Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘innovation’ Category

IBM Global SmartCamp Finals: Next Week In NYC

leave a comment »

IBM’s SmartCamp Global Finals are slated to be held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on February 7th.

The SmartCamp initiative was launched in 2010 with the goal of identifying early-stage entrepreneurs who are developing business ventures that would align with the IBM Smarter Planet vision, and give them the visibility, mentoring, and resources that only a large company like IBM can provide.

On the 7th, eight startups from around the world will compete in New York City for the title of “IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year.”

The IBM SmartCamp Global Finals will bring together leading venture capitalists, industry experts, press, analysts, entrepreneurial organizations and academics to network and celebrate entrepreneurship.

The Global Finals will feature eight startup finalists from around the world, from Kenya to France to Singapore. The eight finalists not only come from all walks of life, but they offer a broad range of innovative solutions that all have the potential to make the planet a whole lot smarter.

Finalist HistoIndex, a startup from Singapore, has an imaging solution which will allow for earlier detection and better treatment of fibrosis.

GetWay, a big data startup from Brazil, enables any industry to precisely monitor real-time sales data in retailers spread all over a territory.

And QuintessenceLabs, from Australia, has harnessed the properties of nature as described by quantum science to fortify the protection of data in-transit, at-rest and in-use.

You can be a part of the excitement on February 7th at the SmartCamp Global Finals, where you’ll have the opportunity to network with innovators, business leaders, and experts from around the world, hear the startup finalists’ presentations, and witness the naming of a new IBM Entrepreneur of the Year.

Go here to learn more and to register to attend the event. As an FYI, I had the great privilege of helping cover the event last year in San Francisco, and recorded a video with Scott Laningham (embedded in this blog post) where I summarized what I learned.

Fluor Corporation: Building Buildings…And A Better Workforce

leave a comment »

Some interesting customer stories and case studies have been prominently featured at the IBM Connect 2013 event down in Orlando.

One that was announced earlier today involved Fluor Corporation, a global leader in engineering, construction, and project management.

Fluor is unifying its 43,000 employees around the globe using IBM social software, helping empower its workforce to more effectively communicate, collaborate and spur innovation across its construction sites and engineering offices.

Employees across 60 Fluor global office locations on six continents are now united, able to find colleagues with unique expertise to develop and implement innovative solutions for project issues in diverse industries, including chemicals and petrochemicals, manufacturing, oil and gas, infrastructure, power, renewable energy and more.

In a matter of weeks, more than half of Fluor’s global workforce joined the social networking platform, uploading profile pictures, detailing expertise, and making new connections.

Their intranet, powered by IBM Connections and IBM WebSphere Portal, contains more than 11 news and information portals and more than 1,200 collaboration spaces with almost 2,000 active forum participants in the Connections tool allowing the Fluor workplace to be more collaborative and responsive, regardless of location or time zone.

Research from Deloitte indicates that organizations using social technology to engage and empower their employees are improving productivity and unleashing innovation to gain real competitive advantage.

According to a recent report, people-focused businesses generated 26 percent more revenue per employee and had 40 percent lower turnover rates.

Social business has really changed the way organizations of all kinds interact with their clients and their employees,” said Alistair Rennie, general manager, Social Business, IBM. “Today, organizations are thinking entirely differently about how to activate employees to drive business outcome. Social business is driving a smarter workforce. When you’ve got a smarter workforce, you’re changing the way the core processes in your business run, leveraging the incredible talent in your organization to meet your clients’ most critical needs.”

For more information about IBM’s social business initiative and creating a smarter workforce, please visit here,  or follow #IBMSocialBiz and #IBMConnect on Twitter.

Patents And Oscars

with one comment

This is a big day for announcements.

First, IBM announced a record 6,478 patents in 2012, patents for inventions that will enable fundamental advancements across key domains that includes analytics, big data, cybersecurity, cloud, mobile, social networking, as well as industry solutions like retail, banking, healthcare, and transportations.

These patented inventions also will advance a major shift in computing, known as the era of cognitive systems.

This is the 20th consecutive year that IBM topped the annual list of U.S. patent recipients.

Ginny Rometty, IBM’s chairman and CEO, had this to say about the milestone:

“We are proud of this new benchmark in technological and scientific creativity, which grows out of IBM’s century-long commitment to research and development. Most concretely, our 2012 patent record and the two decades of leadership it extends are a testament to thousands of brilliant IBM inventors — the living embodiments of our devotion to innovation that matters, for our clients, for our company and for the world.”

IBM’s record-setting 2012 patent tally was made possible by more than 8,000 IBM inventors residing in 46 different U.S. states and 35 countries. IBM inventors residing outside the U.S. contributed to nearly 30% of the company’s 2012 U.S. patent output.

There was also an early morning announcement from Los Angeles, this year’s Academy Award nominees.

There was another long slate of Best Film nominees, including Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty.

I’ve seen five of the nine, which puts me well ahead of where I am most years in terms of what films I have and haven’t seen.

Best Actor nominations were led by Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln and Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook.  If you’ve seen Lincoln, it’s hard to see how the Best Actor Oscar doesn’t go do DDL.

On the Best Actress front, the nominations were led by Juillard-trained Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook.  But don’t rule out Emmanualle Riva for Amour, or the chamelon-like Naomi Watts in The Impossible. In a crazy year, Quvenzhane Wallis could even walk away with the Oscar for her crazy good performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild, one of the most unique, imaginative films I’ve seen in years.

Quentin Tarantino got a nomination for Django Unchained in the Best Original Screenplay category, but I think that one is there for the taking by Mark Boal, screenwriter for Zero Dark Thirty.

Congrats to all this year’s nominees.  As a big movie fan myself, looking at that slate of Best Pic nominees, you realize what a strong movie year it’s been.

Finally, on the topic of movies, if you’re a big movie fan, check out Stephen Rodrick’s piece in The New York Times magazine about the trials and tribulations renowned screenwriter-director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Affliction, et al.) had financing and making his new film, The Canyons, which stars that ever-intemperate actress Lindsay Lohan.

Meanwhile, below I’ve included a nice video clip summarizing IBM’s 20 successive years of patent leadership, and you can learn more about IBM’s patent efforts on our Tumblr site.

Written by turbotodd

January 10, 2013 at 4:56 pm

How Turbo Gets Things Done

with 5 comments

This is a screenshot from Turbo's implementation of "GTD" software, Thinking Rock, which is based out of Australia.  Thinking Rock, in combination with GTD cloud-based app Todoist, along with Google's Gmail and Calendar, helps Turbo keep most of his project and to do balls in the air.

This is a screenshot from Turbo’s implementation of “GTD” software, Thinking Rock, which is based out of Australia. Thinking Rock, in combination with GTD cloud-based app Todoist, along with Google’s Gmail and Calendar, helps Turbo keep most of his project and to do balls in the air.

This blog post is coming hot off the Mac simple word processing app, WriteRoom, NOT my recently rediscovered Royal manual typewriter.

I decided this blog post would just have to go down burning some carbon.

I wanted to continue my theme of “getting s— done” by writing a little bit about my own approach to putting David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology into actual practice, both by elaborating a little about my own approach and mentioning the tools I use.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been a faithful subscriber to the cloud-based taskmaster, “Remember the Milk.”

Though I can absolutely recommend RTM, I’m making some changes for 2013, and have done a little migrating.

My primary replacement tool(s) are a combination of the following:

1) Gmail

2) Todoist

3) Thinking Rock

Allow me to explain.

Nothing beats tying (most) everything back to the cloud, and Gmail’s calendar feature is as good as they come for “remembering” specific tasks (via their “Reminder” function, tied to the Google calendar).

But in the spirit of exploration, I moved from RTM to Todoist (purchasing a year-long subscription for about $30 U.S.) because I liked the simple project structure and user interface (and, the fact that they support just about every computing and mobile device I have!).

And, because I can tie it to my Gmail inbox and calendar, I get daily emails reminding me of what my latest “to do’s” are.

But, with all that said, I still didn’t feel Todoist had the GTD structure I was looking for, especially when it came to breaking down individual projects/tasks.

So, I’ve revived my use of “Thinking Rock,” software from an Australian software provider, as it provides a much more structured interface and database for GTD management, IMHO.

Though I’ve not yet paid for the “full” version ($39 for a license that covers all future upgrades and support), I suspect it’s only a matter of time.

You can see a screenshot from my current “project” list in the embedded graphic above.

I like ThinkingRock’s literal embrace of the GTD approach, and find that when it comes time to really spending time to sit and break down tasks for a project or future actions, it provides the kind of easy-to-input-and-use interface I was looking for.

You can read some of the reviews here, so apparently I’m not the only one of this opinion.

So how do I make them all work together?

It’s actually pretty simple.  Whenever I have a new project or action, I use the “Collect Thoughts” feature in Thinking Rock to start the input.

Then, in the project view, as I start to determine specific actions, when I have one with a specific date attached, I input that into Todoist (a minor bit of duplication that I don’t mind), which is then tied to a specific date.

That way, whenever the due date is up, I’m reminded on either that day, or, if I planned ahead giving myself a buffer, in advance of the final due date.

I generally know which actions need to have reminders on the actual due date versus those that have need for a buffer, and this way, I get automated emails from Todoist each and every morning listing the outstanding “to do’s.”

I also sometimes use Google Calendar to have reminders sent for very specific time-gated concerns (doctor’s appointments, concerts, lunch with friends, etc.).

Mind you, this combination is a recent phenomenon, but so far, it’s working well for me.  So long as I keep up my daily and weekly reviews (which are instrumental to a successful GTD strategy), I have a feeling I could be well on my way to a very productive 2013!

A Manual Start To The New Year

with 2 comments

Once again, I don’t think I’m going to make any New Year’s resolutions.

I find bargaining with myself like that to be somewhat whimsical, if not purposeless.

That’s not to say I’m not optimistic about the future. I just find that being practical…being realistic, if you would…has served me better over the longitude of time.

Another thing that has served me well is the very act I’m currently engaged in: Writing.

This blog is now well into its 8th consecutive year, and trust me, if I didn’t like to write, it wouldn’t have lasted this long.

So rather than come up with a list of grand technological projections and prognostications, this year, I’ve decided to go a little more Luddite on you.

Fear not, that doesn’t mean I’m abandoning all social media and going out to live in a cabin in the woods with nothing but a copy of Thoreau’s Walden, or, Life in the Woods and some granola bars.

God, live without Facebook or Twitter for a year, are you *&^@#$# kidding me?! How in the world would I know what was going on in the world, or whose friend’s cat just took its first bath?!

No, I’d never do anything that extreme.

But I did do this: I ordered a new ribbon for my old Royal manual typewriter.

For you kids in the audience who have never seen a typewriter, it’s a small portable machine we used to use to put down our thoughts.

It’s a contraption that…I know, get this…requires NO batteries or electricity (unless you bought an electric typewriter, in which case you were bound to the grid).

Now, again, I want to be straight with you: The typewriter didn’t have a “Like” button, so for many of you, I know, that’s a dealbreaker.

In fact, it had no share function whatsoever, other than taking the piece of paper you were writing on and mailing it to another person. So yes, it was essentially useless for any kind of crowdsourcing.

But, what it WAS good for was sitting down, thinking through an idea, focusing, and actually starting to tell a story or pull together a thesis with no interruptions (instant messages, Facebook messages, direct Tweets, SMS messages, smoke signals…) other than those created by your own imagination

I know, it’s a hard notion to comprehend, focusing, especially when you’ve never had to focus.

And the idea of doing one thing at a time…well, yes, it’s almost heretical in our multitasking times.

But that is one of the things I wish for in 2013.

Because I’ve seen what happens when people become possessed by the multitasking smartphone demons. They remind me of Linda Blair’s head turning round and round in “The Exorcist.”

It’s not pretty to watch, and yet there’s no priest you can call for smartphone demons. You just have to watch the poor person suffer until their multitasking becomes so overwhelming they just have to let their iPhone run out of juice.

Yes, that’s what I wish for in 2013: For people to have the opportunity to focus.

Instead of trying to do everything, and doing it mediocre, I wish to see more people do just a few things, or even just one thing, really, really well.

Come to think of it, at minimum, I’d like to see more people doing just one thing at a time (especially while they’re on the freeway).

Multitasking is highly overrated. There are very few humans who can do it and do it well, and the odds are pretty high you’re not one of them. And studies suggest that people who smoke marijuana do better at cognitive functions than people who multitask.

Put that in your iPhone and smoke it!

So my recommendation: Consider revitalizing American productivity by using a manual typewriter.

No, you won’t be able to directly enter that blog post into WordPress (although perhaps that’s a new widget Matt Mullenweig and his team can consider for future versions), but writing that first draft without electricity and with minimal interruptions will be good for the environment and your psychological wellness.

The other thing you might consider is to keep a journal. When I was traveling across America in 1987 in my Volkswagen bus, I used a manual typewriter AND kept a journal, and that period is one of the few times in my life I can actually go back and account for because there’s an actual record.

If you use a Mac, DayOne is a great journaling app that makes it very easy to journal and allows you to even synch up your entries into the cloud (if that gives you even a small sense of permanence).

It’s January 1st, and I promise I’m going to get started on all this just as soon as that new replacement ink typewriter ribbon I had to order off the Internet arrives via the mail.

Those things are harder to find than an iPhone 4 case these days!

Written by turbotodd

January 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Ooh Ooh That Smell — IBM’s 2012 “5 in 5”: Innovations Of The Senses

with 40 comments

IBM released its annual “5 in 5” list yesterday, the seventh year in a row whereby IBM scientists identify a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years.

The IBM 5 in 5 is based on market and societal trends, as well as emerging technologies from IBM’s R&D labs around the world. This year, the 5 explores innovations that will be underpinnings of the next era of computing, what IBM has described as “the era of cognitive systems.”

This next generation of machines will learn, adapt, sense, and begin to experience the world as it really is, and this year’s predictions focus on one element of the this new era: The ability of computers to mimic the human senses — in their own manner, to see, smell, touch, taste and hear.

But before you try and spoon-feed your iPad some vanilla yogurt, let’s get more practical.

These new sensing capabilities will help us become more aware, productive, and help us think — but not do our thinking for us.

Rather, cognitive systems will help us see through and navigate complexity, keep up with the speed of information, make more informed decisions, improve our health and standard of living, and break down all kinds of barriers — geographical, language, cost, even accessibility.

Now, on to our five senses.

1) Touch: You will be able to touch through your phone.  Imagine using your smartphone to shop for your wedding dress and being able to feel the satin or silk of the gown, or the lace on the veil, from the surface on the screen. Or to feel the beading and weave of a blanket made by a local artisan half way around the world. In five years, industries like retail will be transformed by the ability to “touch” a product through your mobile device.

IBM scientists are developing applications for the retail, healthcare and other sectors using haptic, infrared and pressure sensitive technologies to simulate touch, such as the texture and weave of a fabric — as a shopper brushes her finger over the image of the item on a device screen. Utilizing the vibration capabilities of the phone, every object will have a unique set of vibration patterns that represents the touch experience: short fast patterns, or longer and stronger strings of vibrations. The vibration pattern will differentiate silk from linen or cotton, helping simulate the physical sensation of actually touching the material.

2) Sight: A pixel will be worth a thousand words. We take some 500 billion photos a year, and 72 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. But computers today only understand pictures by the text we use to tag or title them; the majority of the information — the actual content of the image — is a mystery.

In the next five years, systems will not only be able to look at and recognize the contents of images and visual data, they will turn the pixels into meaning, making sense out of it similar to the way a human views and interprets a photographs. In the future, “brain-like” capabilities will let computers analyze features such as color, texture patterns or edge information and extract insights from visual media, having a potentially huge impact on industries ranging from healthcare to retail to agriculture.

But please, no Escher drawings, at least for now…that’s just plain mean.

3) Hearing: Computers will hear what matters.  Ever wish you could make sense of all the sounds around you and be able to understand what’s not being said? Within five years, distributed systems of clever sensors will detect elements of sound such as sound pressure, vibrations and sound waves at different frequencies.

It will interpret these inputs to predict when trees will fall in a forest or when a landslide is imminent. Such a system will “listen” to our surroundings and measure movements, or the stress in a material, to warn us if danger lies ahead.

I’m ever hopeful such systems will be able to “listen” to my golf swing and help me course correct so I can play more target golf!

4) Taste: Digital taste buds will help you to eat smarter. What if we could make healthy foods taste delicious using a different kind of computing system built for creativity? IBM researchers are developing a computing system that actually experiences flavor, to be used with chefs to create the most tasty and novel recipes. It will break down ingredients to their molecular level and blend the chemistry of food compounds with the psychology behind what flavors and smells humans prefer.

By comparing this with millions of recipes, the system will be able to create new flavor combinations that pair, for example, roasted chestnuts with other foods such as cooked beetroot, fresh caviar, and dry-cured ham.

“Top Tasting Computer Chefs,” anyone?

5) Smell: Computers will have a sense of smell. During the next five years, tiny sensors embedded in your computer or cell phone will detect if you’re coming down with a cold or other illness. By analyzing odors, biomarkers and thousands of molecules in someone’s breath, doctors will have help diagnosing and monitoring the onset of ailments such as liver and kidney disorders, asthma, diabetes, and epilepsy by detecting which odors are normal and which are not.

Already, IBM scientists are sensing environment conditions to preserve works of art, and this innovation is starting to be applied to tackle clinical hygiene, one of the biggest healthcare challenges today. In the next five years, IBM technology will “smell” surfaces for disinfectants to determine whether rooms have been sanitized. Using novel wireless mesh networks, data on various chemicals will be gathered and measured by sensors, and continuously learn and adapt to new smells over time.

Watch the video below to listen to IBM scientists describe some of these new innovations and their potential impact on our world.

