance information in a single dashboard. Consistent with user interfaces used in other IBM storage systems and IBM Spectrum Storage software, the UI simplifies operations and helps improve productivity;
  • VersaStack with FlashSystem – incorporating the newest FlashSystem being announced today an extensive refresh to the IBM/Cisco VersaStack converged infrastructure offerings;
  • Investment Protection – several of the new all-flash storage and VersaStack solutions announced today are NVMe ready, enabling them to take advantage of the NVMe offerings coming in 2018.

“With this announcement, IBM is demonstrating, among other things, how highly leveraged their FlashCore strategy is,” said Eric Burgener, Research Director for Storage at IDC.  “Next generation FlashCore enhancements, including higher density 3D TLC NAND-based media and hardware-assisted in-line compression and encryption, immediately improve the capabilities of multiple IBM All Flash Arrays by providing features that drive higher infrastructure density and improved security more cost-effectively.”

IBM leadership in storage systems and software is based upon more than 380 system patents, including IBM FlashCore technology and more than 700 patents for IBM Spectrum Storage software. As a result IBM’s flash arrays have been ranked as Leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Solid State Arrays for four years in a row and for the 3rd year in a row has been named the #1 Software-Defined Storage vendor by IDC.

The new features to IBM’s all-flash systems and IBM Spectrum Storage software will be available in Q4. Clients interested in participating in the IBM beta program for cognitive support can inquire by visiting ibm.biz/FoundationPilot.

For more information about IBM Flash Storage please visit: https://www.ibm.com/storage/flash.

Written by turbotodd

October 26, 2017 at 9:12 am

You Don’t Know Me

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Bloomberg is reporting that Apple is having production problems for the new iPhone X due to the sophisticated requirements of its new facial recognition technology, and is said to have told suppliers they could reduce the accuracy of the face recognition technology to make it easier to manufacture.

The iPhone X is set to debut on November 3.

Also on the Apple Beat…Apple has acquired ten-year-old Auckland-based wireless charging company, PowerbyProxi, for an undisclosed sum, and according to Stuff Technology, plans on keeping the company powered up in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, if you’re not confused yet about the continuing evolution of bitcoin, there’s a new fork of forks. Blockchain firm Bloq (see what they did there with the name?) indicated it has created a rival to bitcoin called “Metronome” that will go on sale in December, according to Fortune.

Today, bitcoin faces existential threats from forks, developer drama and so on. Knowing what we know and having a clean sheet of paper, we asked what what would we build and the answer is this. Jeff Garzik, CEO of Bloq and a longtime bitcoin developer.

Written by turbotodd

October 25, 2017 at 10:47 am

New Face, News Feed

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Facebook’s running some new tests of its News Feed in several countries, including Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guetemala, and Cambodia.

According to a post by its Head of News Feed, Adam Mosseri, “the goal of this test is to “understand if people prefer to have separate places for personal and public content.”

Uh, how about, “NO!” And why didn’t you just ask?!

We will hear what people say about the experience to understand if it’s an idea worth pursuing any further. There is no current plan to roll this out beyond these test countries or to charge pages on Facebook to pay for all their distribution in News Feed or Explore. Unfortunately, some have mistakenly made that interpretation — but that was not our intention.
– via media.fb.com

According to a story in The Guardian, the results don’t look promising for those who don’t wish to pay to play:

A new system being trialled in six countries including Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka sees almost all non-promoted posts shifted over to a secondary feed, leaving the main feed focused entirely on original content from friends, and adverts. The change has seen users’ engagement with Facebook pages drop precipitously, with publications reporting a 60% to 80% fall [Emphasis added]. If replicated more broadly, such a change would destroy many smaller publishers, as well as larger ones with an outsized reliance on social media referrals for visitors.
– via the Guardian

Matti Littunen, a senior research analyst at Enders Analysis, was dubios about the move:

the move was “the classic Facebook playbook: first give lots of organic reach to one content type, then they have to pay for reach, then they can only get through to anyone by paying.”
– via the Guardian

 

And Filip Struhárik, a journalist with Slovakia’s Dennik N newspaper, got more to the point:

“Newsfeed without news. Just friends and sponsored content. People will find out how boring their friends are,”
– via the Guardian

I can’t wait to see what all my friends had for lunch again.

Written by turbotodd

October 24, 2017 at 9:13 am

Posted in 2017, facebook, news feed

Rooting for the People Who Make the Machines

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Happy Monday.

And go, those Houston Astros (sorry, Yankees fans…there’s always next year, and you have a great team).

We’ll see how the ‘Stros can hold up tomorrow against the Dodgers in what’s expected to be a very heated environment in game 1 of the World Series (literally…the temperatures at game time are expected to be around 95 or beyond!).

Some tech news you can use for the morning of October 23…Cisco is making yet another acquisition (just last week they bought San Jose-based startup, Perspica, which specializes in machine learning and stream analysis.)

This time the deal’s a wee bit bigger, some ~ $1.9B for BroadSoft, a 28 percent premium. As Bloomberg reports, the deal will give Cisco a “major new presence in cloud-based communications products and services.”

Also on the M&A/IPO front, Chinese online loan provider Qudian raised some $900M in a U.S. IPO, but is already coming under fire from local media about the “legitimacy of its business.”

According to TechNode, the company claims to have suspended student-targeted loans in November 2015 as the state issued a ban on online loans to college students following outrage over exorbitant rates and various financial scams.

The story went on to suggest added risk with the company’s reliance on Alipay for new user acquistion.

And the AI war for talent continues. The New York Times’ Cade Metz looks deep into the AI talent bench, and writes that salaries are spiralikng so fast that “some joke the tech industry needs a National Football League-style salary cap on AI specialists.”

No word as of press time as whether or not the AI gurus stand on the sidelines during the National Anthem.

Written by turbotodd

October 23, 2017 at 8:58 am

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