Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘2019’ Category

The Masters 2019

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It’s my favorite time of the year.  

It’s the week of The Masters, golf’s first and arguably most prestigious championship of the year.

I have a feeling this weather front moving across the midwest could wreak havoc on this year’s tournament, but putting that aside, let’s talk about two key things: Players I favor in this year’s tournament and IBM’s continuing technology partnership with The Masters.

First, the players I’ll be keeping an eye on at the top of my list: Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, and Jon Rahm.  In no particular order and just based on what I know of their games and their recent play (from tee to green, but especially with approach shots and putting).

If the weather gets really bad (i.e. windy, rainy), look for bad weather players like Tiger Woods, Ricky Fowler, Sergio Garcia, and a host of other world players (especially from Europe) comfortable playing in adverse conditions.

For funsies, I would also throw in the mix world class players like Henrik Stenson, Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Shauffele, Branden Grace and Marc Leishman.

Now, to IBM’s continuing partnership with Augusta National. At this year’s tournament, you will once again be able to watch the best highlights of a competitor’s round in three minutes. These highlight reels will be generated using IBM Watson Media technology to analyze video from every player, and it will score every stroke based on characteristics that may indicate a significant or exciting moment: Cheers or groans from the crowd, an overexcited TV announcer, etc. 

Using all those data points, AI from Watson will score, combined and rank those clips and pull them all together for the highlight clip.

You can read more about this and other IBM technologies used behind the scenes at The Masters.

Okay, well it’s less than 24 hours until the day that golfers around the world wait for and look forward to every year.  You can try calling me this weekend, but you likely won’t get an answer.

And if you find the waiting to be excruciating like I do, check out today’s gallery pics.  They’ll whet your appetite for Augusta National’s great gift to we golfers.

Written by turbotodd

April 10, 2019 at 10:43 am

Would You Like a Human With Your Popcorn?

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I did something I haven’t done in a long time recently. 

I went to an actual movie theatre where they show movies. 

Not Netflix, not Amazon Prime…a real, live movie theatre.

Two things stood out from my experience.

The first was the ticket price. I won’t say what it was, because those prices vary across the country. 

Let’s just say it was higher than that to which I had become accustomed.

The second was, when I got to the area where one purchases tickets…well, I’m not quite sure how to put this, but there weren’t any humans selling tickets.

Not…a….single…one.

Now, this wasn’t some off time mid week. This was a prime weekend matinee showing, and the only way to buy tickets was a kiosk.

So for those of you out there urging us to stand in the grocery line where humans still check other people out (as opposed to self-service checkout), that all sounds great until there are no more humans in that job.

If the movie theatre’s strategy is the direction of our future, just remember this: Robots don’t ever have to worry about standing in an unemployment line. 

That is, unless they’re holding open a place for we humans.

Written by turbotodd

April 9, 2019 at 9:41 am

Posted in 2019, robots

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Follow Wisely

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Happy Tuesday.

I haven’t watched a college basketball game all year, but that NCAA men’s championship game last night between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the University of Virginia Cavaliers was certainly a good one to watch. 

Being a Texas boy, I was rooting for the Red Raiders, but being a bigger Thomas Jefferson fan, I couldn’t help but be happy for the winners.  And in OT, no less.

So what’s up off the court?

TechCrunch is reporting that Twitter continues to fight the bots, this time by minimizing the number of followers a user can follow per day, from 1,000 to 400. “The idea with the new limit is that it helps prevent spammers from rapidly growing their networks by following then unfollowing Twitter accounts in a ‘bulk, aggressive or indiscriminate manner.’”

 

In response to Twitter’s tweet about the new limits, several have responded to ask why the number “400” was chosen, as that is still far more than a regular Twitter user would need to follow in a single day. Some users said it took years to get to the point of following hundreds of people. Meanwhile, the business use case for following 400 people is somewhat debatable, as DMs can be left open and companies can tweet a special URL to send customers to their inbox to continue a conversation — no following or unfollowing needed on either side.

Follow wisely — and slowly — Grasshopper.

Written by turbotodd

April 9, 2019 at 9:26 am

Posted in 2019, twitter

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Hating Social Media, Loving Divorce in the Amazon

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Newsflash: Americans apparently have a love/hate relationship with social media.

According to the results of a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, they regard services such as Facebook to be divisive and a threat to privacy but continue to use them.

Across age groups and political ideologies, adults in the survey said they held a negative view of the effects of social media—even though 70% use such services at least once a day.

The results also suggest Americans are generally optimistic about the benefits that technology will bring to their lives and the economy, but they seem to struggle exactly what it is that policymakers and regulators should do to address some of the grievances people have about social media.

It’s Friday, my head hurts, The Masters starts next week, so I’m just going to think about puppies and golf balls.

But if you want more on the tech front, and the content wars specifically, get this: Apple Music has overtaken Spotify in U.S. paid subscribers.

In February, Apple Music had more than 28 million subscribers in February, while Spotify had 26 million. Does that bode well for Apple’s looming TV content play? I think it’s way too soon to tell, considering that nothingburger of an event last week in Cupertino, but it does at least seem to suggest that the Apple hardware penetration (iPhones, MacBooks, etc.) continues to be a benefit in reaching users with its services play.

The razors have to lift up the Apple razor blades or Apple’s dominance will inevitablye dwindle.

Who’s not dwindling? Ex-wife of Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Bezos, who got 4 percent of the company in a stake worth roughly $36 billion, making her one of the world’s richest women.

Bezos keeps 75 percent of their Amazon stock and voting power over all the voting shares the couple own together.

The Bezos divorce settlement started the way the marriage ended, with a Tweet.

We hate social media until we love it again.

Written by turbotodd

April 5, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Posted in 2019, amazon, social media

Tagged with , , ,

AI Bored, Amazon HQed

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I continue to keep my eye on many things AI.

Last week, Google announced a new AI ethics board, but Vox is reporting that it is "already in trouble."

The board was founded to guide "responsible development of IA" at the company, writes Vox, and would have had eight members and met four times over the course of this year to consider concerns about Google’s AI program.

Just a week after it was announced, Google’s new AI ethics board is already in trouble.

The board, founded to guide “responsible development of AI” at Google, would have had eight members and met four times over the course of 2019 to consider concerns about Google’s AI program — everything from how AI can enable authoritarian states, how AI algorithms produce disparate outcomes, whether to work on military applications of AI, and more.

Apparently a Google employee outcry led to the requested removal of Kay Coles Hames, president of conservative think tank Heritage Foundation. Another was CEO of drone company Trumbull Unmanned, Dyan Gibbens. Privacy researcher Alssandro Acquisti has already announced on Twitter he wouldn’t serve.

Maybe they need a bot board instead?

Meanwhile, MIT is hitting "pause" on its relationships with Chinese tech firms Huawei and ZTE, following a review of international projects or partnership that pose an elevated risks, according to a report from CNN News.

"MIT is not accepting new engagements or renewing existing ones with Huawei and ZTE or their respective subsidiaries due to federal investigations regarding violations of sanction restrictions," Maria Zuber and Richard Lester, the university’s vice president for research and associate provost respectively, said in a letter to the school community on Wednesday.

The administrators also said that the university had determined that working with certain countries — particularly China, Russia and Saudi Arabia — "merit additional faculty and administrative review beyond the usual evaluations."

Any projects involving funding from people or entities from these countries, or MIT faculty or students doing work there, would face further review.

And if you’ve been watching the Amazon U.S. city 2nd headquarters saga, you’ll be interested to know that Geekwire is reporting that Amazon plans to relocate its entire Seattle-based worldwide operations team to Bellevue, Washington….by 2023. That would add thousands of employees to its new campus just across Lake Washington. This according to an internal email that Geekwire obtained.

Sources familiar with the plans said several thousand employees will be moving to Bellevue in the years ahead. Amazon confirmed the authenticity of the email obtained by GeekWire.

Amazon will start moving employees to Bellevue this month and will finish the migration by 2023. The company currently has 700 employees in Bellevue and more than 45,000 at its Seattle headquarters.Worldwide operations is one of the most critical teams at Amazon, the arm responsible for getting packages to customers’ doors. It oversees more than 175 operating fulfillment centers around the world and the 250,000 employees who work there. The team also manages Amazon’s thousands of delivery truck trailers and its fleet of 40 airplanes. New logistics initiatives, like Amazon’s “Delivery Service Partners” program, also fall under the worldwide operations purview. Amazon will start moving employees to Bellevue this month and will finish the migration by 2023. The company currently has 700 employees in Bellevue and more than 45,000 at its Seattle headquarters.

So the new winner of the great Amazon 2nd HQ shootout of 2019 is…the home of Microsoft??

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

Written by turbotodd

April 4, 2019 at 9:55 am

Posted in 2019, amazon, artificial intelligence

Tagged with , ,

Recasting My TV

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I’ve recast my TV situation with a new Amazon Recast.

I cut the cord on regular cable about six years ago, and in that six years my TiVo Premiere box and an RCA indoor digital antenne did a fine job of providing me plenty of free content to watch.

Only it wasn’t free, because I was paying $15.99/month to TiVo every month for the past six years.

So now I’ve cut yet another cord with my purchase of an Amazon Recast.

What is that, you ask?  It’s like a TiVo, only I don’t pay $15.99 a month. Once I bought the Recast box, the OTA content is as it should be, free.

Recast is basically an OTA DVR, but it’s beauty is it’s also tied into the Amazon ecosystem, so I’m able to control the programming both with an Amazon Fire Stick and an Amazon Tap speaker.

It also didn’t require anything to hook up to my older (2014 model) Samsung Smart TV, as everything works through the Fire Stick and the Recast via wifi (as long as they’re both on the same network).

In terms of the interface, it’s not unlike a TiVo (or any other programming guide), and the synergy with the Amazon Echo ecosystem is pretty seamless so far (although I’m still figuring out all the different commands).

I’ll know more in another week or two.

Speaking of tying up ecosystems, Walmart has announced that it will let customers order groceries by voice through Google’s smart-home assistant, “an attempt to counter Amazon.com Inc.’s growing clout in e-commerce, reports Bloomberg.

Beginning this month, Walmart shoppers can add items directly to their online shopping carts by saying “Hey Google, talk to Walmart.” Information from prior purchases will help identify the correct brand and size — like whether you drink 1 percent or skim milk without having to specify, according to Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president of digital operations. In a blog post Tuesday, he said customers can tweak their orders at home or from their smartphone while on the go.

As a loyal Walmart customer, I guess I’ll starve for now when it comes to ordering with my Amazon Tap.

But at least I can make my TV go!

Written by turbotodd

April 2, 2019 at 9:53 am

Posted in 2019, hollywood, television

Tagged with , ,

Big Earl

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And you thought Apple was the world’s most profitable company?

Ha!

You’d be off by a factor by 2, at least for 2018.

According to financial data revealed in a note from Moody’s the Saudi oil company Aramco made $111 billion last year.

By comparison, Apple, currently the world’s most profitable public company, made $59.4 billion, which is about half as much as Aramco.

Aramco’s total revenues last year were $355.9.

And now for some golf news. Kevin Kisner won the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play championship here in Austin, Texas this weekend, beating out Matt Kuchar on a very windy and chilly Sunday final match, 3 and 2.

It was sweet vindication after Kisner took a drubbing by Bubba Watson in last year’s final match.

And ICYMI, Sergio Garcia brought more drama to the Austin Country Club golf course in his new adopted hometown (his wife went to UT). Here’s the deets. 

This Saturday, be prepared for a new marquis event, the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur played at — can you guess — Augusta National, where The Masters will be played a week later. Golf season is in full swing (See what I did there?)

Airbnb is taking over some rooms in India, having invested between $150 and $200 million in Indian hotel startup OYO, ahead of its IPO. 

TechCrunch is reporting that the deal had been rumored for a couple of months and was additional to OYO’s prior $1 billion Series E round. The background:

OYO and Airbnb had previously been rivals of sorts, but OYO has pivoted towards hospitality services — including logistics and management — rather than simply aggregating budget hotels. Airbnb, with its HotelTonight acquisition, has shown it wants to be a booking destination across different types of verticals.

Geographically, the deal makes even more sense. Airbnb has been keen to take a larger bite out of India for some time. It has begun to see progress, with co-founder and CSO Nathan Blecharczyk recently revealing that the country is one of its five fastest growing markets worldwide. In that light, the companies are exploring opportunities to collaborate which could see OYO properties — in this case more likely villas and Airbnb-like properties — listed on Airbnb’s service.

AI continues to be put hard to work in China.

According to a report from Reuters, demand for online censoring services provided by Shanghai-listed People.cn has soared since last year after China tightened its already strict online censorship rules.

In recent years, China has shut tens of thousands of websites and social media accounts that contained what it said was illegal content as well as “vulgar” and pornographic material.

Tibet, Taiwan, the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square, and even local government scandals, are also sensitive topics prone to censorship.

Considering this May/June will be the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, you can rest assured the AI and facial recognition algos will be working overtime.

Written by turbotodd

April 1, 2019 at 10:45 am

Posted in 2019, petroleum

Tagged with , ,

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