Turbotodd

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

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Gilded Globes and Robot Kitties

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First off, I’d like to thank for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association…for allowing comedian Ricky Gervais to stand up before the world and recite such harsh jokes that the network censors had to bleep him multiple times. Maybe they need some AI for that?

And are y’all sure you don’t want to bring him back next year?

Gervais also took on Big Tech at the Golden Globes, explaining that “If you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything.”

Ouch. Yeah, bring him back.

This week, for those who are following, all attention will be directed towards the Consumer Electronics Show in Viva Las Vegas.

CNN reported earlier that robot kitties and smart trash cans are getting all the buzz so far. Yes, you read that correctly.

I know I personally have been waiting most of my adult life for a robot kittie. Sony’s had robot dogs forever (“Aibo”), but now to have a robot kittie….Well, I might just get on a plane to Las Vegas so I can see the new “MarsCat” for myself!

With that, it’s back to Monday.

Written by turbotodd

January 6, 2020 at 12:04 pm

Happy New Year…Decade?

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Happy New Year…Decade?

Well, I guess that’s a wrap for the 2010s.

Happy New Year/Decade, a day or two late!

Here’s hoping you stick to all your New Year’s resolutions for more than 30 days, and that this decade is kinder to us than the ‘teens.

I’ve not made any major resolutions myself, other than to try and continue to stay above dirt (ambitious, I know).

As for predictions, I’m not sure that’s a limb I want to walk out on…But I’ll throw out a few themes that I think could be in the market conversation for 2020 and beyond.

1. More focus on (consumer) privacy
2. More focus on (business) cybersecurity
3. 5G, for those who can get it
4. Production AI (as opposed to pilot) driving real efficiency
5. Deep Fakery (in political campaigns *and* in mainstream culture) driving real fear (and embarrassment)
6. A new round of AR (Pokemon is sooo 2016)
7. Crypto renaissance as recession hedge
8. More synergy in etail, retail, and “me-tail”
9. Ramped up efforts to augment real world problems with tech solutions (solving for natural disasters, climate change, etc.)
10. Accelerating cyber/space race (including quantum and satellite comms) — the new mission critical battle space

What’s at the top of *your* 2020 list?

Written by turbotodd

January 3, 2020 at 10:05 am

Faster, Cheaper, Better AI

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Happy Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has passed the 28,000 mark, apparently prompted by news that China and the U.S. are zeroing in on a trade deal.

And to help with translation of any future meetings between the parties, they might want to consider the Google real-time translation that works in conjunction with Google Assistant now on mobile devices.

The new feature is now available in 44 languages, and should help you more easily ask directions to the nearest metro station around the globe.

The AI juggernaut of apparently continued unabated this year, according to the AI Index Report, which reported a 300% rise in research papers.

The report generally aspires to get a handle on AI progress, yet another headline seems to be that while AI is on the march, we’re a long way from reaching “general intelligence.”

The U.S. continues to lead in terms of private investment (just under $12B, compared to China’s $6.8B, which places them in second).

Algos are coming faster, cheaper, smarter, easier to train, and self-driving cars continue to get more investment than in any other field.

I eagerly await the algo and/or SDV that can cleverly route me from north to south Austin in rush hour without raising my blood pressure!

Written by turbotodd

December 12, 2019 at 11:22 am

JEDI Clouds

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Happy Monday.

China’s Great Firewall may soon evolve into the Great Cyberborder.

The FT has reported that Beijing has ordered all government institutions and public bodies to get rid of their foreign computer gear, and transition off American hardware/software by 2022 in favor of local alternatives.

On the domestic IT front, Amazon has made a new filing claiming that it didn’t win the $10B JEDI Department of Defense (DoD) contract as a result of repeated public and private attacks against Amazon and CEO Jeff Bezos, including by President Trump.

According to a report from CNBC, the company argued that the president “made no secret of his personal dislike” for Bezos by criticizing him publicly and then “used his office” to prevent AWS from winning the contract.

Amazon is calling for DoD to terminate the award and conduct another review.

Funding Monday: Education software company Instructure is being acquired for $2B by private equity firm Thoma Bravo. Pharma clinical trial SaaS firm Suvoda has raised a $40M round.

And if you’re looking to gift yourself a new Mac Pro (made right here in Austin, Texas!), you’d better let Santa know and soon: Apple has indicated the updated models will start at $5,999 (the company will start taking orders tomorrow).

Written by turbotodd

December 9, 2019 at 10:51 am

Russian Code

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Dobroye Utro. (That’s “good morning” in Russian.)

Russia has passed a new law which will ban the sale of certain devices that are not pre-installed with Russian software. Like smartphones, computers, and smart TVs.

The law is intended to promote Russian technology and to make it easier for people to use the gadgets they buy, but will not exclude Russian users from using non-Russian software.

Apple bean counters are in high heaven. Shipments of their AirPod wireless earphones are expected to double to 60M units by the end of this year, demand driven in part by the new $249 AirPods Pro introduced at Apple’s October launch event. Current wait times for the new version on Apple’s U.S. website: 2-3 weeks.

I remember a similar production issue 2 years ago when I bought my Gen 1 AirPods. The good news? I haven’t lost them, as feared, and they still work great.

Hacker Alert: Google has announced it will pay up to $1.5M for the “most severe hacks of its Pixel line of Android phones.” That’s up 7X over the previous top Android bounty.

This to help refine the Titan M Google-designed chip that carries out core security functions for the Pixel. We’ll see if anyone can hack it.

Happy weekend!

Written by turbotodd

November 22, 2019 at 10:45 am

New (Google Ad) Rules

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Google is jumping on the political advertising guard rail bandwagon, announcing new limits on its microtargeting to age, gender, and general location (zip code). Google will also continue to allow retargeting based on content of website visits.

They will no longer allow ads to be directed to specific audiences based on public voting records or political affiliations (“left-leaning,” “right-leaning,” etc.)

The policies will impact both Google search results, on YouTube, and via the Google Content Network which displays ads on other sites.

The move left many politicos stunned, for in past campaigns they have leaned mightily on microtargeting specific sets of voters, an efficiency that makes many grassroots campaigns financially feasible.

Also on the GOOG front…remember Google Duplex, the creepy-crawly AI that would sound like a human and call to make your hair appointments? Well, Duplex is now officially moving beyond the confines of voice ops and launching as “Google Assistant in Chrome” as a streamlined workflow to help you buy movie tickets.

Next up: Streamlining the process of renting a car. And then?…maybe using Google Duplex to more easily buy political search ads from Google??!

Written by turbotodd

November 21, 2019 at 10:32 am

Growing Languages

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iFixit and others have torn down the new 16″ MacBook Pro, which has revealed, yes, a keyboard similar to the standalone Magic Keyboard (and which allegedly will not have the same keyboard woes of the more recent MBPs). Also, a new thermal system, a high-performance microphone array, and six speakers (which apparently can play quite loud so you can annoy all your cubicle amigos).

GitHub just released it’s “State of the Octoverse” report, which tracks the most popular programming languages. The top three fastest-growing include Dart, Rust and HCL. Dart is similar to Javascript and often used in conjunction with Google UI tool kit for building mobile and web apps, Flutter.

Rust is used in game engines, OSes, VR, and other systems-intensive tasks. And HCL helps developers run and secure software running in the cloud.

On the subject of cloud, Google has bought Microsoft-backed CloudSimple which enables companies to run compute workloads based on VMware’s server virtualization. No terms were disclosed.

Today’s Funding: Financing and small-banking services firm BlueVine has raised a $102.5M Series F. BlueVine is a fintech startup focused specifically on the needs of SMB, providing both lines of credit and term loans of up to $250K).

Written by turbotodd

November 19, 2019 at 9:58 am

Making Copies

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Happy Monday.

Only 10 days to Turkey Day. Get ready to gobble gobble.

I’ll tell you who’s not making copies. That would be HP, the board of which rejected Xerox’s acquisition bid over the weekend claiming the $22/share bid undervalued HP and was not in the best interest of shareholders.

Operators of Yahoo sites in Japan and the Line chat app have reached agreement on a merger, one where SoftBank Group and SK internet firm Naver will form a joint holding company. The new entity is expected to become the largest internet player in Japan.

On the funding front: AI-driven news app SmartNews has raised a $92M round at a valuation of $1.2B. The app is said to use machine learning (rather than human curation) to generate personalized news experiences.

The company is focused initially on Japan and the U.S. as key markets.

Self-driving startup Wayve has raised $20M in a Series A to help teach cars to drive autonomously using reinforcement learning, simulation, and computer vision.

Wayve is looking to improve AI through simulation and knowledge transfer to the real world, rather than “hand-coded” rules. It plans to launch a pilot fleet of autonomous Jaguar I-Pace cars in Central London which will include, for now, safety drivers. 

Written by turbotodd

November 18, 2019 at 10:53 am

Bad Weather

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Happy Friday, and TGIF.

Yesterday, some news about the weather from IBM with the introduction of its GRAF weather forecasting model.

GRAF stands for “Global High-Resolution Atmospheric Forecasting” and is the first global weather model to run on a GPU-accelerated supercomputer called “DYEUS.”

In partnership with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, this new system uses state-of-the-art science to forecast the atmosphere on a global scale, providing hourly (vs every 6-12 hours) updates and bringing forecast fidelity once limited to a few countries to the rest of the world.

Forecasts from the new system will be available via The Weather Channel and Weather Underground apps and websites, and also to businesses via IBM offerings.

IBM GRAF runs on supercomputer powered by the IBM Power9 System and CPUs and GPUs optimized on open source software for AI and high-performance computing.

Also on the cloud front…Amazon is filing a protest of the Pentagon’s decision to award the JEDI contract to Microsoft, claiming “unmistakable bias” and “errors” in process.

And Apple is just saying no to vaping, announcing it will remove all 181 vaping-related apps from its store amid growing health concerns over e-cigarettes.

Written by turbotodd

November 15, 2019 at 10:33 am

Need a New Razr?

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The original Motorola Razr flip phone came out in July 2004. It was thin and streamlined compared to most mobile feature phones of its time.

And now it’s back, this time with a 6.2″ touchscreen that folds like a clamshell, and only costs $1,500 clams running Android.

Early reviews suggest the new Razr has a much improved folding experience over what we’ve witnessed thus far in the folding phones. I still wonder if this is a problem looking for hinge…err, solution.

If your heart rate just went up, you might want to try the new Apple Research app that will allow U.S. users to enroll in one of three new health studies — one on women’s health, one on heart and movement, and a hearing study.

Developers: GitHub released its first native mobile app and improved notifications at the GitHub Universe event. GitHub Actions/Packages have also moved out of beta, and the company is also improving its code search.

Today’s funding: Password manager 1Password has raised a $200M Series A led by Accel, and will use its new capital to grow its enterprise footprint. And app-based loyalty card and analytics firm Punchh raised $40M to continue its expansion.

Written by turbotodd

November 14, 2019 at 10:50 am

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