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

Archive for the ‘video’ Category

Facebook’s Portal Doublethink

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CNET is reporting that Facebook’s new home smart video assistants, Portal and Portal Plus, are now available for sale on the Portal online store, Amazon and Best Buy.

Facebook Portal Plus is selling for $349, and has 1080p HD res and a 15.6-inch screen. The $199 Portal has a 720p, 10.1-inch screen. Both serve as Alexa speakers as well as offer Facebook’s “Hey, Portal” (so original!) voice service.

Yes, Facebook’s Portal product uses Alexa service because, well, why reinvent the home assistant and copying is the sincerest form of flattery.

As for a Facebook video product being unleashed into the privacy of your home??  Well, I would have used to say read Facebook’s privacy policy with care…

A post from Facebook on privacy and security for Portal alleges the following:

  • Facebook does not listen to, view or keep the contents of your Portal video calls. This means nothing you say on a Portal video call is accessed by Facebook or used for advertising.
  • Portal video calls are encrypted, so your calls are secure.
  • Smart Camera and Smart Sound use AI technology that runs locally on Portal, not on Facebook servers. Portal’s camera doesn’t identify who you are.

And as to how they use information from Portal:

  • Portal is integrated with some of your Messenger and Facebook experiences. When you use Portal, we process the same kinds of information as when you use Facebook products on your other devices. Some of this information, including the fact that you logged into your account or how often you use a feature or app, may be used to inform the ads you see across Facebook.
  • While we don’t listen to, view or keep the contents of your Portal video calls, or use this information to target ads, we do process some device usage information to understand how Portal is being used and to improve the product.

Read the full post for more details here.

At least one technology journalist, The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern, isn’t having any of it. She wrote:

I just couldn’t bring myself to set up Facebook’s camera-embedded screen in the privacy of my family’s home. Can you blame me when you look at the last 16 months?

The personal data of millions of users was accessed for political purposes without consent. Whoops. False news articles were deliberately spread across our feeds to hoax us. Whoops again. Hackers gained access to nearly 50 million accounts, the largest-ever security breach at the social network. Giant whoopsies.

However, she did go on to write that “The Portal+, with its 15.6-inch giant rotatable screen, is one of the most immersive video-chatting experiences I’ve ever had.”


Written by turbotodd

November 8, 2018 at 9:33 am

Posted in 2018, privacy, video

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The Assault on YouTube

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I got news of the tragic shooting at YouTube yesterday afternoon probably just an hour or so after Nasim Najafi Aghdam started her shooting spree the company’s San Bruno HQ’s outside lunch area.

My heart goes out to everyone in the YouTube family, and the community of San Bruno and the surrounding area, who were impacted by this ghastly attack.

I can’t remember where I first heard or saw it — it may have been Twitter.

But all I could remember thinking was, “Here we go…again.”

At first, coverage suggested it was a disgruntled girlfriend in a domestic dispute.

But now BuzzFeed News has reported that Ms. Aghdam, who had been a prolific social media contributor generally and YouTube contributor specifically, had previously alleged the company had “discriminated and filtered” her videos. Her father was quoted as saying she “hated” the company.

And though San Bruno police were quoted in the story as saying that “at this time there is no evidence that the shooter knew the victims of this shooting or that individuals were specifically targeted,” it hardly seems an accident that she landed on the doorstep of YouTube’s HQ.

So that’s where we’ve arrived now?!

Your videos get de-listed on YouTube, so you pack up the car and the handgun and drive north from San Diego to San Bruno and start shooting up the place?

Has our lust for attention and recognition via social media reached so far beyond the pale that it has now begun to exceed our collective humanity and civility?

I understand that Ms. Aghdam was very likely a disturbed individual, by definition. Yet to carry out such an act for the most mundane of grievances…well, we’ve reached a new low.

And from Ms. Aghdam’s highlt distorted view, this grievance was likely attributable to some unnamed, unfaced human editor(s) at YouTube.

But what happens in our brave new world when it wasn’t expressly a human that decided the fate of her videos, but an algorithm built by humans?

Who are the disgruntled Ms. Aghdam’s of the world going to go after then?

I’m not sure there is a good or bad or right or wrong answer, but it’s  a question we’re going to have to start asking ourselves and soon.

Because I expect the wider the widening gulf between the machines making seemingly indiscriminate decisions and the humans affected by those decisions, the higher velocity of such attacks.

Written by turbotodd

April 4, 2018 at 9:45 am

Posted in 2018, video

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Unruly Taps IBM Watson Personality Insights Service For Improving Online Marketing Campaigns

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The power of IBM Watson has already been unleashed on the advertising industry with Equals 3’s “Lucy” media planning tool.

Now, British ad tech company Unruly is using IBM Watson to create a new cognitive powered psychographic targeting tool to increase the effectiveness of digital video ads.

Unruly DNA combines the company’s emotional intelligence tools with IBM Watson’s machine learning capabilities to help identify and engage the people most likely to increase a brand’s sales. The company is tapping Watson’s Personality Insights service to help advertisers to learn how and why people think, act, and feel a certain way.

The Unruly DNA tool analyzes social media and other digital data from consumers and learns personality traits such as empathy, trust, assertiveness, and imagination.

Unruly’s new audience targeting tool creates profiles of light buyers who, according to academic research, are more likely than heavy buyers to increase sales because they have a greater capacity to purchase more. Unruly DNA then generates a recommended list of third-party audience segments based on these characteristics, which can be used by advertisers to improve the efficiency of their targeting.

Scott Button, Unruly’s Chief Strategy Officer, said, “Cognitive technologies and Artificial intelligence (AI) have made massive strides in the last few years and are now at a point where they can recognize quite subjective and very human qualities, such as emotion and personality.”

“We’re really at the beginning of the journey when it comes to using cognitive technologies in advertising. Machines can be a powerful tool for marketers to recognize human desires and aspirations. We’re really excited to be at the forefront of this new world with integrating Watson capabilities into our Unruly DNA tool, helping brands increase penetration and sales by targeting their light buyers,” added Button.

Unruly’s new tool is built on large scale consumer panel studies with more than 10,000 respondents combined with insights from social media accounts of participating consumers. By tapping IBM Watson, Unruly DNA uses a mix of linguistic analysis and machine learning to determine the sociodemographic and psychological profile of each panelist, clustering and aggregating the profiles based on buying patterns and purchasing frequency.

All people participating in Unruly’s online consumer panel provided personal data with their express permission and consent. In Unruly’s internal and external reports and analysis, all personal data is anonymized and aggregated. When targeting adverts, Unruly uses anonymous third-party cookies which are not linked to any personally identifying information and enable users to opt out.
According to recent research by Weber Shandwick, in association with KRC Research, more than half of global CMOs expect artificial intelligence to have a greater impact in marketing and communications than social media ever had.

You can learn more about the IBM Watson Personality Insights service here.

Written by turbotodd

December 16, 2016 at 9:32 am

Turbo’s Virtual Round At Augusta

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Turbo tees off at hole number one at Augusta National, where The Masters has been played most every year since 1934. Only in this case, Turbo has gone all Neo and is playing the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2012 virtual edition of the course on his Macbook Air. He figures its the closest he’ll ever come to playing the real course.

It’s Masters week, if you hadn’t already figured that from all these golf- and Masters-related golf posts.

I’ve never had the honor of visiting or playing Augusta National myself, but I know people who have.

In fact, I was attending a recent IBM event in Las Vegas when a very senior IBM executive confided to me that he had played Augusta National for the first time recently with several other very senior ex-IBM executive (the gender mix of which I’m not at liberty to reveal.)

I asked him what he shot, and it was a very respectable mid-handicap number, especially for Augusta National — people who don’t know golf can’t really fathom how long 7,435 yards is for a golf course. (That’s why you see so many players who don’t have good distance off the tee hitting long irons and even utility clubs to get onto Augusta’s greens.)

He also explained, as I’ve also heard from others, that TV just doesn’t do the course justice. He explained that the hills and undulations are so much more pronounced when you’re out there walking the grounds.

“Eighteen,” he explained, me nodding my head. “Like walking straight up a hill.”  On TV, it obviously looks like it’s uphill, but not nearly the angle at which he was suggesting.

It was at this point that I had to tune out, as he was killing me with this reveal.

So yesterday, after work, I decided I wanted to get to know the course better, and figured why not try and see if there were any golfing games that included Augusta National in their course lineup.

I figure this is the only way I’m going to play some of the world’s great courses, so it’s probably a pretty good investment.

Turns out, Electronic Arts had released a Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2012 edition in that year that included the ability to play Augusta National, and they had a Mac edition, AND Amazon would allow me to download it on the fly and install it.

All for a whopping $20.

I also discovered the 2014 Tiger Woods PGA Tour edition will have a version of Augusta for the Masters in 1934 — so not only can you play with the likes of Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan and all the other greats, but you can play the course the way Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie originally designed it.

You just have to have an X-Box 360 or Playstation 3 (neither of which I own!)

The 2012 version will do nicely for now. Once the DMG was downloaded and I had installed the software and got the online presence set up (the game allows you to play a round with others out in cyberspace), I was off to hole number 1, Tea Olive (see pic above).

My score for the round was atrocious, as I was just learning all the controls for shotmaking in the game (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it), but the visualizations and greenery were an excellent way to find your way around the course, and to help you better learn how and why players navigate Augusta National the way they do.

For the record, on number 12, I hit about five balls into Rae’s Creek before finding the green — hopefully not a prophecy of things to come should I ever get to actually play a round at Augusta National.

I also found myself in situations that most Tour players would never find themselves which, for me, is about par for the course.

Written by turbotodd

April 10, 2013 at 10:28 am

Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, Orlando: Day 1 Video Recap

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Our video producer for this IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, Noah Bello, put together an excellent reel last night that did a great job of recapping some of the highlights from Day 1 of the Summit.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and a moving picture…well, it tells the tale like nothing else, so I’m just going to hand you off to Noah’s fine work so that those of you who couldn’t be here in person get a taste of the first day’s festivities!

Impressions From SXSW Interactive 2012: Q&A With Twitter-Challenged Cisco Social Video Guru Tim “Washtub” Washer

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I apologize in advance for the following interview.

A colleague responded to my posting of this video on Facebook and wrote “Wins the award for least content in an interview.”

Noah, you’re really being far too generous.

That said, there’s nothing more fun than interviewing Tim “Washtub” Washer, former IBM social media pioneer and now social video guru with Cisco.

Tim is a comedy writer and actor whose credits range from The Late Show With David LettermanLate Night with Conan O’Brien, Saturday Night Live, and more recently, The Onion.

As you’ll see from our interview, all Tim has to do is show up and breathe and Scott and I would laugh.  Really! The fact that we couldn’t seem to land an actual time to conduct the interview amidst a SXSW chock full of social mediated, geo-located smartphone applications…well, that tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

During his tenure at Big Blue, Washer produced one of the most brilliant corporate social video campaigns ever, “The Art of the Sale,” which was selected as a Comedy Central “Staff Favorite.”  And you know they were reaching for the bottom of the barrel when selecting an IBM video series for such a distinguished honor.

Tim’s work has been covered by Advertising Age, NPR, and The New York Times, and he holds an MBA from the University of Texas.

When we weren’t laughing, Scott and I spoke with Tim about his having left IBM under auspicious circumstances, how he came to be a corporate comedian, and why it was that we couldn’t use Cisco Telepresence technology to conduct such a scintillating interview.

TurboTech: A Humorous Look At 2011 Technology Trends In Review

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It’s not many people who have the opportunity to be able to say that they’ve worked with a true broadcasting professional like Scott Laningham.

Blogger's Note: No dolphins were harmed during the making of this video. Green pigs who stole bird's eggs, well, that's a whole other story!

It’s even less people who would take the opportunity to actually come clean and admit to having done so, especially on more than one occasion.

Because I’m neither a true professional nor someone who likes to allow the skeletons in his closet to begin to accumulate, instead of facing as many of them as I can take head on like some egregious out-of-control episode of “Walking Dead,” or, worse, a full-on “Angry Birds” like assault come to life (but only if it’s the ad-supported version, as we’re too cheap to actually buy a copy), it is with great pleasure that I feature for you my readers the latest episode of “TurboTech,” another fine example supporting the postulation by Gartner and others that broadband video is here to stay…even if Scott and I are not destined to be ourselves.

The following is video documentary evidence of what happens when nature cannot simply abhor a vacuum, but instead must attempt to fill it with technology forecasting tripe at the end of another grand year of massive technological disruption.  In our case, the year 2011, which was filled with much technological wonder and wonderment, not the least of which included fabric-based computing.

It shall also not go unnoticed by somewhat regular (assuming there are any of you) viewers that Scott continues to look and sound much, much better than me in these episodes, indicating once again that Scott continues to have better technology than me.

This, too, must change.

Video Killed The Radio Star

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I just sat through some of the live Facebook announcement whereupon Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and team introduced a couple of new site features, including group chat and Facebook video chat.

This announcement, of course, comes on the heels of Google’s introducing of its own social play, Google+, and more notably, Google Hangout, a group video chat and “hangout” feature that has gotten a lot of positive pixels since it emerged.

Facebook’s video chat play was built atop Skype, although a Facebook engineer emphasized in the announcement how seamless the integration was, Go Team.

Google Hangout also has a seamless video chat feature that requires no plug-in, but it is sending its streams through a Google cloud instead of peer-to-peer and, as already mentioned, featured group chat out of the gate.

What Facebook doesn’t yet have is exactly that, group video chat, even after today’s announcement.

That may well be due to the limitations of Skype’s peer-to-peer technology, remembering in the past Skype has limited video chat to 5 users at a time. Google’s open-standards-based video service, conversely, is delivered via its massive cloud infrastructure and so doesn’t have that ceiling.

Both approaches, of course, have their pros and cons — we’ve seen Skype impacted by its “supernodes” failing simultaneously, thereby losing the Skype “traffic cops” that helps connect its users with one another.

And we’ve also seen numerous examples of cloud services going south for hours or days at a time, leaving users high and dry and cloud services unavailable.

But, generally speaking, both Google and Facebook have a pretty solid record for availability and uptime, so we’ll assume for a moment these services will be highly available.

That brings us to the interesting calculus that helps in understanding the business relationships underlying these services.

Facebook continues to hitch its wagon to Microsoft, Skype’s new owner, for its video chat service. In today’s press conference, it was indicated that the vanilla Facebook video chat capability would be free, but that Facebook/Skype/Microsoft juggernaut might offer paid premium services inside Facebook at a later date.

Google’s service, being homegrown in its own cloud, doesn’t seem to be limited or enslaved by any such business development deals in the video area.

Rather, their uphill climb into getting more users onto their video chat service is directly correlated with their challenge of getting more users to move beyond leveraging Google simply for in-and-out search queries, and instead view it is being directly related to the social graph/circle battle being fought by these two Goliaths, one where Google tries to stand on its own as a viable social network.

On that front, although Facebook has enabled its Facebook “Lists” capability to allow you to create specified lists of friends (Your yoga buddies, your family, your co-workers, and so on), Google’s “Circles” is a much easier-to-connect, not to mention more user-friendly, way to connect and allocate access to my social graph, at least to this user.

But user-friendliness and a few blog posts may not be enough to help Google charge that hill. One wonders if Google+ just might not be the first service that could benefit from some serious mass media advertising on Google’s part, one that could attract and lure a wider audience to try the Google+ and Hangout services.

Then again, maybe they could just buy a run-of-site advertising buy on Facebook, targeting it at 18-34 year-olds who are overly avid users of Facebook!

Whatever their strategy, what’s past is sometimes prologue.

In MTV’s early days, the first music video that aired on August 1, 1981 (perhaps tongue in cheek) was The Buggle’s hit “Video Killed the Radio Star,” which lamented a singer whose radio career was cut short by TV.

The music business would never be the same.

And though group video chat may not be the thing that sees the death of text chat on services like Facebook and Google, I do think their emergence could be the beginning of a much more video-oriented online culture, one which we’ve somehow managed to (mostly) avoid during the first 17 years of the commercial Internet.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really mentally prepared to start putting on a sports coat over my pajamas every time I sit down in front of my MacBook Pro.

But the new Facebook and Google video chat services may soon not leave me any other choice.

Written by turbotodd

July 6, 2011 at 6:43 pm

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