Written by turbotodd

December 18, 2012 at 7:35 pm

The SMB IT Spending Zeitgeist

with one comment

In Spiceworks' "State of SMB IT 2H 2012" survey, mobile is moving on up. Tablets continue to grow in SMBs and in the last 6 months, adoption has tipped to over half (53%) of SMBs supporting tablets on their networks.  The number of companies supporting tablets (53%) is on the verge of reaching the 59% of companies who manage smartphones on their networks.  Larger organizations are driving this trend towards more tablets in the workplace.

Click to enlarge. In Spiceworks’ “State of SMB IT 2H 2012” survey, mobile is moving on up. Tablets continue to grow in SMBs and in the last 6 months, adoption has tipped to over half (53%) of SMBs supporting tablets on their networks. The number of companies supporting tablets (53%) is on the verge of reaching the 59% of
companies who manage smartphones on their networks. Larger organizations are driving this trend towards more tablets in the workplace.

It’s that time of year.  Google has released its 2012 Zeitgeist, telling us what’s on the minds of the world’s searchers.

Facebook, not to be out done, has released the Facebook Year In Review, “a look back at the people, moments and things that created the most buzz in 2012 among the billion people around the world on Facebook.”

Now, go and ask folks what they think about Facebook’s everchanging privacy controls, and we’ll see if the Facebook Year In Review gets soon revised.

But I’m actually more interested in a big report from a small, but growing networking software and social business upstart located right here in Austin, Texas.

Spiceworks connects 2.2 million IT professionals with more than 1,300 technology brands, and offers its IT management software through a novel ad-supported model. In turn, it claims to “help businesses to discover, buy and manage $405 billion worth of technology products and services each year.”

Spiceworks just released its semi-annual “State of SMB IT Report,” a collection of statistics, trends and opinions from small and medium business technology professionals from amongst their community.

This December’s study is the seventh edition, and claims to “keep the pulse on the happenings of small and medium business IT professionals and IT departments.”

First, I’m just happy to discover they still have a pulse.

The National Federation of Independent Business’ “Small Business Optimism Index,” which is reported monthly, indicated in its November report one of the steepest declines in its history. In fact, it has reported a lower index value only seven times since it first conducted its monthly surveys in 1986.

The Index dropped a full 5.6 points in November, bottoming out at 87.5 (In 2000, by juxtaposition, it was well above 100), indicating something was rotten in November. The Index’s own Web statement suggested “it is very clear that a stunning number of [small business] owners…expect worse business conditions in six months,” and that nearly half are certain things will be worse next year than they are now, with a head nod to the looming fiscal cliff talks, the promise of higher healthcare costs, and the “endless onslaught of new regulations.”

Chicken Little, the SMB sky is falling!

Clouds, Virtualization, And Tablets Are Driving The SMB IT Spending Bus

But fear not, the SMB adoption of new technology is riding to the small business rescue, or so suggests the Spiceworks SMB IT study.

The headlines? Though IT budgets are on the rise in the SMB, hiring new staff is at a standstill. But for those still standing, in the last six months, SMBs adopted tablets and cloud services in fast-growing numbers.

Here are the four key findings:

  • Tablet adoption keeps its momentum and nears smartphone levels. Hardware maintains the lion’s share of IT spend in the SMB.
  • Adoption of cloud services spikes; desktop virtualization shows strong potential. (Can you say “Go long on VMWare??”)
  • IT budgets reached their highest point in the last three years, while hiring freezes are up.
  • BYOD is still a hot topic, though IT pros are split on the issue.

Diving down a bit, on the subject of tablets, 53 percent of SMBs now support tablets on their network, making them almost as popular as smartphones at 59 percent.

Cloud services are now used by 62 percent of SMBs, up from 48 percent in the first half of 2012.

With respect to IT budgets, they’re on the rise, averaging $162K, up from $152K in 1H 2012. But only 26 percent plan on hiring IT staff in the second half.

And on BYOD, whlie 14 percent fully embrace the trend, 32 percent say it works well for some devices, but not for others. Digging deeper, I discovered that smartphones led with 81 percent BYOD support, while tablets only garnered 62 percent.

And somewhat ironically, there’s more support for BYOD in much smaller organizations (defined here as less than 20 employees) than larger ones (50 percent in those above 250 employees).

I would encourage you to go here and register to download the full report, but the top line is this: If you’re an IT vendor looking for budget flush at the end of 2012, desktops, laptops, and servers are certainly low-hanging fruit, with tablets bringing on the most growth.

And on the software front, be on the lookout for disaster recovery and storage solutions (an IT mainstay through downturns), cloud-based solutions, and virtualization software.

Whatever you do make, just make sure you make those new purchases with “Gangnam Style” — and if you have no idea of what I’m referring to, see above with regards to the 2012 Google Zeitgeist!

%d bloggers like this: