Turbotodd

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

Google’s Getting AMPed

leave a comment »

How about that gold medal for America’s own Chloe Kim in the halfpipe snowboarding competition in Pyeonchang.  She was flyin’ like an eagle, in spire of the harsh winter winds.

Keep on truckin’, US of A.

Meanwhile, over at the Alphabet, Google has unveiled some new capabilities that seemed to be aimed squarely at Snapchat and Instagram in some friendly competition of their own.

The new capabilities, as reported in today’s Wall Street Journal, let publishes create visual-oriented stories in a mobile-friendly format not dissimilar from Snapchat and Instagram. 

Starting today, publishers can try out the developer preview of AMP stories, which include swipeable slides of text, photos, graphics and videos.

The Journal writes that “AMP stories are reminiscent of the immersive, vertical stories pioneered by Snapchat,” but that AMP stores don’t yet allow advertising to be incorporated, suggesting that Google is in the process of “building support for ads but didn’t disclose a time frame.”

It’s only a matter of time.

Written by turbotodd

February 13, 2018 at 9:31 am

Smarter Chips

leave a comment »

Couldn’t help but notice these two in-the-same-orbit headlines from Amazon and Google re: their own AI chips.

First, in The Information, it’s being reported that Amazon is developing a chip designed for AI to work on the Echo and other hardware powered by Alexa. 

They report that the chip should allow Alexa-powered devices to respond more quickly to commands, by allowing more data processing to be handled on the device than in the cloud. 

It seems the cloud’s edge is moving back towards the center.

And at Google, according to a post in the Google Cloud Platform blog, the company’s cloud Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) are available in beta to help machine learning experts train and run their ML models more quickly.

Some speeds and feeds deets:

Cloud TPUs are a family of Google-designed hardware accelerators that are optimized to speed up and scale up specific ML workloads programmed with TensorFlow. Built with four custom ASICs, each Cloud TPU packs up to 180 teraflops of floating-point performance and 64 GB of high-bandwidth memory onto a single board. These boards can be used alone or connected together via an ultra-fast, dedicated network to form multi-petaflop ML supercomputers that we call “TPU pods.” We will offer these larger supercomputers on GCP later this year.

Written by turbotodd

February 12, 2018 at 4:28 pm

Apple: Biggest Watchmaker in the World?

leave a comment »

Apple hasn’t exactly been forthright about the sales volume of its Apple volumes.

But with a little digging from industry researcher Canalys and IDC, and some publicly released shipment stats from the Federation fo the Swiss Watch industry, we’re seeing a little more sunlight on the Apple Watch sundial.

According to a report from Business Insider, Apple is, in fact, now one of the biggest watchmakers in the world.

Canalys’ most recent sales estimate suggests that Apple sold more watches than the entire Swiss watch industry last quarter, about 8 million during the holiday quarter.

Apple CEO Tim Cook did have this to say about Apple Watch sales volume on February 1:

“It was our best quarter ever for the Apple Watch with over 50% growth in revenue and units for the fourth quarter in a row and strong double-digit growth in every geographic segment.”

Time to put to rest the notion that the Apple Watch has no momentum (sorry, couldn’t help myself…too much time on my hands!)

Written by turbotodd

February 12, 2018 at 10:54 am

Posted in 2018, apple watch

Tagged with

Bronze, Silver and Gold

leave a comment »

Happy Monday.

Congrats to our U.S. Olympic medalists in Pyeonchang (thus far), with Red Gerard and Jamie Anderson leading the way in men’s and women’s slopestyle snowboarding events, respectively, with each garnering the first U.S. gold medals of these Winter Olympics.

In men’s luge, U.S. team member Chris Mazdzer grabbed a silver medal Sunday night (apparently unexpectedly), while Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu won bronze medals in the team figure skating competition.

Well done all around!

If hacking’s more your sport, though, you may want to check out Sam Kim’s feature about North Korean hackers on Bloomberg. According to Kim’s report, their mission is to use their hacking skills to make money by any means necessary, and they, too, seem to be going for the gold…admittedly that of a different variety.

Meanwhile, Apple has intimated some changes in its software development lifecycle, according to AppleInsider. According to the story, Apple will move away from annual “zero day” releases” as the company works to minimize software bugs while giving its engineers more flexibility in scheduling.

As an example, the company will focus on the next two years of iPhone and iPad software updates, rather than “cramming features into a single update,” reports Apple Insider.

New improvements to iOS could still come later this year, including Animoji characters in Facement, enhancements to Do Not Disturb, deeper integration of Siri into Spotlight, and a revamped Stocks app (yawn).

But a big update in 2018 could see the ability to run several windows in one app on the iPad, one that would allow users to switch between apps just like tabs in a web browser.

AppleInsider also suggests the company is still on track with project “Marzipan,” which will help developers port iOS apps to the Mac more easily and run a single, unified code base.

If you’re looking for a shorter term fix, AppleInsider also reports the company is working on an iOS 11.3 update that will give users the ability to check the health of their device’s battery (especially important after the Apple battery scandal), and choose to enable or disable automatic throttling of older devices to prevent random shutdowns.

That update is also expected to include four new Animoji, support for Messages in iCloud, ARKit 1.5, and tweaks to Apple Music and Apple News.

Written by turbotodd

February 12, 2018 at 9:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

East Bound and Down

leave a comment »

LiveTrucking reported yesterday that a self-driving semi truck from Embark just completed its first cross-country trip.

Unlike in “Smokey and the Bandit,” the self-driving software did not have to pick up a case of beer in Texarkana along the way, and never had to stop to use the restroom.

The tractor trailer completed a 2,400 mile trip from LA to Jacksonsville, Florida in five days, and according to Embark’s CEO, Alex Rodriguez, the truck traveled for “hours at a time with no disengagements.”

The technology used in the Embark truck includes machine learning software, as well as data from five cameras, three long-range radars, and two light detecting sensors so that it may map its surroundings in real time.

But lest ye be worried about all those trucks displacing us humans, there was a real person in the truck for the entire ride, and the human took over whenever the truck got off the highway to unload or traverse local roads.

For now, the machines and humans are working together, according to Embark.

“By allowing automation to work together with local drivers to handle less desirable long haul routes, we will be able to increase productivity to address the current 50,000 driver shortage while also creating new local driving jobs that attract younger drivers for the industry,” Rodriguez said.

For me, this new technology just won’t be complete until the autonomous truck can get on a CB radio and report “There’s a bear at your back door!”

 

Written by turbotodd

February 9, 2018 at 12:47 pm

Amazon Delivers…Well, Even More

leave a comment »

Happy Friday.

I’ll say it again. Don’t look at the Dow.

Okay, maybe just a peek. After yesterday’s 1,000+ rout, and at last count, it was heading back north, slowly but surely.

But if you’re a long-term investor, you shouldn’t play these peak and valley games, right? Stop paying attention to that ticker and get back to work!

As for getting back to work, guess who’s getting into the delivery business? I’ll give you one guess.

No, not Domino’s pizza (at least not yet). Amazon!

The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that Amazon.com is preparing to launch its own delivery service for businesses, putting it in direct competition with UPS and FedEx.

No, to answer your inevitable question, there is not a single business or industry won’t consider entering and disrupting.

Amazon’s push into logistics reflects its growing ambitions across a wide range of new businesses beyond online retail. The company runs a dominant cloud-computing services division, a Hollywood studio and a massive marketplace and logistics operation for sellers. Last year, it acquired Whole Foods for roughly $13.5 billion, transforming it into a brick-and-mortar grocer overnight.

The new service will be called "Shipping with Amazon," and will have the company picking up packages from businesses and shipping them to consumers.

It is the latest move by Amazon to create its own freight and parcel delivery network. In the last couple of years, Amazon has expanded into ocean freight, built a network of its own drivers who can now deliver inside homes and leased up to 40 aircraft while establishing an air cargo hub.

But as the Journal story reports, there’s steep (and deep-seated) competition from the incumbents:

It remains to be seen whether Amazon can successfully deliver packages for other businesses on a broad scale. UPS and FedEx have built out massive networks over the course of decades to allow them to deliver across the U.S. And it is expensive. UPS this year alone is​ ​
planning to spend up to $7 billion on upgrading its delivery network.​

In a related story yesterday, Amazon said it would begin delivery of Whole Foods groceries via its "Prime Now" service. Shortly, Whole Foods’ customers in Austin, Dallas, Virginia Beach,a nd Cincinnati will have the option of one – and two-hour grocery deliveries.

I guess that means I can finally stop stocking up on grocery bags?!

Written by turbotodd

February 9, 2018 at 9:09 am

Posted in amazon, shipping

Tagged with , ,

John Perry Barlow, RIP

leave a comment »

John Perry Barlow passed away in his sleep yesterday.  He was 70.

If you don’t know the name, but you use the Internet in your daily life, here’s how Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (of which Barlow was a co-founder some 27 years ago) put his impact in context:

It is no exaggeration to say that major parts of the Internet we all know and love today exist and thrive because of Barlow’s vision and leadership. He always saw the Internet as a fundamental place of freedom, where voices long silenced can find an audience and people can connect with others regardless of physical distance….

Barlow’s lasting legacy is that he devoted his life to making the Internet into “a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth . . . a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.”

WIRED has a fitting remembrance here.

RIP, Mr. Barlow.  

May your soul find eternal rest in the electronic ether.

Written by turbotodd

February 8, 2018 at 10:12 am

%d bloggers like this: